Dragos Ruxandu is one of the authors of the new real estate business book, Becoming A Local Leader. This book features 22 Top Producing Agents stories, who through their story, share their mindset and their strategies on how to be a successful real estate agent in their community.
With Dragos’ chapter, you’ll really start to learn just how to be successful as an entrepreneur because that’s what real estate agents are. They’re business owners or entrepreneurs. That’s what you’ve got into. It’s important to start learning what is the mindset of an entrepreneur versus someone who just has a job or someone who’s just a salesperson.
And then, through this book and through these chapters, you’re going to be learning how to build your business on relationships and referrals. This is anti-advertising because most agents do want to build a business on relationships and referrals. It’s more fun. It’s more profitable. And so, how do you do it?
One of the themes that you’ll see in all these chapters is this idea that you need to believe that you can grow your business, you need to believe that you can grow your business through relationships and referrals, that you can be a leader of your community, that you can be successful. Because without this belief, you won’t really get anywhere. And if you want to become the go-to agent for your area, you have to start with believing it, believing that you can crack into the market and get market share and take down the person who’s not currently number one.
Dragos’ story is really good for people who are new to business and entrepreneurship because it really shows you how to think yourself into that result. Because your association, your brokerage, your family, your friends, depending on your background, where you’re from, they may not be teaching you this. It’s chapters like this that will teach you how to be a successful business owner in real estate.
You wrote this chapter trying to give a message to agents, why don’t you kind of let everyone know what is kind of the main message that you’re trying to give real estate agents through your chapter.
The important thing in real estate, because we talk about real estate, but it’s really in life, in life in general, you said it, it’s believing. The belief is the energy. When we have belief, we have motivation and desire and energy to do what we want. So, the main point is that we create our life with our thoughts, our speech, and our writing. And that, we have to have that belief. And when we have that belief, it becomes easier. It becomes easier in all areas in your life, including real estate, professional, friends, family, your girlfriend or boyfriend, and the colleagues or people that watch what you’re doing and are inspired by what you’re doing. So, you influence that with belief. And that’s the main message.
I agree that everything starts with belief. And I think some new agents when they get into the business or maybe they’ve been struggling or COVID hit them really hard, or they’ve been in the industry for a long time and now there’s always new stuff, new technology, new methods and people start to lack belief for various reasons. Can you walk us through maybe a time where you lacked belief, and then you took certain actions to increase your belief to the level that it needed to be to get the success that you wanted to have?
When we lack belief, a lot of time, we will procrastinate. And action, it’s the antidote. We all know that for most of us the difference is to apply it. But that’s what it is. It’s action. Every time I lose my belief, or my motivation, or my vision, or my confidence, or my self image is not where it’s supposed to be, I always do something because I realize, if I do something, an action in a sphere of my life that it’s important and that action is towards a productive result, something good in my life. And if I do action in that area, all the other areas will start working and it will reward me for doing action in a specific area that is good for me.
For example, as a real estate broker, an inefficient action will be to look at papers and do a lot of clerical work. Productive action will be to follow up with 10 people every day. It doesn’t matter what happens. It’s just doing the action. Anyone that does this, following up with 10 people every day for five or two weeks, you will see what happens with other things around that. Not only in the follow up. Everything will start working better. So, action is also the name of the game.
You talked about clerical work and follow up. You have to do some administrative work. We have to reduce it as much as possible, or delegate it, and you want to follow up with your database, follow up with your clients. What else have you noticed or experienced, and reflected on as I need to do less or none of this, and more of this kind of work?
Of course, clerical work is important. I believe that it’s important to do it until you master it. So, you have to master it. But there are a lot of people that believe that we have to delegate immediately. They do something, it’s not working well, but they delegate it. And that’s a mistake because you have to do it, master it, then teach someone to do it. And that’s delegation. That’s one thing that I have to talk about – not delegate immediately. You have to master it, then delegate it. That’s one point.
Productive action. It’s relationships. I strongly believe that like everything in life, if we look at it, it’s relationships. It’s relationships. And this is what we have to do. We have to build the relationship. And also, we have to understand that people do business with people they know, like, and trust. We all know that. We have to understand what like, know, and trust means. If we apply those three in the productive area of our business by building relationships, then everything else will follow. I like to call that to build something from necessity, which means at one point we will need an assistant, at one point will need an assistant with money or clerical work. That comes from necessity. So, when we need it, we build it. After we master it, then we delegate it.
Why don’t you give people an idea of who you are, where you come from? I know you have a very interesting story that you go into in your chapter a little bit. Why don’t you give people a sense of who you are and why did you get into real estate?
I was born in Romania in 1980. Romania was a communist country until ’89. It is part of the Eastern Bloc. I had that experience of communism, which shaped my personality a little bit because I’m an inspiring person, my personality. I like people a lot. That system, Communism, also developed the logical side of me, the more a disciplined side. I believe because of that, I can see situations in human beings in a simpler way than most people, because I have those two ways of thinking, emotions and logic, and they both can be very strong. Extremes – both of them – which is very rare.
When I was 10 years old, after the revolution in 1990, I wanted to do things because my parents were sending me to my grandparents for two months every year during summer. That was in Brașov, which is a city in Transylvania. I was living in Bucharest, which is the capital, with my parents going to school. And in July and August, I went to Brașov every year. I wanted to do something because there were no kids of my age in the family or near the house. So, I was alone and because of that, I developed a way of being relaxed and in control, even being alone. So, I really like people. I need to be with people but I also can be alone, and I need to be alone.
I was 10 when my grandfather trusted me, and let me sell the apples from the garden outside the house on the corner. That was very exciting. I did that for about two or three years. Every summer I was doing that. I was really happy. When I was 13, my grandfather also trusted me and he went with me to the flea market, against what my grandmother and my mother suggested because it’s really dangerous in the market. But my grandfather trusted me. He went with me the first two times, and then I was going alone. So, at 13 years old, I was selling second-hand clothes and used Atari games at a flea market. That really, really transformed my life. At 13 I had to deal with adults, and sometimes adults that wanted to steal. And also, intimidation and human behaviors in general. I did that for two summers. For about four months, I had to deal with this at 13, 14, and almost 15 years old.
If you don’t stop, if you get back up, eventually you will succeed. That’s what I learned. It’s imprinted in me. That’s a really big point that I want to make out to everybody. At 15 years old, we came to Canada with my family, my parents and my brother, July 4 1996. I remember it was Independence Day in the States. I didn’t know that but now I celebrate it. We’re not in the States but it’s still good. It’s symbolic. For me, it was really good. My mom too. We were so happy going away from Romania and coming to Canada. I was happy for about a year. I didn’t need anything but being here.
In the book, it’s something really funny and I want to tell the story. After a few days, my dad bought me a bicycle and I went to the video store. In Romania, we didn’t have video stores. We’re all VHS. It’s not good quality. And here, there are video stores with hundreds of movies of good quality. I went there on my bike and I left it outside in the parking lot. I took about 30-40 minutes in order to take it all in. I was so happy. And sometimes I was looking outside the window to see if my bike was still there. It was still there after 30-40 minutes. Unattended, unchained, nothing. That’s something that really got to me. If people would leave for six months or a year from Cuba or Romania, they would be so happy coming here.
In your chapter, you talk about the flea market. It’s funny how many similarities there are to real estate and being a vendor at the flea market. One of which being, like you said, you’re dealing with all these personalities. I find that in real estate that is definitely true. There’s a lot of personalities in real estate, a lot of big personalities, a lot of strong personalities. What advice do you have for agents on how to deal with them so that you and that person both leave the interaction, the negotiation happy?
What I realized is that if I’m interested, I become interesting. And big personalities, which have big egos, like to know that they are the best. Now, if we do it the right way, we will have a friend for life. If we do it the needy way, that person will lose respect for us. That doesn’t mean to say you’re the best and all that stuff. You don’t know. That’s the wrong way, the needy way. What I do is we learn how to read. And immediately we find the quality of that person. After a while, a few months, if we concentrate on this, it’s really easy to see the qualities of people, even if they have a big ego. And you talk about that quality when that person uses the quality in the transaction. If they’re good at negotiating, they are smooth at negotiating, then I would say, this transaction was so easy. And the negotiation seemed like there was no negotiation, you are really good at it. Believe me, after that, the person, really most of the time does whatever you want. It’s even better than just not to have trouble with it. He will become someone that helps you. So, find the quality, wait for that person to use that quality in the interaction with you, and then you compliment that person because that’s authentic and the other person will feel it. If it’s really not authentic, he’ll lose respect for you.
You’ve built yourself up in Quebec. That’s what agents want to do. They want to pick an area and they want to be the local market expert. They want to be a leader of the community, and they want to have a successful real estate business. There are things that you’ve done that have worked, and there’s things that you’ve done that have not worked? Let’s start with the things that have not worked. Maybe even why, because maybe they just didn’t work for you but it might work for other people. But from your experiences, what are the things that have not worked for you and why do you think so?
When I started, I was already doing Amway, which is an MLM, very well known. I suggest everyone do it. Three to five years on their continuing system. Don’t even do the business. But beyond that, go to every rally that you qualify for, every seminar, the monthly book and the weekly CD, listen to it. It’s amazing.
So, because of that, I understood the power of relationships immediately. When I started in real estate, I partnered with another experienced broker and we were sending flyers. I was doing door knocking, calling on expireds, and FSBOs, all in the area that we were sending flyers. So, door to door worked in a sense that I had listings. But for the time that I did it, it’s not worth it. And I believe I was doing it the right way. I was not imposing. I was smiling and giving my card and that’s it.
Expireds worked well. In this market right now, because they sell really fast, when a house expires now, it either has problems or it’s way too expensive. I would not do expireds right now. FSBO are the same. A lot of them, especially here in Quebec, sell their house really fast without a broker. They sell it for less, they lose money. But they seem not to believe that or they don’t want to believe it. So again, I worked and I have an automatic system. I got one listing, four appointments. I don’t know. It’s four at least out of 500 with FSBOs, which is very low. And my automated system, I paid about USD150 for the automatic text and emails with a high level. So that costs me. Then, I had to call about 80 that answered. So, for the time and the money, it’s not worth it. It’s not worth it now.
Then, the sphere of influence and database. That’s the thing that works. That works. You have 100 names. You call them twice a year, you get between five and 15 sales. Five to 15!. I challenge everyone to try it. So, you have 100 names that you have a good relationship with. You will have at least five transactions in that year if you call them twice a year. It’s not the end of the world but you got at least five. You do it for your second year, third year, so then you get 5-7-9-11. That’s one source.
The other source that works is lead generation. It works in a sense that you have a .512% success rate. So, out of the 100 leads you buy or you develop, you will get between one to three sales. That costs you money and energy. That I believe is the second way or source to get your business from.
Database, sphere of influence database, our database, lead gen. You should do your lead gen yourself, or have someone to help you with it. Like right now in my team, what I do is that anyone can be independent. I will build their system myself for them for free, if they come to me on my team. For free. And it will cost a few hundred bucks a month for one or two sales, which is good. And the third one, which I believe we should spend the most time on is building relationships. Because databases are relationships.
And the third one, which is Parkbench, you do the interview but it’s you. I believe it’s the best after databases, relationships and friends. It’s Parkbench because you’re building relationships first. Second, you get the SEO. A Parkbench structure is really good at indexing. Mine gets indexed in less than three days. Sometimes the next day. As you know, I have about 60 videos. So, that got indexed very well as an SEO.
Then you get the concept of community. The concept of community, it’s very good and was a trend a few years ago and then, I was talking about it “buy local, buy local”. I started with Parkbench, it was “buy local, buy local” but in the last year it just exploded. Community, buy local, shop local. Because of that, because of the community mindset, people engage. The community engages. It takes maybe three months, six months, a year. It doesn’t matter that much. But with the Parkbench structure, you get indexed online, you get your community to engage and build relationships with it. And the third one, you are present on social networks with it automatically.
I used to do commission junction and Google AdWords in 2001. For the past 20 years I saw what happened with AdWords and Facebook. I used to pay 30 bucks a month for Facebook, and I was having good reach. A lot of people were seeing me for 30 bucks a month. That was in 2006-2007. I saw that. Right now, you cannot just post photos of you on Instagram to get people to reach because you’re like in 2007 and nobody was posting. The first broker that posted got the first place for three years. It’s not like that anymore. Taking photos of yourself or you cutting the lawn or eating in a restaurant, it’s not working and it will not work. What we have to do is we have to stand out. We have to do something different. And that’s what Parkbench does. So, we build a relationship with the business owners in the city. The community engages and the business owners of that city are grateful. This gives us referrals. Also share the interview that we make with them on their social networks. And that’s the key. I don’t know if you will talk about it but this is the key. It’s the reshare and the engagement that the other person does and their followers to you.
Word of mouth was always the thing I always learned. That’s the best way to grow a business, word of mouth. Word of mouth. I just kept asking people as I learned as well. How do I get it? How do I get people to promote me and what I’m doing? I feel like we kind of figured that out with Parkbench, which really just goes back to that philosophy of if you do something for someone else, they’re going to want to do something in return. If you promote someone else, they’re going to want to promote you. And then, in this interview system, if you interview people in your community and you promote them and make them look good in the interview, what do you think they’re going to do with it? They’re going to promote it. And then, when they share it to their audience, it’s amazing how many people reshare it. That has been something I have been pleasantly surprised at. As a person who’s not very big into social media, I am blown away by how many people like and comment and share and reshare the interviews that the agents do on the platform. It’s unbelievable.
I want people to pick up the book and learn more about you and learn more about the philosophies that you have picked up over life that have made you successful. Put yourself in the eyes of RealtorsⓇ trying to figure it out, trying to improve, trying to build a bigger business, and there’s this new book Becoming a Local Leader, why do you think they should get the book and read it?
I would say because I wrote a chapter in it. Before answering, Grant, because I did Amway, the relationship is really important. It’s the same here, really. The relationship will make Parkbench work. I didn’t say that and I want to say it to be clear. It’s the relationship. The system is amazing, but it’s the relationship that you build.
When I created this, it was the 100 names. I want to get those 100 names that you talk about to 200. I want to get that to 300. Because if I have a bigger database of high-quality relationships, who knows me, likes me, trusts me, and I think the X Factor is those people who want to do something for you, because you did something for them first. So, how big of a database is the sphere of influence? How many relationships can you have? The more relationships you have, the more business you’ll get.
And something that I heard 20 years ago. Michael Dell said that the person that can mix high tech with high touch will kill it in the new information era. And this is exactly what Amway does with the high tech and high touch. And this is exactly what Parkbench does. You have the high-tech side of it. And you got the high touch, which is the Local LeaderⓇ, the broker. With this, no one can compete with the high tech and high touch. Even if they have five times, 10 times better high tech than you.
Technology in its highest form, I think, is supposed to make us better humans, not replace it.
Exactly. I saw a lot of things that I liked in your personality, your vision, your motivation, your strength. And when you talked about the book project, I was interested and I want to be part of it. After that I realized this is something more than just the book because the way we did it, you did it, because you are the leader for this book and you helped us. It’s a tool. I believe this is a tool for any RealtorⓇ, young or with experience, to start from zero and to kill it in a three to five years period because it takes time. It takes time to build a relationship.
It comes back to return on investment. So, how much do we get back? Like you said, you put it so much better last time. You said there’s no emotion, right? It’s numbers in business. You were really serious about it. I liked it. That’s what it is. It takes time. This book is amazing. It’s more than I expected. It will help because I believe that most of the chapters and the people that are in it, are authentic. They are the kinds of people that really share what they believe works. I believe it’s a powerful book for that.
What I’m most excited about is when the real estate industry thinks about the type of RealtorsⓇ, they want to represent the industry to be the gold standard of the industry. I think the future is not the master of lead gen. The future is the community leader.
Exactly. Exactly. You nailed it again with this book, Becoming A Local Leader. The words are perfect. It says everything.
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