Welcome to the Agents Who Crush It In Real Estate podcast where you’ll hear the good, the bad and the ugly of how real estate agents overcame challenges and grew their business. Check out the Episode Notes at CrushItinRE.com/podcast. Here’s your host, Lindsay Favazza.
Lindsay Favazza: My guests today on the Agents Who Crush It In Real Estate podcast are our very own from Lamacchia Realty, Lisa and Carl Gamberdella. Welcome guys.
Lisa Gamberdella: Thank you.
Carl Gamberdella: Hello.
Lindsay: I’m excited to talk to you guys because I was looking at your stats and you started with us in May of 2019. With us in May of 2019, you sold six homes, but I know in talking right before this, you had mentioned that you had sold a little bit more than that for the full year, correct?
Lisa: I believe we were 11 or 12 that year, total.
Lindsay: Perfect. Then in 2020, which I also like to put the asterisk of pandemic year, you sold 22 homes. From the year that you started with us to the full next year, you would increase over double from what you had done. I wanted to have you guys on because you also have a very interesting dynamic. You are obviously married, you have to balance out working together, getting leads together, and doing all of that.
I want you to talk about all those things with our audience today to make sure that they hear, like I said, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Why don’t you start with when you first started in real estate, how that all went down and how you started and got into the business, and so on and so forth?
Carl: I guess it’s a quiet adventure story. It started off with Lisa several years ago deciding that she had this grand idea, she wanted to get into real estate, and got licensed, then joined a brokerage that literally handed her the keys to the office and said, “Here you go, have a nice day. Welcome to being a real estate agent”.
Lindsay: What were you doing before that?
Lisa: I was an office manager for a small company.
Lindsay: What was the reason to get into real estate? What was that decision?
Lisa: Just sitting at a desk 40 hours a week was killing me, and the potential to make more money than an hourly wage.
Lindsay: Absolutely. Okay. Continue.
Carl: In her short tenure in that real estate venture, she did nothing, anything-
Lisa: That was 12 years ago.
Carl: Yes, right, but you had no support, no training, no guidance. It was literally, “Here you go, go sell a house”.
Lindsay: You were still working full time, and then trying to do it part-time to get into the business?
Lisa: Yes. You got it.
Carl: I chalked it u as well, it was like a failed venture she tried and moved on. I had a long history. I worked for 18 and a half years with Bose Corporation. I was in business development and I did special events, project management, and unfortunately made about 5,000 of my closest friends got laid off. At one point, and that was like 20– I don’t even know now, it’s 20–
Lisa: 15, 16?
Carl: No, was later than that. Anyways, it was a while ago now. One of the things we did after that happened, it was bouncing around trying to find a fit, get back into the business world. Had a couple of times that things just didn’t– Nothing panned out. We were actually on vacation. We were down in the Florida Panhandle and we were laying on a beach, and Lisa just had an epiphany one day and she’s like, “Do you know what you’d be really good at? Real estate.” I’m like–
Lisa: We had always loosely talked about that. We had always loosely talked about flipping houses, doing that kind of thing because that always interested us.
Lindsay: You would had your license now for a little while because you were dabbling.
Lindsay: You had on the back of your head like–
Lisa: I think it really started with– At that point, I had left my day job. I was a couple of years out of that and I had a network marketing job that I was doing pretty well at, but it was getting stale, and I was like, “I think I want to try getting back into real estate.” He rolled his eyes at me.
Carl: I did.
Lisa: You did.
Lindsay: Because you had tried and it hadn’t panned out. I get it.
Lisa: I had tried, but I was a very different person, this 10 years later or whatever it was. Then I said, “We always talked about doing it. Why don’t you do it?” He was starting another job that next week. He’s like, “Yes, Michelle did it.” Go ahead.
Carl: Yes. That’s what it was. Yes, I was starting a brand new job and I lasted a whopping– Did I even last a week before I–?
Lisa: I don’t even know. It was bad.
Carl: I literally call her one day, and I’m like, “I can’t do this job. This company is unethical. It doesn’t align with what I’m doing. What they’re doing is illegal. The way they’re treating their employees is terrible, and I refuse to be part of this.” She’s like–
Lisa: We always figure it out.
Carl: She’s like, “Do what you have to do. We’ll figure it out.” I got home from work. I basically quit that day. I got home and Lisa was like, “I’ve signed you up for a real estate class. It starts Monday”.
Lindsay: I love your go-get-them attitude. I love that.
Carl: I went back to school, my little backpack, and everything, “Here I go.” I went back to school and I got my real estate license. We joined up with a brokerage that we had a very good family friend, who was also here at Lamacchia now with us, and went on and started there. That’s how it started.
Lindsay: That was three and a half four years ago around that.
Lindsay: Okay. In those early days, how did it work? How did you then get pulled into the mix?
Lisa: I was doing a seasonal waitress job at that point, just to bring in extra money because he was in flux. When that ended that year, which ended at the beginning of October– no, beginning of November, I was like, “All right, I’m in.” Renewed my license, got it up and running and we became a team. We just went for it.
Not easy getting started the two of us together. It was what? Six months before we had our first closing. It was definitely stressful to get started. He took the lead at first because he was into it first and he had the business world experience and more, I guess, say more than confidence–
Carl: [crosstalk] foundation of business and understanding, and we went for it. Just like with everybody that starts off in real estate, you take what you can get at the beginning. We had the most interesting first year with some of the most amazing clients. Literally, one guy that came in to sign paperwork and he came in and he dropped this cooler that you find– While he looked like, I don’t want to stereotype-
Carl: – he looks like a homeless guy. He has a gray, salty beard down on completely, and you’d be like, “Who is this guy walking down the street?” He had this cooler and you’re like– He puts this Coleman cooler up and it’s dirty and nasty, and you’re like, “What is this?” He opens up, and he starts pulling checkbooks out of it. He’s like, “In my world -I work in the city- if I walked around with a briefcase, I’d get mugged. Nobody bothers me with a cooler”.
Lindsay: That was like his wallet.
Carl: That was all his money and all of his documents. That was his briefcase. Interesting guy, but-
Lindsay: You never know.
Carl: – you never know.
Lisa: We pretty much went for whatever came our way. I had at our last brokerage, if you were there doing the phones, which we did a lot because we were just trying to get business, and somebody called in, they were yours. I had this guy calling, screaming at me, literally screaming at me about an agent that no longer worked there. I was like– after 10 minutes of like– I’m like this– Phone away from the ear, he’s yelling.
I say, “Can I help you?” He’s like, “How can you help me? I’m like, “Well, I’m an agent. Can I help you?” He’s like, “I don’t even know your name.” I tell him my name and he’s like, “Gamberdella?”, and he was Italian and attitude changed. That was a long, crazy process where we learned a lot, but it was– I think for us, and even now, we don’t say no to anything. I don’t care what the price point is. You just go for it and you learn something every time.
Lindsay: Some of those smaller price points too in the long-term can turn into bigger price points for you. You’re right. You don’t want to figure it out later on that you made a mistake.
Lisa: Yes, no.
Carl: Right, because you can work on a property that you’re not going to make a great commission on, but then that can turn into–
Lisa: We got our first buyer out of that property, but with respect to that, with us working together on that, Gamberdella. Carl knew how to navigate the tough Italian, very tough Italian, very tough. I’d come home to him screaming at him, they’re yelling at each other, but we played off good cop, bad cop.
Lindsay: That was.. It was. It was.
Lindsay: I have an Italian last name, so I understand.
Carl: Lisa did not understand that she could not comprehend how I could be yelling at this guy on the phone to our client, and I’m yelling at him, but he respected because it was a respectful yell. It was a–
Lisa: I couldn’t have done that to him.
Carl: I was putting him in his place, but I know the wine because I deal with my father. I’ve dealt with my family over the years and I know the line of respect, but saying, “Do you know what?”
Carl: “Enough, stop. Quit. Enough with this”, because we dealt with– Some things I can’t even get into on here.
Announcer: Let’s take a quick break and hear from the number one loan originator, Shant Bansoian from Guaranteed Rate as he gives us his monthly mortgage tip.
Shant: Hey guys, it’s Shant from Guaranteed Rate. Just wanted to have another quick tip for you guys. Something that’s worked very, very well for us is, we have key initiatives that we work on. We call them rocks. Every single quarter, my team and I each identify three issues that each one of the people on my leadership team are going to work on. They’re going to move the business forward big time. These are big key initiatives that we’re going to knock out.
If I have three issues that I’m going to work on every single quarter, that’s 12 major initiatives that I’m going to accomplish over the course of the entire year. That helps move my business forward. Now, we’re also talking about not the big. We have issues less than to-do items that we work on in those same meetings, but it’s really, really important to give yourself three biggest items over the course of the quarter that can move your business forward and make you better.
Announcer: Thanks, Shant. Now let’s get back to the show.
Lindsay: Of course. Tell me a little bit then about the dynamic between the two of you, because there’s plenty of people out there that are listening that maybe they’re in this with, maybe it’s not their spouse, but it’s a close friend or they’re partnered in some way. Tell me how that works for you guys now, and in that year of 22 sales, how did you balance what you were doing?
Lisa: We very much can play good cop bad cop.
Carl: Guess who’s bad cop? [laughs]
Lisa: No, not always. Not always. We also run into situations of– I think we only had one deal where we had both sides of it. Each of us took the side because– and honestly, we’re more competitive with each other, so we’re working hard.
Carl: We really sat across the kitchen table from each other negotiating. I’m like, “No, my client won’t agree to that.” You’d be like–
Lindsay: Oh my God. I love that.
Lisa: We did though. We did. I think there’s times when I do the majority at this point, because Carl’s now full-time firefighter, I do a lot of stuff. There are times when I’ll look at him and I’ll be like, “I need you to handle this.” Because I am just spent on maybe it’s an emotional transaction, maybe it’s just a demanding client. Sometimes I’m just like, “I need you to do this”.
In 2020 we had a listing appointment that somebody called us off of a postcard. At that point, I’m still finding my way because once we came here and we started learning how to do things right, I was working on being more confident at listing appointments, which now I’m good, but at that point, I was like, “I need you to come with me because I don’t want to blow this”.
We would do that together. There’s certain things we do together like that, like if it’s a high– Or if it’s somebody, I think, we had somebody else– the Italian thing I tell you, we had somebody call Carl directly. I think it’d be a good fit to help my father. Dad still has an Italian accent, he’s very Italian. That’s why he called. He needs to be part of that. There’s certain times that I definitely need him as part.
Lindsay: You do the majority at this point because he’s working part-time in real estate.
Lisa: Yes. I deal with the paperwork and all that stuff. He backs me up for sure, for showings, open houses, and things like that. He brings in a lot of business. He does a lot of the bringing in of business.
Lindsay: But we have a lot of people in the company that are firefighters or hairdressers on the side, and it’s funny. There’s people that have the 40-hour a week jobs, those are the ones that are a lot more challenging to get into real estate. When you have some of those other side-jobs that are a different kind of schedule, I feel you can do really well in balancing it, and I feel like the firehouse is a great resource for leads. Has that definitely panned out for you guys?
Lisa: It is, definitely. They’re in the same building as the police department too. He calls me one day, he’s like, “Can you bring me some information? So-and-so officer’s mother needs to sell her house.” “Okay.” Where I’m more like, “Okay, let’s get an appointment.” He’s like, “Oh, let’s sit back and wait.” I’m like, “No, no, let’s get this over with”.
Lindsay: You’re more doing things by the books?
Lisa: I want to get it done.
Carl: I’m more of the relationship build first, and then go for the sale.
Lisa: I provide that..
Carl: Just different. We handle things differently. A lot of times Lisa will look at me because I have a lot more experience in, I guess, in the building, part of a building, construction building, design and things like that. I can come in and she’s like, “Okay, you look at this from this perspective.” Maybe we’re working with a buyer and they have some concerns. I can tell them that’s a bigger deal, that’s not a bigger deal. Or someone’s selling and it’s like, “Why don’t we put your money here.” “But I wanted to do this.” Well, that’s not going to have any return on your investment. You’d get far more for your house, in return wise, by doing this. That’s the kind of stuff I bring a lot more to the table.
Sometimes I’m the one that’s more, “This needs to be done this way”, and Lisa is like, “Well, She plays nicer and she’s like, “Oh, but look at this, is beautiful. This plant you have is beautiful.” I’m like, “But the bowl is falling down”.
Lisa: No, I don’t do that. No. Well, part of it is I’m in the day-to-day of it right now where he’s not. As far as the market and things like that, I know what’s going on right now. He knows, but he’s not as in it as I am. Sometimes if somebody’s like, “Oh, I want to do this and this”, with the market we’ve been in, don’t just sell your house. You know what I mean? That kind of thing.
Lindsay: The timing is everything.
Lisa: Right. That kind of thing. I think we went through and we have our moments now, but I think it’s better. I think I was not as confident for a while too, but he came across very much as a telling me what to do or telling me I was doing things wrong and that didn’t go well. That didn’t go well. I think we’ve gotten more of a balance of that now, because now I’m like–
Carl: No, you’ve learned and you’ve definitely evolved as an agent and you do a fantastic job. I’m very proud of you.
Lisa: I do, I do, I do. Well, I think it’s just I am at training every week. I am at training every week and I’m soaking up whatever I can get for training. Through the pandemic, everything, anything was put out. I’m watching it, I’m learning, because that’s how you get better. For me, Carl, doesn’t do the training and stuff so much. I’ve had him go do some of this stuff online.
Lindsay: He’s not involved in the day-to-day either.
Carl: Part of it was, when we first came over, our training is a designated day, and I actually had a job that I worked that one day every week, and I just could not be here.
Lindsay: I was looking at the sales again, and I’m looking at it and I honestly thought my report was wrong because I thought, “Wow, they’ve done this growth, but with no company leads really.” Explain to me where most of your business comes from, how you generate that business and what’s been working for you.
Lisa: I did track at one point. It’s funny. I think having good friends that are your champions are huge. We have a couple that are friends of mine from high school that have been our biggest champions. Nobody has wanted to see us succeed more than them. She will tell people, but she’s also very respected and very honest person so I think that helps. We do a lot of sphere. We had a lot come off of postcards, sending after-sales, like when things get listed in after-sales.
Lindsay: You do just listed cards and you do just sold cards.
Lisa: I do a lot of just sold cards. I’ll do a 300, 400. Not just the 100. It’s funny because that friend of ours had referred me to somebody which then her postcards have created almost $2 million worth of business. Then she’s also referred me to other people, which is..
Lindsay: Direct mail is not dead?
Lisa: It is not dead. Sometimes it doesn’t hit and sometimes it does and that’s fine.
Lindsay: The ones that hit you ended up getting $2 million worth of business from.
Lisa: It wasn’t even from that one. We had our biggest listing from postcards and that was something I did a favor for another agent whose mother needed to sell her house and she didn’t want to do it and we did it for less than we normally would, and he gave me crap for it, [chuckles] but that turned into two more business.
Lindsay: 100 just-listed?
Lindsay: Then you do three or 400 just solds depending I would–
Lisa: If it’s where I want to be. Yes. Yes. Yes.
Lindsay: That’s great. What do you do to appreciate, like you said, that friend that is your biggest champion? How do you appreciate some of these past clients and keep them referring you?
Carl: Well, the friend, I abused her husband. We recently purchased a home and we did a full renovation on it and he actually helped me do a lot of that renovation, so that’s why I make the joke about abusing him. We help each other a lot outside work.
Lisa: I recently tracked that and checked how much stuff came back to her and I was like, “Wow.” It’s been on my mind to do something, but I said to her one day, I’m like, “Do you realize this all became because of you?” She’s like, “Wow.” She can never get into real estate, but I think a lot of what we do is we just develop relationships with our clients. I love my clients, most of them, there’s always those few. I love my clients and I love keeping track of them, and every time we’re done, people are like, “Oh my God, you’re awesome.” I try to treat them like they’re the only client, that kind of thing, and they then refer people to us. You treat people right and it comes back.
Carl: We have fun with it. Our very first buy was from one of our first sell.
Lisa: Our first crazy Italian.
Carl: Our first crazy Italian sell. She was nicknamed by Lisa because she came to that showing and she had amazing boots on.
Lisa: She’s still Boots four years laters.
Carl: She’s still Boots and she ended up buying completely out of our area.
Lisa: We were brand new and we’ll go wherever she needed us to go.
Carl: Anybody there knows Massachusetts at all. We’re in more central Massachusetts. She ended up buying out in Springfield. We would go out and look at homes at around Springfield. That’s a hike, it’s an hour, hour and 15 minute ride out there.
Lindsay: But you know long term, that’s going to pay dividends.
Carl: We did it.
Lisa: And she loved us.
Carl: And she loves us. We’ve been there for her throughout and answered questions and she’s still Boots and she knows she’s Boots and l and say, “Hey, Boots”, I’ll send her a text every once in a while. “What’s going on? Checking in on you and the family”.
Lisa: I do try to stay connected to people like Facebook and things like that because that’s obviously the easy way, but knowing, like I just saw a past client of mine just had a baby last week, so I’m going to send something to her. That kind of stuff. Just trying to stay relevant with them.
Carl: And you’re staying human. There’s a difference with staying in touch with clients being-
Lisa: A tour.
Carl: – a human and being transactional. If I send you something in the mail that’s a reminder of postcards saying, “Happy birthday.” It’s a postcard. It’s yes, you’re keeping a touch, but is it personal? Not really, you know it’s automated, you know it’s whatever. Does it keep you top of mind? Yes, it does, but is it even just something as simple as a text from you? Or a message online? It makes it more personal and that’s the way we do things.
Lindsay: Your clients become friends.
Lisa: They do. Honestly, I had people closed last week. Not that I’m sad to see them get in their house, but I’m sad I don’t get to hang out with them anymore. That’s how I look at our clients. If they’re not like that, I don’t know where
Carl: We have some clients, just like everybody, that you’re no longer going to keep in contact with. It was done one and done, and we’re–
Lisa: Transaction closes.
Carl: These don’t call me again.
Lisa: – but you also learn from that stuff. We had a nightmare client that was selling his house on it was before we came here. Pretty much as we were coming here. That was a nightmare. I had to block him from my phone, that kind of crazy, but then he brought me who I lovingly referred to as the siblings. They were three siblings in 50s, 60s buying a house together. They have also referred me to all their family. They brought other brother, their niece. It’s like, “I had to deal with crazy here, but it’s brought me”, and these people are my biggest champions.
Lindsay: In closing, what would you say to someone who’s maybe in the same situation where they’re doing this kind of partnership, whether it’s with their spouse or not, but they’re in a partnership. What would be your biggest advice to them as far as growing their business and getting to that next level like you guys have done?
Carl: Have fun. We joke around a lot. We have fun all up, but we absolutely rely on each other’s strengths and we don’t play up. There’s no power, there’s no hierarchy. Even though she’ll say she’s the boss there, we don’t look at it that way. I know when I can refer and say in this past year, she has done an amazing job in building this business. I was very much almost absentee from it. I did a lot of stuff. I was on a FEMA deployment. I was at a whole bunch of stuff where I wasn’t around. She did an amazing job with that, but you leverage each other’s strengths and don’t be afraid to sit there and say, “This isn’t my strength. You take the lead here.” It’s not that it makes you less of a person. It actually makes you a stronger person by doing that.
Carl: I would say, that’s the thing. If you’re in a relationship together, like you’re husband and wife, or significant others, whenever it might be, have fun with it, joke around and by spend time outside of work together-
Lisa: Which is hard because it so consumes you.
Carl: – try to put your phone down. I’m looking at Facebook
Lindsay: She says, giving Carl a look.
Carl: We’re at dinner, I’m playing on my phone, like on Facebook and and she’s sending texts about work and I’m like, “Stop working.” She’s like, “Put your phone down.” I’m like, “I’m just looking at videos.”
Lisa: Every couple deals with that. And go on vacation because whenever you go on vacation, business gets busy. It’s crazy how that happens. It happens every time, but it’s important to disconnect because, like you said, it’s on your phone, it’s there all the time, clients text you, whatever. I know rationally I don’t need to get back to them right away, but I also know if I get back to you now, I won’t forget later, or whatever it is. It is definitely difficult sometimes to shut off. I think that is definitely important, especially when it’s both of you and ask for help when you need it, because there’s just times when I’m just spent, I’m like, “Can you just go do the showing?” It’s like, “Yes.” I feel bad asking, and I don’t know why.
Carl: He’s refreshed and ready to go because he wants to help too.
Lisa: It’s just really like, “Just make sure people know what you do.”Because, people, I like to think like us, people like us in general, so they feel very comfortable talking to us and just, “Don’t be afraid to take the scary stuff because that leads to the good stuff”.
Lindsay: Thank you guys so much. It has been an absolute pleasure. I feel like I got to know you guys on a deeper level and I can see why this dynamic works so well. Keep crushing it. I hope that this year turns out to be even better than last.
Lisa: Thank you.
Lindsay: Congratulations to you guys. Thank you so much.
Lisa: Thank you.
Thanks for joining us on the Agents Who Crush It In Real Estate podcast. We hope you’ve learned some valuable takeaways. Be sure to take action and grow your business. You can check out the Episode Notes and more content from the show at CrushitinRE.com/podcast. And if you’d like this episode, and you’d like to hear more stories, please share with others, post on social media or leave a rating or review. To catch all the latest from Anthony you can follow him on Instagram at Crush It In Real Estate on Facebook and YouTube. Thanks again and we’ll see you next time.