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: Welcome back to the Agents Who Crush It In Real Estate Podcast. I’m your host, Lindsey Favazza, and I am sitting in front of which I love that when I don’t have to do these over Zoom and I can actually sit across from Diane Mayo. She is a realtor out of our Beverly office here in Massachusetts. She’s been with us for a few years now. You’ve been here, what? Four years? Five years?
Diane Mayo: Five and a half.
Lindsay: Five and a half. Time flies, my friend. It has been seven years for me and I feel like you’ve pretty much been here the whole time I’ve been here. It’s been awesome having you here and I know that you have been in the business now since 2008. Correct? You’ve been licensed for longer, though. Take us back to when you first got licensed. Why did you get licensed? What was the whole process there?
Diane: Well, I was working at a small company and they sold out to DeWolfe. In the process, they sold me out to be the admin, and then we had a little admin grouping when DeWolfe bought us. They put a bunch of the admins out on a barge restaurant in Salem Harbor. I spent most of the time looking over the side saying, should I swim back or should I leave? They kept telling me I’d be really good in as agent and so I got my license. From there, I started doing real estate. DeWolfe was long time ago. DeWolfe, that would have been ’94 I think that was happening.
Lindsay: Okay, got it.
Diane: I got my license in ’97 and then what did I do after that? I did ’97 and I guess I was jumping from mom-and-pop stuff and not getting anywhere and no training. No nothing and flying by the seat of my pants and it wasn’t really working. I spoke to somebody that apparently unbeknownst to me at the time, I thought I was talking to somebody that was working at Chris Law. We were having lunch and Anthony Lamacchia’s name kept coming up over and over and over again. It finally hit me and I went, “Excuse me. Wait, who is this guy?
Did you change companies and is this a recruiting?” Oh, yeah, I didn’t tell you. Oh, that’s how we ended up with Anthony because I wouldn’t have found him in Waltham.
Lindsey: No. Definitely not. We didn’t have an office here in Beverly yet.
Diane: No. I wouldn’t have gone looking down there but I had repeatedly said to this girl, why can’t a broker figure it out and have a corporate setup, but have the independent contractors and still be one giant team? Why is this so hard to comprehend? It doesn’t have to be broker, load up all the numbers, and see what happens. No, use your imagination. This could really run like a machine. Obviously, Anthony has figured it out. She said, “Come with me. I think I know where this magic place is.”
Lindsay: I feel like we’re traveling over a rainbow.
Diane: I know.
Lindsay: Tell me a little bit about that transition for you and obviously, change is something that you got used to because you were changing over and over because you kept looking for something that you couldn’t find. Tell me about how that transition was for you and the other thing is that you were traveling down there to do training and stuff like that. You didn’t have a local office. I know that that was a challenge in the beginning but talk about all those things.
Diane: What happened was we went down to Lamacchia headquarters in Waltham and Anthony came in.
Lindsay: When you say “we”, I just want to make sure that I clarify. Diane has her daughter who is also on her team, the two of them really are partnered up and they’re helping each other to navigate through the business. Big shout out to Jess. She was on staff for a little bit but she’s back as an agent and she’s doing a great job.
Diane: We went down to the Lamacchia and as I was sitting there hearing about all the things that there were, Anthony came flying in. He said, “Okay, have you signed up?” I said, “What?” “Right here, sign up. This is what you’re going to do. This is how it’s going to go,” and then he left. I guess we were now Lamacchia.
That’s how it went down. We left like coming out of a revolving door going, “What just happened? Let’s run with this,” because I was hearing really good things. There was training which I had had absolutely none of. I was figuring out everything on my own and we started going to the Waltham. We took the class. I asked Anthony. In fact, I said, “Can I go to that class that you have for beginning an agency?” He looked at me and he went, “Well, yes, go ahead.”
Lindsay: You’ve been in business for a little while.
Diane: Sure, that’d be great. I said, “Well I want to know what you do. Maybe you do something different. Or maybe somebody is going to say just that one thing that’s going to pivot everything.” He thought I had three heads, but I went, and we went for the basic training, and then we would go down to Waltham. We live in Ipswich, drive down, and we were going at that point, Monday and Tuesday, and then going on Wednesday for regular training. We were going three days a week for a while and then Waltham was our office because there wasn’t anything.
We just kept going to Waltham, and then Woburn opened up. Then it was like, okay, well, that’s a little closer. We went to Woburn and things started to shift as far as how many agents were coming into the company. We went to Woburn and then after a while, Beverly appeared, but going down to Waltham, it didn’t faze us because we were going down to be educated. We were going down to talk to the other agents. We were part of something.
Lindsay: Just for those of you that don’t live in Massachusetts because we have a big national following. Ipswich is what Anthony likes to call horse country which is about 45 minutes or so from Waltham without traffic.
Diane: On a good day.
Lindsey: Without traffic. I live in the same area as you. I live up in that northeast area of Massachusetts and I always say, I always go to Waltham too. I’ve always gone to Waltham, that’s been my headquarters. I get the ability now to come to Beverly every once in a while but I usually go to Waltham as well. My whole thing is, and it’s very similar to what you’re saying, I would rather travel to a place that I know I’m getting value from than work right next door to a place that stinks. Unfortunately, I’ve had that experience that I wasn’t growing, I was in a place that I was stuck.
It was right next to my house but what do I want to do that for? I’d rather drive. I’d rather have the commute.
Diane: It’s not that big a deal.
Lindsay: It is not a big deal.
Diane: No, you can do it with your eyes closed after a while. Then we started playing games anyway because I can get from Waltham to Ipswich without touching the highway. You find a way.
Lindsay: You figure it out. Then on top of that, your clients don’t need you to have an office right where their house is. They don’t care. They don’t even come to the office.
Diane: No, that’s gone.
Lindsay: They barely do anything and the homes are sold online. We definitely hear a lot that agents will say, “We don’t have an office in my town.” Well, if we had an office in every time we wouldn’t be able to operate the business.
Diane: Well, my answer to that is always well, when the Xerox salesman came to sell you a copier, if they had a Xerox office in every single time they ever sold a copier in, no, it’s the same thing. It’s sales.
Lindsay: It’s sales. You can travel anywhere. You did some of the basic training. The other reason you did the basic training is because Jess was getting into the business. For her, she was going to need it anyway but then it was a good refresher for you. Take me back even further now because we’re talking about the fact that you have always been big into training. You were a coach for a long time. I know you and I have had these conversations about that coach mentality but the way that you came into Lamacchia, I remember being very hungry to learn and hungry to get coaching.
The coach was getting coached.
Diane: Well, the coach needs to get coached because you can coach other people, but I cannot coach myself and I’m well aware of that.
Lindsay: You needed someone to guide you, tell you what you needed to do next. What did you focus on in the beginning? I know it’s a lot, I know we have a lot of training. It’s like a fire hose, we always say, but what did you focus on that you slowly but surely changed habits? Or tell me about how that morphed for you.
Diane: Well, just all the fundamentals because without the fundamentals, I really don’t know how to play the game. Just the basic stuff to understand every aspect of it and put it all together, and then build off of that. If I don’t have that base, that’s where I was going on place fast.
Lindsay: I feel like you’ve worked more with sellers. Is that accurate? You slightly tend to work more with sellers, or do you think that it’s been more of a split over the last few years?
Diane: It’s probably been a split. I had a lot of buyers. Well, I get buyers because I work by referral. Other clients will refer friends and so if they’re buying or selling generally, they’re buying, and they need somebody. I do both. I don’t turn anything down.
Lindsay: Again, going back to you getting coaching and things like that, you’ve done the Buffini. I know you’re a big advocate of Buffini. Tell me what some of those things are with the Buffini training that you continue to do today that you will not take out of your practice.
Diane: The one thing like this year coming up, do not cut back. Do not cut back on this stuff. What I do is I have a coach at Buffini that I talk to twice a month. We do things like, we’ve set up budgets, I’ve got a profit and loss. We have a whole marketing calendar for the year set up about what I was going to do. Every month we set out what they call an item of values. It’s a informational thing and it doesn’t necessarily have to be real estate. It’s what do you do in a hurricane? What happens when there’s a fire or something like that or look out for your credit and something like that.
Then on the 15th of the month an e-mail goes out that’s a complimentary piece to the one they get on the first. Then I have the Lamacchia newsletter that goes out at the end of the month. I’ve now tagged the people three times and I haven’t really had to do much to do that, but it’s automatic and it happens. You have to stay in front because I know the minute I leave, somebody’s going to walk in front when the time comes and I won’t be the guy I’m standing in front of them. Those are–
Lindsay: Three times a month. That’s great because they’re not going to forget about you. I know. I still get your letters. I get your letters every month and I love opening your letters. I think no matter if someone’s in the market at that moment or not, I think even if they’re a homeowner already then it’s just relevant information for them regardless. It’s educational.
Diane: It’s staying top of mind because if I’m not there, like I said, somebody else is going to arrive just the right time and I will have missed it. On top of that, I’ll write notes or I’ll call people or I’ll stop by with a little gift and just check in with them and say, “Hi, I’m still here.” That’s part of it, but you just keep doing it and keep doing it and doing it. I know I try to talk to some of the agents in our office and try to explain that this working by referral, that’s what you want to do. Company leads and all that are great, but they’re extra.
Trying to get people the referrals for relocation. That’s great. It’s extra. Just like the basic training, the basis to your business should be working by referral. You’ve got to keep doing it and doing it. I heard one agent say to me, “Well, I did it last month and got nothing out of it. What else can I do?” I’m like, “No, this is not how this goes. It’s going to take a good couple of years until it kicks in. Then all of a sudden that rock that you’ve been pushing uphill goes over the top and here it comes.”
Lindsay: Yes. We hear that all the time. When we have agents that are doing marketing services and getting on postcards specifically. I get it, it’s a expense every month, but you have to make money. You have to spend money to make money. If you put out those postcards two, three, four, five, six months in a row, then maybe now you get a call. That’s the way it goes, but that call will now pay for six months’ worth of postcards if it turns into. You got to look at it as a marketing spend. You got to have a marketing budget.
Diane: You have to have a big-picture outlook too. You got to play the long game, as I call it. The short game when you have these brokers that call me and say, “Oh yes, we’re going to give you $40,000 if you come for five–” No, that’s the short, they have nothing. If they’re offering money or things, there’s nothing there. You got to play the long game and just keep going at it and doing the same things that you’re always doing because otherwise, it’s not going to happen.
Lindsay: To pivot really quickly, so you live in a town that there’s a few agents within the town and it’s a smaller town, so it’s a little bit more difficult to get that market share. Explain to our audience too, when someone lives in a town like that, that seems very exclusive, that they’re only going to work with certain people or whatever the case is, then how do you break into that?Or do you do the best you can but then make sure you’re spreading yourself out to other markets? How is it that you’ve done that?
Diane: What I do, well, I got into the Lions Club and ran their biggest event of the year, their chowderfest where people came from all over. Not just Massachusetts but different places. I ran a giant party is what it was, but I got a Lamacchia tent up there and at the time Lamacchia was known up here more for short sales stuff than it was a realty company. We got the visibility going that way. Like you said, it’s small town. People only want to use who they want to use. You’re out there, you’re visible.
People see me, people saw me because I was a high school coach in town. They know who I am, but I’ve branched out to other towns. I want to make sure that we’re sitting in Beverly, I want Beverly to understand we’re here and touching the Beverly clientele. I belong to the Beverly Athletic Club, where my personal trainer has given me two fabulous referrals.
Diane: That’s my own business. That’s at my split.
Lindsay: It’s trainers, hairdressers.
Lindsay: Bartenders. They’re fantastic. They’re great referral sources for agents. If you guys have some friends that are trainers, bartenders, or hairstylists, then definitely get in good with them. Be dropping gifts off to their place because they are definitely people, they talk to everybody and they know everybody’s like personal business. They’re like therapists.
Diane: Well and my personal trainer’s the best because he has all the information. Whenever you say, “Oh I’ve got a friend, and oh they’re going to call you.” No. That never happens. Make sure that when you get a referral and explain to them, look I need their name and number and ask them if it’s okay for me to call because it’s easier for me to call because it’s not so scary that way. They’re not apt to call somebody they don’t know.
Lindsay: No, absolutely.
Diane: That’s how that works.
Lindsay: That’s why I wanted to ask you that question because I know that once we opened here in Beverly, you became very active within this community. That’s the thing. I think a lot of agents think it has to be my town. It’s only my town. Yes, you can farm your street that you live on. That’s smart. You should do that because those neighbors know you, they see you walking the dog, they see you at the park. Right, but then if there’s other communities that you want to get involved in, get involved in Lions Club, get involved in some networking group.
Get involved at the local gym, become friends with people within your community and I think that that’s something that you’ve done really well.
Diane: We have to think of it as this is Essex County and people say– I finally have said to people, because they always used to say, where’s your office? When we didn’t have one, I would just say, “Well, my territory is–” and I’d give them love it. What the area was because it’s like, again, [crosstalk] Those guys drive all over any kind of salesman drive. Why are you holding me to this brick-and-mortar place, because quite frankly, if I’m in the office, I’m not working.
Lindsay: Well, tell Anthony that you said that.
Diane: She’s kidding.
Lindsay: I’m going to put that part out.
Talk to me about the office and the office culture and things like that because you are always in the office. You’re one of the most people I see here and the most. Tell me about that and why that’s important for you now that you do have this office space. Why do you come so often? Why do you make this your home for doing stuff, because I want other agents to hear that. I think a lot of people, especially after COVID have been hibernating and I don’t think it’s a good idea.
Diane: No, I think you got to get in here and you’ve got to hear what’s going on. There’s two reasons why we’re in here is. I’m in here because we’re taking on newer agents and it’s scary if you’re supposed to figure out what you’re supposed to do with it. Right now we have so much information that it’s, don’t worry about taking it all in. Pick and choose a couple things to get going. I think when you have older agents here explaining you don’t have to know everything, pick something you’re comfortable with.
I think I see some of these younger agents come in and they get a little glazed over during Wednesday trainings I’m like, “Okay, hang on. Take a breath. You don’t have to do it all,” but to be here and sitting here and they come in and they ask questions. They say, well this is what’s happening, but the best part is being in here is for everybody to hear what everybody else is doing. Deals are crazy and gee, I’ve got this and I don’t know what to do with it. What did you do? Hey, I’ve got a price on this, but somebody’s questioning me.
Wait, what do you got? Can you do it? Can you run the number, see what you’re coming up with? You just bang everything off of each other. Yes, are we all independent contractors? This office is not a competition within the office. I know some of them are. I’ve had it happen to me. I had a broker’s wife go right to my client direct when she found out I’d put in an offer in on something. I’m well aware of that, but here that’s just not what’s happening. It’s much more, what do I want to say? Not subdued, but it’s much more laid back.
It’s like, “What can I help you with? I’m not going to go run if you tell me the address, I’m not going to go run and go scoop the client.” That’s old school. The days [crosstalk]. That’s old school, but that’s the way it used to be, but these young kids don’t know that. If you can help them, it only makes us all better.
Lindsay: Yes. Again, we’re not a team. Everyone’s independent contractors like you said, but at the same time you can still use that team mentality and learn from each other, grow with each other. Everyone’s here having success within the Beverly market makes everyone better too. We just announced the other day that Worcester was number one in Worcester County like crazy because that office has only been around for a few years now. That helps all of them in that office. That helps everyone works out of Worcester County.
It’s like, that’s the thing, all tides raise all ships– What’s the phrase? I don’t know.
Diane: I don’t know. You’re from Gloucester. [laughs]
Lindsay: We live in the ocean, we should know these things. Tell me a little bit more about how you’ve stayed consistent over the last few years. I know, once you started, you’ve pretty much been consistent as far as your number of sales, but you have had an increase in one particular part. What don’t you tell our audience a little bit about that?
Lindsay: [chuckles] She’s looking at me, like, “What are you talking about?” We just talked about this, Diane.
Diane: What happened was– How do I explain this? The volume. As Lindsay mentioned, I’m a coach or was a coach, and I do know that I need somebody to coach me because I need somebody to lean on me because I don’t see everything, it’s too close, so she opens it up. We have targeted things like, “You do these things, this is how many people you have to contact every month, and this is what’s going to happen.” Then I have bumped up my purchase price. That’s a goal, to drive the purchase price up, which I have done consistently now over the years to get it higher than what we started at.
There’s other things, like, I was doing that when we had an Offer Now Program, and they were calling me and asking me to go out to sellers and explain this program. Well, I don’t think I ever got out of the car. I had like 24 sales, I think, or 26 sales that year, and I was all over the map, but a lot of that was company stuff. I took a look at the numbers when they came in at the end of the year, and I went, “Huh, hmm. This is for the office, this is for me. Those numbers need to shift.” That’s basically what the office wants you to do, too. They don’t want you hanging.
Lindsay: They don’t want you on that business. They want you to grow. Just to really explain this a little further just so everyone knows what we’re talking about. You have your company leads, they get a company split. Pretty much all offices do that. Then you’ve got agent leads that you bring in that are your own book of business that you get the higher split on, obviously. What ends up happening is, a lot of the times, agents come in, they use those company leads to help them get what we like to call at-bats.
We keep using the sports metaphor. People are going to be like, “What the heck?” Using this sports metaphor, they get at-bats, and it gives them the ability to grow their book of business, grow their referrals, and things like that. Once those people are past clients, then it’s an agent split after that any sale after that. It definitely is helpful for newer agents to be able to take advantage of some of those lead products that we offer and then to grow their business based on that, but the goal is to have them grow, and not beyond those anymore.
We want them to be doing things on their agent split. We want them to move up and graduate into doing things on their own. Then it makes room for leads for the people that come in brand-new to the business after that. It’s just a cycle. You’re absolutely right. I remember having this conversation with you where you were like, “I don’t like these numbers. It’s too much company versus agent, and I want to definitely improve.” Over the last couple of years, you’ve done that.
Diane: Right, and that’s with having a plan. That’s not just by coming in and going to training and going home and going, “Now what do I got to do?” There’s a plan in place about how many people I talk to, how many people I have to call, how many notes I write.
Lindsay: Numbers game.
Diane: It’s being consistent. Now, I’m not the best at being consistent. That is a goal this year. Tracking everything that you do, write it down, who did you talk to? I have a system for that so that I know that, “Oh, gee, I’m not going to call them again, I just called them last week.” I have that all in a system. If you have the systems in place, and you just follow it, it’s not brain surgery. It’s easy, but you have to set it up.
Lindsay: It’s a numbers game, so you got to just put the work in because you’re going to have to make maybe 100 phone calls in order to get that one yes or that one, “I’d love to chat,” or, “I’m actually thinking of buying or thinking of selling.” It takes a little while. You got to put the work in. Like you said, you got to have the systems, but you got to put the work in. It’s been great that you and Jess have been able to do that together a little bit, too, I’m sure, and used her to help you.
I love your Instagram presence and your social media presence because I knew she does more of that, but you guys always talk about how you have the older generation and the younger generation, and you’re all melded in together.
Diane: Well, you have to because-
Lindsay: That’s the brand.
Diane: -I’m the old guy, and yes, you can teach an old dog new tricks, but you can only go so far. Then you’ve got these kids that are constantly on Instagram.
Lindsay: She’s so good at it.
Diane: I can’t keep up with that. Yes, she’s got the younger version, I’ve got the older version. We can meet in the middle. We can do whatever you want us to be.
Lindsay: It works great for you two, so I love it. That is pretty much it at this point. Is there anything else that you would like to tell our audience or any advice, I think, that you would like to give them in staying consistent but also weathering the storm? Obviously, the market is starting to shift. It’s already shifted, and we’re seeing that change, but Anthony’s talking about how, in the next couple of weeks, it’s going to turn back on. What kind of advice do you give to agents who haven’t seen some of these major shifts in the market since you’ve been in the business now for so many years?
Diane: Well, what I’m doing and what I think they should be doing is getting all the education you can right now. Go over and over and over your listing presentation, your phone call conversations, your dialogues, get it all down pat because the ones that can do that are going to come out of the gate better. There are so many that don’t even know what those things are that I just mentioned. If you have that in place– You need to look at it over and over and over again, and you don’t stop.
If we hit a patch where everybody’s going to be super busy, then, all of a sudden, you’re down, you still got to do it again because it’s going to come around. There is a cycle to sales. You’ve got to follow the cycle, you’ve got to know your stuff, but you’ve got to have a plan. As far as trying to make it money-wise around the corner like that, part of the plan is, you pay the taxes out of your commission, and you also have like three months in reserve, so when we hit something like this, you’re not absolutely dire to say, “Okay, fine, I’ll do it for one percent because I have to have the job.”
No, you don’t want to do that.
Lindsay: On top of that, like you said, you want to not let up on some of these marketing things, and they cost money. Do you peel money off every time you get a sale and say, “Okay, this is for this, and this is for that,” or do you generally do that and not do it to the tee, or how do you budget for yourself?
Diane: Well, I have a budget of how much I’m spending for marketing. Yes, out of every deal, I take taxes off the top, then the split goes down to– I put 10% in for holding on to the business, and then pay myself. I take it out of every deal because it’s got to keep going.
Lindsay: You don’t want to have to think about it. You don’t want to have to pay all those taxes back at the end, so that makes a lot of sense. I think that’s really smart. I don’t think a lot of agents do that, especially newbies. They get that first check, and it’s like, “This is mine. I worked so hard for it.”
Diane: “It’s a lot of money, and oh, my gosh.”
Lindsay: You got to invest it back.
Diane: Who’s telling them? Who tells them?
Lindsay: No one. Well, we are, but– Their success guides. [laughs]
Diane: Do you plan for that? Do you know what that is? I’ve seen some of them come in here going, “Oh, my God.” I’m like, “Okay, hang on. Did you do this? Did you do this?” “Oh, yes, you’re a downer.” [laughs] I’m like, “Yes, but you’ll thank me in December.” [laughs]
Lindsay: That’s where the coach thing comes in, the coaching side of you. That’s fantastic. Well, Diane, thank you so much. It’s been a pleasure as always. I really appreciate it. I will link Diane and Jess’s socials and their website and all those things. If you want to get in touch with them, ask them any questions, Diane’s always an open book. She’s a great coach. If you need any advice, she’s here for you. Thank you so much, Diane. I appreciate it.
Diane: You’re welcome, Lindsay.
Lindsay: We will see you guys on the next episode of the Agents Who Crush It In Real Estate. Bye-bye.
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.