There Is No Magic Pill

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John Millen: Two questions I’ve had people asked me a lot lately. One is, “How did you get in this business and get off to such a great start having no experience in real estate?” Number two, I’ve gotten a lot really recently was, “How long have you been in this business,” because I feel like it’s been five, six, seven, eight, nine years. In fact, August 16th was my three year anniversary of going full time in real estate.

Let me answer those two questions and, hopefully, time together. If you can get something from it, then that’s great. What I will tell you is, I decided from the go to listen to what I was told in my real estate course, that I wasn’t going to worry about splits, I was going to worry about training and support to begin. I was told everything else will work out in the end. If you’re not making enough money and you have the training and you have the knowledge, you can go anywhere you want.

I did exactly that. I interviewed with a company. I didn’t ask for once what I was getting paid. What I asked was, “What can you do for me for training? What can you do for my clients? How are you going to support me as an agent?” Not once did I ask what I was going to get paid. It wasn’t in my position to do that. I hadn’t sold a house, so how the hell am I going to walk in somewhere and demand a certain amount of money. I want to get my money’s worth, but it didn’t matter at that point.

That was something that I will never ever regret. I think it helped big time and it was the best advice I think I’ve even gotten from that school. Anyone who knows me may or may not know my background. I was a meat cutter at a supermarket since I was 18 years old. I was in a supermarket when I was 14. At 18, literally on my birthday, I got into the meat department and I was there as a manager, assistant manager. Everything for until I was 43 years old.

I decided that I couldn’t be lifting boxes sitting in a cold meat room, spending every holiday in a cold meat locker cutting meat for your cook-outs. I decided I needed a change. My back was hurting. It was just getting to be too much. What I did was, with the encouragement of my wife who kept saying, “If you don’t want to live paycheck to paycheck and you won’t make more money, you need to get into real estate.” I said, “You’re absolutely nuts. I am not selling anything to anyone. I have zero desire. I know nothing about the business. It’s not going to happen.” She was an absolute thorn in my side.

What made me think twice is that she’s usually not wrong. It’s tough for me to admit but she’s a smart woman. I decided that I would go– I actually met my boss online, joking around with him on Facebook or something, and decided that– We have a mutual friend who is a very good friend of mine now, who was at his brokerage. I talked to him and said, “I’ll do whatever. I don’t care. I’ll hang up signs, I’ll clean toilets. I don’t give a shit. Whatever you want me to do, I’ll do it. I’d really like to be an agent.” He laughed and went like, “Ha, ha, ha. When you get licensed, we’ll talk.”

Well, I went and got licensed. I was actually one of the first people they signed up that didn’t have that much experience. We didn’t have a mentoring program per say. We made one up on the fly. What I will tell you is people say, “How did you sell so many homes?” I listened. I went to trainings. From day one, I went to every single event possible. Anthony always makes a joke about [unintelligible 00:04:22] shows up at events when he’s invited and he shows up when he’s not invited.

Well, to me, and this was probably another thing my wife had said to me. People make the joke all the time like, “Your wife must be an angel, you’re never home.” No, I am, but when I’m out, I announce it. I take pictures. I let people know that I am doing things to better myself with my business. What happened was, I went out, I made friends with everybody in the business. I tried to get in wherever I could and kind of feed off of other people’s success and try to see what they’re doing. I’d go into our office and listen to people negotiate. It was really not too hard to do. I also didn’t bite off more than I could chew.

I knew I wasn’t an expert marketer. What did I do? I called the marketing team and said, “Help me. How can I be better? How can I do better on Facebook.” I think the first they said was, “Stop posting political stuff.” That ended fast. Number two, if I had a referral and it was too far out of my zone and I couldn’t give that person attention, I was smart. I called the relocation team and said, “Hey guys, take this off my hands, let’s give it to someone else.” Boom, one email, it was gone. I get paid a percentage of it, but I could also concentrate on the clients I had and didn’t cut someone short, someone who lived too far out of the zone.

When people ask me, “Why does it feel like you’ve been in the business so long?” I think it’s because I literally went to every single event. These people see me all the time. They’re probably sick of it, but oh well. We’re part of the biggest relocation company on the planet. When I heard this, I said that I need to take advantage of this. There’s got to be business coming through this. I paid my own way to Miami. I paid my own way to Las Vegas. People go, “Oh yes, that’s really tough.” I could give a damn about Miami or Vegas. I had never been in my life, nor did I plan on going. Just not my style.

I went to learn. I went to shake hands. I went to hand out business cards. I went to do whatever I could to be involved. It worked out well. I got home from one of the events, and one of our friends from Methuen sent me over a referral. He paid for my whole trip and more. You have to put in the effort. People say you have to spend money to make money. It’s true in this business. I wanted to be involved in everything. This week we went down- I’m going to give you an example, this week we went down to the MAR conference down in Springfield. I was absolutely–

Nicole talked about this and Mark talked about this, Anthony talked about this. I’m going to be a little more direct with you. I was down there and all I could think to myself is, “Look at all these incredible speakers.” All these incredible speakers are here. It cost practically nothing to come to this event. They put it all together for you. They blocked the hotel rooms, they were dirt cheap. Most people around here could have driven down and come back. Where the hell were you? Where were you? What’s your excuse for not being there and learning for your clients.

The people that were down there were people who are selling 40, 50, 60 homes a year. Where there a few newbies? Absolutely. For the most part, it was the best agents in the area. This is why they are, is because they get involved and they go, they spend money, they spend time, they go down there. They have other things that they could be doing. I sat with seven past presidents, I think, six, I don’t know. They seemed like they were everywhere, had lunch with them, got to hear stories, pick their brain, had a cocktail hour with them and heard all kinds of great stuff that you can take home with you. Just listening to some of these people is incredible.

I was amazed at how many people that got in the business, who their companies aren’t training them, and they just didn’t go. I can’t figure it out if you lie for me honestly. For me, that was my thing is, I wanted to go, I wanted to learn, I wanted people to know I was learning. Can you imagine having a client sue you because they think you did something wrong and you go to court and they say, “How often do you train?” Once every six months, once every–

When I joined the company, we probably had 90 sessions in the first year. I went to 85 of them, literally. They were in Waltham. I would drive two hours sometimes. Obviously, now we have them on the video and each office can interact with our broker and stuff like that, so it’s much easier. I wanted to be there. At the beginning, I had no choice. Even when we had the setup, I would drive in because I wanted to see it. I needed to learn for my clients. That is the biggest thing. I want to learn how to negotiate. I see people online now. It’s incredible. You’re bragging about, “We won a bid. I won this house for my clients.” No, you actually put in $40,000 over asking price, you waived inspections, you waived contingencies. That’s not winning. I actually saw a girl on here. I think she’s from Westborough, an agent with a different company. She posted the other day. She said, “I won an offer. I wasn’t the highest bidder.” That’s what you want to do. You want to learn the business. I know I posted on my Facebook page that I had saved my clients in one year almost $260,000 off asking prices in a market that– It was insane.

Everything was going over, but we learned how to negotiate. We learned how to call up agents and see what they’re looking for. For me, that’s how I was successful. I went to trainings. I learned the business the right way. I took the time to really justify what I was doing with my wife, with my kids, with everything because I knew it was going to come back and pay dividends, and it has. Under 18 months, I did 37 deals. I closed 37 deals. Anyone looking in MLS, it says 35. One of them was double-ended and one was off-market, so 37 deals. There’s people who probably say, “In a year and a half, I did much more than that when I started.” Great, good for you.

I didn’t think I was going to sell one home. I was terrible with computers. I typed four words a minute. I had no real sales experience. For me, it was very good. Again, it was from becoming involved in the business, getting myself in front of everybody in the business, talking to people, shaking hands, posting the way I should on Facebook, letting people know that I’m learning. The first year and a half of my career, we’re on three years now, the first year and a half we did the sales. Even since then, since I’ve been into business development, I think people realize that I know the business well enough. September 20th, we’re going to close our 20th referral. There’s still more in the pipeline.

You’re talking 57 homes in three years from someone who had never sold anything and who hasn’t sold in a year and a half. That is about it for me. I hope you took something from it. I think the most I can tell you is to get involved. Government affairs, I joined that. The education committee, I joined that. I have some other news to announce. We’re not going to do that today, but it’s good news. In front of the realtor board, I got involved in it. I knew nothing about government affairs. I didn’t care. I’m joining. Education committee, I knew nothing about it. I jumped in. This is where you meet people. This is where you talk to people. This is where people get to know you. You can make a difference.

My advice, get involved wherever you can. Go learn. I don’t care what company it’s with. I don’t care if you have to pay for it. Do whatever you do to learn the business. Learn it right and get involved. It will come back a thousandfold, I promise you. I know this better than anyone else. I just got involved. I wanted to be known in the business. I will continue to do that down the road. I hope you guys got something from that. Have a great night.