How Al Lewis Rebuilt His Database and Closed 60 Transactions with a Single System

In this episode Al Lewis shares with us how after a 30 year career as an Illinois broker, then moving to Florida to retire he soon found himself back in real estate! In a new market, he doubled down his efforts, built a small team, set up a new system to start building his database, and started closing deals all over again! 

Podcast available on iTunes and Stitcher.

Get Notified of Future Episodes

Here are some of the things we cover: 

- Leveraging email, text, and live chat to build relationships with your clients
- Building a database from scratch
- Hiring and training an efficient team
- Having an exceptional work ethic and a positive mindset to succeed


We want to thank Al and Jason for sharing their knowledge with us and the real estate community! It's important for us now more than ever to band together and support one another through these uncertain times.

Kevin McCarthy:

Next episode of Keeping it Real. So, on this episode, this one's going to be awesome because we've got Jason Simard as my cohost. Jason was actually our first Keeping it Real guest many years ago and he's been a long-term guest to the show and cohost a couple times.

 

Kevin McCarthy:

And our guest today, I'm super excited to announce is Al Lewis. So, Al has a really interesting story. He was an Illinois broker for 30 years and decided it was time to retire, moved to Florida to retire, but got bored and decided to hop back into real estate. And in this new market, he's been able to set up a new system and he's really just killing it. So, we're going to dig in and see what strategies he's been using.

 

Kevin McCarthy:

So, I'm Kevin McCarthy, cofounder of Real Geeks and I'll be helping handle questions and jump in every now and then with my input. So, that said, Jason, let's kick it off.

 

Jason Simard:

Awesome. Kevin, thank you again for honestly founding like an amazing company that's been a huge asset in our business. I can't thank you enough. So, thank you for everything that Real Geeks has done for us and out.

 

Jason Simard:

And Al, I'm excited to chat with you, brother. This is going to be a good call. So, you got to explain this to everybody. You were in real estate for how long and then retired?

 

Al Lewis:

Thirty years, I started 1986. So, my original CRM was three by five index cards and a legal pad. Started before the internet, before email, before fax machines, before a cell phone. So, this technology to me as it got better and better ... I remember in 1995 when the internet came out and was getting popular and how it was going to put realtors out of business because everybody was just going to buy houses online and obviously, it hasn't worked that way. It's done nothing but make our business easier and easier as far as I'm concerned. It's really-

 

Jason Simard:

Okay. Al, how does somebody go from literally like Morse code and texting from pop cans with string to literally utilizing technology like Real Geeks to sell. I had to take another look, but you've already sold this year, was it 38 deals directly from your Real Geeks website?

 

Al Lewis:

Yeah.

 

Jason Simard:

So, explain how you decided to go from 30 years in the business probably ... How did you do your business before Real Geeks? Did you do internet leads?

 

Al Lewis:

I did. Back in the late '90s, I was with the first on pay-per-click companies. I started with goto.com, AltaVista, which GoTo became Overture. Overture was sold to Yahoo. I was one of the original users with Google.

 

Al Lewis:

And things were so much easier then. Basically, it showed you a list one through 20 and you just pick keyword phrases. And if you wanted to keyword phrase, homes for sale in blank city, it would show you what your bid had to be number one, number two, number three. And that was it. I mean, that's all there was the PPC back in the day. I got out of it when it got to the point because it was that way it was $10 a click, believe it or not.

 

Al Lewis:

And then Google changed all their algorithms and changed the way they did business to where I don't understand it and I don't do it now. I mean, I want to sell real estate. I've got somebody that does that for me. And he's great at it. And there's lots of good people out there that do it. You guys both know that. So, my guy's great. I talk to him once a month. He handles the lead generation and that's it.

 

Al Lewis:

But honestly, I moved down here I just "semi-retire." I'm not that old. I'm 57 and I still got to work, but I kind of got bored sitting by the pool. And about two years ago, I came over to RE/MAX and one of the reasons I chose RE/MAX was the name because I was somebody up in Illinois where I'm nobody here.

 

Al Lewis:

And what happened was I got frustrated because up north after being in the business so long, it was easy. My phone would ring and I do deals here. Here, my phone wasn't ringing. The only business I was doing was I was getting referrals from realtors back in Illinois and other parts of the country that I knew, but it wasn't happening.

 

Al Lewis:

And I said, "Okay, I'm good. I just need to talk to people." And do I want to go back to being a phone warrior? I used to cold call three hours a day, five days a week. Do I want to do the cold call thing? Do I want to do open houses? And I said absolutely not. What do I want to do to generate leads and I just need the opportunity to talk to people?

 

Al Lewis:

So, I went to the internet marketing. Well, what happened before that was I was getting frustrated. And the guy in my office said to me, "Al, you're nobody here. You got to start over." And that's when I said, "All right, you're right." And I just got into generating the leads. My first ads ran on my Real Geeks website December 18th of 2018. And last year, I don't know the exact number, we closed 40 something deals last year using Real Geeks.

 

Al Lewis:

I did it by myself. And in July, I brought on a great partner. Her name's Lindsay and she was an agent who was doing okay. She's doing a couple million a year but wanting to go to the next level. And she joined me and she killed it after she joined me. And I brought another agent on in December, Javier, and he's killing it right now. It's like crazy.

 

Al Lewis:

And we're busy. I added three brand new agents, which is something I swore I'd never do that just started in the last couple of weeks, and we're trying to train them now to work the leads. One of them started today as a matter of fact.

 

Jason Simard:

Okay. I think a lot of people that are listening right now, Al, are like, okay, how are you doing so many leads? What are some of the keys to success with internet lead conversion that you found?

 

Al Lewis:

Having thick skin. With all the success I've had over the last 35 years, I personally sold 1600 homes personally, not my team.

 

Al Lewis:

I've had teams. I've had companies that I ran. I've had offices that I manage. But I probably failed more than anybody else that's watching this with all this success, I'm willing to fail. It doesn't matter to me if someone hangs up on me. It doesn't matter to me if they say no. I just go to the next one. That was really the key to it.

 

Al Lewis:

I was trained by the three guys to train me were Tom Hopkins, Floyd Wickman, who I know trained Greg Harrelson and Mike Ferry. Now, these guys used to do the trainings themselves. Most people don't know, Mike Ferry used to have workshops around the country where he personally come and train you. So, these guys, I was trained by the best. And Tom Hopkins, the first thing he taught you was I never see failure as failure, only an opportunity to enhance my techniques and perfect my performance.

 

Al Lewis:

So, every time I fail, I say to myself, what could I have done better to do it better next time. And so, I'm willing to fail more than most people are willing to fail. That's all.

 

Jason Simard:

I love that. I couldn't agree more. The one thing that I challenge everybody that I work with is point finger at yourself right before you start pointing fingers at other people. Always start here and take accountability. And I always break down my processes when things don't go the way that I want them to. I break that down.

 

Jason Simard:

And so, really cool to hear that because I think there's a lot of people that have a fear of this thing right here, this phone. They're afraid to pick it up. They're afraid to start engaging with strangers because I don't know these people, I don't want to bother them.

 

Jason Simard:

So, how would you help somebody who maybe is feeling like that phone weighs 1000 pounds? How would you help them overcome that?

 

Al Lewis:

Wow. That's a great question. Well, it's just the phone. We didn't have email, we didn't have texts, we didn't have any of that stuff, so we were trained on the phone. So, for me, it's like second nature. It's automatic.

 

Al Lewis:

The goal is obviously to get the person on the phone. And once you get them on the phone, if you're any good, it's easy to add value to, Jason, just to by asking questions, you add the right value, asking the right questions.

 

Al Lewis:

I was taught back in the day to always be closing. Always ask for the appointments. Everybody uses LP MAMA. I use LP MAMA. I call it ALP MAMA because I'm Al. But I ask for the appointment first. Then I go to location, price, motivation, agent, mortgage and appointment.

 

Al Lewis:

So, I'm asking for the appointment right up front. When I call you, when I email you, when I text you, when I chat you, it's hi, thanks for signing up on my website, would you like to look at some homes? Period. That's it. I mean, maybe a little more than that, I'm asking them and you'd be amazed at how many people say yes.

 

Al Lewis:

I know everybody's got different systems. I know you've got a system. I know Todd system is calling people. Believe me, the one thing that I've done, even with all my knowledge and experience is I watch you guys. Okay, I watch Greg Harrelson and Abe Safa. I might not watch them live every week because I'm working. I've watched every one of these videos that they've done. I mean, those guys are the real deal. You're the real deal. Todd's the real deal.

 

Al Lewis:

Now, the difference is I've been a professional agent, okay. I haven't been a professional coach. I haven't been a professional sales trainer. My job has always been to help people buy and sell real estate. So, for me, it's really just about helping people buy and sell real estate. And when you get them on the phone, I talk to people as if they're my friend that I haven't met yet. Everybody's nervous, and I want to tell them how great they are and what they're going to do for them. I don't do that, I talk to them as if they're my friend I haven't met, that's great, that's exciting. When do you want to be here? Whatever it is. It's talking to a friend I haven't met yet.

 

Jason Simard:

Love that.

 

Al Lewis:

That adds more value than anything you have. They don't care what until they know you care. All right?

 

Jason Simard:

[crosstalk 00:10:54] more.

 

Al Lewis:

So, I like to ask them a lot of questions. Again, the motivation one is a huge one.

 

Jason Simard:

Right.

 

Al Lewis:

What is it that you're looking for? I don't ask it in those words. But the motivation, finding out what their real motivation is, is the key.

 

Jason Simard:

Yeah, I love that. A really good question Al that we often like to use is, "Hey, what is it about your current home right now that isn't quite working for you that has you exploring other options?" That's [crosstalk 00:11:26].

 

Al Lewis:

That's awesome in a market. There're two different markets that you're marketing too online. Our market is more of a destination market. And your market is more of a move up, move down market. So, you work with whatever is appropriate for your market.

 

Al Lewis:

And honestly, people have made the comment and I've heard it, that it works for me because I'm in the market that I'm in. Well, to me, it's a joke because if I was back in Chicago and I was using this system, I'd be killing a double because I don't have all the listing leads that you guys get. Every buyer lead is a listing lead. Whereas here, if they're coming from somewhere else, yes, it's a listing lead for somebody else that I can refer, but it's not the same thing.

 

Al Lewis:

I know if I was in a move up, move down market and I have somebody looking at my website, I'd be using the tools that I have, that we all have as realtors to look that person up, find out where they live, and you can be sure I'd be knocking on their door, saying, "Hi, I'm Al Lewis. You sign up on my website. I was just wanting to stop by and introduce myself."

 

Al Lewis:

And that's the thing. I'm not going to hop in a plane and fly to New York or New Jersey, not that they let me now with the COVID thing, which the COVID thing we talked about the numbers and yeah, we're doing good. We had 22 appointments scheduled for the next three weeks when things got shut down for COVID, 22 appointments in the next three weeks, that all got canceled.

 

Al Lewis:

So, we got hurt just as much as anybody else with the COVID. Lindsay took off for three months because of it. She had somebody unfortunately passed away early in the COVID. And then she has a young daughter, so she just took off for the three months.

 

Al Lewis:

And we didn't really do much in the three months. We've closed out the deals we had. Around May, we started up again, and we're killing it again right now.

 

Jason Simard:

So, Al if somebody listening right now and I'm thinking, okay, how do I implement some of the systems that Al has, what types of systems have you and your team implement and utilizing the technology that you have with Real Geeks?

 

Al Lewis:

Okay. Well, the first thing is, don't get bogged down in the systems. My system when I ran my first ad in the Real Geeks was nothing. It was okay, I've got my telephone. That's all I have. I didn't use the out of the box email that Real Geeks provides for you. I didn't use the auto text. We didn't have the chat yet.

 

Al Lewis:

So, all I did was pick up the phone and learn. I didn't really know how to use the CRM. I didn't know how to use that or anything. I didn't start using the workflow until two months ago when I watched the episode for Abe and Greg, and I watched that episode four times. I'm not kidding you. And I listened to everything they said and what they would do and when they would do it. And I wrote it down, and I wrote those workflows out.

 

Al Lewis:

But before that, so the key to me is the first five minutes. I know that about 30% of our leads have no phone number, which is good. I'll talk about what we do with those leads in a minute, okay? They either sign up with no phone number through Facebook or they give us a phony phone number, okay? So, I don't worry about those 30%. That still gives us 70% potentially talk to. And of those leads, we probably get ahold of at least 50 to 60% of those leads in the first five minutes.

 

Al Lewis:

And what we do is, obviously we have the automatic email that goes out, but we've customized it. Have you ever read the automated email that goes out?

 

Jason Simard:

From Real Geeks?

 

Al Lewis:

Yeah?

 

Jason Simard:

I haven't.

 

Al Lewis:

That's the point. Nobody else has either. Okay. So, we've customized our automated email, so it's relevant to what they're getting.

 

Al Lewis:

I tested the auto text. The auto text goes out two minutes after. One minute was too soon. It didn't look real. So, two minutes after the lead signs up, they get an auto text. Hi, thanks for signing up on my website. Are you here in town? Would you like to take a look at some homes? I don't remember what it says, doesn't matter what it says. But it's an alternative choice. I give them a couple of choices. We actually play with that a little bit.

 

Al Lewis:

Four minutes, they get the auto chat. And the reason it's four minutes, I tested that also, when I put it at one minute, my bounce rate went way up. I noticed people were bouncing. I noticed my bounce rate is about 24%, all right, which I don't know if that's good or bad, but I just know, that's what it is. I noticed that the average person was spending seven and a half minutes on my website. So, I knew I have a certain amount of time to get a hold of people and I didn't want to scare them away.

 

Al Lewis:

So, we send them the email at second one. At two minutes, they get the auto text from us. Four minutes, they get the auto chat from us. And five minutes, we call.

 

Al Lewis:

And the reason we do that is we're also able to monitor and see what they're looking for. I know a lot of people are picking up the phone right away and it works for them. I don't care what your system is. Come up with a system. All right.

 

Al Lewis:

So, at five minutes we call them. We're giving them a chance to respond to the text or to respond to the chat. Fifteen percent of the people are responding to the chat, which is crazy. And that chat feature has kind of changed our prospecting.

 

Al Lewis:

I mean, we are able to use that chat feature. We know that people are getting the emails at 8:00 in the morning. They're coming back between 8:00 and 11:00 in the morning. We come in at 8:00 in the morning. We start prospecting, we work the database, and we're watching to see who's coming back. And these people that we can't get a hold of or even people that we have getting a hold of, we're chatting with them, and they're chatting with us.

 

Al Lewis:

We don't know whether people like to talk to us either on the phone or by email or by text or by chat. Ultimately, we want them on the phone, of course, but we need to make contact with them. And whatever method they choose, we're happy to use that method to talk to them. So, we're working the database. That's something that we're doing too. Like I said, we can cold prospect or we can warm prospect.

 

Al Lewis:

As far as I'm concerned, any of these leads that have signed up on our website are warm prospects. They're somebody who had sort of like and Jason, you and I talked about this. Everybody says, "Oh, all the leads are just looking." Well, of course, they're just looking. When you go to Best Buy, you got in the car. You drove to Best Buy. You parked in the parking lot. You walked in and they say, "Can I help you?" "No, I'm just looking." Well, you didn't get in the car, drive to Best Buy and go in there because you are just looking.

 

Al Lewis:

So, when someone says to me that they're just looking, I go, "That's great. What are you looking for? That's exciting." So, again we start the LP MAMA with that. We love it when somebody says they're just looking.

 

Jason Simard:

I love that. I mean, it's called a smokescreen, right? And often a smokescreen could be two things. Number one poor first question, you didn't ask a good question, or it just simply somebody that's like, "Oh, let me see if I can just get this person off the phone." And if you just accept that smokescreen, you're not going to get very far with these leads. And that's when [crosstalk 00:19:36].

 

Jason Simard:

I mean, if I walked into a department store today and you just were like, "Hey, can I help you?", I'm programmed to just be like, "Oh, I'm just looking. I don't know why I do that, but I just do." But if you were to ask me a different question, you're like, "Hey, what brought you in the store today?" I'd be like, "Well, I'm looking for a pair of jeans," or "I'm looking for this" because I don't walk into a store for fun. You'll never find me in a store for fun.

 

Al Lewis:

I don't come to your website for fun either.

 

Jason Simard:

Exactly. I agree with you 1,000%. Anybody listening right now, he's giving you gold. Do not accept these smokescreens as like absolute truths. They are just throwing you a smokescreen just like people throw in. It's usually because of a bad question or they're just seeing if they can brush you off quickly. And you've got to overcome that. So, I love what you talked about there, Al.

 

Jason Simard:

For people that are maybe thinking about getting into the internet lead gen game or are in the internet lead gen game right now and just want to be incrementally better, what's a couple tips that you would give them that have really worked for you, a couple more tips? Because I think people want something tangible when they watch these.

 

Al Lewis:

Work the database. I mean, database doesn't work itself. On the Real Geek mastermind and Facebook, nobody's going to work your leads as good as you. You've spent a lot of money generating these leads. And there's a reason that the people work for [inaudible 00:21:03], they work for these other guys, and they're not selling real estate. If they were any good at converting, they'd be selling real estate.

 

Al Lewis:

So, nobody's going to work your leads as good as you. Work it yourself. If you're too busy to work the leads, that's great, then you can farm that stuff out. But you've got to work the leads yourself. You can't expect somebody to work them as good as you can.

 

Al Lewis:

The other thing is the leads that you generate, generate leads that you want. It doesn't make sense for you to generate leads from an area that you don't want those leads, you're not going to do anything with them. So, generate the type of lead that you want. And it takes time to do that. You have to figure out what it is that you do want.

 

Al Lewis:

I made the joke before about how 1995 when the internet came out that they were going to put us out of business. Well, everybody would like their website. They want to take the lead and make it into a closing, just jump out all through all the other steps.

 

Al Lewis:

Well, you have the lead. Then you have to contact the lead and turn them into a prospect. Then you have to turn the prospect into a customer and that's the only way then you can turn it into a closing. You can't skip from lead to closing. You prospect and customer come before closing. So, they've got to understand it's a four-step process.

 

Al Lewis:

Now, I noticed that there's no shopping cart on our website. That's what everybody wants. They might go, "Oh, I want that house. Let me put that in the shopping cart. Let me give you my credit card and check out and you get paid." Well, it doesn't work that way. You have to understand that this is work. That lead followup is a job. The reason we get paid thousands of dollars a transaction is because it's not easy.

 

Jason Simard:

Yeah, there's a lot of work that goes into it.

 

Al Lewis:

Yeah.

 

Jason Simard:

How many calls a day are you guys generally making and how many days a week are you trying to do that? And then also, how many text messages are you putting in a day? Because I think that's something in 2020, if you're not texting and using that capability in the website, you're missing out on a lot.

 

Al Lewis:

Yeah, we're doing a lot. Honestly, and I'm not good at tracking the numbers, we're doing whatever it takes. We get here and if we're not showing, if we don't have appointments, we try and spend three hours a day prospecting the database.

 

Al Lewis:

And chat, I'm telling you, yes, we send text. We're spying on them on our website. And again, one of the best things we're contacting people with is the chat feature. We call them, they don't answer. We text them, they don't respond. We email them, they don't ... But we know when they're on our website. So, we know they're coming back because they got the daily updates that morning. We know they're going to be there between 8:00 and 11:00. We're just sitting there waiting for them.

 

Al Lewis:

Come on in. Lindsey, you see Lindsey right there? She's chatting away with people right now. That's exactly what she's doing. She's sitting and watching for people to come to the website. And when they come on, she's chatting with them. So, we're using that tool. That was the best tool that Real Geeks ever added was the chat.

 

Al Lewis:

Wait, here's a great story with chat. And this is a true story. So, a lead signed up. And I was sitting here at the computer and he responded to the auto chat and he and I talked for a while. And for 15 minutes, he and I went back and forth, we talked. At the end of the chat, he told me he was deaf. I could have called him all day long and he had never answered. Told me he was deaf. We communicated. I said, "Okay, great. I'll communicate with you via email and text." He said, "That's fine. That's great." I got a call a few weeks later from his friend to tell me that they were coming down. They came down and they bought a house.

 

Jason Simard:

Wow.

 

Al Lewis:

If it wasn't for the chat, that's a deal that we had, one of many deals that we've had because of the chat feature. So, it's a great tool.

 

Kevin McCarthy:

I love hearing that story. Because we put a lot of effort into that chat features. So, I love hearing about when [crosstalk 00:25:38].

 

Al Lewis:

Yeah, we love it. Again, when it came out six months ago, and honestly, it's taken over for us from text.

 

Kevin McCarthy:

Wow, that's cool.

 

Al Lewis:

We're still texting. Obviously, we still text like crazy. We're trying stuff all the time. We took 100 leads that we didn't have phone numbers for just the other day and everybody talks about where you can text through your iPhone using the email. So, we took 100 to test them. We only got one blue light. So, obviously, we tried it. We said, "All right, we've got 1000 leads with no phone number, if this works ..." I was all excited because I'm thinking, we're going to get like a 20 or 30%.

 

Al Lewis:

No, that being said, the one person did respond to us. So, we got 100% response rate from the blues. So, you know what I'm talking about blue green, right?

 

Kevin McCarthy:

So, with iMessage on Apple, normally, you can send an iMessage to a phone number, but a lot of folks don't know you can send an iMessage to an email too, right? So, if someone signs up on your website and you don't get the phone number, you can still go into your iPhone and put in their email and send them a message and sometimes it'll go through, right?

 

Al Lewis:

Yeah.

 

Jason Simard:

Okay, that's interesting.

 

Al Lewis:

We tried.

 

Jason Simard:

We call it The Lab, Al. Our team, our client care team, we're constantly testing things. We're tweaking things.

 

Al Lewis:

Yeah. Us too.

 

Jason Simard:

And I think, have some fun with it. You can't break anything. Do you agree? I mean, you literally can't break anything. Most of these people will never do business with you if you don't follow up with them.

 

Jason Simard:

So, what you're worried about, I don't know. Try something. And literally Al, I mean, it wouldn't necessarily be my approach, but you're literally just saying, "Hey, you want to look at houses," and it's working. I mean that's better than not doing anything and probably what it's doing is it's making them respond in some way. And then you're charming your natural abilities, you're actually building rapport after anyways, whether they say-

 

Al Lewis:

Well, Jason, we have one more step is not only am I asking them if they want to see houses, I'm setting them up for the just looking. Hey, did you want to take a look at any homes or are you just looking?

 

Al Lewis:

So, I'm inviting them to tell me, "Yeah, I want to look at homes," or "Yeah, I'm just looking," and again, I go right into that's, we're just looking at. "That's great. What are you looking for?" So, I'm inviting them to say, just looking. Everybody else is afraid of it.

 

Kevin McCarthy:

Actually, that's a question that just came up is what's your response to just looking? So, you're expecting him to say that.

 

Al Lewis:

Yeah, yeah.

 

Kevin McCarthy:

I'd like to hear both from Al and Jason. If someone says, I'm just looking, what have both you guys say?

 

Jason Simard:

Oh, man, I love this stuff.

 

Lyndsey:

What are you looking for.

 

Jason Simard:

What are you looking for is what they're going to say.

 

Kevin McCarthy:

What are you looking for?

 

Jason Simard:

You know what I'd say? I'd say that's great. This is a neat place to start. So, tell me a little bit about what you're looking for.

 

Al Lewis:

Right. I say that's great, too. And that's the one thing I always tell people. You preface everything with, that's great, or that's exciting, or that's perfect. Let them know that you're listening, but it also gives you a second to think about what your next response is going to be.

 

Jason Simard:

Right.

 

Al Lewis:

I use that second to respond, to let me think about the response. The problem with scripts and we all have scripts is the people on the other end of the phone don't know their lines. So, when they don't know their lines, we have to adapt that go to a different script.

 

Jason Simard:

Yeah. Al, how important do you think tonality is for people making call? Can you talk about that because I think I you naturally just-

 

Al Lewis:

I try and match. We were taught to match, mirror and match. Obviously, I'm very excitable, loud, aggressive. That doesn't work with a lot of people. So, what I like to think is people work with me because of my amazingly good looks. But I don't know how true that is.

 

Al Lewis:

You've got to match what they're doing. If someone has a southern drawl, I don't go to that extreme, because that's not genuine, although I was taught to do that back in the day. You try and match. If they're slow, you go a little slower. If they're fast, you go a little faster. You kind of match what they're doing.

 

Al Lewis:

And again, I said this before and I'll say it again, they don't care what you know until they know that you care. All these questions that I'm asking, that I'm actually prequalifying them, they think that I'm asking them questions because I care about them.

 

Jason Simard:

Right.

 

Al Lewis:

Okay. So, it's asking the right question. They don't care how great I am. They don't care how many homes I've sold, that means nothing to them. All they want to know is what's in it for me. That's it.

 

Jason Simard:

Yeah. I agree with that. I mean, think about this, gentlemen, have you ever had an amazing service experience in your life where you felt the person that you were talking to have their own interest first? Seriously, think about it. I'd like to hear if anybody's ever had a service experience where they felt that the person they were dealing with had their own interest first. I've never had it. If all you do is be curious and excited for them and make the whole experience about just getting to be curious, it's amazing what happens.

 

Jason Simard:

I mean, look at the success Al's having. I mean, literally, you decided, you know what, I had a 30-year career. I'm bored. I'm probably driving my wife crazy. I need to get back into work. And you decided I'm going to go start a real estate business in a market that I don't really know anybody. And you're selling how many homes in the first 12 months in a market you didn't know anybody?

 

Al Lewis:

Enough.

 

Jason Simard:

A lot.

 

Al Lewis:

I had a goal just to make $100,000 my first year and I made that the first six months.

 

Jason Simard:

That's amazing.

 

Al Lewis:

But see, I don't like to look at dollars. I don't like to look at commission. I don't like to look at volume. Because volume and money is different in different markets. You're going to have a market where if you do five million in business, you're a superstar. In other places, if you do five million in business, you sold one house. Same thing with commission. So, I like to look at transactions, the number of deals because that's interchangeable from market to market.

 

Al Lewis:

So, again, last year, again, I don't know what I ended up with. I know the first nine months because I did do a post on Real Geeks talking about what I had done my first nine months using Real Geeks. I remember at that time, it was like 28 deals in my first nine months. So, that was basically by myself. Lindsey had just joined me and she did pretty well. But that was basically on my own. Everybody wants to know how long it's going to take.

 

Al Lewis:

Well, some of our leads we're closing in a week. Some of our leads we're closing in a year. Some of our leads now we're just getting those year and a half leads.

 

Al Lewis:

So, the scary part about this whole thing is we're converting only about 2% of our leads. And 3% of our leads I know are buying from somebody else. And the reason for that is we're just too busy with the leads that we're working. So, we're trying to figure that out. That's one of the reasons why I'm bringing in brand new agents, which again, I swore I would never do that again. But I brought in three brand new agents in the last few weeks and we're trying to train them our way. And hopefully, they'll be trainable.

 

Al Lewis:

First thing we do when we bring on a new agent is we give them 100 leads from the database. I try and keep each agent to under 100 leads in their database. Otherwise, I assign them over 100. It's too hard to work over 100 leads, you know that, Jason. So, what I do is I give him 100 leads from the database, not necessarily bad leads just leads we don't have time to work, and I haven't caught all 100 leads.

 

Al Lewis:

So, they get over the fear of the phone. They learn how to use the phone. They learn how to use the CRM, and that's what we started with. And we had one agent that started with us three weeks ago, and she's showing houses every day. We gave her those 100 leads. We just started giving her new leads about a week ago, how many appointments does Pam have?

 

Lyndsey:

Four.

 

Al Lewis:

She got four showing appointments lined up.

 

Lyndsey:

One just came through.

 

Al Lewis:

One just came through for today or tomorrow. And she's been doing it for three weeks. She's working the database. We've taught her to work the database. And these were called old leads. They weren't bad leads. We just didn't have time to work on. I mean, everybody's got gold in their database. They're just not working them.

 

Jason Simard:

Oh, man, there's so much gold. I remember when I started in the business, there was an agent who had hundreds of leads sitting in our database and closed one deal in 13 months from it, but wasn't working them. I said, "Look, I'll work on a split with you and I'll work your database for you." Well, I set up $76,000 in commissions in 40 days.

 

Al Lewis:

Yeah.

 

Jason Simard:

And I gave her a very generous, I gave her 50% of that, right?

 

Al Lewis:

Yeah.

 

Jason Simard:

But it's there, go after it. And it's just like you said, if you're not making the attempts and you're not curious and trying to connect with them in different mediums, you're missing out and Real Geeks has literally made it foolproof for us.

 

Jason Simard:

You've got the chat feature. You can text. You can email. You can call people. I mean, there's definitely a way that you can get ahold of people. You just have to figure out what that is. So, Al.

 

Al Lewis:

Oh-

 

Jason Simard:

Go ahead.

 

Al Lewis:

Sorry, what? I wanted to tell you that I promised a bunch of people, what do I do with the no phone number leads?

 

Jason Simard:

Yeah, let's hear about that. And guys, I'll be right back. I've got my allergies kicking in right now. I'll be right back. I'm so sorry.

 

Al Lewis:

Okay, sounds good. So, here's what we do. When it comes in, obviously, if they sign up with no phone number, we see that it has no phone number. If we call and we know that it's a phony number, we remove that phone number.

 

Al Lewis:

And the reason we remove that phone number is because when they come back and I'll tell you what we do with them to make sure they come back, when they come back, this way the system is asking them for their right phone number without the wrong phone number already being auto populated. And then just clicking and going, yeah, that's my phone number. So, we decided to remove the phone number.

 

Al Lewis:

So, we remove the phone number. We set up an urgency. We change the urgency to no phone number. We have about 30 different urgencies. And the reason we use that urgency so much is if you look at the CRM, where is the urgency column, it's right next to the name. It's easy to sort.

 

Al Lewis:

So, we change their status to no phone number or their urgency to no phone number. We wipe the phone number out. We still make sure they're set up with an appropriate search. Because as Kevin knows, the way their system is designed, they're still going to get those daily updates every day. So, we make sure that the email that they're going to get, and every time they come back, every time they come back, they're going to be asked to give their phone number. And when they give us their phone number, we know they're ready to talk and they're ready to buy.

 

Al Lewis:

So, Kevin, there's a bug in the system, which Kevin and I talked about a couple weeks ago and Kevin assures me it'll be fixed next week.

 

Kevin McCarthy:

Yup, actually, I just got a text from the team. So, that's fixed as of right now, just went [crosstalk 00:37:05].

 

Al Lewis:

Awesome. Okay, so that's even better. You hear that Lyndsey?

 

Lyndsey:

Yeah.

 

Al Lewis:

They fixed that. So, as of this moment forward, what we had to do is every day check to see who had given us their phone numbers, and sometimes we'd be so busy, we wouldn't check for a week or two.

 

Al Lewis:

And this is what I called Kevin a couple weeks ago, because if when they're online, and they're giving you their phone number and saying, "Call me now," you need to call them now. So, now we'll get notified of that. We weren't getting notified of that before, but that's all taken care of.

 

Al Lewis:

But I'll just give you a stat. This is very interesting. We hadn't done it for a couple weeks. We hadn't checked the people that had added phone numbers. Lindsey checked and there was 10 people that had added phone numbers, over maybe a month period because we're so busy. We sold so many houses, don't couple months, we just got busy. She called all 10 of them. Three had bought houses. She got a hold of all 10 of them and three had bought house.

 

Al Lewis:

So, I mean, that just shows you when they add that phone number in, and like I said, set up that search and that's all we do with them. That's it. When they're ready to talk, we'll talk ... I know a lot of people look up their phone numbers. They chase them down. We've got too many other people we're already talking to. Worry about the people that want to talk to you.

 

Jason Simard:

That's a campaign on the planet in real estate is the save search. And so, we really focus a lot on that, making sure that, hey, we wanted to reach out to you to save you time by really dialing in your search. Tell me more about what you're looking for. Everything we're doing is trying to provide value and make their search easier so that we're sending them what they're looking for. Then we're checking in. We have built-in systems where we're checking in. So, have you guys adopted any sort of followup text campaigns or email campaigns?

 

Al Lewis:

Well, again, we started two months ago, when I watched that episode, and we only have two right now. And we're going to be working on more because Lindsey's making me put more together. Because there's only two types of leads. There's the leads that you've contacted and the leads that you haven't contacted, right?

 

Al Lewis:

So, the leads that we haven't contacted, we have a workflow. And it's taken basically straight from not what Greg had put into the Real Geeks, but what him and Abe said over their hour talking about it and I wrote it and kind of adapted it to our area and message.

 

Al Lewis:

And so, we have what we call the workflow attempted. So, in other words, we've attempted them. We didn't get them on the phone and we start that workflow right away. And they get a text in one minute. The automated text says, "Hey, Jim, I just tried calling you. I'm sorry, I missed you. I'd love to answer any questions you have about real estate." I don't remember what it says, but it says something.

 

Jason Simard:

Yeah.

 

Al Lewis:

And we have another text that goes out 45 minutes later. We have an email that goes out 15 minutes after that. And then we have another text that goes out two or three hours later that day.

 

Al Lewis:

So, the first day they're getting the auto email from us when they sign up. They're getting the text from us two minutes. They're getting the chat from us at four minutes. They're getting the call from us at five minutes. They're getting another text at, let's call it, six minutes, six to 10 minutes. They're getting another text an hour after they'd signed up, another email. They're hearing from us four different ways, nine times the first day.

 

Kevin McCarthy:

Yeah Al, we got some folks in the comments taking notes, two minutes after the sign up and text, four minutes live chat, five minute call. But then they're asking, how do you maintain the consistency? Make sure that the call always happens. And then what do you do with calls that come in after hours?

 

Al Lewis:

Call them next morning at 8:00. Those are actually the best people to talk to. We get here at 8:00. Those are our first phone calls. We're tired. We've had a long day. Well first, I'll tell you our advertising when we're doing either Google or Facebook or whatever, or Bing or whatever is set up where the ads only run from 6:00 AM to 10:00 PM. Period. I don't want the leads that are coming in overnight. I'd rather focus my money in that timeframe, okay?

 

Al Lewis:

So, the next thing I do, our office hours are basically the same. So, no text go out after 10:00 at night, actually 7:00 in the morning because if they sign up after 10:00 at night, that auto text goes out at 7:00 AM. So, then we come in at 8:00 in the morning. "Hi, this is Al Lewis from RE/MAX. Saw you signed up on my website last night. I was wondering if you wanted to take a look in any homes or if you were just looking."

 

Al Lewis:

Now, that's not to say if they respond at night, if it comes in and they respond to the auto text or the email or the chat. If we're available and they look hot, of course, we're going to jump on that. We're realtors. We're used to having to be available. But if they don't, it can wait until the next morning. It won't kill anybody if we wait until the next day. A lot of people don't want to talk to you at night anyhow.

 

Jason Simard:

Yeah, totally. And I agree with that. And look, in theory we want everybody being contacted within five minutes, but that's not always going to be the case, right? There's going to be a lot of circumstances that doesn't happen.

 

Al Lewis:

Yeah, you're right. If you're a solo agent, you're out showing. Call them when you're done. It's not the end of the world. If you can't get to them in five minutes, it's okay. Really just call him.

 

Jason Simard:

I used to do that between appointments. So, if I had a 10-minute drive or a 15-minute drive, instead of listening to the radio, I would just make [inaudible 00:43:24] calls.

 

Al Lewis:

Yup. Exactly. So, it won't kill anybody if you call them an hour late.

 

Jason Simard:

No. And that's why we've set up processes, right? You've got the text and you've got the chat and you've got the email and the text. I mean, that's to help your conversion. I mean, with the systems that we've put in, we're finding we're having a response rate in the first week. We're probably making contact with at least 70% of our leads, 80% of our leads. It's really high.

 

Al Lewis:

With the workflow, we're doing about that right now.

 

Jason Simard:

Yeah.

 

Al Lewis:

With the workflow, yeah, we're doing that.

 

Jason Simard:

Nothing better than that. Even if they tell you to pound sand, it's okay because at least we're making contact. And that's kind of the point why we're doing it. But we're always coming from a place of service and value.

 

Jason Simard:

So, Al, I mean, you're off to a big start here. And I remember Jeff Manson did this to me back in the day and he's made me set some ridiculous goal about what I wanted to do. So, what does the next 12 months look for Al Lewis? What are you going to do, Al? Set a big goal here.

 

Al Lewis:

I don't know. I swore I would never do this again. So, I honestly don't know. Because again, I swore when I came down here, again, I still needed to work. I still wanted to work. I'm young, I needed to work. We're comfortable, but I don't have total retirement dollars.

 

Al Lewis:

And I've done it all from real estate. My wife has always been a homemaker. I know Jason, I know you're setting up the multistreams and I've been so busy making a good living as a realtor for 35 years that I never got wealthy. You know what I mean? But I've always been very comfortable from selling real estate.

 

Al Lewis:

So, I don't know. I had my own company before. I've managed offices, I've managed multi-offices, had a lot of agents working for me. I don't know what I'm going to do. I swear I'd never have a team again.

 

Jason Simard:

And here you are building a team.

 

Al Lewis:

Right, right. So, I honestly don't know. I really need to sit down and write out my five-year goals, because I don't have them down right now.

 

Jason Simard:

All right, well, we'll talk about that sometime man. Let's get a goal in place for your agents too, right? How can you help them sell houses? Because at this point, it sounds like, Al, I mean, you've proven everything you need to prove yourself in real estate and been incredibly successful. And it sounds like you're really committed now to helping the people that you're working with, helping them do the same.

 

Al Lewis:

Hell, yeah. I can tell you that them making a living ... I make a living, okay? I could make a great living without them. My goal is for them to make a great living. And Lindsey, she's right here, I will tell you, my goal is for them to make a great living and have a good life.

 

Jason Simard:

Love it.

 

Al Lewis:

So, I agree with you.

 

Jason Simard:

Awesome. Any final last thoughts you want to provide the audience? Any last items of value or how can people help support you with some referrals? What market are you in?

 

Al Lewis:

I appreciate that. Yeah, I'm down in Southwest Florida. Our primary area is Cape Coral, Fort Myers. We also were at Bonita Springs, Estero, Naples to a lesser degree, but that's basically our primary area.

 

Al Lewis:

So, we have a lot of people, like you said, that are coming from around the country, coming down here. Of course, our inventory just like everybody else's is down. We're down 50%. What's your inventory like up there?

 

Jason Simard:

Man, we're probably down maybe 20, 25%.

 

Al Lewis:

We're literally down 50%.

 

Jason Simard:

Wow, wow.

 

Al Lewis:

But houses are still selling every day.

 

Jason Simard:

Yeah. No, exactly. And it's crazy. Hey, because I think back in March how many people were panicked with COVID and now, it's seeing people [crosstalk 00:47:09].

 

Al Lewis:

Let me tell you a funny story with that. So, I went through all the ups and downs. And in 2007 when the market went way down ... In 2010, I netted $28,000 and went, "Hmm, am I going to have to do something else?"

 

Al Lewis:

So, I got into the short sale business, helping people short sale. The next three years, I made a lot of money short selling I got great at it. Chase, Bank of America, Citi, all put me on the recommended short sale agent. I had more short sale business than I could handle.

 

Al Lewis:

So, when the market crashed again right now, the first thing I did was bought like 10 domains with short sale in it, just in case the market went down again. I bought foreclosure domains. I bought short sale domains. Obviously, I have no need for them now, but I thought the market was going that way, but I was wrong.

 

Jason Simard:

Well, but it's a good wake up call. As bad as people felt things were and as good as you feel they are right now, guys, make sure that you're being smart with your money. Make sure that you understand that real estate has ups and downs. The one thing though, that people can control, Al, is the activities that they're putting out, right?

 

Jason Simard:

I mean, that was our recovery plan with COVID was, hey, let's just stay focused on what we can control. Let's up our activities. Let's make sure that we're connecting with people because people are going to need to buy-sell. It's just always going to happen. Even in the worst markets, there's still some activity, right? It's not going to stop.

 

Al Lewis:

People need a place to live.

 

Jason Simard:

Right.

 

Al Lewis:

It's that simple. They have to have a place to live. But the best thing you asked me what I would leave, work the database. I get so aggravated when I hear people say the leads are crap. You're right. They are crap. If you don't work on, they're crap. So, work your database. It doesn't work itself.

 

Jason Simard:

It's true.

 

Al Lewis:

That's it.

 

Jason Simard:

I mean, you've got Al here literally coming out of retirement. I'm going to go do this for fun and blowing it up. And I've been able to build incredible wealth using internet leads as a main pillar in our business. And you guys, it's there. If you want to take it, it's there. But you can overthink it. You got to be a doer.

 

Jason Simard:

Al's not sitting there trying to think of the perfect thing to say, he's just taking action. Just like us, we're taking action. We're working our skills. But at the end of the day, there's no such thing as a perfect phone call. Is there, Al?

 

Al Lewis:

No, no. And like I said, at the end of the phone call, I say what could I have done better? But don't worry about having the perfect system in place. I told you, my system when I started this two years ago, or 20 months ago was me and a telephone. That's it. I had no other system. I didn't know how to use the CRM. I didn't know. So, as time went on, and again, I see everybody who wants to integrate all these things, Real Geeks they don't know how to use 90% of what they have in Real Geeks, but they want it to integrate with 20 different things. I don't integrate with anything.

 

Al Lewis:

I tried integrating it with MailChimp. And I found that when I tried converting the leads over to MailChimp, that for whatever reason, MailChimp only accepted half of them, but when I downloaded them from Real Geeks and uploaded them to MailChimp, MailChimp accepted all of them.

 

Al Lewis:

So, I mean, don't worry about the integrations. Worry about what you have and use the system that you have. One of the things that they're also doing, everybody wants their website to be beautiful. My website is basically out of the box. All I'm worried about with my website, it's not my business card. My website is designed for lead generation and lead conversion and lead contact. That's it. It's not the most beautiful website.

 

Al Lewis:

The reason I chose Real Geeks was because of their frontend tool for people to search properties. I felt that the frontend tool of Real Geeks to search properties, the advanced search, the regular search bar that comes up when people come to the website was far better than all those other websites that have that single line in them. And they're hard to use. So, that's why I chose Real Geeks.

 

Al Lewis:

And I see all these people customizing their websites, just generate leads from them. Don't complain when it doesn't convert as well because you spent all this money changing it.

 

Jason Simard:

Yeah, I think that's a great way to kind of end this. I think that's great. Al, thank you so much for providing the value and for being willing to just share.

 

Jason Simard:

And again, if anybody wants to have a great referral partner that they can send out to in Cape Coral, Florida, Al Lewis and his team will take amazing care of them.

 

Jason Simard:

Al, it's been a pleasure getting to know you better. I'm looking forward to masterminding with you and us just continuing to level up as an industry. And that's the whole point of this.

 

Jason Simard:

Kevin, thank you for putting on an amazing company and literally allowing us to do what we do best, which is help people sell real estate.

 

Jason Simard:

I want to throw a quick plug out there to our unofficial Real Geeks conference coming up. We're going to have some amazing speakers. There's going to be an amazing value. People are opening up their full playbooks and sharing. That's going to be October 20th and 21st. Tickets are still available. I think there's quite a few sold, but it's going to be a virtual conference this year. Todd Tramonte is putting it on. We had one last year. It was amazing. There's a lot of value there. So, highly recommend people check that out.

 

Jason Simard:

Kevin, what are your final thoughts?

 

Kevin McCarthy:

Folks in the chat are asking you, Al, how can they get ahold of you if they want to reach you? What's the best way?

 

Al Lewis:

Email is Al, A-L, at CapeHomeValues dot com.

 

Kevin McCarthy:

Great.

 

Al Lewis:

That's a "values" within an S, al@capehomevalues.com.

 

Kevin McCarthy:

Perfect. Yeah. Thanks so much, guys. Al, your energy I think really brings a light here. Your excitement with what you're doing is infectious. And it's really been a pleasure having you on. Jason, pleasure as always.

 

Kevin McCarthy:

Thanks everybody for watching. If you want to see this episode after it's gone live, you can go to keepingitreal.com. And we'll put it up on there. We're also in the podcast app store, in several different places. And if you want to be notified of future Keeping it Real episodes, you can go to keepingitreal.com and put in your email and sign up and we'll send you an email when a new one comes out.

 

Kevin McCarthy:

So, thank you, everybody, and we'll see you next time.

 

Al Lewis:

Thanks, guys.

 

Jason Simard:

Thanks guys.

 

Al Lewis:

See you all later. I got to fly. I got an appointment. See you later.

 

Kevin McCarthy:

Take care.

 

Jason Simard:

All right. Go close it. Bye.