On this episode of The Neighborhood Realtor, Matt Muscat talks with Josh May, an outstanding Realtor, speaker, and networker in Grand Rapids, MI.
Josh May has been a licensed real estate agent for 22 years. He started as a college student trying to get by as a football player at Grand Valley State University. He fell in love with business instantly and began selling commercial real estate. Although, Josh realized quickly a massive opportunity as a college-aged Realtor: all of his friends, classmates, and professional network would all be buying homes in the next 5-10 years. He dove straight into residential real estate and never turned back. That decision proved to be instrumental in his career.
When the housing market crashed in 2008, Josh had a few years under his belt learning the ropes of the industry. Being a newer agent in 2008 gave him a big advantage in the market to stay nimble, and shift quickly with buyers as conversations & sales changed— seemingly overnight. Josh makes many comparisons between the 2008 housing crash and today’s market—while they are still very different markets, some of the fundamental themes remain the same. Some of the same strategies that haven’t worked since 2008 are working once again.
In a changing market, leadership wins. Buyers gravitate toward the Realtors who are positive, excited, and bold. In 2022 & 2023, that couldn’t be more important.
Josh speaks intensely to the style of communication needed with clients, and the importance of leadership in marketing. Leaders talk, leaders are transparent, and leaders motivate! In the housing market, Realtors must be a strong leader to survive (and thrive) in a shifting market. Practical conversions and honest education will what wins buyers and sellers over. It’s a Realtor strategy that wins!
A theme that Josh refers to multiple times throughout this episode is the importance if discipline and sticking to your plans. Write your goals down on paper, and tell friends and family about them. Break down those goals into bite-sized chunks or do anything you need to do. Just don’t get behind them, don’t ignore them, and stay true to those goals. Do everything in your power to achieve those goals, since they are non-negotiable. Josh credits this discipline-first Realtor strategy to much of his career’s progress.
The Neighborhood Realtor is proudly sponsored by Treadstone Funding and Neighborhood Loans. For more tangible tips in real estate marketing, check out Matt's book, The Tangible Action Guide for Real Estate Marketing available on Amazon.
Matt M. Welcome to the Neighborhood Realtor podcast. With me, your host, Matt Muscat. This is a podcast for real estate industry professionals who are doers. Each episode will feature an interview with a top producer or someone who is doing things differently in an exciting way. For those who already know me or have read my books or blogs, my brand of marketing is tangible and repeatable.
Matt M. Because smart salespeople don't need to reinvent the wheel. My promise to you is that in each episode you'll leave with one tangible idea that you can take to the bank.
Matt M. Hey, everybody. Thank you so much for tuning in and thanks to everybody who's making this now. One of the top real estate podcasts out there on the Internet today. I'm especially excited to be sitting face to face via Zoom with someone that I see at the gym almost every day at six in the morning. I'm with the marvelous Josh May with Remax in Grand Rapids.
Matt M. He's a national speaker top realtor. Our good friend Josh, welcome to the show today.
Josh M. All right. Thanks for having me, Matt. I don't know. That's maybe the first time I've been called Marvelous. I've been called a lot of other things. You know, good luck and sexy. All the good stuff. I'm just joking. I'm happy to be here, buddy. I'm 100% happy to be here. And I love talking real estate, having done this for so long, been through the ups and the downs, so let's get into it.
Matt M. So, I mean, let's let's let's start right there. So how long have you been in the business and what was your production in 2021?
Josh M. Okay. Yeah. So I've been on real estate for 22 years. It's been a very interesting journey. I just got an opportunity to chat about this with some agents in Texas, kind of tell my story a little bit, and it's pretty cool in the sense that, you know, I actually started selling real estate, was a junior in college. We didn't even.
Matt M. Wait till graduation. You actually started before graduation?
Josh M. Right. Right. I like to I like to say that my life has been a series of breakdowns, which has led me to some incredible breakthroughs. Right. So my first breakdown was, you know, I thought I was going to be a longtime football player. I played at Grand Valley State, and then I look myself in the eye and I said, You know what?
Josh M. I really don't know what I want to do with the rest of my life. So I sat my coach down and I said, You know, I'm deathly afraid of getting out of college and just not having any clue what direction I want to go in life. So I decided to hang the cleats up. I studied city and regional planning and fell in love with that side of the business.
Josh M. Understand in cities. In fact, I've got stories of, you know, spending weeks in Toronto, Madrid, Spain, all over the all over the world, like studying cities. I've always had a passion for that. Well, I stumbled into an internship opportunity at school. Obviously, you've got to do an internship for your major. And I was led to Remax commercial 22 years ago, so it was interesting because I always tell everybody commercial real estate is a great way to like learn the business.
Josh M. You learn the high level professional side attention to detail and that I was able to swap to residential and carry over the emotional side with that high level professionalism, attention to detail. And it was a great way to start my career.
Matt M. So when you say that like you, you were able to switch over, was that something like your friends knew you were a commercial agent and someone was like, Hey, can you was my house too? Or How did that transition happen?
Josh M. Right. Right. Good question. So, you know, I was a commercial in the commercial real estate world. My junior and senior year. And then, quite frankly, what I saw was I had gained this incredible network of friends at my local university. They were all getting their first job. They were all 23, 24, establishing themselves in their career. And I said, you know, here's an opportunity for me at a very early age to grab a hold of this sphere, grab a hold of this network and just grow with them.
Josh M. So once I saw that opportunity, I said, you know what, commercial has been great. It's been a great learning experience for me, but I'm definitely going to switch over to residential and that was how it all happened. So I've been in the residential game for about 20 years and you know, 2000 and 2004 through 2008 was certainly just kind of learning the ropes.
Josh M. The market was hot. And then obviously we got into the crash of 2008, which we can chat about those three years and how that's actually resembling, you know, the last couple of months. But I'll let you run the show, Matt. Where do you want to go?
Matt M. Yeah, well, that's what's fascinating to me. So there's a lot of our listeners I know and actually a lot of our previous hosts who have only ever experienced what I call an upward market rate. So I got into this in 2010. I met you shortly thereafter, and realistically it felt like I was single handedly know taking the real estate industry and making it go upwards because the market went up every single day from when I got in until about five and a half months ago.
Matt M. I mean, there's probably specific days. So you experienced a very similar thing for the first 3 to 4 years of your career. The market was up day on day for four straight years, and then there is a, you know, a shift that changed things. What was your production? I think I remember you was only 22, 30 deals a year up until the crash and it was 95% buyers, which is also probably very similar to a handful, hundreds of agents who were listening to this, who started in 16 work to 20, 21 every day was better.
Matt M. They were with a lot of buyers and now they're wondering what the future looks like. What what did it look like for you when that when the market started shifting and how did you react? How did you change? And obviously, you're still here and crushing it. So walk us through a little bit of that story.
Josh M. Right. Right. Great questions, because it's eerily similar to I mean, you know, I'm not I'm not here spreading any doom and gloom by any means. And I'm not saying it's eerily similar as far as the markets drastically changing by any means. What I'm talking about is it's eerily similar how quickly things have changed and how quick the communication has changed.
Josh M. Right. So in 2008, like you said, we were running through you know, 2007, 2008. We're running through a fine, normal market. And quite frankly, everybody got overleveraged themselves. The economy got rough. Nobody could get out from where they were at, from a from an equity position. And then the conversations quickly changed. Right. We went from a market where it was easy to talk buyers and through buyers and sellers through a normal transaction to immediately a market where we had to talk sellers through, okay, how are you going to get out of this situation?
Josh M. How bad do you want to get out of the situation? Because here are your options. You're either bringing a lot of money to close right now. You're either entertaining a short sale or you're either potentially entertaining a foreclosure, or you're just sitting tight until the market rebounds. So I guess where I'm going with this is those conversations changed overnight.
Josh M. And as real estate professionals, the people that won out or the people that were able to adapt quickly to a completely new market. Right. And I think what's really important the most important thing right now for people to understand is we just had a very quick change over the past six months. Everybody was doing business. The same way you could make an argument.
Josh M. We were all doing business the same way maybe for the past five years. That got really intense coming out of the pandemic. I mean, when I say the same business, it was pretty easy to throw a listing price out there. You would manage the listing portion, you would see how many multiple offers you could create. And then on the buyer side, you're coaching your buyers up on how to win multiple offer situations.
Josh M. So those conversations were the exact same for five years, and all these agents that got in the business, this is all they've ever known. Just like in 2008 when we had to make that change and coaching people up, how are you going to sell your house? What are the options for buyers? You're having completely different conversations. It's no longer a seller's market in 2008 is is an extreme buyer's market right.
Josh M. So you're negotiating you're coaching buyers up on hanging through working through a short sale because let's let's remember I mean none of these transactions were similar in 2008. We had to get buyers under contract. In a lot of cases, we had to coach them up on how to how to have patience through a six month decision process on a short sale with no guarantees.
Josh M. Right. So the similarities is the conversation has changed quickly. Now, who are the agents and what are they going to do to adapt quickly? Right.
Matt M. So one of the things you know, one of the things that's fascinating that I heard you just say is that the last couple of years, very similar to seven weeks, eight people could just get a listing and it would sell in. In essence, you were selling yourself and hunting for listings, but you weren't necessarily performing many of the key tasks that a great realtor performs negotiation price strategy, working through tough, gritty deals.
Matt M. And you know, now the market has shifted to the complete opposite place from getting the listing. Doesn't necessarily guarantee it sells and you really need to be much more of a quarterback taking on your football experience. Have to be a quarterback and really have the have the balls to tell your clients what they need to do and to lead them.
Matt M. Right. I think there's a huge leadership piece. And, you know, leadership sounds like one of those cop outs in a podcast. It's not as tangible, but your clients need to be led because if you just listen to the first price that they want to list it and say, okay, well, we know how that's working for homes that have been listed at $800,000 and growing up, it's right now for the past two months where they didn't the agent didn't suggest or counter to tell them what the price should be.
Matt M. I think right now a huge lesson is be more of a leader and start developing or find a mentor who can help you with some of the other soft skills that realtors historically have needed to use, but in the last five years weren't as important.
Josh M. 100%. I couldn't agree with you more. I've been saying this for a month. In a change in market, leadership wins out. People are gravitating towards those that I don't want to say I've been there because we all have the opportunity to be really great right now at communication skills. But I can tell you consumers are gravitating to those people that feel that they are leading the charge in this industry that they can trust.
Josh M. How are we communicating online? How are we communicating to our clients? How are we communicating to social and on social media? I mean, I think there's a real opportunity for real estate agents. We don't need to sugarcoat everything right now. But what we do need to do is be real with people. We need to know our facts. We need to be authentic, and we need to be able to coach people through the process.
Josh M. I mean, going, I mean, and there's two different strategies here, right on the listing side, like you said, it was very easy, but now it is understanding your market, understand and in your supply, understanding your competition, understanding that the pricing strategy that you had in the first quarter of 2022 is completely different than the pricing strategy in the fourth quarter of 2022 and beyond.
Josh M. Right.
Matt M. Well, this is this is fascinating because, you know, although you happen to have a ton of experience and you happen to have, you know, a great team, other people out there can still do these tactics. You can still know your numbers, even if you're brand new. And in fact, the less busier you are, the less of an excuse.
Matt M. You have to not do your full research before everything. I mean, in this market, every listing, every buyer you have is a huge, monumental deal and you need to make the most of it. So the strategies there I heard you say research the area like I know I personally am I home I'm in the 49525 zip code. I get a postcard or email or from you personally every single month.
Matt M. That shows me the value of all the homes in my area who have sold bedrooms, bathrooms, square footage, any other huge developments that are coming up in the area in the community that I need to know about. So I feel pretty confident that when it comes time to list again because I used you guys last time.
Josh M. That.
Matt M. I'm going to be able to trust that, you know, the market based on the month. So my question there and also do your clients know where you specialize? Do or do they just think, oh, they work everywhere? Because six months ago we were seeing this all the time. Clients, instead of using the realtor, they use the firsthand purchasing app or use whoever they're going to get it sold the minute it hits the market.
Matt M. And by and large, that was oftentimes true. But that's not going to be true in the next 6 to 12 months, right?
Josh M. Well, I think it's really important things that things that agents can work on right now. And we call them situational conversations. I mean, obviously, the old script conversation, practice conversation, we are always talking situations and how we're going to talk at a high level to our client. So I would urge people to, you know, take their sellers through the entire year, take them through the economy, take them through how interest rates have changed, take them through, you know, simple facts of we were at our historically low inventory levels in West Michigan.
Josh M. That was back in March. Right. So I go through with my sellers like almost month by month what is change throughout the year? So they can they can understand, they can look when I show them a house that closed in May, that means that attracted an offer in April. That pricing strategy is completely different. I mean, I want to take note of the listing price then.
Josh M. I'm not so focused on the actual sale price, but I also want to talk to my sellers about we've got to understand that when this home attracted an offer, the interest rates were three and a half. And how is that going to change the market right now when we're in the mid sixes, we're in the mid sevens. How has that affected the buyer's affordability?
Josh M. So being able to talk at that high level with your sellers is critical. Now the other side of this is how are we practicing having conversations with our buyers right now? Because buyers still need to understand that inventory levels are very low. Like if you just focused on the national news in the media, sometimes people would think that there's a lot of doom and gloom out there.
Josh M. Are the real estate markets crashing? In actuality, it's not at all. And what we're seeing out there is inventories are still inventory is still very low. Okay. We're still looking at continued appreciation in 2023, I would advise agents to dig into things like keeping current matters. That's where we get our stats and all from a national perspective. All the housing forecasters are saying that we're going to see a slight appreciation in 2023.
Josh M. Now, also with that being said, real estate is a hyper local study, right? Like we we in West Michigan, our study is going to be completely different than Phenix, Arizona, San Diego, California. So we also can't lump in the national stats. We've got to kind of sectioned off our national stats and give our clients an understanding on national stats, real estate trends, but then also have them to take a closer look at our local stats.
Matt M. Well, in part of it, too, you know, I think a big conversation for buyers, you know, looking at those hyper local stats, but also looking even more hyper local than their community, looking at their family, looking at their personal situation, because at the end of the day, buying a house is largely based off your personal belief that you will be able to earn more money or save more money by owning the house, then by renting a house?
Matt M. Or do you want to live with your parents and maybe save all the money? But look at your life. I know my parents are great, but like I don't think I want to live with them again. So it's a very personal conversation and you can walk people through the what are your options and how does this choice to buy a home with 6% interest rate or a 20% interest rate?
Matt M. How does that compare to the other options that you as a buyer have on the table? And who else is out there in the neighbor in in the community that wants to be in the area that you want to be? I mean, if you're in a certain area, buy some of our downtown areas. There's five new employers coming to town within the next two years.
Josh M. Right.
Matt M. What does that do? That adds thousands of jobs, thousands of people that either need to rent at prices that are going up or they need to buy at prices that are going up and payments that are going up. Yeah, it's just a choice.
Josh M. 100%. And I mean, we we all need to get into the mentality of what whatever time, whatever time of year we are, whether it's 2022, July one, 23, whatever real estate cycle we are in, the reality is, is there's life changes going on at all times. Like you just said, there is always going to be movement in the market.
Matt M. So let's talk about that because that's super tangible. I think some people need to hear what are some huge life changes that you look for on social media or that you look for in conversations when you're out and about that you then can strategize and form a, you know, personalized real estate plan for someone 100%.
Josh M. I mean, the obvious is, you know, really tracking your client's family dynamic. Is it growing or are there kids are leaving the house? I mean, I've got this Rolodex of people that I know that they're having babies or their kids are leaving the house because they're going into college. And we are constantly keeping up with those people. I mean, it's funny, your listeners might get a kick out of this.
Josh M. I had a client a couple of years ago, of course, you know, we sent baby cards out. When I see something on social media, I get a quick little handwritten note. We send it. We're like a $10 bye bye baby gift card. Super quick, super easy. And send it out to one of my past clients because they just had their third baby.
Josh M. And he emails me like a week later and he said, Josh, I was so surprised that you're keeping up with our family. It's super random that you reached out and I just want to let you know that we definitely about growing the house. We want to move back closer to Grand Rapids. So it's those little things with family changes that we can definitely stay on top of.
Matt M. Well, there's another psychological piece there, too, because that one, you got lucky, right? So that when you did your job, you sent in the card he easiest also senior year he emailed me back. He wants the list. You got the deal. Fantastic. Right. But even if, like, he wasn't ready to move, let's just say, you know, he already had a big enough house.
Matt M. He overbought the first time. He knows that you're watching him, right? So there's like, this psychological, like, idea that, like, he's definitely going to use you again because he knows that if he moves and he posted, which everybody does, you're going to see that also. And people, one of our main drivers is avoiding awkwardness. So even if you're doing this, you might not get a listing immediately every single time.
Matt M. But over the long term, if they know that you're watching them and they know that you're keeping up on their life, you're that much closer to them. Even if even if they're not listing your house or buying a house with you every single year. I love.
Josh M. Your show. Well, in tactical tactical two, to expand on those tactical steps for agents. So I learned this from one of my great mentors at Treadstone funding camp block, which, you know, he said, he said, Josh, why don't you get on the phone with people and just reach out and dig into what is their actual one year, three year, five year life plan.
Josh M. So we can start to put together some stats on what our clients are looking to accomplish over the next 3 to 5 years and stay on top of that. I think you'd be surprised how many people will just let you know of all the life changes that they're thinking about in the future is real estate agents. Unfortunately, we just don't ask questions a lot.
Matt M. Well, that's, you know, one of the biggest things that I do, actually, I'll give it produced a study on your team. So a good friend of mine and a guy that works for you, Scott Bradford. Yeah, working online leads hard for you for the last decade and I've noticed and observed Tim, he asks a lot of deep questions on an initial phone call with an online lead who he doesn't know anything about.
Matt M. And he has a much higher conversion ratio than the average agent because people are going so deep with him in their first 5 minutes of phone calls that then they start they stop thinking about using another agent that might be calling them 10 minutes later because they said voices.
Josh M. Right, right, right.
Matt M. It works with online leads. It works with your actual clients or with your friends. The more someone in trust in you, the less likely they're to shop you in the future.
Josh M. I love that, Scott. He's a rock star and he he definitely digs deep with people. And people feel that here's a guy that really cares about them. Except there was this one person Scott was trying to get so deep with this gal, she was an online lead. You know, you're not going to hit it 100% of the time, but this just shows how hard Scotty works.
Josh M. He was trying to dig deep with this client, and she she she mentioned she's like, what are what are we doing sitting around a campfire or something? Now, I'm not saying you have to use this content match, but it's just a good story. It's a good story.
Matt M. So you've got to really use it.
Josh M. All right. So, you know, you're not you're not going to hit 100%. But I just think it's amazing that people truly believe his on authenticity. And that is a comical story to me because it showed that the one person that didn't really want to hear it acted like they were sitting around a campfire and he was trying to get to know them.
Josh M. She didn't have time for it. So like I said, some great stories. Go ahead.
Matt M. And there's also some personality reading on that, too. I mean, usually I knew the longer you've been in sales, you can sit on a phone conversation, someone for 2 to 3 minutes and start to figure out what personality profile they fit and what types of things to go into. Do they want to cut to the chase? Do they want to go super deep?
Matt M. Do they want to feel like you're getting to know them? And so I think for newer agents to start doing that sooner could be a huge advantage.
Matt M. And now a message from our sponsors. The neighborhood realtor is made possible by the generous support of Treadstone funding and neighborhood loans.
Matt M. With locations all over the.
Matt M. US. Neighborhood Loans believes in doing mortgages better, faster, smarter and creating personal relationships with their clients and realtors.
Matt M. Josh One other thing I really admire about your business that I wish more agents and salespeople would do is that you take the time with your team to make an annual marketing calendar so you're not like most agents start marketing when they get slow, and then it's this stupid rollercoaster that I'm sure we've all heard of. But you guys actually take the time to sit down as a team, figure out what worked last year, add some of those items back in for the next year.
Matt M. And then usually you try a couple of random new things that we see you guys doing, one or two new things every other year. So walk us through what your annual marketing calendar looks like. And you know, any other any other tidbits about that? Because you guys really have a system for your marketing. It's not random in the least.
Josh M. Right. Yeah, I really appreciate that. I mean, we started this annual marketing plan roughly seven or eight years ago. I mean, there was a just to take a step back, like there was a fun there was a defining line in my business. You know, seven is probably eight or nine years ago where I made some decisions to take it to the next level.
Josh M. And I knew I could not do everything on my own. But if I had the right people around me, then we could all take it to the next level. We could all be a great team. And I've had I have some amazing, amazing marketing staff right now. Katie Arnold she's here in the office, but where I'm going with that is, you know, agents really need to understand and accept the fact that it's really hard to be great at everything in this business right.
Josh M. Like you have to look forward in your business, you know, one year, three years, five years and really write down what you want it to look like. Like if you want to be a solo agent, you can be a solo agent. You're probably just not going to be great at everything else, right? If you want to be a team, you can be a team and you have the opportunity to be surrounded by people that you can delegate to.
Josh M. And every single person on your team has their roles and they can push forward and be great at things. So that sets us up to where we're at today because we've really had to work at marketing hard. And, you know, some of our some of our marketing strategies have all been based off of, you know, when we make a commitment to do something like the whole thing is pretty much turns into non-negotiable.
Josh M. Like, I remember, I remember a couple of years ago, four years ago, when we started our three by three video series, we started promoting community events around Grand Rapids. And Matt, I mean, this first video was really comical. It was really bad. But I said to myself, we're just going to get a little bit better every single month.
Josh M. And what we're not going to do is stop producing. So we did that video series. We went five years straight with that. We never missed a month. That turned into, you know, our Living in Grand Rapids podcast, which we did that for a year straight, 52 straight weeks. Now we're on to our living in Grand Rapids YouTube page, which were multipurpose in that information across all social media channels.
Josh M. My biggest thing is and this all ties back to the marketing plan. Like once you once you put things on paper, it's meant to hold us accountable. Right. Like, we need to understand what what has worked for us in the past, what hasn't worked, and what we're committed to in 2023. And we need to outline all of those things from a sphere of influence standpoint.
Josh M. You know, how many client events are we going to do in 2023? We've got it all mapped out. We've got an idea if that's going to be a big family client about or maybe it's going to be a adult family or an adult man, maybe just a happy hour. So we've got our client about strategy. We've got our video strategy, which we're running, running around town right now, living in Grand Rapids, shooting as many community videos as possible.
Josh M. And we're releasing those once a week. We've got I don't want to say our basic social media plan, but we post something every day on Instagram and Facebook, whether it's new listings, you know, pertinent information as far as real estate goes. I'm now branching out into Tik Tok. I'm giving that, Arun, as far as community events, we're always involved and want to be involved in the community.
Josh M. So partnering up with some some larger community events like obviously power of education would be one we partner with Heart Side, the homeless shelter downtown. So the annual marketing plan really gives us an opportunity to analyze who we are, who we want to be, and how we're going to communicate to our clients. Right. Because I'm a firm believer.
Josh M. I 100% believe that it's a real estate professional. Your communication style will dictate the community that you're creating. Right? So we have an opportunity to create the community we want, and that's all part of the brand and we're consistent with it. And that is I don't want to say in a nutshell, because I was about a five minute conversation of why we do the annual marketing plan in a nutshell, what it looks like and how we're going to attack it.
Matt M. And so here's here's a big thing I think that everyone really needs to digest out there is that you have a plan and you stick to it so that when you show up at the office every day, you're not just sitting there waiting for a call to come in, which is what probably 99% of your competitors are doing right?
Matt M. When they get a call from someone who wants to list or wants to buy, they help them. And usually they probably do an okay job, right? You get to the office in the morning and unless there's a pressing call from that listing to that buyer, you're starting with number one on your marketing plan you're working through in the list, you're delegating certain items that need to be delegated to different people on your team if you have to not have another does.
Matt M. But you're working on real estate related activities, and it doesn't necessarily matter if all of them pay off because you know that if you follow the plan, these are proven things and some of them will pay off at some certain, certain pay and you'll be able to help some clients. So the goal is to have a plan. Right now, we're recording this in mid-November.
Matt M. It's going to come out another week after this. If you're listening and you don't have a written down marketing plan for 2023, that is your number one activity. Without a plan, it's going to be really hard to do well in this market. So I love hearing that. Josh, you actually do have one piece of secret sauce that I know about you as a friend, but I feel like I'd be remiss if we didn't talk about so I get agents all the time who come into my office and say, Hey, Matt, I'd love to.
Matt M. I'm super extroverted or introverted. I just moved here. I don't know anyone or, Hey, I've been here. My whole life, but I'm 22 and no one trusts me to buy their house, buy or sell their house, and I don't know where to start. You started when you were in college and you actually started what became a gigantic networking group in town.
Matt M. And I feel like this is a huge opportunity that anyone could technically do and listen to you with their own spin based on their own interests. So tell us about the group that you started and kind of what it led to both in the community and for you business wise.
Josh M. Yeah, what a fun deal. What a fun deal. So this this is, you know, I don't want to say well, I'll say it. One of my success stories from like digging deep into something and being committed. You know, I was 23, 24 years old and this was before like honestly, I mean, I hate to say it, but it was really before like people were utilizing Facebook and Instagram, right?
Josh M. So when I was 22 years old, I know it seems like a completely different world. And for all the agents, the older agents out there, they would know this, but there was no social media interaction. So you had to go out and find the people. You had to go out network like you had to connect with people because you have a large city.
Josh M. Grand Rapids is a metropolitan area, a greater Grand Rapids of a million people. Now, how am I going to meet all of these young professionals? There's so many colleges in this area that's like, how am I going to meet all these young professionals? They're eventually going to be first time homebuyers, and I need to grab a hold of them.
Josh M. So I came together and a couple of friends and we said, Why don't we start a professional networking organization? We're going to call it Grand Rapids, Young Professionals and we had a vision for it. We said, we're going to focus on three things. We're going to focus on community involvement. We're going to give young professionals opportunities to be involved in the community.
Josh M. Excuse me. Can't talk. We're going to talk. We're going to give opportunities in social networking, right? So we wanted to provide social environments where people could just meet up and network. The other thing we wanted to provide was professional development opportunities. We wanted to bring in big speakers. People wanted to learn about business, you know, accounting and real estate, whatever it might be.
Josh M. So we had these three layers, whereas community involvement, professional development and social and I stood up. I'll never forget. I stood up like word of mouth. We got 100 people in a room one day and I stood up in the middle of the bar and I spoke my vision for this group and I said, This is what we're going to do.
Josh M. We're roughly going to have 2 to 3 events a month. We need everybody's contact information. And then it really caught on. It went from 100 people to 200, from 200 to 500. Now, of course, I didn't get to know 500 people at a very detailed level, but what I did do was I was very involved in all the boards, planning all the events and being on the board of directors.
Josh M. So we're the really, really strong relationships came was from getting to know all these people on a weekly and a monthly basis. The people that were invested in helping this organization grow are the people that I still communicate with 20 years later. And I can look back from starting that organization, Grand Rapids, Young Professional, is that that particular organization has fed me every single year for the past 20 years, and it's been a huge part of my business.
Josh M. I'm very fortunate made that decision 20 years ago, but the message for everybody else is like there is opportunities. There's so many fun things that people can be involved with. There's so many, you know, you hear you hear all these different brands like agents that are super into animals or agents that are super into cars or agents are super into all these various unique organizations like agents have the opportunity to grab a hold of something, be committed to it, and build relations ships.
Josh M. And I want to go back, Matt, if you if you don't mind briefly, I want to go back because that's what I referred to is just one pillar of my business, right? Like networking and community involvement. And you were talking about we were talking about the marketing plan. I think the marketing plan is critical for any agent to think about.
Josh M. But I think before agents get into the marketing plan, they also need to identify what forms of business they actually want to be in, right? Like how they want a prospect. What type of business do they want to attract? Because from what I've seen from a lot of new agents, we try to do a lot of things were when agents tend to be average at a lot of different things and not great at a couple things, right?
Josh M. So before we get to the annual marketing plan, myself and every agent on my team is going to pick a couple layers of business they're going to be committed to in 2023, right? So this can be sphere of influence, this can be open house, it can be door knocking, this can be networking and this can be community involvement.
Josh M. This can be social media. But I want to urge all agents to commit to being great at a couple things and focus on those couple of things and then inside of those pillars of business that we refer to as, you know, every action item has to be specific, right? I also think we're agents struggle the most is we say, hey, I'm going to do great at open houses in 2023.
Josh M. It's pretty generic statement, right? Like what does that mean? I'm going to do great at open houses. Well, not only am I going to do open houses, I'm going to prospect around the open houses. I'm going to do the ten, ten, 20 rule, which means I'm passing out fliers to ten on each side of the house, 20 across the street.
Josh M. I'm going to farm to the neighborhood. I'm going to have 20 signs out there. I'm going to do four open houses a month. So that would be a very smart, specific, time bound goal in agency to think about this. I mean, I'm a pretty black and white guy as far as coaching styles and communicating to my agents. Like if it's not specific, it generally isn't going to get done.
Josh M. So on a coach, everybody's listening to this. Before you get to the marketing plan, let's focus on how specifically you're working in your business, what prospecting layers you're going to do. Then once you get that figured out, let's move in to the marketing plan and say, okay, these marketing ideas are going to be in line with what I've already committed to from a business prospecting perspective.
Josh M. So I'm going to I'm going to focus on my sphere of influence. Well, once a month I know I'm connecting with everybody in my sphere of influence. Once a month I'm doing community videos like so let's start with the business plan and then we'll move into the annual marketing plan. But those are two non-negotiable items. I think every agent should focus on every year at this time.
Matt M. You know, if you're and if you're seeing a lot of people out there probably heard what you just said, but they're like, oh, I know what the pillars of my business are. And most people, in my experience will say this sphere of influence. But if you're the person out there saying that your pillar is your sphere, I want you to answer two questions.
Matt M. Question one, tell me more about that plan. If you can't if you can't see anything more other than, Oh, it's my sphere, I call them, email them, then ask the question again, tell me more again. Because most people will say that they work their sphere, but then they can't actually give you the plan, the message, the rationale, the reason, the consistency.
Matt M. And that's where it really falls apart. So I love that you have that. Josh we only have a couple more minutes together until we until we are just hanging out rather than rather than being recorded podcast. But walk me through anything you're working on right now that that's just kind of new for you, exciting anything anything at all that you're you're pumped about right now?
Josh M. 100%. Do you mind if I give you guys a stack.
Matt M. Please?
Josh M. I give you the scariest at real estate areas that in real estate this should all get us in the right mindset for 2023. This is pretty close. 91% of homebuyers and home sellers polled at the closing table said they would use their agent again in actuality, 13% do pretty.
Matt M. No one out there can see my face, but I'm disgusted and.
Josh M. It's pretty scary, right? So the reason I told you that is because you were just saying, hey, let's dig deeper into our sphere of influence. I mean, most agents and I, I 100% was at fault here for the first 8 to 10 years of my business, not doing a great job connecting with my sphere of influence. But like don't be in that 13%.
Josh M. When you say you have a plan for your sphere of influence, 100% commit to that because business business can be so much easier if we stay top of mind.
Matt M. Well, let me think. Everybody out there has now about four and a half million ideas of things they could do specifically, but also some fundamentals. I mean, this business hasn't changed that much from the last recession to this whatever whatever market we're in right now. But if you have a plan, you stay consistent. You will weather whatever storm or whatever opportunities present itself.
Matt M. Because I think we all know right now we're seeing agents go out to the business. We're seeing lenders get out of business, but prices are still up and the economy is still doing well unless you're a crypto investor. And then maybe maybe it's a different conversation the minute the minute that rates change again, something's going to happen right through.
Matt M. They're going to go up and the competition will go down or they're going to go down again. Competition is going to skyrocket. So be prepared for whatever the market has with a plan that will work in any economy. So, Josh, thank you so much for spending time with us. They had a great time. If someone out there is listening and has a referral in Grand Rapids, Michigan and West Michigan, how would they get a hold of you?
Josh M. Yeah, absolutely. So well, I'll give you my personal cell phone number is 6163180924. But they can always find us on market Grand Rapids dot com market Grand Rapids AECOM. We're really proud of this site. We're putting a ton of content on market Grand Rapids. We focus on high level video, community video, podcasts, like if you want to learn about us and take some tips off of what we're doing go to market Grand Rapids dot com you'll check out some of those things and hopefully get some good ideas.
Matt M. I love that. And finally, if someone actually wanted to hire you approach, is that an option as well?
Josh M. If they connect with me, I don't know if they'd be connected with me personally. I am a coach with Workman Success Systems and they've got to go through the process of kind of going through the onboarding and making sure the right coach is the right fit based on their production levels. But if anybody wants to connect me, connect with me, I'll be happy to point them in the right direction as far as that goes.
Matt M. Awesome. Josh, enjoy the rest of your snowy day. Talk to you soon.
Josh M. Okay, buddy. Thank you.
Matt M. Thanks for listening. And a huge thank you to our sponsors, Neighborhood Loans and Treadstone Mortgage. With offices around the U.S., their loan officers offer a realtor centric focus.
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