What is the one thing that AI can't do?
Do you really think you are smarter than a system that can catalog all of the real estate knowledge in the world and deliver it back in 2 seconds? The big differentiator between you and a machine is the ability to empathetically think and come up with ways to imbue customized excitement and positive emotion into the real estate transaction and into your client relationships.
Jay O’Brien , NAR 30 under 30 Realtor and founder of Client Giant joins us to explain how he transformed his business into a referral machine by going deep for his clients and creating experiences so memorable that clients referred him with passion. Jay explains the difference between passive and active referrals and dives deep into the idea that most referrals are passive and the person referring you doesn’t seriously care whether their referral uses you or not. He provides ideas for ensuring that your clients are so hyped about you and their experience working with you that they shout your name from the rooftops.
Connect with Jay online at: clientgiant.com
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.
Learned something new, or have a suggestion? Message Matt Muscat on Instagram!
00:00:02:23 | Jay O. | The closing gift-- I never really believed in like the closing gift because to me it solidifies the end of a relationship and basically really illustrates this sort of quid pro quo feeling of, Now, you did this for me, and so I'm going to do this for you. I've an appreciate and value your trust so much. Here's exactly how much.
00:00:29:00 | Matt M. | Hey, everybody. Thank you for tuning in today. I'm super stoked to have a guest on the show that really exemplifies a lot of what we already talk about and what we've talked about in past episodes for the last couple years. So today we have Jay O'Brien, real estate professional and owner of Client Giant. This is a company that he started specifically to help himself and other people like him love on their clients.
00:00:53:28 | Matt M. | Since then, they've expanded out of just real estate and they now help people who have customers. So, Jay, welcome to the show today.
00:01:01:10 | Jay O. | Hey, thanks for having me, Nat. Appreciate it.
00:01:03:23 | Matt M. | So I think I really want to start by understanding what your business was like when you saw a need to create this, because, you know, we all talk about loving on our past clients, but you you found a need in the world and you created a company around it, which which I think the entrepreneur in me is like, That's friggin awesome.
00:01:23:06 | Matt M. | So tell me, like when you were in real estate, when you first got started, what was the timeframe and how did how did this come about? How did you realize that this need existed?
00:01:33:00 | Jay O. | Yeah. So I mean, take it back from the start. 2011, I think is when I got my real estate license and started hitting the ground hard. So as I was doing that, I was doing what any and every real estate agent does, Right. Doing anything you can do for a deal. I'm thinking outside of the box, hitting every channel, whether it's social media, your friends and family, you know, cold marketing, like fliers.
00:01:59:03 | Jay O. | Are you doing anything and everything you possibly could for a deal back then, I would actually go on Craigslist on Friday nights and look up garage sales for the weekend, and then I'd grab that address and cross-reference it with the MLS to see if the house was listed. And if it wasn't, I would start marketing to them, assuming that they want to sell their house because they're in a garage sale and anything I could possibly do to try and get a deal.
00:02:23:21 | Jay O. | And with that, any successful deal, you want a positive review, you want a positive testimonial, right? So you can house it on your website, or maybe it's on Zillow or wherever you want your views to live. And I was doing that for a few years, you know, and I kind of just saw the big Redfin's and Zillow's and all saw the writing on the wall that what's going to happen is people with people that are running big companies with deep pockets will be able to automate a lot of this and create a much more seamless process for the consumer.
00:03:01:23 | Jay O. | And for me, whether or not that experience is inferior to a real estate agent or not, of course, that argument can be made at a certain level. It doesn't matter, right? All that matters is the consumer perception. If I'm a consumer, I know nothing about real estate, and I think it's easier for me to go on Redfin and submit an offer through them than you'll never have a chance to tell me why you're better.
00:03:24:04 | Jay O. | Right. So it doesn't matter if the truth is I would have had a better experience with you because that opportunity has never existed. And so as these things were progressing, couple of years into my real estate career, I, I did a self audit and really said, okay, if I'm going to not only grow my business but be relevant for the next five, ten, 20 years, what are things that I'm doing that people will hire me for as opposed to my competition or some of these bigger companies that are entering the space?
00:03:55:02 | Jay O. | So one of my one of my exercises was to go through all these platforms where I had these reviews like Zillow and Yelp and, you know, even on my own website that I've uploaded. Right. And I started seeing like, what are people typing on this? And obviously every review is a five star review because I'm asking for it, right?
00:04:15:12 | Jay O. | I'm saying, Hey, what are you going to do, a five star review like? So it only carries so much weight, right? It creates some sort of sense of credibility. But at the end of the day, it's a five star review is nearly meaningless if you every time you get out of an Uber, it's like rate your driver, you're pretty much going to put a five if you showed up a live to your place, you know, like does that make this driver like a 100% A-plus?
00:04:40:22 | Jay O. | Perfect. Couldn't be better. No, it's just we dish out five star reviews easily, right? We just do it. So when I was reviewing the comments here on people reviewing what it was like to work for me, they're like, Oh, Jay was great, super, super knowledgeable. Got the home of our dreams, always on time, super organized with our file, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
00:05:01:24 | Jay O. | As I'm combing through these, I'm like, Oh shit, this is this is not good. Because I am being commended for things that are quite simply just doing my job. And the guy or gal down the street can absolutely check these boxes. And so therefore my business is in danger in the long term. Right?
00:05:22:14 | Matt M. | Right. I mean, if there is, you know, in most markets and obviously you're in California where there's even more people, but most markets, there's thousands and thousands of realtors and most of them advertise the exact same thing. If they're at a big brokerage, they're likely using the exact same marketing as the guy next to them. It's really hard to stand out in a crowded market.
00:05:40:23 | Matt M. | And then you layer that on top of the fact that, you know, you mentioned Zillow, Redfin, all these companies. And I mean, right now, I mean, fast forward ten years later a guy is getting big. It's like, why would someone choose to use you when they can get their questions and knowledge satisfied by artificial intelligence at two in the morning whenever they want, they can find the homes themselves online, like how are you standing out?
00:06:02:24 | Matt M. | How are you making it known that you're there for the personal side? And what can you offer that I and that other agents can't compete with? And I guess you got you got to go to those to those places. And that's kind of what you were able to figure out.
00:06:16:24 | Jay O. | Yeah, because I think at the end of the day, it's going to boil down to what hits the consumer the hardest. And for me as a consumer, it's service, right? So even if I go to a certain hotel or restaurant, whatever, everyone ranks things differently. The food quality, the ambiance, the service, Right? Service is a very sensitive one for me.
00:06:35:12 | Jay O. | If I have amazing service, I really feel cared for and thought of. And that sort of created an opportunity to say, well, a lot of these new companies coming in or even existing agents such as myself are being commended for being on time and whatnot. They're falling short on true service. And what does true high quality service entail?
00:06:57:06 | Jay O. | And it's not showing up on time, right? That's the barrier to entry. So I start to think, okay, well, if I can inject this humanistic element and really capitalize on it hard, it will beat out the red beans and the Zillow's because it's going to take them forever to to emulate real human touch. Right? There's going to be a completely different experience.
00:07:16:24 | Matt M. | I actually think what you just hit on is really the first right this down moment for everybody out there. And what I'm really reflecting on is stop marketing that you do the bare minimum, right? Like take all those things. Like if you're a lender, don't market that you have good communication like that is that it should be a standard thing that all lenders have, even if you're competitors don't, you don't need to market the bare minimums like market where you go above and beyond and where you shine.
00:07:41:23 | Matt M. | I love that. Like the fact that the fact that it's that simple, the concepts. But most of us, you know, people take out billboards and run Facebook ads, marketing how they're the same as anybody else. And it's such a missed opportunity. It makes our industry kind of look bad, to be honest.
00:07:56:26 | Jay O. | Yeah, At the end of the day, we've become a commodity, right? And again, like I said, it doesn't matter if the person down the street is a better agent than me. All that matters is what the consumer's perception is. And if I grab that person before you did, my business is going to thrive and yours won't. You know, it doesn't matter what the truth is.
00:08:15:03 | Jay O. | What matters is how you're getting yourself out there. So in order to inject a humanistic element into this, I started to review what are things in my life that I deeply value that pertain to service, like my favorite restaurant or like my favorite resorts, even favorite movies, right? Things that stand on their own so strongly that I can't help but passionately refer those things to friends and family.
00:08:42:22 | Jay O. | Right? There's nothing in it for me but if I know that you have attended this restaurant or that you've never seen this movie, I'm going to have this like, undying loyalty to that thing. There's a you need to try this, right? Because I selfishly want to see fulfillment in your experience being shared with mine. Right. So I'm going to ask you, have you seen the newest succession episode?
00:09:05:29 | Jay O. | Have you seen.
00:09:06:28 | Matt M. | I watched it last night. So you're on the you're on to something like I'm so excited about it too.
00:09:11:11 | Jay O. | Insane, right? So and so like if if your response was I've actually never even heard of that show. Obviously, the next 30 seconds are me like, Oh my God, like giving you a sales pitch on that show, Right? There's literally nothing in it for me other than to share it and hopefully follow up with you and see how you liked it.
00:09:31:05 | Jay O. | Right? Because if you're like, Oh my God, I love it. I feel good, right? That's that's what we do. So I figured if I could emulate that same feeling in a real estate transaction, the business will begin thriving and growing on its own right, because the experience will be so insane that the clients won't be able to help themselves from talking about it with anyone and everyone without me having to ask.
00:09:55:24 | Jay O. | And that's precisely what happens.
00:09:58:10 | Matt M. | Real estate has a lot of contracts. I want this podcast to have a social contract as well. Hugely need from you. If you're listening to the show and you get something valuable out of it or you hear something that you think that's awesome, I want you to send me a dime on Instagram, or if you find my email, send it that way.
00:10:13:24 | Matt M. | The more feedback that I get helps me to put together better shows and attract better guests. You're figuring out the experience, feel right. And I think especially with millennials, especially with Gen Z, like it's all about the experience. Like I don't want to go to a vacation and just sit around like, or go to the same landmarks everyone else goes to.
00:10:31:28 | Matt M. | Like, I want to have an experience and as soon as I do, I want to tell everybody. So you figured out how to tap into that emotion, that feeling, and then apply it to your real estate business. I love that. So I'm assuming that's where client Giant was born.
00:10:44:29 | Jay O. | So that's actually not quite where Client Giant was born. This idea of just kind of going significantly deeper with people who already know you like you trust you, as opposed to casting a wider net with people who have no idea who the hell you are. That's the approach I began to take as a real estate agent in about 2013, 2014 or so.
00:11:06:21 | Jay O. | By doing that, I would inject certain experiences into every transaction. So I cataloged every pain point of the customer journey. What are the peaks, what are the values, what are the things that are super stressful? What are the things that are super exciting? And how can you touch on every single one of those moments throughout the journey? So, for example, an offer gets accepted.
00:11:25:21 | Jay O. | That's a super exciting thing. They get a surprise box sent to their front door of their current residence. Speaking to that with relevant gifts tied to it, then a tie, helpful and thoughtful touches along the way, like moving boxes. It would just show up at your front door and they'd be like, Hey, Matt, here's some packing supplies and tape.
00:11:43:29 | Jay O. | Just one less thing for you to have to worry about. And again, you're feeling sort of you're saying, wow, that's that's actually alleviates a huge burden for me having to go out and get moving boxes and I'd take care of forwarding address, transfer, utilities, so on and so forth. And all these things would happen along the way. You know, if you had a loan on a house and you were a buyer and that gets fully approved, it's like, that's a moment to celebrate, right?
00:12:05:20 | Jay O. | Or if you're a seller receiving that contingency, zero from your buyer, that full commitment, that's a moment to celebrate. You should be there to hit those moments. It's so easy and you're just elevating the experience that much more. If I could get a five star review for showing up on time, that really just illustrates how much whitespace there is for what happens when you go nuts.
00:12:28:05 | Jay O. | And that's that's eventually what sparked my talk. Delivering seven star service in a three star industry which was it then in 2018. So I'll get to that in a minute. But basically as these things got peppered in, I would do this whole experience. And then one thing that agents love is to find the right closing gift, right? And companies out there constantly trying to market the best closing gift.
00:12:52:29 | Matt M. | I got a know from my agent in 2011.
00:12:56:14 | Jay O. | Yeah, yeah. So let's talk about that on Tokenize first of all, are great knives. But what's not great is when my name is on your knife, that makes absolutely no sense in the world. No one on earth has ever received a gift and been like, I love that there's some branding on this gift.
00:13:17:01 | Matt M. | I love having another man's name on my cooking utensils.
00:13:22:04 | Jay O. | And and we somehow as business owners believe, Yeah, but that way, every time he picks up his knife, he's going to be thinking it. Me, He'll remember it. It's like the most flat thinking ever on it. Just be thoughtful and be selfless and watch how much it will actually serve you in the long run. So the closing gift.
00:13:43:03 | Jay O. | I never really believed in like the closing gift because to me it solidifies the end of a relationship and basically really illustrates this sort of quid pro quo feeling of that. You did this for me, and so I'm going to do this for you. I've appreciate and value your trust so much. Here's exactly how much. Right. And it just people are stupid.
00:14:05:03 | Jay O. | They know how much a real estate agent stands to earn on a deal and they know what you appreciate them and that inform of dollars because of that closing gift. Whereas the moving boxes, they cost a fraction of probably what you were prepared to spend on the closing gift. Here they are, right?
00:14:20:21 | Matt M. | It's the effort that you took that they experience, like your clients, like shows use you because you make their transaction easier. They don't need you know, they can afford $1,000,000 house. They don't need a, you know, a beach blanket. They they need something that's going to make their life a little bit easier. So I love where you're going with.
00:14:35:24 | Matt M. | So tell me, tell me more. You're hitting on all the on all cylinders here.
00:14:40:02 | Jay O. | So instead of the closing gift, what I would do is I would continue gifting them and continue touching them after the closing because most agents have left the building at that point. You've got your check, you've moved on. Right. And most business owners, not just agents, will say like, Oh, yeah, I could do a much better job keeping up with my past clients.
00:14:59:04 | Jay O. | Like it's a unanimous thing across the board. So I would send items afterwards as, as well as experiences so they might get a personalized gift ten days or two weeks after closing. Right. They, they would get a mobile car wash and detailing service to their home or office after their move and I would just shoot them a text and be like, Hey, if you're anything like me, you've probably packed your car to the brim with stuff.
00:15:23:18 | Jay O. | It could use a cleaning. Where where can I send these guys to to wash your car? And again, they're like, Dude, you were paid like three weeks ago, and you're just you're washing my car like it's it's hitting so hard. And that that went down a path where 30 days post closed, they'd be sent to a five star dinner with roundtrip transportation provided and depending on caliber the transaction, those things would be elevated to a certain degree.
00:15:49:15 | Jay O. | But regardless, if someone bought a condo or a single family residence, this type of experience was happening every single time. So people often think like, Oh, you must have been in the luxury market or your commission checks must have been enormous. No, not really. Especially back then, right. Most of my home prices.
00:16:07:25 | Matt M. | Hadn't tripled back then yet.
00:16:09:24 | Jay O. | Right. For my my, my client primarily was like a first time home buyer or something. And then you know, subsequently down the years that might get turned over to four or five different sales because they're selling and upgrading or whatnot. But the point is, everyone deserves to feel pampered. Everyone deserves to feel that level of service, whether it's at a hotel or restaurant or whatever.
00:16:31:25 | Jay O. | And so my contribution to that as a real estate agent is I want my business to express that. And so I'm happy to spend the money on that. I was going to spend the money anyway on stupid fliers the people are going to throw away, right? So instead, I'd rather that expense be an investment and be much more potent to my business.
00:16:49:00 | Jay O. | Right. And so by doing that, as you can imagine, people started sharing this all over social media, texting whoever and everyone to share this, right? Because when we're made to feel special, we can't help but want to share it with the world. I don't know if you've ever walked into a hotel room or something before and seen like a surprise bottle of champagne or something when you entered.
00:17:10:21 | Jay O. | But in the world of Instagram or Snapchat or TikTok or whatever, people will see the surprise feel certain way, immediately exit the room and then ping it on a story as if they're walking in for the very first time. Right.
00:17:23:02 | Matt M. | They just have no wishes. Maybe exit hotel rooms because we have to feed Instagram first, like we have to exercise for 10 minutes and do it. But I get it. It's the hotel created the experience that then people want to share like they want to market you if if you give them something awesome an experience.
00:17:41:13 | Jay O. | So imagine that with all these different touch points happening throughout an entire customer journey with the moving boxes, the dinners, the car wash, you can't pay for that kind of marketing, right? It's like you're you no longer asking for five star reviews and now instead of receiving passive referrals, like, Oh yeah, you should use my buddy Matt. He's an agent if you're looking to buy whatever.
00:18:02:12 | Jay O. | And they're like, Oh yeah, we're using this other guy. Like, okay, well, doesn't work with Jay, then, you know, use Matt that's passive. And those are referrals I was used to getting. But then they went to like a super passionate referral where it's like, Matt Jay is the guy you must, must, must either my oh, we're using time was like, no, trust me, you have no idea what you're about.
00:18:22:28 | Jay O. | And they become a sales force for you because again, this is the episode succession, right? That they want you to watch. And that sort of pattern kept repeating and that really is what, you know, skyrocketed. The Business.
00:18:38:25 | Matt M. | The Neighborhood Realtor podcast is proudly made possible by the support of our sponsors. Treadstone funding and neighborhood loans to amazing Midwest mortgage companies that now have offices all around the country. If you're a realtor and you'd like to learn more about connecting with one of our lenders, dammit, Matt must be A.D. and I'll connect you with someone in your market.
00:18:56:01 | Matt M. | If you're a lender and you want to join the right mortgage company admin, and I'll connect you as well. Well, what I think is really funny is there's actually like a test, right? There's a test If you're a salesperson out there and you want to find out if you're getting active referrals or passive referrals, like if you're not totally sure, think about the last couple of times that someone told you, Oh, yeah, like I told my buddy to call you.
00:19:18:17 | Matt M. | Well, did that buddy ever call know if the answer is no, that person is giving you a passive referral. If every time someone refers you, that person connects with you first and calls you they're interested in. You don't have to sell yourself as much. You were getting active referrals from that source. Think about your business and what you're getting.
00:19:37:01 | Matt M. | If you're getting passive referrals, take GAO's advice to heart and start elevating your experience in ways that nobody else can. I love that. So you want to obviously find out how can someone like that? That's where it started. What is Client Giant today and how could someone how could someone use it?
00:19:53:15 | Jay O. | So after this story took off, real estate business was going really well. It resulted in quite a few accolades, including the 30 under 30 and 2015, which was big through the National Association of Realtors. And as you know, people want free content, right? So a number of different publications and conferences reached out to see if I would share insight, speak on this philosophy, whatever, extrapolate that out toward times like four or five years, however long it was.
00:20:19:16 | Jay O. | I was doing public speaking gigs literally all over the world. I mean, it took this delivering seven star service, took me to South Africa and Toronto and all over the United States. And after speaking on it for giving the playbook, here's exactly what to do. Here's exactly why. Here are things not to do. And finally, in 2018, myself and my my business partner now put our heads together and said, you know what, We keep giving the playbook out.
00:20:46:20 | Jay O. | People just don't do the stuff because it's a lot to remember. It's a lot of manual processes, you know, like there's no secret on how to get a six pack, right? It's no, it's not because you have a shortage of information. It's because there's a lack of execution. Right? So this is like, what if we handle the execution for people and we just say, you don't have to do anything, Everything's going to be automated.
00:21:06:05 | Jay O. | Everything is going to look like it comes from you. Our branding won't be seen anywhere and you always look like the hero. And that's when Client Giant was born.
00:21:13:20 | Matt M. | I think that's actually a really great point for people to realize that there are so many companies like I've seen like send out cards and all kinds of things where they're everything you send out, like clearly shows that you cheated and automated the heck out of it with your system, like the actual person receiving the gift. Your experience actually never knows that client giant is the function behind it.
00:21:33:17 | Matt M. | It's kind of like having a really awesome executive assistant behind the scenes.
00:21:38:11 | Jay O. | It is. Yeah, it is. And it's we kind of get it across the board. You know, we have some people that are like, I don't care. I want my clients to know I pay for a service for them. And then we have people are like, Oh no, I love that you guys don't have your branding either way. For us, we've always felt like we should be your secret weapon when it comes to client care, and we should be taking care of this and taking it off your plate entirely.
00:21:58:13 | Jay O. | So not only just doing it, but choosing the right things, experiences, digital touches, whatever it is, we've just we take it so personally because at the end of the day, you're sort of outsourcing a personal relationship. And if you just trusted any company with that, it's very possible that someone could fall flat or feel like it's inauthentic immediately.
00:22:20:04 | Jay O. | So authenticity is what we've led with from day one, and that's really what grabbed us are the audience we have today of of our members who use the platform.
00:22:30:02 | Matt M. | I love that. So can you give us a couple examples of like if you know, if a realtor signs up today, like what what specific things are happening in the background or is it are there different plans? Like how, how do that how does that work?
00:22:43:10 | Jay O. | Yeah, there's different plans and different packages. But for a real estate agent, there's a very, very common use case. So one thing I didn't talk about is a program called Top of Mind. So what I did, I did again, I did this all manually. I would send out gifts to my entire past client database every single quarter. It didn't matter if you sold if I sold them a house like three months ago or three years ago, everyone on that list got a gift every quarter and it wasn't some weird trinket or tchotchke or something with my brand.
00:23:13:15 | Jay O. | None of it was. It was all very, very thoughtful. Like, for example, the first one I think I ever sent out was umbrellas. So umbrellas went out to everybody and it was like wintertime. And I said, Hey, here's something to keep you covered throughout the holidays or throughout the winter or whatever. If you already have one, keep in your car.
00:23:32:02 | Jay O. | If you see a pedestrian that doesn't have one, give it to them and that's it. No branding, nothing. Just a thoughtful gift. And what do you know? My phone starts getting text messages. Oh, my God, This is amazing. Thank you so much. And of course, you get those gratitude messages. But what you also get is people say, hey, by the way, it's been five years.
00:23:51:24 | Jay O. | What do you think my house is worth? Or hey, by the way, my brother in law needs to sell his house in this city. Do you service that area? And every quarter it's just referrals are coming in, passionate referrals. So the ROI on this was astronomical. So client giant emulated this. And it's a it's a program called Top of Minds, the most popular service to date that people use.
00:24:17:18 | Jay O. | And so it's comprised of quarterly gifts just like that. And so the way someone will typically onboard with Client John is they'll say, okay, first thing I want to do is what I call plug your active leaks. Anyone you've worked with in the past, it's conceivable they could use another agent. That's a leak. That's a potential leak to plug that active leak means you were now keeping up with that past client in an authentic way and on a consistent basis.
00:24:43:16 | Jay O. | So you plug them in to top of mind. So let's just say I had 100 people, right? I'm going to put 100 people on top of mine Day one that is plugging my active leaks, right. Moving forward every new client that I on board, that's a buyer, a seller or an investor, I will put a transaction package in the works for them according to whatever caliber I stand to earn on that deal.
00:25:06:16 | Jay O. | Right. It's a $2 million house I'm going to treat away differently than if it's a 500,000. But either way, my investment is going into this. A percentage of my income is going into this to to get this whole customer journey of experiences kicked off. And then when that's done, top of mind will click in.
00:25:24:14 | Matt M. | All of that. So I want to be super clear to another other way. This is not a sponsored episode. Like I want to jam the show because I want people to understand that it's crucial that you go deep with your customers, not past customers. That's in the relationship. So this isn't a sponsored episode. This is this is just a really cool option.
00:25:44:04 | Matt M. | But the overall message is you got to find a way to love on your people. If you can't find a way to do this, they're not going to remember you in a meaningful way. All you're going to be is one in 10,000 realtors in your area, one in 10,000 salespeople in your area. So like we always like to end the show, Like if someone wants to get a hold of you, pick your brain, ask for advice, get more information on client giant.
00:26:05:17 | Matt M. | Where do they go?
00:26:07:10 | Jay O. | Yeah, best places, Client giant icon. Everything is on there in terms of everything you need to know. Are our handles on social media are the client giant. But yeah, that's the best way and you can if should you have a specific question or want to get started right away, you can always email us directly at concierge at client giant dot com.
00:26:30:05 | Matt M. | Awesome. Well Jay, thank you so much for being a guest on the show today. I got a ton of tangible tips that I can use for my business, so really appreciate it.
00:26:38:03 | Jay O. | Thank you.