As part of my series about the “5 Things You Need To Know To Create a Successful Service Business,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Jeff Landau, a top real estate broker/expert/designer and the owner of Team 805 Real Estate. He developed the groundbreaking Premodeling program where Jeff and his team maximize the sale value of a home they sell by making smart and key improvements, design upgrades, repairs, and more without the seller being responsible for the upfront cost, as all costs are paid from escrow after the sale of the home is completed. Jeff has served his community’s real estate needs since 1993, and has since gained the trust of his neighbors, business owners and community.
Premodeling helps with any renovation challenge, taking outdated kitchens, bathrooms, grimy walls and more to eliminate the ghastly sight for potential home buyers. Jeff has transformed many drab spaces for clients who seek to upgrade their home to sell. Whether its new flooring, a fresh coat of paint and stylish furniture staging, Jeff is up for any renovation challenge. In addition to sharing how the premodeling process can help nearly every home seller, Jeff can discuss everything from getting the perfect loan, first time buyer home tips, purchasing and financing a home in any economic climate, top rising markets, money saving interior design tips, maximizing a home’s value, unique trade secrets of selling a home, and everything In between.
With over 25 + years of experience, Jeff makes the process smooth for any client — whether they are selling a home and upgrading, moving into a retirement community, an experienced investor with a portfolio of properties, or a first-time home buyer that has never been through escrow before. He and his team provide guidance, resources and financial assistance.
Jeff Landau made his way to the West Coast where he graduated from San Diego State University with a BA in Finance. He then spent years working in the stock market as a day trader and finance before transitioning to a career in Real Estate full-time. Jeff and his team have shown the community how to attain the home they never thought possible, assisted elderly people to stay in their cherished family home, driven profit for investors beyond their targets, and streamlined the home sales process for probate attorneys in need of meticulous efficiency. Whether a client is selling a probate and trust property, upgrading, downsizing, or buying a first home.
Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started in Real Estate?
I graduated from San Diego State with a bachelor’s in finance, with an emphasis in both economics and mathematics. My first job was with World Savings and I was being trained on mortgage underwriting, appraisals, and loan origination. My next two positions were with major Japanese banks in their commercial real estate lending departments. I started off as an analyst and prepared income statement forecasts for acquisition, refinance and construction loans for hotels, office buildings, apartment buildings, Pebble Beach golf course, shopping centers and a sports arena. I left banking in 1991 to pursue my dream of being self-employed. At that time, a friend of mine started up a real estate brokerage and I started working with him on a part-time basis. After three years there, I spent one year full-time as a mortgage broker. As much as I love finance, I didn’t see myself building a loan officer business. I pursued a passion of mine in the financial markets and spent the next years as a stock market trader. I let my real estate license active, and I started my real estate business full-time in 2002.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson(s) or ‘take away’ you learned from that?
This probably falls under embarrassing more than funniest. When I first started out, I didn’t realize all that I needed to know when listing property. The lesson learned was how important complete preparation is before meeting with someone who wants to sell their home.
Is there a particular book that you read, mentor that you had or podcast you listened to that really helped you in your career? Can you explain?
Book — Fear is Fuel by Patrick Sweeney.
- This book completely changed the way that I look at and approach fear.
Book — The Science of Getting Rich by Wallace Wattles
- A book about mindset and a way to think about abundance.
Podcast — The Brian Buffini Show
- Brian has built a coaching business based on building relationships. He discusses this and many other podcast episodes building a successful real estate business.
Podcast/coaching — Coach Steve Shull and monthly interview with Chris Voss — Never Split the Difference
- This book forever changed the way that I look at negotiations and interpersonal relationships. My business Coach Steve Shull has a monthly interview with Chris.
Are you working on any exciting new home projects now?
Every seller, and their home preparation project, has its own nuance. It starts by listening to what is important to my client and offering solutions. Right now, while we have many homes in various stages of preparation, none involve major renovations. There is always room to enhance how to present a home in the best way possible.
Thank you for that. Let’s now shift to the central focus of our discussion. Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. When you started Team 805 Real Estate, what was your vision, your purpose?
There were two driving forces:
- Creating a team — It’s common when starting out to be a solo agent. Whether it’s because you don’t have the experience, you don’t have the money to invest, or don’t have a bigger vision. It’s a natural feeling when you first get started that your clients want you to do everything. It’s also a natural feeling that you don’t have enough money to hire your first assistant and to go through all of the pressure of having someone rely on you for their livelihood, and discomfort of making payroll. It took me a while to realize that my clients don’t care if I do something, they care that whatever needs to get done gets done and it gets done the right way and on time. I am creating something bigger than me, that emulates my values and professionalism and creates an elite client experience. At the same time, supporting agents in their own professional and personal growth. I am building something client centric.
- Premodeling — this is where we help a seller prepare their home for sale to make sure they maximize the sale price. We do this by evaluating all potential improvements, getting cost estimates, deciding where time and money is best spent, agreeing on the scope of work, doing the project management, and covering all of the costs and getting repaid when the sale closes. Being able to offer the resources to cover the expenses and not getting paid back until the sale closes is a very important resource that we offer and a very important need in the marketplace. I remember meeting a man who wanted to sell his home and move out of state to be with his son for the remaining years of his life. He said his house needed too much work and too much money to get all the work done (this is before I had the Premodeling resources). He never did the work, he never moved to be with his son, and years later he ended up dying while still at that house. I am proud now to offer a resource so that never happens again. The service is also especially helpful when someone inherits a house through trust or Probate and they want to sell the house for maximum gain. Also, when someone is moving into assisted living and perhaps did not keep up with maintenance or updates to their house. We can help them make extra money that they can use for their future housing needs. I feel that the Premodel service and resource is important to offer all people selling their homes and I’ll never be without this again.
Do you have a “number one principle” that guides you through the ups and downs of running a business?
This will likely sound corny or trite. I put my client’s best interest first and don’t have a number two.
Lead generation is one of the most important aspects of any business. Can you share some of the strategies you use to generate good, qualified leads?
I run a relationship-based business. My intention is to stay in touch and in the flow of the lives of my friends and clients, as well as people that live within certain geographic “farm” areas. A lot of keeping in touch is by phone, and also meals and coffee meetings. Some of keeping in touch is by knocking on doors in those certain geographical farm neighborhoods and building long-term relationships. I really love knocking on doors. It helps me meet people, build relationships with people over time, get to know neighborhoods, learn the demographics of who is moving out and who is moving in and learn of homes that are coming on the market that I can bring to my buyers. I’ve developed such strong relationships by knocking on doors that people have offered to loan me their RV, and for my family and I to spend the weekend with them at their vacation home.
What would you advise to an agent/broker who initially went through years of successive growth, but has now reached a standstill? From your experience do you have any general advice about how to boost growth and “restart their engines”?
This all starts with 2 things: having all of your contacts in a CRM with accurate information, and tracking everything that you do. For example, tracking how many people you speak to every day, how many emails you send and open rates, how many mailers you do, blog posts, social media posts, prospecting calls, etc. something else that is important to track is the source of all of your business going back as far as you can. This way, you know where your business comes from and you can make sure that is where you are spending the most amount of time, effort and energy. Going through this exercise helped me realize I was spending a disproportionate amount of time prospecting and not enough time nurturing relationships with people that I know.
What are the most common finance mistakes you have seen other businesses make? What should one keep in mind to avoid that?
The biggest mistake would be not keeping a running profit and loss statement. It is important as business owners that we understand where we are with both our revenues and our expenses. This way, we can monitor closely and hold our expenses accountable. We are going to be doing this once a year when we do our taxes, and it is important that we keep in very close touch with this on a regular basis.
Ok, here is the main question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to succeed in the real estate field? Please share a story or an example for each.
- Use a CRM, put everyone you know in the CRM, make sure contact information is accurate and up to date, use it every day and seek to grow it all the time
- Real estate is typically a repeat and referral business. 80% or more of a real estate agent’s business typically comes from people we know, people we’ve already done business with, or people they know and refer us to.
- While our focus needs to be on the people we have in our CRM and deepening those relationships, we need to keep in mind the importance of growing our database all the time. This helps us ultimately grow our business, and be of better service to our clients since some of those people added will be trusted advisors and vendors to whom we can refer our clients.
- We can’t possibly remember every conversation we have with a client, and when we need to follow up with them. This can all be saved in our CRM and also, allows us to scale our business operations since some tasks can be assigned to team members where appropriate.
- At its core, a residential real estate business is a sales business. A sales business and salesperson faces rejection all the time, every day. Starting out each day, resetting our mindset, getting in touch with our values and purpose, and our why, helps keep us moving forward in a positive way no matter what happens during that day. Some people will not be happy with us. Some sales will fall apart, and we have to start from scratch. Expect this, be prepared for this, and move forward with the best mindset possible. Our clients and our business success depend on it.
3. Create processes for everything
- We can either be personality driven or process driven. There is no reason not to have a detailed, checklist driven process for every aspect of our business. And we can start today. Start documenting all parts of a process and audit that process when escrow closes so you can always improve. If we don’t have this, everything is in our head and subject to being forgotten and not being scalable to delegate to and train others. Being process driven also is important in creating the best client experience possible.
4. Have a daily contact goal
- Real estate is a contact sport. Unless your business is solely built by buying leads, which would be very expensive, you must speak to people, and listen. There is always a reason not to make your contacts for the day. Without a daily contact goal to keep yourself accountable to, you won’t know if you are speaking to enough people to have a chance of reaching your production goals.
5. Track and measure everything and be metrics based when making decisions.
- As real estate agents, we are bombarded daily by people trying to sell us the latest and greatest ways we can grow our business with minimal effort and of course, it is enticing. The best way to grow our business is to track all the business development activities that we do and make decisions off of metrics as opposed to our whims of the day.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your field to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Time block your most important activities. This makes sure we do what is most important and not be a pinball reacting to other people’s priorities.
Have a start and end time to your day. It’s too easy to feel we have to be available 24/7, and feel if we aren’t, the client will go elsewhere. Yet, you’ve probably never left a doctor or attorney because they went home for the day and didn’t get back to you until the next business day.
Do some form of meditation, at a minimum every morning to get centered
Take at least one day off per week, if not 2. No phone calls and no email. Disconnect. Enjoy life. Get re-energized.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
I would love to find a way to combine real estate sales with my passion for nonprofit organizations and helping them raise money. It’s well documented that we are going to have an enormous amount of wealth transfer as our population ages, and the bulk of this wealth transfer will be through real estate. I would love to create/participate in a mechanism to have some of this wealth transfer help raise money for nonprofits, and thus, help them do better for our communities. My first instinct was to create a network of cooperative real estate agents throughout the country that agree to donate a percentage of their commission earned for referrals from nonprofit organizations. Then, have nonprofits communicate to their donor base, whether through their newsletter, email communications or by word of mouth, that if the donor is buying, selling or investing, if they work with me or our network of real estate agents, that a certain percentage of commission would be donated back to the nonprofit. Somehow, unfortunately, this does not conform to our National Association of Realtors Code of Ethics. Seems to me something is out of whack when something like this isn’t ethical.
How can our readers follow you online?
Our website is Team805.com. We can also be followed at Team 805 on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitter.