Small Biz Buzz—114—Frank Gerola—Perpetuating Real Estate Business During a Pandemic

Small Biz Buzz hosts Crystal Heuft and Scott Martineau are joined by Frank Gerola, a real estate agent in the Phoenix Metro Area, who discusses how he’s adapted his business during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gerola’s business represents both buyers and sellers. One area of concern that came up for his clients was safety while looking at houses during the coronavirus.

“A lot of it is comfort level, how comfortable they are,” said Gerola. “One of the things that we try to limit is the buyers' exposure, and the exposure they're bringing to the property.”

Gerola requested that no children were to be brought to a home showing. If people had to bring their children, each parent would view the home individually while the other parent stayed in the car with the kids, then they would switch. As children tend to “look with their hands,” this was a way to mitigate the spread of germs.

During home showings, Gerola provided booties and gloves to his clients as well as wiped down the house once they were done looking at it. He requested the homes to have all of the lights on, all of the doors open in every one of the rooms, the closets open, a couple of the cupboards open so the only doors that visitors would have to touch are the front door, the rear door, and the garage entry door.

“It’s working all together as a whole. And then letting the consumer know, the seller know, ‘We have your best interest in mind as well. We understand your concern and we hear you,’” said Gerola. “A lot of it is up to the consumer, but when you show them that you're proactive, it's a win-win.”

You can find Frank Gerola’s business on Instagram, @GilbertNOW and on Facebook, GilbertNOW. His personal handle is @RealtorFrankG on Instagram and Frank Gerola on Facebook.

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Transcript:

Crystal (00:09):

And I will say, I mean, I have to brag about you for a minute because when I was looking for my first home, I didn't really know where to go, but my friend had just bought a house. She said, "I have the best real estate agent for you." I'm on the West Side. So I was like, "Does he know the West Side or just East Side?" She's like, "I think he knows everything." She literally said, "I think he knows everything."

Scott (00:31):

Everything. Literally everything.

Frank (00:33):

He's Google.

Crystal (00:34):

Yeah. She couldn't say enough about Frank. And I was a little concerned because I'm a single woman, my parents had just moved to Albuquerque. I'm like, "Why am I thinking of getting into this venture right now? How do I know if I picked the right home? How do I know if I'm making a good investment?" I was really scared and I have to say Frank came in. I told him, I said, "Hey," I told him exactly the lay of the land. I don't know what I'm doing, my parents aren't here to help me and I'm feeling a little scared about it. And he said, "We'll just look. If you find something great, if you don't, that's fine." And he said, "I'm going to pretend you're my daughter and I'll tell you if I would let her live there or if I think it's a good call."

Crystal (01:12):

And he came through with a promise, man. He really made sure I felt like family. The neighborhood I'm in is a little loud and I was a little iffy and he was like, "It's safe. I don't think it's a quiet neighborhood, but it's safe and I would let my daughter live here." And I was like, "Done." And I feel like it's been a good investment. I just started talking to Frank last week about, I think next year, if the market stays pretty good, in a good spot, I might sell and buy my glow up home.

Frank (01:40):

Yeah, and we will. We did very well, we did very well and that's one of the things, I think you were a little bit different in regards to our real estate firm is that a lot of other individuals in this industry look at it as just transactional, and to us it's very relationship bases. It's all about the relationship.

Scott (01:56):

Well, that's amazing. I think we should take a hard right turn here because we've had a lot of guests on the show that are personal branding experts, but you basically succeeded in Crystal, feeling like you were the master at everything. You knew everything. So we're going to actually have the whole podcast episode be about that. You just need to help us see the formula for helping your customers feel like you're everything.

Scott (02:18):

I do think you're already starting to unveil the secret so maybe I do want to come back, because I think this concept of relationship is key and I have a hunch it's going to be part of your COVID adaptation strategy. But I would love to, maybe as we kick off, I'd love to get the perspective from you about what happened and you can take us to the dark moments too, as you heard about COVID, and you imagine what the impact would be in your business. Take us down the journey of what that felt like early, with the early news and maybe some of your instinctive initial reactions.

Frank (03:00):

Well, one of the things about the real estate market here in the Phoenix Metro Area, if you've been doing it long enough, you know that it's all about pivoting and you're going to have to adapt at some point. We've been where the highs of the highs, the lows of the lows where we've had foreclosures we have to deal with, REOs. So different types of markets, but I think this one was a little bit unique because initially when it first came on, it was going to affect everybody. It didn't have a certain sector that it was going to affect.

Frank (03:35):

One of the things about real estate is there's so many variable factors involved that play into the transaction. You've got the market factors, you got the supply and demand factor, you've got the human factor. Then you got the interest rate factor, and then you got the perception of, "Hey, is this market strong? Am I making a wise decision?" One of the things that I think makes the COVID so real as far as the real estate market was concerned and the real estate consumer was concerned, that it made it very real because as far as real estate consumers go, recession is a bad word and the majority of homeowners now had had a hard time, a very difficult time, with the last recession. So anytime when the recession word comes up, and then you put a global pandemic and you see the stock market losing 12 to 1800 points per day.

Scott (04:28):

Just a couple little cherries on top.

Frank (04:30):

Yeah, it causes immediate panic and a huge concern. And then throw in a quarantine, throwing a quarantine on top of that and it's just like, "Whoa." So initially, it was one of the things you have to do is just control. Control everything that you can, take every news information that you have with a grain of salt and verify it.

Frank (04:54):

One of the things that we were trying to get a grasp on is what the economy was going to be like in Arizona and what the unemployment rate was actually going to be like because that was going to have a huge effect on the consumer sentiment, consumer confidence.

Crystal (05:10):

Before we just jump full blown in the way Scott did here, I wanted to talk a little bit about your growth before we had coronavirus. What were you experiencing in your business right before it hit? And share some of your goals you might've had.

Frank (05:24):

One of the things with our group is the way we're structured. We have a blog. It's called GilbertNOW and over our Facebook and our Instagram platform we have about 50,000 followers. And the way our blog starts, it's all about community first. It's never about us, it's always about the community.

Frank (05:41):

We're able to drive a ton of traffic and a ton of interested buyers, sellers through our blog. So, year on year, our blog is finally starting to really gain some momentum now. And year over year, we've had a lot of success with our blogs. So with that being said, we're getting some momentum and we're getting a lot of traction.

Frank (06:03):

One of the things in the Arizona market, as a real estate agent, if you're able to sell approximately about $10 million in a year, you're considered the top, top, the top 1%. Year over year we've been exceeding those goals and then some by about a 50 to 60% margin. We sell about a hundred homes a year and when you hire us, you hire us. You're not passed along along the way.

Frank (06:29):

As our business was starting to, we're picking up steam and we're starting to get all of our systems in place and things going. And then like I had mentioned, how I alluded to it earlier is, one thing about the real estate market and the Phoenix market is you're always going to have to reinvent yourself because there's always new something coming around the corner. If you've been doing this long enough, you know that, hey, you're never going to be settled for the fact is that the market's going to change. And one of the things that when it changes here in the Phoenix market, in our experience, it changes fast. It's not a gradual change. It changes pretty fast but it was nothing as fast as with what the COVID did. It was literally pump the brakes. Pump the brakes and really, really reevaluate how you're doing business.

Scott (07:13):

What I'm hearing is that you've been through general... There's a general sense of change in your market. So your default stance is, "I need to always be innovating and thinking and improving and adapting." And you also have sort of the history of we've been through recessions before, we've seen the impact so maybe we're not going to die. And I also love the fact that you mentioned earlier, look, we're going to control what we can. I think maybe both of those two facts maybe lead you to the place where you say, "You know what? I really can only control what I can."

Scott (07:48):

So I guess my first direct and honest... Not my first, this is my first honest question ever on this podcast.

Crystal (07:57):

Oh, Lord.

Scott (07:58):

But a direct question, this one's actually dishonest, is did you have a moment of fear? Did you have a moment where it was like, "Ah, crap, this is bigger than the rest?" Or do you feel like you're in a place where it was like, "We got this."

Frank (08:12):

Absolutely. One thing with fear, I think fear comes from the point of uncertainty and unknown. When you're a small business owner or a business owner that when the fear starts to come or fear's in the water, you start thinking of... Everybody immediately, human nature starts thinking of everything that can go wrong instead of what can go right. Some of the things that my business partner and I have in mind, it's all a mindset. Anything you look at as a mindset. You could look at half empty, half full. And one of the fortunate things is we get to choose the mindset.

Frank (08:45):

Another thing that we have learned in our experience, my business partner and I, is that, hey, let's not let a good recession go to waste. There's opportunity, there's an opportunity in any market. Let's be the first to find it, and let's be the first to capitalize it. But a lot of that goes with just not pushing the panic button and controlling what you can control. Have your mind set like, "Hey, let's be the first to figure this out and let's be the ones that are on the forefront instead of the ones that are playing catch up."

Scott (09:14):

Crystal, it's tweetable. Let's not let a good recession go to waste.

Crystal (09:18):

And I think that's really how Frank looks at business, even when there's not a recession because I remember when Victoria, my friend that told me about Frank, when she went to Frank, she said, "I want something that's going to build wealth for me. I'm not going to be there long. I don't need it to be what I want longterm, but I want it to be something that's going to build wealth." And he found the market. He found the little hub of a market in Mesa and he was like... I will say you brought her far from all of her friends, but she built a ton of wealth in four years and just bought a brand new home.

Crystal (09:51):

So what do you think it is that makes you think about the opportunity differently than other people that might get lost in the fact when things kind of change abruptly?

Frank (10:01):

I think it's attributed to a few things. One thing I mentioned, the mindset and I think too, it's the people that you surround yourself with. You've met Kevin, my business partner Kevin, and there's not a panic bone in his body. So when something comes up like this, like, "Okay, what are we going to do? How do we figure this out? What should we do?" And then we just start looking at all of the baseline items. When you look at it and you get your mindset right, it's very pretty simple. You just take it back to basics.

Frank (10:34):

One of the thing about our business, we're in a relationship business. And when we said with our blog, the background on our blog, it's about you, it's never about us. One of the things that we want to be true partners in our community. And one of the things that we did, the first thing we did is say, "You know what? Why don't we just call all of our past and existing clients and ask them how they're doing and if there's anything that we can help them with?" Any of the resources that we can help them with.

Scott (10:58):

This is so unique. I think when you're talking about your community earlier, where the genuine goal is to create community first. First of all, it's fascinating and I'm curious how you do that in a market that I think tends to be... Maybe has a reputation for being maybe a little more pushy and sales oriented and revenue oriented. I guess what do you do to keep that attitude? Because even the way you're talking about the reaction here is very much, let's not call and see who's thinking of buying during the recession. It's just actually using this as a time to check in on people. So how do you overcome the natural desire to sell and close and just show up without that care and concern for your customers?

Frank (11:47):

Like I said, again, it's just the mindset. When you come from a place of good, you're always going to be rewarded. If you look out for others first, your business plan is going to go tenfold.

Frank (12:01):

One of the things that we've always done with our current buyers, and I'm sure Crystal can attest that, we track a lot of metrics. Cost per lead and this and that, but the metrics that you cannot ever track, or you cannot ever, is the personal engagement and that this person thinks I was sincere and did I do a good job by them? To me, when you can do that and you're looking at it from a point of not what's in it for me? What's in it for the other clients? Each one of your clients is going to be a 10X client.

Frank (12:31):

What I mean by that is they're going to refer you to at least 10 friends and family. When you get to that point where you can sit back and you just have referral business, that's the easiest business you could ever generate. But it's so hard to get to that point. Especially in a sales driven business, a lot of it's a me first. Everybody reads the books and all of the different motivational speakers. One of the things that I think is missing is slow down, stop and to be successful, listen.

Scott (13:06):

So what did you hear when you talked to them? What did your customers say?

Frank (13:10):

It was all over the place. "Hey, where can I get toilet paper, Frank?" You know what? We have some here, we have some here. We managed some VRBOs we can send some, we can bring some over today. One of the things with our blog, we had a lot of people on our blog-

Scott (13:22):

You stole toilet paper out of the VRBOs to take to your clients?

Frank (13:25):

We manage VRBOs so we have a stock. We're not... And then we-

Scott (13:31):

So you actually delivered TP though, to some of your clients?

Frank (13:36):

Yeah. Some clients, we needed some food. How can we get boxes of food. There's somethings that we're not able. So a lot of it was just, "Frank, what do you think is going to happen? Do you think we should sell now?" A lot of people started looking. I said, "You know what? There's not push the panic button yet." You just reaffirmed them like, "Hey, the recession from 10 years ago was a lot different because the housing market caused a recession. This recession is a little bit different. It's the global pandemic." What was great about the last recession is the government has a history of what just recently happened and they're going to be quick to react as opposed the wait and see. That's one of the things, just trying to let them know.

Frank (14:18):

And one of the other things was, "Frank, should we sell our house?" I said, "Well, let's look at it. Do you plan on leaving? Where would you go?" The rental rates are high right now. I said, "One of the things about this real estate market, there's only four ways to buy a house. It's cash, it's FHA, it's conventional, and it's VA." Every single one of those programs, you have to have physical cash to purchase the property. So there's not going to be a mass dump a property.

Frank (14:47):

If anything, what we're seeing is prices may stabilize and then become more of a normal market, but we're not anticipating any huge, massive equity losses.

Scott (14:58):

I love it. I think there's something about... I remember Joe Polish was talking once about the value of... He's like, "Think about how much people learn in the world from salespeople," because a lot of people are frustrated with people who sell. And I think we're breaking down what it really means to have sales flowing to you, which I think is what you're teaching our audience. The value of you calming and teaching your customer. I mean, I think the value of sending them toilet paper is clearly of more urgent and necessity, but the fact that you're having these conversations with them and if I go from this emotionally strong place to a place of calm, I'm like, "Oh yeah, that make..." I mean, it just deepens that relationship with you even more. Who's to say what type of future equity you've created in your business because of the strategy. It's beautiful. Go for it, Crystal.

Crystal (15:48):

I was just so excited because I was going to say the minute the house next door to me went on sale, I already knew I'm thinking of reaching out to Frank next year, but I was like, "I'm just going to reach out and see if he can tell me what they end up selling for once it sells," because I was curious. And I'll tell you, Frank was like, "Sure, I'm happy to do that for you, no problem. And then I'm also going to run an evaluation on your home so you have an idea for next year. No pressure about right now," but the idea of seeing the evaluation now, I was like, "Maybe I don't have to wait. Maybe this would be a good time."

Crystal (16:21):

And I thought he was doing it for care for me and because of that, it's a great sales tactic because you are giving me a full service of here's a full look at where it is now. You either use it next year to compare or you can use it now if you want.

Frank (16:36):

Yeah. That's one of the things I think that's such a missed opportunity as far as the sales professions go. The sales profession is always, always... I say it all the time. "Hey, tomorrow's the first day of the month and you start at zero. You might've hit a grand slam last month, but you started at zero." But I think the mindset of the sales profession is wrong because it's so right now. It's so right now the metrics are always measured, "Hey, what'd you do this week? What'd you do this week? How many ups did you out?" If you're in the car business, "How many reps do you got? How many houses you got? What's your pipeline look like right now?"

Frank (17:07):

But no one ever asks a question, "Hey, what's your pipeline going to look like in five years from now? What's your pipeline going to look like in 10 years from now? Are you building a transaction or are you building a business?" And I think when you look at it from that standpoint is... You can be transactional or you can build a brand. I think when you start focusing on building a brand, you're putting yourself in a position of winning over time.

Scott (17:30):

I love it. So Crystal, let me ask you this question. So when you're ready to buy your next home, how are you going to go about the process of deciding which realtor you're going to use?

Crystal (17:38):

It's already decided. I mean, I've told Frank when he did such a great job last time that I won't ever look. I could probably meet a real estate agent, start dating them, and Frank would still be my real estate agent.

Frank (17:49):

Yes.

Scott (17:52):

Obviously this is a tongue in cheek question because what has happened is you literally have created a monopoly, and it's a legal monopoly. But in Crystal's mind, she would think of no other realtor except calling you.

Crystal (18:02):

I'll tell you, most realtors, they hand you the keys and they're out. I had a situation with the builder, they messed up on one or two things and I was struggling and I'd already got the keys, I'm already moved in. I went to Frank just for advice. He handled it. He called the builder himself, he got everything fixed for me. I couldn't even believe it. My mom was like, "That's a good realtor. I've never seen any realtor like that." But I think you do take service to a next level.

Crystal (18:29):

I should have thought when I was starting to run out of paper towels to go, now that I know you're in that business, too. I think it makes it so hard to ever think of using another realtor.

Frank (18:39):

And I think that's one thing with business. I read a book years ago and in the book, it was a the sales book, motivational book. One of the things in the book it touched upon was in any consumer's mind, it's like a bookshop. You could only hold one spot in that bookshop. So think of somebody, where you want to go get a car wash? This is the place where I go get a carwash. Who's the guy I called? Who's my electrician? Who's my dry cleaner? And that resonated so much with me. How do I get to be in my customer's mindset that, hey, that's Frank, the realtor. That's the guy that's going to sell our house and our family's home.

Frank (19:17):

One of the things that I think today somewhere in business, and especially in sales, is customer service is so non-existent. I think culturally, it's nonexistent. Think about when you're doing the marketing video. I've got to get it 25 to 30 seconds or less or else my show time's going to start dropping off. I think it's instant gratification. I think with customer service being so non-existent, when you provide average or above customer service, it's just so noticeable.

Frank (19:50):

I'll give you an example. I took my daughter the other day, she wanted to go to Dutch Brothers. And you walk in, everybody's so happy to see you. "Hey, how's your day going today?" And they're just complimenting us. People don't ever remember what you said, but they will remember how you made them feel and I think that's so important. That's so important.

Scott (20:11):

Love it.

Crystal (20:12):

So I have a question for you because it seems like this is the Frank I know and love. What have been some of the changes you've made when you're showing houses or when you're having to sell houses in this environment? Have you had to make any adaptations to how you do that?

Frank (20:29):

Oh, absolutely. There's been a ton. We represent both buyers and sellers so one of the things on the buyer side is, what we do with our buyers is we let them know... A lot of it is comfort level, how comfortable they are. One of the things that we try to limit is one, their exposure, the buyers' exposure, and the exposure they're bringing to the property. So one of the things that we did, we implemented with our buyers, is I have pocket hand sanitizer. So every house we get to, we will hand sanitize or hands. When we leave the house, we'll hand sanitize their hands.

Frank (21:05):

Another thing is we're asking that it's just only adults, no children. And if you have to bring your children, hey, we'll go in and view the home with the husband and then we'll come back and we can view the home with the wife while one of them is watching the kids in the car. One of the reasons that we did that is I want to make the seller aware that, hey, we understand a lot of children look with our hands and we don't want for you to be having you concerned that, hey, you're going to have two or three children and here just touching everything. So, that's one of the things.

Frank (21:35):

Gloves and shoe booties we've implemented as well. Again, it's towards the consumer's level of comfort. I had some, "Ah, we're not worried about it." We have some call and say, "Hey, will you wear a mask?" Absolutely. Absolutely we'll wear a mask.

Frank (21:49):

On the seller side, one of the things we do with our clients, we're full service. So we will schedule all the appointments for every showing that goes on our seller's house. So we're asking our sellers one, we will advertise, we will market the property, no young children come in the house. We can provide you shoes, booties, and gloves. If need be we can wipe down the house once you're done. What we're asking when we show the home is to have all of the lights on, all of the doors open in every one of the rooms, the closets open, maybe a couple of the cupboards open so the only doors that they will have to touch is the front door, the rear door, and maybe the garage entry door.

Frank (22:28):

So we're really trying to minimize the exposure. And then another thing that we're doing too, is we're limiting showings between just the certain strong showing times. So hey, Saturday and Sundays the hot times are probably between nine and three. So we're saying, "Hey, the home is available between nine and three." We're asking the homeowners, "Hey, we can have it vacated between nine and three," we can maximize our showing there and then we can come in one time and sanitize the home at one shot.

Scott (22:57):

There aren't many places to go where they feel safe, right?

Frank (23:02):

That, one. And then two, it's just so hot. The market's starting to get real hot and you can't go... Before, hey, we can go watch a movie for a couple hours. Well, we don't have that option. A restaurant, you don't have that option. We can't go to a restaurant. A lot of the daycares, a lot of parents... So there's a lot of different challenges.

Frank (23:19):

I think, uniquely it's working all together as a whole, whether it be the showing agent that's trying to show the home, whether it be the buyer's agent if we're showing the home and then the client as well. And then letting the consumer know, the seller know like, "Hey, we have your best interest in mind as well. We understand your concern and we hear you, we hear you." A lot of it is up to the consumer, but when you show them that you're proactive, it's a win-win.

Scott (23:48):

Well, I think it's awesome. I don't know how many of our listeners are in real estate, obviously those are great tactical ideas for real estate. But what I hope our listeners are picking up out of this is this is innovation born out of understanding a customer and responding to customer's needs. And really that's, I mean, I wasn't expecting this, Frank. I mean, Crystal did speak very highly of you, but I wasn't expecting just the example that you were going to create for everybody today about really serving clients and the impact that can have on the business. I think that's a pattern that we've seen.

Scott (24:21):

In fact, all of customer life cycle marketing is about, which is a framework that we teach, it's all about getting on the other side of the table with your customer and imagining the experience that you're taking them through to make sure that you're delivering value along the way. And you're just a walking, breathing version of that. And it's awesome.

Crystal (24:38):

For sure.

Scott (24:40):

I wanted to share one quick thought. I think we're getting a little bit short on time, but I wanted to make sure to put this in because it is relevant both to the industry and the topic. And that is that my wife and I, I think we're in our 11th home right now. We've basically transients for a long time, every couple of years we would move. It took us until our ninth time that we bought a home that we had a realtor who actually started to follow up with us. I've never actually had a mortgage professional follow up after the one deal. Everything was transactional.

Scott (25:11):

You said earlier 10X, and what you were referring to, Frank, was that they're going to refer 10 of their friends. And what was interesting is that we literally, the first realtor that helped us to buy our very first home, literally the lost 10 deals because of one simple thing. He moved on and he didn't treat us like [inaudible 00:25:30]. And it wasn't even so much that I don't actually remember who it was, but it wasn't that I had a problem with him. It wasn't that I was frustrated with his customer service or blah, blah, blah, blah. It was just simply when it came time to decide again, just like I asked Crystal earlier, I had to decide. And I had to think, "Well, who was that? Where's their contact? I don't really know." So then I'm going to go ask another friend.

Scott (25:53):

I hope that our listeners are hearing this loud and clear, and many of our customers and listeners are already in this mindset and they recognize it. But, thank you, Frank.

Frank (26:01):

I think sales and lead generation is, there's so many. If you Google it, there's so many different ways and so many different forums, but I think when you simplify it, your lead generation is already in the sphere of influence that you already know, or the people that you've already contacted with. That's the easiest way to go get it. It doesn't cost you anything to pick up the phone. Everybody's always looking at new business, but hey, your new business lies within your old business. It's right there, it's right there.

Frank (26:26):

If you're missing that opportunity to service and to capitalize on the current or old business, you're going to miss out on a ton of new business because that's the easiest business to get. The door's already down, the barriers are down. They're already there for the people that you've already worked with. They want to hear from, they want to talk with you. They go, "Hey, what's a question? Hey, what can I do for you?" I think a lot of the big picture in business is bigger, faster, stronger than you. But a lot of times you forget to look what's in the rear view mirror and a lot of the solutions are in your rear view mirror for people you've already worked with, or a client that you've already made that relationship with.

Scott (27:05):

Hey, by the way, Frank, do you have a system for asking for referrals?

Frank (27:09):

Yeah. It starts when I first meet you. When I met Crystal and everybody that they referred me, I've worked with her sister, I worked with her best friend, I met with her parents.

Frank (27:21):

One of the things, when we first started off, I said, "My goal was to earn a five-star review from you at the end of this." I've been fortunate enough to have about 140 five-star reviews on my digital platform. My goal is to earn a five-star review from you. So at any time there's this transaction if I'm not providing five-star service, please let me know and I will correct it immediately. So I set the tone up front.

Frank (27:41):

At the end, when the transaction is done, I'll ask them for the review and I'll ask, "I hope I earned a five-star review and if I did, can you please tell all your friends and family about me? Because my business is based on referrals and your referral would mean the most to me." And so I think-

Crystal (27:56):

Scott, when you say that though, you mean like a system. It's still Frank. I think a company like Keap could really help Frank. Frank, we could save you so much time.

Scott (28:04):

I'm not going there.

Crystal (28:04):

I could tell, I'll do it for you.

Scott (28:06):

Go ahead, Crystal. Lay into Frank.

Crystal (28:08):

Frank, we could save you-

Scott (28:08):

Frank, you can even do better. I think the structure of what you're talking about is brilliant. I wonder if there are even more systematic things that you can do because while that question is on people's mind immediately, they're definitely, as time passes, your customers are undoubtedly... The freshness of your conversations with them start to wear. So if you can have a system in place that is possibly going back to those raving fans and just reminding them that you're there and explicitly asking for that.

Crystal (28:43):

I wonder all the time how he does that, honestly, because I text him. I don't have a deal right now with Frank, we're not selling my house. He texts me in two hours. So I'm always thinking, Frank, I'm not going to hard sell you here, but I'm just saying, I think about that often. How is he doing this all by himself? But it is amazing. And you already have the structure built into what you do. So I think you're just so cool that you're so available to all your clients.

Frank (29:11):

One of the things that's true is, like I said before, I think sales, I've always looked at sales as a relationship business no matter what you're selling. And one of the things that we do is we have a weekly newsletter. A newsletter's just to give information, it never talks about us, it's all about just what's going on in our community and what's going on. But one of the things that's important to Kevin and I is, and we have through our newsletter and interaction is, we have a lot of different events throughout the year to get our clients, future, past and present clients, engaged. Every year I dress up as Santa Claus, we have a toy drive. But with our toy drive we also have pictures with Santa Claus. We have a hot chocolate stand. So we have that on Christmas.

Frank (29:57):

Thanksgiving, we hand out about 300 pies from Costco.

Crystal (30:01):

That's my favorite.

Scott (30:05):

Frank, you are too much, dude. You dress up as Santa?

Frank (30:08):

Oh man, we have a stuff the bus.

Crystal (30:08):

He texts, "When are you coming to pick up your pie?" And he waits there to say, "Hey, how are you? Here's your pie. Happy Thanksgiving." I mean, he definitely has ways to make sure he's staying engaged with his clients.

Frank (30:21):

Yeah, we have a hot dog cart, so we'll do hot dog carts in your park. We do a lot of different things. We do annual corn hole tournament every year. All the proceeds benefit The Boys And Girls Club. We raise about $20,000 a year, every year, on our corn hole tournament. But what's great is it brings everybody to our office, we get to have a good time and like I said, no one will ever remember what you said, but they'll always remember how you make them feel.

Frank (30:46):

It's amazing. Like, "Hey, you doing the corn hole tournament this year? Hey, we're looking forward to our pie this year." So it becomes where these are part of their every year rituals and that is such a compliment. When people look forward to the event that you're having and then the relationships you build, we don't look at them as clients. We look at them as family and friends.

Scott (31:09):

Well Frank, you are awesome. Thank you so much for being with us today. I think our listeners just got edumacated on what it's like to really serve and create a business. I think your adaptations born out of customer service we're awesome and inspiring and we look forward to hearing how your business continues this year, and maybe even more excitingly, five years down the road.

Frank (31:30):

Awesome. We appreciate the opportunity guys. And thanks again.

Crystal (31:33):

Thank you, Frank. I was just going to say, Frank, where can they find you?

Frank (31:36):

You can find us on our Instagram, @GilbertNOW and then on Facebook, GilbertNOW. My personal is @RealtorFrankG on Instagram and Frank Gerola on Facebook.

Scott (31:45):

All right, awesome. Well, Crystal, we just need a little moment from our sponsors. So for our un-sponsored sponsorship on this episode of Small Biz Buzz, this episode is brought to you by-

Crystal (31:57):

Who do we have?

Scott (31:58):

Eric and Janet Sparrow founders, co-founders, and husband and wife of Milkhouse Candles in Iowa.

Crystal (32:07):

Those candles smell so good.

Scott (32:08):

Well, it's not just the smell, Crystal. It's also the fact that they ditched traditional paraffin. So they're sitting in the middle of Iowa, right? And I don't know if you've ever driven through Iowa. I have, and it is literally basically all soy beans. I think there's corn there, too. And here they are looking around and they're saying... Well, actually, what happened is their brief story, which you can find on our website, I will put a link in the show notes, but the brief story is they're newlyweds that are making candles in their very first little house. They start to take them into, I think he was a teacher or something, and he starts taking them in and he's like, "In 15 minutes I would sell 20 candles and all the candles were gone and I have this envelope of cash." And they looked at each other and they were like, "Maybe we could actually create a business out of this."

Scott (32:53):

And so he decides to quit his job, much to the dismay of everybody who says he's absolutely insane. And they go out and they're like, "Look, we can improve on candles." So they ditch paraffin wax, which has a bunch of carcinogens in it apparently. I didn't know that. And they go with local grown soy. So they have soy wax and they build this booming business. They take this warehouse that used to employ a hundred people that was shut down, they fire it back up. They start bringing in technology. They brought in automation for their candles making, they brought in Infusionsoft for automating their customer experience and started to build this thriving business. They've got a massive team now, they're just doing awesome stuff. So thank you Milkhouse candles for sponsoring but not sponsoring this episode. I guess, sponsoring, but not paying for it, right Crystal?

Crystal (33:44):

What actually trying to say is, you're just a business doing really cool things and we wanted to shout you out without requiring you to pay us, right?

Scott (33:52):

I don't even think Eric and Janet know we're saying this. We'll have to send them a link. Somebody send them a link.

Crystal (33:56):

Yeah.

Scott (33:57):

Thanks Crystal, Frank, everybody that's been on the episode.

Frank (33:59):

Thank you guys. Appreciate the opportunity.

Scott (34:02):

All right. We're going to call this a wrap for this episode of Small Biz Buzz.

Speaker 1 (34:05):

Thanks for listening to Small Biz Buzz. Please take a second to subscribe to the show and leave a five-star rating, it helps keep the show going. And if you need a hand with growing your small business, head over to Keap.com that's K-E-A-P.com and get started. More business. Less work. That's Keap.



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