In this episode of The Client Generation Podcast, I had the pleasure of interviewing the CEO of Follow Up Boss, Dan Corkill.
Dan was eager to start a business but was unsure exactly what he wanted to do, so he teamed up with a software developer and set out to find a common problem people were facing and create a solution for them. He realized agents were getting more leads online and did not have a way to capture them efficiently; thus, Follow Up Boss was born. In the last ten years, he has been working with agents and teams around the globe to help them streamline their business using his software.
What’s up everybody? Grant Wise here. Welcome to the Client Generation Podcast really excited today to be joined by the founder and CEO of follow up boss, Mr. Dan Corkill. Excited to jump in and talk about sales and follow up and technology, conversion, all types of stuff. And so Dan, thanks so much for joining me on the show. -Grant
Yeah, thanks for having me, man. Great to be here. I’m looking forward to it. I’m looking forward to it. -Dan
So give us just a quick backstory. I know you’ve built an amazing company. But for those that may not know you, just quick, who are you? How did you get to where you are today? -Grant
Yeah, so about 10 years ago, you know, I sort of decided I want to start my own business didn’t know a ton about what I was doing. But through a weird mix of things, you know, teamed up with a great software developer told my partner, and we just went looking for problems, essentially, we talked to a bunch of people in real estate. So 10 years ago, there really wasn’t a lot of systems that will help you really automate and combiner your lead sources. And people are starting to get a lot more leads online, and they just didn’t really have good systems to follow up with them. And so that was really the problem we set out to solve to, like, just automate some of that and make it a bit easier. And then yeah, for the last 10 years, we’ve just been working with a lot of agents and teams, you know, in the USA, to help them grow their businesses. And you know, we’ve just obviously been improving the software over that time as well. So, um, yeah, I wasn’t a real estate agent before anything. Like everyone always asked me that. But um, yeah, we just got to go into it a weird way. I’m from Australia originally. -Dan
So I think a lot of people I mean, I get that question nonstop. It’s like, well, I’m a marketer. I’m an advertiser. And people are like, Well, did you sell houses before? I was like, No, like, I just, I didn’t, I grew up in real estate. So I probably had a passion for the industry. But now I didn’t sell houses. I do think that’s funny. There’s a nuance in the industry that you can’t help somebody unless you’ve actually sold, which is what we could probably record a different show on that. But that’s awesome. And I know, like I said, you have built a great company at Witly, we have a ton of shared customers, we have a bunch of people that use Follow Up Boss. And it’s always been an incredible experience when we’re working inside of the platform to help people. But I want to ask, like, what are some of the top challenges you’re overcoming, or helping people overcome today, maybe that are different from when you got started 10 years ago, because we’ve come a long way in a decade from a technology standpoint. So what are you seeing are the newer challenges that people are facing? As they’re using systems? Like follow up boss? -Grant
Yeah, for sure. I mean, what’s been interesting is like, as we grew our own business, a lot of our clients also grew their business with us. So some of our really biggest clients like a Robert slack or Chris lindahl, you know, when we first met them, they were just like, working by themselves. They’re a single agent, and now they have hundreds of agents working with them. So, you know, I think with that kind of growth, you know, that’s sort of at the extreme sort of level. It just becomes a lot more about systems about like, sort of high level leadership. And yeah, really, they have very, like, you know, ongoing businesses. And so it’s how do I optimize that and get more out of it versus, you know, I think the other flip side of that coin is, a lot of people come to us, you know, when they’re getting started, or they have a new business. And the question is more about, hey, I need to create more business for myself. Can I do that quickly? And ideally, cheaply, right? Because you know, you’re starting business, you don’t have a lot of money. And I think that’s, that’s also what we’d like helping people with. And I think a challenge for people just getting started is often just, you know, just knowing what to focus on what not to focus on, like, there’s so many shiny objects, right? -Dan
So yeah, I, I have this kind of map in our business is called a pyramid of problems. And most agents start in progress the exact same way. Typically, when they start, their problem is they don’t have enough leads on how many opportunities I got to solve that problem. And then then, as they get more leads get more opportunity, sales or conversion becomes a problem. So they got to solve that. And then as they start closing a lot of deals, they start working like crazy, and they need systems and processes. And so you guys really do help people every step of the way, which is pretty interesting. I want to ask you a question. And you may not know the answer this, but I don’t know how into some of the analytics you guys might get. Are you seeing today? Like what are some of the top sources of business that agents are using as they’re pulling leads into follow boss? -Grant
Yeah, I mean, it’s, it’s very hard. So just give a definitive answer. Like everyone just wanted to say like, real estate calm or something. All right, but but I think it’s very different in different markets. So yeah, definitely, like the big portals like realtor.com Zillow, that’s definitely what a lot of our, you know, top clients utilize. For sure, you know, I think all of the strong businesses that we see also have like a heavy repeat, you know, repeat business from past clients and referrals. So I’m much more of the mindset of you should have, you know, many different sources of business, right? It just makes more sense. It’s less risky. But then we do have some clients, you know, where they’re just there’s hammering realestate.com and the people So many leads from them. But you know, I think some of those clients are also trying to diversify a bit. And again, maybe 10 that one client you get from them into like multiple referrals and things like that. So the the things that we see working well I mean retargeting obviously, you guys are super familiar with that. I think people just, I’m just bullish on people leveraging their databases more, you know, so rather than just thinking like, how do I buy a new lead? How do I buy a new lead? I think there’s this trend to like, Okay, well, how can I leverage this database I’ve built already, how can I be in front of those people using things like email marketing, which is not new, right, but like, but everyone’s using it in a good way. You know, leverage social media leverage retargeting, and just stay in front of those people build good relationships with them. So yeah, you know, I think that’s some of the trends we’re seeing. And then there’s also I guess, like, there’s all these, you know, newer systems like homelight, odo systems like that, where they’re going to pay you more of a referral fee. So I think that’s like else you could be leveraging, because, again, you’re not paying anything, unless you, you know, you close a deal. So yeah, there’s some of the things we’re seeing. -Dan
I, I think a lot of people do it backwards, you know, kind of digging into something that you just said, leveraging your database, I mean, everybody starts with a database. And, and a lot of times we think about databases and CRM. And a database might just be like, the contacts in your phone, or your kindergarten teacher, or your parents or your friends, like, everybody has a database, not everybody’s organizing it, I think a way that people can correct and maybe not go down this path of doing it the wrong way is what happens is a lot of people go out there and you get a ton of leads. And then maybe they buy a CRM, and then they’re they’re playing catch up from day one, because they didn’t build a foundation to start. And where we see people have much more success is when they go through and they they they get a CRM, they establish you know, all that account, they get all their contacts in it to get it organized, and really build a machine to handle lead flow, or to handle their sphere of influence, or to handle those types of things. And it a lot of people just go out and they start with their phone or an Excel sheet or a Word document or or like a notepad, it’s, it’s a very unorganized way to go out there and do things. And so when you go to buy leads, all you’re going to do is amplify this massive train wreck of a problem where you can’t follow up, you can’t convert, you can’t do anything, because you don’t have the systems in place to really help you maximize what it is that you’re bringing into your business, the opportunity you’re bringing into your business. I believe most realtors are not operators. I think they’re more I don’t know visionaries, right word, but they’re more outgoing, extroverted salespeople, right? They just want to close the deals. An unfortunate part of today is like, you’re going to have to become somewhat of a systems type person or have somebody in your business that’s focused on those things, because it’s one of the only ways that you can really scale the the hustle grind will get you to like 2 or 3 million, a year. But like not having systems will get you to 20 or 40 million a year, in a way that, you know, you probably end up working less because yes, you’ve got the right things in place when you’re when you’re even when you’re taxing the production. So it’s interesting, interesting stuff that we’re seeing when you guys are helping people build automations or follow up campaigns or any of those types of sales automations to help people convert from a lead generation standpoint, what are some musts like when a new lead comes into somebody’s business or new lead comes in a follow up boss? What are things that you guys are teaching people to have in place so that people can effectively follow up with the leads they’re generating? -Grant
Yeah, so I think they’re probably a number one thing is this speed to lead like people have always talked about it for a long time. As long as it’s the kind of lead I would just caveat that with that once you to follow up with them. So I don’t think it applies as much to like, if someone just registering your website, they didn’t, you know, fill out an inquiry again, it’s, it’s just gonna depend a little bit on your business on like, how much capacity you have to do follow up, how many leads you’re getting, but we definitely see some of our clients that are just generating, you know, you know, 1000s of leads, then they’re not as focused on some of those registrations and they focus more on the people that are putting their hand up. I so yes, speed to lead though. Definitely. You’re getting any kind of inquiry off like Zillow or realtor.com, or off your own website where someone say, hey, I want to talk to an agent, literally just the foster you contact them, that’s going to make a massive difference. The other kind of things that I think, you know, pretty high leverage, take a little bit of effort, but then once it’s set up, it’s just running for you is personalizing, like the email drips that go out or the action plans that you’re sending to people. So having ideally some videos in there where You’re talking about like your area and like other clients you’ve helped and things like that, just so people can see you on video, get to know you a little bit. I think that really helps set you apart from like, maybe they, you know, they probably signed up on multiple sites, and they probably got some generic, you know, text action plan from some other CRM. And I think, yeah, you just set yourself apart, basically. Um, and then yeah, just sort of, I guess, working out what’s a good follow up cadence that you can commit to, right, because I think that’s like we see people struggle with, especially when you’re you are a small business owner, you’re juggling all these different hats. Don’t make something like so aggressive that like, you’re never gonna keep up with it, then you’re gonna feel bad and that kind of stuff. But yeah, at the same time, like, yeah, especially for those leads that want to talk to someone, it really is like, you’ve just got to pounce on how like, whatever else you’re doing, like you kind of need to jump on it. Or think about how you could maybe have an assistant or team up with someone so that, you know, if you’re on an appointment, someone else can get to that person right away. I think that there is a ton of I don’t know, if maybe a lack of understanding, or so on and so forth. Like how do I build a system that does all of these things, and also try to buy help people buy, sell, negotiate contracts, appraisals, inspections, all this kind of stuff. Going back to kind of what you originally said, like you brought on a customer base, and then you guys kind of grew together. What did you see were like key components. So those people developing teams, kind of alluding to what you were just saying, find people that can help you, as you’re, you know, going through this journey, when you were helping teams create systems and processes and automations and those types of things. What were some of the like, the key things that made really big impacts that somebody listening to this is like, Okay, I think I could go start to build a team. But I need this first, like, I need this key automation, I need this system. I think the key thing to start is like just knowing where you want to go, because we do see some people as well, when they start a team and they hate it. Maybe they recruit the wrong agents, they don’t really like managing people they love, they love real estate, they love selling. And they honestly, they’ll making a lot of money as a single agent, and they just, you know, so I think it’s you got to really decide where you want to go. And some of our biggest clients. I mean, I just think they had like these very clear visions of like, they want to build really big businesses. And, you know, even if you want to just build a team 5 to 10 agents, which is a great size, actually love teams that size, like i think it’s it’s, it’s a nice manageable size. And you can you can still do tons and tons of business with that many agents. I think, sort of what you alluded to like, if you’re more of that visionary, slash the personality in front, like, you know, shaking hands kissing babies, like how can you bring in someone that can be more of like that admin operator type? So I think definitely, as you get bigger, you need that sort of like COO role, I guess you’d call it in, like the software or what other worlds, but yeah, even at the small size, I think really just thinking about like, what are your strengths? And if it is more on the selling side and less on the system side? Yeah, I think just find someone that’s really good at that. I think there’s also a lot of people out there that don’t want to start their own businesses, they don’t want to take all the risk. And you can hire people that are like, honestly, amazing for, you know, less than 100 grand a year, I think some of our clients, you know, have really great people in these, these type of roles. I mean, certainly there’s, there’s more expensive people as well. But yeah, I think you can find someone really good team up with them. And I think that’s a game changer, let them work out a lot of the systems, then you’re just more tactical ones, like, if you are getting a team, like you just need things like lead distribution, you know, you can’t be sitting there doing it manually yourself. So, you know, most CRMs do that. Now, we definitely do a follow up boss on things, like even just setting up a phone system. So like, it starts off as like people just call your cell phone, right. But again, like as you grow, like that’s gonna lead to like missing opportunities. And like, you know, someone calls you you’re in appointments or things like that. We’ve actually, you know, built a lot of that stuff into our system. But you know, there’s lots of other great systems out there as well, that can help you route calls and stuff. Um, but yeah, it’s kind of like removing yourself a little bit from the process. I think as a lot of like service orientated, small businesses, myself included, when we are smaller, and sometimes still today. So you want to control everything, you’re like, Oh, you know, like, I want to make sure this client has the best experience. And so I need to be the one doing it because someone else will screw it up. It just kind of like a fear. Right? Or maybe hiring the wrong people. But like, yeah, I think it’s just you’ve got to start removing yourself. If you want to grow. It’s like you can have control of growth, but you can’t have both usually. -Dan
Yeah, I think a big mistake that people make as they, they maybe even the opposite is they don’t want to control. They don’t want to touch it. They don’t know how it works. And what happens is they bring those types of people into their business. Well, they didn’t teach the person they brought in And how to do it. And so it doesn’t get done right or, or maybe it gets done a level or two better than you were doing it. But it’s still not the best. And you have no way to calibrate that or to know because you didn’t spend the time investing in the, like investing in that. And then developing and fine tuning is something that we’re seeing a ton right now, as a lot of what we do, when somebody first becomes a client of ours is like we have this 90 day plan to help them sell a million dollars in real estate. And typically, the first four to six weeks of that after we get everything set up is optimization. And we have to teach you to go at this with the right mindset, like Look, you’re doing this so you can fire yourself from doing it like this is not your new job for life. This is just a period, it’s a season of work that you need to do building a system, because systems don’t fail people do. So if you build a system that can replicate the results that you’re getting, you can step away from it, and trust that it’s in place and and that it will perform for you for life or, or it might need adjusted or tweaked or whatever. But so many people don’t invest that time they’ve got at other hats that they’re wearing. And when you’re spending maybe 30 minutes a day, or maybe 30 minutes every few days focusing on a task that requires 40 hours a week of attention. Like it’s crazy, like how average the results can be. But then when you get the right people in place, or you invest the right amount of time to actually create a system around those things. Your business just flies off the handle. And it’s amazing to see. Before we go any further a top book recommendation I’ve been making a lot lately guys, is a book called rocket fuel written by Gino wickman. And I can’t remember his first name, something last names Winters. It’s an amazing book that really talks about the difference between maybe CEOs and COOs, people that are operators, mindset, people that have operational mindsets, versus people that have more like sales, innovator, visionary type mindsets. And there are key differences. It’s not like you’re bad or broken. It’s just that you’re wired differently. And I know Dan can relate with me personally on this because I i’ve been fighting the same things. We had a conversation about that a few weeks ago. But great book will really help you understand the way that you’re actually wired and may help you understand how to create an opportunity we can bring somebody else. I know if we’re talking about real estate Titans that went through that process. It was Barbara Corcoran. back early in her real estate career, she wasn’t a very good operator. And she went and found a partner that could manage the whole business for her and she just skyrocketed. And so I just wanted to make that recommendation while we’re going through this process. Man, it’s been a great conversation. Dan, I don’t wanna take up a ton of your time. I really appreciate you spending some time with us today.-Grant
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