Episode 7: Secrets of Successful Niches with Julie Kinnear
Intro: Hi! This is Glenn McQueenie, and welcome to 20 Minutes of Insider Secrets of Successful Niches. This is where you learn the insider secrets to dominate your target market. You’ll learn to work with high-margin, super-happy clients, and build a tribe of loyal, raving fans for your business. So excited to have you join me today, so sit back and enjoy 20 Minutes of Insider Secrets of Successful Niches.
Glenn: Hello! It’s Glenn McQueenie, and thank you so much for joining me today on my Success Series podcast. I’m so honoured and thrilled to have Julie Kinnear from Keller Williams Neighbourhood Realty, Brokerage with us today. Hi Julie, how are you?
Julie: I’m great! Thanks for having me.
Glenn: Well, Julie, I’ve been a big fan of yours. I think you do such great stuff all the time, and I’m just thrilled that you’ve taken the time to join me for this podcast series. So I’ve known Julie for probably about 20 years, and what I’ve really respected about Julie is that her business has grown mostly by referral and repeats. And the only way that really happens is if you just deliver such a world-class experience every single time, and build big models and systems so that everyone who comes into their team’s system gets treated as if they’re the only one. And they just become big, raving fans. So Julie and her team use very unique strategies to stay ahead of the market, and they just really focus on making sure that their clients get maximum value when selling their property, and also get really great negotiators when they’re buying. And because they’ve got a team, they don’t really miss a lot of the really great, hot properties. And I think just with the amount of volume you do, and the wisdom that you have on your team, most people are in great hands when they’re working with you. So that’s my little bio about you, Julie, but I’d love to ask you to tell me a little bit about your journey into building this really cool real estate business.
Julie: Well I think my most memorable history is that I was a sponge for information and education, which I still am. I believe completely in learning new ways of doing things and from other people and other models. But when I first started in real estate, I did have to do the whole cold calling thing, and that was one of the courses that I took, and it was Floyd Wickman way back then. And I did that, and I swear to God I was going to quit the business. And so, what happened was, I ended up taking a course by Joe Stumpf, called By Referral Only, and it was like I found home. All of a sudden, it all made sense to me. And basically it’s my strength – which is my relationships with my friends and family (they’ve always been key in my life) – and it became a natural progression into the business. So that’s how I got so happily ensconced in the repeat and referral way of running a business. The other sort of historical facts for me (or my bio) is, I did run a College Pro franchise way back when, before I did real estate, for a few years, and I learned a lot about actually running a business. And that’s why the systems come in. I’m extremely system-oriented, which means that the clients, even if they are one client at a time, (and relationships are key, key, key), I can also repeat that experience for another client. So when a client is telling another one about their great experience with The Julie Kinnear team, you know that it’s not going to be like, “Oh, they didn’t do that for me. Oh, they didn’t do that for me.” It’s a referable experience that they can all go together, “Yeah! Wasn’t that amazing? We got that too!” So I definitely keep that in mind whenever I’m designing a system and whenever I’m working with a client.
Glenn: So it really seems to me what you’ve developed is just a whole series of unique processes and models and systems to really deliver at a very high level and consistent level, a unique experience to every single one of your clients that comes through. And it’s so interesting, because so many agents will try to be everything to everybody, don’t have many models or systems, and are, frankly, surprised sometimes why they’re not busy. And I love what you’ve done, is just built this massive referable business. What’s your referral rate? On your transactions you do in a year, what percentage would be repeat and referral?
Julie: We basically hover around the 80% repeat and referral business, and that’s pretty good, considering. I have a fairly successful team, so it’s not just me who’s on the team. I have three other realtors and two other admin. And then of course we get business from open houses and signage and web and all that kind of stuff. But the raving fans and the clients telling clients about us is what we focus on.
Glenn: And 80% is high when you do such high volume. But I hear some people say, “Oh, I do 100%” and I’m like, “You always want to leave that 20% for getting new clients all the time, because you’ll find that a lot of your younger clients move really frequently, and keep the team going, and then a lot of people get into their 40s and 50s and kind of stay put. So if you don’t keep that front door open and keep bringing in new people from open houses and listings and just finding those people, it’s really hard to build a long-term, high-volume, sustainable business.
Glenn: So what’s been the big payoff for you over the last few years, in going from a single agent who used to actively door-knock and cold call prospects, to building this big referral business? What’s the biggest payoff?
Julie: For me, it’s a real joy to have a relationship with a client even before I actually have met them. So they know you, like you, trust you before you’ve even met is the big payoff for me, which means that when I walk into a home or I meet a new prospective client, we can have a really honest conversation. We can talk about deep things. We’ve already built the trust because one of their friends or their family or colleagues or whoever has spoken about us. They’ve given their stamp of approval. So you definitely get on a much deeper conversation, and then you’re able to give them a lot more truthful guidance; more like you’re treating them like family and friends than a stranger. And you can get to the heart of the matter really quickly. And it’s extremely rewarding working with wonderful people. That’s another major benefit, is that you go to work every day, and you love your job and you love your clients and they love you. It’s a bit of a love-love-love fest, (which sounds kind of weird in business), but it’s a major payoff. Obviously, it increases your conversion rates, so you have to do fewer appointments and consultations and all that kind of stuff, because it’s higher up in the process. You’re not working with a whole bunch of people who just want lower commission, and they just “Wham, bam, thank you ma’am!” We’re not like that, and we don’t attract that. And certainly the way we market our services, and the way we explain our business model to other clients and how we can help them – we’re looking to attract people who are relationship-based and who do want to speak in a truthful way.
Glenn: It sounds to me like you’ve just built this great, high-margin, friction-free business, because everyone you’re working with has been referred to you, so there’s a certain, “Okay, well if they’re a friend of so-and-so, then they must be okay.” And I think you get the speed of trust, too. People will trust you and like you, and I’m sure that must just speed up the transaction in many ways because you’ve gone that much further down the line. It’s like, “Now all I really work with, it seems like, is all of my friends.”
Julie: Right. It does feel like that sometimes. It’s a nice feeling to have. And I have to say, when I was building the team, and when we’re all working together, our team acts in the same way. So this is what we would consider our own core value, is really high trust – and that goes along with the way we treat our clients, but certainly the way we treat each other on our team, and the people that we are. So certainly, it’s the same kind of thing: when you’re working with me, it’s great, but when you’re working with any other team member on The Julie Kinnear Team, it’s the same exact experience that they’re getting. We all have that same core value.
Glenn: It’s almost like you’re in the core value mindset, attracting business, right? Everyone on your team are people of high integrity and high trust, so you just tend to attract more, and the standard just maintains the same. You never have to worry that someone’s going to be doing a bad deal, because everyone acts with such a high level of trust and integrity on your team.
Julie: Exactly. And I can tell you a million stories, but I’m thinking of a father who I’ve known for awhile. He referred his daughter, who was buying her first place and stuff, and he was so impressed at the way we took care of her. And he was so nervous in the big Toronto market, and everything’s so expensive, and stuff like that. And he’s gone on tape and video like most of our other clients, talking about how he was able to hand over the reins to us and know that she was going to be treated the way he would want her to be treated.
Glenn: Amazing. It’s amazing how many people are watching you on that transaction. Why do you think the conventional wisdom of two hours of random lead-generation like door-knocking or cold calling to people who you don’t know – and they don’t even like or trust you yet – why do you think it’s so prevalent right now in our industry, instead of your more focused niche target market (my past clients’ sphere of influence) approach?
Julie: Well, I think there are a lot of people who are maybe new in the business, and they’re desperate to try to get business, and they’re trying whatever way they can. Certainly we all need to keep in touch with our potential clients and past clients and future clients, and all that kind of stuff, so it’s not like we don’t lead-generate in that way. This is a purposeful business, right? This is a business, so I don’t want anybody on the call to not realize that it doesn’t come without working at it. But we’re working in a different way. We’re not stabbing in the dark here. Every system and every decision that we make along the way, and everything from a Facebook post to a newsletter to a past client letter, or any in-touches at all – it’s all meant to be in the same way. Again, it’s meant to attract and remind people about how we can help them. And if they’re looking for a high-trust relationship and a high-trust transaction, where their money is being taken care of and their emotions and all that kind of stuff, (the psychological part and the stress part of the transaction) is also being taken care of.
Glenn: So what advice would you give to someone who’s listening to this podcast right now about how to get out of being a generalist agent and trying to be everything to everybody, and really picking one single niche market or target market to go after? What would be the first steps that you would encourage them to take?
Julie: Well, you’re sort of the expert on the niche market thing, but definitely, if you’re doing a location market, you want to be out there, checking out the location, the neighbourhood, the agents’ open houses, and stuff like that. For us, when we are designing any of our communications (the way we speak to a client, and the way we follow-up with a client, and all that kind of stuff), we look at our vision statement, our mission statement. We have a vision statement, by the way – most agents probably don’t. So we’ve written it out. We repeat it every week in our team meetings. Every decision is made looking at that. And as I said from the very beginning, the first step for us was taking a great course – taking your course, or I loved the BRO (the By Referral Only) when I was doing that all the time. So I think taking a system and sticking to it, whatever system that is. If cold calling is your system, pick a neighbourhood and do that. It’s not my system.
Glenn: Right. And it’s really about: just be you, whatever works for you. If you love to door-knock and cold call, and you can’t wait to get out of bed every morning, then go do it. If you want to build a niche of building wealth for women in Bloor West Village between 30 and 40, go find where those women are, and reverse engineer, “What’s their biggest fear? What’s keeping them awake at night?” and move that way. Because I think there’s a niche for everybody, and I really believe that if more agents would just be themselves, they’re perfect the way they are. And if they could just line up who they are and their values and their beliefs to a tribe of people who will have that same kind of mindset – they get to have your business, where it just gets a lot more fun. It’s more enjoyable.
Julie: And back to the basics, of course. It depends who’s listening here, but your database is the most important asset that you have in your business, so it’s just a reminder of how crucial it is. Certainly when you’re running a referral-based business the way we are, just have as much information as you can, and really protect that database, and make sure that you’re collecting as much as you can to help them. And know who your client is, and know what their needs are so you can anticipate them ahead of time. So when you are designing new ways to keep in touch and lead-generate, you’re keeping the protection of the database, and the information in the database helps a lot.
Glenn: Yeah. And your database is your business, isn’t it, after all? Without it, what have you got?
Julie: That’s it, right? That’s it. One of my attitudes, also, is that it’s not necessarily me who they need, so it’s not like I’m the greatest thing that ever hit. It’s more, “Will they be taken care of?” So that’s much more of the way we handle things. And so, none of our marketing pieces or in-touch pieces or relationship-based pieces are about me being the greatest; it’s more like, “How can we help them?” But also, it could be Tyler helping them or Jen or Holly or Claire, or anybody on our team helping them. So they know that all of us are there for them. It’s not about the big ego here.
Glenn: Well what’s the biggest benefit when you have that big team for people? Because I think the industry seems to be going more towards: you’re either building a big team because they’re getting more and more market share, (or you might be thinking about going onto a team); or you’ve got to get into your niche market. But what are some of the freedoms that you’re getting now that you have a pretty leveraged real estate team?
Julie: Definitely. I mean, building the team was meant specifically for a bit of quality of life, because real estate can be a bit insane, and you do need a mental break as much as anything else. So when you’re joining the JK Team, you know that a high value for all of us is that our family and our friends and our personal goals and our life vision is more important than the business vision. And that also translates to our clients. Their life vision is the most important thing in the whole relationship and the whole experience. So one of the things would be that we each get time off, and we support each other in that. And certainly, that whole thing of being able to be covered – you don’t just need me as a person; you need the team. So anybody on the team can help a client; not just one agent. Other things that have happened are that you are working with higher-quality clients, and definitely you’re not spending millions of dollars on advertising that’s maybe not working – so a little more profitable that way.
Glenn: So if you were coaching an agent right now listening on the call, and they had a few minutes of your time, and they said, “Julie. Love what you do. You’re awesome. I want to be you. I want to build a team like you” or “I want to find a niche like you have.” What would be their next two-step they could make in the next 24 hours or 36 hours if you were coaching them directly?
Julie: Number one is going back to that database, and we covered that a little bit. So make sure you have a strong database and you have all the information in there, and you’re keeping in touch and you’re putting in notes and all that kind of stuff. And then the other thing would be: take an idea that you can repeat for a long time. So for example, I’ve had my newsletter. I’ve been in the business a long time now. I think with my newsletter, we’re at year 24 or something like that. It’s consistent all the time, and I would say that that’s probably one of our biggest strengths, is that we’re extremely consistent with all of our in-touches. So if you’re going to start a newsletter, it’s not an idea that you’re just going to do once and then throw it away. Or you’re going to do a Facebook post and you do it once and then you try something new. Do it and you do it consistently. So one of the things that we’ve done consistently, for example, is we have lots and lots and lots of video testimonials from our clients. We used to have written and print – now we do video. It’s basically, take an idea, and make sure you can repeat it over and over and over, because that gives a lot of confidence to the clients that you are a good follow-upper, and you’re not random, and you’re not sort of throwing darts at a dartboard.
Glenn: Right. That’s amazing, Julie. Well thank you for spending the time. Before we wrap up, is there anything else you’d like to add? Is there any question I didn’t ask you that you’d like to share that just helps agents make more money in less time by focusing on key activities? Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Julie: I guess I will reiterate a little bit. None of this is easy, and we all do need a mental break as well, so make sure that you’re taking care of yourself. Habits are really key to our business as far as being healthy, so I start my morning with “The Miracle Morning,” and I do my journaling and I do my meditation and I do my exercising and stuff like that. You don’t have to be superman or anything like that. If you’re taking care of yourself, you can take care of your clients – so the crazier you are, then the less they get. And then the other thing is, it’s not magic. You still have to hustle. You still have to be sharp. You have to be on top of the market. You have to do your work, and the work pays off.
Glenn: Julie, you are the best. Honestly. Thank you so much for your time, and just your wisdom and your openness and your sharing. I’m just sitting here listening to you, going, “Oh my God. She’s just awesome.” And I’m sure the listeners will be saying the same thing. So Julie, thank you so much for your time. You’re just the best.
Julie: Thanks, Glenn. Good luck to everybody out there!
Closing: Thank you for listening to my 20-minute podcast on Insights of Successful Niches. My goal is to give you more financial freedom by helping you take your natural strengths to a target market of people you’d love to work with. You could find out more information by downloading my book for free for a limited time. The book’s called “The McQueenie Method: Own Your Niche, Own Your Market” and you can download it at TheMcQueenieMethodbook.com. That’s TheMcQueenieMethodbook.com. Imagine what it’d be like to spend two days with me in person to help you find your niche market. I will help you take your natural strengths and unique abilities to a target market of people you’d love to work with. You’ll build a tribe of happy clients who become raving fans of your business. So, just go to TheMcQueenieMethod.com for upcoming dates. Thanks again and have a great day.