The Landlord Profitability Playbook Podcast

Ep006: Annual New Year Podcast 2024

January 29th, 2024

This episode is extra special because it also falls on the occasion of the 10 year anniversary of ROOST Real Estate Co.

Listen as Laci and I recap 2023 and layout my key initiatives for 2024 and beyond.


  • Chris celebrates the 10-year anniversary of Roost, discussing the company's core values of being smart, passionate, supportive, and approachable, and how these have shaped the business's success.
  • Lacey and Chris talk about the importance of professionalism in real estate, emphasizing the need for knowledgeable people to surround investors, buyers, and sellers.
  • We navigate the challenges of trademarking and selecting a unique and legally available business name, sharing the story behind the naming of Roost Real Estate Co.
  • Chris reflects on Roost's commitment to serving a diverse clientele, including buyers, sellers, investors, and tenants, and the symbiotic relationship between property management and brokerage services.
  • We celebrate team accomplishments, recognizing individuals like Gretchen Mitchell for scaling the property portfolio and acknowledging the contributions of the marketing and education team during the pandemic.
  • Chris discusses the strategy to expand business through the initiative "Have I Earned a Five-Star Review Today?" and its impact on online reviews, particularly on Google.
  • We tackle the concept of streamlining the real estate listing process and redefining the role of a brokerage to support agents with innovative tools and strategies.
  • Chris outlines ambitious goals for Roost over the next five years, including scaling the agent network, doubling the door count, and amplifying the digital presence through content and book downloads.
  • We reflect on the challenges and rewards of the past year, embracing the philosophy of "be here now" and expressing gratitude for the team's efforts and the community's support.
  • Transcript samples provide insights into Chris's thoughts on creating a welcoming business environment and the initiatives for Roost's growth and expansion, highlighting the human element in real estate.

    Show Notes

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    (AI transcript provided as supporting material and may contain errors)

    Chris: Hi, I'm Chris McAllister here with the Connect Practice Track and Grow podcast and the Landlord Profitability Playbook podcast. This is a special episode where we're going to put this conversation that I'm having here with Lacey on both podcasts. So really, for both of these podcasts, it's my job to make your business better and your life easier. And I'm here, as I said, with my podcast partner and digital marketing specialist, lacey LeBlanc. Good morning, lacey.

    Laci: Good morning Chris.

    Chris: How are you?

    Laci: I'm good, I'm happy to be here, especially for this episode, this very rare double feature, if you will.

    Chris: Well, this is the first of what I expect will be an annual podcast where we get a chance to reflect on last year and talk a little bit about our plans for the new year. And this year is kind of special because not only is this our first new year episode of the podcast's plural, but it also falls on the occasion of our 10-year anniversary. Okay, yeah, so Roost was officially licensed on January 7th 2014,. Being that, this is 2024. That makes us 10 years old, so happy anniversary to us.

    Laci: You know, my kid just turned 10 and I could just barely. He was born on January 3rd 2014. And I could just barely believe it. Is that how you feel?

    Chris: Yeah, I mean the. You know, looking back, the 10 years have gone like lightning but my God, there was a lot of stuff that went on in those 10 years and certainly a lot of ups and downs and a lot of learning, but yeah, it went very quick.

    Laci: It is kind of your baby, I think right, Just like. Simon is mine, so yeah.

    Chris: So you know, when we started Roost, I met this gentleman named Andy Hayes, who was a graphic designer and a logo expert in Springfield, ohio, and I had seen some marketing around town that the Chamber of Commerce had used, the city had used and a few other places had used, and it had a really cool feel to it. I don't even know how to describe it. What Andy does is very unique and you know he interviewed me. This would have been in early 2013, so 11 years ago and what came out of it was that I wanted to build a company, that the attributes were smart, passionate, supportive and approachable, and I think that those really have evolved into professionalism. You know to melt it down based on the things that we've been talking about the last year, but I think sometimes people forget that there is that real estate is an investment and it's not something that anybody should dabble in. It's not something that should not be taken seriously, and you know I truly believe that you know, as an investor, home buyer, home seller, that you want to surround yourself with smart people and, from a passionate standpoint, you know the very best realtors among us, the people that I worked with in the 10 or so years prior to starting Roost, as I had my license, they were absolutely passionate about real estate. This wasn't something that they were just going to try, it wasn't a part-time job, this was something that they had devoted their entire careers to, if not their entire lives, and they had a true passion for helping people buy and sell houses. And supportive came around because and I think that's more into collaboration and sort of us being a consultant and a coach to our clients, but that's where supportive came from, that we want to support whatever decision that our investors make, that our clients make, and help make that real for them. And that's kind of morphed into, you know, being the similar supportive nature to the agents that choose to, you know, associate with us. So supportive still matters. It's morphed a little bit. I may be gotten a bit more specific with collaboration and coaching, but it's all still there.

    And then approachable, I have to tell you, lacey, approachable was more probably about me and my personality, because you know people have always said that. You know I'm pretty analytical. I may not be, the thing I always remember when I was in the corporate world was Chris was an easy read and I don't know if that was a veiled insult or what. But you know, I always thought that I didn't want Roost to be the kind of company that people didn't feel welcome, that they couldn't ask questions of, that they couldn't approach comfortably and confidently. So that's where approachable came from so smart, passionate, supportive, approachable. And you know, to some degree those are aspirational, but I still stand by those and I'm, as we would say, ready to guess and bet on those for the next 10 years.

    Laci: Yeah, I don't know if something's happened in the last 10 years with the approachable portion, but I, you know, I've only known you for a couple of years and, you know, approachable is one of the top words I would use to describe both you and your business. I think that you've just made all of this so readily available and so sincerely helpful. Regardless of whether you're a buyer or a seller with Roost or you're, you know, an agent or a broker, or you're an owner or a tenant, I think that there's something here for everybody and it is maybe one of the most approachable business models and businesses in practice that I've ever come up with. So I don't know about Easy Read. Maybe you're hiding stuff from all of us, but it really. You know these four attributes are there. So I think that over the last 10 years you've maybe it's still aspirational and that's always a good thing, but I think you've achieved a lot of it.

    Chris: Well, you're very kind and I appreciate those words, but I used to say, once again, you know, in public I want to thank Andy Hayes and Hucklebuck Design, because you know it was Andy that you know had those interviews with me and from those interviews we got it to still down to a few words, and four of those most important words were smart, passionate, supportive, approachable, and out of that came the name and logo for Roost, and we have this story on the website, on the about Roost section of the website that people ask me all the time. I would say, well, how'd you come up with the name Roost? And I would just sort of chuckle and say, well, zillow was taken. You know it's the thing about trademarks and names these days. There's nothing easy about it Because first of all, you've got to have a name that can be licensed in the state you're in, in the state of Ohio, as every state Although Ohio, I think, are far more strict than other states that I've been licensed in you know there are rules as to what words can and cannot be in your, your doing business as name, your DBA. So to find a name of the company that embodied smart, passionate, supportive, approachable and embodied and was not already in use just in Ohio and was licenseable in Ohio. Because I put forth a couple of different names and got knocked down. Part of it was I didn't understand the rules. You get to this point where, okay, you want your name to embody what you want to be. That's the whole thing about marketing. But you have to work within the framework that you're given and, being that we're licensed by the state, we can only have names that the state at that time Ohio only would allow us to have.

    Then the second thing is just because Ohio says that you can use it in Ohio doesn't mean that name isn't already in use someplace else in the country. You start doing Google searches for just about anything you can think of and pretty much you're going to find it. There's not a lot of new ideas under the sun anymore. That's a hard thing. Then the final step was I've had it in my head for 10 years that some day we're going to get this thing rolling so well that other people are going to want to buy in. Everything I've done the last 10 years was designed to make it repeatable and scalable Hopefully not my mistakes, but the good stuff is repeatable and scalable and to sell a franchise, whether it happens or not, but it's just good, business is to be able to have a trademark.

    Bruce came around that it was the only name that we could come up with that met those four criteria. It certainly didn't argue against smart, passionate, supportive, approachable. I think it's absolutely approachable. It wasn't in use in Ohio. It fell within the guidelines that the state of Ohio would allow us to license it as a doing business ad. It wasn't in use in three or four other real estate teams or firms across the country, but none of those folks had gone to the trouble of trademarking it when I first approached an attorney. So that happened right, and then I'll try to make the stories getting a little long.

    But by the time we got around, or I got around to actually speaking to a trademark attorney, somebody else really nice guy met and visited with him in North Carolina. Actually, no, that not the guy in North Carolina still has a company called Roost, but it's Roost Realty or Roost Real Estate, it's not Roost Real Estate Co. And he wasn't able to get a trademark. So by the time I went and got a trademark I found out why he wasn't able to and this was because there's a company in I think it's Philadelphia. It is. They're in other states now, but they had a furnished short-term rental apartment building which sounds suspiciously like a hotel. But they had a short-term rental apartment building which put it in the real estate category for which they had a trademark with the name Roost, and they got there first. So a couple of things happened. To make a long story short, we were able my attorney was able to make a deal with these people that they I forget what the legal term is, but we give them a, we give them money every year not a lot of money, but we give them money every year and we agreed that we would only use Roost in three states Ohio, florida and Tennessee and that we would never use it as branding for our own short-term rentals. Oh, that's how we have Roost.

    Well, of course, at the time I was looking, I was thinking big and it freaked me out that I couldn't get a trademark. And this is before we actually made that deal with those folks. So I started going crazy, trying to come up with alternate names and it must have been focused on it for a month and I started flipping through old records and CDs and books and all that. And one day I came across an old Springsteen record from the 90s called Lucky Town that's a name and I started thinking about it and I thought, well, you know, that's probably a smart, passionate, supportive and approachable than Roost.

    So we actually have a trademark in all 50 states for the term Lucky Town. So Lucky Town Real Estate Company is a thing. We don't do business as Lucky Town Real Estate Company, but when we do get out of Ohio and Florida and Tennessee, one day Lucky Town is available to us. So we actually did an alternate logo which looks just like Roost but it says Lucky Town, and so someday you may see Lucky Town, but for now we're focused on Roost for the time being. Oh, and aside from Ohio, florida and Tennessee, we do have a trademark in all of Canada for Roost and Lucky Town. So that's the story of where Roost came from. For what that's for.

    Laci: You know as a well-rounded marketer who enjoys the graphic design portion of things and the copywriting portion and the brainstorming portion and the strategy. I think that's a testament to you know how you, when you choose your brand, when you choose, when you develop your branding initially, that's you know it's not necessarily the end all be all for who you are, but you can really make anything work Right If it's. You can be smart, passionate, supportive and approachable and the name not reflect that as well. Perhaps it's really all about you know how you function day to day, what value you bring and how you get that message out there. So you know, I think you hit on two very good options, but you know even so, even if you hadn't been able to trademark those or you had gone in a different direction, I think that the smart, passionate, supportive and approachable would have been clear. So just a note from you know, one marketing expert to anybody out there who's trying to name their business Well, I think that would have been the constant, you know for sure.

    Chris: But the other thing I think that supports smart, passionate, supportive and approachable, are the colors Andy chose. You know, the whole trademark guideline package, the colors, the font, all of those things, I think, go a long way towards subconsciously conveying the message of what we want this to be about. And now, you know, 10 years later, you know, with Kylie doing the graphic design stuff and managing all the social media pages, my God, she's taken Andy's ideas and expanded them, you know, dramatically and really increased our reach so that it all came down to Andy and Hucklebuck.

    Laci: So he created something really timeless, and I think that's the number one thing as a marketer that I look for in a brand which is not just a logo but it's the whole. You know, your whole company is something that is timeless. And you know color theory. We could talk about it all day, but definitely created that and it's something that will no matter what's on trend, you know, no matter what fonts and kind of colors, whether it's farmhouse or whatever's trending right now. You know this brand is gonna stand that test of time.

    Chris: So they. So we had the words, we had the brand, we had the name, we had the name. So the next thing we did was we did a short video. It's a two minute video and it was called All About Roost. And you can still see that on the About Roost page on our website, roostrealstatecocom.

    And, at the risk of putting everybody to sleep, I'm gonna run through this really fast. It's a very short script, but I think it's interesting because the ideas that I had honestly going on 11 years ago now are still the ideas that I believe in and the ideas that matter today. So what I said was early on, I said Roost is a different kind of brokerage and most brokerages have two lines of businesses. They work with buyers and they work with sellers, and at Roost, we work with buyers and sellers too, but we also work with investors and the people who rent from them. So when I started Roost, it was all about working with investors and, ultimately, property management on day one, and the reason was as we've talked about in other episodes is it was about being in the shelter business, so embracing 100% of all the people who need a home, not just the 60 to 65% of the people who own real estate creates a very different kind of company for our clients and for our agents. Many people who rent their homes will do so for their entire lives. Many do it's the right thing, and many rent their entire lives at different income levels. Others will only rent for a few years before buying a home of their own.

    We help our tenant clients become homeowners we all work with. But let me phrase that I can tell you that we don't have a huge number of tenant clients buying houses, and if they do, as much as we would love them to buy them from us, it's not that often that they do, but it's not because they're going with somebody else. It's because there are many people who decide that renting is better for them, whether because they wanna be mobile or I guess in some cases it's because they can't. But when we do have them, it's wonderful and we love to teach people how to be fantastic tenants and we love to teach people how to set themselves up to purchase a house if they want to. So that's still valid. It just doesn't happen as much as you would think. We help our tenant clients become homeowners.

    We also work closely with investors, and this has only gotten bigger. So my vision was that we would help tenants get into homes and it would be as great a part of the business as working with investors Hasn't turned out that way at all. So, working closely with investors, we help investors find, evaluate, purchase and manage investment properties. By offering property management services to our investor, they're more comfortable buying more property. And what's interesting is and we've talked about this in both podcasts this past year Lacey is property management is hard and it took up a lot of time and bandwidth the last 10 years too. Finally, after so many ups and downs, get that right, and it's funny that this year we've talked about changing manage with Roost to invest with Roost. It's to better articulate or advertise what our services are to investors. But I do think it's interesting going back and looking at this, that almost 11 years ago what I said with investors was we wanna help investors find, evaluate, purchase and manage investment property, and that's truly what invest with Roost has become today. And it's all in the Lamewood Profitability Playbook, the podcast.

    Because we work in the property management business, we have relationships with skilled tradespeople that help all of our listings clients prepare and maintain their properties for sale. I can't tell you, when I was actively listing and selling homes, how many times I was able to take care of something at a far more reasonable price for an owner than that they would have been able to find for themselves because we had these skilled tradespeople and maintenance guys working for us. Because of the property management business, this is the kind of situation where the property management division supports the brokerage advice of Roost. It's hard to tell which one ever came first, should have come first or it doesn't matter anymore. There's a symbiosis there and that comes back to wanting to service 100% of the people who need a roof over their heads.

    Roost Real Estate is a referral-based business Still is. We believe that the very best clients are those that are recommended by our existing and past clients. We have a referral-based marketing system that keeps Roost Real Estate company top of mind with everyone we work with, and the best example of that is what has become Roost Rambling these past couple of years. So some of our tenants become buyers and if they don't become buyers, they also refer new tenants and new buyers to us. So it's interesting a lot of people who never ever become homeowners refer to a future of a homeowner to us.

    That's come true. Our investors become repeat buyers. That's become incredibly true. That's happened in a far, far bigger way than I could have dreamed of 11 years ago, and they also refer new investors and new buyers and new sellers to Roost. Our buyers and sellers refer their friends, family and coworkers to again and again. We are the real estate company people turn to at every stage of their lives. Now I can grant it, we've only been here 10 years, so we haven't caught every stage of everybody's lives yet, but it's still aspirational, all right. So we wanna be there when our clients rent their first apartment by their first home, by their first investment property and, ultimately, by their retirement villa on the beach. So this is Roost Real Estate Company smart, passionate, supportive, approachable, meeting people where they are today and helping them get to where they want to be tomorrow. So I think that still adds up 99% of it. What do you think?

    Laci: Yeah, absolutely. The word you never mentioned I don't think I'm looking at this transcript right now is relationship, right, and that's really what all of this is kind of what you just say. We have relationships with skilled tradespeople, but this is a relationship with clients, partners. That's really the word that sticks out to me and that's really the emphasis that you guys have, no matter what you're doing, no matter what part of the business you can focus on and it goes both ways right.

    So that's the shelter business at play. It's not just a relationship with one side of the story. It's a relationship with tenants and owners. It's a relationship with buyers and sellers. It's a relationship with your property management team and the tradespeople that you all use to get the work done. So I think it's just a really comprehensive kind of at the. I guess at the point you wrote it, it was goals, right.

    But now it's, a mantra when I worked at Mosquito Authority, we did a mantra video and I can still recite it to you word for word because it was we make backyard worth mowing and front porch is worth twinging right.

    And it was because it was true, it was sincere, it was how everybody at that time and it was the franchisor who lived in my hometown in Hickory, north Carolina it started the whole thing. And then, I think, when I started, we had 20 franchises and then, when you fast forward to seven years later and we had more than 200 franchises, that mantra video still rang true. And when you looked back it was grainy looking because the technology wasn't brand new, right, and the owners in the video who were saying the lines they looked like different people, but the message was the exact same message we were taking to market, to clients, to employees, to everybody every single day. And I think that when you nail it, it doesn't matter how much time passes, it's still the truth. So that's what I see here.

    Chris: We're gonna share this video again on Facebook because it's actually a very well done video. It doesn't feature me at all. It's me reading the copy in the background, but it's animated and some of the words pop up and stuff to make it more interesting to get through the two minutes. But I'm proud of the video. Let's say that After all this time I still feel great about it. So well, that's kind of summing up the last 10 years, I guess very quickly, but I have to tell you I was having a little bit of trouble getting some perspective on everything that had happened this past year and some clarity on what I want to accomplish both for me and for the company in 2024.

    As usual, just in the nick of time, I got some help from Dan Sullivan and strategic coach. I got an email in my box I guess it was right before Christmas and they published a great last minute gift called the bigger future countdown, and we're gonna put the URL in the show notes so you can get to it if you'd like to download a copy. You don't have to be a strategic coach client, though I hardly recommend that you check into it to get this graphic. So the gist of this instrument of this worksheet was that his challenge is that you, as an entrepreneur, that you reflect and I think this is great for agents, obviously right, and it's also great for people who invest in real estate, even if you have a full-time profession and a stockter, lawyer or whatever and that you have that, but your investment business is still, at the end of the day, an entrepreneurial venture. So I think this applies to everybody.

    But his challenge to all of us is to set a new path for the new year with these 10 mindsets in mind. And the first one is and we're not gonna, I'm just gonna run through these and as we go through the rest of this discussion, some things will come up, but these are great things to keep in mind all the time. But always make your questions bigger than your answers. Always make your purpose greater than your money. Always make your confidence greater than your comfort. Always make your cooperation greater than your status. Always make your enjoyment greater than your effort. Man, I feel like I try really hard, lacey, I want to work on that one. Always make your gratitude greater than your success. Always make your performance greater than your applause. Always make your contribution greater than your reward. Always make your learning greater than your experience and always make your future bigger than your past.

    And as I reflected on these mindsets, it really helped me out. And what became really clear is, as I kind of think through the wins for last year, was that every win, anything good that happened last year, any win I enjoyed last year, was in collaboration with another team member. It was a, whether they were somebody on the payroll or somebody outside of the payroll. And, lacey, you're at the top of my win list this year. I mean having Dean introduce us and what you've done helping me with the master classes, the Landlord, profitability Playbook, connect, practice, track and Grow has just been terrific. And there is no way we'd be doing this today if I hadn't met you and then Dean Jackson hadn't referred you to me. So thanks for being a key win this year. I appreciate it.

    Laci: Yeah, that feeling's mutual, and I don't just say that. I know that's probably what everybody expects me to say right now, but I think there's a point here where, if it can be mutual, then it's even more important. It answers your questions even more than so. I have very much enjoyed it and I think finding people you work well with and can align with and compliment is a huge part of some of these new key growth mindsets that Dean recommends. So, yeah, pleasure is all mine.

    Chris: Second win is Gretchen Mitchell, who used to be Gretchen McAllister before she got married. Gretchen's my daughter and she's been. She actually started Property Management before we were even roost, as soon as she got her real estate license, and so she took us from zero doors 14, 15 years ago to the thousand or so that we look after as of this morning, and Gretchen has just done an amazing job working directly with the owners, working directly with the tenants. But what's really fun to watch is that Gretchen has become a leader and a fantastic manager team leader to her crew. God knows. We've had some ups and downs this past year, but to see Gretchen take the reins and grow and get us on a solid path to growth and property management has been fantastic. So property management are restructuring this year has been a giant win, but never would have happened without Gretchen Kylie I mentioned Kylie.

    She came with us a year ago, december, as our graphic designer. She's just done a fantastic job expanding the brand. So if you haven't liked Roost Real Estate Company on Facebook or you haven't liked manage with Roost or career with Roost, please do and it'll give you a great chance to meet Kylie. A newer team member we have, taylor Cole. She just came on with us in October but Taylor is going to be working with as you've met Taylor with Lacey and Kylie and I to sort of build out this marketing and education and relationship team. And whereas Lacey's helping us get the marketing together, helping me get the message together, get product out there, kylie is helping us spread it out to the world, making it pretty, giving us the right words, the colors, the reach on social media, and then Taylor is bringing it all back home one on one to the people who receive that message, whether they be potential home buyers with Space Coast Condo Guide opt-ins, or whether it's potential agents who come to work for Roost from Connect Practice, track and Grow or its owners that come to work with us through the Landlord Profitability Playbook. So I'm excited about our future with Taylor and just in the last few weeks of this year, last year and this year, she's already made a massive contribution.

    But that property management team, my gosh. We went through so much and I've said this before. But COVID was interesting. We picked up so many doors and it was one of those situations where tenants never moved because and they always paid the rent. I know people say during COVID they had trouble collecting rent. We had no trouble collecting rent during COVID not at all, and it was because people had the extra cash in their pocket from the government. But when that cash started to dry up and interest rates went up and owners stopped buying new houses or it became more discerning about buying new properties and tenants suddenly either had to move or could move and then suddenly we had vacancies. The property management business just got ugly and the last two years were really hard and Gretchen got through that with me the past two years.

    But the team that she's put together in Columbus Mercy, our tenant relations specialist she's just amazing with tenants. Brenda's our leasing specialist. She does leasing for both of our offices. Jade, working with Heather and our rehab and maintenance department. She's done a wonderful job making sure that our maintenance guys are dispatched where the tenants need them at the time. The tenants need them and the feedback we're getting from tenants because of Jade's work has been so much better than what we had in months and years prior.

    Dana in Springfield she does the team relations function just like Mercy does. She does in Springfield, and Josie and Angela are accounting people. Holy crap, if it wasn't for them I don't know what we would do. One thing and all the ups and downs we've had over the past 10 years is we have never had to worry about trust accounts or accounting or that piece of it, and one of the reasons brokers don't like to get into property management is that the trust accounting is hard. There's laws you have to stay within. It's other people's money. It's a tricky business, but Josie and Angela and my wife Kelly, who look after that in our accounting, jill and McGregor they have just done a fabulous job on that and if there's anything that keeps me up at night, it's never been accounting and that continues to be a win.

    I mentioned Heather. We started a technically a division called Roost Rehab and Maintenance, and Roost Rehab and Maintenance, I think, is something that we're going to be talking more and more about as we go. I think it's the thing that's going to become such a force in and of itself that we can market directly to our agents and be able to help sellers who need to get some things done before they sell or after an inspection, and the service that Heather and her team her and Jade have provided to our owners when it comes to rehabs and so forth has been phenomenal. So big win is the Rehab and Maintenance Department. We've talked a lot. It's been a tough year in real estate and I think that's true across the country. But some of the very best agents in Ohio I mean we're talking people we're talking people who do half a million a year are down as much as 30, 40% through the year. But our agents they still came through with their heads held high.

    I think about Priscilla Mechnemi she's been with us for almost the entire 10 years as Roost and we were together. When I had remex franchises she still had a heck of a year and she's become a great team leader and a great mentor to many agents in the market. Josh Hufford he did property management with us for years and finally decided to go on and just focus on sales. He's had a hell of a year. Dg Quar she's been with us since 2003 when I had a remex franchise in Urbana, and DG is still with us and she's still had a phenomenal year, even as she starts to spend more time and take better care of herself.

    Tina we can't discuss the agents without talking about Tina Blaving, who is not just a key agent but a key part of the PM team. So Tina is our property manager in Springfield and Dayton and her and Dana look after those owners and tenants in that area of the state and she has done a phenomenal job this year, just going through so much upheaval and stress and everything else. But you know she's come out that much stronger and she had a really good sales year. And I think you've all met Anne before on previous podcasts. She's a newer agent. She helped us out in property management this year and I believe her sales were pretty close to last year, which is saying a lot. Susan Elliott she's down in Florida, in Fort Myers Beach. You know they just came out of the hurricane a couple of years ago and she just had a massive closing in January to kick off the new year. So I think she's going to be able to put that hurricane behind her and become that force in the market that I know she will be.

    Alicia, newer agent, has a full-time job but her business keeps growing year after year. Great job, matt Conkling. He helped us skip the property management back on track. Great guy, skilled person. He's an investor, wonderful.

    I already mentioned Taylor, who's got her first sale under contract with Bruce. Congratulations, taylor and Rena. She's been with us for almost 20 years and she's down here in Melbourne where I am today. I mentioned Kelly, my wife. You know she's been, we've been at this for I guess we've been married not quite, what is it? 37, 38 years and she looks after all the money.

    And, like I said, we had a lot of wins, a lot of struggles, but there's not one thing that happened this year that didn't happen because of being in collaboration or being able to be introduced to fine leverage, whatever you want to call it, unique ability, anything.

    But if it wasn't for these folks, we would not be the company we are today. The other big win and you mentioned early on or maybe that was you and I before we went live here today is that these podcasts are something that I actually look forward to now. You know they've gotten me out of my comfort zone. The prep work helps me and it helps me lead the business as I think. The prep work helps me think through things that improve the business. So that's great. You know the whole idea that you know you can be the best leader, manager, realtor in the world, but if you don't have a story to tell and you aren't able to tell it, it just doesn't matter, right? So which came first, marketing or the practice? And again that's sort of like sales and management, it just doesn't matter.

    Laci: So again thanks to my podcast partner here, lacey, once again, yeah, I mean so not a lot of people get to see the back end of a podcast, right, you just hear what comes through the microphone and I am fortunate enough to be privy to the note taking and the preparation to a certain degree. And that looks so different today than it did when we first started this in such a great way, because now the podcast notes that I get before the show A, they're not always a weekend advance. So that tells me that we're being a little more spontaneous, which translates to a more authentic conversation and a more authentic experience for the people listening, I think as well as you and I. And the other thing, they're not mapped out like the conversation, right? You don't think about when you're making these notes now, like you did before, where are you I'm going to interject, right, or what questions I might be able to ask. And some of that comes from some of the other campaigns that we do from a marketing perspective, but some of it is just you being more comfortable with the process and you never even do your introvert by listening to these. But I think that's a huge thing that I've noticed.

    The other thing is and I think it's just worth pointing out, if you're listening to this and you hear you, chris, talk about individually every member, for the most part of the team that you're working with.

    I think that just speaks volumes to you know this mantra that you've put out there in your video and how you work day to day. You know it's just a team effort and it's something that everybody has their place and everybody is acknowledged for that and everybody has the autonomy they deserve to do the work and you hire the right people, which you know. If I'm investing in a property or if I'm buying a home with a car, I'm going to do that, and if I'm investing in a property or if I'm buying a home with y'all, that really gives me a lot of confidence and I think this is just an example of how you approach the business. So honored to be on that list, but I think it says a lot about Roost and you that you can go through at the you know, drop of a hat and just kind of mention and acknowledge every team member.

    Chris: Well, I appreciate that and, again, a lot of this is aspirational and you know I'm ready to leave that behind, but we did turn through a lot of people that the team that we have right now today is, without a doubt, the best team that I've ever had, so I'm grateful for that. But let's look ahead to next year. So I wanted to kind of discuss some of the things that I am looking forward to seeing as a win 12 months from now, and part of the reason for putting this out there is if I say it out loud in front of all of you all, then maybe something will happen, maybe I'll do something about it Right? So the key things that you and I are going to be working on, but the entire company is going to be working on as an initiative that I'm calling, have I earned a five star review today? You know and I think this goes back to the conversation about, yes, you've got to do a good job. It's one thing to do a good job, but if you're going to expand the business, if you aspire to help more people, then somehow you've got to find a way to let the let those people know that you're somebody worth considering, that you exist in the world and one of the ways that happens in this 21st century is through, quite frankly, reviews and Google reviews and Facebook reviews and Yelp and all that which you know. I got mixed feelings about all of that, but the one thing that you can't turn off, that you can't stop that is very hard to manage our Google reviews, and you know we got to the point where.

    So the Google reviews are tied to the Google place pages and the Google place pages are critical to managing those pages correctly and having the right information on it. Having current information on them, I think, is critical to people finding us organically right. You know, maybe you remember Lacey Yellow Pages phone books that used to show up in your front porch. I don't know, but we used to have this thing called the Yellow Pages and if you wanted a real tour, you would go to the Yellow Pages. You go to realtors and you go down the list and you look for an ad for a real tour and you'd find one that spoke to you and you would call that realtor Right. Today we don't have Yellow Pages, we have the internet, and Google place pages are the key to being visible and projecting the type of project yourself as the company you want to be and, quite frankly, our Google presence and our place page presence and our review presence didn't come close to lining up with the. You know the aspirations we talked about in that video. That we did 10 years ago, so have I earned a five star review? Today is our initiative to embrace Google reviews and ask for reviews when it's appropriate to ask for reviews, but to do it in as authentic a manner as possible.

    In the property management business, you're always going to have people who don't get picked for a house I can't do anything about it and those people may lash out and they may do it unfairly or otherwise. On a Google review, the problem is when we had our worst times operationally, when we were really struggling to get our arms again around the business and the owners that we had and wanted to keep. Basically, that whole Google ecosystem ran without us even considering it or looking at it and I had no idea what damage it was doing. But our reviews were just crap. We weren't managing, we weren't going after them, we weren't doing anything about them. Right, and whether I like the Google review process or not, it doesn't matter. It is what it is.

    So if you take the approach that, all right, all of us as a company whether we're agents working with buyers and sellers, whether we're tenant relations working with tenants, whether we're rehab and maintenance working with owners we want to be earning, going forward, five star reviews from every person we serve. Agents right. Could be agents we look after it. Could be owners we look after it. Could be tenants we look after it. Could be first time buyers.

    People when they're happy, they don't do a review right. They're only when they're really angry with you or they feel like they've been done wrong or you haven't done your job correctly. So have I earned a five star review today? The low hanging fruit here is you know, marcy and Dana and Brenda and Tina, you know they're just, you know, lovable people, right, they're professionals who get the job done. And to get to the point, where have I earned a five star review today? Rules tripping off the tongue, almost like when you're at McDonald's and would you have prize with that? Would you like prize with that? That's what we're trying to get to, and I think that I don't know that you and I have settled on the technology we're going to use, but it looks like podium is like the number one tool that companies who successfully not just manage their reviews, but leverage their reviews and respond to their reviews used. So this is something you and I will be focusing on, hopefully over the next 10 or 12 weeks, and really get a report card on how well we're doing.

    And if we mess up, right, we have to go online. We have to say look, we messed up, please get in touch with me, we're going to fix this right. So you know it's one thing to make a mistake and acknowledge it right. It's another thing to make a mistake and not know you made it. And then it's another thing when you have somebody who's just not being truthful or fair and in any case, we have to have our ducks in a row, we have to believe in how we're approaching the business and the people, the relationships, every single day, and we have to be prepared to ask for feedback. So this is the biggest and, I think, most important initiative of the year, because I think it absolutely affects the growth of the company in every everything we do.

    Laci: Yeah, I mean, I think it would. To reiterate your point, it would be ideal if the Google reviews accurately reflected the experiences of the people that you work with and for, right, but that just doesn't happen. My dad owns a Carla here in our small town and somebody very recently gave them a negative review, a one-star review, because they weren't happy with the purchasing process. It wasn't even my dad's Carla, it ended up that they purchased from. But you really have no recourse, right? So the only way to manage those reviews? They did respond and say we don't have record of you purchasing a car here. We'd love to talk to you about your experience anyway, but that one-star review is still there, taking that five-star down to a 4.6 or whatever the case may be.

    So the only way to effectively manage the Google review process is to have enough and I'll say positive here, because that is an accurate review, I would say for most of the folks who work with you but to have enough accurate reviews to offset the inaccurate ones.

    Now, if that means you're a three-star business, then that's going to be what's there and that's going to be what offsets the one-stars or the five-stars, I guess, in that scenario. Right, but it's just to have enough to make sure that one or two that get put out there that aren't accurate don't really negatively impact your overall score. So it's just another thing. I don't know of any businesses at least any that I work with even the smallest of the small who can do nothing about Google and just have it not negatively impact their business. If they don't, Everybody is going to have to focus on this, moving forward and put forth some effort into maintaining what their actual experience is. So, yeah, I'm excited about it, because I'm excited to work with an organization where I don't have to worry about what the reviews will be when you ask the question have I earned a five-star review today?

    Chris: Well, I appreciate your help with that because I absolutely believe that you've got to put to my point on it. But this could clearly break the company, but it could also really make the company if we do it right, and I expect we're going to do it right. So that's my first key initiative. The second thing I want to go back and revisit is the whole idea of List with Roost and we were talking the past gosh, it's been two months now about that National Association of Realtors lawsuit where the Realtors lost the lawsuit and what that might mean for our business going forward. And I do think and as unpopular as this is that we are going to see some commission compression and I think that somebody has to step up and look really hard at the entire process of putting a home on the market and getting it to the closing table, what that entails, where the bottlenecks are, where does it become unpredictable? Where does the service and support angle fall apart? What do we need to do to take a fresh look at that?

    And I think one of the things that is worth considering and I don't want to get too deep into this, but I've been toying with this idea of testing something called a Roost certified pre-home and it's almost like you know, we're a business too and people get concerned about how much. Commission usually has a percentage that they get charged by their real estate brokerage, and I'm sensitive to that. But you know, by the same token, if I am charging 6% and I can show where I'm delivering 6%, 7%, 8%, 10% worth of value to that transaction, I'm surely not going to apologize for that or run away from that. You know, as I said many times this year, I'm a professional and I have to get paid too, and it's the same with our agents. But having said that, how much of the listing process can be automated and if not automated, how much of it can be made routine? How do you get the listing process to be a lot more like getting the same hamburger every time at McDonald's?

    I don't know if that's the perfect analogy, because obviously hamburger is a hamburger and this is a service, but I think it starts with the idea of a certified pre-home and knowing exactly the condition, physical, legal, design, everything there is to know about your home upfront. Have it in a format that can be shared, have those things quantified so you know what that home is worth relative to other homes who have sold in the market and make that some sort of a package that is valuable for that seller in and of themselves, if that makes sense. So I know that sounds pretty cryptic, but the whole idea of a home that's designated as a certified pre-owned home with a big ol' roost check mark on it I think there's something to that and it may be that it becomes a product that includes some real value-added things, includes a lot of value-added consulting, a lot of knowledge, a lot of wisdom, but it may be something that stands in and of itself that the seller can choose to do with what they wish. And I know that's controversial but, as we've discussed with this whole NAR lawsuit, things are changing and things are going to start changing fast and the sooner we get out of the box, the better off we're going to be. So, anyway, I think the whole listing process needs to be rethought from top to bottom and, as I said to you, I'm pretty jazzed about this, even to the point where I'm never going to go without my team, but I'm kind of jazzed about doing a little bit of listing myself and testing this out. So you know, I've got to be pretty excited if I'm going to go back out there and do what got me here today, but this is something that I think I'm pretty passionate about. So List with Roost is something that we're definitely going to be working through this year and testing out there in the market, and I'm going to personally be behind that.

    The other thing that is just critical to us going forward is, you know, recruiting agents and, as we've talked so many times and everything that's Connect Practice Track and Go podcast is about is career.

    With Roost, we have focused on that relentlessly over the past couple of years and the whole thing has morphed into. You know, we want to be the brokerage for the new real estate profession. Right, we want to be the brokerage for the person who's going to be in this business for the next 25 years. We want to be the brokerage for the people who are questioning everything that came before, but also the brokerage where, with agents who count on things that they know aren't going to change for the next 25 years, whether that's the concept of home or there's a concept of relationship service or whatever but we're kind of flipping the whole thing on their head, you know, instead of looking for agents to join our team. I think we're done with that. So I think the initiative for career with Roost is what it really should be is we want to join your team. You know, I think the whole idea has been pretty well debunked that brokerages hire agents. It doesn't work that way. Agents hire brokerages, right.

    Laci: Or, if they don't, they should right Right. Well, that's true too.

    Chris: The agents are the buyers here and you know we want to join your team, we want a job on your team. We think you should hire us to support you is where this goes. You know, just because we're the ones that has to write the checks, because we're the broker, doesn't mean that you're not paying the bills. So, and what's, what value do we have brokers have, or should we have? What should an agent pay for? You know, what should they get for their split or monthly fees or whatever? And our role on your team as a successful agent is we're here to help you get more referrals. We're here to help you turn every listing you take into model sales. We're here to help you convert more leads. We're going to find all the buyers you can handle and we're going to show you how to get listings in any area you want to get listings in.

    Laci: What would you do if you could count on yourself to do it right?

    Chris: Yeah, well, yeah, exactly, and you know. So those are pretty key things, and we're putting together a new set of recruiting brochures that actually show the tools that we include, that we give to every single agent to make things happen right. So we're doing some marketing tools that show you point blank what tools we use to help you get more referrals. What is the process? What are the tools? What does the marketing look like to turn every listing into mobile sales? How are we converting these leads for you so that you have warm leads coming your way? You know, hopefully on a weekly basis at least. What are we doing to make sure that you find all the buyers you can handle? You know, how is your brokerage becoming a market maker? So we're going to be showing you exactly what these tools are. We're going to, you know, we're going to show our work on these and we're going to be showing some pretty significant results, and we've already started. So I'm excited about that. But you know, the whole thing comes back to just like you said we would do everything. We do everything you would do. If you can count on yourself to do it right. We want to be your assistant. The other thing that we're, you know, the other thing in this brochure is we do the setups. You get the six pack right, so you can count on us to get your Rooster Amblings out. You can count on us to get your Facebook page set up and managed for you. We can. You can count on us to have a website that's constantly up to date. You can count on us for your personal branding team. You know we're going to do it for you. We're going to help you identify your five star prospects. We're going to, we're going to get you listings and you know the subdivision you want or the. You know, just like Spacecos condos on the beach right, we're going to set that up for you, whatever your niche happens to be. So that's a huge initiative.

    And that's the third one. And the fourth one is Invest with Roost, and we've been working on this so much and I think this is more of just getting a little bit more dialed in on our value proposition and our job being to automate your collection and so you can get on with your life. And I want to expand our roster of agents who actually have great experience working with investors so that we can help people truly expand their portfolio. So Invest with Roost I think is going to be. It's not a new thing for this year, but I think we're really going to sharpen that message and I expect a lot of growth there. So those are the four key things I'm working on. Is it for people?

    Laci: Well, people have choices now, chris, that I mean with everything, right? If I want to order, you know, chapstick I'm looking at my Chapstick here on my desk I can get it on Amazon and get it in two days. I can run up to any of the CVS at any time of day. I can get a Walmart if I need it in the middle of the night, right? So, like, we just have so many choices, and that's the same thing is true now for agents and investors and every tenants, everybody you work with, right?

    It doesn't matter which franchise is like operating in your specific area, or it doesn't matter, you know you're able to find the right brokerage, the right property management team, the right agent that fits your personality, because there's so many choices out there. So, you know, I think this is just really a next level kind of approach to signing up agents and tenants and owners, and you have to be really clear about what value you provide. And, on the other end of the conversation, people need to be really clear on how they work well and how to find what they need in their partnership. So you know, luckily you've got all these master classes out there about how to find the right broker and you know how to kind of determine what's right for you, but I think this is just the way of the future and I'm happy to see that you guys are the way forward.

    Chris: Now the other thing that we're going to push out there this year is rent with roost, and we haven't done anything that really has been targeted to educate tenants. You know, and don't forget I don't want to sound overly paternal about this, but so many of our tenants are first-time renters. They don't know how to be a successful tenant. They don't know how to, you know, make sure that they're going to get a great what do you want to say report card from their previous landlord, right? They don't know how to make sure they get their deposit back, etc.

    So we're going to be rolling out the first iteration of rent with roost this year also. So those are the five key areas that we're focused on, but the number one thing is have I earned a five-star review today? Because that cuts across everything we do? So I've been thinking about to you know, now that we've got this thing in place, you know, now that we're doing this, I have some key goals for the next five years that we're going to go ahead and tell the universe about today. Lice are you ready?

    Laci: oh, I'm ready. I was born ready for this one all right.

    Chris: I think in the next five years my goal is that we will have 200 agents in the company between florida and ohio that see the world as we do, and I think that's doable. I think it's aggressive, but I think that we're already seeing more and more people, you know, listen to the podcast, download the books, open the emails every single week. So I do think that's possible. The other thing I'd like to see in the next five years is that we double our door count and I so I think 2000 doors under management in the next five years is very doable. We're currently at a thousand today and we have enough. We have enough staff and infrastructure to support to easily manage 1500 doors right now without missing a beat. As we get closer to that 1300 mark again, we'll have to start looking at where we're going to add staff, but I think in the next five years a minimum of 2000 doors is definitely going to happen.

    The other thing and this may be a little bit conservative, but I think I've had, between the three main books that we've been promoting out there right the two agent books and the profitability playbook we've had maybe 800 total downloads, not quite a thousand. So 5000 book downloads is probably not the best goal. That seems pretty conservative, but I think what this goal needs to be is 5000 weekly email opens, right. So if we end up sending, if we have 10 thousand people in the database because 10 000 so really it should be 10 000 book downloads is what we need to be looking for over the next five years. That result in somewhere around four to five thousand individual agents and potential owners actually opening up the weekly emails and reading what's in them. That's, that's a hell of a goal, because if that happens over the next five years, the next 25 will take care of themselves yeah, absolutely.

    Laci: I mean, these are powerful numbers and I think that you know to dispel any sort of like number myths out there. Right, we know what 200 means to us, but that probably doesn't sound like a lot to other people. Necessarily, we could have 200 agents, maybe this year, but the thing is these are agents aligned with your values. Right, these are ideal. We talk about, you know, ideal target markets and targeting folks.

    We want people who this information that we're sharing is going to mean something to them and help them sincerely, even if they never consider being an agent or never come on board. Ultimately same thing with doors under management.

    Same thing with the book downloads, right. So I think that those are definitely some aggressive goals and some admirable goals, but they're totally doable because you know, you have the system. What comes to mind is you know the tortoise and the hare, and slow and steady wins the race. These things are all happening simultaneously. If you were just a broker looking for agents, then these goals would probably not be big enough, right? If you were just a property management company looking for doors, if you were just a consultant looking for, you know, people to to coach and to help along the way, then none of these would be. I mean, there's still pretty big numbers, but none of them would be. You know, it'd be almost a given. But you're doing all of this. Bruce is doing all of this simultaneously, with the goal of each part of the business feeding into another part of the business and helping more people. So I think it's just a really it's worth noting that invest, career, you know, rent, buy, sell, buy, list, whatever is. They're all happening at the same time and that is something.

    Chris: So to coordinate that just logistically is huge I just want to say this you know 200 agents. You could say it's an arbitrary number, and I guess it is. But let me tell you something if I can't find 200 agents of the exact same caliber, of at least caliber of gretchen persilla, josh d dritina and susan alisha mac taylor, rena, then we won't get 200 right. If I only get 50, and and they see the world the way the books we have now do, that would be a massive win. But I think putting something out there makes sense. So I think that hopefully, between the markets that we work in that there's 200 people who do see the world the way you know we do right now. So that's my goal. But and then why you know if I'm an agent. A natural question is why? What's in it for me? I you know when I think about this. I find it fun, I find it entertaining. It's what. I don't know how to stop right. So why do I want goals like this that feel pretty aggressive? As we said here today? Because I'm entertained by it, it's fun and no matter how you slice it, market share does matter to all of us. The more we can, the more reach we can achieve over the next five years, the better off every one of us is going to be, because that extra reach, that, that that extra opportunity to serve, that extra opportunity to create, you know, a raving fan. You know that generates profit, that I'm then able to reinvest in our agents and team members and future opportunities. And you can't do that if you're not a growing company. You can't do it if you're not profitable and profit has to come first. But you can't reinvest if you're not growing. It's growth that creates new opportunities, you know. It's growth that allows agents to decide that they want to hire an assistant or build a team or open their own team office, or open their own roost office or go to a new market or become a you know, a sales manager or a business development director or what have you. It's growth that creates those opportunities for all of us. And probably the most exciting thing is, you know you start doing what you say you're going to do. You start to have some success out there. Growth starts to attract new people with capabilities that we don't have yet, that are only going to make us stronger in the future. Right, you know you could argue weak companies attract weak people and strong companies attract strong people and for that reason alone, I want to be the the the strongest real estate brokerage that I could possibly be.

    So, as we get close to the end, here's my new year's resolution. So my new year's resolution for this year, that I will never lacy. You watch me. I will never show up anywhere without my team. I may be going out there and then may start listing some houses with the certified pre-owned home designation, but I can tell you right now, taylor, you're coming with me, so never show up anywhere without my team. We're going to let the leaders we've hired do what we've hired them to do. We're not going to micromanage, we're not going to look over the shoulder, but we are going to coach, we are going to measure. You know we're going to be right there with them, but we're going to let them do what we hired them to do.

    One of the other things that I want to do this year is, you know, I want to spend more time with our clients, and I think I've done a fairly good job of this, but I want to be even more intentional about one-on-one time, understandings the dangers, the opportunities and strengths that not just our agents, but our owners, our buyers and our sellers are facing, because if I don't know what those dangerous opportunities and strengths are, then I'm never going to be in a position to to know what value. I need to figure out how to add. So more time with clients one-on-one time with clients is on my list this year. I also want to spend more time in florida. We've got huge opportunity here and you know kelly and I love spending time here, so you know that's more personal. But you know the stuff we've been doing with you and dean and this whole space coast condo guide. I think there's something there and once we get that to the point where we can scale it disguised the limit here in florida. You know we talked a lot about in the last podcast we did about the part five of the n?

    A r and but guessing, embedding over the next 25 years, and you know I'm dead serious about the next 25 years. But I'm also interested in doing an experience, other things. You know I'm going to be 63 this year, so the whole option of taking care of myself it's not an option and me doing what's right for you know myself, that's got to be good for me and it's ultimately going to be good for the team. So you know, my goal is that I want to be doing this for the next 25 years, but I also need to find some moderation. I always hated that word maybe a little balance, always hated that word. But whatever I'm going to do whatever it takes to make sure that I am adding value for this company in this business for the 25 years, and that means it's time to be more intentional about taking care of myself. So those are my new year's resolutions for this year. I have to pull this out next january and how I did lacy.

    So a couple of other things. Being a great real estate consultant means nothing if nobody knows what you do. My job and our job of roost is to do everything I can to promote our agents and their connections. That's why my focus will be more and more on marketing and less on operations. I spent the last 10 years building the perfect car like I think of roost as a race car, and now it's time to take it out and see what she can do. It's time to deliver and it's time to let people know what we do and how we do it. And and that means it's time to grow. And lacy, you know, obviously you're already a key part of that. This has been a challenging year, but I have to tell you it's been one of the most satisfying years I can remember. I'm super proud of the every single person we have at roost today and I'm super grateful and I thank you all yeah, same.

    Laci: I mean, I think that this is a real lesson in what you expect your business to look like and what it actually ends up looking like, and how to not find a silver lining, but really just to how to embrace. You know, be here now. That's what romdolph taught was be here now. Uh, where are we now and where are we going? And it's great to have goals and it's great to to remember that this is supposed to be fun, that life is not about just waking up and going to work and making money and paying off bills and then doing it all over again the next day. And I think that I mean, if I'm here to judge your first 10 years, then you get a resounding pass from me, but I'm so excited about what's to come.

    So also grateful also, you know, thank you for letting me be a part of this, but I think this was a really cool insight for folks who maybe are just joining us.

    Chris: I don't know the whole backstory or maybe people who are thinking about you know, you know, becoming part of the whole roost mindset well, if anybody's interested, we would be thrilled to talk to them, and there's a million ways you can get a hold of me directly, so please do all right thank you, see you next time.