In Step With Career Agent Leonard Giarrano
by Julie Escobar
One of my dear friends in this business is a fellow by the name of Len Giarrano. We met in New York years ago and he’s just the kind of businessman you want to pull up a chair next to and let his wisdom and sage advice wash over you. He was kind enough to share some of his insights with our readers.
Here’s a little of what we learned:
Q: Thank you, you my friend. Can you start by telling us a little about you?
A: My name is Leonard Giarrano. I started my career as a Hotel and Restaurant major, part-time community college restaurant management and marketing teacher. I found myself wanting a career and practice that I could help facilitate the interests of others like my Dad in his law practice. At the same time, I wanted a vehicle to develop my own personal wealth. Creating Wealth by author Robert Allen inspired me with its promised nuts and bolts of real estate for building wealth. And that led me to real estate, and I’ve never looked back.
Q: Most agents coming out of real estate school have high aspirations and goals, but lack clear direction on how to even get started. What would your top three pieces of advice be to head them in the right direction?
A: The master appeared as this student was ready. I found a real estate office that had a spaced-training program that had recipes that I could apply myself to and get the foundation of listing and selling real estate in a defined area. Emphasis on a planned listing presentation chalk full of quality service techniques far and above the efforts of other agents. You are going to WOW them with crisp, prepared professional presentation. Get high-quality business cards.
Q: What common misconception do you think most agents have in terms of making it in today’s market and what myth-buster would you share with them?
A: Bottom line? Real estate is about relationships and listings are (and always have been) the name of the game. Read Robert Allen’s book Creating Wealth, for some sound fundamentals. Also, note that buyers will come as you build a practice from listings. Inspect what you expect as product knowledge is the fuel for confidence.
Q: Building a Book of Business is one of the smartest things an agent can do, yet so many agents instead continuously “chase new business”. What advice do you have for building a strong sphere of influence?
A: Get a personal core list of people you know and could pop by to say hello to for referral. You will need an annual calendar and thank you notes. Start a geographic community to focus on. Find an active market in both price point and volume as an area to focus your efforts. There is a seller in that enclave that needs the services of a professional agent. A printed listing presentation that you share at the seller’s kitchen table with visual support materials will walk the conversation towards your representation. Raising the seller’s consciousness to the task ahead builds the needs of your service. I am happy to share my 25-point listing presentation with anyone who asks.
Q: That’s generous Len! Prospecting is a crucial component for agents (new and experienced) – what tips would you give someone new to the process?
A: Get a foothold, identify an active real estate community of homes as a farm. Take a six-month snapshot of homes available listed and inspect those. What is in-contract and 180 days sold? Find an office agent that has a listing there. Volunteer to run two weekends of open house. Send a mailing campaign to invite people to the open house. Hand write an invitation to the immediate neighbors. Develop a thick flyer to show your effort far and above the other local agents’ handouts. Buy 110-pound paper stock for 1st page of the flyer. Next, 28 or 32-pound paper for remaining pages. Buy a tri-level clear plastic flier rack. Up front is the thick flier, next fliers on area info, schools, shopping etc. last and not least have pre-printed contracts (full price filled in) and all disclosures high-lighted printed on 28 or 32-pound stock. Snacks and bottled water for the open house and York Peppermint individual wrapped candies add a great finishing touch. Collect as much information as you can and be sure to add those folks to your new database so that you can continually stay in touch.
Q: Follow up is where a lot of agents fall short. Do you have any strategies for helping agents get over the fear of the phone and following up?
A: I’m old school, so my first inclination is to say watch an old episode of Columbo. He was a master at follow up! Or just always look for something that is a fair trade item to get back in touch with all that you meet. Example, you can offer entry to a drawing, local school information, a free survey, market analysis, home component content such as tips for their HVAC or even their home tech system. Local restaurants and businesses can even supply you with coupons to send. The key word is communication Share the item with an “As Promised” message which subliminally lets them know that you keep your promises
Q: Any business planning tips that you think would be important to share?
A: Schedule your prospecting and personal time off. Early to bed and early am with some exercise, all in writing and in an obvious space for your and those that are part of your efforts to see what is on the menu for your shared success. I’ve also had great success with local small builders.
Q: What are the top 5 tools or sites that you would recommend to new agents just starting to build their business and marketing platforms?
A: Professional dress appropriate to climate, polished shoes, pressed clothing. Gals dress carefully look up Barnard University, a collegial fashion. Dress for success is a great primer. Equipment: Black or cordovan color, leather or vinyl letter or legal pad with pocket. Silver or chrome ballpoint pen, 25’ tape measure. Three-ring notebook with divides (three-hole punch). Dividers define priorities, year, month, at a glance, one-page worksheet for each day as a day planner. Next section seller leads, next section buyer registrations other sections to organize activities. This book is your office. Two-hole punch and file folders with two dividers for your listings. Start a file on serious leads gives you an assumption to the listing.
Q: Any last bits of advice for agents to take to heart?
A: This exciting and rewarding career is a practice so crush the fundamentals, own them. Invest in real estate to build your pension and retirement. You are ten years to a net worth of a million.
Q: How can our reader’s best connect with you to share their success and referrals?
A: Direct 941-724-0690, text to see if I can spare a conversation with you and give you the attention you need, e-mail an outline of questions you wish me to discuss with you. Leonard Giarrano, Associate Broker, RE/MAX Alliance Group, or email me at LVGiarrano@hotmail.com.