Living in South Carolina and running a residential real estate firm in Syracuse, New York, Bob has become a master of targeting different people for different reasons. We’ll hear how to create great content, and most importantly how to get relevant content to the right people. Bob says you can waste a lot of money by putting out the wrong content. More specifically, great content is a waste if not delivered to the right crowd in the right way. If you enjoyed today’s episode remember to subscribe in iTunes and leave us a review!
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Bob McTague Real Estate Background:
- The “Team Leader” of CNY Agent Team of RealtyUSA
- Began as real estate investor, then got into helping residential clients
- Has built a highly profitable team of agents
- Over 11 years in helping buyers, sellers, and real estate investors
- Since 2008, has been the top team in the Central New York area helping 200 people each year.
- Based in Syracuse, New York
- Say hi to him at 315-882-6610
- Best Ever Book: How to Win Friends and Influence People
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Joe Fairless: Best Ever listeners, welcome to the best real estate investing advice ever show. I’m Joe Fairless, and this is the world’s longest-running real estate investing podcast. We only talk about the best advice ever, we don’t get into any fluff.
With us today, Bob McTague. How are you doing, Bob?
Bob McTague: I’m doing great, how are you doing today?
Joe Fairless: I’m doing great as well, nice to have you on the show. A little bit about Bob – he is both a real estate investor, he’s also a team leader of CNY Agent Team of RealtyUSA. He began as a real estate investor, then got into helping residential clients. He has built a highly profitable team of agents and he’s been doing it for 11 years now. Based in Syracuse, New York. With that being said, Bob, do you wanna give the Best Ever listeners a little bit more about your background and your current focus?
Bob McTague: Okay, great! Thanks for that introduction, I appreciate it. I’m originally from Boston, and in 2004 I moved to Syracuse, New York, due to trying to get closer to my wife’s family, who lives in Toronto, so we ended up in Syracuse, New York. At that time I was doing investment properties, buying stuff across the U.S. – it wasn’t just focused on Syracuse at that time. I was getting into some model home respecs and things like that, from builders and such, but as I was in the real estate buying properties and so forth, I saw there was a need for good real estate agents.
I didn’t get the best representation early on, we’ll say that; I think at that time a monkey could sell real estate, back in 2004 to 2006, and I say that in a nice way, because I saw that there was not great representation, so I said “Hey, I’m gonna change the industry”, and it was kind of my mission to do things a little differently, advise the clients differently, protect my clients and so forth, so that’s the path I started on.
Then I started as a solo agent, and I really latched on at that time to internet marketing. A lot of my systems were built through the internet because I didn’t really know anyone in Syracuse when I moved from Boston… So I started really developing good marketing systems, attracting buyers and making that shift. Then as I got more leads and I was doing a lot of lead generation online, I needed someone to service those leads, so I started to build a team. In 2008-2008 I started to really ramp it up, and at one point I had through the years ten agents, through the broker I was — we’ll say a team through the broker; I wasn’t an actual broker-owner… And then at that point I learned sometimes it’s better to keep it small and keep it all, so I tailored things down a little, changed my business model through the years, and that’s where I’m at right now. Things are rocking and rolling.
Joe Fairless: What’s the business model now? You were around ten people, and now what do you do?
Bob McTague: Well, what I did was a lot of shifts came in, and one of them was basically I moved out of state. Two years ago I moved to South Carolina, and everyone said at that time it can’t be done; once you leave, you’re gonna give up your income, you’re gonna lose control over your business… So to answer your question, it went from ten people to about four, and then when I left, again I was at odds, “What am I gonna do?” Well, I refocused, restructured and went back to the basics of my strengths, which was lead generation, and I took more of a role of servicing those leads and then doing more of a customer service, negotiation, and really fine-tuning those lead systems and then handing them off to key agents that I hired, and my profit margin went up by 50% in those two years that I left, and I wasn’t even servicing clients, I was just servicing some true negotiations and handling [unintelligible [00:04:43].04] which really proved beneficial, because when I took myself out of the puzzle, it seemed to work a little better and give people more control. And my strength is really the conversion – talking with the client, understanding what their needs and wants are, and then finding a solution and handing them off to another agent.
I watched that over the years, because I’m a control freak. I wanted to do everything, and I just couldn’t. I learned that “Hey, this is my role”, and it’s been working great, so that’s kind of where I’m at right now.
Joe Fairless: And we’re talking about just residential sales, so you have some agents who represent people who want to buy or sell their house, and you’re helping them connect the dots.
Bob McTague: That is correct. And then on the investment side of it, our market wasn’t so much — we didn’t have a lot of shortsales, we didn’t have a lot of bank-owned properties. It was going from like 3% about three or four years ago, and now it’s up to about 8% of all homes sold. Out of 4,000 homes that sell in my county, we’re sitting at about 8%. And some of it, that’s just because of the timeframe with the bank-owned properties, but what I started to get into was servicing those investors, those fix and flips, and people that wanted to invest into multifamily properties. I started to really attract those clients and come up with a good system where I could really educate them and use my expertise that I knew.
I deal with a lot of that now, where I’m just really educating those investors and (we’ll say) would-be investors or people that wanna get into the game, but maybe just don’t understand how it all works… I’m trying to really educate those people. It’s tough, but it’s definitely become a niche for me.
Joe Fairless: You’ve mentioned a couple times your internet marketing savviness in getting leads… What are you doing to get the leads?
Bob McTague: Well, initially I started out with organic, which was a lot of blogging, a lot of article writing, a lot of different things to attract buyers. It’s changed over the years. I focus a lot on social media now, through Facebook, creating targeted ads, and you can get really specific on Facebook. If there are any investors out there that are trying to find deals, social media is definitely a way to do that.
I know this call won’t take us there to explain the whole process, but basically — for a long time it used to be Craigslist. I think it’s changed more into a social media format, and obviously grassroots marketing, but as far as the internet marketing, my sole focus is to create good content, put it out there (video, or whatever it is) and really syndicate that out, where I’m finding different customers… But really finding who my niche is, who’s my ideal customer.
It’s been a real transformation in these last years, just to say “I don’t wanna work with just everyone. I wanna work with the people that are gonna respect my time, that I know that there’s profit involved…” That’s been kind of instrumental moving forward – developing those systems through social media, still doing Google placement, things like that, but really cutting down. There are obviously big powers like Zillow, and those sites – those platforms are changing. They’re even changing to the investment side, like offers.com, and those types of websites, where you will see more investors being able to be in the playing field of real estate agents… And I do see a lot of different shifts where an investor has more power now through those types of sites where they can reach out to the end user, the consumer, and say “Hey, we’re interested in purchasing your property”, and there’s a lot of money being thrown around right now in that space. But again, this is a topic that could take me hours to explain.
Joe Fairless: Well, let’s talk about a couple aspects of this. You said your focus now is just creating good content and syndicating it, knowing who your ideal customer is… What are some best practices for good content?
Bob McTague: The best practices – number one, it’s figure out the idea customer, who you’re trying to attract. Then from that, what is your messaging? Direct-response marketing – not everyone’s good at doing that; they don’t have a marketing degree, they don’t understand direct-response marketing, but there’s plenty of online courses, there’s plenty of things… You can go on YouTube and really study “How can I create better messaging?”
But once you know your ideal client, you’ll know definitely what type of message that you’re trying to attract them. For instance, if I’m looking for clients that are looking for bank-owned homes, then I’m going to put out content geared to them. I’m not gonna be putting out content where someone’s a first-time home buyer; I’ll be looking for more investors, so my content is gonna be maybe a landing page with very simple things. In terms of title, it could be “Find the best deals in Syracuse. Register now!”, just on a basic landing page. I’m gonna put it down to the basic, basic level; it’s a little more involved in that, but basically understanding who you’re trying to attract, and then putting that message and that content in as many places as you can, from Google+, all the way out to Facebook, LinkedIn – that’s a different type of medium, obviously, but using those channels and understanding the demographics in each channel.
That’s one of the problems – people throw data out there on the internet, but they don’t understand who’s using those channels; there are demographics, age groups, income levels… In my marketplace you’ve gotta understand that the average income in our county is 57k, and we don’t get high ticket investors here. An investor here isn’t coming to town with a million dollars, they’re coming to town with a couple hundred thousand dollars, so it’s a little challenging sometimes. You’ve gotta put those [unintelligible [00:10:39].08] with the right messaging, because you can definitely lose your marketing dollar by not really super focusing on that content, the correct titles and whom you’re trying to attract. It comes back to that…
Joe Fairless: Who you’re trying to attract, and defining that. I’ll just ask you – who are you trying to attract, and that will help me understand how specific we have to get.
Bob McTague: Perfect, perfect. My ideal client is someone who has a need — I’m focused on the residential, so someone that has a need to actually sell a house; they’re looking to sell in the next zero to six months. I can see different demographics on Facebook, where you can really filter down your targets of who owns a property – all the property areas in a certain area, a certain demographic. And then if I really filter it down, I wanna say “How many people own a house from 80k to 250k?” Because looking at the data and studying the data, I know that that’s the biggest demographic for homes sold.
If I’m an agent or an investor and I’m focusing on houses that are 400k in Syracuse, that’s only 2% of the market. I’m not gonna do a lot of volume. So knowing those key principles… Think of it as like a farm area; whom you’re trying to attract, what neighborhoods you’re gonna go after. That is crucial to understand those market demographics and the statistics.
That’s the first thing anyone should do that’s listening to this call – find out what market are you trying to invest in, what are those demographics… And you don’t always have to employ expensive tools to do that and buy expensive programs. Call up an agent. Call up a good agent and say “Tell me about your market. Tell me what’s going on. What price range is selling the fastest? Where are all the buyers?” That’s really what you wanna know. What are the cap rates? What’s the rental turnover rate? What are all those different demographics?
It’s hard finding a good agent that knows that, but you’ve gotta search out, because it can save you a lot of money. I know investors that spent $30,000 on a program, and I said “I could have told you all that, you didn’t have to spend 30k.” And I laugh, but sometimes it’s tough finding those types of agents that know that, that used to be investors… But you’ve gotta search those people out.
That’s one thing that is a strength of mine – people see that I was in the game, I’m still in the game, and I wanna help them make educated decisions so they don’t lose money. Because the margins in Syracuse are very slim, so you’ve gotta be really careful with your dollar. Even though it’s less of a dollar, you’ve gotta be really careful.
Joe Fairless: And where are you living now in South Carolina?
Bob McTague: I’m actually in Lexington, South Carolina. It’s [unintelligible [00:13:26].24] Columbia, but we chose it here because I mentored — a good client of mine moved to this area, he wanted to get into real estate, so I mentored him and he became one of the top agents out here, and he said “Come check it out”, so I came out here with my wife and I said “You know what, I really like the weather.” And there were other reasons why, but we made the move, and like I said, business is better than ever.
The markets have been better, but business has been better, and because I focused on one (we’ll say) niche, and that niche was just trying to really focus on my ideal customer, the types of homes I’m selling, and just focus on lead generation, and follow-up, and those types of things, which is crucial in any business.
Joe Fairless: Yeah, I was gonna ask, why don’t you shift your efforts and your focus towards where you’re living now, versus continuing to do Syracuse?
Bob McTague: Great question. Turnkeys have always been my bread and butter, and it’s not out of the question. When I did come up here I had certain licensing rights through the broker, and wants now to open up locations throughout the Carolinas, Georgia and such… But I was seeing that I was losing some market share when I started to focus in that direction, so I just made a conscious effort and I said “What can I do to save Syracuse and make it better than it ever could be?” and that’s what I did.
I don’t look back and say it was a mistake. I could always start something out here; there’s no reason why I couldn’t start with something out here and build a team up and all that. It may come. It’s just now there’s some other things I wanna do [unintelligible [00:14:58].17] freedom I have, we’ll say that… It’s nice to not be so much in the grind, but I’m in the grind at my own [unintelligible [00:15:05].16] and I think that’s been beneficial to me, to really get a clearer head to focus on the next years in my life moving forward.
Joe Fairless: Based on your experience, what is your best real estate investing advice ever?
Bob McTague: Well, my best advice is invest local. That’s been instrumental to me when I started doing investments… It was local. When I relied on other people to tell me about markets and make investments in other places, it wasn’t always the best investments.
Then one of the other things that was crucial to me — but I would say that’s the main thing, is buy local, invest local, where you live. And then the other advice was think hard on the deal, but don’t think too hard. Sometimes you can talk yourself out of good deals. It’s always been a thing where if it’s my gut feeling it’s a good deal, the numbers make sense, I just do it.
Joe Fairless: Are you ready for the Best Ever Lightning Round?
Bob McTague: Absolutely.
Joe Fairless: Alright, let’s do it. First, a quick word from our Best Ever partners.
Break: [00:16:02].09] to [00:17:00].20]
Joe Fairless: Best ever book you’ve read?
Bob McTague: Best ever book. Okay, well I’m re-reading a book that’s titled How To Win Friends And Influence People. I know it’s a classic, it’s been for a long time, but Dale Carnegie — I mean, the crucial thing in my business is just that I’m in a people business, and everything we do is people-centric. So How To Win Friends And Influence People, that’s still my all-time favorite.
Joe Fairless: Best ever deal you’ve done?
Bob McTague: I don’t know, that’s a tough one for me. They’re all good deals. I don’t know, it’s tough… I will have to pass that. I don’t know, they’re all good deals.
Joe Fairless: How about this – what’s the last deal you did?
Bob McTague: Well, I process a lot of deals each month, just through my small team. Last month I did over 20-something deals, so it’s hard for me. A lot of them are residential, so it’s tough. I know your listeners probably want some major, big deal I put together, but they’re all little deals that add up to one big deal. It’s hard for me to explain that.
Joe Fairless: What’s a mistake you’ve made on a transaction?
Bob McTague: The biggest mistake on any transaction is underestimating (sometimes in negotiation) the other side as far as if it’s someone new in the industry, or if I’m working with a buyer and a seller, just not understanding upfront who I’m dealing with and not really getting a good sense and building that connection, so it can be a win/win for everyone, but more in my favor.
Controlling the deal is something that I work on every day to make those connections and build those so I don’t have problems through the cycle, and that goes back to How To Win Friends And Influence People – just being a people person and not making things difficult is the way it really works in my business.
Joe Fairless: Best ever way you like to give back?
Bob McTague: I should give back a lot more, I’ll tell you that. It’s one of my goals, to give back to the community in Syracuse. That will come. To my clients right now, the best thing I can do right now is just tell the truth always, and be the best I can be so that they don’t make financial mistakes. That’s true and I learned that over the years; I try to keep preaching and pushing that, and not everyone wants to do that, but as far as charities and things like that I’ve gotta get better at giving back to the community.
Joe Fairless: How can the Best Ever listeners get in touch with you?
Bob McTague: You can always call me at 315-882-6610 if you want any advice, if you’re thinking about investing in Syracuse or the surrounding Central New York area. We’re going through a rebranding on our website, but CnyAgent.com. That’s more geared towards residential. But if anyone wants to get in touch with me regarding commercial and investment properties and you just wanna have some general questions, feel free to give me a call. I’m always around.
Joe Fairless: The phone number is…
Bob McTague: 315-882-6610.
Joe Fairless: Cool. Bob, thank you for being on the show. Thanks for talking about generating leads, your business in general… Really, we honed in on a couple of things, but one of them was the getting leads part from creating good content, being specific about how to identify our ideal customer, creating messaging around that, and how and where to share it out.
Thanks for being on the show. I hope you have a best ever day, and we’ll talk to you soon.
Bob McTague: Excellent. Thank you so much.Follow Me: