Justin Smith joined Jerry Brogger on, The Lockbox Podcast to discuss industrial real estate and his new book, Industrial Intelligence.
Almost every city throughout the country is changing because of the need for warehouses of different sizes. The Amazons and ecommerce fulfillment centers of the world require millions of square footage here and globally.
Industrial real estate is the focus for Justin Smith, who has worked in the market for 17years at Lee and Associates, based in Irvine, California. He holds MBA and Masters of Real Estate Development degrees from USC, and is a member of the global Society of Industrial and Office Realtors (SIOR), an association of top producers within the industry.
Justin has completed over 500 assignments across the US and has negotiated leases with some of the largest landlords in the world, including Prologis, Blackstone, GLP, Rexford Industrial, and The Irvine Company. He has represented executives in e-commerce, logistics, food and beverage, cold storage, automotive, aerospace, life sciences, and many other industries.
Justin is also the author of two books, Turn Your Warehouse into your Strategic Advantage and Industrial Intelligence.
In our conversation, we talk about the working in the commercial real estate industry, including:
- How neighborhoods are changing because of demands for warehouse space.
- Attributing success to taking ownership of responsibilities.
- The difference between SWOT and SWAT.
- Strategic Coach–the coaching program for entrepreneurs.
- Selling from one investor to the other.
Enjoy the show!
Connect with Justin:
Connect with Jeff:
Welcome to lockbox. My name is Jeffrey brogre. And I’ll be your host, I am here today with Justin Smith. Justin, thanks for being with us. Thank you for having me. Yeah, absolutely. So why don’t you tell our listeners first who you are and where you’re from? Sure,
I’m, I’m from Irvine here. And I’m in the Lee and Associates office, and have been with leaf for 17 years, basically right out of undergrad. So this is the only place I’ve ever known and the only business I’ve ever been in. So it’s been kind of cool to stick with it. And like continue to build upon it. And it’s been fun with college to have friends go far and away for college and then to come back home and you know, have everybody kind of be back together again. So it’s, that part’s been really great. And yeah, obviously my folk. Yeah, my focus in real estate is in industrial, primarily, and maybe 50%, between landlord and tenant. So I get a little bit of insight into both sides, and then what it takes to put deals together. And that’s, yeah, that continues to be my focus with an occasional investment sale, maybe two or three of those every year, where it’s a leased investment leased property that’s sold purely from one investor to the other.
Got it and what got you into real estate?
My sister, so real estate, usually you have a friend that they reached their arm out when you’re looking for a job.
So if someone makes the intro, yeah,
yeah. So my intro was my sister. And she was doing 1031 exchanges as an accommodator. I was coming out of undergrad from UCI and wanted to get into stocks and equity trading. Well, we’re not in New York, this isn’t Manhattan, we don’t have a big like you have like Wealth Advisors and financial advisors, but you don’t really have like that seen so much other than LA. And so I started talking with her more and more about what I was going to do her little brother coming out of school and being an exchange accommodator who your clients are brokers. So she knew every broker out there in Southern California. And now it was a pretty easy to make introductions. And so for me, I got introduced to a couple people on the golf course. And then the golf course paid off, I knew how to play. So yeah, I played High School golf, but it was fun to spend some time with people and to get to know them. And then one of the people that Lee was just a really good fit. And I started like, intern, Assistant, and just think of like, the lowest of the low of what we have here. And it was fun to just check it out and kind of just understand what I would be getting myself into. And I found I may continue to look for work as I explored it. But once I was here, it just turned into, I’ve worked here now and I’m not looking back, I’m not looking for other jobs. This is just what I do and start looking forward.
Yeah, that makes total sense. And really interesting introduction to where your sister kind of knew all of the brokers because she was facilitating 1030 ones. And so then, you know, from being introduced to one of the guys at Lee, you just stayed you went there and just loved it. And I’m interested, what your you know, current transaction volume looks like because the pandemic and everything for some markets, it did really well. And for other markets, it did have an effect. And I’m curious to see how the industrial commercial market is.
Yeah, it was very scary and march for everybody. And so for us, we all pass like everyone else. And then I felt like it slowly kept going, as people figured out what can you and can’t you do safely, and what decisions are big companies going to make. But then after that point in time, then it took off. Because you can work from home. But you can’t have your warehouse work from home, your warehouses in its nature, physical, you have to be there. So there are plenty of things people had to do to adapt and to be safe. But warehouses didn’t close down. Much of them were deemed essential when we were deeming things essential and non essential. And so that kept going but I think the big trend that made it go more than just a normal amount is the maturation of e commerce. So you think of like your Amazon packages you get at your door, go through the manufacturers warehouse, to Amazon’s warehouse, to a smaller warehouse before it comes to your house. And so that when you weren’t going to the grocery store where you’re getting more boxes at your house, you were right, I was ton of deliveries. So I feel like that was already going for us in industrial. But that just took off. And it’s hard to know, are you going to shop online less now? in six months? Or in a year, right? Or is it just like a one way ticket where, you know, you’ll? That’s just how you do it now. And there will be a time and a place for a store. But it’s not for that shirt. It’s not for that microphone, it could be for like the paint on the wall, you still have to go to a store for that right? your earphones, you don’t go to a store for that, probably. So that part’s been interesting to think through what is the future of that?
Absolutely. And if you did not bring up Amazon, I was going to bring up, you know, how has Amazon impacted the industrial space for you in particular, because I know that they already have what 65 million square feet of warehouse globally, and you know, they’re in the next five years, they’ll probably double that. And so, you know, having that warehouse space, I’m purchasing land doing ground up developments, in addition to probably purchasing existing warehouses in some cases. I mean, the big box companies like that are are in need of warehouse space to fulfill all these orders. So you know that that’s a very interesting sector of the market that is only I see the next 510 years going to be growing massively in very hot.
Yeah, without a doubt, and I think there’s no city in the country where they don’t have their version of that with Amazon. So I can think of 10 sites within 10 miles of Irvine that they’ve taken down. One’s an office building, that they’ll tear down and build a warehouse on one is the author or the parking lot of the old register newspaper building. And that’s a high rise office and then some of their spaces just like the traditional warehouse, but that’s we’re in the burbs. So that’s what that means to the burbs. You’ve got the Inland Empire where you’ve got land to build and bigger buildings bigger footprint, so they’re taking. I think in San Bernardino, they have 2 million square footers, just one building 2 million square feet where you have to ride a golf cart, or a scooter or an E bike to get from one place to another within it. But then think of like out in downtown LA is not super dense. But think of the more dense downtown’s, what does that mean to downtown? And what do they take there? And so so far, it’s been smaller buildings that they repurpose. But could it be? And this is part of the what may be in the future, like a two or three storey warehouses? And can they go vertical with that in the urban core. So if Amazon continues to accelerate it, then I would think you would start to see more of that. And so it’s interesting to see him buy land and build, buy office buildings and build by parking lots and build and contemplate building multi storey. And that’s just them. And that could be every county in you know, San Diego County has five versions of that Orange County and the nearby right and this is just Southern California. So you could imagine Washington, Texas, Chicago, right? All these markets as you go through, I couldn’t even imagine if they have 100 markets where they have that amount of activity and saturation, but it’s probably that are more.
Yep, absolutely. super interesting, you know, something that a lot of people in the real estate industry Don’t even think about but let alone the average consumer, right, something that wasn’t even crossed their mind. So, you know, I find that stuff fascinating those macroeconomic issues that are causing demand in certain markets, I always find that fascinating. And, you know, with your particular journey, you’ve been at Lee for 17 years, you’ve closed over half a billion dollars in transactions, you know, what has been the single most important action that you have taken on a daily basis that you attribute the most your success?
Yeah, I think really just, yeah, like the accountability part. Like when you take on an assignment that you do it and that you like If people can rely on you to get it done and have them know, when I call you pick up, when we have something important, like you make that important to you as well we share in its urgency or its importance, and that you like, then put it on your shoulders, and feel the weight of that and go out and do your best to make sure that it gets done with all the skills and capabilities that you have. I feel that’s what I feel is part of my personal brand that I try and focus there because it’s it’s done me well. And that’s, that’s what I I look for and other people, right, that’s a huge thing that I look for. And it’s been good to me. So I try and stick with it.
accountability. Yeah. And taking ownership. I love that. You know that that’s so important. And it sounds simple, but it really is that simple to be successful in pretty much any endeavor. You have to do what you say you’re going to do. And that is easier at some times than not others. You know, sometimes you gotta have some tough conversations in order to fulfill that responsibility. But, you know, if you like you said, You’re, you’re feeling the weight of that, and you’re taking the ownership of it. I love how you turn it like that because it is almost like, you’re going into the squat rack and like, you know, your say your your with your client, like you both pick up the bar and like step back and field on your shoulders. You’re not just like, Okay, cool. Here’s 225 I’m gonna call you in three months. You just like, let him go. Over here. Yeah. Yeah, no, I like that analogy. So,
go ahead, okay. You’ve read some of the Jocko books. Right? He has one Extreme Ownership. That’s my favorite example from his book is where he takes responsibility for a project that failed that he didn’t. He didn’t do what made it fail. But it was Could he have done more to make it succeed? Because he was a part of that project, right. And now it’s a super cool lesson. I really, like appreciate that. And it takes someone like him to take that idea, like to the extreme where you’re like, wow, okay, this, like, you can take it further than then one may think, but there’s no power in that.
For sure. I agree. 100%. And on the creative standpoint, because Jocko Willink is you know, ex navy seal, right? Just add us to the bad. And, you know, on even on the other side, where it’s more of creative, right brain, you know, music movies, the way that you can equate it on that side is, if your name is on it, then you better make sure that it is up to the standard, that you yourself would if you had entire control over that, and the limited resources would put out. And that’s, that’s my concept is like, you know, if Steven Spielberg is on a movie, you know, it’s going to be incredible. Because he has a track record, every single thing he’s put out, has been that way. And it’s that high standard, and, you know, not compromising and taking ownership, you know, so I really love that concept. And, and, you know, I think we’ve we’ve driven it home. So my next question for you is, when it comes to commercial real estate, how are you leveraging digital marketing? That might be an off the wall question because I know that commercial is more old school than residential in the real estate space and even residential is constantly catching up to other industries in the in the forms of marketing and technology and having it be cutting edge. So when it comes to commercial, are you leveraging digital marketing in any way to market listings generate leads stay in front of people with retargeting things like that. I mean, is that happening at all?
Somewhat? Yeah, I think your perception is spot on, right that we lag. And sometimes we feel like that’s good. And most of the times we feel like that’s bad, and there’s room for improvement. And so residential and commercial, right? Sometimes you try and separate yourselves from one another. And sometimes we are all real estate people and we are all marketers and shameless self promoters, right? That’s something sometimes you have to do or is kind of just ingrained within the business. But digital, I feel like I love it. I’m all about it. It took me a while to get there. And I feel like you must embrace it. And then to what degree can you embrace it with your circumstances and your own situation that you have going on? So it was interesting as I started to do That and compare it to residential where you had this. I think it’s where you syndicate your listings, and it’s available and people could start to use that to make the market available to the general public. That was where we don’t have that. Right. And that was interesting. were people that were marketing agencies that were working with real estate brokers, or real estate agents or realtors, when they would talk with commercial guys. They didn’t get that they were like, What do you mean, that’s not public. And so for us, the majority of the market remains private only to the brokerage community. Now you have things like loop net, and other like avenues that are now more public facing. But so that was maybe my first time when I started to realize like, okay, we’re, that’s something we don’t have. And that’s one way rezi people are differentiating themselves or creating their own business platform. But now, I mean, that’s years ago. So now I feel like we’re a couple years into video being huge. People who didn’t believe in podcasts now do some people don’t know anything about them, which boggles your mind that like you can still learn new things without like audio books and podcasts where for me, I feel like those are super valuable. I really am like, appreciating how accessible information is with us. So that’s, yeah, so if you appreciate them, then you should make an effort, right? Let’s say, surely there are people like me who do that is their version of that for me. And so that’s where the book which is funny, because the books not digital marketing, in paper form, but right once it starts becoming, like, eat Kindles, like first and ebook and all of that. But then, once it’s in audiobook form, and then part of writing the book was interviewing people. And so for me, I was interviewing people for the book, I wasn’t starting a podcast, but then I realized I was, and so if I was I best be doing a good job of it. And so those, yeah, those have been great. first steps, but there are still so many ways we could be doing better. And what I find challenging sometimes is, a lot of the video you see for residential is, you know, nice, shiny houses, the cost 10 million bucks, they lend themselves well to the camera lens, right? Who doesn’t like looking at those where oftentimes assignments we work on, it’s a old dingy warehouse, it becomes all cleaned up, it ends up being super cool once people are using them. And there’s forklifts and conveyors or packaging going everywhere, and there’s machines and they’re making stuff. There’s a lot of great things there. But that’s the business right, the actual property itself that you’re either whether you’re helping the tenant and buyer side or the landlord and investor side, there’s some catchiness, there’s some like
more modern or recently renovated, or ones that are more pleasing to the eye. But a lot of when you’re marketing that you’re marketing like, capability and capacity, you’re not. You’re not like a marketing lifestyle. So that doesn’t mean that you can’t then do video, it just means you can’t do video, how they’re doing video, right? So I felt like that has been an interesting challenge mentally to be like, well, what are the fun parts? What are the parts that the layman doesn’t know? Or what are the parts that are accessible or that are interesting, or that are in the news, or that are relevant. And that part’s been interesting challenge to like, try and adapt and rise up to the challenge and then create something that’s then fit for who we are and what we do. But I totally dig it and believe in all of that. And it’s interesting to think through like what we can do better, right? And what’s next and to try and master it and who can you work with that can elevate your game? Who knows it better than you? Right? So I feel like that’s an interesting one of how much are you learning on your own? And how much are you collaborating with people or bringing people on or having someone coach you or be a marketing agency? All of that is it’s fun to see what they’re all doing because some marketing agencies are doing pretty cool stuff. And so just seeing what’s possible out there is always like, intriguing to think through what to do next or what a small step a big step to make.
Yeah, absolutely. And I think you, you nailed it. One thing in the book scaling up that they talk about instead of doing a SWOT analysis on your business, where its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats, instead, they do. SWAT, which is strengths, weaknesses, trends. And the trends analysis actually looks at outside trends from your industry, even you go over to, you know, direct to consumer ecommerce, and just look at trends of where major markets are shifting, so that you don’t get blindsided by some company that can disrupt your entire space. And so that’s the concept there, I think the concept, bringing it back to what you’re talking about with digital marketing, commercial real estate, it’s important to keep your eye on just trends of what’s happening in the residential side. And then trends of what’s happening, you know, in the world to sell property, you know, the standards of other countries. And, you know, I didn’t realize until I interviewed a content company from Australia, that actually the US, as far as marketing properties is like 10th, on the list of countries in the world where like, I think Stockholm, and like Sweden is like, highest level number one, like every property is incredibly listed. And so you hear that you’re like, Whoa, I thought were the best at everything, you know, and it helps you get exposed to something new, raise the bar, and then also say, okay, but how does that apply to me? Like, how does it apply to me? And my niche? And my clients and my properties that, you know, how, what can we use from that? So, you know, it’s, it’s important to take it with a bit of a grain of salt and not get that, like trout syndrome, where you’re just like chasing the shiny object, it’s very important to stay focused. But yeah, I love what you said. And, you know, that’s what my marketing agency hopes to do is to help, you know, innovate the sales process for both residential and commercial. So, you know, with that being said, I want to touch on your book, industrial intelligence, you alluded to it. And, you know, the the book, it is on Amazon, I’ll drop the link below. But, you know, I’m, I’m curious about, you know, what motivated you to write the book. And, you know, what, what did you learn from going through that process?
Yeah, you learn when you teach this is true. Yeah. And if you didn’t think it was true, I can tell you yes, it is, in fact, true. Yeah. Strategic Coach, if you haven’t heard of it, it’s a coaching program for entrepreneurs. And I’ve been a part of it for about 10 years. And that’s where we go every quarter to hang out with other entrepreneurs. And then they’ll come up with different frameworks for thinking about your business. And then you’ll apply it to your business. And then you’ll share what that means to you with other people in your group. And then you can glean insights and action from it. And so as I was doing that, there was the Dan Sullivan is the main person for a Strategic Coach. He was collaborating with Tucker Max and his book writing company and Ben Hardy. It was something that I was aware of, but it didn’t have any role in my world. But as we were just talking amongst ourselves, book writing, some people in the group have gone through their own process, years ago. And then I feel like some I had been talking with, had just gone through recently in book writing was never on my list. I had no interest in it, I knew nothing about it, I wouldn’t even know where to start if it was attractive. To me. That’s where I started with the idea. But I feel like it has now become accessible. Where you used to hear about self publishing, you know, five years ago, maybe. And it seemed like a glorified ebook where maybe you didn’t put too much weight on it, that it was a credible offering. And I feel like scribe was my first introduction to it. But their process, they have figured out how to do it in a way where you get all the quality that you would if you were working with a publisher, where they’re paying you a book advance, and then writing on you and your sales, where you can have them be your collaborator in your team, like a marketing agency, but they would be your book agency. And so they can help you frame it. You still go through all of the writing, you go through maybe half of the editing, and then they have staff. That’s all professional editors that help you in a couple different rounds of editing. And they have the design and the publishing chops to help carry it all through. So it was in trusting that Strategic Coach helps you think in collaborations and who you can work with. And so me thinking about a book that was my who, who I could work with who, that’s their skill set, that’s their domain. So it was interesting to come up with the idea with in Strategic Coach, and then be able to find the right resource, and then have the confidence in that resource to say, I’m gonna commit to this, I’m gonna, you know, not it’s not just money, like it took a year, right is plenty hours this time you could be doing other things with so it was interesting to then think through like, Am I ready to commit to this path? And what did I learn? Yeah, I would say, learning about the book business, right? I can’t read a book now. And look at it how I did in the past, right. So if you read any other books, you can kind of start to tell, like, what they put into it, how seriously, they took it, how well they like, researched it or didn’t, or how well thought out some ideas were and I’m still a super novice, but I feel like it’s made me appreciate people’s like bodies of work. And then it caused me to interview more people that I, you know, helped me find the limitations of my knowledge, and then reach out to people that would help me extend that and help see what their perspective is on it. So that was kind of cool that it caused me to start reaching out more to people and like continuing my own professional development, where it’s pretty easy to say, I kind of know what I’m doing. And I’m know enough to be dangerous. So
yeah, that and then just yeah, I think editing, wow, editing is like its own whole world, where it causes you to like review your work before you make it public. Like be very comfortable with taking an extra moment to review your work. Even if it’s cranking out an email to someone or a proposal to someone like it’s when I think of what it was before the five rounds of revisions, like the polishing really made a huge difference. And then maybe the last, just to kind of wrap up some of the learnings was book launch. So what’s it take to launch a piece of work? And what’s the strategy? Do you go all at once? Do you have different offerings over time? And who do you talk with? How do you talk with them? Who do you work with to get your message out? What’s your positioning? And what’s Amazon? What’s, you know, what do they What role do they play in this? And just starting to figure out some of that, that was all cool stuff that I would never would have had any reason to know any more about. And now I feel like at least I’ve gotten, like, some insight to it enough to know, would I do this again? Would I could do another one? Or was it like now it’s been real, but I would never do that again. It makes me appreciate all the creators out there, right, that are putting out books or music or like other podcasts? Like there’s a lot of work that goes into that. So it’s pretty cool to have a new appreciation for it.
Yeah, absolutely. And the book itself, industrial intelligence, it focuses on, you know, turning your warehouse into your strategic advantage. The the description talks about, you know, if you’re an executive looking to physically expand your business, then this is for you. So, you know, what are some of the the tips or tricks in the book, just to give kind of cliff notes version for my listeners. So you know, if they’re interested, or if they want to share it with any of their clients, maybe it might be a good fit.
Yeah, it’s interesting. Most books, you think of our invest in real estate. So let’s buy apartments. Let’s raise money, let’s buy single family houses, let’s fix them and flip them. I feel like that’s nine out of 10 books that you get out there. But for me, the half of the business is tenants. So there’s different names for tenants. So occupiers is what is probably the most industry jargon. I own our users are companies where they own their warehouse. Tenants just means they’re renting, right? They don’t own it. And I just think of like, like business owners, business leaders, anyone that’s responsible for a product or a service that gets manufactured or distributed. So for me, I, the clients that I work with, you think of a CEO owns a business, and they have to deal with real estate is my new part of their day, and is probably not a part of most of their days. So think of like finance, payroll, debt obligations. facilities on the finance side operations? Who’s Where? Who’s doing what? in what order? And what’s your process? HR, like, who’s on your team? Who are we hiring? Who do we need? What are we paying? You know, what are what are we offering talent? What’s our company culture, think of all the legal problems companies get into infringements or things having to do with employees, or accidents or injuries or contracts. It think of like, spam and you know, a ransomware. And like, everything that has to do with your computers, your emails, your servers, your equipment. And so what I found is a lot of executives by dealing with that, and having a product that the market wants and successfully running and growing it,
then they jump into real estate every couple of years. And so they generally are very smart and very capable, but they’re not getting the reps in. And that’s okay. But if they’re not getting the reps in, they’re missing out on a lot of things that we’re all learning along the way. And that’s okay. That’s why we were there to help guide them through assignments. But I just found that there were so many conversations you don’t get to have where you can tell they have a concern, or they don’t quite understand. Or they have a team. And if it’s a team, they may be hiring people that are operations person or a finance person who didn’t have to deal with all those things and may not have their experience. So let’s give them a primer, let’s give them something they can like look back on when they have questions. And you know, they are not at their phone, or it’s not a time when they want to call, they kind of want to do some homework on their own. So I found between getting hip to digital marketing, and then just recognizing like, that’s the dynamic with these people, what is something that we can provide or can offer that can help. That’s, that’s why that, like, that’s the value that is in that book. And it’s interesting, because not everybody’s a CEO of some of Amazon, right? Not everybody is the CEO of every product that’s in your office right now. But the longer I’m in the game, the more I realized, like my friend’s wife works at a company, where they met, they are in aerospace, right. And it’s actually very relevant for them. I have another friend that’s in life sciences that works at a med device company. They’re not too far from the CEO, and they deal with stuff that has facility implications or workplace implications. Everybody goes to work somewhere, and maybe a third or so have some version of warehouse in it. And so I’ve found it to apply to more than I thought it would. And I would residential agents gain any value out of it, right, they come across the same CEO that’s in the $10 million house on the beach, who runs a company. And sometimes they refer those people to me, oftentimes, they want to do that on their own. And they have a limited experience, they’re not getting the reps in. So there turned out to be more audiences than who I wrote it for. But I wrote it for the CEO for the client, so that when I like, tried when a new assignment, and I believe in this Extreme Ownership, what is a testament that can demonstrate that. And so that was the purpose and creating it. But I’ve found even some like associates and people just learning the business that ends up like, that’s another audience that I didn’t think I was reaching for that day has resonated with a bit,
I can only imagine and that was very well put that the initial design was for the clients, but there are tons of either green commercial agents getting into the industrial side that would benefit massively from it or the residential, and like you said, not putting in the reps. If you’re not putting in the reps, then you’re not going to, number one, have those muscles trained, but also number two know all the current things that are going on in that sector of the market. So I think that’s, that’s a great synopsis. And once again, for my listeners, I’ll link below and I mean, your description made me want to read it, so I’m probably going to get into it. Even though my my main commercial focus is to be a marketing agent and refer listings and primarily, you know, we’ll come across some land and industrial but we’re doing a lot of multifamily lead gen. So that’s what we’re focusing on and you know, We could talk about that after because what you know, what we’re doing is pretty unique and an on the industrial front with the explosive growth of Amazon and companies like Amazon, I see a lot of potential the next 510 years in warehouses. So with that being said, I want to dive in on a failure or an apparent failure from your past that ended up being a learning lesson and set you up for later success. You know, do you have like a favorite failure of yours?
Don’t like off the top of my head? That’s a tough one. Yeah, I feel like we are in a business where you are constantly challenged, right? It’s most things don’t work. Most calls don’t resort in like a new assignment or new client or a new referral. And I would say if there was any, the first one that pops in my mind is peace of business, I was looking for new assignments, I reached someone on the phone at 630. When for some reason, I thought I should still be on the phones, reaching out to people. And I ended up getting a shot at the listing. I lost it because one of the biggest of the big, you know, 800 pound gorillas, when I’m still new in the business came through and already had a relationship and was able to win the business. But staying on it on the market and staying focused in relationships with clients, I was able to already have the buyer in my pocket, not really knowing it at the time. And so before they even brought it to market, I was able to present the right group. And oddly enough, the buyer and the seller were neighbors in Seattle, Washington. And they didn’t know about this, they didn’t know. One was selling and one was buying. And once we realize this and put the deal together, they said, Don’t worry about this one, we’ll do the work because we’ll do it while we’re walking our dogs. And we’ll just send you your check when it’s all done. And I was I never heard anybody say anything like that before. You don’t generally have easy deals, right? You talk about like, you know, sometimes you’re dramatically overpaid. But most of the time you feel like you did a ton of work and like you’re slightly underpaid. So this was one of those weird instances where, you know, I totally didn’t, I lost it, I didn’t get it. I then when it you know, meant nothing, but it was just through like the relentless pursuit and the diligence that I, you know, good fortune smiled upon me. And I got a bit of luck, and was able to put it together. And that probably paid for maybe 25 or 35% of my college and was like, super excited that you know that all How can I come here so big, like a humble brag or like a super fail, you’re right. But that was just like, one time where like you leave being bombed that you lost. And then it was like able to like pick back up and just come back at it that you’re able to find out that like, you may have lost at that moment. But that was one moment. And there are other moments in the horizon that you can’t foresee. Just be ready to go find out what those are going to be and tackle them. No,
yeah, that’s fascinating. I mean, you lost the listing. And a lot of people would just lick their wounds and move on. But you cognitively stayed engaged in the deal. And then put two and two together. And we’re like, wait, actually, I could help with this acquisition and flipped over to the other side. And just got cut a check. Because you made the introduction. I mean, how cool is that? So definitely a really good learning lesson. There is just, I think opportunities are everywhere. And one of my, one of my past mentors and managers said, you know, claims are opportunities. And it was in a business where I actually used to sell lumber. And so, you know, anytime that there would be a claim, you deliver a truckload of lumber, you know, down to a lumber yard. And they’re like, yeah, we don’t want this boom, and that they’re, you know, this is a claim that he said, Okay, this is now an opportunity for you to go sell that to a lumber yard right next door, you know, make it happen, because we already shipped it from Northern California to Southern California. Like, you know, what if one of your customers needs this, like, there’s possibility still, it’s not over. And so it’s it’s kind of in line with that. I like that one. So
an unhappy customer, right. Our customer complaint can sometimes be a good thing because it’s a new chance to wow or a new chance to go the extra mile.
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. So I’m curious about lead generation. So the old school way, slam the phones, right. But I’m curious, you know, what has been your number one most profitable lead generation source? Other than referrals?
Yeah, you know, what’s so amazing is how much of it when I go back, up until the past few years, I would keep track of them. And it was the phones. And I feel like that was just to maybe the last of the phone era. And not to say that it’s done, but right when it was yielding, like a higher results. And so, so many of them were that it’s amazing. And on one hand, it’s disappointing, right, because that’s not what it is today. But it was also like liberating, because that was something you were in control of. But if the new phone is now video, or it’s been amazing, like an email marketing, and to figure out what the do’s and the don’ts, and what people perceive as valuable, and segmenting, and getting into some of that, that’s the one that I haven’t gone as deep as I feel like I could and should. So I generally am a believer in like, the, all the different channels and trying to find the right interval for each channel. And then to keep all of those channels go and, and if one’s not working, or I’m having not having the results. Sometimes it’s how you’re doing it. Sometimes it’s the win. But I’ve generally felt like finding the right interval for each channel has been something that’s that’s just continues to be like, people want to see certain things they want to hear from you on the phone. They do want an email from me on occasion they do you want to listen to your podcast or see your face when they’re scrolling through. But there’s too much and there’s too little. And so for me, that’s, that’s how I’ve come to look at that I have not had much success in like any paid any like Facebook, or like a LinkedIn or any of that I’ve run a couple experiments. And it’s funny old school postcards, right? Like, that was one that like sometimes you’re down in the dumps on sometimes you like, all of a sudden, like, they do very well. But all of them I’ve just taken as, let’s find a comfortable pattern and rhythm for all of them. And I think that maybe is like an in an insurance policy or a good way of like continuing to grow with all of them, and some become hotter and colder, but you continue marching forward.
Got it? Yeah, that makes sense. So I’m curious, you know, we could dive into this so deep, but you know, I hear that pretty often that like I tried Facebook tried LinkedIn tried this tried that didn’t work out. And I’m always curious, like, you know, what agency ran it? Like, what did they do? Because, you know, that’s totally my world. And, you know, the digital marketing space is like the wild west where it’s actually kind of similar to real estate where, you know, so many agents out there just are underperforming have no idea what they’re doing. And yeah, they can convince some random people here and there to give them a listing or do some biocides, but at the end of the day, like that buyer or seller would be so much better suited going to the experienced broker that actually knows what they’re doing. And, and so I relate that a lot to, you know, my industry of digital marketing is like, you know, some people are in it flash in the pan, six months, they try and go start an agency, they burn some clients, and then they leave. And then you know, agencies like me that have been around for four plus years and actually getting results like we have to go then like, facilitate those conversations and clean kind of clean up their mess and like the emotional scarring of someone wasting a bunch of money on a campaign that was destined to fail from the beginning. So yeah,
I could totally see how there’s a need for that. And it’s a huge need, and it’s a tidal wave need and you’re surfing the wave, right? But it’s, there’s not enough people out there surfing, like, there’s such a need for that and I feel like few people have had success with it, or they just the few that have don’t talk about it because they appreciate the success that they’re having with it. And I did, I’ve only done one pass through. Speaking with marketing agencies, it was probably four or five years. Go. And then this spend, right what is your spend? And what’s your monthly budget for marketing? That was an interesting one to see of like, how much do they need? How much do I think is? Do I have? or How much do I think is appropriate? And but I think you can, you still got to try, you still got to like, evolve and adapt to that. So it is an interesting, one of like, how, how do you do better helping us do better, right. And that is a challenge, no doubt, we have that. Our version of that in our world, which is the used car salesman approach. That is like the old school broker haters that have just had a bad experience, or they didn’t get the value out of a experience with the commercial real estate broker back in the day, that’s the end, they want to hurt your feelings that will be the what you hear come out of their mouth. That’s not often but like, if you’ve been in the game for a long time, you’ve heard funny stuff like that. So I totally can believe that you have your version of that. And but there’s so much value there, and how do we demonstrate the value? And, yeah, it’s an interesting topic. The person I’ve been enjoying is Chris Walker at refine labs. He does demand Gen and for b2b SaaS companies. And then there’s a guy named Shiv. And I hate to mispronounce his last name, but he his book launched how to SaaS Software as a Service SaaS, and both of them are heavy into the marketing for SAS. But, you know, I’m not SAS, right, but I just found like, I really resonated with our staff. And I find if you haven’t checked some of their stuff out, I think you would totally like, dig it and find like some things that are totally in common and maybe worth seeing, like how everybody does their staff, you then that’s one that is along that vein that like I’m always, even though we’re so far from SAS, like it’s a new school, using channels as best they can be used. And I feel like they’re putting out there they are great examples themselves. And they’re putting out a lot of stuff that, like, when I think of where am I adapting some of my stuff from those would be some of the first few people that I would say like, if I just think through, they’re on the leading edge, if I just adapted from there, that at least gets me in the game a little bit. And right, so I’m interested to learn more about it.
Yeah, and this is an interesting topic, because I actually have a SaaS company, and a real estate company. And I’ve marketed both. Yeah, it’s, it’s interesting, because SAS is so wide. It’s so broad encompassing. SAS could mean, for example, one of my good friends, he also owns an agency. He is currently offering marketing consulting for a sass company that helps with idea innovation, for like governmental agencies, and massive, you know, mega mega corporations like Uber and Facebook, to where they want frontline employees to be able to ideate based on feedback, and then get it to the top level management quickly. Like that’s a SaaS company where you’re doing multi year government enterprise contracts. And then you have SAS, that’s $19 a month for email automation, you know, direct to consumer. And so SAS is so a wide encompassing mine was direct consumer, it still is $199, a month price point. And so that is such a different marketing style. Because we have a seven day free trial, you can basically just go straight to the call to action, you know, quick video call to action, start a seven day free trial. And that’s it. But for real estate, I mean, most leads on both residential and the commercial side. In a lot of cases, when they’re just coming in from online, they’re nine to 12 months out, they’re just beginning the journey. And a lot of them. It’s a lead generation play, you’re not going straight for the sale right away. So lead generation relationship building, putting them in the funnel type of play, and then you have follow up built out. So it’s so different. But yeah, it’s it’s, it’s interesting. I’ll definitely have to check those guys out. Cool. Yeah. So a couple of extra questions I have here number one, you know, is there anything that I should have asked you or anything that you’d like to expand upon from earlier?
No, I mean, I feel good. Yeah, we covered a lot of fun topics. So yeah. It’s fun to find a connection. Right, and to see how it relates and where our worlds overlap.
Yeah, absolutely. Awesome. Well, I’m glad that you know, we covered a lot And how can my listeners contact you if they’re interested?
Yeah, brokers are easy to reach. Right. So I’d say LinkedIn is probably the easiest place. And Smith care. That’s my website. And that’s all things about deals. We’ve worked on tenant side, the book side, current listings, team information, all of that. That’s all there. Smith care. And that’s, you can find me from there.
Awesome. And, you know, lastly, I just have a question about what is your process for evaluating what to say no to? I like to ask this question, because I noticed that a lot of high performing real estate professionals are very focused. And you have to be focused is the antithesis of being scattered and saying yes to everything, even though it’s very tempting to do so. So I’m curious, do you have a process for that?
I’ve gone through different like, phases of how I felt about that. Right. And I love some of the like, the Warren Buffett one is a great one, right, the 25 things that are most interested in pick five and avoid the other 20 like the plague. And say no to everything, or, you know, saying lessons to Hell, yeah, say no, I think that’s Tim Ferriss one. Yeah, I appreciate all of that. But I generally just, we got family, and we got work. And we got to stay in good shape. And we got to stay connected. Did and other than that. It’s default. No, unless there’s a compelling reason to make a difference. And it’s interesting, because for me just trying to stay in shape. I love trail running. I’m a couple years into jujitsu, and, like lifting, right? And so you can do one of those all in, you can’t try and do all three of them. Okay. And so what I found is when I have a race for trail running, then you kind of got to drop the other ones, put them on the backburner, because if you’re going to be fired up on it, you got to say no to the ones you’re dabbling into, really have the focus for them. So right. Yeah, I’d say a Strategic Coach, I go back to that it’s so good. Like every 90 days, you think back of what worked, where you got positive energy from, like, where you were really excited and where things are clicking. And then you brainstorm what’s on the horizon that you’re fired up on. And then you go through that every 90 days. So that’s been my true north, I would say, to just take it on a 90 day basis so that you can experiment. But you don’t get too far down rabbit holes. So knowing that that’s coming, I found that’s allowed me to feel comfortable experimenting on 90 day, like, intervals with things and then realize like, after 90 days, give yourself the freedom to say no, or give yourself the freedom to say what I learned is I love that and I’m all about it now, or that was cool. But you know, that’s not it’s not fitting in with who I am and what I’m focused on. So if I had to think the answer out loud with you, right, that’s, I generally, oftentimes come back to Strategic Coach just because it’s been a long time for me, and there’s so many good resources, like thinking tools and frameworks have come out of that for me that there’s almost always something that you can come back to and rely on. That said, that’s been good advice.
That is great advice. And I’m a big believer in coaching. I’ve invested in a lot of it myself. Okay. Yeah. Yeah. Well, Justin Smith, everyone, author, commercial real estate extraordinaire in the industrial world. And you know, if you want to get a hold of them, just go ahead and visit his website. I’ll link to it below. Thank you so much for being on very insightful podcast today.
I appreciate the opportunity, Jeff. That was great.