Ep141: Chris Rogers

Today on the More Cheese Less Whiskers podcast we're talking with Chris Rogers from Victoria, Canada, a fellow Canadian, and we're talking about something pretty neat.

He has skills in design and building, he's been a very successful home builder and remodeler, and the idea he has now is helping people create curb appeal for their homes.

This could be doing some simple things, things that are just cosmetically pleasing like cleaning up, adding some visual appeal to the house, all the way up to some construction type of things like adding an element to the house, a porch or a portico or dormers, something that's going to increase the curb appeal.

His theory or idea is that this would be appealing to real estate agents or people who are selling their homes, to help give them an edge and help their house stand out.

We brainstormed through that process and how he may be able to reach out to some of these realtors, and we walked through a great email sequence to send.

You're going to enjoy the thought process here of how to really determine what the value equation is in it.

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Transcript - More Cheese Less Whiskers 141


Dean: Chris Rodgers.

Chris: Good morning, Scheming Dean.

Dean: Hey, there he is.

Chris: How are you doing?

Dean: I am so good.

Chris: Attaboy.

Dean: I've got my scheming pad right here.

Chris: Hey. I'm excited to be on the call with you and finally connect after year of following you guys on I Love Marketing, which you guys always break me up anyway but I enjoy listening to the banter. I love it.

Dean: Well, it's all very exciting. We've got a couple of cool episodes coming up here.

Chris: Do you?

Dean: We're back and in action.

Chris: Well I'm looking forward to Scheming Dean, seeing what he can come up with for my little biz.

Dean: Awesome. Well, we got the whole hour here so we can-

Chris: Fantastic.

Dean: Scheme away.

Chris: Okay, cool.

Dean: Why don't you tell me the Chris Rodgers story and what you're working on, and then we can kind of jump in?

Chris: Okay, good. Just so you know, just to give you an age bracket where I'm at, I do remember Romper Room.

Dean: Ah, perfect. That's great. Me too.

Chris: Yeah. I think they're using that same technique, Dean, whenever I listen to these webinars. "We have Brian and Susan and John and Debbie." They go for 20 minutes of everybody that's signing up and I swear I think of it all the time, that damn Romper Room. But anyway-

Dean: Isn't that funny? I always think, just growing up in Canada I always thought that Romper Room was everywhere but I guess it really was just Canada so.

Chris: No. Yeah, I'm showing my age though. But anyway, yeah. The Chris Rogers story is pretty simple I guess. We came to Canada as a young kid from Wales. Apparently the streets in Canada were to be lined with gold. My mom and dad were soon to find out that wasn't accurate. We moved a lot of times. My dad was a cabinet maker. I guess I started with, "Here's a hammer, go play." That led me into construction. I actually became pretty efficient at it and started Chris Rodgers Designer Builder. I've designed and built some pretty cool homes that still stand steadfast. Pretty good with a pencil, that's saved my skin a few times. I can sketch well. I'm the guy that you'd want to take in the car with you if we were going to go look for homes to flip, anything from a fluff up to a building design change.

Dean: Yes.

Chris: I have my sketchpad in my hand. We stop and go, "What about this one? Oh, wait a sec. It needs a little dormer or portico" or whatever. Then I sketch it up quickly and go, "How about something like that?"

Dean: Yeah.

Chris: Then we go from there.

Dean: I know, I can tell you a couple of examples from my own life here. I've been kind of off and on looking at office buildings here in Winter Haven. I have an office building right now but we're looking for something maybe a little bit bigger downtown. There's a group here that does, they basically are buying up everything downtown. They do these amazing redevelopments. They buy these old buildings and turn them into something really special.

Chris: Love it.

Dean: I just, it's gotten to where I see these building. There's one now, there's a building that they've turned into a brewery called Grove Roots. This was an old like factory, like mill type of factory back in the day.

Chris: I can picture it. I can picture it.

Dean: Yeah. It was just completely run down and had barn doors kind of on the thing. It was like, I looked at it and thought it's so cool but it's old and needs a lot of work. But what they ended up doing with it, I mean replacing these barn doors with these big windows, and the paint, the way that they've done it, and the entry, and using the beams inside. It was just like, they've got such vision for what it could be.

I saw that and I thought, "That could have been me." But then somebody else, there's a restaurant here. There was a building that was just like a long shotgun building. It was about 4000 square feet but it was like a rectangle that was kind of like just a long, it looked like let's call it three quadruple-wide trailers back to back to back, with a straight roof line, one roof line down the center of it. It was just like a utilitarian kind of simple building.

Chris: Pretty plain, pretty plain.

Dean: But what they did was they took and built an entry into it that put a dormer kind of on it, and a square entry that had beautiful windows and siding and the whole thing. It just changed the whole dynamic of the way this building looked. I thought, "That's imagination."

Chris: Well, we're talking about your two favorite things as far as my deal goes, real estate and marketing.

Dean: Yes.

Chris: I'm concentrating now, Dean. I don't want to get up at five in the morning anymore to go to job sites, just back and forth, and constant stress or whatever you want to call it. I'm concentrating on the curb appeal of the home, improving the curb appeal of your home properly, I think you said, at the lowest price. Maybe that's the tag, I don't know.

Dean: Yes, right.

Chris: Sometimes I have assumed things and you know what that does. Because there isn't, I'm always amazed, let's put it that way, at what people can't see. I look at it right away and I go, I'm a bit of a creative. I look at it, like you say that long rectangular building and I go, "Oh, wait a second. Wow. We can bump that out there, stick a few things on there, put a detail here and there." It's, like you said, it's just so simple to change the look. A lot of people can't see it.

I think I told you before that one chap that I did the Ralph Lauren house, he couldn't see or understand or interpret maybe's a better word, the drawings. He just got frustrated and he said, "What the hell am I looking at?" Then I went home and I built a scale model. My wife thought I was totally insane. I was up around the clock for five days making this model. But I took it back and I took the roof off and I did the proverbial remove the sheet thing, and then took the roof off, took the main floor. Michael's face just dropped and he went, "Oh my God, Chris, you've nailed it. You've just nailed it."

But I'm always amazed at the lack of insight into things like that that people can't see. So don't feel, I don't know. My brother always says, "Well how do you just do that?" I said, "I don't know it's just kind of…"

Dean: Well we all have a unique, we have things that come natural, like the way I look at businesses. The same way, I see things that people don't. So I get it. I don't beat myself up about it but I kind of like, "Doh." Because it just happened again. Somebody, there was a building that was an old restaurant that had like a mansard roof on part of it. It was very dated. I thought, "Well, that's an awkward looking building," but they bought it up.

Chris: No, no.

Dean: Stripped off that thing, made it all even, raised it up. It was just like this amazing thing.

Chris: Sounds like I got to get down to Winter Haven.

Dean: Yeah, exactly. We got to find you some of these buildings.

Chris: And just on a side note, with doing these things, and one comes to mind. I know you're a little bit familiar with Toronto because you go up there.

Dean: Yeah.

Chris: And I know you're a golfer so you probably know the Georgian Bay area by Collingwood and so on.

Dean: Yeah.

Chris: Well Tommy Kritch had a building and it was an old apple storage building. Exactly what you're seeing, red brick, barn doors. It had been nothing but a cold storage unit for apples. Tom gets me in the car, same thing. "Okay, we want to turn it into retail space," and so on and so on. I go with my sketchpad and I give these ideas and so on and so on. If you see the finished product, it's just what you're seeing. There is a brewhouse in there, brewery pub type of thing, they make beer. It's all really slick. You walk up this nice metal ramp and there's a beautiful deck with tables. It's just totally morphed into something that people can't drive through Thornbury and not stop and have a look and say, "What's going on in here?" It was great.

But my point being is a lot of times, Dean, I would go through, give people ideas, and then six months or six weeks later I'd drive by and they were building my idea. I never got reimbursed for anything, let's say. It changed when someone would call and go, "Chris, I want you to come over to this building and give us some ideas." I changed it with six words. I was a little bit slow on the take. Six words and I said, "What are you hiring me for?" Then it changes as soon as I use the word "hiring" that means there's an exchange of money. Sometimes the phone would go, "Well, okay, well let me get back to you." You just wanted free ideas, you bugger. Anyway, those six words changed what I was doing a long time ago.

Dean: That's good.

Chris: Yeah. I think I know where I'm going, Dean, but I'm not like you. I'm not a great businessman. I wish, kind of, that that was my forte rather than a bloody, using a pencil, but anyway. I'm not a ruthless businessman. I always give more than I should. I'm like my dad. We still do things for free. But I like that part of it I guess but-

Dean: Well here's the thing. One of the things that you have now is you've got this ability to add value that-

Chris: Correct.

Dean: Is not always seen, not always apparent. That's a valuable thing. What kind of impact can what you're talking about have? You were mentioning that you want to work with home sellers to help them get more money when they sell kind of thing or-

Chris: Well I mean-

Dean: Yeah. Tell me about that.

Chris: I keep going, Dean, back to the first impressions let's say. Even as we were kids on our first date, and then you have a job, your first interview, then you dress for success, whatever it is. That first impression, with your home, you know being a real estate guy. You've got 30 seconds when the car pulls up to the curb, folks get out of the car with the real estate agent, start walking up the path if there is a path, and they're making their decision. They're looking at everything that's visually in front of them. I guess that's what I keep going, it's proven with the first impression helps sell the home. That's where I want to just concentrate on improving the curb appeal of the home or the house or the property, whatever you want to call it.

Dean: Okay.

Chris: I have, I'm trying to do, as you suggest, I take note of what you say. The before unit, the during unit, and the after unit. I get that. I have been collecting data regarding the sellers. Not the buyers, but the sellers bio. Who leads the selling process in the house? Ages, 38 to 52 is 26 percent of all the sellers and they're females, whatever. I've gone through that. I have probably, I'm not exaggerating, maybe 3000 real estate connections on LinkedIn. I'm totally thinking, and that was one of the questions I had for you as far as the real estate agents and everything to get them in the game. I've always been good as you go through these things that I've got jotted down here.

I've got an e-book that's going to come out with 25 expert tips to selling your home now. We've worked on the brand. The website is in the works. I've been always really good with leaving a good taste in everybody's mouth at the end of jobs. My word of mouth I think is easily validated I think is one of the terms you used. I've got testimonials. I've got proof, attention to details proof, et cetera, et cetera. But I guess, I believe there's a need for the service.

I can simply, I do it now for friends. They go, "Well we're thinking of buying this crapper downtown but we don't know what to do with it." I went, "All right, come on. Let's go." I give some ideas, et cetera, because they're friends, whatever. But there's a lot of need for it. I'm in Victoria, Canada. The real estate boom here is mad. It's just-

Dean: It's real.

Chris: Yeah, yeah. There's very little product. The houses and so on are coming to the age now that they actually do need to be fixed up. They're, whatever, 60s, 70s, 80s. There's lots of room for it. I think that kind of-

Dean: Part of-

Chris: Gives you an idea of what I'm thinking.

Dean: Yeah. Part of what comes to mind is that it's not unlike what is happening inside homes with staging for instance.

Chris: That's right.

Dean: Staging is a very popular thing so we've proven that market. There's a value in it. People are paying money to stage their house for sale on the inside. What are we talking about? What would be some of your go-to recommendations for somebody for the curb appeal? Like what are some of your, you know-

Chris: Well, I think you could put it in kind of like a skiing analogy. You've got the beginners, you've got the intermediate, and you've got the expert. I would say first off, it's got to look neat. It's got to look clean. For God's sake, roll up the hose that's hanging all over the lawn. Spray, power wash the steps that have 62 years of old growth and moss on them. There's so many simple things. Give it a paint job.

Then when you go into the intermediate, okay, maybe we should have a nice path with some bushes. Let's get a landscaper in here. Let's flower it up. Let's color it up. Then if you want to get into the expert level, let's put a dormer on it, like you say. Let's put a porch. Let's get somewhere that looks inviting that they can picture having their after dinner wine sitting on the porch, or whatever it may be. I think there's, and that's the way I think I'm going to attack it is sort of the beginning, intermediate, and expert.

Because I have to, the process is before and afters. At this point somebody could either send me a picture of the front of the home and I do some overlay sketches really quick to give them an idea, "Okay, this is what I see. This is really, like you said with that rectangle, it's so plain it's boring. So let's put the dormer. Let's do this. Let's have a path. Let's box in that air conditioner so it's not sitting there looking like an ugly monstrosity." The simple things too, but I think I would go through some overlay sketches. You've got to come up with some type of a budget, okay. I don't want do-it-yourselfers. For 200 bucks you get one bush. For five grand, okay, maybe we can do something. So a scope of work has to be established. They have to say, "Well I like this one." Give them two or three options or ideas, let's say. "I like this one. No, I don't like that at all. My wife hates lattice," or whatever it is.

Dean: Right.

Chris: I think you've got to tone it in somehow that everybody knows what we're thinking of doing, let's say. I think that would be easy because I can eliminate the gray areas by showing the details with images. Like they say, a picture's worth 1000 words. I don't think it's like what we used to do with doing additions and renovations and so on. You'd end up with a half inch thick pile of details and things on the baseboard, "An eight inch baseboard" and "here's the profile" and da-da da-da da-da. So much details to try and keep it all black and white that nobody could say, "Oh, I thought the casing was going to be bigger."

Dean: Right.

Chris: "Well, no it says right there three inches." I don't think I'll have that problem because so much of it is sketches, images, plans. I do my own drawings et cetera so that's quite simple. There shouldn't be a lot of room for miscommunication or gray areas, let's say. But a lot of it's, I'm amazed how simple some of it can be. Just to get rid of that old stove on the side of the house, what are you thinking? I don't know how big of a part, and you know better than me, what part the real estate agent actually has with that type of thing. I mean do they really say anything as far as, "Come on guys, let's clean up the house for crying out loud"?

Dean: Well, I imagine certainly that they would be an advocate for that for people.

Chris: Just before I forget, I want to mention one thing. I was chatting with a guy. Somebody led me on to him. I can't remember the name of the company. But they're doing virtual staging so-

Dean: Yes, I've seen that.

Chris: It's amazing. You send a picture in of the boring, clean, brand new living room and they virtually stage it with the furniture, with the flowers. It's amazing. I'm not a big techy guy. I'm getting better all the time. But I thought, "Boy, I could use something like that." If there is so much detail on giving people ideas and staging the interior like you say, then I think the outside could be staged, the exterior in a way. Get a couple of rocking chairs and put them on the front or I don't know. There should be some type of staging involved. I'm not talking plastic roses or anything. But I just see so much attention going to the interior staging that I'm sure-

Dean: Yeah. I think that there's opportunity. Let me ask you this. Let's start with this. What's the dream come true for you? If we could just wave a magic wand and whatever's going to happen happens, what is it that you want to be doing? How do you want your days to look? What are you hoping to accomplish here?

Chris: Okay. I'd love to do, first off, like I mentioned, I don't want to go to job sites all the time now, and all over the place, and driving, and stay in motels, and this kind of thing. I can't. I've had enough of that. I would say my perfect scenario would be to do it online and where I can work from anywhere. I don't care, Dean, if the house is in San Diego. You send me a picture of the front, I can still do my work. I want to go to the extent of doing the whole thing, done for you. I'd like to work with professional people that are too busy to do this. They don't want to pick weeds. They want to have the place looking good, et cetera. They'd rather spend time golfing or sailing rather than house care, let's say.

I can find a landscaper in San Diego. I can find a carpenter. I can find anybody that I need and get it done all online. That gives me a little bit of freedom, a lot of freedom. I can work from anywhere, as they say. I can make a decent living. And I enjoy the work. I love it. I just love it. It's something that's in my blood. I'm apparently pretty good at it. I did make a good living building homes but I just don't want to go to that thing and be there on Friday nights and Saturdays and wake up on Sundays, et cetera.

Dean: Right.

Chris: That would be my perfect day would be on a sailboat, working off my laptop as they say, doing my sketches. I can do that anywhere, and make some good decent money while I'm doing it.

Dean: And what is that? What's decent money mean? How much would you like to make?

Chris: I'd say I'd be happy with, to start, 20 a month. I'd take 20k, something in that area. I don't know. I've done, like I said I have good exposure with high-end clients, celebrities, musicians, athletes. I know there's certain clientele out there that want it done and want it done right. We got to the position where we didn't even have to bid. They just said, "Chris, whatever you think. Let's just get it done right." I said, "Thanks, bud. We're done. We're good." That's the select clientele I would like but I mean it all takes work of course.

Dean: Yeah, of course.

Chris: The big thing is I think I can make them happy. I think, as you say, I can do the dream results. I know that the curb appeal works. I'm selling something that I believe in, let's say, versus having a hard time whatever, selling a whatever it is that's a bit shady, let's say.

Dean: Right, right.

Chris: I think that would be about it.

Dean: What would be the outcome that you could create for someone? How much would each client, do you think, be worth? Are we talking about, how many people would you have to work with for, to get to that 20,000?

Chris: Yeah, not many. I don't want to do, you know what I mean when I say the shotgun effect. If you spread yourself out too thin, you don't have much impact.

Dean: Right.

Chris: I would probably say four to six clients a month. Maybe four at 5000 a piece. Again, depending on the budget and depending on the scope of work.

Dean: So what do you think they would get for the 5000?

Chris: Well, I'm not, and I've got a lot of real estate friends and I've been picking their brains, let's say, as far as some type of data that could collect some stats or some data about the before value of the home, the after value, maybe the selling price. That I think is important. What's really cool about the tech now is I can go, "Okay, I know your address is so-and-so Winter Haven Drive, whatever." Then I can Google it. I can put that little guy, move him onto the map, put a satellite image, and I can spin around in the neighborhood to see what the other homes look like. If it's the dog on the street, well now we got lots of options. Let's take the $200,000 home and get it up to three. That information is available. I know what the neighborhood's selling for. I know what that are sells for and so on. Yeah, I think it'd be a question of collecting data, Dean.

Dean: This, I'm thinking about, just funny coincidentally enough, just yesterday was reading in Money Magazine that the title of the article was something like The Home Improvement That Actually Makes You Money.

Chris: Like a cultured stone.

Dean: That's right, yes.

Chris: It's a man-made. We used to call it scratch-and-sniff.

Dean: Yeah. Right, right, right, right. But that's what it is, that it was like this idea was that they said like $8400 spent on this actually yielded $88,900 in added value to the house so it actually made money as compared to kitchens and things that actually only recoup about 50 percent of their value if you're going to.

Chris: On a similar note, I've seen similar ideas like that with the garage doors. You've got these, and a garage door, if you've got two of them at the front of the house, it's a massive area. It's like 200 square feet of boredom.

Dean: Right.

Chris: It's to be total boredom. It's the same thing I read was for God's sake get two new doors with windows or paneling or something. That was a big return too. I thought that was interesting. I don't think you have to go crazy to, let's call it fluff them up. These simple things just change the whole, it's like, I don't know. It's your face having an eyebrow or not.

Dean: Yeah. Right, right, right.

Chris: It doesn't have to be too crazy. That cultured stone is very easy to apply. It's very easily installed. You don't have to do a lot of prep work, and it does look sharp. It just changed the whole thing, and it's maintenance proof. So the people that are buying the home, the new buyers, they're looking at that. "I don't want to spend my weekends painting the siding," whatever it is.

Dean: Yeah, because somebody mentioned that that, somebody else pointed that out that sometimes people think if you have brick that painting the brick is adding value but it actually-

Chris: No.

Dean: Yeah.

Chris: Yep, yep. 100 percent.

Dean: Yeah, so it's not the same. Okay. Now the issue becomes how do you get in front of these people. You know what you're going to, what you want to be doing. You know who, roughly, are the one option of people that you could help, which are people who are selling their house. Now who else, where else could you exercise this value?

Chris: Well eventually, and when loonies are coming in, let's say, I would do the old-fashioned magazine ads. There's a couple of them here in Victoria that are pretty slick, totally giving the home seller ideas, and a home buyer. So it's really just related to home improvements, let's say. I would eventually do that. But one of the questions I had for you was, with the real estate agents, how would you go about making it a, okay here's my thought, an incentive? Is it a money? Is it a percentage? Is it something? How do I get the real estate agents? What type of incentive could I give them to say to their customer that would be... oh God, what's it called?

Dean: Like to refer you.

Chris: Yes, to refer me so they get a, oh yeah, listing. So they get a listing and they go, "Okay, I do want you to touch base with Chris Rodgers. He's going to do a little refresh here on the front," whatever. Then I was looking at the after unit. I would go as far as saying a thank you note to the real estate agent if he did refer you. I think it would be important, and you tell me, to create a team effort scenario where it was a win/win for the agent because he sold the home, it was a win/win for me because I got some business, and we helped the customer, which is most important, to sell a little quicker and for a little more.

Dean: So let me ask you this. Have you done this and documented what's happened so far? Like do you have a portfolio of scenarios or case studies that you've done this?

Chris: Well, the only ones I would be able to go back on at this point is the additions and renovations we've done on actual homes, not necessarily just the front façade, but the actual addition on the north side, south side, whatever. That I've done a lot of. The curb appeal design, I have given a lot of people drawings. We've got one on the books right now for a local pub, which had to have some repairs done because of some flooding et cetera. That was digging up the place and pipes and so on. They had to remove the entire bush and a lot of things. It looks really ugly, let's put it that way. I've done a couple of sketches for some simple things for them. I've yet to have an after picture but the before I do. Before pictures, images are easy, but it's the after that I have to try and accumulate.

Dean: Right.

Chris: Yes. But as far as statistics, I can't. Man, like I say, I'm a creative guy.

Dean: Yeah, like it's hard to prove that something added value. It's hard to prove when you don't have a situation of who knows what it would have sold for.

Chris: Yeah.

Dean: Do you know what I mean?

Chris: Yeah.

Dean: It's a difficult thing. One of the things that you can do, though, is you can do turnarounds as one kind of situation. Where somebody's house has been sitting, sitting, sitting on the market or expired from, they weren't able to sell it. You, by looking at the pictures of something, could be able to say, "Okay, this would be a good candidate. I see exactly what we could do here." That you could intervene that way, do the quick things that add the appeal, the house comes back on the market, and it sells in two weeks or whatever. If you had miracle stories like that.

I think what would be a really good way for you to start with this is to cherry pick the ones that you think you could have the biggest impact on. If you just look, and there's no need to go anywhere other than Victoria right now. I mean there's plenty going on there, and the prices are high. You're surrounded by it. I think if you just went on realtor.ca and start looking at the homes, and maybe do you find that the homes in a certain price range offer a better opportunity for you, like on the higher end of the bell curve? Or the lower end? What do you think?

Chris: I would think, just off the cuff, the higher end homes would hopefully already have some details. I would say middle of the road, Dean. Then I mean if it was somebody that is going to invest in this home and do a flip or, as you say, flip I guess is the best word, then that would give a great opportunity from just as you were saying the similar long rectangular thing that's not selling, and then do some serious work to the front and then, depending on the area though. You don't want to bump it up so much that it's now the best one on the street. I think it has to stay in the realm of the rest of the neighborhood. I know whenever we used to look we used to look for the dog on the street. That's pretty well it.

Dean: And there you go. I think that that might be a good place to start there. To start with the stuff. Now if you went and found that, what would be, now you've got a potential candidate in that you found a house that is on the market, that is in a good area and has potential. Now we need to, it is for sale and you need to connect with both the homeowner and/or the real estate agent. Because they're definitely going to be advantaged if they can pull this off, if they pull off something to make their house show better than the other ones in their price range, in that neighborhood. That they'll sell faster and for more money, and all that stuff will help.

Chris: Yeah. Well what about, as you go, you're always a good supporter of the direct mail type of thing.

Dean: Yeah.

Chris: What about a brochure in the door? I don't know. Most of the brochures I get I put in the recycle bin.

Dean: Well no, that's not true at all. I mean I think those are fantastic. But an e-mail. How long would it take you, what would you like, how would you be willing to or how would you approach a listing that you think has the potential? How long does it take you to sketch something up or to draw something that you could show to them to present and say, "Hey, you know what, I was thinking about your house?"

Chris: About an hour.

Dean: Okay.

Chris: I could do it really quick. It's a thumbnail sketch. It's not architectural plans. But the actual sketch, pretty quick. I'm going to mention the one thing that I like and I was thinking was your eight or nine word e-mail.

Dean: Right.

Chris: Yes. "Are you still trying to sell your home?" That's it. I don't know, something like that.

Dean: Right. But I think that what you might do is say, if I were looking to get one going, is I would maybe send an e-mail to the real estate agent and say put 22 Graystone in the subject line, or whatever the address of the listing in. To the real estate agent put 22 Graystone and then I might just ask them, "Is 22 Graystone still available?" First off.

Then when they reply and say, "Yes," then you could say, "I put together some, my name's Chris. I do," come up with a good description for what it is that you do. "I put together some ideas for the curb appeal here. Take a look and let me know what you think." With a link to a PDF or a page or a video. Do you do stuff on tablet or screen or do you do it on a pad? How do you draw something up?

Chris: I've done it a few different ways. I can do, turn into a digital asset pretty quickly. But I like the idea with the link. That could be images. It's so simple to scan my sketch on even a piece of clear plastic and put it on top of the, overlay it, let's say. Now we've got different things. I was considering something like Doodly. I'd love to do like a time lapse photography thing that kind of shows the morph of the front of the home. But we'll see if we get to that. No, okay. I like that. E-mail to the real estate agent regarding the address of the listing on the subject line. Okay, on the subject line. Okay. And then-

Dean: Yeah, I would just put that. I would just put 22 Graystone as the subject line because the real estate agent knows that they have 22 Graystone listed.

Chris: Yeah, that's right.

Dean: Right. You don't need to-

Chris: He's going to want to open it if it pertains to his listing.

Dean: Of course he will, yeah. And when you ask him, "Is it still available?" You're going to get a response.

Chris: That's right. Okay.

Dean: Yeah.

Chris: Equals a response. Yep. That's perfect, Dean. That makes sense.

Dean: Now you're engaged. Because all we're looking for is we need to find people who are, we're incrementally working through the process here. You know?

Chris: Yep.

Dean: Yeah. Where you want to, you may, because you don't have a track record of this yet-

Chris: That's right.

Dean: You have a, you're overqualified for it in terms of your resume and your career, all the things that you've done. But now you're moving into something that is perfectly suited for those skills. Perfectly suited for your dream lifestyle. Now we just need to document a track record of adding value here, of connecting all the dots, that this is going to work out for everybody.

Chris: Correct.

Dean: Yeah. So it's really a matter of, when they respond and say yes, then you're saying, "Well here's what I do. I put together some ideas for the curb appeal which I think could make a big difference in the selling price."

Chris: Yep. Okay. I like it. Okay. I like it. Yeah, that pretty well spells it out right properly, Dean, how to get in touch with the real estate. I like it. Just short and sweet. The subject line helps. It's pretty hard not for him to open it. He's going to want to connect with that easily. "Is it still available?" I like because of course he's going to say yes.

Dean: It's a prerequisite, right? It's a prerequisite. It's a confirmation. It's like it's a, Robert Cialdini in his book Pre-Suasion, it's a pre-suader in a way. It sets the tone for what we're going to talk about. It's like asking them, "Is it still available?" "Well yes, it's still available," which it means, "Okay, we are trying to sell it and it's not sold yet. What we're doing right now is not working. Even though we may be optimistic, and we may be hopeful, and we're not ready to pull the plug yet," it's just that sets the tone for so much of the conversation now.

Chris: It sure does. Yeah, it sure does. Great. That's a good one.

Dean: That we've got everybody in alignment. Now what's going to happen is in those conversations, would you be willing to work like the real estate agents work?

Chris: Yeah, I think so. I've thought of that. Yeah, I think so.

Dean: Because the reason that the real estate agents make so much money, 100 percent of the reason that they make so much money, is because they only get paid when the house gets sold. If they were going in to see, what's the average price of the homes in Victoria?

Chris: Oh God, about 7-, 800,000.

Dean: Yeah. So it's not uncommon for there to be million dollar, 2 million dollar homes where we're talking about.

Chris: Very much so.

Dean: Even with a million dollar home, if they were going in to talk to somebody about selling and they said, "Here's what we're going to do. Here's our marketing plan. Here's our stuff. I'll just need a check tonight for $60,000 to get started." It would be very unlikely that they would be getting $60,000. The reason that they're getting $60,000 or six percent is because they're only getting it on the end, when they're bringing in the million dollars. They bring in a million dollars and out of that million dollars, the seller's going to pay the realtor $60,000, which he'll split with whoever brought the buyer.

Now that sort of thinking is there's a lot of ways that even stagers will often do things like that where they'll do all of the stuff and get paid on the, at closing. If you'd be willing to do that, what you really want to do initially is to make it as friction-free as possible to get started, to start building your track record of things. That if you can show, if you set benchmarks, I would start looking to document things. That if you can show that when this house came on the market or before we did the work on the house, that this is the competing homes. These would be the homes that were the closest comparables. If you can consistently show that the homes that you have worked on, and if you're talking about in the 60s and 70s and 80s, there's probably a lot of very similar floor plans and models of homes.

Chris: Yeah, the design elements were pretty straightforward and very similar and blah, blah, blah. Yeah.

Dean: Yeah.

Chris: Okay.

Dean: That might be an interesting thing. But the other thing-

Chris: Well, I do remember, Dean, that when we got our different homes appraised that the chap would also include homes in the area with three bedrooms and a pool, similar properties, let's say.

Dean: Right. Right.

Chris: I think I get what you mean as far as to try to document that, that okay this house over here at such and such an area is very similar to this one with the potential to do this or to do that.

Dean: Yeah. Well the idea is that you need to be able to show, because if your target is sellers, that you need to be able to show that this is a gain. Because if I can sell the house, it's not going to be that popular if I spend $10,000 on doing this and I only get $8000 of it back I've lost $2000 on it. Whereas you start thinking about how am I going to deploy money or ideas there.

Now another thing that you may have as an opportunity is, on a whole other channel here, is to take a specifically popular floor plan, elevation and create a standardized kind of modification. So if I think about where I grew up in Georgetown, Halton Hills, there were some standard models. There were a couple of people who had done some modifications to it. There were, I think about some of them, like there was a model called the Country Squire model. Yeah. Some of them had, there were some things that people had done to the Country Squire that just completely changed the way that it looked. It became very popular that this became a model that was sought out.

I start thinking about how you know how some people take cars and they customize them, and you can get like that version of a Mercedes.

Chris: Yeah, yeah.

Dean: You can get an AMG Mercedes, which is an upgraded and improved kind of thing. That may be an interesting thing that some of the owners of these otherwise kind of plain looking homes, that this, what you've done is taken a thing. If you've got a standard model for adding a porch to this particular house, that now you're kind of able to syndicate that. You get more leverage from the work that you've done. You've created, just like an architect creates a floor plan that and sell the plans for this particular house again and again and again. That you may have the opportunity to create this kind of addition for this model of home and sell those plans or that kind of concept again and again and again.

Chris: Mm-hmm. Okay. I like that.

Dean: In a leverage kind of way.

Chris: Mm-hmm. Yeah. I got it. That's interesting. I never thought of that, doing it that way. That was probably one of my questions too, is how am I going to scale this thing. Hopefully one day I can get somebody on board that can help with the designs and so on and so on so we'll see.

Dean: Right.

Chris: I can't. Oh, I did want to tell you one thing about the after unit idea here.

Dean: Yeah.

Chris: I had a customer. I did his ski chalet years ago. He was really a top whiz advertiser in Toronto. Brian Skinner, rest in peace. He was a great guy. I said, "Bri, I'm thinking of naming it now and coming into this area from Toronto. We're going to make a living doing this additions and renos and homes, et cetera." He said, "Oh, that's interesting." We talked for a bit. He said, "You coming up next weekend?" I said, "Yeah, I'll be up here." He said, "All right, come on over for a beer and I'll give you a chat." I said, "Oh great, thanks Bri." He's going to come up with some ideas.

So I get there and he has, he's all, you kind of see he's excited. "I've got some great ideas." I'm going, "Oh man, you didn't have to do that." But he had a shoebox. He starts going through and he goes, "Okay." "You know," he said, "the wood duck?" I said, "Yeah." I said, "It's a beautiful bird. Very colorful, really nice." He goes, "It's the only duck that lives in a tree." I went, "well, that's interesting. I never knew that." He said, "He takes over owl homes and squirrel homes but he lives in a wooden tree." I said, "Oh, that's neat."

So he opens up this shoebox and this is going to be our logo is this wood duck. He opens up the shoebox and he's got a duck decoy in there. A decoy, a wooden, hand-carved decoy. It was a cheap one but he was just giving me the idea. He said, "I'll tell you what." He said, "Your name is going to be Chris Rodgers, Designer Builder." He said, "Nothing like Blue Sky Contracting or Open Valley." He said, "People want a name. You're Chris Rodgers, Designer Builder. Done." I said, "Oh, I like that. That's simple."

He said, "I'll tell you what. You get some nice hand-carved wood ducks made up. Then you get a sticker. Any job over 50 grand," whatever the number was, "You put the sticker on the bottom of the duck. You present it to the people at the end of the project saying it was terrific to work for you Mr. and Mrs. Jones. I just wanted to give you something." He said, "They put the wood duck, because it's nicely done," I was paying 200 bucks a wood duck. He said, "They put it on their mantelpiece." He said, "Chris, you're at every party they ever have." I started laughing.

Dean: That's funny.

Chris: I said, "Jesus Brian." I said, "That's bloody brilliant." He had all this other stuff too. We ended up selling scrimshaw wood duck things and sweatshirts. I had people calling just wanting to buy the wood duck. We were laughing.

Dean: That's awesome.

Chris: I was thinking, I know. I was thinking of the same thing. I would definitely do something extra in the after unit. I know the thank you handwritten note works but I maybe do like a before and after framed picture or a hand-drawn sketch of where it started and where it ended or something, I don't know.

Dean: Right.

Chris: I was thinking of Brian when I was trying to come up with any ideas.

Dean: That's funny.

Chris: Yeah, and he was right on the money, man. We did so well with the bloody wood duck logo. It was really creative. I can't think of much else to tell you except the incentive for the real estate, I got that now. That really helped.

Dean: I think that's great because that, yeah, I think that's really, and especially if you're coming up like where it's been 90 days on the market or something where they're starting to get motivated here, where they haven't had any offers perse. You know?

Chris: Yeah. They're looking to do something different.

Dean: Yeah.

Chris: Yeah, yeah. Okay.

Dean: That might be a good thing, especially if you're thinking that that could be the reason why.

Chris: Yeah.

Dean: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Well it's been exciting.

Chris: I think it's going to be neat. Like I say, I will, I'm not a great numbers guy but I'm getting better everyday so we'll try and document everything. I know where I'm heading as far as that goes. I'm pretty good with communication. I'm pretty good with referrals. Oh, during the during unit, is that when I go for the referrals to set up-

Dean: I think you want to do it all the way along. You're starting. Getting referrals is a culture thing where you're presenting it right from the beginning. Then it just happens all the time.

Chris: Yeah. Okay.

Dean: Yeah.

Chris: I can't think of much else to tell you right this second, Dean, but just I can't thank you enough for the call. If you're ever-

Dean: I think this is going to be good to see the, I want to hear the results from reaching out to the real estate agents. I think if you sent that e-mail to 10 real estate agents, let's see how many replies you get. See what could happen. Yeah.

Chris: Once I'm in the position to get down to Orlando for your little three day event I'm going to come.

Dean: That's awesome. Perfect.

Chris: I've been trying to figure that out for ages but yeah. I do want to keep in touch. Like I say, I always get a good laugh out of I Love Marketing. I think you guys do a great job.

Dean: That's awesome.

Chris: And the Whiskers and More Cheese, Less Whiskers. It's informative and I will keep referring and referring you and see if your audience grows. I'm sure you're interested in that too.

Dean: Awesome.

Chris: Yeah, okay.

Dean: Thanks so much, Chris.

Chris: Thanks again. Yeah, Dean. Thank you so very very much.

Dean: I'll talk to you soon.

Chris: Okay. See ya.

Dean: Bye.

Chris: Bye. There we have it, another great episode. Thanks for listening in. If you want to continue the conversation, want to go deeper in how the 8-Profit Activators can apply to your business, two things you can do. Right now you can go to MoreCheeseLessWhiskers.com and you can download a copy of the More Cheese, Less Whiskers book and you can listen to the back episodes, of course, if you're just listening here on iTunes.

Secondly, the thing that we talk about in applying all of the 8-Profit Activators are part of the Breakthrough DNA process. You can download a book and a scorecard, and watch a video all about the 8-Profit Activators at BreakthroughDNA.com. That's a great place to start the journey in applying this scientific approach to growing your business. That's really the way we think about Breakthrough DNA, as an operating system that you can overlay on your existing business and immediately look for insights there. That's it for this week. Have a great week. We'll be back next time with another episode of More Cheese, Less Whiskers.