Another client spotlight coming at you. I’m pumped to have Brett Ratkowski on the show. He’s a client of ours and the founder of Optimized Real Estate. He helps realtors get more listings and more buyers through the power of advertising.
Brett and I talked about his experience hitting plateaus in his business, and smashing through them. Most recently, since we’re in a recession, Brett’s had to deal with losing 70% of his business. Don’t worry, he’s made it all back since.
A lot of insights in this interview about running an effective company. You’ll enjoy it. Believe me.
- The dichotomy between service and leadership – why sometimes serving your clients isn’t the same as leading your clients [03:14]
- Why every CEO should study the Theory of Constraints and apply it to their business [10:14]
- What steps to take when Sales becomes your bottleneck… and how CEOs approach solving problems outside of their expertise [18:37]
- Why a lack of bottlenecks in your business, or you not seeing any, can be a bad sign [26:02]
- How Brett lost 70% of his clientele when the recession hit… and how he’s made it all back since [33:08]
…And much more!
Mike Mark: [00:00:11]
All right. So, I'm pumped to jam with you. Brett. Brett Scott, pretty awesome business. He is, helping realtors get more listings, get more sales, get more buyers, basically just grow their business through the power of advertising. And, Brett's been able to do some pretty amazing stuff.
Overall. He's booked a million dollars in sales over the past couple of years. In the past year, he's helped over 400 clients, which is huge and so I'm excited, Brett, to jam with you. Also, Brett's a client of ours. We're working together, helping him get his sales team up and running. And so it's been exciting to see now that he's got his fulfillment locked down, helping them scale the sales and just his journey throughout this process of scaling.
So welcome, man. Grateful that you joined us. I guess a place that I think I really want to start, like the thing that's like, the juicy interesting thing to me is, you hit a ceiling at a point, right? And I know you say you, you told me kind of before we were on air and I remember in our initial conversations as well to this, that you double back.
You kinda like how to get your fulfillment tight. What happened when you hit the ceiling? What was the cause of that ceiling? And like, let's go into that.
Brett Ratkowski: [00:01:25]
Yep. So for us it was literally chaos, right? Thinking about my response, the first one I said, it really came down to, it was just chaos, right? It was a, you're doing, you know, we, we didn't have essentially a machine built out of a factory line of like, Hey, this is the onboarding, and then you handle this and you handle this.
Pushing it along, that factory belt, essentially that machine. And so for us it was just, we had one person doing a little bit of the onboarding, a second person doing a little bit of the onboarding, and then everyone doing a little bit of client fulfillment. And I didn't, we thought it was really super dialed in until we got to 70 clients and we were adding four or five clients a week, and we're like, this just can't go on forever.
So we stopped taking clients. We essentially tripled our prices at that point, just to not take on anyone. And really, really fixed, the issue, which started with the onboarding but was the fulfillment, and it really came down to, we weren't productized. Right. We were just allowing our clients to essentially dictate.
You know, because I've always strived to like giving our clients the best service possible, and we just allowed them to just dictate what they wanted us to do. Ads that we know that is not going to perform for them, we would tell them, Hey, we'll do it for you, but set those expectations. We shouldn't have been running it if we knew it's not going to perform.
Anyway, so, little things like that. So we got really focused on what it is that we do, what it is that we're experts at that, and then making sure that every single person, in, on the team of fulfillment and onboarding has exactly one responsibility, you know, moving forward. Right. And so, that's really, that's really what helped us, was just noticing it was chaos and, and taking a step back to fix it. Right.
Mike Mark: [00:03:14]
You highlight something interesting, which is the dichotomy sometimes that exists between service and leadership, right? You are giving them good service, but aren't necessarily being a good leader. It sounds like because you were allowing them to lead you in what they wanted, and then you almost had to take back your own leadership and like reclaim your expertise and be like, no, we're going to do it this way, or we're not going to do it at all. Which sometimes it's hard to have those conversations, especially early on.
Brett Ratkowski: [00:03:47]
It is, but let me tell you, they respect you more.
Mike Mark: [00:03:50]
Oh yeah, oh yeah.
Brett Ratkowski: [00:03:51]
Well, clients will respect you more, right?
If you say, yes, yes, yes, I'm going to do this. And then that one time you say no, even if you told them multiple times, Hey, we shouldn't be doing this. I mean, it's a struggle, right? Because they're used to you doing whatever it is that they wanted. So yeah, when we have those conversations with the clients that we're doing that with us, and you know, they respected us.
And we told them why wait, we explained. And then now moving forward, when we had clients coming on, this is what we do. This is what we don't do. You know, anything that's not on this list, we'll have that conversation but it's probably going to be a no, and this is what, yeah, cause this is what moves the needle forward. This is the result that you're going to get with what we're doing. Right. We have a lot of data behind it. So that was the biggest thing.
Mike Mark: [00:04:39]
It's interesting because we had similar issues sometimes with our team, which. It wasn't an issue for me. Like when I was doing parts of what we were doing, cause I am comfortable saying no.
And then like part of why I like working with higher-level people is I don't know why I have like something perverse inside of me where like, I would love getting doctors and like super smart people on the phone and then just making them feel like fucking idiots and like letting them realize that they're a fucking idiot.
Like I'd love it. I dunno, I got issues clearly but so for me, like when I'm dealing with high-level business owners to be like, no, this ain't how it's going to happen. Like it's so easy for me to lay down the law. But then with our team, they, I had to really coach our team to be able to start to do that and help them understand things.
And sometimes like, your team doesn't recognize the level of expertise that they actually have. Right. Like we have a, you know, one of our guys on our team, he's been a part of like I think a couple of hundred different sales organizations, which is, that's insane. Like, and I had to explain to him like, dude, you got to understand most of these people that are coming to us have never built a sales team, or they've built maybe one if they're like an extreme example, they've built a couple and you have like.
Either anywhere between a hundred to infinite times, the amount of experience that they have. And so like I had to really coach our team on reclaiming that leadership as well, which is an interesting thing and it's easy. It's easy sometimes for you to do it, but I think sometimes it's hard for your team to balance that saying no and wanting to please the client at the same time.
You know? How did you navigate that where you had to start to instill your team to have those hard conversations?
Brett Ratkowski: [00:06:24]
So I got so, so I definitely, and there are certain aspects that a hundred percent what, what you're talking about where like the team just wants or they don't know that they have that expertise.
They're not 100% certain with themselves, even though you are, and that's why you hired them and they fit the culture. Right. But for us, when it came to the ads, like my team, just my team, luckily just got it because they understood from my leadership that this is going to make our jobs easier.
Right? And give the clients the best results. We strive for that. Like that's like our one thing is clients' results are the only thing that matters. And so for us, it was easy for them, where it still becomes an issue and not even an issue. It's like if there is a client issue or if there are certain things that they haven't seen before, it's just instilling them in.
What I do is, I get on a call with them and so, our operations manager the other day was like, she took on a call, didn't really understand what was going on with that client because it, it was a, like a special kid. There was one little tweak to what we're doing right. But, which doesn't matter, but she didn't take ownership of the call.
And that's what I trained her for. I was like, you have to take ownership. We are the experts. You are the face of the company when clients are getting our calls. And so just letting her, instilling that she can take over the call and take ownership just like she was on a sales call. Right. You want to take, you want to take control of that call, not let it go derailed in certain ways.
And so just understanding that they do have the expertise, like you said, giving them, right, the competence that they need and giving them training, like really listening. Like I listen to the onboarding calls all the time, right? Even sales call, stuff like that. Giving them the advice and Hey, you could have said this, that this doesn't fit with our core values or whatever, and just letting them understand that.
But for me it was just giving them that confidence that they can make a decision. Right? As long as it meets our core values, that was the biggest thing. But they, my team, luckily, when we made that shift to like, this is exactly what we do, they bought in because they understood that it would be that much easier for them.
Mike Mark: [00:08:37]
So how long did it take you to make the shift? And then the follow-up question to that was, what was the outcome?
Brett Ratkowski: [00:08:44]
So it's an ongoing battle. It's one of those things that, so it probably took the initial change to our onboarding and client fulfillment, probably took about three weeks. Then we tested it out by taking some clients on that.
We broke it again. Then we fixed it. It's something you'll never 100% be satisfied or should be satisfied with. It's something like all pieces of your, of the value chain of your business should always. It's just finding where that one bottleneck is in your business, right? So for me, it took about three weeks of the initial one.
Then it gets quicker every time because we haven't really dialed in now, but it's only like, Hey, this thing is not working properly. Right now we're having an issue. with our onboarding notes, it's just not enough. Right? So our clients fill out a form, and it's just not enough. So, we filled out, you know, we did a new onboarding form and restructured the email to explain why we're having to fill out all this information before they, you know, before we start running ads and stuff like that.
And so, you know, just little things like that, little tweaks, but it's always something that's ongoing. And, and but I mean, if you have a good team, it shouldn't take too much. If you have systems or processes already in place. When you don't, then that's, I mean, that's a nightmare because now you're trying to implement systems and processes but luckily we already had those out. So was three months or three weeks, and then now it's like a week max, if we have an issue.
Mike Mark: [00:10:14]
That's pretty fast. Yeah, and it's, it's interesting to see sometimes where, there are the phases that you go through, right? There's the radical phase where you're, you're overhauling your stuff, and then there's the incremental improvement phase, and you'll probably go for a while until you hit your next point where it's like, okay, we got to radically reorganize the business.
And you're kind of constantly going in between these two phases. And so I can tell that you really understand the theory of constraints, and I want to highlight this for the people watching because a lot of the people watching don't understand the theory of constraints and working with you husband so easy because you do understand that theory of constraints and you come like, very clear on what your numbers are. You come very clear on what the data is saying and you also like just knowing the situation overall and what needs to be done. And so that's a big compliment to you because a lot of the people we're working with have no fucking clue what's going on, and it's OK.
You know, that's partly why they're here and they need our help. But the theory of constraints is, is this idea where effectively there's a bottleneck in your business at one time, and the constraint or the throughput of the system is determined by the constraint of the system. And then what we find, cause like with a lot of our clients who don't understand this, they're trying to attack multiple bottlenecks at once.
Brett Ratkowski: [00:11:38]
Mike Mark: [00:11:39]
And how have you done that before as well? Like have you tried to solve multiple bottlenecks at one time?
Brett Ratkowski: [00:11:45]
Yup, so, how I learned what you're talking about now is through one of my mentors and good friends, Austin Nestle and his team. And I was trying to figure out everything at once and real, instead of realizing like, Hey, what are the core functions of my business?
And where is the bottleneck actually at? Because you may think it's multiple things, but it's really one always is one thing always.
Mike Mark: [00:12:09]
Brett Ratkowski: [00:12:10]
So, yeah, I did have that issue before where it was like, try to do it all like, Oh, we got fixed sales and we've got to fix. Well, it's just our marketing, you know? So, luckily I had, you know, well, I have the mentorship, I'd pay for coaching and stuff like that to learn that stuff.
And that is the game changer in your business, man, is really understanding where that one issue is and being able to fix it. And Austin always talked about move fast and break shit, right? You're going to break something, but how fast can you fix it? Right?
Mike Mark: [00:12:37]
Yeah. Yeah. It's hard too, because there are other problems, right?
And so you're focused on the bottleneck, but there's other stuff that's like in, it's in your peripheral vision or it's kind of in you hearing it on side of you and, and your brain wants to stop paying attention to the bottleneck and then like, look at it and focus and handle that. But you know that you can't.
And so having the discipline to do that, it's like completely against what all of your instincts are telling you to do physically in the moment. And that's where it gets really hard. It's like there's a co like a cognitive understanding, but then the actual doing of it is a completely another animal. So.
Brett Ratkowski: [00:13:19]
Yeah. It's a struggle cause you know, you, like, you're, you're, you've done it one way so long, right? You've, you've done it the wrong way so long. And so for me it's, I still, I still not struggle, but battle that, like really understanding what the bottleneck is in my business. Right. You'll never get it a hundred percent right.
Until you're an expert at it, which I'm not. Right. I just, I just know how to be aware of certain things.
Mike Mark: [00:13:44]
Was there a moment that you figured it out. That's what I was wondering, like when you say that, like was there, do you have like a, like an epiphany moment or you're like in the tub and the Eureka light bulb goes off?
Brett Ratkowski: [00:13:57]
So for me, the aha, the aha moment, when I was being taught this stuff, was when I fixed one thing and it completely eliminated everything else. Right. So, one thing that we were struggling with. Yep. So our onboarding process. Taking good clients, getting a client from paid to onboarding them, taking over their ads.
For me, that was a struggle. It would take us two weeks to get a client up and running and just because we didn't have anything built-in, I'm like, alright, well I'm sending them an email. We're doing this and we're doing that. And for me, once we figured out like our issues were the start and, what I, going through, the training that I did, it was like, like your onboarding is the number one.
Like that's the first experience your clients have with you outside of the sales calls. If you screw that and fuck that up, they're going to cancel at the end of the contract because you're starting them off. You're, you're in an uphill, uphill battle from day one. Right? And so for me, once we dialed that in and I sat back and I'm like.
Because I automated probably 80% of my onboarding with a click of a button from our CRM. Right. And, and once that figured, I'm like, maybe this, maybe this bottleneck, one thing, thing really works. So I just, I trusted in, and all of a sudden I said, all right, this is what I'm fixing. And I spent two weeks fixing it.
That was obviously, that was before, you know, the issues with the team and scaling back. But yeah, fixing that one issue. It took me about two weeks. And then once I really saw it in play, I'm like, Holy shit. Like there are bottlenecks in my business and one and that one will probably be 80% of the issues in your business and my experience.
Mike Mark: [00:15:49]
Yeah. Yeah. And so the interesting thing about the bottleneck being in one spot at a time that people struggle with is that, people think that you should just immediately know what it is and go into solving it. But, sometimes it takes you literally a month to two months to just be able to define what the bottleneck is.
And that's like, that's something my, my dad would, he would do. My dad was like a successful business guy, real smart, and he said that there would be times where he'd get stuck in his business and he'd just be like, all right, I got to go. And he'd get on the motorcycle and he drove around the country for a week, two weeks.
And then he'd come back and he'd, there's just like a moment where the problem finds itself and he would be spending the time riding the motorcycle, trying to define the problem, not find the solution, trying to define the problem. And then once the problem is defined, then you can figure out the solution.
And so like, sometimes people think that all the work in experiments that they do have to be building experiments, but sometimes your experiments are simply observation experiments. So that you can accurately define your problem. And then once you accurately define the problem, then you move into building mode. And that's sometimes a hard gap.
Brett Ratkowski: [00:16:59]
Yeah. Well, and, and, and it comes down to too, like most people don't start their business like a real business, right? They go straight into marketing and spend money, bring in revenue. Let's bring in rep and they forget to like the foundation of a business outside of your vision and all that stuff is, is your systems and processes. Right? Marketing should be one of the last things. Marketing and sales is one of the last things that you're putting together in your business if you're truly starting it from the foundation, right? And so, you know, for me, you're absolutely correct, and it is, for me, it's just listening to my team and my clients, right?
Listening to the issues. If something happens more than twice, there's an issue somewhere, but, understanding is that complaint or is the issue that happens twice? Is that really truly that, like the bottleneck, what is causing that problem?
Mike Mark: [00:17:52]
Brett Ratkowski: [00:17:53]
But you can't just go straight into like your absolute crack. You can't go straight into fixing it.
You have to sit back and let it happen a couple of times you'll find you'll figure it out, you'll find it, you'll know where it is, but you have to understand where the flow of your business is, right? From sales and marketing all the way down to client fulfillment and after they're a client of yours, right?
So you have to understand that and what part of the business it is, right? That value chain.
Mike Mark: [00:18:19]
So recently your bottleneck moved into sales, right?
And then obviously we started working together to help you solve that specific bottleneck. But I'm wondering like what were your things that made you aware that this was now your immediate bottleneck?
Brett Ratkowski: [00:18:37]
When I figured out the marketing and we were completely booked on my calendar and my one sales rep, Mike, and we were completely booked and we were booked for two weeks at a time. Right? We were losing. So I was spending more money per booked call because I couldn't take on any more. Right? And so what happened is I had to open my calendar even more because I didn't want to stop the marketing, but I also didn't want to, you know, just spend money just to spend money.
So, you know, I opened it. And then what happened is, for me, as the business owner, sales became my day-to-day. And that wasn't like I wasn't focusing on the team, on the clients, on the high-level stuff, pushing the needle forward in my business. It was solely, and it was just draining me cause I'm trying to work the team, have team meetings, work with clients and do five, six, seven sales calls a day.
Like it just, it was, it was too much. Right? It just became too much for me. And, and I slowly. I'm like, all right, I'm going to cut down the marketing a little bit. And we just stopped growing because we weren't spending money. We were doing three calls a day versus 10 calls a day, and it just, it just wasn't enough.
Mike Mark: [00:19:49]
And then, so at what point did you say, okay. This thing makes sense. I want to get help doing it as opposed cause I mean, you've built a team already on your own. Clearly you're, you're not the first time at your rodeo here. Like, so what made you decide to get help on building the team?
Brett Ratkowski: [00:20:08]
for me, I did. I did. I do most of the sales myself. Yes. Do I feel like I'm an expert at hiring sales reps? No, because me, even myself, I don't, I don't know how to look at somebody be like, you're a great salesperson, right, because for me, I don't truly believe I'm a great salesperson cause that's, I talked too much.
I'll talk way too much. I taught myself out. I taught clients out or leads out of sales all the time, right? So for me it was like, all right, if I know I'm truly not an expert at it, why, why would I want to try to figure it out when I have someone like you and your team that have already figured it out and I get the support and all that?
For me, it was a no brainer. It just took me a little bit after having one conversation with you, it took me a little bit to build out the systems and process before we put sales reps into it. Yep. Right. That, that for me, that was the, that was the one thing that I got from our first initial call was like, yes, I'm physically like ready but I wasn't, and so for me, I just knew the amount of time it took me three months to build all this stuff out. I knew I didn't want to go another three months trying to train somebody.
Mike Mark: [00:21:22]
Brett Ratkowski: [00:21:22]
It was, it wasn't worth my time.
Mike Mark: [00:21:26]
And so, in the process now, kind of what's the before and after look like for you?
Brett Ratkowski: [00:21:34]
Yep. So, we're two months in, or almost like a month and a half in. We have four new sales reps, so five total. All of them have closed sales, except for one, but he's going through, he was moving from places, so he really hasn't taken on many calls but all of them have. calls. One of them has brought 15,000 in revenue, one by itself, and it's actually pushed, which he's wanting, Mike, my original sales, closed areas. One of your, it has been hired by you for a couple of different offers and, It's pushed him and he's like, lit a fire under his ass too. And it's like a whole, like just the camaraderie and the people that are there, it's, it's been a game-changer, man. Just putting the right people in the right places.
Mike Mark: [00:22:18]
It's cool when you see how you like, you believe that your person's at a certain level. And then when you add sort of new blood into the mix, just what someone's really capable of. Sometimes, we get accustomed to their level of performance, who, and we forget to expect more out of them.
And then you introduce that into the mix and then you're like, Holy crap. Wow. Like this person isn't even like really turned on the jets yet.
Brett Ratkowski: [00:22:45]
Yup. Yeah. Yup. It's great. That's exactly what happened. It's not that he was com, he was not complacent at all. I just think it did something mentally to him that maybe he was complacent.
I don't know. But, I know Mike, he's not, he's not like that. I just think the energy, right, that these guys are bringing, wanting to learn, wanting to be successful. I think it's more that he wants to show them how it's done and he truly does help them to, right. He answers their questions. If he has time, he'll jump on calls with them and do some training with them.
And so, like, he, I couldn't do it without him. And I think that, I think just the energy is really what, the new energy is really what, what changed?
Mike Mark: [00:23:31]
Yeah. I mean in like for, there was a time where I was doing CrossFit, right? And it was like I never knew how fast I was until I was doing CrossFit.
Because then it was like, now I want like I'm feed off of the other people. And then I was like, I watched as I just was like, wow, I'm actually good at running. And I had this story in my life the whole time that I'm not very good at running. And then I started like, like the people would be starting to get to the lead, and then I'm like, huh, I want to go a little bit harder, a little bit harder.
And it's that same thing like that, if I were running by myself, there's absolutely no way. And my brother was even just talking to me about this literally on Saturday where he was like, him and my cousin live right next to each other and they go running and it's like, yeah, well now with the quarantine, he won't run with me, so I can't, I'm not running as fast.
And he was complaining about it that he's not running as hard. Just simply because that like peer pressure is not there and that observer effect isn't in place. And so that's cool that you mentioned that, cause that's a big thing. and sometimes we don't, we forget about it when, especially when we're rocking with just one person.
Brett Ratkowski: [00:24:36]
Yup. And I think it gives them, they bring a new perspective to it too, right, to objections and, and stuff like that. And he's very open to that stuff, right? So I think I, you know, just have a new perspective of more, more that new energy, right? Like they look up to him because he's been working with me for two years, right? So.
Mike Mark: [00:24:55]
Where's the bottleneck now?
Brett Ratkowski: [00:24:58]
Right now, just, just the marketing, right. Because things have changed with, you know, with real estate, a lot of agents are not wanting to spend money. So just really making sure shifting and changing our marketing messaging and stuff like that, just, just adjusting to the times right now.
But, outside of that, I mean, nothing right now. we did go through that radical change of the onboarding process, right? So we put more like, you're using base camp now? I've been using base camp since I started and just building out like client tasks when they come on with videos and stuff like that.
So it's more like. Straight to the point of what they do. But outside of that right now, there really isn't a, that I could say a true bottleneck in my business right now, outside of the marketing. But that's something that's, I mean, you're always, always going to be adjusting now.
Mike Mark: [00:25:48]
But the thing that you bring up when you say like the marketing is the bottleneck, it's marketing's one of the weirder bottlenecks because there's like early phase when marketing is your bottleneck, you obviously know because you're not making any money.
Brett Ratkowski: [00:26:02]
Mike Mark: [00:26:02]
Right. But later phases like where you're at right now, which is you have a sustainable business, you have consistent cash flow, you have a team, you have salespeople. You're making sales consistently, whether or not even sometimes you show up, the sales are going to happen without you. Right?
And, when marketing's a bottleneck and all that's in place, sometimes you don't feel it because you don't realize that you need marketing to push the rest of the organization or sales and marketing to push the rest of organization to break the next thing and figure out where that bottleneck is, or to like really at least get it to the point of discomfort.
And, when marketing is the bottleneck, it's hard because sometimes, everything can be comfortable and you don't like, you don't want to push because everything's working perfectly, and so it feels like there's no bottleneck, but really that just means that you could push your marketing harder and make marketing the bottleneck.
You know? and it's a bizarre feeling cause like at that phase sometimes, like we'll see people do one to two things. So a lot of times the people will get there and then they're just like, alright, I'm going to go chill, or I'm going to go new work on a new business, or I'm going to do something different.
Or other people are just like. Let's go and they spend way more on ads and go crazy.
Brett Ratkowski: [00:27:19]
That's where I'm at right now.
Mike Mark: [00:27:20]
Brett Ratkowski: [00:27:21]
Let's go, let's take over this shit. Like let's be the number one real estate marketing team in the world. Like that's, that's it, right? That's the goal. I don't know what number one means, but in our eyes, we're, we're, that's what we're striving to. So the neck will never feel comfortable.
Mike Mark: [00:27:43]
And so, I guess, what are you looking at now that you have Slack, right, cause you, you have a sales team, you have Slack in your sales team. And I don't mean the chat app, I mean the fact that there's bandwidth that's available and you can, you can push harder.
What are you looking at to kind of keep scaling past where you're at right now?
Brett Ratkowski: [00:28:05]
Yeah, so one, it's just it. So now it's more what I'm focusing my time as one, making sure that people know who I am, who we are, where before it was just straight up, like book a call, book a call, book a call. So we're spending a little bit more money on it.
That brand awareness stuff, that intent-based branding that Frank Kern teaches and stuff like that. This really gets our message out there and then, doing, obviously still booking calls. one thing I'm going super heavy on is email marketing. Bri. I did three emails and this is something I never have, I have a 10,000 email list and this is something that I never did. And the last two weeks I did three emails and booked 35 calls.
Mike Mark: [00:28:46]
Brett Ratkowski: [00:28:46]
Right? Yeah. And so I'm like, all right, well now that is where I want to put some energy, right? Because we have a very hot, like a list that works, right? So it's a little bit different from strategy. I don't just like email. You can book a call when you want it, like no one giving them something, getting them into a funnel.
And the last page in the funnel is book a call, right? So it's not just your typical, like, content of trying to get them in like, no, like I'm getting them back into another sales funnel always. Is that, again, that's my theory on email. and trying to book them like, all right, it's working on the front, on the cold traffic, right?
People coming in, why wouldn't it work if I just send an email, right?
Mike Mark: [00:29:33]
Where did you get that idea from? Like what, what inspired that thought process?
Brett Ratkowski: [00:29:37]
Just seeing it work on ads. So like, Hey, here's an ad copy swipe file. then on the thank you page is like, Hey, we're going to email it over to you, but while we have you, if you, you know, if you need help with your marketing, so on and so forth, just book a call with us.
And so it was working on the front end and I just tried it, man. I'm like, all right, let me, let me just, let me just test this out, right? It's, it's an email. the worst, I ha, I mean, the worst that happens is I get some unsubscribes. And, the first time we did it, we had 12 bookings and then I changed up the offer.
Well, then I sent it to the UN, the Unopens and, I think we did like eight or nine at that time. And then, I changed up the offer, right? The free giveaway, like the PDF that I was giving away. So this was a followup script and then gave that away. And same, same exact funnel. It was literally a two-page funnel.
Here's your, here's your, and I actually made them re opt-in again. And then the thank you page of, just booking a call and the email, like I said, we're just doing that with marketing and we've been doing that. I've been doing the ad copy swipe file on the conversion script for, for years, since I started.
That's been my number one Legion, like lead gen, campaign. And I just. I was like, all right, let's take away as much friction as possible from our marketing because of what we're going through. And I saw that on the workbook and called for like 15 bucks on paid ads. And I'm like, all right, so if this is really working, it's got to work an email, it has to.
Mike Mark: [00:31:13]
So it's super interesting.
Brett Ratkowski: [00:31:14]
I took the same exact ad copy and put it in an email and just sent it out to my email list.
Mike Mark: [00:31:24]
That's interesting. I, ah, did you do something where you're like, you didn't send it to people who may be in an onboarding sequence, like a, where they're a new lead and they're kind of going through your initial nurture sequence, they got left out of it, or do you send it to them to?
Brett Ratkowski: [00:31:39]
This is, I'm telling you I don't do email. This, that's one. I wouldn't say, I mean, I guess it's a bottleneck because I've never done it. I've never had, outside of like the, I went through Sam Oven's course and I'd do like a VSL and I wrote some emails in there. instead of just straight, like a book, a call now, like I change it up a little bit and that works pretty well.
So, yes, if they were in that VSL, which is, I mean, a couple hundred, then I wouldn't send it to them or current clients. Outside of that, I sent it to whoever, even people that booked the call with us that told us no, we had somebody tell us no, and came back and ended up signing up with us, signing up with us this time.
Mike Mark: [00:32:14]
Due to that email. Yup. But this is so funny, dude. People are so funny because we respond to the ad and then we say no, and then we respond to the same ad again. So it's like we, we don't even know. Cause there's so much that's hitting us that sometimes we forget that we're responding to something. We've seen a lot too.
Brett Ratkowski: [00:32:32]
Marketing's right person, right time, right? I really think it's the right message to the right person at the right time with the right offer. That's all marketing is. So they just not weren't in the right mind space at that time. And then we came back with the same exact thing and it worked.
Mike Mark: [00:32:51]
Yeah. Yeah. So true. So I guess what are you looking at? Like where are you now revenue-wise? What's your target and kind of what, what do you see being this next gap now that your, your sales are off your plate?
Brett Ratkowski: [00:33:08]
Yeah, so we, being in real estate and the prices were at and stuff like that, we did lose a lot of clients in the first couple of weeks of Coro, of Coro, I mean, we lost about 70% of our business, putting it on pause or whatever. Yep. And, we're right back up to where we're at. So right under 50 grand a month right now. So trying to get back up to the 75, 80 grand a month, is the goal. and we're on our way though. We're on our way.
So it's one step at a time. What really, it was bad. So the first week of quarantine is when I brought your guys on. So like my focus, I was like, fuck it. If we're losing clients, we're losing. Like I did whatever I could to say, put some, a pause, reduce the fees of some people, like just move and adjust. but I wasn't focusing on that.
It was solely that one thing, what that might bottleneck was, which was sales. I invested into this, so I'm like, I can't put that on pause. I'm losing clients, but I'll get clients back, right? We'll adjust. So actually, we gained about 60% over the last three weeks.
Mike Mark: [00:34:09]
That's crazy. So what was it like, was that kind of frightening to make that decision at that moment where you're like, Holy shit, I'm losing business and nagging to go make this big investment?
Brett Ratkowski: [00:34:22]
So, I already have made the investment and then it started happening and I'm like, Oh shit. What's going on? Like this is, this is not like, this is the worst timing possible of not, of, of the purchase, cause that, you know, and working with your team, that was the perfect timing but I mean, there's things that you, I strive myself on.
There are things that you cannot control. If a client's going to leave you, there are things that you can do, and as long as you have those in place, but you cannot control everyone leaving you. And unfortunately with real estate, people are still purchasing, don't get me wrong, but when it was going through, I mean, we literally had somebody sign up one day and ask for a refund the next. Literally signed an agreement, did everything, asked for a refund the next day, right? So I think it was just a scary time that they were going and we actually did bring some of the clients that did end up canceling and ended up coming back as well. We've actually brought on three old clients that were pre, like from months and months ago.
So, it all played out, to be honest with you. And, the way we have our offer structured now and everything like that is, is it's going to allow us to not have to worry about losing clients. It's, it's profitable for the clients, profitable for us. and it's, it's, you know, I just adjusted and shifted and yeah, it was scary as hell. Right? Going from, you know, 50, 60, 70K a month to 20, like, that's not enough to pay for my ads and my team and everyone, like and they just dropped off, drop the money on coaching sales, like, you know, so, but we're good now.
Mike Mark: [00:35:58]
That's baller, dude. When was the last time you've taken sales calls?
Brett Ratkowski: [00:36:03]
Since I paid you. I literally stopped. I stopped. Even though we had calls, like I just stopped taking. I completely turned my calendar off. I'm like, I'm going, I'm, my focus is building this out and I haven't taken a sales call and probably two months now.
Mike Mark: [00:36:19]
What's that been like?
Brett Ratkowski: [00:36:21]
Fruits. I don't have to, like I don't have, so I shot myself on being done by 10 o'clock, right? Done by 10. I don't know who wrote them, maybe 10. I don't know. I got it from somebody and I really strive myself on doing that. And now, I wouldn't have like I wake up if I want to, but no matter what, I'm up by seven 30 and I'm done by 10 because now my one thing is so much smaller than, all right, I got to try to fit as much in before 10 before I got my sales calls.
Right. So, yeah, I still work all day, but my one thing for the day is always done before 10:00 AM. So it's a lot less stress, man. A lot more energy, a lot more motivation, just being, I'm able to lead the team now where before it was just total chaos.
Mike Mark: [00:37:09]
Yeah. That's, I feel like that's always a frustrating situation too, as the leader. Cause you know, you're not giving it your best and you almost feel like, sorry for the people that you're leading, that it's like, look, guys, I'm in this situation right now. Like, I know I should be doing better for you, but I just can't. And like that's a, it really is like, it sucks that feeling cause you, you want to do better, but you're in this place.
It was like, I only got so much energy and so much time in a day and I can't do that and like keep the ship going at the same time.
Brett Ratkowski: [00:37:41]
And it's funny cause that's with Kristen, my operation manager, like that's the, like I've had multiple conversations with her like that.
Mike Mark: [00:37:49]
Yeah. Yeah. It's like I. I'm sorry. That's all I got.
Brett Ratkowski: [00:37:53]
I'm only one person. I can only do so much. Right?
Mike Mark: [00:37:56]
The really interesting thing too, we talk a lot with like our clients to get them ready for this stuff is when, when they go into it, it's like there's this period where sales is such a big bottleneck of time, especially when it is the bottleneck.
A lot of people will try to do it too early, but once it becomes a bottleneck, it's such a big bottleneck. A time that once it's off of your plate. It's like so weird how much time you have back that normally what we see is people will feel guilt or shame because now they feel like they're not doing anything.
And then there's these weird feet and boredom is another common one. So like guilt, shame, and boredom are like the three most common emotions. Posts, getting that off their plate. And then it's like trying to figure out what to do with yourself during where now you know where you had five calls, seven calls in a day.
Now you got five to seven hours back, and then it's like, what do you do with yourself when you're that bored? And that's sometimes hard to come to terms with initially, especially because I feel like the thing that gets you to that 50 grand. A month is the willingness to do whatever it takes.
Right? Like that just, I will hustle, I will grind, I will put in the work. If I don't like it, I don't care. I'm going to do it. And then once you get to that phase where you're talking about you're done by 10 on your one thing, you have the rest of the day. Yeah, you could work. Sometimes you may not.
Sometimes you will continue to work, but like even then when you're working, it's kind of like, it's not as urgent or stressful as a sales call is like a sales call. You got a call on the dot, and if you don't call on the dot, you're leaving a bad impression. And then you have to be there listening every single second.
And that's that sort of like contract that occurs when someone books an appointment. It's very stressful compared to sometimes the other work and so that, that lack of urgency and stuff. We see it sometimes leads people to go break shit in their business and we've got to tell him like, dude, be comfortable being bored for a bit.
Brett Ratkowski: [00:39:57]
Here's the thing. This is where my mind goes with that, right? If, because that wasn't the case with me, like I knew I wanted to stop taking sales calls. I knew I didn't want to work 10-15 hours. Like, yeah, I wanted to do, like I myself at one point was working 45 clients by myself, right? So yes, and taking sales calls on top of it, where my mind goes is those that feel that you know, doubt or you know, they feel that like I should be doing something.
It really comes down to whether you may have not had a true vision of why you are growing your business. Cause you really start your business and want to grow your business to work and grind and do everything that you can all day every day. Probably not. Most of us don't. Most of us want to and start our, especially agencies to get to a point where we can do what we really do have the true freedom when we have the team in place, the fulfillment in place, and I could just sit back and have a call with a client here and there, think about high-level strategies and stuff like that.
So it really, really challenges you. I had a clear vision that I wanted to give myself and my wife a certain lifestyle, but I didn't want to, like I came from the real estate industry where I was working 10 15 20 hours a week, and I was at the mercy of my clients, right? Because they can only go see properties at certain times and right?
This property is not available in that like, so I was truly like this thing, answering phone calls, text messages all the time. And I knew that's not what I wanted. Right? And so when I started optimize real estate, it was really to get me to where like that what I wanted, but lifestyle, the true lifestyle I wanted, and it wasn't working 10 15 20 hours a day.
Mike Mark: [00:41:52]
Yeah. That's interesting. Cause, sometimes too, we want the thing that we do start it with the vision, but then in the process of pursuing the vision, we get so obsessed that we forget what that vision was. And, like I saw someone who's with us right now. I don't know if he's on Live, but he was with us.
Marquelle, Marquelle if you're with us, what up? but, like to hear his story and kind of what, what he's gone through is so cool to where like, he picks his kids up from school on, like plays basketball with them and like, now his kids starting a YouTube channel, a game or channel, he's like helping gamer channel and it's like, he does this thing, and he's done pretty much usually in the day by three at the latest. And like, he's not taking sales calls. These guys take sales calls for him. And, like I remember when Mark first got his sales reps from us, he went on a trip to the Grand Canyon and then like got a deal while he was at the Grand Canyon with his kids.
And it was like that. Kind of what it's all about, right? Like it's that that's what it's, you gotta have the reason and keep that in mind, especially when you get that freedom back so that you can then start to architect your lifestyle around it.
Brett Ratkowski: [00:42:58]
Yep. You got to have a true vivid vision, man. What, like not, not just like, yeah, this is what I want.
This is my goal. Like, no. What does it feel like? What does it look like? What does it sound like? I know it sounds cliche, but. Writing that shit down and understanding like, this is why like in the next five years, this is where I'm going to be at and truly live it. Yes, it's going to change from time to time, right?
That vision that you have, you may hit something, may get that car that you wanted, but what does it look like? What does it smell like? What does it feel like? Because if we're not pushing towards that, it is just that obsession of the next deal. Right?
Mike Mark: [00:43:32]
Brett Ratkowski: [00:43:33]
Some people love it. Don't get me wrong. It's not some people, that's just what they're gonna do all the time. For me, it wasn't.
Mike Mark: [00:43:40]
Yeah. Yeah. That's a good note. cool man. Well, if someone wants to learn more about you, where could they find you?
Brett Ratkowski: [00:43:47]
So they can add me on Facebook, Brett, that optimized real estate.com. They can email me, that's pretty anywhere, man. Facebook's easiest.
Mike Mark: [00:43:55]
And I'll tag Brett in here as well. So that way if you guys want to check Brett out or connect with him, feel free. If you've got anybody that you know in real estate, send them his way. He's got his system styled in, so you'll know there'll be taken good care of. And then do you do any sort of like referral partnership for people who do send referrals your way if, if they might be in a different niche and want to pass them along to you?
Brett Ratkowski: [00:44:21]
Yep. So we do, we have two different things, right? If they just want to just, Hey, here's the client, if you close them, great, we do have a $300 referral that we give out once they close, we also do fulfillment. So if it's like, Hey, I want to get into the real estate niche and you want, you know, you want to work with this client but don't want to do the fulfillment, stuff like that. We also take on the fulfillment side of things, so yeah, so either-or.
Mike Mark: [00:44:45]
Cool. Love it. He says, do you close on a contract or do you close on a month to month?
Brett Ratkowski: [00:44:51]
A contract always. Three months, minimum.
Mike Mark: [00:44:53]
Three months, and then, afterward, do you transition into contract or do you transition in month to month?
Brett Ratkowski: [00:44:58]
Month to month. Our, our, our average client stays with us for eight, eight to nine months, eight, eight, 8.4 something months. So yeah.
Mike Mark: [00:45:07]
That's long, like, most guys in real estate are lucky if they get 60 days, so that goes to show how much better your systems are.
Brett Ratkowski: [00:45:15]
I am. So I have, I do have like, like I said, three-month minimum.
There are clients that just, we couldn't make them happy. I'm not, I'm not going to hold somebody to that if they truly are not happy with us. Right? So yes, we have that agreement. We stick to it. But if it's, if, I mean, I've even fired clients before, right? So if they're just not a good fit or we're not a good fit for them, you just have that conversation with.
But I've also been burned on the one month we put out, you put all this energy, and anyone that's spending money has commissions, all that. You're not profitable on month one.
Mike Mark: [00:45:52]
Yeah. There's no way. Yeah, there's no way, especially the cycle time to actually close on a home. It's just simply too long that you can never actually measure your ROI.
So he asked how do you close on a three-month? Cause that's what he's having trouble with.
Brett Ratkowski: [00:46:07]
So for us, that's just our pro. Like we just tell them it's this price, three-month minimum. Then it's a month after that. I've not had anyone. We have some people that are like, Oh, I just want to check the contract and they want to change it.
We just, we just pitch it as an agreement. Right? Cause it really, in the end, that's really what it is. It's an agreement between yourself and my, my, my team. This is what we expect from you. This is what you expect for us. The issue with, if it's real estate or whatever it is for the three months, is it really a good fit for you?
Are they truly your ideal client? If they're pushing you on a three-month commitment.
Mike Mark: [00:46:48]
Mm, that's a good question. And yeah, I think, to touch on that, that one is, is that actually your ideal customer? And sometimes your ideal customer isn't just a real estate agent. It's, you know, you have to understand them in more depth.
Like they're at a certain level, they've done maybe a certain number of things beforehand. And so, like. You have to get really granular on the psychology of not just the, the thing that they do on there, like as a job title, but the psychology of where they are. Are they a real estate agent just starting out or kind of wearing the journey are there? and then I think that's part of it, but I think that the other part of it is like, sometimes it's like. Zahid to answer your question, sometimes it's just, when we listen to it, it's the person being weak, right? It's like you, if you really know your product and you're confident in your product, like someone can ask me, Hey, can we get the salesperson, Lino, can we recruit the salesperson in two days?
And it's like. No, that's not how it works, right? Like, we need at least a week because we custom tailor it to your specific offer. If I don't have a week, I can't pretty much find you the right person, like, you know, and I'm not gonna adjust on that. So yeah. When you know your product and you know your process, you know it's negotiable and you know it's not negotiable.
And then the funny thing is that when someone's asking you, they're trying to sometimes just test you as opposed to actually say like, that's what they really want. And when you are willing to tell them no, because that won't work, then they'll buy from you simply because you said, no, I'm not going to do that.
I'm not going to work with you on a one-month basis because there's simply not enough time to get things done. I mean, imagine when you get a lead, how long does it take you on average to get it from, from lead to close? I'm guessing like your commission doesn't hit until 60 days in. And so how am I supposed to expect you to even be able to see an ROI like no client that we work with can see an ROI and in under that timeframe, at least for it to be reasonable, like it happens on the rare occasion.
So no, I wouldn't work with you in that context. And like when you say no, people will freak out because it's like, it's just so attractive for someone to say, no. And like, we think that they don't want to say that, that they want us to say, Oh no, I could do that, but they actually want to hear you say no and they want to have you have a good reason as to why you say no. Like, yeah, no.
Brett Ratkowski: [00:49:22]
And is it really even an objection? Right?
Mike Mark: [00:49:25]
It's not. Yeah.
Brett Ratkowski: [00:49:26]
Is it really? It's not like it, you know, especially with real estate, like you said, knowing where they are in real estate is absolutely spot on, right? We don't work with clients under a certain price point. Right. Or not price point. A certain point.
So they have to have X amount of sales do a number of deals. Right. even if they're a brand new agent and they sold 10 homes in the last 12 months, it's not enough. We are just going to be another expense for them. Right. And so if you are another expense, that's probably what they're looking at us.
That those specific agents are looking at you as an expense because they don't have a belief in themselves. So why are they going to have belief in you that you can change them? Right? So is it really an objection to the price and your product, or is it more them explaining concerns with themselves that, but like you said.
Maybe just getting a note too, right? They, they're looking for that. So there's a lot of ways, but then it's a non-negotiable, you want to do business with us. It is what it is.
Mike Mark: [00:50:26]
Yup. And people love when someone's willing to walk away. Now, you know, if you're willing to walk away from the deal, it means that you know what you're talking about or you're comfortable and where it's at.
And to then the buyer signals that this is the reasonable point of where we would transact. You know, people will always test to ask for lower prices, and then the minute you're saying, Nope, this is the price, then they kind of will say, okay, let's do it. And if they weren't willing to buy at that price, and potentially it's not your ideal customer, so it's weighing those things like what Brett was saying. Cool. Well, we've run a little bit over. I appreciate you for taking the time to jump on with us and break this stuff down. I think that especially in the systems. Mindset and how you apply it. you're very far advanced compared to a lot of the people that we're working with.
And it's awesome for anyone who's here in the group to be able to hear how you think through problems, how you define the bottleneck, how you described your experience of going from bottleneck, the bottleneck, and like, I really want to highlight that for any of the people who here are and made it this far in the replay because.
If you go back through that one more time, like I have to say that that's a big distinction that we see the people who get to multiple seven figures and eight figures have that. The ones who can't get there don't have it. So, thanks again for joining us. I really appreciate it.