I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Trisha Dirks of Dirks Realty in Portland to talk about how she was able to go from no experience to the top ten percent of real estate agents in one year using a little sage advice and five dollars.
Download Your FREE Tenant Screening Guide!
Hey there! Screening tenants can be a tricky business, and this critical step can be the difference between profits and disaster. To help you with your real estate investing journey, feel free to download BiggerPockets’ complimentary Tenant Screening Guide and get the information you need to find great tenants.
How I Used $5 (& Sage Advice) to Launch My Real Estate Business
Brett: Tell us about yourself and what made you want to get into real estate.
Trisha: I was a stressed-out mother of four working two jobs. I wanted something more. I wanted a life, opportunities, and the ability to spend more time with my family. I knew working for someone else wasn’t going to get me there.
I’ll be honest with you, it was scary thinking about going out on my own. A little voice kept telling me to continue the 9-5 to get that check every two weeks, to keep the guarantee that I would always have little cash–but also no life and no ability to spend quality time with the people that matter the most.
Brett: I hear that all the time. Giving up that check is hard, and it keeps a lot of talented people from going out and getting what they want.
Trisha: Yes. Another thing that scared me was disappointing others. What would people think if I gave up a good job when I had a family to support?
In the end I decided I needed to focus on me and give up making other people happy. If I wanted things to change, I had to be selfish.
Brett: That’s interesting because Bonnie Ware, a nurse working with the terminally ill, would always ask her patients what they regretted. The most common answer was 1) “I wished I’d had the courage to live the life true to myself, not the life others expected of me” and 2) “I wish I didn’t work so hard.” It’s awesome you decided to do this and not wait until it was a regret.
So why real estate?
Trisha: Well, it wasn’t my first choice, though I had worked in sales. Real estate actually scared me. How could I succeed in something I knew nothing about?
It was only after I spoke with two friends in the business that I realized I could do this. They thought so too, and they were right.
It was time to get my life back. Six weeks later, I had a real estate license and no time to waste.
Brett: A lot of readers are new to real estate/real estate investing and are also looking to find properties for sale and clients to work with. Can you tell us what it was like getting started?
Trisha: It was hard because none of the licensing classes prepared me for what I needed to know. I expected my first day to be like a 9-5 job where someone tells you how to get started and what to do. They simply showed me my desk and said good luck!
I quickly realized if I was going to get where I wanted to be, I was going to have to figure it out. I started by talking to the other agents in the office: “How did you start? What are the first steps?” None of it helped much. I then created a website to get my name out there. No luck. I mailed out personal letters to everyone I knew, asking if they needed help or knew anyone that needed help in real estate. Still nothing. I then emailed everyone in my contact list, whether I knew them or not. More silence. I felt like I’d moved a hundred different directions with no success.
Brett: A lot of people think real estate is easy, and few make it. What did you do differently?
Trisha: After a lot of setbacks, I heard about a mentor program where I could learn from someone with a lot of experience. I signed up immediately. My mentor helped me understand what was important and what was a waste of time. The best advice she gave me was, “Brand yourself. People will work for you, not the company you work for. What do you stand for? Don’t waste your time on your website. No one will use it! You have to get out there and meet a lot of people.”
Well, I didn’t know how to brand myself. Lucky for me, I had a computer-savvy son who happened to love marketing. After settling on Dirks Realty, he told me about fiverr.com. It’s a website where really good graphic designers from all over the world work with you to make logos, websites, and other marketing materials. I think I had someone from India make my logo in less than 24 hours for $5. That’s what “fiverr” means, five dollars. Its very cheap and the artists are very good.
With that I was able to create professional business cards and pamphlets branded to me. It was that logo on marketing materials and attached to all of my emails that said, “I own my own business. I have skills and experience, and you should hire me.” I wasn’t an employee anymore.
Brett: Thats genius. If I met a few real estate professionals and one of them owned their own business, I would probably choose them.
Trisha: I now approached my business as an owner with a new state of mind. This changed everything. All of the sudden, I had more confidence and people noticed.
Almost overnight people talked to me like I was an expert and had confidence in what I said, including other real estate agents. People started asking about my business, and clients started flowing my way. It felt great!
Brett: I’ve always noticed that people base a lot of their decisions on first impressions. You owning your own business creates a first impression that implies 1) you’re a step ahead of everyone else, 2) you must have been doing this work for a long time, and 3) you have the power to get me what I want. No one wants to work with someone that’s average. Everyone wants the best because they have a lot at stake.
Trisha: Yes. You have take ownership over what you do and have confidence in yourself. If you don’t, then no one else will either. That’s number one in this business! Branding is second.
Brett: If you could go back to your first day in real estate and tell yourself one thing, what would you say?
Trisha: I would tell myself to expect to work hard with no results for 3-6 months. Branding, marketing, and meeting new people takes time to turn into business. You have to keep going to succeed. The only way you fail is by quitting.
Brett: You’re right, I see it all the time. The people who succeed are the ones who keep going even when they don’t see results. It’s tough to do.
Trisha: Another thing I would add is if you want to meet people looking to buy or sell, you have to go out and find them. They won’t come to you. The more people you meet, the more your branding will help make good first impressions, and the more business you’ll do. It’s the most important thing you can do in real estate. Too many people start by focusing on the wrong things (websites, fliers, emails, etc.), just as did.
Now I tell myself every day: Don’t forget to take the time to prospect (look for new clients and meet new people).
Brett: No prospecting, no business.
So what’s next for you?
Trisha: Keep learning. I set aside time every morning without distractions to learn more about branding and marketing myself. That’s how you create a successful real estate business and get the life you want.
- First impression matter. Go to fiverr.com or somewhere else, create a brand, and put it where people can see it. You want them to think you own your own business, even if your business is just a few words on a sheet of paper.
- By owning your own brand, you’ll increase your confidence and the confidence other people have in you.
- Don’t start out by spending a lot of time or money marketing until you’ve created a brand.
- Remember, business won’t come to you. You have to go out and get it, or someone else will.
What advice would YOU give someone just starting out? What was your favorite part of this interview?
Let’s talk in the comments section!