Key to Customer Service is Contact
Jack Butala: Key to Customer Service is Contact. Every Single month we give away a property for free. It’s super simple to qualify. Two simple steps. Leave us your feedback for this podcast on iTunes and number two, get the free ebook at landacademy.com, you don’t even have to read it. Thanks for listening.
Jack Butala: Jack Butala with Jill DeWit.
Jill DeWit: Hello.
Jack Butala: Welcome to our show. In this episode, Jill and I talk about the key to customer service is contact. Seems basic, but it’s so true. Great show today, Jill. Before we get into it, let’s take a question posted by one of our members on SuccessPlant.com, our free online community.
Jill DeWit: Okay. Aaron asked … This is great. “I know Steve, aka Jack, is not a fan of negotiating price. The offers are the price.”
Jack Butala: Where’s this going to go?
Jill DeWit: This is good stuff. “The offers are the price. Send enough mail to qualify leads, and you’ll get plenty at your price.” Check, done. Perfect.
Jack Butala: I like it, check. Did they say that right in there?
Jill DeWit: No, I just added that. Would you let me finish the question, please?
Jack Butala: Sorry.
Jill DeWit: “In my county, that hasn’t worked so far. At least at $500. Someone recently came to me.” Hold on. “Saying they’d sell, but they’re five acres for $5,000. Lower end comps suggest selling price of far more than $1,000 an acre. At least double, if not more. But this particular property’s assessed value is $5500. I know assessed value is absolutely not market value.”
Jack Butala: Yes, exactly!
Jill DeWit: “But has anyone had any issues selling property at significantly more than it’s assessed value? I feel like that could be an issue when trying to sell to a buyer, them seeing an assessed value of approximately half of what they’re paying. If I can’t sell for more than the assessed value, and ideally at least double the assessed value, then I can’t buy the property. Anyone have any experience selling for significantly more than assessed value?” Jack, take it away.
Jack Butala: Jill, what’s the assessed value of your house?
Jill DeWit: A lot less than probably what it’s worth.
Jack Butala: You don’t know.
Jill DeWit: I don’t know.
Jack Butala: No.
Jill DeWit: Well, I get the postcard in the mail.
Jack Butala: I don’t know what it is.
Jill DeWit: Yeah.
Jack Butala: Our house, [crosstalk 00:01:54].
Jill DeWit: I don’t remember. You know, I don’t even look at the postcard anymore. Because you know why? Because it doesn’t matter, it’s not real.
Jack Butala: Nobody looks. Here’s the answer to the question.
Jill DeWit: I know.
Jack Butala: And I asked her for a reason. No one knows the assessed value of anything. The assessed value, you’re right. You nailed it in the beginning. Is Aaron a he or a she? Do you know Aaron?
Jill DeWit: It’s a he. Yeah, we know him.
Jack Butala: Nobody knows, nobody looks at the assessed value and it has … He’s exactly right. Nothing to do with the value of the property. No one’s going to say, “Aw, I’m not buying that property. It’s only assessed at X.” The assessed value changes, usually based on the change of ownership. If you’ve seen a property … If you’ve ever seen the old lady at the end of the block who never renovated her house, and she’s 92. Every house on the block is great looking, and she’s just got the original house. Her assessed value is 1/10th probably, and her taxes are probably 1/10th of the other properties around her. Assessed value has nothing to do with price.
To answer you question, I have a tremendous amount of experience selling properties for way more than assessed value, and not once has it come up. Not once has a seller said, “You know, justify your price.” A buyer, I mean. “Hey Jack, justify your price.”
Jill DeWit: You know what’s funny?
Jack Butala: Assessed value is $5.
Jill DeWit: When you really think about it, we all want it to be assessed much lower because … Here’s an example. Your primary residence, you get that postcard in the mail, you see it’s assessed at, I don’t know, say $150,000 and it’s worth $300,000. You don’t want to pay taxes on the $300,000. You only want to pay taxes on the $150,000. You’re not going to call up the assessor and go, “Now you know you’re really actually undercharging me. My neighbor just sold for $325.” You know what I mean?
Jack Butala: I’ve heard people do that.
Jill DeWit: “I think we should up my assessed value, and yeah I guess I’ll write you a check for double.” No.
Jack Butala: Next time you ask me this … Next time you talk us.
Jill DeWit: Nobody would do that.
Jack Butala: Talk to assessor and, you know.
Jill DeWit: Could you imagine that?
Jack Butala: Next time you talk to an assessor at the county because you’re researching property you’re going to buy, or whatever, it just comes up in our business a lot. Ask the assessor this question, “Hey, tell me a crazy story about somebody who called you recently about an assessor question.” They’ll tell you that story.
Jill DeWit: Wouldn’t that be hilarious?
Jack Butala: “Excuse me, assessor. You have not assessed my property correctly. It should be a lot more.”
Jill DeWit: That’s so funny.
Jack Butala: Their answer is, “Okay!”
Jill DeWit: Yeah, happily. “What do you want me to muddle it up to?”
Jack Butala: “Please fill out form 11314, it’s on the internet, and we’ll kick it up for you.”
“Okay, thanks.” Click.
Jill DeWit: Could you imagine? That’s the silliest thing on the planet.
Jack Butala: You know, if you don’t know this and you’re brand new … anybody can contest their assessed value. Like in California here, it’s … they make a big deal out of it.
Jill DeWit: Yeah.
Jack Butala: Even the people who work at the county are like, “You know, man, you should contest it. Get a lawyer,” right.
Jill DeWit: Yeah, I know. Well, like you just used the example, the lady at the end of the block. I would assume that, because I know the assessors do things somethings … it’s not property specific, it’s neighborhood, or zip code, or whatever it is, specific, they’ll up them all. You might be sitting there like, that little old lady down at the end of the block, she might be getting postcards with it being upped, and upped, and upped, and upped. She needs to call them and you just pointed it out, Jack.
Jack Butala: Or maybe she did.
Jill DeWit: Hopefully she did, and has said, “Hold on a moment, because my property doesn’t look like that guy’s. I don’t have that whatever. My yard is not … I don’t have a pool, you know, [dream 00:05:12] it up.”
Jack Butala: That little old lady was my mother, and rest in peace, all her life, every year.
Jill DeWit: Does she fight it?
Jack Butala: She fought it.
Jill DeWit: Good for her.
Jack Butala: Every year, won.
Jill DeWit: Won.
Jack Butala: There’s a judge that she had to go before.
Jill DeWit: Seriously?
Jack Butala: The way that it works, yeah. The judge expected her every year, and every year, stamped it for her.
Jill DeWit: “Here she comes!”
Jack Butala: They had a long professional relationship. He waited for her, and she showed up every year, and he stamped it.
Jill DeWit: Nice.
Jack Butala: They exchanged talks about how their kids are doing.
Jill DeWit: Nice. That’s it. Yeah, and that’s the funny thing. People don’t realize that you have that. You can say, “No, no, no, no, no, no, no. That’s too much. That’s not too high. My property did not go up 25% last year.”
Jack Butala: The vast majority of property taxes in most situations go towards public schools, and my mother felt that once her kids were out of school, that she didn’t have to pay for that, for public schools anymore.
Jill DeWit: A lot of people feel that way.
Jack Butala: There’s a lot of … There’s a huge point to that. There’s a lot of people that think you should pay property taxes in a house and where you live based on the square footage, which is not necessarily the case. Or, if you live in an apartment, or like a small townhouse, that you should pay much less than … It’s the [humvee 00:06:26] concept. People should pay more for what they use, which is not how it’s set right now.
Jill DeWit: This is a good talk. I’m glad we’re talking about this stuff, too. I put a note in SuccessPlant, by the way, so Aaron is listening. I told him, “Check out the … podcast, we’re going to answer this year.” Another thing that’s important to point out about assessed values that a lot people, I don’t think they know, is that there is traditionally a lag time. It might be a year or two, even more behind.
Jack Butala: Yeah, maybe two years.
Jill DeWit: The whole property, the whole neighborhood is really worth this. It’s going to take two years to catch up, and sometimes there might be a dip. That happens too, sometimes. Things are assessed lower, and it takes … there’s a lag time for it to catch up. What you are seeing right now, Aaron, is not necessarily accurate, too. Like you said, Jack, it doesn’t really come up. If it ever comes up, once I educate my buyers, they go “Oh yeah, well duh. I’m not going to call and raise my house. No, you’re right.”
Or like, you could even say … you could do this. “Well, tell you what, before we close this deal, why don’t I have it assessed higher? By the way, your taxes are going to go up, but I can make that happen.”
They’re going to go, “Oh no, no, no. Don’t do that.”
Jack Butala: Yeah.
Jill DeWit: Well yeah, duh. So, there you go.
Jack Butala: Right. I’ve seen them go down.
Jill DeWit: Yeah.
Jack Butala: A lot of states require an addendum. In Arizona, it’s affidavit of property value. It has nothing to do with … It doesn’t get recorded. I don’t think it does. It goes to the assessor to notify of them of a change in ownership. In California, it’s a [pcore 00:07:58].
Jill DeWit: Bingo. They want to know how much was paid.
Jack Butala: In Colorado, it’s a [TD1000 00:08:01].
Jill DeWit: Was it terms?
Jack Butala: Yes, exactly.
Jill DeWit: Was there anything else exchanged in that? Was there property on it?
Jack Butala: Was it a family-to-family transaction?
Jill DeWit: It’s for their stuff. They want to know that stuff.
Jack Butala: Right, an unrelated third party.
Jill DeWit: Is there a mortgage now? All that, that’s for them.
Jack Butala: All right, and I’m going to … end the topic on this. The reason that I’m thinking now, the reason that Aaron brought this up is because what we teach is this. When you send a mailer out, and you send a bunch of offers out to buy property, we say, at least the first few times that you do it, cap the property owners, cap them, the offers that you send out, at a certain assessed value. For example, if you choose all the 40 acre properties in Arizona, and you have them there and you’re staring at them in the database, in our database, and one is assessed at 4.2 million dollars and one is assessed at 4200, they’re probably pretty different properties. Maybe not, but chances are, they really are.
One’s probably in the middle of the city somewhere, and one’s probably not. One’s probably more our product type. It’s a great way to weed out wasted postage. You don’t want to send out $4,000 offer to property that’s assessed at 1.4 million bucks. I usually, out west here, cap it at, I don’t know … between, depending on what we’re going for, 20 to 50,000 bucks.
Jill DeWit: Hey, you know what? Will you scroll back up? I’m trying to remember this example. Did Aaron put in there anything about where? No, he didn’t put anything in there, so who knows where it is. We don’t know if it’s East Coast, West Coast.
Jack Butala: It’s East.
Jill DeWit: Okay.
Jack Butala: Because I’ll tell you right now.
Jill DeWit: Yeah, there’s a lot of different things.
Jack Butala: You don’t want to send $500 offers out to a property that’s in a real high area. You don’t send $500 offers to buy a skyscraper in Manhattan. All you’re going to do is upset people. The truth is the same, probably like in Michigan, or some of the Midwestern states, for what we call vacation property. You don’t want to undercut somebody so bad it’s just ridiculous. That’s silly. That’s not what we want.
Jill DeWit: Yeah, you want to be realistic.
Jack Butala: You just want to be a lot lower than market value, and smoke out the people who just want to get rid of their property. You don’t want to insult people and cause problems.
Jill DeWit: That’s it.
Jack Butala: There’s a fine line and we have crossed that line, and we teach how not to do it.
Jill DeWit: And how to recover.
Jack Butala: What the heck is this show about, anyway?
Jill DeWit: Yeah.
Jack Butala: How not to recover?
Jill DeWit: I know, and how to recover. No, not how to recover.
Jack Butala: And how to get … It’s similar to recovering from getting scolded by your mother.
Jill DeWit: It’s very similar to that, and it ties into customer service.
Jack Butala: Yeah! Today’s topic, the key to customer service is contact. This is kind of Jill’s show. It’s the meat of the show.
Jill DeWit: This is one really good point of customer service, which is contact. Whether you have a good thing going on, or maybe a nothing going on. When you are A) accessible, and B) you keep people in the loop, it’s a whole different world. Let me give an example.
You’re selling a property and your customer maybe has a lot of questions. Granted, there’s a fine line, too. You could get bogged down on these questions, but you don’t want to cut them off. You want to be there, and helpful. You want to answer their questions, and keep them in the loop. Here’s a good one where this really comes up is what if you’re doing a property, and you’re buying or selling and there’s a title agent involved? This is a really, really, really good key one. You got to be in touch with everybody, so you know where everybody is in the process. Make sure they’re not hung up on anything, and tell everybody “Hey, we’re one week out,” or, “four days out,” whatever it is. It just goes a long way.
Jack Butala: Right.
Jill DeWit: I know you have some things here. What are your … Jack is writing stuff. I’m like, “Okay, where does he want to go with this here?”
Jack Butala: Customer service is so incredibly important, and I can’t state that enough. I’ll tell you why I know this. Personally, I did not believe in customer service for a lot of years. Pretty much until I … Jill got professionally involved with this exact company. My whole concept was, either sign it and send it back on the buy side, and then on the sell side, you’re getting it so cheap … and back then, it was almost always auctions on the internet. “You’re getting a property so inexpensively that I don’t even want to answer your questions. Don’t call me.”
We didn’t have a phone number for a lot of years. I mean, we had one, but we didn’t publish it anywhere. Not on our website, or any of the sites where we sold properties. When somebody finally did find us, and they had a bunch of questions, I was downright pretty upset about it. Like I’d say “No. Just for calling me, you’re not going to buy the property.”
Jill DeWit: [crosstalk 00:12:32].
Jack Butala: I look back on that, it’s insane.
Jill DeWit: I know.
Jack Butala: You know why? Here’s the thing. There’s a fine line between customer service and babysitting, and I saw it all as babysitting. That’s wrong.
Jill DeWit: Well think about it, here’s my other big point, too. Nowadays, there’s so many people and so many businesses in our world, with the internet and everything, that are dropping the ball. Huge banks are one of my key things that … having good customer service, and being accessible, gosh and being friendly, and nice. Even if it’s just a quick call, but you’re friendly and nice, you answer their question and send them on their way. God, it goes so far nowadays. I can’t tell you how many people are like, “Wow,” you know? Like, “Oh my god, you’re a real person.” Like, “You really want to help me?” You know, you’re not just saying ‘Next.’
Jack Butala: Yeah. We interviewed, Jill and I interviewed a guy on our show a while ago. He was the number one … producing real estate agent in the country, and I asked him this question. “What the heck? What is it about you that made you, very quickly, the number one real estate agent in the … country?”
He said, “I answer the phone. No one else answers their phone.” I’ve had that experience with agents a lot.
Jill DeWit: Oh gosh, yes.
Jack Butala: He just … I’m saying what Jill just said. It’s so easy.
Jill DeWit: Yeah, it’s really not hard.
Jack Butala: Yes. You got to get your head around it.
Jill DeWit: It’s okay, you don’t have to get bogged down by it. Just be in contact, and have your email, and that kind of thing. Answer your email. That’s another good thing. Then, we’re talking all customer service. You know what, and I think of too, not only is your customer, your buyer, or your seller, whatever it is, but you have internal customers and that is also important.
Jack Butala: Yeah. The best customers are already your customers.
Jill DeWit: Right.
Jack Butala: Just sell them something else.
Jill DeWit: Well no, I’m talking about internal customers meaning like, the county.
Jack Butala: Right, or people, maybe employees.
Jill DeWit: People that are in your world, but [crosstalk 00:14:38] as your company’s getting bigger, how about the person who is your payroll, kind of a customer.
Jack Butala: Right.
Jill DeWit: Or you’re their customer. Whatever it is, contact is so important and it doesn’t have to take a lot of time.
Jack Butala: Right.
Jill DeWit: You just … The minutes that you spend. This is the big take-away. The minutes that you … Jack laughs at me because this is one of my pet peeves. “Gosh, if we had done this right, hmm, would have saved us hours.”
Jack Butala: Yeah.
Jill DeWit: That’s it, and that makes me so mad.
Jack Butala: [crosstalk 00:15:11]
Jill DeWit: That’s like double checking your work. I have a thing about that. I don’t like to go back and solve problems that could have been headed off.
Jack Butala: By laziness, specifically.
Jill DeWit: Right! They’re just like, “Nah, I’m not doing that.” “Gosh gee, if I would have just answered that question, it wouldn’t have grown into this big thing.” Mm-hmm (affirmative), yeah, you think? Spend a few minutes. It doesn’t take a lot of time. You know what’s funny, too, what I’ve done, this is a good one. I have one, too, just recently. This guy wrote me a really long email, and I really wanted to address it. It took me two weeks to get back to him. I’m not kidding, because I really wanted to address it, and really help this guy out.
What did I do? I was so busy, I didn’t have time to really address it. One of the first things I did was ask my staff, say “Will you please send this guy a note and tell him he is on my radar. I got his email, and I will get to him, but I want to spend some time on it.” That was even contact right there. It didn’t directly come from me, but he knew I got it, I’m thinking about it, I’m addressing it, and I will get back to him.
Jack Butala: Yeah, that’s perfect.
Jill DeWit: Before I got to him, I had my people just say, “Hey, you’re coming. We’re not ignoring you. We got this,” kind of thing. Even something like that, and then I could finally … I took one, it was like a Sunday afternoon. I really sat down and I wrote a nice thing back to the person, and really helped him out. It was easy.
Jack Butala: We get a lot of feedback from new members, and a lot of them say “Man, I have never experienced this level of involvement from anything, not just real estate.”
Jill DeWit: It’s true.
Jack Butala: I’m pretty proud of that.
Jill DeWit: Well, you know.
Jack Butala: It’s all because of you, Jill. I was all hiding behind my company for a lot of years.
Jill DeWit: Thank you. Well one of our things that we do with our customers.
Jack Butala: Like this show is a great example.
Jill DeWit: And the contact. Exactly, well this is a good one, as far as contact. SuccessPlant is contact.
Jack Butala: Weekly calls.
Jill DeWit: Our member calls is contact. Our staff is contact.
Jack Butala: Right.
Jill DeWit: A lot of it right now, I mean it’s hard to because you and I get so busy, because we have so many projects and things that we’re working on. I can’t personally talk to people, and I know you can’t, too. I really want to. That’s all I do all day long.
Jack Butala: Right.
Jill DeWit: I have to get help, but it’s not that I’m not serious about it. It has to be managed.
Jack Butala: It needs to be managed, and with that, taken seriously.
Jill DeWit: Yeah.
Jack Butala: I guess that’s the whole point of the show. Take it super seriously.
Jill DeWit: Exactly.
Jack Butala: Hey this is the technical, too. Two minutes of property investment advice from our 15 year, 15,000 [inaudible 00:17:36] experience. Never outsource customer service. You live or die by customer service. How many times have you called your cell company or something, and there’s somebody on the other end of the line from around the world who just really truly does not have the authority or the understanding of what the first thing about what you’re talking … We’ve all experienced this. You don’t want a company like that. You want, especially right when you’re starting, to give some great customer service and then if you need to, put some people in place like we do, at some point.
Jill DeWit: Exactly.
Jack Butala: If you have a question, or you want to be on the show, call 800-725-8816. Jill, inspire us.
Jill DeWit: Don’t nitpick the little stuff. Just move on. You will be so much happier. It’s so easy to get caught up in little, little details. I don’t know, let’s just say for example. I’ll use the customer service thing. Maybe have an employee that helps you with some of the customer service things. For some of the technical stuff, let’s just say. Like our staff, anyone has questions about login, and passwords, and things like that, that’s nothing that I need to address. It’s a customer service thing.
Jack Butala: Great.
Jill DeWit: And Erin addresses it. Now, I could walk around nitpicking how she answers the phone, how her response time, I mean I could nitpick the heck out of it. I don’t, because you know what? Because the general big thing is, I know how she operates. I know how she’s doing. I know she addresses things, and everything. I know her intent. I don’t want to. She does it differently than I do, and it’s a good thing. It’s so much happier if you walk around that.
Jack Butala: A lot of stuff could be solved in life, not just with customer service, by just saying “You know, I don’t know.” They have a question about their property, is there access, the whole thing. “I don’t know. You know, I’ll tell you, everything I know is about the posting. I’ve been in the area a couple times, I’ve bought a lot of property and sold a lot of property, and this property’s pretty good. I’ve never been there.” That’s the kind of customer service you really … people can see a mile away.
Like the cell phone example I just gave a couple minutes ago. They know when you don’t know what you’re talking about. You don’t want to be that person at all. Even if you just sit there and say, “I don’t know” 15 times, and do it in a Jill kind of a way where you’re being real nice about it. You’re saying, “This is kind of our …” This is what I do. “This is kind of our business model, not to know.” If I knew everything about every property, we would sell 3 deals a year instead of 30,000.
Jill DeWit: Right.
Jack Butala: It’s real important to be transparent and honest.
Jill DeWit: Well, and then point them in the right direction. I like that example.
Jack Butala: Yeah. “Call Tonya.”
Jill DeWit: I’m not going to say, “Well, figure it out. See you.”
Jack Butala: No, yeah, yeah.
Jill DeWit: No, but I’m going to say, “You know what?” … Because it comes up often with some property uses, and there’s times that I do know the answer and there’s times that I’m like, “You know what? This is how it’s zoned, what you’re really asking is so darn specific. I am not sure,” and I don’t want to be the middle guy, too, and forget to answer that question, too.
Jack Butala: Yeah.
Jill DeWit: I’m helping them out by saying “Do me a favor, call this number.”
Jack Butala: Yeah.
Jill DeWit: “this is the planning and zoning. Tell them exactly what you want to do, and they will help you, and they might think of things that you didn’t think of, too, that I might miss.”
Jack Butala: You know and all three questions that are the same about a property, then your posting’s probably not right. You need to add it through your FAQ, in some cases, just add it to like the whole posting template scenario.
Jill DeWit: You are right. Thank you.
Jack Butala: Hey, join us in another episode where Jack and Jill discuss how to use information, that’s me.
Jill DeWit: And inspiration, that’s me.
Jack Butala: To get just about anything you want.
Jill DeWit: We use it every day to buy property for half of what it’s worth, and sell it immediately.
Jack Butala: You are not alone in your real estate ambition. I know you have an appointment.
Jill DeWit: I do, and I hate to cut this short, but I got to tell you, I got to … speaking of customer service.
Jack Butala: There you go.
Jill DeWit: I have a customer service call right now.
Jack Butala: I think it’s okay.
Jill DeWit: Thank you, Jack.
Jack Butala: Information and inspiration to buy under-valued property.
If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to email me directly at steve@LandAcademy.com.
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