Overwhelmed by phone calls - Posted by Mike-DFW

Posted by JohnG on May 25, 1999 at 24:14:01:

when asked about his opponent in an upcoming election :
“He is a modest little man with much to be modest about”.

Overwhelmed by phone calls - Posted by Mike-DFW

Posted by Mike-DFW on May 24, 1999 at 14:46:37:

Here is the situation:

I have 3 houses that I am marketing and they all have different prices. Usually I put some financial info in my ads such as payments, down payment or price. This time I used a generic owner fin. ad with no terms. In the last 3 days I have received 81 calls.

Now I am not complaining but they are driving me crazy. How do some of you folks advertise your homes?


Re: Overwhelmed by phone calls - Posted by JPiper

Posted by JPiper on May 25, 1999 at 13:42:36:

When I run an ad I collect the calls by voice mail typically. The voice mail gives NO details on the property, it just asks for their name and number.

I call EVERY person back?.and tell EVERY one of them that it has 3BR. Do I think it’s a waste of time? No.

Generally my ads are written to produce calls from people who for one reason or another believe they aren’t qualified for a loan. I typically ask enough questions to determine what the credit status of the caller is. What I find is that there are always some people who I CAN get a loan for?.but who don’t believe that they can. I also find people with plenty of cash (for my purposes)?.these are also people I can work with. Sometimes I find people with excellent credit?.but no money. These are people I can work with. Then there are a whole bunch of people who end up being a waste of time for a lot of varying reasons. The problem is?.I don’t know which one is which UPFRONT?.until I talk with them.

It’s true that a person can call who ends up not being interested in that particular house. Does that mean he’s not someone I should have talked with? I don’t know about you, but I’ve made a lot of money over the years with people who called on one house, and who ended up buying another house.

Throwing barriers up which rule certain people out BEFORE you know who you’re ruling out makes no sense to me. I see the point of it from an efficiency standpoint?..but I also see that much gets lost in the shuffle. One thing to understand?..in the last number of years we’ve been in a strong seller’s market in most of the country. This means that the buyer’s are out there in force. If the market changes to a buyer’s market?..you better know how to work with buyer’s?..because they won’t be out in force anymore. Requiring buyer’s to jump through even minor hoops WON’T work in a buyer’s market, in my opinion.

My belief is that I make a difference. I don’t believe that minimum wage people can do what I do. I don’t believe there’s a system out there that can do what I do. But one thing for sure?.doing what I do takes more time?.so it’s a tradeoff?.time versus quality.


We don’t even talk to them until after they have seen the inside of the house. - Posted by Rick Vesole

Posted by Rick Vesole on May 25, 1999 at 10:48:02:

Our method is somewhat like Joe Kaiser’s except we don’t make it quite so difficult for the buyer and we only talk to buyer’s who have already seen the inside of the house and have the necessary earnest money in hand.

We run our ad. The ad contains a phone number which is a voice mail that describes the house and tells them that if they would like to see it, it is open between the hours of 6 pm and 8 pm that evening. We have a person at the house to let them in and to hand out flyers describing the steps they are interested in buying the home. If they wish to proceed, they leave their phone number. Then, and only then, we call them at our convenience and answer any further questions they have. If they want to put in an application, they make an appointment to fill out an application and to be interviewed. We then process the application. That’s all there is to it. We don’t have to waste any time answer redundant questions such as location, number of rooms, etc. They will know all that before we ever talk to them.

This is efficient and a lot cheaper than hiring someone to take all your calls. Its not quite as cheap as Joe’s system, but it works well for us. The only criticism I have for Joe’s system is that he must end up getting applications from people who end up not wanting it after they have seen the inside of the house, or he might not get some applications because they don’t want to go to all the trouble of filling out and faxing an application on a house that they haven’t even gotten to see on the inside. I suspect that Joe’s system might work better for him than for others because I understand that Seattle is a very hot market.

Anyway, I think that it is important to find a system that works for you and your market. I don’t mean to belittle JSmith, but I understand that he only flips and assigns. That means that he is only advertising to cash buyers - a totally different market than owner financing or lease/options. If I were selling only to cash buyers like he does, I probably would not want to miss any calls either.

Re: One solution… - Posted by Jackie in Dallas

Posted by Jackie in Dallas on May 24, 1999 at 21:28:57:

Don’t out your phone number in the ads.
Just put the address.

When they get to the house there will be detailed inforamtion about how they can get in touch with you - or perhaps criteria and a credit application for them to fill out and fax in if they are interested.

This was - the ONLY people that are calling are the ones that have been to the house - already seen it - know what your criteria is - and STILL want to talk. Helps weed through the junk calls.

Re: Overwhelmed by phone calls - Posted by SCook85

Posted by SCook85 on May 24, 1999 at 20:12:35:


You have a very good problem there. I to have had this problem on numerous occasions. I did find that my best results were when I answered the phone myself. I made it a point to suck it up and just sit there to take the calls. I did not enjoy it, and really don’t want to do it anymore. I like Joe Kaisers approach. It is something that I would like to institute, at least something similar to it. The real serious buyers will come to the top and you won’t have to waste your time with the rest.
I used to first ask how much money they have and would blow them off if they do not have much. I no longer do that. Their are may 100% financing programs out there, as well as low down government programs that many of the people I used to blow off can qualify for. I explore every option available as far as financing is concerned when I have a prospect interested in a home.

This is how I handle my calls, I tell them to drive by the home, if they like it to give me a call back, that is usually when I qualify them. I also tell them that if they don’t like the home to keep me in mind because I am always have new homes to offer. Many people stay in constant contact with me.

Just remember Mike you have a good problem, call them all, if nothing else it is good practice. You learn a lot by making the calls.


Re: Overwhelmed by phone calls - Posted by JSmith

Posted by JSmith on May 24, 1999 at 19:28:16:

You are truly blessed having this many calls. Your phone ringing off the hook is the lifeblood of any business. I personally do not like phone recorders, hoops to jump over, or anything that may cause me to miss a potential clients call. I went to a seminar once where Ralph Roberts the number #1 single family Realtor/Investor in the country was the key note speaker. His views are the same as mine. I quote, “If you cannot answer the phone or at least pay someone to answer the phone, get out of the business.”

I know that is hard thinking. I know it is tough on new investors. I know it can cause many inconveniences. However, getting someone to answer the phone for you while you are at work is not expensive. Will you be able to do deals with phone recorders, yes. I just read JKaiser and he proves you can. This area is by far the most absolute important part of any business that in my mind you cannot afford to do anything besides answer the phone and collect data. The potential power you have with 81 calls plus the future ones you will get will make you a millionaire.

The minimum I would have is an answering service. Even then, I am very uncomfortable with this because of the importance of incoming calls from potential buyers. If you can do any shifting in other areas, do it so that you can get the phone answered and questions asked and information collected. To me, the potential buyer is holding your money and the only way to get to it is by collecting and working with the information you collect. All calls are 100% important. If the caller is a tire kicker, try and get their address, phone, and email for later follow-up. If the caller is just causing trouble, ask for a referral if they know if someone needs to sell quickly. If the seller has no cash, see if they have good credit. To me, a phone call from potential buyers requires and demands your special attention.


Re: Overwhelmed by phone calls - Posted by Rob FL

Posted by Rob FL on May 24, 1999 at 18:26:52:

I have an inexpensive fax/voice mail system. When they call it directs them to the voice mail box. “If you are interested in 123 Elm Street press 1, for 456 Maple Street press 2, etc.” Then when they get to the mailbox, it has a message telling them the necessary info and the address of the property. The people that leave messages have driven by the property and have all the pertinent info already. It screens out probably 50% or more of the people.

You’re right, theres got to be a better way . . . - Posted by JoeKaiser

Posted by JoeKaiser on May 24, 1999 at 17:37:16:

I don’t want to return 81 calls. As a matter of fact, I don’t want to return ANY phone calls and I don’t.

I use the Bingo Bango Bongo Tenant Acquisiton System?. Here’s how it works . . . you want to rent from me - prove it!

I run an ad that directs them to the voice mail. The voice mail tells a little something about the house. At the house, I’ve got a window flyer that decribes more about the house and the actual terms I’m offering, and I’ve got applications right there pinned to the house. The flyer tells them how to fill out the application, gives them my fax number only, and lets them know that upon receipt of the fax I’ll get in touch with them.

And then I just sit back and wait for the fax machine to fire up. If the ad comes out Sunday morning, it’s actually fun to see who makes their way through the maze first by reading the ad, calling the voice mail, visiting the property, reading the instructions, taking an app, and then faxing it to me.

Essencially, I’ve placed all the work in their lap and the result is typically a handful of apps by late Sunday evening. I am now free to pick from the very best ones . . . without ever having had to return all those ad calls.

Full details in the lease option course.


Try This - Posted by Bill K. (AZ)

Posted by Bill K. (AZ) on May 24, 1999 at 15:01:13:


I’ve only advertised one home for sale, but I wanted to avoid exactly what you’re experiencing. I only want qualified folks to call. So, I make it a point to add the monthly payment info to my ads. That way, I don’t have to field calls from people who aren’t capable of making the payment.

If you’re only running a single ad for 3 homes, you might try reserving 1 line for the financing arrangement on each home. Something like this…

Homes for sale, Owner financing
No credit check, no qualifying
3/2, 1400sf, $1090/month
3/1, 1220sf, $950/month
4/2, 1840sf, $1325/month
Call: (999) 123-4567

This way, the people who can only afford $950/month will call asking about the 3/1, 1220sf home, and so on. And, hopefully, folks who can only pay $500/month will not bother to call. This doesn’t guarantee that non-qualified people won’t call, but the number of calls should decrease.

On the other hand, if you’re able to return ALL calls, you can build up a buyer’s database, and call back some of these people when you find a home that more closely meets their needs.

I hope this helps.

Bill K. (AZ)

Re: Overwhelmed by phone calls - Posted by Gary_OK

Posted by Gary_OK on May 27, 1999 at 21:12:25:


Thank you for your informative post and accommodating demeanor. You are obviously an experienced investor, yet willing to allow others their opinion. If a person wants to ?WASTE? his time taking 80+ calls, that is their business. If I disagree with the method, I will state so and why. Rather than call attention to the stupidity of us mere mortals, thanks for offering prudent advice based on your life experiences.

I appreciate your knowledge and willingness to share. It makes learning a lot more enjoyable.


Re: We don’t even talk to them until after they have seen the inside of the house. - Posted by JoeKaiser

Posted by JoeKaiser on May 25, 1999 at 15:33:30:


Good points.

Actually, the real drawback is that some people don’t want to fax an application with all their personal information, to a complete stranger. Especially when they have no clue who’s on the other end of the fax machine.


Re: One solution… - Posted by SCook85

Posted by SCook85 on May 25, 1999 at 01:01:12:

This is exactly the approach I have been thinking about using. Do you use it often. If so, how does it work.


Re: Overwhelmed by phone calls - Posted by Rob FL

Posted by Rob FL on May 25, 1999 at 12:30:46:

I do agree with you that if all an answering machine says is “Thanks for calling leave a message at the beep.” That this will not cut it if you are a serious investor.

However, if I spend 5 minutes per call times 81 calls that is 405 minutes spent on the telephone which equals 6 hours and 45 minutes. I personally don’t like the thought of reiterating to 81 people, 50 of which are probably “tire kickers” as you put it, that the house is 3 beds / 2 baths / 2 car garage, fenced backyard, asking $80,000, need $4000 down, address 123 Elm Street, etc., etc. I have found that the vast majority of the people are calling to get the size, the price and money involved, and the street address so they can drive by it. Why not provide that info on your voice mail or a flyer or something? I paid $300 for a fax/voice mail in 1995, wrote it off for taxes, and still use it on a regular basis to manage multiple rental properties and a small real estate office.

So, you’re going to answer 81 calls . . . - Posted by Joe Kaiser

Posted by Joe Kaiser on May 24, 1999 at 22:19:13:

More power to you. Me, I got better things to do.


PS. I don’t believe all calls are “100% important.” Real world - I bet 95% of them turn out to be pretty much a total waste of your time, and the other six probably already faxed me anyway.

Technology, leverage and motivated buyers … - Posted by HankM

Posted by HankM on May 24, 1999 at 19:48:47:

As a consumer I don’t like talking to machines. As an investor, I kinda like it because it puts me in control when they call back (or get my caller-id/voicemail) knowing they are interested.

If you have more than one in the hopper at any time you really don’t want to answer the phone yourself and while I appreciate your comments on answering services, to my mind a person who “ain’t got a clue” answering the phone is worse than voice mail.

Amplify that by the fact that most folks are in this all by themselves, trying to minimize overhead, and I think the leverage technology argument plays well. Acknowleging that you WILL miss a few deals that don’t/won’t talk to a machine.

Just a thought.


Real Smooth - Posted by John Behle

Posted by John Behle on May 24, 1999 at 19:00:49:

I like your approach. Cuts through much of the hassles of management. A few steps farther than I’ve seen anyone take it.

Giving away a nugget! - Posted by HankM

Posted by HankM on May 24, 1999 at 18:56:16:

I applaud Joe.

Beyond anything, the Bingo Bango Bongo method was worth the price alone of the course … and there are a couple other pretty cool things there too.

He just GAVE you at least the cost of the program for nuthin’. Think about the cost of your time and the aggrevations you’re enjoying now … do the math.


Re: Try This - Posted by Brad Crouch

Posted by Brad Crouch on May 26, 1999 at 17:31:42:

Bill K.,

The database of “buyers” would only be good for a few weeks, so you’d really have to hustle to find homes for them.

And the ones who couldn’t qualify for even the cheapest house, would be worthless to keep. That’s a lot of time on the telephone for what could be small returns. Wouldn’t your time be better spent looking for deals?


Re: One solution… - Posted by Jackie in Dallas

Posted by Jackie in Dallas on May 25, 1999 at 10:20:29:

It works great.

If I run an ad with a phone number from the start - many of the people that call won’t even get off their butts and go look at the house - yet they waste my time on the phone. These are the same kind of people that couldn’t get the documents necessary to get a loan processed if their lives depended on it.

By giving out the address ONLY in the ad - and the phone number at the house ONLY - I know the folks have the initiative to at least go look at the house and they like what they see or they wouldn’t be calling.

It cuts down on the non - serious calls tremendously.