Ep 117: Tom Ferry – The 5 Things You Need to Build a Thriving Business


Tom Ferry is the founder and CEO of Ferry International—the leading coaching and training company in real estate. He’s also a best-selling author and in-demand speaker, as well as the host of the wildly popular #TomFerryShow video series.

Today on Stay Paid, Tom shares his inspiring story and offers incredible insight that will help you create meaningful growth in your business.

Key Points:

  • If you want to scale your business, you need to scale your trust.
  • There’s no one “right way” to win clients—measure, track, and figure out which methods work best for you.
  • There are five things every real estate agent should have in place.

Q: Introduce yourself to our audience.

Our company consists of about 370 people, and it’s nice to see the accolades that we get. But, at the end of the day, I’m just excited about helping people move forward.

I’ve now published my cell phone number and am giving it to people. I’ve received about 7,000 text messages in the past few weeks asking, “Is this really Tom?”

I’m trying to figure out how to scale trust and have greater impact at this stage of my career than I did at the beginning.

I was raised in Southern California on surf, skate, and punk rock. I was always focused on the wrong stuff. But I made the decision at age 18 that this was not what I wanted to do. I wanted to go manage my dad’s company.

My dad is a legend in the real estate industry. He had kicked me out a year and a half earlier, and I hadn’t spoken to him. I had a purple Mohawk and was wearing a Bauhaus t-shirt. He said, “When the drugs wear off, come back to me.”

So, I came back, and I worked my way up through the company. It took me nine years.

It was almost like a science project trying to figure out what worked. We were able to scale the company in 6 years in the same way that I am teaching other real estate professionals now.

We coach people around the world, and I do 30–40 events a year. My belief is that the people who resonate with your message become your tribe.

Q: When did your dad’s company become Ferry International?

This is not a knock against my father—we hang out all the time. But we are very different people. I honored the idea that he was the founder and tried to do more of what he did. But, in my heart, I knew there was another way to do it.

I noticed the highest performing agents on the REAL Trends report had nothing in common. My belief is there is no wrong way to build a practice. The key is to make it scalable and repeatable.

We’re a fan out of getting a lot out of a little and not spending a dime.

Q: What are agents doing that gets them stuck, and what should they be doing instead?

We had probably 80,000–90,000 people download our business plans that we make available for free, and then tens of thousands built those plans inside our software.

Most people don’t know where they get their business from or how they get it. For them, every day is a roll of the dice. You need to begin by extracting what works. Keep running plays that work, and quit doing dumb ****.

Marketing and lead generation are math. I have a 10-person marketing team that will generate clicks, then my SDRs will take these leads and nurture, qualify, and hand them over to one of our consultants.

I say, “You don’t have to close hard. I’m going to give you seven people a day to talk to.” We’ll give those people so much value that, when the timing is finally right, they’ll buy.

Agents should go through every single one of your lead sources. If social media matters to you—and it should—figure out what produces the best results for you. Document and extract everything that you do.

Go on the MLS, print out your transactions, and categorize them. Then, ask yourself: when I’m producing the best result, what do I do? If you just start to document that, you can figure out your marketing plan going forward.

If you don’t have a marketing plan, I would challenge you and say you’re not even in business. If what you want isn’t documented and right there in front of you, what are you doing?

You might say that you’ve created a marketing plan in the past. But then, you get busy being a salesperson again. After that, you want some time off. If that’s the case, you need to outsource it. Figure out if you’re going to hire someone to do different things for you. The world doesn’t need another stressed, low-income salesperson.

I’m doing another podcast after this, coaching someone, jumping on a plane to do a presentation (my version of an open house), and recording 43 videos. That’s what you do. There’s no one watching this that should ever have free time.

Q: How much time should a solopreneur or agent be spending on tracking?

A minimum of one hour to 1.5 hours a week. Someone needs to be focusing on whether you’ve gotten enough appointments. We have someone doing this every single day. But, if you don’t stop once a week and look at what you have, what are you doing?

If your goal is $100,000 in revenue, you need to make $25,000 a quarter. Again, the world doesn’t need another person who doesn’t achieve their goals, stresses about their time, and doesn’t make money.

If you want to make more money, track your numbers. As a 20-year-old, I tracked everything, and I made $250,000. I wasn’t special—I just tracked and measured.

Use an Excel spreadsheet or Google Docs. See how many people you talk to that you know and how many people you talk to that you don’t know. Those numbers need to be tracked every day. How many appointments did you get for buyers and sellers?

If you’re an ambitious person, all of this makes sense. But another big factor is exposure. With a traditional real estate, insurance, or mortgage company, the first 90 days will be massively uncomfortable.

You know nothing about the customer or the real estate market, and you have to go sell houses.

People tell you to prospect your friends. What if seven of your friends are real estate agents and you can’t call them? And, to make things even worse, you’re in an office surrounded by eight other agents who never sell houses.

There’s this BS story in sales that you can make a fortune only working with referrals. No more than 30 percent of your business should come from your past clients and sphere. Why won’t you share yourself with people who don’t already know, like, and trust you? Why aren’t you scaling your trust?

Q: What tools should new agents start out with if they’re looking to build trust?

You want a ratio of 50/50 or 2/3 to 1/3 for brand-building and building trust. Familiarity is created by frequency. When you add in relevant information, you get trust.

You want people to walk up to you in the grocery store and say, “I watch your stuff all the time. You’re killing it.”

The agents who win are converting 10 percent of everyone in their database annually. This is because the average person moves every 10 years. If you’re not doing the same thing, you’re not familiar, frequent, or relevant enough for them to trust you.

I call my plan 5 to Thrive.

  1. You’ve got to have a CRM. It doesn’t matter which one—they’re all great.
  2. You’ve got to have an email program set up where you can send emails automatically. Someone has already written the article. You can just share it or reframe it. Or, you can buy somebody’s email solution off the shelf.
  3. Geographic farming is as good or better than your database today. The number one reason is you can predict your sale price, which you cannot do with your database. Go to where you already do transactions, upload it to Google Maps, then figure out where you sell houses. You can figure out where you do a lot of business. Then, you can upload your database and do the same thing. You can find out where you have influence. Then, find out where you have at least 6 percent turnover rate. If you’re not crushing open houses, you are missing out. Andy Tse made about 11 million dollars on open houses. His entire business consists of the things I just told you. He takes his family on vacation to Hawaii and flies back over the weekend to do open houses, then flies back to Hawaii to spend time with his family. Last year, he did nearly 30 percent of transactions in Saratoga, Florida, with an average price of 2.5 million dollars.
  4. Every top-producing agent today has a paid search plan. Do this on Google as well as Bing. Paid search on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Zillow, etc. If buyers don’t see you, you don’t exist.
  5. And the last thing you’ll need is a social plan. When the algorithms changed in October last year, I called friends from big media companies and social media companies. They said to 3x or 4x my content. We 3xed our content on every channel, and we have 7xed impressions and reach. We didn’t see a lot of un-subscribers—in fact, we dramatically increased subscribers.

Q: Which routines have driven success for you?

Control your weight, money, environment, and the people you spend your time with.

In my calendar, it says to ask my wife Kathy how I am doing as a husband once a week. Since we’ve launched this texting thing, she has asked me to stay in the garage until I’m done. Then, I can be present.

I’ve used an app called Sleep Cycle for the last five years. I get about 7.5 hours of sleep tonight. Your body needs time to rest and heal.

I’m aiming to exercise 300 times this year.

Every day, I express gratitude and read my goals. Once a month, I read my 20-year vision to my wife. We’re four years in now, and we’ll see that we’ve actually accomplished some of these things.

I want more experiences. At the end of life, all you are is your memories. I’m trying to design more magical memories with everyone I know and love.

Q: Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give to your younger self? 

Nothing. I am a sum total of every mistake I’ve made in my life.

I would’ve closed my wife sooner. It took me 18 months of lead follow-up to get her to say yes.

The one thing I would say is that I’m sorry to anyone I’ve made truly angry. Outside of that, I am so much more focused on the right now and where we’re going.

No regrets.

Action Items:

  • Track where your deals are coming from, and determine whether you’re converting 10 percent of your database.
  • If you’re not converting at 10 percent, you need to connect more consistently with relevant information.

Connect with Tom: 

Tom Ferry Podcast Experience
Cell: 949-216-5466


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