Ep. 66: Interview with Willie Mandrell: The Importance of Finding Your Niche


Willie Mandrell is the broker and founder of the Mandrell Company, a brokerage which focuses on the micro-niche of multi-family real estate investment in the Boston metropolitan area. He also founded Boston Wealth Builders, a group of investors interested in creating long-term wealth through real estate investment.

In this week’s episode of Stay Paid, Luke Acree and Josh Stike meet with Mandrell to discuss the importance of finding a niche within your local real estate market.

Key Points:

  • Find your specialty within your market and become a local expert.
  • Don’t underestimate the importance of seminars and educational outreach.
  • Build relationships by networking with others face to face.

Q: Introduce yourself to our audience.

My grandparents were in the real estate my business. My grandmother moved up to Boston from Atlanta, Georgia in the later 1940s, early 1950s. She bought a couple of brownstone buildings—they were boarding houses at the time—rented them out, and continued to pay down the mortgage. In 1994 she sold everything and became a multi-millionaire. The way she described it to me, it was really simple. She came up, she had a 6thgrade education, and she was essentially just buying up buildings and paying down the mortgage creating wealth for herself. When I was graduating from college, I wanted to buy a condo. She told me not to. She told me to go buy a multi-family. It was probably the best decision I ever made. I got a couple rent checks from my tenant upstairs, and felt really good about it. I noticed my mortgage was being paid down, my house was appreciating at the time.

Unfortunately, this was 2006-2007. Then the stock market crashed. But I don’t regret it. It taught me a lot about market cycles. It taught me everything bad happens in your life, there’s opportunities. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the market crash. I was one of the lucky people who didn’t lose my home.

In 2010-2011, I left my corporate job. I was doing compliance work and just didn’t feel like I was living life to the fullest. So, I got my real estate license, worked for a couple brokerages, picked up a lot of things they were doing—things that I didn’t necessarily like, things that they were doing well. In 2013, I started the Mandrell Company, and it grew into what it is today.

Q:Tell us about Boston Wealth Builders.

When you’re an entrepreneur, it’s a lonely life. I wasn’t necessarily doing the things in life that people who I grew up with wanted to do. Boston Wealth Builders started as me trying to find people who were out there doing the things that I wanted to do—trying to build wealth through real estate. So, it really started as a lonely kid trying to find other people, and it grew into what it is today. I’ve made great connections and built a business around it.

Q: How have you gone about growing your brokerage, The Mandrell Company?

I try to do as much reading as possible—books on real estate, marketing, sales. And I realized I needed to differentiate myself. When I first started as an agent, I wasn’t saying no to anything. The problem with that is that I wasn’t really defining myself. I wasn’t really becoming an expert in any particular market. I didn’t really enjoy the single-family market niche. I ended up working with a couple developers here in Boston, and their decisions were centered more on return on investment, cash flow. I kind of fell in love with that side of the business.

When we formed the Mandrell Company, we said, “It’s going to be a multi-family investment service. We’re going to target investors.” If my cousin comes to me and says they want to sell their home, we’re not going to turn down that business. But in terms of our marketing, we focus on targeting those who want to become investors, those who are already investors and want to build on their portfolios.

Q: What do you do to generate leads?

In the beginning, we were doing a little bit of everything. Boston Wealth Builders have helped me find a lot of people. We’ve done Facebook leads, we’ve done lead pages. But, over the years, I’ve realized we’ve been the most successful when I do public speaking events or seminars. Through Boston Wealth Builders, we’ll hold multi-family 101 seminars, cash flow seminars, talk about property management—just putting out education into the market, and branding yourself as an expert in the market. We started off with a lot of different methods, but I’m a big believer in education. We do a lot on YouTube. Any opportunity we have to speak and put ourselves out there, we’re going to take it.

Q: How do you get people to attend these events?

To fill seminars, we go through Eventbrite and Meetup organizers. We network with other groups. We make sure the event location is promoting the event. We use Facebook advertising. Facebook is a great platform for targeting specific individuals and market your message to them. We’re putting our message everywhere.

Q: How much do you typically spend on these events, and how does this pay off in ROI?

Here in Boston, it’s pretty pricey. So, typically, the commission from one transaction, we’re looking about $15,000-$20,000 per transaction. At a typical event, we’re spending $300-400 for an event space, another couple hundred for appetizers, another $300-400 on actual marketing. So, we’re probably spending about $1,000 per event. One transaction, one connection, or one purchase from the event pays for itself many times over.

Q: Are there systems that you use to track your numbers

Most agents don’t treat their work like a business. They’re under the impression that you can just work hard and it’ll happen. No, you have to track your numbers and know where your leads are coming from. We encourage our agents to get a CRM. I tell them, “If your goal is to close 10 deals, then you need to generate 150 leads. If at the end of 6 months, you have 10 new people in your CRM, you’re probably not going to hit those numbers.”

To get a little bit more complex, I look at Google Analytics on a regular basis. I know how many people are visiting our website, where the traffic is being generated. If it’s coming from our YouTube channel, what specific videos are resonating with our client base, and how can I create another video to pull people in? I’m a big believer in building systems, tracking what you’re doing, and becoming more efficient.

Q: What’s the number one mistake you see agents making?

Hard work is great. There has to be a goal in mind. I can show you exactly where I want to be in five years. In order for me to get there, there are certain things I’m going to need to do in year four, three, two, and this year. There are things that I need to do in December, and November, all the way down to today.

Most real estate agents don’t look at themselves as a business owner. They don’t understand that they’re affiliated with the brokerage, but they are their own company. They have to figure out where they want to be in five years and break it down into smaller goals. You’ll figure out exactly what you need to do today to get to where you want to be later on.

Q: What’s your number one lead generator?

A lot of agents don’t want to hear this, but it’s networking. It’s getting out and meeting other people. The idea that you can just sit back and post things on Instagram and build a massive business is flawed. In my opinion, those things are supplements. I don’t think there are too many things that you can do that are going to overtake the face to face conversation that you’re going to have. I think that’s a lot more powerful than any inspirational quote that you can put on Facebook.

When I say networking, that doesn’t necessarily mean a bunch of real estate events. Find something that you enjoy doing, whether it’s swimming, tennis, or golf. Meet people who are not necessarily in your line of work. You have a commonality now. The conversation of what you do for work always comes up. You don’t have to have that awkward conversation, “Here’s my business card.” That conversation comes naturally. They’re more likely to do business with you on the other side.

Q: Is there anything that you do consistently that has driven success for you?

You might think I’m crazy when I say this. Everyone has their vices. I am religiously on MLS. I’m addicted to it. My wife will get up, because the light from my iPhone is shining in her eyes at 2 in the morning. I hate the holiday season, because not that many listings are coming on. But it’s helped me grow my business because I can say to a buyer with confidence, “The property is worth X.” It’s just really going out there and understanding your niche. You’re only going to be able to become that expert in your neighborhood if you look at the listings and study the market.

Q: What would you go back and tell your younger self?

To stay even. The younger Willie used to close a deal and be on a high, and lose a listing and get really low and down. There was just this rollercoaster ride. I would tell myself just to stay even, and to continue to stay focused on the long term, and continue to work. You don’t want to get too down on yourself, and don’t go thinking that you’ve made it. Being an entrepreneur, there’s just so many ups and downs.

If I were to act like that now, I would drive myself crazy. I have a family now, and one of the things I try to do is not let me day affect the way I treat my daughter or my life. When we have a bad day, I don’t want to pass that day off on somebody else. Try to stay as even as possible.

Action Items:

  • Find your niche. What do you love? What do you want to focus on and become the authority in your community.
  • What networking groups are you part of? Figure out how to meet more people and build more relationships.

Connect with Willie Mandrell: 


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