Ep 74: Interview with Ricky Carruth: The Client-Driven Path to Success


Ricky Carruth is the number one RE/MAX agent in Alabama, as well as the author of two books: List to Last: How to Survive Every Real Estate Market Crash, and Zero to Diamond: Become a Million Dollar Real Estate Agent.

Zero to Diamond is also the name of his free real estate coaching company, which he uses to share his expertise with thousands of agents across the globe.

Today on Stay Paid, Ricky discusses the relationship-based approach that continues to net him dozens of closed deals each year.

Key Points:

  • By valuing people over individual transactions, you can close more deals in the long run.
  • When you offer to help a FSBO for free, you have a chance of earning their business down the line.
  • If you set aside just five minutes each day to call a past client, that adds up to more than 350 calls in a year—increasing the likelihood you’ll earn repeat business and referrals.

Q: Introduce yourself to our audience.

I grew up roofing houses with my dad. I got into real estate when I was 20 years old. When I got my license, it took me 8 months to make my first sale. We didn’t have Zillow, dialing systems, or any of the things agents have nowadays. New agents have no idea how good they have it. They have no idea what it used to be, so they’re not taking advantage of what it is. Whatever your message is, it’s very easy to spread that message very cheaply through the entire market.

Real estate is actually so simple. People are doing all these things besides calling the person, but they still eventually have to talk to them. Instead of figuring out ways to prolong the inevitable, go ahead and talk to them right now.

I became a millionaire by 23. So, I lived a pretty crazy life at that time. I was drinking, partying, and buying Hummers and Cadillacs. I borrowed a lot of money, bought a lot of property, and wound up in trouble when the market crashed. I went back to roofing houses. I stayed on friends’ couches. But I was just as happy as I was when I was a millionaire. What makes me happy is the daily progress. It doesn’t matter if something that’s out of my hands takes me down a notch.

The turning point for me was that everything had been focused on the money, and I lost sight of helping people. After the crash, I saw that clients I’d sold to were still doing deals. And I thought, “Man, if I’d just created that relationship or that bond with that person, I would have been the one doing those deals.”

What I realized was that closings continued to happen every day, even when the market crashed. You can never handle everything, even in the worst of markets. So, that gives you a weight lifted off your shoulders. You don’t have to worry if there’s enough deals out there for you.

Q: How did you get that mind-set?

I got there by being in the business for 17 years, losing it all, and then coming back. I realized everything I needed to succeed around 2007, and it took me another six years to get where I really wanted to be. Imagine somebody new who doesn’t really know what’s going on, who wants to do a hundred transactions a year.

Q: Why did you start coaching for free?

In 2014, I sold 114 properties. I wondered whether it was for real. In 2015 and 2016, I did it again. At that point, I believed it was real. I realized I needed to write a book to explain how I did what I did. I’d never written a book before, so I kept starting over. The last time I started over, I got about halfway through the book, and REMAX asked me to be a keynote speaker at an event for 400 agents. I’d never spoken at an event before, and I don’t even normally wear a suit.

After the speeches, most of the guys just got back in the crowd, and nothing happened. When I got done, people were rushing me, telling me thanks, and asking me questions. That gave me the motivation to finish the book. I thought, “This is really going to help people.”

That was October 2016. I finished the book in early 2017. When I finished, there were still all these ideas in my head. As soon as I gave the first book to the editor, I started writing the second book. By the time the editor gave me my first draft back, I gave him the draft for the second one.

That led me to start out the coaching program. I charged at first. But I was never going to do 1-on-1 coaching. You can’t scale that. I don’t want to just help 50 agents. I want to help millions of agents.

The bottom line of it all is that I’m on a mission to reduce the failure rate in this industry. We need to start teaching agents how to figure out what they can do for their clients—not only now, but for the rest of their lives.

Q: What’s the big pain point for agents? What would you tell them to focus on?

In Zero to Diamond, I give a 90-day action plan. For the first week, I suggest calling every FSBO and offering to help them for free.

I like to just call FSBOs and say, “I want to help you for free.” They say, “Why would you do that?” I say, “Why wouldn’t I?” If they sell based on my advice, maybe they’ll buy with me.

Sellers aren’t using agents for the exposure anymore. Agents need to understand this. We’re not the gatekeepers of exposure—we’re the gatekeepers of what goes on behind the scenes.

Losing deals is the best thing that could happen to you. With the time you lose, you can go and work on five more deals that you didn’t have the time for before.

Q: Which routine has driven success for you?

I think keeping things extremely simple is important. We tend to overcomplicate things. It’s all about talking to people and making them feel comfortable. You should be super confident in who you are and what you’re there for. If you’re a brand new agent, you have a leg up on a lot of experienced agents. You can tell the customer, “I have 8 hours a day to work on your property.”

At the end of the day, you need to be talking to enough people. This is where people really get sideways. People spend too much time trying to convert a few clients. When you slow down your prospecting or lead generation to attract people who may or may not convert, you’re putting yourself in danger. Whenever you say yes to something, you’re really saying no to something else. We all have the same amount of hours in a day.

Q: Knowing what you know now, what would you tell the younger version of yourself?

I would not change anything, to be honest with you. I really don’t want to be any further along than I am. My level of success doesn’t matter. It’s the grind that I’m in love with. The reason I got into coaching was that I basically got bored with real estate. I go to all the appointments, and I do all the things I’m supposed to do, but I don’t think about it. All that stuff became automatic and easy. This coaching thing has been a real challenge.

But, if I had to tell my younger self something, I think I would tell myself that it’s all about relationships. Don’t value the transactions—value the people.

Q: Do you have anything else to add?

I have this new Law of Five. The Law of Five is this:

When you lose a deal, you give yourself five minutes to sulk about it. Set a timer. Once the timer is done, go get more deals with all the future time you’ve got back.

You should also take five minutes a day to call one past client. If you do this every day, that’ll add up to 350 or more past client calls each year.

You can really use this five minutes for anything. You could make two cold calls. When you make two cold calls, that’s more than 600 extra calls in a year. Maybe you’ll talk to 40 people and pick up 12 new clients, and do four more deals each year. Those clients will yield 10–20 more deals for you down the road.

Action Items:

  • This week, call the clients who you did business with last year. Touch base with them, and see what you can offer them. Watch the reciprocity effect take hold.

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