Updated: Mar 1, 2022
After years of building rapport with your clientele, what happens to those relationships when you retire? For REALTORS®, there is an opportunity to create value while working on and maintaining your database. Dale Shoemaker is a third-generation realtor and instructor at Gateway School of Real Estate. In this episode, Dale chats with Renee Williams on how you can use your existing database to earn residual income after you retire. Working in real estate didn’t always come with a retirement plan, but with 40 years in the business, Dale has gained the knowledge to help you out. Get to know all about this neat bonus to include in mapping out your exit plan!
Listen to the podcast here:
The Timeless Value Of Maintaining Your Database With Dale Shoemaker
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I wanted to tell you a little bit about Dale Shoemaker, our guests on the show but before we get started, let's learn some background info on Dale. He is a third-generation realtor. He has many years of real estate experience and he has successfully assisted thousands of clients through the complicated task of purchasing and selling homes, land and investment properties. He has several professional designations and achievements, including a managing broker, GRI-certified, RRC, CRB. He is also the Owner and Founder of the Gateway School of Real Estate in Puyallup, Washington. Let’s talk to Dale.
We are here with realtor extraordinary Dale Shoemaker. It’s very nice to have you on the show. Thank you so much for coming. You have a career that is rivaled by very few, sir. You've been in the business for a long time and if you could tell us a little bit about your career, how you started and what you're doing nowadays?
I have been in business for quite some time. I got my license in 1977 at the tender age of nineteen. Not long after that, I did get my broker's license in Washington. At that time, it was a real estate agent then a broker. They changed it around a little bit. I've got some designations. I'm GRI, CRS, CRB, RRC, C-RETS and SRES are my designations. About several years ago, I also created a real estate school that specializes in pre-license. I'm very excited about that and it's Gateway School of Real Estate. If you Google Washington real estate schools, my school is going to come up first or second, pretty much every time. That's what I've been doing and lately, I've been specializing in working with seniors. That's something I'm very passionate about.
With your tenured career, how do you think realtor retirement nowadays is different from when your family retired? I understand your mother and your grandmother were agents. How's it different now?
I'd like to say it was very different because people are more enlightened about being aware of it, but there's unfortunately not a lot. Back in the day, when people would retire from real estate, they just would not show up at the office anymore and which is sad because I work with some very good people, some high producers and when they left, that was it. There was no gold watch. No good luck, no severance check or anything. At least nowadays, there is the awareness that there can be something different than that and I suppose that's the biggest difference is that there is an awareness that it doesn't have to be that way where you don't show up and you don't get paid anymore.
You've come up with something or you've keyed into something that I think is key or very important to real estate agents nowadays. As I was looking through your website, I was reading a very profound statement that you made and I'm going to read it from the site. It says, “When doctors or lawyers retire, they transfer their business to another doctor or lawyer for retirement income. This goes the same for almost every profession you can name, CPAs, insurance brokers, accountants, dentists and financial planners. The list goes on. Why does real estate have anything like this? There must be a better way?” Dale, what do you think? What can we do as business owners to be better prepared for retirement?
Understanding that there is going to be a retirement is probably the best start. Being in real estate, you're always looking at what's going on in front of you and keeping the pipeline full and going and going. Stepping back and looking at the big picture is the start. Knowing that ultimately, you're not going to want to work anymore and good for you for wanting to retire, but instead of having to walk away from the business, there is a little bit more. During my research, I ran across a book called The Golden Handoff by Nick Krautter.
He's a broker out of Portland and he was from the side of buying these databases and paying people for them as they go. I took that and of course, I tweak it and change it around and things. There's a lot of different ways but as far as I register, that was revolutionary. This guy is from the other side of the coin, he's buying these things, but this is giving people 2, 3, 4, 5 years of income that they wouldn't have at all. It's nothing you want to start your retirement with is selling your database, but as far as a bonus on top, why not?
Nick Krautter is on the show. He is on with us and I was trying to see what episode I have him on. We already did the interview with him. He is on episode number four. It is called The Golden Handoff and I'm so glad that you mentioned it. It was an awesome book. A great read with Nick Krautter. Please do. It is called Monetize Your Database When You Retire With Nick Krautter here on the show. Tell me, Dale, what have you found? How has it worked for you?
There's a disturbing number of people that don't have a database. They don't work off of a database. That means a couple of things. One of them is at the very end, you have nothing to sell if you're not working out for database and in the more immediate thing, you're working way too hard for not enough money, if you don't have a database. I was surprised that there were so many folks that were, towards the end of their career, that doesn't have a database. They don't have one.
If you do have a database, make sure that you're working it. Your people are in contact with you. They know you, they like you, they trust you, they refer people to you because that's exactly what somebody's going to pay money for. A proper database has got a name, address, phone number, email, and cell phone. If you don't have that, you don't have a complete database. That's what somebody is going to be paying for when you get to retirement.
Are you finding that as you grow, the CRM that you're currently using, do you put notes in it? How are you breaking it up into pieces that are very useful so that you know where you are with each client?
Understanding that there will be a retirement is the best start, knowing that, ultimately, you’re not going to want to work anymore.
I had my database for so long but I do not have it plugged into a CRM program. When I started mine, it was several years ago and it was quite simply all my people with their names and addresses and their phone numbers on a piece of paper. I would keep in contact with them and it developed to when we got computers. It developed through that. If I was talking to somebody about developing that now, I absolutely would suggest a CRM program because it's all laid out right there. I would put copious amounts of notes on things like my client's anniversary, their kid's birth date, the day that they bought their house and who they referred to me. I would put all kinds of stuff in there because that makes it much more familiar with those people if you can go and see what they've done for you and it's just the way it should be done.
There's a lot of value to put things in there like that. As far as keeping in touch with the clients, I do have a system on things that I do per year to where I'm top of their mind but not in their face. Nobody wants to be that guy that's in their face, but there's a lot of different ways to contact people to where they go. They're happy to hear from you because it's a touch. You're just touching your people 8 to 10, even 12 times a year and that's what you're talking about. That puts you head and shoulders above the majority of people that are in the business.
Since you've been an agent for a few decades now, you are probably very similar to a lot of the audience that's reading the blog and it's insightful for me. I'm a Gen X-er. I was born in 1972. My generation came of age with computers. The first Macintosh computers or desktop computers came of age while I was in college. In high school, we were still using DOS programming. When I got to college was when they had Word documents and Excel spreadsheets. I'm more familiar. I think that there are many people who are hardworking agents who were in the business even then who maybe did not take to Excel spreadsheets or different ways of keeping up with that database. You are speaking to the heartbeat of the readers that I have.
If the reader is similar to you, what does the actual database look like? Is it a list? Is it a spreadsheet? Is it a Rolodex, maybe? I remember when I first started working, a lot of corporate companies that I worked for used to actually have a physical Rolodex with people's names on it. We'd write their name and phone number. If they had a fax number, they may not have even had fax. It was just a phone number. You put in it the Rolodex and you'd spin it. Are you still keeping a Rolodex? Help me understand where we are with those who have been in the business for many years?
I personally have mine on a Word program and it's all indexed out there. You have your list of people and then you break that down into an A, B and a C. The A people is where you're going to get the majority of business over the years. They're going to refer people to you. They're going to send their friends, their family and work. Those are A. Those are the people that if there's ever anything nice to do, you're going to do it for them. B people are very friendly. There are people that if you see them in a store, you ask them how they're doing, how their kids are and everything like that, but they haven't done business with you yet, but you totally expect them to be able to do business with you.
The Cs are on the back burner that you keep in touch because you believe that they would or you're percolating them. That can go anywhere from as simple as the way that I do it, to like you're talking a CRM program, that's got all the buzzers, whistles, places to keep notes and stuff. There's no bad way to do it. It's what you do with this list. How you keep it is your comfort zone. There' are some beautiful programs out there that can handle it and there's a short learning curve on it. They're all good and I have nothing bad to say about it. I'm used to my system and I don't even think about it that much anymore. I do these things during the year and I've done it for so long that if I mess up, my clients call me and tell me, “Where's my this or that?” That's the relationship that we have. Does that answer your question?
That totally answers my question. You found a little-known, maybe a secret in Washington State that allows you to do some things with your referrals after you retire. Can you share a little bit about what that is? I know it may be state-specific, but perhaps we can find out if it's available in other states as well.
This would be the thing that you would want to pay attention to is because when you retire and when we're talking real estate retire, that means you don't have a license anymore. That means you can't get paid and for the most part, most agents know that, “I don't have my license anymore, I can't get paid.” Maybe that's why they're not paying attention to their database and understanding that the value is there. The real trick to this and I've confirmed this multiple times with the state is that, if you transfer your database while you are still licensed, you can get paid for referrals.
It has got to come from the company where that person that you transferred the database to goes to but yes, you can receive income from referrals if and only you refer your database while you are still licensed. That's the real secret. That's something that probably 90% of the brokers don't know because all they know is, “I don't have my license. I can't get paid.” Kind of, but not really. The real secret is making sure that you can receive money because of the timing of when you transfer your database.
Can I only refer people who are in the database? Those people, let's say one of the people in the database gives me a referral, that I can get paid on that referral because that person was in the database that I sold or that I handed off to another agent.
No, unfortunately, it's just the database. Say, for instance, you're in a grocery store line and you see somebody that you haven't seen in a while, but it's not on the database. They say, “I'm thinking about selling my house.” You can still transfer that off, but officially you cannot receive a referral fee because they were not part of the database that was transferred.
What if they were in the database that I transferred and I've been working with them?
You're good to go. The real crux to the whole thing. That's the one that most people don't realize and maybe why most people don't think about it is, “I don't have a license. I can't get paid.” Yes and no.
If I decide that I don't want to maintain my license, I want to walk away at some point whenever I'm ready. Before I retire, I'm going to make arrangements to hand off my database to John Doe and then John Doe is then able to pay me a referral on all of the people in the database who call me after I retire and that is in Washington State.
The cherry on top is that at the end of your career, you have something to sell.
That's something that everybody in their particular state will need to check. That's the question you want to ask. Most states have their association of realtors and there's the legal hotline and things like that. That's the place you want to check. It would be difficult to call somebody at your state department of something and ask them the question because they're not dialed into that. They're not going to get it, but you're a realtor association legal hotline would be the place if you want to ask that.
It gives us an option. Ladies, even if it doesn't work for you, at least it's got you thinking about what you can do in the future when you're ready to hand off your database. These are all questions that we want to put in our five-year plan and our three-year plan for retirement. This should not be something that we're going to do overnight. We don't want to get in a hurry to retire. We want to make it more of a marathon and not a sprint to the end.
When it comes to the time of transferring, it's not just, “Here's the paperwork.” Ideally, you would want to and Nick probably mentioned this when he was on your program. There's a process for handing this off so that it's not all of a sudden, you're not talking to your people this person is. You're making an introduction to, “I'm retiring now. It's finally my time.” “Here's a person he's going to take care of you. He's going to be as good. He's going to do everything.”
There is this process that could take six months to a year to do it properly. That the people aren't feeling abandoned because I'm not here anymore and now you got to call somebody, “This person's great.” When people call me after I retire and say, “That's a great question. Call this person.” There's a dovetail to this process of handing off a database, instead of flopping the paperwork on the desk saying, “I'm out, you're in.”
Dale, you've been in the business for how long?
A little over several years.
In that time, what do you think that realtors are feeling about retirement? Are we avoiding it? Are we pushing it off for some reason? Are we just too busy to dive deep into retirement and what we need to do?
Retirement from real estate is a new concept because it wasn't something that people prepared for it. It's you stopped whenever you felt you had enough money. Hopefully, you've got rental properties that you built up or something then you stopped working. As my website states, that's not right. There are professional people that have worked hard for a lot of time, many years and they deserve to get some residual income from all their hard work.
Probably the biggest thing we're talking about is that there is finally an awareness of how this can work. There is something beyond getting rid of your license and not go to work every day. That's the main thing. I would think if I was talking to somebody who is getting started or in there, something like that is, for multiple reasons you want to do this. You want to set up a database, you want to work it, you want everything. The cherry on top is that at the end of your career, you have something to sell. That's probably it.
Dale, thank you so much for your time. I sincerely appreciate it. Work in my readers, reach you. If they want to know more about you, about what you're talking about, this concept, how can they get in touch with you?
My email address is Dale@DaleSellsHomes.com. That's probably the best way. If you want me to give me a phone call, that'd be perfectly okay too and that's (253) 381-3323. I’ll be happy to talk to anybody at whatever length that they're comfortable with if there's something I could possibly help with.
Thank you so much, Dale. I sincerely appreciate your time and for coming on and for sharing with us.
Thank you for asking me. It's been a pleasure. Thank you, Renee.
Monetize Your Database When You Retire With Nick Krautter - Previous Episode
About Dale Shoemaker
Dale Shoemaker is the owner and broker at Dale Sells Homes, Inc. He obtained his real estate license in 1977. Dale is a third-generation real estate agent, specializing in working with seniors and retiring REALTORS® with databases.