Modern Lending Podcast | John Bianchi

Alec has John Bianchi, Loan Depot's EVP of National Sales, on the podcast to talk about Branding and how simple it is and list some of the common misconceptions about the things you should do, not do and start doing. There is no secret sauce.

Your snippet of this episode of Modern Lending Podcast:

  • John sold Perfume Rocks
  • The importance of consistency and why it matters
  • Why Movie Theaters, Bus Benches, Shopping Carts were potential
  • There is no secret sauce...

Episode Transcribe

Alec Hanson:
What's up everybody?

Welcome to episode one of the Modern Lending Podcast. 

I am Alec Hanson, extremely excited to be bringing you our first guest. The one, the only, the myth, the legend John Bianchi. If you've heard that name before, you know this is going to be an exciting 45 minutes to an hour experience because John was the first team in the business that I know of back in early 2000s, four in the first team, the first $500 million producer, which was insane. He's had a tremendous career, tons of wisdom and insight coming out of his life. I'm really excited to bring John on. Please, please, please, if you get any value from this subscribe, like, share, it helps us out a ton to spread the message. All right, guys, let's dive into it. The one, the only John Bianchi.
Hey, what's up everybody. Welcome to episode one. The first formal episode of the Modern Lending Podcast with a guest, I ended up with episode zero, which was just me talking and no one really cares. So we got to kick off the real one with John Bianchi. I've known John, man, decades. So I'm going to let John introduce himself in a second. But, when I was originating, John was already elevated himself up in his career, was helping tons of people. I remember one of my first interactions with you was, I think you were a regional or area division or whatever. We had a conference, we had a sales conference and John gets up there and obviously his team, I think you're the first team to ever do, half a billion.

John Bianchi:
Close to half a billion, yeah.

Alec Hanson:
Close to half a billion and this was when, when was that about?

John Bianchi:
Two thousand two, three, four.

Alec Hanson:
Yeah, crazy right, the first team to ever really exist as far as I know in the industry, which was kind of pioneering. So I want you to unpack that, but John got up there and he's, "here's what I do." He put up his schedule, he put up his, when he worked out, when he spent time with his family, when he had prospected, he put it all out for everyone to see and then I'll never forget because he goes, "People ask me, why do I share all my secrets." And the line they'll never forget is just, "Because none of you are going to do anything." So, John give a little bit of your background here, where'd you come from? What's your story?

John Bianchi:
So, you know my story, but just to share with everybody, born and raised in Southern California grew up very humble beginnings. And I think part of that built into my DNA from a sales perspective, when you come from nothing and you have no money and you spend your weekends hustling the streets returning, you've seen it right? You heard my story of selling perfume rocks.

Alec Hanson:
No, you guys have to hear this. So John's very modest, humble beginnings, John... You came up with not much around.

John Bianchi:
Yeah.

Alec Hanson:
I've heard you describe it as poor before.

John Bianchi:
Yeah.

Alec Hanson:
And so that does help your mindset, that does really change your perspective. So tell everybody this, because this is the Gary V hustle before Gary V was real. So what's the perfume rocks, dude what are you doing?

John Bianchi:
Well so, I'm probably eight years old getting up in the morning in a one bedroom apartment with my mother in Ocean Beach. She had me when she was 16. So, I have a young mother, dad leaves in the very beginning.

Alec Hanson:
Oh, man.

John Bianchi:
Single parent, she's struggling, working multiple jobs. I get up each day thinking, how do you make money? Most kids don't wake up thinking about that today.

Alec Hanson:
No, they play video games.

John Bianchi:
They play video games, right. So I get up and go, what I'm going to do to make money today. And went outside in the apartment planter and there was these smooth rocks. I said, "oh, rocks, I wonder if I could sell rocks." So I went inside, grabbed some of my mother's Estee Lauder, sprayed it on the rocks, where I cleaned them up, sprayed them on the rocks and went out on the street behind the apartment and basically said, "Hey, these are rocks from outer space. They're called perfume rocks."

Alec Hanson:
Incredible.

John Bianchi:
And started selling them for a buck, a piece and to make 20 bucks back then-

Alec Hanson:
20 rocks.

John Bianchi:
... was a lot of money.

Alec Hanson:
You're rolling.

John Bianchi:
So I didn't ask for any royalties on the pet rock, but that came later. But, it worked pretty good. My mom was pretty astonished that I can sell rocks.

Alec Hanson:
So from rock sales to more, how did you pull it into mortgage.

John Bianchi:
So, after going to school forever and you eventually graduate, right. But when you're working and you have to work to make a living and make the ends meet while going to school, it just takes a little longer, right?

Alec Hanson:
Yeah, for sure.

John Bianchi:
So, I finally graduated and I did what probably a lot of people do, which is kind of you talk to your friends and peers and you see, what they're doing.

Alec Hanson:
Yeah.

John Bianchi:
I had a friend of mine that was in the pager business. I think you all remember pagers.

Alec Hanson:
Oh my gosh, of course I'm probably the last person to own a pager.

John Bianchi:
Yeah.

Alec Hanson:
Right it's the... [crosstalk 00:04:48].

John Bianchi:
I think it was Motorola.

Alec Hanson:
Hell yeah.

John Bianchi:
Good thing I didn't go into the pager business. So it was pagers, I think it was insurance. I had a buddy who was in the commercial real estate, drove a Beamer, like everybody in commercial real estate.

Alec Hanson:
They still do it.

John Bianchi:
They still do. Then I had a friend, and she was in the mortgage business. So I said, well, what'd you guys all make last year? Then, the mortgage person made 2X what everyone else made. Then you do the whole personality thing, you know your friends really well. And you're, "Wow, if they could do it, I probably could do it too." So I went and interviewed at a mortgage company and back in those days, you get $2,000 draw for three months and the question is if you don't make it, will you quit? You have to go, "No, I will work for free."

Alec Hanson:
That's not even floaties in the deep end. That's two grand it's amazing.

John Bianchi:
So and then in those days you got a pager, right?

Alec Hanson:
Yeah, and a payphone.

John Bianchi:
Well, you had a payphone. Because the guys who had cell phones where the top producers, with the squiggly little...

Alec Hanson:
An antenna that's connected.

John Bianchi:
A little antenna's in their car. So, I was, "Yeah, let's do it." That was the beginning. So that was 91.

Alec Hanson:
91.

John Bianchi:
Yeah.

Alec Hanson:
Then you're top, fast forward to when you were running your biggest team direct origination before you went up into senior management, describe for everybody what your team structure looked like, that you can remember.

John Bianchi:
So, as you grow a team, I think everyone struggles with capacity time, what do I do with my day? What do I delegate, what do I keep and I think everyone struggles with that, right?

Alec Hanson:
They do.

John Bianchi:
When do you hire a PA, right?

Alec Hanson:
Yeah.

John Bianchi:
So I was no different and you finally get to a point where, you build your business, you have your PAs, right? What you do the doctor nurse or whatever method you do to spread your time out and have different people doing different activities on your team, you also get to a point where you could only talk to so many customers, right?

Alec Hanson:
Yeah. Per day right [crosstalk 00:06:58].

John Bianchi:
This was in an age where you're not sending people to your website and saying, "Hey, do your own application," Right?

Alec Hanson:
Yeah, this is...

John Bianchi:
This is, you are pre-qualifying, you are taking the interview.

Alec Hanson:
The [inaudible 00:07:09].

John Bianchi:
Yeah. You are doing the good faith estimate. Sorry, we know there's no way nowadays, but back then it was called the GFE.

Alec Hanson:
Some millennial's like, "What does that mean?"

John Bianchi:
Listen, I tell the stories when... listen, we used to have carbon paper-

Alec Hanson:
Oh my God.

John Bianchi:
... in the beginning. Right and I had a boatload of forms.

Alec Hanson:
Yeah, of course.

John Bianchi:
I had a portable printer.

Alec Hanson:
Of course.

John Bianchi:
I would go to the people's houses, right?

Alec Hanson:
Oh my gosh. Climbed up the mountain to school those days.

John Bianchi:
Its like the whole snow, back and forth conversation, but-

Alec Hanson:
Oh my gosh.

John Bianchi:
... I ended up getting to a point where you have multiple PAs, you've maxed out, you can do X amount of business, right?

Alec Hanson:
Yeah.

John Bianchi:
And every individual's capacity is different, but I could do only so many interviews. Then I get to a point where I go, okay, I can still generate business. From realtors, builders, but my pre-call and intake capacity was full. So now I need more people who can help me do pre-calls. So I said, "I need to go find people who have great technical skills, but they're not really great hunters." And I don't want to say they're consumer director call center people, but very similar, right? These are folks that don't want to go hunt and they don't want to be me by the way. Every time I interviewed a team person, I said, "I'm not here to train you to become me. Do you want to be on the team? Are you okay with that role?" They love it, right?

Alec Hanson:
Lots of clarity.

John Bianchi:
These are experienced loan officers for the most part that were doing two or three deals a month making full commission. I said, well, if you made a little bit less commission, but you were doing 10 deals consistently every month, because the consistency work. That seemed to be what they wanted. They wanted consistency, they wanted to be part of a team. So then basically I hired junior originators that could basically service a lot of the agents that were coming to me as I built my book.

Alec Hanson:
Well. So everybody listening if you want to learn how to build a team, right? This is the guy that did it before everybody else. But what I want to talk about just kind of now, we kind of established full mortgage. Bad-ass tons of loans, teams obviously done a lot of stuff in your career. But one of the cool things that I think is super relevant that I think everyone would really enjoy understanding. Is the role that branding played for you back then. Because you painted the picture a little bit, right?

John Bianchi:
Yeah.

Alec Hanson:
At the end of your career. The pagers had sunsetted but still, the internet and social media was not doing what it's doing today at all.

John Bianchi:
No.

Alec Hanson:
So, what was your mindset around branding and what were some of the interesting, creative, fun things you kind of lean into that I consider very early, people weren't doing this stuff.

John Bianchi:
Right.

Alec Hanson:
So share with everybody just what are some of the stuff you're doing to build brand.

John Bianchi:
So initially, on the branding side, I had a little call reluctance. I'll be honest with you.

Alec Hanson:
Well, still break that down. Because that's helpful. Because you're not the only one. If you can believe it.

John Bianchi:
So I was fine on one-on-one sales, right?

Alec Hanson:
Yeah.

John Bianchi:
But I was fearful of going into a real estate office. My first manager said, "You need a book of real estate office meeting once a week." I was terrified. To get 50, to 100 people in a room and then to give a speech. Then my fear was a realtor goes, "Hey, John, I got this question about FHA. I heard this, blah, blah, blah..." And you don't know the answer, right?

Alec Hanson:
So guys. You guys, this is a $500 million producer, sharing probably the same fear you have. Probably the same fear any listeners has, which is great. So go on.

John Bianchi:
I had fears early on of not knowing the answer. So I didn't want to do public speaking. I didn't want to do office presentations. I was fine on, one on one with agents. But I also still, cold calling an agent and getting shut down, never felt good.

Alec Hanson:
It hurts.

John Bianchi:
It hurts.

Alec Hanson:
It still hurts.

John Bianchi:
I was, how do I brand myself just a little bit so that when I go to make that call, the agent goes, I've heard of you. At least there's some recognition, right?

Alec Hanson:
Yes.

John Bianchi:
Early in my career, I've worked for smaller companies that had no name recognition or brand.

Alec Hanson:
At all. Yeah, none.

John Bianchi:
Right. So the first thing is I've never heard of you and I've never heard of your company.

Alec Hanson:
Its a good start.

John Bianchi:
Its such a good start.

Alec Hanson:
You know you are starting good.

John Bianchi:
So I started saying, how do I do it? I didn't have a lot of money, but I want to start building a brand with them. So at least they'll recognize me. I think the litmus test for every person listening is... And I asked this in the new hire class too. I say, if I went to the 100 top realtors in your market and ask them if they knew you or your name, they don't have to be working with you. Would they say yes. Typically I get the answer is they probably don't know who I am. That tells me a lot, right?

Alec Hanson:
It does.

John Bianchi:
Because that means you haven't done any branding with an audience that I can actually determine, right?

Alec Hanson:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

John Bianchi:
I can determine who the top one agents are and you can market to them directly. Building a brand in the community and with consumers is different and a little harder because there's a lot more of them.

Alec Hanson:
Sure.

John Bianchi:
But if you're going to target a hundred of the top producers, you should easily be able to build a name brand with them, whether any of them use you or not.

Alec Hanson:
So what'd you do?

John Bianchi:
So what I did in the beginning was... And by the way, I don't take credit for any of these things because a lot of people will say, I did this or I did that. But I just went out and learned what other people were doing. I'm a good implementer, so I sat there and I shadowed a top producer at the time that worked alongside me. He said, "This is what I do." I said, "Wow, and it works." Right?

Alec Hanson:
Yeah.

John Bianchi:
It's funny because if you do what others do, right? You should get very similar results. That's how I felt.

Alec Hanson:
You're still right. I want everyone to hear it. I'm going to hit the nail on it again, execution-

John Bianchi:
Yes.

Alec Hanson:
... is the differentiator.

John Bianchi:
Yes.

Alec Hanson:
The knowledge of what to do. I mean, the Googles exists.

John Bianchi:
Right.

Alec Hanson:
So you could find it, you can find what to do and how to do it very easily on anything in the world. Execution, that separates the winners from the losers.

John Bianchi:
Right.

Alec Hanson:
So what did you execute?

John Bianchi:
First of all, I had to create my list.

Alec Hanson:
Oh yeah.

John Bianchi:
Right?

Alec Hanson:
Yeah.

John Bianchi:
So this is branding to real estate business partners because obviously they were, they are still, and back then large influence on the decision making process of a home buyer.

Alec Hanson:
Definitely.

John Bianchi:
So, we don't have the tools back then that we have today.

Alec Hanson:
No.

John Bianchi:
Right. Today, there's all kinds of tools, technology wise that will help you put together your top 100 agent lists. Back then it was old-fashioned, going into real estate offices, looking at the white board.

Alec Hanson:
Trying to find the white board in the break room.

John Bianchi:
How many deals did the [crosstalk 00:13:49]-

Alec Hanson:
I have to tell a story. Because John, I'd learned this right from John and I use it all the time. So when I would finally get meetings with agents, one-on-one at their office, you walk in the receptionist, I'm here to see, John Bianchi [crosstalk 00:14:02].

John Bianchi:
Right.

Alec Hanson:
And they go, "Would you like coffee?" Even if I had six cups on that day, I'd be, "Absolutely." Because then they would walk me back to the kitchen where I could see the board with all the agents production. That's all day.

John Bianchi:
Right. So, I would do the white board. I'd do the Sunday clippings out of the news paper. Well, all the Coldwell Bankers and Prudentials and C21's would announce their annual top producers, and so I developed my list, right?

Alec Hanson:
Yeah.

John Bianchi:
And the other thing I did back in the day and you can still do it today is I did a title ranking. So I went to a title company and I said, "Listen, on the geography I work, who is the number one purchase title company?" Right?

Alec Hanson:
Yeah.

John Bianchi:
Then I went and said, "Okay, now who's the rep that works for that company?" Went and had lunch with the rep. You sit down with that rep and they help you put together your top 100 list right? Because they already know.

Alec Hanson:
They know.

John Bianchi:
They have the data because they have basically, the title dollars by agent, right?

Alec Hanson:
Yeah.

John Bianchi:
A little different than a transaction.

Alec Hanson:
Yeah. But you're still getting the same...

John Bianchi:
You're still getting the same data. So then you sit down with your title partner who then actually it's interesting because we know that Title Reps have complete autonomy to be able to go into any real estate office. They just walk by...

Alec Hanson:
They wander in.

John Bianchi:
They wander in. Unlike us, we get stopped at the door, right?

Alec Hanson:
Excuse me sir ID, excuse me.

John Bianchi:
So I basically teamed up early with a title rep who took me out in the field with them.

Alec Hanson:
Smart.

John Bianchi:
And did calls. And for all intents and purposes, I think the receptionist thought I was a title rep's assistant.

Alec Hanson:
You're fine with that. I'm getting in the door.

John Bianchi:
I'm just in training. So a lot of introductions via a title partner.

Alec Hanson:
Smart.

John Bianchi:
Which was great, right? Created my hit list. Then I took that hit list. Then I started to drip on that hit list, right?

Alec Hanson:
Yeah.

John Bianchi:
So, via email... Now there are tools like slybroadcasts and things like that. Back then there were tools that were very similar to Slybroadcast that I used. Where I created a list of targets and I did a value added message every single week.

Alec Hanson:
So lets pause. This is in 2002.

John Bianchi:
Yeah.

Alec Hanson:
2001 too, you're doing weekly market updates.

John Bianchi:
Correct.

Alec Hanson:
With your voice?

John Bianchi:
Correct.

Alec Hanson:
Which, I mean, we teach it today because people are relegating that to an HTML Drip email, and I think that's better than doing zero things.

John Bianchi:
Right.

Alec Hanson:
But actually having your voice come through, delivering a market update you were probably reading from something.

John Bianchi:
Correct.

Alec Hanson:
Which is great, but you're giving them information and you're doing it.

John Bianchi:
Absolutely.

Alec Hanson:
So, weekly they're getting brand exposure from you.

John Bianchi:
Right. They're hearing from me. I did the email weekly update as well as the voice.

Alec Hanson:
The voice.

John Bianchi:
So I delivered both. And with a lot of these broadcast, voicemails, the perception is you're calling them individually versus a 100 people at the same time. But it's marketing, right?

Alec Hanson:
Yeah.

John Bianchi:
So I was able to get the brand out there. Now, anything that has to do with marketing, what you learn is consistency is important.

Alec Hanson:
Oh my gosh. Could you say it again please.

John Bianchi:
Consistency, consistency.

Alec Hanson:
John, I sent out one voicemail and I didn't get any loans.

John Bianchi:
All right.

Alec Hanson:
So I quit.

John Bianchi:
Or I did one ad for two months or three months, and I didn't get any responses-

Alec Hanson:
So am out.

John Bianchi:
... so I don't do the ad anymore.

Alec Hanson:
That's right.

John Bianchi:
If you can't commit to whether it's a magazine or any type of marketing that you're doing. If you can't commit to at least 12 months or longer, you're really wasting your money, and I felt that. And someone taught me early in my career, that you can actually prove yourself through consistency. So I didn't deliver the message to the agents on Thursday sometime and then on Fridays. Then if I forgot, I did them on Mondays. I delivered them on Fridays at exact same time, every single week. What I was doing was, even though I wasn't working with them, I was proving that I was a very consistent person because they're, five o'clock Friday. Hi, it's John Bianchi. By the way, you don't have to record it at five o'clock on Friday.

Alec Hanson:
Of course you don't.

John Bianchi:
You're recording a message.

Alec Hanson:
Of course.

John Bianchi:
You're loading it up, right?

Alec Hanson:
Of course.

John Bianchi:
To be delivered at five o'clock. But if you do it right before the weekend because listen, real estate agents make deals happen on weekends, right?

Alec Hanson:
Well, that's when humans don't work. They can go actually...

John Bianchi:
Look at properties, sign contracts, Mondays are really, busy day. So if you deliver that message every single Friday to your A, B's and C's. I call them A, B's and C agents, my A's are my top 10 agents that know me, work with me. We have a relationship. My B's are the ones I've done business with. They know who I am, but I don't get all their business. Then the C's are the all the ones I want to work with.
I would have a different message for the three. I would deliver it every week. Inevitably over time, you'll get to get people that say, take me off your list. Stop soliciting me. Then, that just happens. But I would get a call and say, "Listen, John you've been sending me a message for four months straight. I couldn't get ahold of my lender. I am at an open house. I got a question or I have a buyer and you get an opportunity."

Alec Hanson:
So, guys this is just... I mean, first of all, John, just telling you exactly what to do, right? There's no secret here.

John Bianchi:
No.

Alec Hanson:
It's like literally every week consistency, there is no doubt. Everyone who's been a top producer and performer knows consistency builds trust and relationship. That's how you do it. They're not going to give you a deal and be, here, try you out on my one commission.

John Bianchi:
Right.

Alec Hanson:
But if you show up all the time, because I had the same result, I was prospecting, showing up every weekend, open houses, mailing and all of a sudden I got the call, "Hey, I can't get hold of my agent." Literally the same call. I can't get hold of my loan guy, can you talk to the Johnson's right now? So whether you are in 2002 or 2020, and looking at social media and branding, you have to hear the message of consistency. You have to hear it because it's going to separate you and deliver you the results. If you don't have consistency, you cannot fake it. You can not get there. So besides the voicemails, [crosstalk 00:20:00].

John Bianchi:
So that was one thing, right?

Alec Hanson:
Keep going.

John Bianchi:
The emails, you got the voicemails, you built your brand. You could have gone to the top 100 and said, do you know who this person is? They go, "Yup, know him.

Alec Hanson:
Yup, he sent you a voicemail.

John Bianchi:
Made him stop sending me. But at least they knew the brand, right? And the company I worked for at that time. So then, you start doing some loans, you make some money and you reinvest in your business. That's one thing I always tell loan officers or at least, I believe that when you're a mortgage originator, you really do run a business, right?

Alec Hanson:
Yeah.

John Bianchi:
It is your business.

Alec Hanson:
Very entrepreneurial.

John Bianchi:
It is your business and you should have a business plan and you should have an amount of money that you're going to spend to market yourself every year. Whether you decide it's eight or 15% of your income, you need to set aside a certain portion of your income and budget it for a marketing plan.

Alec Hanson:
So, do you remember yours? What was your percentage?

John Bianchi:
I roughly spent in the day... I don't want to say it's a percentage but I roughly spent somewhere between, at the highest point, I was probably spending 20,000 a month.

Alec Hanson:
But that scaled up.

John Bianchi:
That scaled up.

Alec Hanson:
You didn't start to get 20k.

John Bianchi:
No. I want to say I was frugal. I didn't waste money per se to do everything. But I built the biggest impact and I spread my money around. So next thing I did was, I did movie theaters.

Alec Hanson:
So I knew we'd get here, but I want everyone to hear again the comment of what are you reinvesting in your business. That's a really good question. People need to answer that. Because there's a lot that are doing zero and there's a lot that say, "You do it for me." And they point to their company and that's cool too. I'm not dogging it, but you got to own your business too.

John Bianchi:
Absolutely.

Alec Hanson:
All right. So movie theaters. Am ready.

John Bianchi:
So movie theaters. So, once again...

Alec Hanson:
I think this is relevant today, by the way. I think you guys should do this today.

John Bianchi:
But today it's digital, right?

Alec Hanson:
Yeah.

John Bianchi:
But in my mind I was thinking, okay, so I'm marketing the realtor's direct, right? So how else can I be in front of that real estate? I saw the realtor as annuity, right?

Alec Hanson:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

John Bianchi:
You land one good realtor-

Alec Hanson:
You got that.

John Bianchi:
... that has 20, 30 deals a year. As long as you take care of it and nurture that relationship.

Alec Hanson:
And they don't leave the business.

John Bianchi:
It's annuity, it's different than the consumer. So I wanted to get more good realtors. So I said, "These real estate agents..." And this is way before on demand. You could have every movie sitting in front of you, right?

Alec Hanson:
[crosstalk 00:22:24]. Netflix didn't exist.

John Bianchi:
Right. So in the market I worked, there were about four movie theaters. I said, "If I get in all four of them, they could never go to a movie and not see me."

Alec Hanson:
That's just incredible.

John Bianchi:
So, in that day there was a carousel and there were still slides, right?

Alec Hanson:
Yeah.

John Bianchi:
You sat there before the movie started.

Alec Hanson:
And you watched [crosstalk 00:22:42] slides.

John Bianchi:
Yeah. You watched all the marketing. So I took what I think a lot of people do was a less serious approach at the movie theaters and I did more of a comical approach.

Alec Hanson:
Well, I don't want to overstate. I don't want to just breeze over that. Because there's a lot of people who, they do take themselves seriously. They take their business seriously. Then they think of... and their advertising or their marketing and their branding is super serious. That's not bad, but I think there's a place for humanity and levity. So what'd you run?

John Bianchi:
So, some of the ideas were, I ran a Saturday Night Fever ad.

Alec Hanson:
Yes, was so good.

John Bianchi:
Which was kind of my face on a superimposed, John Travolta, disco white suit body.

Alec Hanson:
Yes.

John Bianchi:
It had some verbiage that marketing put together. We can get you out of this and into the brick house. It was a really clever saying, but tied around the movie theme-

Alec Hanson:
Yeah of course.

John Bianchi:
... of Saturday Night Fever.

Alec Hanson:
Contemporary.

John Bianchi:
It was funny because I went to my son's baseball practice. He was in Little League and the coach I had not met yet, said, "Hey, Mr. Bianchi?" And he gives one of these poses. I immediately knew he went to the movies [crosstalk 00:23:58].

Alec Hanson:
But see, this is branding. This is branding one on one. You put yourself in front of human beings.

John Bianchi:
Right.

Alec Hanson:
Today you can do it on the internet differently. But the movie screens today, even today, people are just sitting there.

John Bianchi:
Now it's a digital commercial, right?

Alec Hanson:
Absolutely.

John Bianchi:
So, your production cost a little higher, but I actually did one digital commercial.

Alec Hanson:
Oh, really?

John Bianchi:
Back in the day. So I did it based on cast away the movie.

Alec Hanson:
Oh my God.

John Bianchi:
There was an agent.

Alec Hanson:
Wilson?

John Bianchi:
Yeah. Well, we couldn't call it Wilson, according to legal, I had to call it Spalding. But I had the same concept. We hired an actor with the beard, almost looked exactly like the movie.

Alec Hanson:
Oh my gosh.

John Bianchi:
It's a 30 second commercial. So it had to be pretty quick, but basically-

Alec Hanson:
But everyone would know-

John Bianchi:
Everyone knew, right?

Alec Hanson:
... you frame, a guy on a beach with a beard and a volleyball. They know what's going on.

John Bianchi:
Right. The whole thing was, we won't leave you stranded. You're realtor so-and-so and you're lender John Bianchi we'll do whatever it takes to get you home. So we actually went out into the Bay, in Mission Bay and we had our suits on and we were on a little boat and we dive into the water with our suits. We swim to shore unzipped the closing documents out of a waterproof thing. He signs his docs and then the next scene he's driving home on the motorboat. That was playing up in Vista at the theaters-

Alec Hanson:
That's incredible.

John Bianchi:
... and lot of feedback.

Alec Hanson:
You have to get... I need that. Just find it.

John Bianchi:
I'll get the clip.

Alec Hanson:
You got to find that clip.

John Bianchi:
I'll look the clip.

Alec Hanson:
Oh my gosh.

John Bianchi:
So we did that-

Alec Hanson:
By the way If you're listening to this, we need comments, show the clip, right? We need to see this.

John Bianchi:
Yeah, I think one end it was me and a kilt and it said as William Wallace fought for his territories in Scotland, I too will fight for your home loan.

Alec Hanson:
Of course.

John Bianchi:
So everything was movie driven. We did the men in black-

Alec Hanson:
Awesome.

John Bianchi:
... with another top real estate team. Then, what I did is I had these going and then I had a slide with a top real estate agent in the market. So, they shared some slides with us and all RESPA compliance type stuff, obviously. But we did these slides together and marketed together. Two things happen.

Alec Hanson:
I was going to say, what's your experiences as this is going on.

John Bianchi:
Well two things happen. So one agent see you, right?

Alec Hanson:
Yeah.

John Bianchi:
And consumer see you?

Alec Hanson:
Yeah.

John Bianchi:
So you build your brand with consumers, you build your brand with agents. When you do some advertising with agents and they happened to be the biggest agents in the market. Other agents see you branding with that agent. And then all of a sudden they're, wow.

Alec Hanson:
Reputation goes way up.

John Bianchi:
Reputation goes up, right? That type of endorsement or that type of collaboration with another top agent in that branding actually attracted other agents to me. Which was just another...

Alec Hanson:
It's clear to me, there's a compound effect happening. So you start small, you start kind of organic grassroots. You're doing voicemails, you're doing emails on consistency, you're nailing it. You're in the movie screens. Then of course you're probably prospecting open houses, walking around kissing babies, going to networking events. And all of a sudden the best agents are now, wow [crosstalk 00:27:05] John.

John Bianchi:
A lot of the stuff is still around today, right?

Alec Hanson:
Absolutely.

John Bianchi:
So we did all the open houses. As you build a team, you can go hit some and then you can have... My whole thing was, every time I would leave church on Sundays, I just like looking at houses, right? So I would actually go hit open houses. Every Sunday after church and meet a lot of people, because I'm just a home decorator, lookie lou type guy, and so, I love hitting open houses anyways.

Alec Hanson:
Because you're already there.

John Bianchi:
Then I had my team hitting open houses. So, we leverage five or six people out-

Alec Hanson:
Talking up to team.

John Bianchi:
... talking up to team. I ended up doing bus benches as you know. Some company called me and said, we got a deal on bus benches. 20 for X price and I was like, "Yeah, okay." I didn't do the shopping carts. What a lot people do. A lot people do those little break things at the grocery store.

Alec Hanson:
They still do that.

John Bianchi:
I know they still do that, but I did bus benches, because ironically, at some places you get to the red light, you look left and right. And you see that real estate agents face and it's just branding once again. So I picked... No, guess where the bus benches were?

Alec Hanson:
By the real estate agents offices.

John Bianchi:
Exactly.

Alec Hanson:
See, you don't have to tell me that. You don't have to tell... I know exactly where you would put them.

John Bianchi:
So the bus benches were at the stoplight next to the real estate office.

Alec Hanson:
Absolutely.

John Bianchi:
I knew when they were going to work and from work, they get branded again.

Alec Hanson:
And they're getting seen. So let's unpack some things here. You're obviously super successful. How much do you contribute that branding played in that role?

John Bianchi:
I think branding was a big part of it, right? Now, branding just obviously gets the name recognition out there.

Alec Hanson:
It gets you to the door.

John Bianchi:
Gets you to the door, you still have to perform.

Alec Hanson:
Yeah, off course.

John Bianchi:
If there was great branding, but you didn't do a good job on prequels. Your followup wasn't great, customers weren't happy. If you don't do all the things that you need to do-

Alec Hanson:
As a pro.

John Bianchi:
... as a pro, all that branding would have been wasted money, right?

Alec Hanson:
Yeah.

John Bianchi:
It actually would have been worse because it would have been...

Alec Hanson:
You got a bad reputation.

John Bianchi:
Well, at least if you do a bad job and you don't brand, it's silent. But if you do a lot of branding and you are bad and then every time they see your face, they're like, that's the one-

Alec Hanson:
I hate that guy.

John Bianchi:
That's the guy who didn't close the deal on time, right?

Alec Hanson:
So lets fast forward a little bit, right?

John Bianchi:
Yeah.

Alec Hanson:
So we're in 2020 now.

John Bianchi:
Yeah.

Alec Hanson:
I've been talking a lot and I think branding continues to take a more and more prominent role in earning consumer trust, in decommodifying a professional and letting them show their experience. Now as the internet and the MLS is public and the craziness that's going on, there's so many more ways to get to a consumer. And you look at a lot of the big digital brands like loanDepot and Quicken, we're going direct to consumer on the internet. Then you look at the local guy who is with a realtor partner, still trying to figure how to deal with that. How would you coach, encourage, the contemporary loan officer who, maybe is two years old in the business.

John Bianchi:
Right. I mean, it's funny because you talk about modern branding versus maybe some of that old school branding. I think it's a little bit of both candidly-

Alec Hanson:
I agree.

John Bianchi:
... because I have a son in the business who moved to a town, didn't know a single soul and did I tell them to go do the Facebook and all that stuff? No. I still...

Alec Hanson:
He's probably already doing it.

John Bianchi:
He's probably already doing it, right? The young guys are always on social media.

Alec Hanson:
[crosstalk 00:30:26].

John Bianchi:
But I said, "Listen, do the weekly update, do the written, do the video." Right? The first video didn't go well by the way. I had to do the...

Alec Hanson:
The first ones never goes well. The first time you walk into a real estate office, it doesn't go well. Your first meeting you're bumbling around.

John Bianchi:
Well, I think he told me, he sent the video out and for some reason the video was going but there was no voice, and so-

Alec Hanson:
Excellent, so you just flapping.

John Bianchi:
But I think it might've worked out well because he sent the correction. And I think the agents actually...

Alec Hanson:
I think you said it dubbed over. [crosstalk 00:30:59] movie.

John Bianchi:
Yeah.

Alec Hanson:
So, it's incredible.

John Bianchi:
But the weekly updates, right?

Alec Hanson:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

John Bianchi:
You'd be amazed. You would think that everybody does all this.

Alec Hanson:
No.

John Bianchi:
When you talk to a class and you go, weekly, just status notifications with realtors, right?

Alec Hanson:
Oh yeah, just that.

John Bianchi:
Do you do a weekly update with your agents?

Alec Hanson:
And include the listing agents.

John Bianchi:
Do you call and introduce yourself on to listing agent, when you have a deal go together?

Alec Hanson:
Yeah.

John Bianchi:
Do you go solicit listing agent after you successfully closed the deal and say, listen, that went smoothly, would you like to get together for a cup of coffee? All the stuff we learned 30 years ago and everybody goes, "Yeah, but everybody does it already John, teach me something new." No.

Alec Hanson:
They don't do that.

John Bianchi:
You just think everybody does it all, but they don't do it.

Alec Hanson:
They are not doing it.

John Bianchi:
90% of the people don't do any of this stuff.

Alec Hanson:
By the way, that's the clip right there. 90% of the people that do any of this stuff, this is literally given freely. They just don't do it.

John Bianchi:
So I would actually do all the stuff I did before probably minus the bus benches.

Alec Hanson:
I think you could have some fun with the bus benches though.

John Bianchi:
I could have fun though. I would consider digital movie theaters, right?

Alec Hanson:
Yeah, of course.

John Bianchi:
I would still do the economic update, I would still do the broadcast, the email drip. But I would probably include, Facebook, right?

Alec Hanson:
Of course.

John Bianchi:
Twitter. So you would use all the social media stuff as well, Yelp.

Alec Hanson:
All of it.

John Bianchi:
So I would everywhere I can... Obviously people today differently, they get a referral from you in the old days, they get a referral from an agent, right?

Alec Hanson:
Yeah.

John Bianchi:
And they go, let me just do some shopping and I'll use your lender. Now they Google and they want to see your company's reputation, and they want to see your reputation to see if you are a five star, Google rated loan officer, do you have a lot of good positive Yelp ratings.

Alec Hanson:
100%.

John Bianchi:
Where in the old days, it was word of mouth, right?

Alec Hanson:
Yeah. And word of mouth... So let's be clear, you're clear on this. Word of mouth still plays a role.

John Bianchi:
Oh, yeah, absolutely.

Alec Hanson:
The Influence of the local professional plays a role.

John Bianchi:
Absolutely.

Alec Hanson:
But you can not pretend they're not going online.

John Bianchi:
Right.

Alec Hanson:
You can not pretend they're not going to Google you and look you up and then make a decision on you before they even talk to you.

John Bianchi:
Well, so now, being more purposeful in your interaction with customers, as it relates to service, doing a great job and Oh, by the way, will you give me a good rating on social media? Just like the... I went into a car dealer the other day, right?

Alec Hanson:
Oh, yeah.

John Bianchi:
And you get a call and it says, "Listen I want you to have a good experience because I want this rating done." Right?

Alec Hanson:
Yes. They literally say it.

John Bianchi:
And it seems, every business you go into. It doesn't matter if you're going in to get a facial or you're going...

Alec Hanson:
No.

John Bianchi:
It doesn't matter what service you are. You get a thank you email from that company, and a review request. It's the new thing, everything's a review request.

Alec Hanson:
So we're coming to the hour, but there's a couple things I want to make sure everyone gets a chance to hear.

John Bianchi:
Okay.

Alec Hanson:
The power of branding is self evident to me, but some people still are going, "Do I really need to do that? And how much I do that?"

John Bianchi:
Yeah.

Alec Hanson:
So I want you to tell everybody after you had left your team. No, this is good.

John Bianchi:
I remember that story.

Alec Hanson:
So you spent a lot of time building your team, and then you got promoted. So you went to influence and help more people.

John Bianchi:
Right.

Alec Hanson:
You left your team. But they still maintain the Bianchi team.

John Bianchi:
Correct.

Alec Hanson:
How long did that hang around?

John Bianchi:
Okay. So two quick stories on branding. One was when I got out of the business, at least from personally producing and then went into a regional type role. Which was in '05.

Alec Hanson:
Okay.

John Bianchi:
Instantly the gentleman that I assigned to kind of manage my brand, became a top 10 mortgage originator-

Alec Hanson:
Scotsman's Guide. Boom. Out of nowhere.

John Bianchi:
For three years in a row.

Alec Hanson:
Three years in a row?

John Bianchi:
Yeah.

Alec Hanson:
So hold on, you're not there anymore in a direct capacity. But the branding impact.

John Bianchi:
Right. So they kept the brand, the name was still on it, all the stuff that we had developed continued to still be branded the same way. I even had voice recordings that were sent out-

Alec Hanson:
Still.

John Bianchi:
... even though I wasn't actually dealing with customers anymore. The first thought was once I got out of production, all that business would just die.

Alec Hanson:
Which it didn't.

John Bianchi:
But it didn't.

Alec Hanson:
No.

John Bianchi:
The brand and the...

Alec Hanson:
The power of branding.

John Bianchi:
It just kept going. So here's a funny story. 2007, I'm sorry. 2007... No, it was... Let me think about it. It was 2000 and a little bit later than that. Maybe 2010. I was out to dinner and someone walked up to and said, "I know you." I said, "Okay, did I do your loans."

Alec Hanson:
Where's this going?

John Bianchi:
He goes, "You're a mortgage guy." I said, "I'm a mortgage guy?" I hadn't done loans for forever, right?

Alec Hanson:
Yeah.

John Bianchi:
I used to see you in the magazine or something. So the branding...

Alec Hanson:
Still.

John Bianchi:
People still... They could just see the face because I also did a couple of, just real estate magazines where I had a full page ad, and I was...

Alec Hanson:
John this is eight years later. Then when you started the whole thing.

John Bianchi:
Yeah. So you get out and in all that money you spent branding your name or... And by the way just your face, right?

Alec Hanson:
Yeah.

John Bianchi:
Because the person who was, I don't remember your name, but you're the mortgage guy.

Alec Hanson:
I've seen you.

John Bianchi:
I recognize the face, right?

Alec Hanson:
Yeah.

John Bianchi:
But whether it was a bus bench or the magazine or whatever it is, the branding stays there for a long, long, long period of time even after you're no longer paying for ads or doing the branding anymore.

Alec Hanson:
So when everyone hear that, that needs to land for everybody. Final question. We're going to wrap it up. Advice, right? They got John Bianchi right now in their ear, in their car, on the treadmill. So what do you give them?

John Bianchi:
So here's the advice I always tell people because people always say they want to go shadow top producers. They want to go visit top producers. What do you do that's unique? How do you do all that volume? And I'll tell you I went and visited a friend of mine up in North LA who is another four or $500 million producer who has a stack of paper, prequel sheets.

Alec Hanson:
I know who you're talking about.

John Bianchi:
Just like I did, even today nothing's changed.

Alec Hanson:
No.

John Bianchi:
And so, it isn't like there's any secret source, the key to doing this business is having a plan. Whether your plan is I'm doing podcasts, I'm going social media or I'm going old school...

Alec Hanson:
Nights in the weekends and working with real partners.

John Bianchi:
Its just consistency and having a plan, time blocking and actually doing it. The reason people hire coaches isn't because the coach is going to tell you something new that you've never heard. And you're like, wow. If anyone knew that they'd do 40 million a year, the coach is just going to hold you accountable. Accountability, it's having a personal trainer, right? If you really want to get in great shape, you go spend 125 bucks an hour and you hire a personal trainer. Otherwise, you have to go and you have to be self-disciplined and it's very hard for any of us. To me, if you can't afford a coach, your branch manager, your sales manager should be your coach, right? That's what managers do. They coach you and help you. And I would just tell every producer that wants to be better, go and sign up for accountability. Go to your manager and say, "Listen, I want you to hold me accountable."

Alec Hanson:
Let's meet every Monday at 8.00 Am.

John Bianchi:
Yeah. If you don't want to be held accountable to me, you really don't want to improve because accountability is the key. And you just basically set a plan and you can work with your leader or manager and you just follow the plan. There is no secret source. You just have to trust in yourself that people that are available, that do prequels, that close on time, that status every week that follow up the listing agents, it is the rarity it's not the norm. Everybody thinks that when you go out there and do your presentation, you go, "Oh, this is the given." Right?

Alec Hanson:
Yeah.

John Bianchi:
People don't do the given. They really don't. That's how you separate yourself from the [inaudible 00:39:00]. It's just actually doing what agents have always wanted, which is delivering what you promise, right?

Alec Hanson:
Yeah.

John Bianchi:
But in today's age, you also need to be a partner with that agent and develop leads, nurture them and give back buyers. We have a great opportunity now because consumers are actually coming to us directly now. Whether you're buying leads or whether you're generating them on your own, you have an opportunity to build that lead base and give agents back, as many consumers as they're giving you and become a true partner versus an affiliate, which is how-

Alec Hanson:
Vendor.

John Bianchi:
Vendor. Which is how we we've always been portrayed in the past.

Alec Hanson:
So John, thank you. We blew by our hour. But if you can believe it goes by that fast, it's insane. We'll probably have to do it again and talk about leads and contemporary marketing. So guys, I want everyone just to hear John's message.
Consistency is the key to success and consistency through accountability is how you're going to get there because it's hard to do it on your own and you don't have to do it on your own. That should give everybody a tremendous amount of confidence that there's no secret source, which means anyone can do it.

John Bianchi:
Absolutely.

Alec Hanson:
Anyone can do it. Anyone listening can do it. You can do it. And that should give you tremendous excitement in this business. So thank you, John, for bringing it on. Well, I'll do it again.

John Bianchi:
Thanks Alec.

Alec Hanson:
All right, buddy.

John Bianchi:
Thanks buddy.

Alec Hanson:
See you guys, Alec out.


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