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Mastering the Art of Scaling: Unlocking the Path to a 6-Figure GCI

Dan Fortune is one of the top 10 agents out of over 700 at Your Castle who has consistently dominated the industry for years. Delve deep into his journey as he shares invaluable insights on how he has successfully scaled his business, generated a steady stream of new leads, and transformed his lifestyle.
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How did you get into real estate?

In 2011, I was in a totally different place in life. I was an engineer flying satellites and doing some secret squirrel stuff for the government. 

Over a game of chess with my father-in-law, we were talking about my career and where it was headed. He said some of the best advice I ever got, “don’t quit your day job.” One, figure out if you like real estate and two, figure out if you’re good at it. For the next year, I did both at the same time: I worked full-time as an engineer, and I started working full-time in real estate.

My father-in-law was a real estate agent in Colorado getting ready to retire, but he agreed not to retire for three years, and we put together a little team.  He mentored me. I would say, if you’re new in this space, get a mentor.

How did you get started with a real estate team?

I don’t even know what it’s like to be a solo agent because I started with my father-in-law, my best friend, and my wife. It was this party of four, and we started doing real estate. And when you’re around really good people doing something that you enjoy, that you’re all passionate about, it just tends to work.

We just started doing deals, taking care of clients. We slowly started building a team, but actually not on purpose. People would hear about what we were doing, and it had some energy to it. It was organic and grassroots.

What did the process of building the team look like?

My father-in-law would sit us down and do these mentoring meetings and tell us what we need to do. We would do phone calls, craft emails, set up events, all that stuff that you need to do to get in front of people and have connections. We started doing that, and just kept doing it over those years.

And we grew to about 14 people, but again, not with really any intent of growing a team at all. It was just us organically collecting some good humans almost by accident. Then, my father-in-law retired; my best friend got his dream job flying for the airlines; and my wife had a kid and bought a company. All three of them were going to start doing other things.

Along the way, we’d brought on another business partner, John Cole, who is an incredible human. And at that point we started looking around to decide: do we want to stay here, or where would we go?

How did you make the decision to join a brokerage?

We looked at what we were really good at and loved doing, and what we weren’t necessarily good at or didn’t have any interest in doing. And it lined up really well with growing a team and not necessarily running a brokerage. We didn’t have anybody that wanted to run the back end of a brokerage.

So, we did this nine-month research project on real estate brokerages in Colorado. We never wanted to do it again, to move and then move again.

What was your criteria for finding a brokerage?

We had a bunch of different bullet points. We wanted a place where we could get caps based off of our production. Since we were going to be focused here in Colorado, we wanted a place that wasn’t spending a ton of marketing dollars on national things. We wanted a vibe of agent-first within the organization, which people talk about but it is very hard to find it for real. We also wanted a big investment focus.

We were actually being offered quite a bit of money to come to some brokerages. But we looked at it and thought, that’s great on paper, but we could blow through that in a year and a half. I wasn’t looking to do this and then do it again in another two years because it just takes your focus off of what you really want to be doing: selling and buying real estate.

How have you grown the Impact Team since joining Your Castle?

I would still say we grow in an organic nature. Growing a big team is not our goal; we don’t want to be the biggest team in Colorado. Our goal is to be the highest producing team. I don’t care about having 500 agents if their average production is $18 grand.

My life philosophy is to be around great people. That just feels good. It levels me up, and then anything that I have that’s worth sharing hopefully levels them up.

I think where most teams fail is they’re just taking people. It takes so much energy and resources, and when they leave, you get nothing after that. So, we got really focused on what is the right fit for us. We probably said no to about 300 people, most of whom are good people, but they don’t fit what we’re looking to do.

One person left us, Scott Kimball. When he left, we all looked at each other and knew something had to change because he is the type of person that is a fit for who we are. We kind of retooled ourselves, and he ended up coming back, which was beautiful.

What’s your value proposition to agents, and has it changed over the years?

I would say it’s changed slightly. So, the value proposition then was we know how to take agents from $30K to $500K. I know how to do that. And the reason I know how to do it is because I’ve done it. 

I would say that is still part of our value proposition, although now it’s $800K or $900K and about 20 hours a week. We’ve learned how to do it more efficiently. We make more money more efficiently, but it’s also just being around one of the highest producing teams in the state.

There’s no contract keeping agents, which is great for us as the Impact Team. It forces us to provide a tremendous value proposition to them, knowing that these amazing, high producing agents could leave at any time. That’s the thing that motivates me—how do we level up what we’re doing?

What are your main KPIs?

Agent production, touchpoints with clients that they report to us. 

And then, agents leaving the team. Anytime an agent leaves the team, which has only been two times in five years or so, we sit down and ask what happened. We always do an exit interview with them either three or six months after they leave and tell them to be harsh.  What are the things that we’ve done terribly?

What is the leadership structure of the Impact Team?  You have 45 agents and 4 team leads.

We’re super flat. I’m a guy that does not like lots of levels. When I was in the military, I didn’t like going through levels.  The four of us are equals.  If someone says something like, “let’s rebrand,” or “we want to start buying leads,” if three of the four of us are on board, then we do it.

What’s your advice for agents hiring their first assistant or transaction coordinator?

We teach a class on this specifically, hiring a transaction coordinator and assistant, because I think people do it a little backwards.  First, hire for the type of person.  Most agents hire someone that’s interested in real estate, and 99% of the time that’s a terrible decision.  What normally happens is that person ends up learning the business, they get good at it, and then they become a real estate agent and aren’t your transaction coordinator or assistant anymore.

Hire a good person that is really organized that wants to do this. This is their ambition, not being a real estate agent. Because otherwise every couple of years you’re going to have to end up hiring and training a new assistant. So, don’t hire someone that has aspirations to be a real estate agent.

What’s the importance of mentorship to you?

It’s just a life shortcut and a business shortcut.  I made in the $40K-range my first year, and I think I made $120K my second year. It would have taken me probably four years to do that, if ever, without a mentor.  It was a shortcut in how to do things right.

I had all the confidence in the world because I would sit down with people that I knew from engineering, and they knew I had no experience in real estate. Two weeks before, I was working with them on satellites, and now I’m sitting here trying to help them sell their house. They just knew I didn’t know what I was doing yet, not on a transaction like that. So, I said, “You trust me because of my integrity. I trust this man because he’s excellent at what he does. You can trust that he’s going to help.” For the first eight months or so, he went with me on all of my listings.

What’s your advice for finding a mentor?

Find somebody that will take a vested interest in you and not just themselves. My father-in-law had an interest in himself, which was his daughter. Your mentors have to have some sort of interest in you succeeding, a real interest.

And the reality of it is that it’s probably not worth their time from a money perspective. It’s just not. So, find somebody that is going to care about you for whatever reason. You’ve got some connection. They’re building something. They want you to be a part of it, whatever that might be. And I would say, interview people and look at their life, and see if you want their life.

One of the beauties of being here at Your Castle is that interest. We say agents-first, and that actually is the way this place is run. I’ve never seen anything like it.

How can agents learn from you?

The four of us teach a three-day class called Ascent.  Call or text Jeremy Lambert for details on how to sign up.

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