From Trash to Cash

July 1, 2021
3:13 pm
Our Guest: Doug Speicher

Everyone has a story to tell, and this doesn’t ring more true than for Doug Speicher, Fathom – Paradise, CA. Join us Wednesday to find out how he literally went from trash to cash in real estate, closing 83 transactions last year.

Wednesday, July 7 @ 1:30 Central Time.

Show Transcript:

0:00:01.7 Geoff Stertz: Hello, and thanks again for joining us for another Fathom Live, a live stream show dedicated to giving you tips and insights from experts in and around the real estate industry. I’m your host, Geoff Stertz. I’m so excited today because we have with us Doug Speicher out in California. Doug, what part of California are you in?

0:00:18.2 Doug Speicher: Up in northern California, Paradise California is my primary work, hometown, Chico, Butte County so…

0:00:25.0 GS: And today we’re gonna be talking about how you went from trash to cash doing over 80… Or doing 83 transactions last year and on target to do even more than that. So, excited about that. Before we get into that, just real quick, if you comment on the show, even if it’s just a, “Hey, I’m in whatevers-ville,” we will automatically enter you into a drawing to win a prize, and actually, today’s prize we’re gonna do something different. This is, hopefully you can see it, it’s an Ogio Fathom branded bag, so pretty fancy pants, messenger bag there. So if you comment today, we’ll pick one of y’all to win. From our last contest, drawing, excuse me, Kim Kazaka and James Formosa, you both won. And so if you reach out to us via Messenger or email [email protected], we will get you connected with those prizes. If you haven’t checked him out, check out Go Social Agent. They are… They help with affordable and effective social media marketing solution to help agents grow their business, so you can learn more and get started today at Alright, so Doug, tell us how you went from trash to cash, you’ve only been in real estate, like with your license, since 2015 correct?

0:01:51.1 DS: Right, August of 2015 is when I hung my license at my first brokerage, and I was a full-time garbage man at the time, and my family actually started up one of the first garbage companies in my hometown, Paradise, which is where I still is my primary market. So yeah, worked as a garbage man as I started up my career and kinda grew from there.

0:02:13.0 GS: So what [chuckle].. You need to go a little bit more into detail on this because… Alright. So…

0:02:18.3 DS: So there’s a running joke.

0:02:20.9 GS: Okay, go ahead.

0:02:22.1 DS: A running joke in town, I was called the trashiest realtor in town. A lot of people knew me just because they knew that, Hey, Doug is the garbage man, he’s out there meeting people and selling their houses. So I surprisingly did get a handful of listings just by being out there in the garbage truck and talking to people. A lot of people talk to their garbage man, and it was quite…

0:02:42.5 GS: That’s, yeah, that’s interesting to me because, first of all, this was a family business, so you’re kind of picking up the family mantle, and you’re doing the trash business but that has since kinda gone away. But before it had, you were doing the trash dump. Now, my garbage person comes and an arm comes out and picks up the can and dumps it in and I never, I’ve never… I think I’ve waved at them. So how did you… How did you get… And by the way, just so our viewers know, you did a lot of transactions, I mean, way more than the average full-time agent your first year, correct?

0:03:22.6 DS: Right so my first… In 2015, from August to the close of the year, I think I closed two transactions, the typical… The first six months really sucked, and then I went into 2016. 2016 was my first full year, and I closed, I believe it was like 24 transactions, and then the next year doubled, went into the 40 range, and then the year after that was 60, up until last year, I closed 83. And this year so far, 2021, I’ve already closed 60 transactions, so…

0:03:52.3 GS: So when did you hang up the trash business?

0:03:55.7 DS: I held on to that job because as we all know in real estate, we’re self-employed and have to pay our own medical benefits and all that, so I held on to that job till I was bleeding, working 4:00 in the morning till 10:00 at night. And I was like, “I need the medical benefits, I need it for my family,” and I finally got to the point like, “Oh, come on, I could buy my own.” And I did that for a solid… I believe my last garbage route was in September of 2017, so I did that for a solid for two years, two years…

0:04:21.9 GS: Wow, so your… So you pulled off 24 transactions in 2016, and you must have been hitting close to 30, 35 by the time you hung up in 2017.

0:04:33.7 DS: Right and the 40 transaction range was 2017.

0:04:37.8 GS: Wow.

0:04:38.2 DS: So, yeah.

0:04:39.6 GS: Wow, so tell me about [chuckle].. I just… I find this very practical. So I’m out driving, I’m out driving the garbage truck which, and by the way, not to diminish any blue-collar work or anything like that, because it’s honest labour and obviously paid the bills, but…

0:04:56.4 DS: Absolutely.

0:04:57.1 GS: But, but how do you straighten your collar and…

0:05:01.5 DS: One of biggest things actually for me as a real estate agent that it gave me was… Well, I grew up in Meander Street with my dad always running and my grandpa, and I know every single road in our town, and not only our town, but our county. So that gave me such an insight to know exactly what roads were like what, what neighbourhoods were like and learning all those rural areas. So something that no other realtor really gets, unless you’re gonna go drive around on every single road, you know.

0:05:29.4 GS: Right.

0:05:30.5 DS: That was probably, I think, the best way that I got to know our local market and really…

0:05:35.4 GS: That’s like the wax on wax off of real estate.

0:05:38.6 DS: Right, so in fact, to this day, I think I told you before, I get agents from… Chico is our biggest city in our county, and they’ll call me for pricing recommendations on up in Paradise, just because they know that I know that town like the back of my hand, even though, we had, in 2018, the campfire, which was a wildfire that burnt down essentially the whole town.

0:06:00.0 GS: Right.

0:06:01.4 DS: But still I just… Yeah I know exactly what was there, what the neighbourhoods are like, and able to kinda share that insight and that was probably the best knowledge. But also as the garbage man, you see signs of moving, so I was able to, “Oh, that family is cleaning out that house,” sent a direct mail and turned into listings quite a few times, just because I was able to kind of see stuff that was going ’cause I was there once a week.

0:06:26.9 GS: Right. Right, and you’re not snooping. You’re just doing your job.

0:06:30.9 DS: Yeah, it’s all from the garbage truck, all that, my office.

0:06:33.2 GS: You know, actually interestingly, there was another agent, I can’t remember which one it was, but they did Uber driving. It was, I remember who it was, I don’t remember the name, but he did… He kinda set up a call centre in sort of an office space like you’re in now, and called the daylights out of the big list, but while he was waiting for his income to come through with the real estate, he did Uber driving, which to me is brilliant, right. I mean, you can make… You can pay the bills with Uber driving, but that allowed him to do the same thing and see all these different neighbourhoods and understand, when somebody says…

0:07:07.2 DS: Right, you have the reason to be lurking around and being able to get a good knowledge on what stuff… Areas are like.

0:07:14.9 GS: Right, so you kinda start with this knowledge, again, you’ve grown up there and all of that, having travelled around, but you actually struck up conversations with people. What was that like?

0:07:30.5 DS: So one story, for instance, was a family, they were cleaning out relative’s home and they came out to the garden, and like asked me to take extras, kinda started talking and then they were gonna… They were asking me ’cause they weren’t from our town who a good local realtor was. They sparked the question before I even could say, “Hey, I’m a licensed agent.” That was one of my first listings off of the garbage route, and those people, to this day, I still contact… I’m in contact with, as far as now, they’re my sphere of influence, they’ve referred business to me, and it’s just hilarious how that worked. Another one up in a rural area of our county, that was not just the normal arm claw pick up and go, it was like a track backed to their house. There’s a… One man that I met that we still keep in contact, I haven’t picked up his trash since 2014, so even before I was in real estate and I just sold his home, it was a large estate property. And I’m still in contact with him and help him with all different types of choices, and I’m not just a realtor to him or his old garbage man, kinda like he bounces ideas off of me and then it’s…

0:08:38.9 GS: Right, you’re a resource guy. Yeah, yeah, yeah, a neighbour. I mean, really so… By the way, Katie Green says, “Hey roomie.” So…

0:08:47.9 DS: Hey, there. Yeah, we share an office here at Stovall our office co-op, and she’s with Fathom Realty, and she is the one that brought me over here.

0:08:54.7 GS: Oh, no kidding. Oh, so you’re here at Fathom as an agent, because of her.

0:09:00.8 DS: Yeah, absolutely Katie’s the one. She is actually the first agent in our area, Butte county… We’re an hour and half from Sacramento, which there’s a district director there, but Katie was the first one of our area in our local association, and I joined soon, just shortly thereafter.

0:09:15.3 GS: So how did that happen? Real quick. I wasn’t… This was not… I wasn’t really planning to talk about this, but yeah.

0:09:20.7 DS: Oh, yeah. It organically started from the conversation of, “Hey, what’s this Fathom Realty? I’ve never heard it. I looked it up online.” And she gave me the info, and then kinda went from there, and I mean I’ve only been with Fathom just for a couple of months now, and yeah, I’ve had quite a few agents just strictly reach out to me asking me questions. And I had chose this brokerage because I wasn’t gonna necessarily try to recruit, but there are still people reaching out and like, “Hey, tell me what this is? Why did you choose it?” And pretty cool how it all happens.

0:09:50.8 GS: Awesome, awesome. So, okay, let’s just kinda keep following the story then here for a second, so you… 2016, you’re really jumping into it full board, what changed from doing two transactions to doing 24 in that next year?

0:10:11.1 DS: Getting involved in the community was the biggest way. ‘Cause I’ve actually never paid for leads or done lead generation, really, it’s just been go out in the community and local events, I used to… For the first few years, we would have all the local events where there’s like carnival stuff, I’d have a booth, I’d made like a cheesy Kids Fishing Day, and they’d fish for things and it was Doug Speicher Realtor and people remembered it. And so it’s just out there organically talking to people like, “Hey, Doug, how’s it going?” Or just being out there in the public and reminding people that I’m a real estate agent, and then they share my name when they know of someone that’s gonna be buying or selling.

0:10:50.0 GS: Like what… When you say be out there, what does that look like on a week-to-week basis, I mean, you mentioned like that event, and then did you collect people’s info and give them a call or do they call you or…

0:11:05.4 DS: So I tried that a couple of times, ’cause I know a lot of people would do raffles and they mostly are doing it just to be able to cold-call people.

0:11:12.3 GS: Right, right, of course.

0:11:12.4 DS: And I surprisingly have not done my business that way, so I… People have liked that I’m not overbearing and I’m here as resource guide, but I’m not going to pressure them. And actually, I have won listings that way, I have had quite a bit of people contact me and say, “Hey, you know I really appreciate it that you didn’t have me under the gun to list… I had interviewed a few agents and that was one of the big reasons I ended up choosing you.” So I’ve always chose the kinda hands-off approach, and for me it’s really worked, as far as just being enough of a resource for answering questions that, yeah…

0:11:50.1 GS: Now, you mentioned that you have a nickname or a… What was it? Like that you don’t forget things, what… Tell [chuckle]..

0:12:03.4 DS: Oh yeah, yeah. There’s another agent in town, she had said that, I’m like, now, I’m gonna totally draw a blank on… She’s like, I’m Rain Man of real estate, like I just have this weird innate way of remembering things like, “Oh yeah, I know exactly that property, so and so owned it for this long, they sold it back then for this price,” or… I’ve really always had an obsession, in fact, I could tell you who the realtor was, my fifth grade best friend, his parents sold a house, and I remember a Century 21 agent, I don’t even know why I’ve always had an obsession with real estate, so…

0:12:35.8 GS: This is what you were born to do…

0:12:38.3 DS: Yeah, my family always joked that I was gonna be some kind of salesman.

0:12:42.2 GS: So there you go. But that does go to the point that being interested in people and remembering… And if you’re not, write the stuff down, if they… If a… If their kids in Little League or in some sort of ballet class or whatever, jot these things down when you pick up the phone to call them. Now are you… You’re saying most of your stuff has come in passively…

0:13:07.5 DS: Correct.

0:13:07.6 GS: You’re not… Do you do a lot of follow-up calls like “Hey, have you noticed mortgage rates are low and your interest rates are low.”

0:13:16.4 DS: I wouldn’t say that I do it regularly. The most thing… I… Yeah, I don’t. I just, I don’t do that. In passing conversation, if I run into someone, of course. What’s the first thing people, if they know you’re a realtor, they’re gonna ask you, what’s the market like, what are the interest rates like? So of course, having those kinds of conversations, but as far as cold calling to say, “Hey, now is a great time to refinance,” I haven’t done that regularly enough to know that I get business from it.

0:13:45.2 GS: So, maybe… [chuckle] Michelle, I think she’s your mum.

0:13:51.6 DS: Oh yeah?

0:13:53.0 GS: She says, “Hi son,” and that she’s proud of you.

0:13:56.5 DS: Right. My mum.

0:13:56.8 GS: So man, you’re getting all kinds of love.

0:14:00.3 DS: Yeah, the one who used to say that I was gonna be a salesman. I used to pick flowers in my childhood neighbourhood and sell, like go out of people’s yards, and then go up to the door and sell it to them so…

0:14:08.9 GS: It’s like snow to an Eskimo. [chuckle]

0:14:11.6 DS: I’ll never forget of that.

0:14:13.4 GS: That is so funny. So maybe just a little bit more, if I can kind of dive little deeper. When you’re talking about getting out in the community, I mean, I know our community of 50,000 people have, you know, maybe 6 big community-wide events a year, and we can set up booths and that kind of thing.

0:14:31.0 DS: Right.

0:14:31.9 GS: So what else does that look like, outside of those kind of things, what are you doing to be Doug Sprike… Is it Spriker?

0:14:39.8 DS: Speicher.

0:14:40.8 GS: Yeah. Speicher.

0:14:42.9 DS: Yeah. Speicher. Not spelled the right way.

0:14:46.8 GS: Okay.

0:14:46.9 DS: But yeah, so like tonight I’m going to… In the town of Paradise, which is the same area that I live, they do a Party in the Park. And just being out… We’re in such a small town, especially since the fire wiped out our town, we’re a small area. But we… Party in the Park [0:15:05.1] ____ live music, just being out there, people will usually a lot of times use the last realtor that they talk to, ’cause most people… Let’s be honest, know like 10 realtors and they’re gonna go with the one that they like the best. That they last talked to, something that had a lasting impression. So as far as just being out there and talking to people and… Yeah.

0:15:28.0 GS: Very cool.

0:15:29.6 DS: And another thing is with social media, not necessarily sharing things about real estate, but people want to know, they… I realized they wanna list with a real human, they wanna use a real human for their real estate needs and stuff, and just following your family life… And I know, I’m not the most… I share quite a bit about my family, and people follow me and I mean I get calls, “Oh hey, you know, I’m friends with you on Facebook and I love your posts, and we need to sell a house… ” It all started just from them watching my social media. And it’s pretty cool how that all happens.

0:16:06.3 GS: So Regina Pear asks, have you done any sponsoring?

0:16:12.3 DS: Sponsoring as far as like Little League type stuff?

0:16:14.7 GS: Sure, yeah, you’re having your sign up on something or it’s in on a T-shirt or some of that.

0:16:17.6 DS: Right, yeah, I’ve done quite a bit of that. And just recently with this new change, I’m planning to do quite a bit more of that kind of stuff. So now that I’m with Fathom one of my main budgets is going to be being out in the community and giving back more, just ’cause that definitely is a good way just to have your name out there.

0:16:40.0 GS: Okay. So for our non-Fathom agent watcher viewers right now, and this is a sales moment here, so just to just be warned, you’re saying you’re taking your savings and your commission savings from Fathom and you’re reinvesting it in your community and in your business]

0:16:58.4 DS: Right, so one thing that I’m gonna be doing, ’cause I… Roughly, I don’t know the exact numbers, but it’ll be about 20,000 a year, easy, that I’ll be saving by being with Fathom in the commission model and everything. So as far as, you know, being able to put back more into the community, right now we have a lot of growth in our local market, I still want Paradise to be my primary, whereas a lot of agents that were from Paradise, have kinda shifted their focus to Chico or Oroville, which are some of the bigger cities that weren’t devastated by the fire. So I’d rather… I really wanna stay up there in my community, watch it rebuild and all that. So, yeah.

0:17:40.6 GS: Right. It’s terrible, but I would assume a fire presents a lot of opportunities when it comes to real estate…

0:17:46.8 DS: Yeah, ’cause it’s rebuilding the whole town. Up there, it was primarily developed in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, and so it’s almost like we’re back in that time, it’s all being rebuilt, redesigned.

0:18:00.3 GS: You just gotta follow on Instagram, so I’ll just let you know. So I’m… I’m not, but let’s say I’m a new agent and I’m like, “Oh, Doug, you know, I’ve been working at this for three or four years, and I’m only hitting 8, 12 transactions a year. Doug, help me.” What would you say, maybe things that you did well from the get-go, or learned along the way that you say, Hey, why don’t you try this?

0:18:29.0 DS: Right I… Being the wealth of knowledge is I think the most important. So if someone’s gonna ask you a question, you wanna be able to have a good answer and organically give that answer. I think that’s one of the biggest reasons that I’ve gotten a lot of business and people share my name, is because I’m able to… In fact, when I run comps, it’s mostly just off of kind of, honestly, my knowledge of the area, taking into factor you know what kind of things are… Developments are in the house, on the property and all that kind of stuff. So just really focusing on gaining all that kind of knowledge, and researching… I mean, even find a good contractor, learn more about houses, and being able to really point out to things when you’re showing buyers. You know, the first things that I try to do is if I see an issue or something that could be an issue, I try to like show them and be like, “Hey, this is what could happen… We have a lot of older homes in our neighbourhood that have flat roofs.” So just being able to share different knowledge about, Hey, this could happen with this, or all that kind of stuff. If that even made sense.

0:19:37.1 GS: Oh, I think it’s perfect. If they want a little bit more of that taste of stuff, go back and watch Will Draper’s episode from two episodes ago that we did. That was his whole thing. He learned so much, that like you’re saying an organic conversation, you’re just talking… You’re not doing a sales pitch, you’re somebody that really knows your stuff, so that gives people a sense of trust, legitimate trust, that you’re gonna be able to help them and keep them from doing stupid things, unintentionally, when they’re buying a listing, so.

0:20:09.5 DS: Right right, and then also on top of that, just making sure that everyone that you come into contact with knows that you’re in real estate. People can tend to forget what your profession is pretty easily unless you’re having continual conversation, so if that is cold calling, I know that is one way you just stay in front of the people. And another thing if I… I’m not really good at it right now, and I need to get back into it, but handwritten cards. I would run into someone like at Safeway, the grocery store, and have a little small conversation. And if I had their mailing address or something, write them a handwritten card, “Hey, it was good running into you,” and you’ve got your business card in there. You’re not asking for business, you’re just reminding them, “I’m a realtor,” and try to do a few of those, definitely a handful of those, a week.

0:20:57.0 GS: Right, right, Well, let me ask you that, and thank you for the great insight and advice there. What are the things that you are trying to improve upon as you are finishing the second half of what could be a record year for you?

0:21:17.2 DS: So I have a transaction coordinator, Emma Peters, she is amazing. She helps me with all my back office stuff. And I also have a back-office admin assistant. I am not the back office person, so I have to have those. But I also, if those people weren’t there, I need to be able to really know, and be able to structure things in that back office so I’ve gotta tap more into that. And I don’t maximize my database the way that I should be, because really the organic reach is through your database, are the way that you stay in top of mind, and that’s the biggest thing that I need to focus on. If you are starting out in the business, focus on your database and being regularly in it every day, because you’ll create bad habits of just saying you’re too busy and just going out on appointments, which is great if you have the business, but when that business dries up, we all know there’s going to be a downmarket. You’re gonna need to tap in your database and reach out to people and all that, so having that foundation is instrumental.

0:22:26.8 GS: When did you decide that a transaction coordinator or an assistant was necessary for your business? Was that right off the bat, or when did you bring…

0:22:35.9 DS: Right off the bat.

0:22:37.0 GS: Really?

0:22:37.4 DS: Yeah. I have used, well, Emma I’ve used since the beginning of 2019, so I’ve used her for a couple of years. But even before that, I had a transaction coordinator. My first two transactions I did by myself, and that was it. Otherwise, I’ve always had a transaction coordinator.


0:22:54.7 GS: And again, you’re making an income at that point through the trash business, so that kind of afforded it. But obviously that sort of frees you up to do more of the organic stuff and not get caught in the weeds of paperwork.

0:23:11.0 DS: Absolutely, yeah, yeah. Just being out there… I drop into people’s businesses and that kind of stuff, and just make small talk there, so having a transaction coordinator frees me from those few hours a day. Currently, I’ve got 16 sides in escrow, so if I was doing all that transaction coordinating, I wouldn’t be able to…

0:23:31.0 GS: You’d just be in your office the whole time.

0:23:32.5 DS: Right, right.

0:23:33.8 GS: Yeah. Yeah.

0:23:34.3 DS: That’s definitely worth, worth having, is a transaction coordinator.

0:23:38.3 GS: Doug, man, I appreciate it. Somebody said this is a masterclass in marketing, I agree. And it sounds, if you weren’t paying attention, it may sound kind of simplistic, but it’s not. Word-of-mouth business is still the best way…

0:23:54.2 DS: Absolutely.

0:23:55.4 GS: To build a business. And there’s obviously disciplines and things that you need to put in place to make that tighter and more sure over the long term, but getting yourself out there is absolutely huge. Any last tips or advice that you would leave our viewers before we hang it up?

0:24:13.9 DS: Focus on your sphere. Focus on the people that you know, and if they know, trust, and love you, they’re gonna spread your name to the wind. Really, that’s the best way that you can grow in real estate.

0:24:27.3 GS: Awesome, awesome. Doug, welcome to Fathom, by the way.

0:24:30.2 DS: Yeah…

0:24:30.3 GS: Thanks for coming on-board here. We’re looking forward to seeing what you do here and wish you luck there in Paradise as both your communities are being rebuilt and you’re continuing to build your business.

0:24:39.8 DS: Absolutely. I appreciate it, thank you.

0:24:41.7 GS: Alright, we’ll let you go. For those of you who are still watching, though, if you haven’t checked us out, go over to and find a company that works for you, rather than the other way around, providing the tools and technology for your success, including equity ownership, a powerful CRM, truly affordable health care, a paperless transaction management system, multi-tiered support, marketing support. I have to have a list folks because otherwise I can’t remember all these things, and so much more. And now, we additionally have partnering companies to help you better grow and do your business well. So visit us at to learn more about a company that puts you first, giving you the tools and technology for your success. If you haven’t checked it out, look at our last show with Debbie Stallings, where she talks about becoming a learner in the industry which seems to be a theme here happening on this show lately. And then our next show is with Dave Barney. He’s locally here near McKinney, Texas, and he’s gonna talk about a different way of setting up his real estate business so I hope you tune in for that. Thanks for tuning in, we’ll see next time.

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