August 2, 2018

JF1430: From Getting His Butt Kicked In To Helping Top Realtors With Their Business with Brett Ratkowski

If you’re anything like most real estate investors, you’ve failed a time or two. If you haven’t, well you probably will at some point. Listen to this episode to hear how we can bounce back from a mistake, both big and small. We also get to hear how Brett is using FB ads to grow his business and other top realtors businesses. If you enjoyed today’s episode remember to subscribe in iTunes and leave us a review!


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Brett Ratkowski Real Estate Background:

  • Went from a Broke Real Estate agent sleeping on my sister’s couch and having my car repossessed, to building up a 6 figure Real Estate business primarily with Facebook Ads
  • Turned my passion for Facebook ads into a business
  • Launched Optimized Real Estate managing ads for top Realtors
  • Say hi to him at
  • Based in Ft. Lauderdale, FL
  • Best Ever Book: Think and Grow Rich

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Joe Fairless: How are you doing, Best Ever listeners? Welcome to the best real estate investing advice ever show. I’m Joe Fairless, and this is the world’s longest-running daily real estate investing podcast. We only talk about the best advice ever, we don’t get into any of that fluffy stuff.

With us today, Brett Ratkowski. How are you doing, Brett?

Brett Ratkowski: Good, how are you?

Joe Fairless: I am doing well, and welcome to the show. A little bit about Brett. He went from being a broke real estate agent, sleeping on his sister’s couch – boy, that just sounds ridiculous; I’m so glad that you are no longer doing that… And you had your car repossessed – double doozie – to building up a six-figure real estate business, primarily with Facebook ads. You have launched Optimized Real Estate, which manages Facebook ads for top real estate agents… But clearly, this is also relevant for anyone who wants to acquire customers through Facebook ads; we’re gonna be talking about that.

He’s based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. With that being said, Brett, do you wanna give the Best Ever listeners a little bit more about your background and your current focus?

Brett Ratkowski: Yeah, absolutely. I want to thank you for having me on the podcast today; I’ve been following you for a little bit, so it was actually a pleasure when you guys reached out to me.

So I started in real estate in 2012. I actually activated my license then. I got my real estate license back in 2005. Working part-time… At the time, I was working in the restaurant industry and decided to go full force, and man, did I get my butt kicked in; I don’t know if I can curse on here or not… But I got my butt kicked in pretty hard the first two years. It took me 18 months to even close my first sale.

After I closed my first sale, I went full-time and just continued to get pounded. Luckily, I had some money set aside, and then it was all gone. I spent my last pretty much $500 — I was down to $5 in the bank account, and I took one of my mentors’ training programs… Joshua Smith, out in Arizona – I took his training course, learned how to actually grow and scale a real estate business, took some of the strategies he had and some of the strategies I was doing with Facebook, implemented them, and things just started blowing up.

I maxed out on my credit cards though in the meantime, but within six months after his course and really diving deep on Facebook Ads did I see that return and started to see my business grow and scale to where it is today.

Joe Fairless: We’re gonna focus on the growing and scaling part, but just to add more context to the dark times, what were some things that you were doing wrong?

Brett Ratkowski: So doing things wrong – one, I had a hobby; I didn’t have a business. I didn’t know my numbers inside and out. I was generating leads, but I wasn’t following up with them. I wasn’t holding open houses, I wasn’t doing anything, to be honest with you… If you really want to break it down, I wasn’t doing anything that was dollar-productive. I was going and meeting with lenders, and getting coffee, and going to the office and chatting around the water cooler, and… I guess our office calls it the coffee cooler, but… Not doing the right things, just because I wasn’t taught the right way.

The broker that I was with at the time didn’t have any training in place. I was a newer agent, so I didn’t know. They don’t teach you in the real estate school what to do… So once I actually spent all my money on my own coaching is really when I actually got step-by-step implementation of what to actually do – holding open houses, and just calling your sphere your influence… Doing little things like that that I was not doing.

I saw everyone being so successful in real estate and I thought it was so easy I’d get into it and the deals would come, but I learned the hard way they didn’t.

Joe Fairless: At the time you had five bucks in the bank account… How much did the training cost when you had that much money, that you put on the credit card?

Brett Ratkowski: Well, I spent the last 500 bucks I had cash on that…

Joe Fairless: Oh, okay.

Brett Ratkowski: The course was $1,000. I was on a team at that time here in Fort Lauderdale, and the team leader at the time, he was buying in the course, so Joshua allowed us as teams for multiple agents to be under one account on the training… So obviously, to have some skin in the game, that leader asked me to pay for it, and I had been following Joshua for a long time and I’m like “You know what, I have nothing to lose”, right? I already lost it all; I went through a bad breakup, I was sleeping on my sister’s couch, I had the car repossessed… And the funny thing about that is I was at my now finance’s house when the car got repossessed. I always tell this because it’s not just having the car repossessed, but I had to lie to her and say, “Oh, it was stolen.” Just feeling how miserable and how disgusting I felt having to tell her that… But I did come clean.

It was 500 bucks that I spent on it out of my own pocket, and again, I had nothing to lose.

Joe Fairless: You were back into a corner… And Tony Robbins talks about being either disgusted or inspired, and that leads people to massive action. In this case, you were disgusted. Okay, so you went to the course, and you mentioned some things that the course talked about and that you started doing – holding open houses, calling your sphere of influence… What else have you done? This is probably a good segue into the Facebook ads to grow and scale your business…

Brett Ratkowski: Correct. So that course — Joshua opens up and it’s a step-by-step process of his actual business; he’s taught 1% of realtors in the country and has his own podcast called GSD Mode Podcast that literally just goes step by step in what it takes to actually have a real estate business.

For me, it was not tracking any of my activities. That was one thing I got out of there. I wasn’t doing that, so learning how to track my core KPIs in my business… I didn’t even have a P&L statement. I didn’t even know what I was making and what I was losing. So just having the insight on that, the core KPIs, and how many calls I’m making, how many conversations…

Because the path is in the math. If you don’t know where you’ve come, you’ll never know where you’re going. If you look at the numbers, I was just watching a video of one of my mentors [00:06:42].00] and his video was about Rockefeller and how he knew his numbers inside and out and he always made decisions based off the numbers… Just like in real estate investing – the home has equity after it’s renovated or it doesn’t; is there money to make? It’s either a good deal or a bad deal. So it’s the same thing with the real estate business – it’s either you know where you’re spending your money and it’s giving you an ROI, or it’s not; this activity, if I do it this amount of times, is going to give me this amount of closings and this amount of ROI, or it’s not. I wasn’t doing those things. That was number one.

Then number two – holding open houses. Buyers come to open houses. You’re not holding an open house to sell the home, but now your business comes from there. So doing that… And then Facebook ads. I was already doing Facebook ads, I was still having a little bit of success, but once I saw that he took $10,000 from Zillow and put it straight into Facebook, I was all-in with that. That was what I loved doing, hence why I have a business now that is focused around Facebook ads.

Joe Fairless: And certainly with the Facebook ads it ties into what you were talking about earlier, where you have that direct return on investment or lack thereof, but either way, you’re going to know if it’s an effective dollar that you’re spending on marketing, because is it returning more than what you’re spending?

So what are some ways that we can set ourselves up to be successful when doing Facebook ads?

Brett Ratkowski: So the biggest mistake that I see is a lot of individuals don’t treat Facebook as actual traditional marketing. It is, it’s just online now. It’s not paper, sending out fliers, or putting out signs; it’s marketing. So knowing what your objective is for your campaign – that’s number one. Do you wanna generate leads, do you want to promote your business, do you want to get in front of homeowners that have ugly houses? What is the objective? Then who are you targeting, which is your ad set, which is knowing your customers, having a customer avatar, knowing exactly who you want to target inside of Facebook… Because Facebook will tell you everything; it will tell you who’s interested in Zillow… At one point they told you how much money they made, what their home was worth… Stuff like that. It no longer does that with all the data stuff, but still knowing what people are interested in, what websites they’re going to; do they have kids?

Knowing your customer avatar… And then knowing how to write ad copy. This is the one thing that I see a lot of agents and just individuals on Facebook make the mistake – not knowing how to write the right ad copy. Perfect ad copy starts with a headline that is going to catch their eye, that’s going to hook them. “We buy houses cash.” “Does your home need a complete renovation but you don’t have the money and wanna sell in a sellers’ market now?”

Asking a question is usually what we do, or a bold statement. Then from there you have your filler copy, which is the body, which is what your ad is about, what you’re marketing, what your value proposition to them is… And then your call to action. Call to action is telling them to take action on something: “Click to learn more”, “Schedule a call”, “Get your quote today.” Whatever you’re offering them, tell them what to do. That’s essentially the steps of creating an ad and creating marketing… So hopefully that answers that question for you.

Joe Fairless: Oh yeah, absolutely. The three components that you mentioned – catching their attention with either a question or  a bold statement, then describe what you’ve got (value copy) and then have the call to action.

What about the image, and anything we should make sure we do or don’t do?

Brett Ratkowski: Yes, it depends what you’re promoting. For real estate, for example, if you have a house that you’ve just renovated, and you’re about to put that on the market, whether it’s by yourself or with a realtor, or whatever the case may be, the first thing you wanna do is we always only use a single image, and it’s always just of the outside of the house. The best image of the outside of the house, that way it’s giving that curiosity play. They know a little bit about the home, but it’s not enough for them to know everything, so they are going to click on that add.

Image is huge. One thing you’ve gotta know is Facebook does not allow 20% or more text. A lot of individuals like overlaying it with some text, so just keep in mind that you can’t have more than 20% text on certain ads. But the image – it really all depends what it is. Make it relative to what you’re offering. Video is very, very big right now, and that’s where we’re starting to roll out and put some money  behind video… Because with videos, you can retarget, which is just like going to a website and seeing that — you look for a shoe online and then you see a shoe everywhere. That’s retargeting. You can put ads back in front of individuals that have seen your ads multiple times.

So image – as high-quality of an image, or something that is going to catch their eye, just like your ad copy, and relative to what you’re offering.

Joe Fairless: How do you retarget?

Brett Ratkowski: Inside of Facebook, if you go into Ads Manager where you run all your ads from, there’s an Audiences tab, and when you click on the Audience tab, it has a drop-down and it brings up — you can either do a Custom Audience, a Saved Audience, or a Lookalike. Click on Custom Audience, and then from in there, there’s so many different ways you can create these custom audiences.

You can create a custom audience based off of somebody going to your website – they’ve gone to your website within the last 180 days. You can target somebody that’s watched 25% of your video, you can create a custom audience for anyone that has engaged on your Facebook page…

For example, a lot of real estate investors have a huge e-mail list. Well, guess what? Create a custom audience with that database you have, inside of Facebook. Maybe you have a property you’re trying to wholesale – put that on there and target those individuals that are on your e-mail list.

So there’s a bunch of different ways inside of the Custom Audience. It’s pretty easy, and Facebook walks you step-by-step through whichever one you decide.

Joe Fairless: Going back to what you were talking about earlier, where there’s really a cut & dry focus on the return on investment, what type of metrics do you track for a Facebook ad campaign?

Brett Ratkowski: When it comes down to a Facebook ad campaign, if you’re just looking at it on the ad level, on what you’re promoting now, because obviously your ROI is what’s your cost per acquisition as well… But if you’re looking for just a specific campaign that’s running, we look at obviously cost per lead, if that is the metric that you’re looking at.

Some objectives are cost-per-click, cost-per-engagement, what is that cost per result, and then we’re also looking at what is the relevant score? So the relevant score is how relevant your ad is to the audience you’re targeting. Then we’re looking at the negative and positive feedback; we want the positive feedback to be high, and the negative feedback either be high or medium. Usually, the higher the relevance score and the lower the cost-per-lead. They’re all relative to each other.

Then if you have an ad that’s running for a decent amount of time – a couple weeks, a couple months, however long it’s been running, we’re gonna look at the frequency score, and then cost per thousand impressions. Those are usually the top ones that we look at, but depending on the ad, it’s usually cost per result, relevance score, and that positive and negative feedback are my personal favorites that I look at… Because those are the ones that are directly correlated to the results you’re getting.

Joe Fairless: What are your favorite ones?

Brett Ratkowski: Cost per result, which could be cost per lead, cost per engagement, cost per click… So cost per results. Your relevance score, and your positive and negative feedback. Those are the three that I look at the most. I use those three core to really determine if my ad’s performing well or not.

Joe Fairless: And what’s a good relevance score?

Brett Ratkowski: So a relevance score is 1 to 10. I like my ads to be 7 or higher. Yes, we have some that are 5 or 6; that’s where the rest of the stats will come in. If it’s a low cost per result but it’s just not as relevant, then maybe I’ll look at it But the relevance score is usually 7 to 10. If I’m looking at my KPIs, my core numbers, I want it to be 7 to 10.

Joe Fairless: And what’s a good number for cost per click?

Brett Ratkowski: Cost per click – it depends on the type of ad you’re running. That one’s a little difficult, but you want it to be in the cents. You want it to be under a dollar. It really depends what your potential reach is, how many people you can target in a day and stuff like that, but usually you want that to be under a dollar. Usually, on a very good traffic campaign (that’s what it’s called; that’s where you get that result), you would want it to be anything under 50 cents.

But you can also see what your cost per click is on a video views ad, or a reach ad, which are all different types of campaigns inside of Facebook. But yeah, usually under a dollar if you’re looking at just in general, with Facebook ads.

Joe Fairless: This has been really helpful. Anything else as it relates to Facebook ads that we haven’t talked about, that you think we should?

Brett Ratkowski: What we haven’t talked about… I’Il really touch on what I touched on first – really knowing your objective… What it is you want out of Facebook, and Facebook will tell you what it is. If you want to generate leads for your business, you’re gonna use Lead Generation inside of Facebook. If you want to drive traffic, it’s going to be a traffic campaign. If you want just to put your ad in front of as many people as possible, you’re gonna use a reach campaign.

So just really knowing what it is that you want out of Facebook, that objective, that result, and then the rest falls in place.

Joe Fairless: The lead generation versus traffic campaign – in my mind that’s the same. What’s the difference between lead generation and traffic?

Brett Ratkowski: Facebook is just driving traffic to your website. So if they see your ad, they click the Learn More or View Website button, and it goes to your website. It just takes them off of Facebook.

With a Facebook lead generation campaign, what happens is they click Learn More or click Submit, or whatever the button you select – they click that button, click the image, and a form pops up. When that form pops up, Facebook auto-populates whatever contact information you want to generate, which for me and when we run ads for real estate agents, it’s name, phone number and e-mail. Every single time we generate a lead, it’s name, phone number and e-mail. So Facebook is auto-populating that data from their profile, already auto-populating in that form; all they do is hit Submit, and now you have their information.

We’ve seen that for contact information it’s about 70%-80% correct data when you run that type of lead generation, versus having them go to your website for them to fill out a form.

Joe Fairless: I think you get more people inserting their information on the lead generation form versus the traffic campaign.

Brett Ratkowski: 100%, absolutely.

Joe Fairless: Cool. Very helpful. We’re gonna do a lightning round. Are you ready for the Best Ever Lightning Round?

Brett Ratkowski: Absolutely.

Joe Fairless: Alright. First, a quick word from our Best Ever partners.

Break: [00:17:45].28] to [00:18:46].04]

Joe Fairless: What’s the best ever book you’ve most recently read?

Brett Ratkowski: Think and Grow Rich.

Joe Fairless: Best ever deal that you’ve worked on?

Brett Ratkowski: It was actually one of my fiancée’s family members – I sold them a million-dollar property and it only took one showing.

Joe Fairless: What’s a mistake you’ve made in business?

Brett Ratkowski: In business… Not knowing my numbers, and just going with emotion on my decision.

Joe Fairless: Best ever way you like to give back?

Brett Ratkowski: I’m in the process of starting a homeless shelter.

Joe Fairless: And how can the Best Ever listeners get in touch with you and learn more about your business on Facebook ads?

Brett Ratkowski: They can go to If you go on there we have a link where you can click and get a three-part video series that shows you just the basics of Facebook for free. I have a business page, Brett@BrettJRatkowski – if you just type that in, or you just type in “Brett Ratkowski”  you’ll get my business page. We have Real Estate Facebook Marketing For Realtors on Facebook – it’s a free group that you can join… That’s it. Or like I said, you can just e-mail me at

Joe Fairless: Brett, thank you so much for being on the show, educating us on what not to do as a real estate agent, and what to do as real estate investors and agents who are looking to use Facebook as a platform for lead generation. I love how you broke it down and got super-specific on the metrics to look at, the ranges for those metrics for what’s good and what’s bad, the high-level strategy and approach we should take… One, know what your objective is, so what does success look like; two, who are you targeting, and three, know how to write the ad copy… And you got into the components of that.

That was a very helpful crash course, and I will include a link to your website in the show notes, so that the Best Ever listeners can go check out your website to learn more. Thanks for being on the show. I hope you have a best ever day, and we’ll talk to you soon.

Brett Ratkowski: Thank you as well.

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