Interview: Dennis Erickson
Here at Music Ranch Radio we like to get up close and personal with our sponsors. One such sponsor is Dennis Erickson of MT Home Finder.
The first question I posed to Dennis was:
Who is Dennis Erickson and how did you end up in Bozeman, Montana?
Here is his response.
I grew up near Red Lodge Montana in a small town called Roberts. People there were so unassuming they decided that the name ‘Roberts’ was pretentious and, after a long evening session at the New Deal Bar, decided to change the name to just ‘Bob’.
This is where I first met my friend Jim Kujala, owner of Music Ranch Radio. He and I became fast friends and over the years played music together and apart and developed what has become a lifelong friendship.
Simply put, he is brilliant. He’s the person you call when you need something, whether it’s the name of a good contractor, an employee for your business, some advice on how to market a business or simply to book a band for a wedding or event. He is a maven. He is connected. He’s a thinker. He’s a do-er. That’s why we’re friends, he’s interesting.
Following college, I embarked on a career performing music in small nightclubs, college campuses and Montana honky-tonk bars. My goal was and is to write and publish music that I enjoy and that, hopefully, others will enjoy also.
I decided I needed another parallel career to provide financial security and so I became a real estate broker.
My first job was as a commercial real estate investment analyst and advisor for a large company in Denver. My wife Jackie and I had moved to Denver shortly after our marriage in 1983.
We spent the next ten years there pursuing our various careers. In 1992 we made the decision to return to Montana where our families were. We ended up in Bozeman after hearing that the quiet little town had been discovered by the rest of the world and was in a transition state.
I opened my own real estate office and eventually branded the company with the most recognizable real estate brand in the world at the time, RE/MAX. I managed two offices until selling in 2008. During that period of ownership I managed 15 other brokers and oversaw $40 million per year in transactions, reading each file as it was created and again when it was closed.
I made hiring and firing decisions. leased office space, negotiated service contracts resolved disputes relating to transactions, listed and sold property for past clients and oversaw all financial aspects of the business. I learned a great deal.
Just prior to the recession of 2008, I sold the business. I stayed with RE/MAX under the new ownership for five years during which I earned the RE/MAX Hall of Fame award given to just 2% of RE/MAX agents and brokers worldwide. In April 2014 I was offered a position with Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Montana Properties, the largest statewide network of real estate offices and agents in Montana and I accepted and continue to work there today.
Marketing real estate services is a competitive, tricky business. In my relatively small market, for example, there are 800 licensees servicing a trade are of 70,000 people, 30,000 of whom are located in the city of Bozeman.
How does a broker set himself or herself apart from the other 799 competitors, how do you crawl out of the wallpaper into people’ minds and hearts? Not easily for sure. The old method of placing a smiley face ad in the local paper along with your competitors is ineffective in a marketplace dominated by electronic devices and applications, not to mention expensive and unproductive.
Music Ranch Radio provides an opportunity to deliver real time, customized advertising to customers over the least threatening, most prevalent avenue of advertising available on the planet today: The Internet. It is affordable and can be generated in a short time using the studio’s production capability.
Because the music format is open to unsigned musicians and songwriters as well as class rock and roll, blues, folk, Americana, and country artists, it is appealing to a wide audience. This is radio with a personality attached to the most powerful communication medium every conceived.
My friend Jim is a visionary in this respect: He saw what the future was bringing long before the future got here. He offered it to us and we took his advice.
When my ad is played on the radio, my social media activity increases tenfold. Why? Because the ads invite people to find me on the web, on Facebook and so on and therefore help establish that important link that gives people the chance to find me in a sea of other real estate faces and names.
This medium won’t solve all of your problems without some work on your part, however. You must still craft a good message pointing at your target audience and have the network in place to carry your message to all places necessary to achieve maximum exposure. But it’s new, fresh and people are excited about this new way of delivering a message.
I highly recommend Music Ranch Radio to anyone looking to build a brand or bring customers through the front door starting, literally, tomorrow.
Can you tell the readers what separates you from other brokers?
I have a unique experience base having owned and managed a brokerage, worked as an investment specialist in real estate and now as a real estate generalist in one of the hottest markets in the country. But this message doesn’t really resonate with people. It’s boring. It’s common, it puts people to sleep. So I try to boil things down into interesting, succinct soundbytes that people might be able to find interesting and repeatable.
For instance, I tell people I do things The Cowboy Way. That is, I get up early, work until the job is done and never complain when it rains. If they ask how I arrived at this simple methodology I tell them stories. I tell them about the morning I woke up at 5:30. I was living at my uncle’s ranch. It was December and it was cold. We had to feed cows that morning. So, we bundled up, fired up the old pickup, loaded some hay on the back and drove around the barnyard distributing hay to cattle. I complained about the cold, the dark, the wind and so on until my uncle said, “How’s that working out for you, the complaining?” “I don’t know, not that well I guess,” I replied.
“Then please shut up. I’m trying to forget how cold it is and you’re reminding me every two minutes.”
The Cowboy Way, don’t complain when it rains (snows, freezes, thaws, gets over 100 degrees, hurts, etc.)
When people want to know why I’m different I say that I’m not, except that I have been able to figure out how to survive and prosper for over 30 years in a business environment that is overcrowded, highly regulated, subject to radical shifts in market and lending conditions, highly litigious, emotionally draining, and which provides no job security, retirement, health plans or other customary benefits of employment. It does, however, offer what I believe is the ultimate lure.
To live a life free to succeed at unlimited levels, overcome overwhelming odds to assist buyers and sellers, create wealth out of dirt, to express my gratitude for the ability to live in the most free country on the planet as a member of the greatest society to ever populate the planet.
My ability to adapt to a constantly changing landscape and the years of experience I bring to the table are two characteristics that you can’t buy off the internet, learn in a success seminar or bottle and sell at Costco. These qualities benefit my clients by increasing their chances of success when working with me, saving time and money during negotiations and having the confidence they’ve made the best possible decisions when it comes to buying, selling and leasing real estate.