Today we talk with Leah Fellows, founder and CEO of Blue Gypsy, and learn about how she started, the challenge of being in sales, and empowering women in the industry.
Full Podcast Transcript
Grace Mase 00:08
We're really excited to have Leah Fellows to join us. She is the founder and CEO of Blue Gypsy. So, welcome, Leah.
Leah Fellows 00:18
Hi, thank you so much for having me today. Appreciate it.
Grace Mase 00:21
Well, thank you so much for taking your time. So you clearly have established yourself and you've accomplished so much, I would love to get a peek behind the scene how you got started?
Leah Fellows 00:30
Well, Blue Gypsy Inc. got started 10 years ago. I actually recently had my 10 year anniversary.
Grace Mase 00:37
Leah Fellows 00:38
The company itself came to fruition, after working in the building industry for four years, I actually kind of accidentally fell into the building industry. I was actually a sailboat captain and a dive instructor traveling around the world for 14 years. And I injured my shoulder, moved to shore, and I started working on a site as a site assistant while I was healing. So that's how I actually got into the building industry on the sales side of things. And then a year later, I started working for a new home builder, just by accident, as an Online Sales Counselor. And so Blue Gypsy Inc, originated a few years after that. When we moved I started the company so that I could work remotely for online sales for builders. So that's how that all kind of came to fruition. And now, for the past six years. I've actually been doing online sales counselor training.
Grace Mase 01:36
Well, that's very important, especially in this day and age. So I'm kind of curious, how did the name Blue Gypsy come about?
Leah Fellows 01:42
So the Blue Gypsy name, Blue Gypsy Inc, was kind of a call out to my sailing and diving days, you know, and because I was known for 13 years, really, as a gypsy, as I traveled around the world. And so I wanted to bring some of that into my role and my current, sort of just the fun side of things with online sales and online sales training.
Grace Mase 02:09
I love it, this actually is very much aligned with how you help people navigate through whether it's 13 years of navigating through the blue oceans to now perceive the construction industry.
Leah Fellows 02:20
Well, and it is. And it's true, because back when I started as an online sales counselor, it really was near the beginning. When only builders that kind of had the foresight to adopt this program, and bring in online sales counselors, and just for those of you or for you, if you're not as familiar with the role, an online sales counselor is that face of the website, for new home builders, they are the person that deals with all the incoming leads that are coming to the website or coming in by phone. And in this day and age, with so much digital marketing driving your traffic and people having such a short attention span, the follow up process has to happen instantaneously, and it needs to be personal. So that is the person that pretty much man's your online model home. And one of the things I've been talking a lot about lately is just kind of the buyer’s journey, and how it starts. And it starts with a marketing effort. The buyer becomes aware of a builder from the beginning, from something they've seen somewhere, we all start looking for new homes online. Now, it's just the way that it is. You know, even if you see a sign and you drive by a sign these days, you're not going to probably have the time to drive into a community, you're going to go home and say what was that community I saw? And you're going to Google it, right? You know, so that's why it's so important. And then because we live in such a fast, you know, I want it and I want it now. When someone finally does inquire, they want to hear in five minutes or less. We have an attention span that is smaller than that of a goldfish. I mean, just like we'll click off a website that's taking too long to load, it's the same kind of thing. If you don't get a response from when you finally have decided to ask a new home builder for information, you're gonna move on to the next one, or they respond a day later or five hours later. And you're like, oh, I've already moved on from that right.
Grace Mase 04:27
Now, it's interesting for us, we don't build communities. Our application focuses on single family homes. And so, it's interesting because we do have many builders who are, I would say, young Gen X and older Millennials, and they definitely understand the concept, but they don't know how to go about it. And so I think just having you on for the next segment or another segment to talk about this, I think is so important.
Leah Fellows 04:55
Yeah, well and really, and when we do that we can talk about the foundation really starts with your website and then continues on to the next step is your internet marketing. And so there's a whole process involved, you can't jump ahead and say, "hey, I want an online sales counselor” before you make sure you have, you know, the website and the marketing setup right now.
Grace Mase 05:16
And that is so important for our industry, most of us focus on the crass versus how to position ourselves to be out there and get being seen, being heard. So online marketing is such a critical piece of our discipline.
Leah Fellows 05:31
Yeah, exactly. And that online sales concept really is that crossroads between the marketing and the sales process. And of course, we can't build homes if we don't have people that are purchasing them, right. So we need to have that side of things. And so, you know, Blue Gypsy really was born to help train those peoplet that sell those homes that start the whole process out.
Grace Mase 05:54
That's awesome. So through this journey here, I assume you have faced some challenges in your career. And if you could share with us what were they? Describe what were they, and how did you overcome them?
Leah Fellows 06:07
Well, I think so some of the challenges were, you know, in the beginning, when I started, like I said, there really weren't a lot of people that did what I did. And there weren't a lot of trainers out there. So it was very much trial by fire and figuring out, what is the best way to do my follow up? What is the best way to and what should it look like? What should the metrics actually look like? How, what is my path to success with this? So the biggest challenge at first was just creating the structure of a program. And then, throughout that time, once I started out on my own, then it was, of course convincing other builders that they needed this role, because it still was not a very highly known position. And even today, 14 years later, I have people say, tell me more about this new thing, online sales counselor. And I’m like, well it's really not that new anymore. And, so it's convincing a builder that they kind of need to change the way that they do things and the way they look at things. And so that's probably the biggest challenge.
Grace Mase 07:14
That's interesting. And I definitely, we definitely see that in the industry. There's the way how you used to do business, and a current way to do business. And it's almost like trying to navigate or to move the ship, turning the direction for the ship, sometimes is challenging for a big ship, or if big companies have been doing things a certain way. And having them to change adopting a new way of doing things with marketing, sales, and online presence is not intuitive for them. So I can imagine that it can be an interesting challenge at the same time.
Leah Fellows 07:48
That's a great analogy, because I have my 200 ton captain's license from my sailing. Oh, well, Uh huh. So yes, turning a big ship around takes some time, it takes energy, and you need to have a path forward and give yourself enough room to change. And so you know, it is a change for builders, where, where it used to be walk-in traffic was the main source and those sorts of things. You know, back when I started, I mean, most of their traffic, they would say is walk-in, and now almost 100% of people begin their search online, and that is really important.
Grace Mase 08:21
Right, so a lot of this challenge, assume there. I mean, did you have any experience with any woman supporting you as you grow your business? And if so, how?
Leah Fellows 08:35
Well, definitely, I mean, I have worked with female builders, and they very much have been supportive of me. And a lot of the people in the industry, a lot of the people that I feel like I engage with, there's a lot of female sales people and things like that. But one of the biggest resources to me has been being a part of the Professional Women in Building for the past almost six years now. And just the support and the engagement, you get. Just even people cheering you on to help you, you know, and having other marketers, other people reach out and say, "How can I help you?" "Or tell me more about what you do?" Because it is all about relationship building, and creating wonderful relationships first. And I feel like I get that strong support and network through the Professional Women in Building and Women in Residential Construction. They've both been wonderful resources for me.
Grace Mase 09:31
That's great. Now actually good segue to, how would you advise a young woman who's interested in pursuing this profession? What type of advice would you give her?
Leah Fellows 09:40
Well, I think working in first, the profession of being in the building industry in general, is so dynamic and there's so many different aspects that you can get involved with in the building industry, whether you want to be hands on actually building or being part of the trades, which right now, the trades are at a deficit. We need more people in the trades. So it's a perfect time for women to get involved and be hands on. Or if you love sales or marketing, there's just so many different ways that you can come into this profession and be successful. And so my advice to any woman wanting to enter into this industry is If you can dream it, you can do it. You know, there is definitely room at the table for women in every aspect of this industry.
Grace Mase 10:28
Oh, that warms my heart. That's so inspiring. If you can dream it, you can do it. Well, thank you so much, Leah. If our audience would like to get in touch with you, how would they contact you?
Leah Fellows 10:38
The best way is through my website, which is www.bluegypsyinc.com. Or they can email me, Leah@BlueGypsyInc.com And hopefully, they'll be able to take a look and see upcoming events on my website that are happening, places where I speak, and things like that. You'll be able to check that out and take a look where you might be able to meet me in person.
Grace Mase 11:03
Fantastic. Well, thank you, Leah, thank you so much for helping all of us to learn and finding a way to navigate through our career.
Leah Fellows 11:11
Great! Any time! It was really wonderful chatting with you.
Grace Mase 11:15
Perfect. Thank you, Leah.