Zeb Griffin, ALC is the youngest land advisor to hold the ALC designation. His negotiation skills and hard-working mentality have led him to being recognized not only as the podcast’s favorite agent, but also as his clients’ favorite agent.
Below is an excerpt from the interview. Listen above for the full podcast.
Are you the youngest ALC? That's kind of a running joke. So I'm a year younger than Keat [Waldron] and I was like “Oh, man, I'll be the youngest ALC”. Then Keat submitted his portfolio and got it first. So he stole my thunder but I will be the youngest ALC.
What is an ALC? That is an Accredited Land Consultant. It’s a good designation to have from a knowledge and networking standpoint. You have to take courses and you have to have a portfolio of a certain size. You can take it online, or just elect to go up [to Nashville] for about a week. That was the route we took, but we enjoyed it and met a lot of good people.
Was it always your plan to work in land? It was but it wasn't. I didn't see myself doing this. My family has always owned land. We've always had a passion for land. Growing up, I always saw myself in fertilizer or chemical sales. My big thing was I wanted to be in Florida. I went to school in South Georgia awhile back but I ultimately wanted to be back in Florida for my career and my life and then I got hooked up with Dean [Saunders]. One door shuts and another door opens and it's been a blessing.
How did you meet Dean? I just called him. I was driving back up for my last semester. It was starting to look like I was going to stay in South Georgia, but it wasn't where I wanted to land. So, as I'm driving back, I looked his number up and called him. He answered, and we just got to talking and griping about how things are changing. We hit it off and talked for about an hour. Spring break was a couple weeks to follow and he said, “Well, if you're home, come by the office.” I came in and put a face to the name. Then as my final semester played out, it just became evident that this was where I wanted to be.
What do you specialize in? I mostly try to focus on Ag-land. Farm land, ranch land, hunting tracks, things of that nature. By nature a lot of those tracks have conservation easements on them and just other specifications that you end up navigating through. The process of selling those has been what I've tried to focus on. You also have to travel in this business because Florida is so developed that you gotta go to the land.
I tried to work Lake, Sumpter, Volusia, Seminole, and Orange counties. All in the Central Florida and North Central Florida area.
How did you know how to generate leads? I don't think anyone ever does. I think you get thrown in the pool and either swim or you don't. This will be the first job I've ever had where you have to learn and you have to work at learning how to work. Dean always says, “Business gets business.” So get a hold of whatever you can, do a good job, do right by people, make a lasting impression. Eventually, the ball will begin to roll, but it takes some time. These land deals can take up to a year from getting them listed to getting them closed. So, get enough stuff in the hopper, plant enough seeds, and something does come up. Just continually, while you're trying to get stuff closed, bring more listings on board. It's a juggling act that's for sure.
Face-to-face or over the phone? I'd say with the folks I deal with, they appreciate a face-to-face. The phone is a great tool, but it's very impersonal in my opinion. I'd rather sit down, eat lunch, and get to know somebody. You talk 80% life and 20% business. Maybe I'm looking at things all wrong, but I think that's how you truly gain somebody's trust. They know you're real and you're not somebody just poking and prodding them to sell. Landowners are so intelligent, they didn't come into land by being unintelligent. I've just found building a relationship and engaging someone's trust and confidence is the way I've had success and then getting deals across the finish line.
What is your experience in land management? I assist Brian Beasley. He's the head of our land management. The concept is that institutional owners, typically of large tracts, invest in something for a more financial purpose versus actually operating on the land themselves. So, they will enlist us to help with management, securing a cattle lease or some hunting leases, and just keep the lights on. Keeping the greenbelt and things of that nature.
Maybe there's some fence that needs to be built. We're gonna be a liaison between the landowner and whoever's coming to complete the project, “Here's what needs to happen. Here's where this is.”
Land valuation. I've got a lot of “good old boys'' on the sales side. There are also a lot of people that are buying these tracks who are first time landowners and they don't come from a family history of owning land. Land is a great vehicle to park money, especially if you're looking at things long term. You can enjoy it recreationally for hunting or running cattle. It's a great tool to park some money, let it slowly appreciate over time, and have some quality of life. I think we're seeing in today's market, a lot of people that don't have a history of land ownership but have had successful businesses doing something else and they think this would be a good fit. They're good people, don't get me wrong, but they don't come from the history of land ownership.
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