Hey everybody! Today, my buddy Sean Grabow is joining me on the show. Sean has been an investor for just a couple of years but he’s gone from zero to about a hundred deals a year, or 8 to 10 deals a month. Today, we are going to talk about the lessons learned at scaling a business quickly. Let’s jump into the show!
Mike: Hey everybody. Welcome back to the show today. I have my buddy Sean Grabow here with me, and he’s really been an investor for just a couple of years, but he’s gone from kind of zero to about a hundred deals a year, eight to 10 deals a month, and we’re going to talk today about lessons learned at scaling a business quickly.
Professional real estate investors know that it’s not really about the real estate. That real estate is just a vehicle of freedom. A group of over a hundred of a nation’s leading real estate investors from across the country meet several times a year at the investor fuel real estate mastermind. To share ideas on how to strengthen each other’s
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On today’s show, we’re going to continue our
of fueling our businesses and our lives. I’m glad you’re here.
[00:01:00] Hey Sean, welcome to the show.
Sean: [00:01:07] Hey, Mike. Thanks a lot for having me man.
Mike: [00:01:09] Yeah, glad to have you here. And you know, there’s a. I’ve been coaching and mentor people for a long time and in the real estate space for a long time. And I love lessons where people came into, um, you know, you came into a market cycle where people were already talking about two years ago, how it was getting difficult.
Like, Oh, things aren’t as easy as they used to be, or people are feeling the pressure. Uh, but then somebody like you comes in and just doesn’t listen to all that cause you don’t have these preconceived notions and you just go in and crush it. So excited to kind of share those lessons today because the truth is, as you know.
A lot of people’s success, uh, is dependent upon what’s between their ears, right? Like the mental side of if you listen to all the naysayers, like you would never get started in real estate investing it in any cycle. And you’ve kind of proven those folks wrong. So, cause I had to talk about that. So maybe you could introduce yourself a little bit.
Tell us about your background and kind of how you found your way here just, just two years ago.
Sean: [00:01:59] Yeah, [00:02:00] Mike. Um, so I grew up in Michigan. We’ve got to California for 10 years. Um, when I was out in California, I was ready for a change, ready to do something different. Um, I didn’t know exactly what that was going to be, but I had some success just kind of doing a couple of living flips where I live in a house for two years.
And then sell it and then find another beat up house. Live in there for two years, fix it up and sell it. And, um, when it came time to do a different career, uh, real estate seemed like it would be a good transition. Um, it was something where I kind of have it a little bit of proof of concept. I know I enjoyed it.
And, um, yeah. From there I decided. You know, I need to find a good market to move to. Um, didn’t want to start off in California just cause it seemed a little bit more limiting as far as, uh, options I had. So, um, kind of did some research, chose Columbus, Ohio. And I moved here in March of [00:03:00] 2018 and since then, I’ve only had one, one company with a partner, and that lasted for about a year.
And then about eight years ago, broke off and started another company just by myself, um, with, uh, a employee who I’ve been working with. And in the eight months we’ve been scaling and doing great.
Mike: [00:03:21] Yeah. Yeah. So that was a little over a year ago. You broke, you broke off there.
Sean: [00:03:24] A little less than a year. Yeah.
Mike: [00:03:25] Yeah. So, uh, why, um, why did you pick Columbus? So, I mean, are sometimes people go into mid Midwest markets are kind of known for being good rental, great markets that have something to do with it? Or was it, uh, something else?
Sean: [00:03:38] Yeah. Well, here’s a bunch of different factors. One was, I grew up five hours from here, so, you know, I was kind of returning to where I had some roots.
Um, but then also I looked at just how, what seemed like a good market for buying longterm. And Columbus has a growing population, uh, there, the purchase price [00:04:00] to rent that ratio is pretty solid. And, um, I knew there was some revitalization going on, but, um, since I’ve, since I’ve landed here, I’ve realized there’s a lot more revitalization going on.
So she’s kind of, I’m all of those things. And. I feel really good about the decision that I make.
Mike: [00:04:18] Yeah. Yeah. Cool. That’s great. So let’s talk, we want to kind of get into some lessons learned and maybe we could start off by talking about exit strategies. So I know you know, you, you got in with the intention of keeping some rentals and you and I talked before, you’re like, initially you, you really didn’t want to be a wholesaler, but I think you’ve kind of come maybe full circle a little bit there on the power of wholesaling.
Maybe just kind of share some lessons learned about exit strategies and how that’s shifted over time.
Sean: [00:04:42] Yeah. Um, so when I first started, I had no intention of wholesaling. Um, it just, it seemed like, Oh man, I hate to say it though. It was almost like a little pillow. Me. Like, I have a little bit of money saved up, and I thought I was just, you know, gonna go off and start buying [00:05:00] Reynolds and.
Now that as soon as I got started, I realized how foolish that was because I would have ran out of my money immediately. I don’t know how to be a landlord. I didn’t know the first thing. That’s kind of what I assumed that people who wanted to get into real estate investing did as you went out on the block property.
But I was lucky enough to get partnered up with somebody who wanted to wholesale. And from that, you know, I immediately realized the power that that has and. Um, just all the benefits it’s given me. Cause you know, everything starts with whether you’re a landlord or rehabber or a developer, that all starts with finding the good deals.
Mike: [00:05:38] right.
Sean: [00:05:39] And then just also wholesaling. I’ve been able to learn so many different facets of the real estate industry. So it’s great. And, um, even since I’ve started getting wholesaling down fairly well, um. Started to kind of expand. Okay. Now that I understand this, if I do want to hold on to some rentals, what’s, you [00:06:00] know, what’s the best way to go about that?
What neighborhoods do I want to be in? Um, same with rehabs. Um, you know, I’m not, I’m not a good project manager. I don’t have a construction background, but you know, I’ve realized, you know, I can partner up with people who do have those skills. So I’ve kind of started to dip my toes into, you know, flips and, um, other things.
But that’s all been field from the wholesaling
Mike: [00:06:26] initially. Yeah. For wholesale, it really is the foundation of like, if you have that skillset, you have options, right? I mean, if you’re only a wholesaler, like I’ve never really understood people that. I own the wholesale 100% they rehab 100% and I don’t really know many people that keep rentals 100% because you got to have some kind of current cash flow to be able to fund your operations.
Right. So it’s interesting. I think as I evolved, I was like, maybe it’s you two, you realize like. Especially if you’re doing direct to seller marketing, you need to be flexible and kind of let the deal dictate what you do with it or your cash. Your cash flow [00:07:00] situation currently is going to dictate, like you said, you’re going to run out of money if you try to keep malls rentals and you might have a cherry deal that you know would be a good rehab.
Maybe it’s not worth re wholesaling, but I think really wholesaling is that kind of foundation of the entire business.
Sean: [00:07:14] Yeah. No, absolutely. I really agree.
Mike: [00:07:16] Yeah. Yeah. So let’s talk a little bit about, um, about the power of networking. Is that something that was been, I know you, I know you’re a big into networking now.
Has it always been that way, or does it something that you kind of picked up over time? Uh, how important that is.
Sean: [00:07:28] You know, I think it’s something I’ve always been into. I’ve always been really driven by having good relationships with people. I’m wanting to treat people like you know, or treat, treat people like I want to be treated myself.
I didn’t really realize the power and the value that it has. I’m in a business sense until I started really getting involved in a real estate community here in Columbus, and just realizing how everybody knows everybody, everyone’s paths are constantly crossing and you know, just [00:08:00] the amount of opportunity that is opened up by.
Legitimately just trying to help people and, you know, not having any, uh, you know, motive for yourself, but just really putting yourself out there. Um, it’s been, it’s been probably the biggest thing that I would attribute my success to is just been putting myself out there. Not being afraid to, you know, just go and pound out real, you know, real estate investing meetings.
And, uh. Yeah.
Mike: [00:08:31] It’s amazing when you, it’s one of those things that, you know, you’re obviously a member of investor fuel, and that’s one of the foundations we have is just giving. Right. And it’s amazing. Uh, and I, I didn’t start off this way. I, I probably had a scarcity mindset for the first year or two. I was in business.
Which was a long time ago now. But when you start to reel it, cause you kinda like you’re small. A lot of us are isolated to just running our own business. You’re not really talking to a lot of people if you’re not networking. But then I found, it sounds like you know, you, you, you understand this too, is when you just share and you’re kind of open-minded.
Like. [00:09:00] Opportunities just come your way. I hate to say it, but there’s so many people that are closed off and have a, have a scarcity mindset that when you have an abundance mindset, you kind of stand out and it just attracts people that, you know, might have a eventually, I’m not saying you do it for the purpose of, of benefiting yourself, but it’s like, it’s like karma, right?
When you put good stuff out there, just stuff, you know, deals fall on your lap or you get lucky more often, right?
Sean: [00:09:25] Absolutely. Yeah. And you really notice it with real estate too. Yeah. Like you said, deals falling into your lap. People, people see you and see you helping them or help them at times. So where do they get a sweet deal or something that’s a little bit out of their calm person or not?
Um, they bring it to you and Ron partner up.
Mike: [00:09:48] Talk a little bit about, about partnering. So you said that word a couple of times out with coach. We just talked about. You know, uh, when you put good things out there, things come your way. So, partnership opportunities. And I think when you talk about rehabbing, you know, it’s not your [00:10:00] strength. So you partner with people.
And so talk a little about the kind of importance and power of, of partnering and JV and on deals and stuff like that to your
Sean: [00:10:07] business. Yeah, absolutely. So, I mean, it just allows me to do a lot more, and it also allows me to focus on the stuff that I’m best at because I’m pretty upfront about the stuff that I’m not good at at all.
And through trial and error, I’ve realized it, and it’s been reinforced to me that I’m just really not good at some things, but that’s, that’s fine. As long as you know. I recognize it and I refocused, or the stuff that I am good at and the stuff that I’m not good at. You know, like rehabs, project management, all that stuff.
You know, I find somebody who is good at it and I bring, you know, my value in the stuff that I’m really good at. To them and to the partnership and yeah, it just allows me to also, you know, to instead of wholesaling every deal, um, it allows me to hold onto a lot more stuff. It’s going to probably allow me to [00:11:00] build my rental portfolio a lot faster.
And, um, yeah. It’s, it’s just been really awesome. It’s been great.
Mike: [00:11:08] Yeah. That’s great. Um, it’s a, it’s an important part when you start to realize like. I don’t have to do everything myself. Like, you know, I can work with other people and we can get this done. And sometimes you might make a little less money.
Sometimes it might cost you a little more. If you work with, you know, a contractor that’s a little more expensive but more trustworthy, whatever it might be. But you start to realize like, you know, this is not a, it’s a, it’s kind of a team sport right?
Sean: [00:11:32] Yeah, absolutely. And I think it really helps you grow a lot too, because if you’re, if you’re doing, if you’re working with somebody who’s a lot more experienced than you, you’re going to kind of get your hand held and you’re going to get walked through that process.
I mean, not just in the last year, I’ve learned so much about rehabs and you know, dealing with contractors and. Materials and all that stuff that I had no idea, and I would have probably miserably failed if I would have tried it on my own. I would have been, [00:12:00] you know, just my time would have got ate up. Um, and I think in the long run you probably might.
I think in the long run it definitely pays a lot more.
Mike: [00:12:10] Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. What’s the cost of doing something? You know, if you don’t use, what happens is you like don’t do stuff. Sometimes you stop doing stuff at all cause you hate it. It’s like, well, you could still make money doing it. You just have to do it a little differently.
Right. And so I think if you try to be good at everything in this business, you just, you’re going to be good at almost nothing. Yeah. Yeah. So talk about the power of your team. Like you started off, you know, small, I know you’ve built up a team here, and I think that’s where a lot of other real estate investors kind of struggle is around.
Really around scale, like you’ve scaled your business up, so you can’t really afford to have a team unless you scale up. If you’re doing a deal here and there, you can’t have a team, but you’ve obviously chosen the scale and then you, um, I know you care a lot about your team and, and view this as a, as a team effort.
Talk a little about kind of. How that’s impacted your business, I guess.
Sean: [00:12:59] Yeah. No, [00:13:00] absolutely. So, I mean, I can only do so much and you know, there are only some things I’m good at. So if I can find the best people who can help me, where in the fields that I’ve struggled in. Then that’s just going to help me grow and get better a lot faster.
I, you know, obviously with wholesaling, um, you got to really take care of your people cause they, they, they don’t necessarily realize that all of the, you know, all of the expenses and marketing and time and just everything that goes into it, they just kind of see. Well, you know, what it lumber buying them for and what we’re selling them for.
So I feel like, you know, I really invest in people. I send my team to different trainings, like the John Martinez trainings for our people, all that, all of those different programs. And, um, I feel like when you invest in people like that, you show them, you care. Like, um, you know, whether it’s, you know, whether you’re an employee stay at one of your [00:14:00] rentals or something like that, you know, it’s.
It builds, it builds that friendship. It builds that loyalty. It makes it so that, you know, they see it as more than just a job and you know, they’re really connected to it. If you’re sharing, you know, I think that’s a big thing with me is, you know, I never want to be in a person who pays the least. I want to be the person who pays the most, but I’m going to expect a lot.
And you know, as long as you’re treating people with. You know, the respect you’re going to get, you’re going to get a lot more back from them and it’s just, it just creates a win win for everybody,
Mike: [00:14:31] so, yup. Yup. Yeah. I think with, um, you know, a lot of people have this fear of if I train somebody, especially around acquisitions, what if I train somebody and they become my competitor?
Right. Any thoughts on, have you thought, cause I, it’s a real thing, right? So it’s like there’s this, there’s this old kind of line is like, I can’t remember exactly, I’m going to totally screw it up trying to think of this from memory, but, um, the, there’s like a company and the CFO says, well, what if we train these people and they [00:15:00] leave?
And then the CEO says, well, what if we don’t train them? And they stay, you know, it’s like you don’t want that either. So there’s a balance there. But you know, I kind of, I used to be fearful of that. And then I had said, well, look, what if they want to leave. Uh, and go do their own thing. Maybe there’s a way to partner with them and we can find some way to work together.
Or just, you know, when you kind of shift from this kind of scarcity to abundance mindset, you can’t let that hold you back. But w what are your thoughts
Sean: [00:15:23] on, on that. You know, I, I’d definitely use, you said at the beginning that you’ve transitioned more from a more into the abundance mindset and it’s been the same thing with me as well.
Um, I’ve, like, I definitely had that concern and maybe even still have the concern a little bit like, ah, if I. Give him the keys to the castle, then you know, they’re gonna run off and do it themselves. And especially when you’re spending a lot of, you know, time and energy investing in that person, I think it’s, there’s no way they’re not going to think that that’s a possibility.
But you know, I think it just goes back to. You know, providing that really stable environment, [00:16:00] having them, you know, and they see the struggles as well, and they see the bad monster. You know, they see other people who split off and done their own thing and haven’t had the success. So, I mean, you can’t, I don’t think you can fit too much.
You can’t worry about it too much sugar. Also, you know, just going to kind of limit ya. But, um, you know, it’s, it’s something I think about, but. You know, I just, I, I, when it comes down to it, at the end of the day, I’m just gonna treat him Ryan. And, um, you know, if they do decide to go off and do their own finger, I’m going to be grateful that the time or the time we have to work together and I’m going to find out a way to, you know, create new situations and
Mike: [00:16:39] nature and yeah.
That’s awesome. That’s awesome. I think kind of that, that mentality and the kind of ability to JB and partner on stuff, it kind of goes hand in hand cause you’re like, well, if you decide to go on your own, like let’s. Let’s, let’s be honest at that is a possibility at some point that you might want to do that and let’s just kind of commit to each other that, you know, uh, we’ll put everything in [00:17:00] while we’re together.
And if you decide to go off on your own, like maybe there’s some ways for us to work together even then, you know? So I think it’s, it’s everybody’s different, but I think there’s a lot of acquisitions. I’ve had a lot of access to people over the years, and many of them. Did not want to have to do all the stuff that I had to do as a business owner when they kind of see all the, when you give people a peek behind the curtain, I mean, the backend of a real estate business is not sexy at all.
Sean: [00:17:22] Absolutely. And I mean, sales people are, they’re good there. I’m kind of a natural salesperson and that’s where, like my background is, is acquisitions, and that’s what I’m best at and I, I’m horrible at putting the rest of that company. I think a salesperson really, they want to, they want to be on the phone, they want to meet you.
They’re passionate about that. From my experience, most sales people don’t like doing the other stuff and you know, if they decide to go off and try it, and you handle that in a really respectful way, you know, there’s probably a good chance they’re going to come back and want to work with you in the future.
Mike: [00:17:56] Yeah. Yeah. So, so Sean, from your lessons learned over the past couple [00:18:00] of years and expanding pretty rapidly here, and again, what most would deem a more challenging market that in the past, and, um, what’s, what’s kind of your biggest piece or two of advice, if you’re, if somebody is listening to this right now and they’re doing a deal here and there, but they really want to hit that scale point, what are some of some of the things that you’ve learned too that you could, uh, kind of advise them on?
Sean: [00:18:20] Um, well as far as like the acquisition process, um, just to follow up like ferociously, you know, like I, I’ve closed deals where I, you know, I’ve talked to people or I’ve got attended to maybe a hundred contacts and people would’ve given up way longer or way, way before that. Um, persistence, um, surrounding yourself with good people.
Um, being open to, you know, 50% of something’s better than 0% enough. And, um, so yeah, that’s a good question now. Okay. Yeah. Getting out there and exposing yourself, recognizing your weaknesses. [00:19:00] Um, trying, you know, when I first got to town, I didn’t, I had way more time than I had things to do, so I would just find people on bigger pockets who are actually out there doing stuff and, um, just volunteer to, you know, see if they need it.
Yeah. You know, somebody to go shovel, you know, two yards of dirt to fill in, fill in some divots in the yard or you know, just whatever it took to be exposed to people who are aware I wanted to be and who are doing the things
Mike: [00:19:28] that I want. Yeah. That’s good news. That’s good. Yeah. Cause it’s easy to, you can’t, you can’t, you can’t learn and you can’t buy any houses if you’re sitting in your house.
With nothing to do.
Sean: [00:19:38] I put the time and it’s, it’s not easy. It’s Wade. Yeah. It’s, it’s not easy and just like anything, you gotta work for it. All right.
Mike: [00:19:48] Yep. So, Sean, you’ve been in investor fuel for a little a little while now. We actually have a meeting coming up here, uh, in the next, uh, week or so. Um, can you, would you mind sharing just your experience so far?
I know you’ve just been [00:20:00] in for a short, short while, but what are your thoughts about the group
Sean: [00:20:02] overall? Oh, everybody’s been really helped. Everybody genuinely wants to see everyone else succeed, um, and really goes out of their way to answer questions and to connect and, uh, kind of work through any problems or challenges you’re facing.
And then the other really cool thing is. Yeah. Every, there’s so many different backgrounds within the group. You know, you’d have people who are amazing with lead gen, or you have people who are amazing flippers. You have people who are, you know, do all aspects of the industries. So we’re real, you have access to everybody.
Um, the Facebook group is great. There’s just so much activity going on there. Uh. Yeah, get answers to questions real quick. And yeah, the one meeting I remember the one meetup I’ve got him to go to so far is excellent. Meeting everyone face to face and it’s been a really good experience
Mike: [00:20:58] so far. [00:21:00] Awesome.
Awesome. I appreciate that. Um, so, uh, Sean, thanks for sharing this information with good, good stuff. And I think one of the big things are maybe you could share a thought on just scale, cause a lot of people get in and they, if they are successful at doing a deal, they’re usually. Here and there, you know, they don’t necessarily invest her money back into lead generation and it just becomes kind of hobby.
I mean, there’s a lot of people in the real estate industry that do a deal and it’s here and there, and they’re kind of in hobby mode, and they. They just never are willing to kind of bet on the scale because it is an investment, right? You got to invest in probably people, certainly your time and probably Legion.
Maybe any kind of final thoughts on the kind of what it takes to scale and why people should make that commitment.
Sean: [00:21:44] Yeah, putting in the time. Um, I’ve always just reinvested for, I’ve always lived really frugally and just always tried to reinvest everything. Um, I think that’s been huge. I think [00:22:00] really just a lot of the stuff I’ve been talking about, um, bill, having good people around you, um, putting in the time, reinvesting the profits.
Mike: [00:22:10] Yup. Yup. Yeah. And if you don’t scale, the truth is, is, and not even when you scale, it’s still, you know, it’s still, it’s still hard work. Stuff happens that you didn’t expect stuff gets a curve ball out of left field or whatever. Um, but if you don’t scale, you know, even if you are successful, like invest, you, you have a new job, right?
You’re kind of tied to that business cause you’re probably stuck doing almost everything yourself.
Sean: [00:22:33] Yeah. No, absolutely.
Mike: [00:22:34] Yeah. Cool. Well, Sean, if folks wanted to learn more about you or connect in any way, we’re, where could they go?
Sean: [00:22:40] Um, probably connecting with me on Facebook. So the best way, um, and I’m always open to help.
I’m a complete open book, so any way I can ever add value to anybody.
Mike: [00:22:54] Awesome. Awesome. We’ll add a link down in the show notes, so thanks again for being with us today. Look forward to seeing you in [00:23:00] Nashville here in another 10 days, I guess. Yeah,
Sean: [00:23:02] I’m really looking forward to
Mike: [00:23:04] absolutely everybody. Hey, thanks for joining us on the show.
I hope you got some value out of this, especially if you are at a point where you know you need to make some changes and be able to scale your business up and turn it into a real business and not a hobby. So if you haven’t yet, we’d love it. If you subscribe to us on iTunes, Stitcher radio, Google play.
Anywhere where you watch or listen to us, YouTube, any of those places. Of course, you can find all of our shows. If you go to investor fuel.com or if you go to dot com you can find all of our shows there too, so appreciate you a ton. We’ll see how the next show.
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