Hey, Mike Hambright here from FlipNerd.com. I recently hosted an online event for members of my Professional Real Estate Investor Facebook Group, which you can access by visiting FlipNerd.com/professional. It’s only for professionals, not the new folks. I wanted to shares this amazing event that we call the freedom series with eight industry legends. Today’s episode is with Don Ross.

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[00:00:00] Mike: [00:00:00] What’s up everyone. Hey Mike, Cambray from flipnerd.com. I recently hosted an online event for members of my professional real estate investor Facebook group, which you can access by visiting flipper.com/professional. It’s only for professionals, not new folks, but wanted to share this with everybody. And today I wanted to share, um, this amazing event.

That we call the freedom series with eight industry legends today’s episode is with Donald Ross. That, that beard is getting bigger. My friend, I like every time I see you, it’s a, it’s like Castaway. You’re just there. No,

Don: [00:00:37] Chris looks better than that miracle girl, my friend milker girl

Mike: [00:00:42] and time, you know, it was just like sitting around a lot more of these days.

So. Awesome. How are you doing.

Don: [00:00:47] Doing good. Just got to back out the Soko. We were in Wisconsin for almost a month.

Mike: [00:00:54] Yeah. Yeah. That’s awesome. How was your trip up there?

Don: [00:00:56] A relaxing. I actually got to shut down for three weeks.

[00:01:00] Mike: [00:01:00] That’s good. And you’re, you’re still planning to move up there, right?

Don: [00:01:03] Yeah. Yeah. We were out there, uh, looking at a couple of different houses, a couple of different lots, and just trying to figure out what it is we want and what, uh, is central to some of the things we need, my dad and my daughter and things like that.

And. Just kind of figuring it out. Yeah.

Mike: [00:01:17] That’s awesome. That’s awesome. John we’re here today. This event was really about talking about, uh, you know, freedom, how to get more freedom in our life. We have the 4th of July coming up. You’re you’re a veteran. So thank you for your service there. And I’ve said it a few times here.

Um, uh, throughout this series, you’re a final speaker. We saved the best for last. So like, I like to say, just don’t tell anybody else. I said that, but, uh, no, uh, glad to have you here, but I’ve said it several times is that, uh, I think my favorite holidays are Thanksgiving and 4th of July and I love Christmas.

Don’t get me wrong, but it’s just, you get all caught up in gifts or did I give the right gift or I’m not sure happy with what I got, whatever it might be, you know? Uh, is that, uh, I feel like. Thanksgiving and, and, and, and, uh, [00:02:00] 4th of July are kind of pure an opportunity to give more gratitude, think about what we, what we had to be thankful for or grateful for.

And so that’s kind of the impetus for this. Obviously everybody on here is a real estate investor as well. And so I want to ask you and anybody else that’s listening right now, feel free to chat it in. If you’re watching, is what does freedom mean to you as an entrepreneur? Let’s say,

Don: [00:02:20] and as an American yeah.

Yeah. Yeah. I mean, it’s, um, you know, you have a, uh, a different feel or a different thought behind it. I think a little bit, uh, from our side, once you go over overseas and do a couple of different things that were out, um, I’m definitely more grateful for some of the small things that I took for granted, uh, after some of those experiences and coming back from it.

So, um, you know, what comes from that is kind of what we’re doing with Wisconsin move. We’re looking for. Bigger, lots of land and being able to kind of just do our own thing on our own time when we want, where we want. Um, so for us, you know, part of that freedom is, you know, I just took three [00:03:00] weeks, three weeks back to Wisconsin, we took two cars, not high end cars, but sporty or cars and drove them completely from California over to Wisconsin.

And ideally some of the stuff went to Ben, you know, locked down like it was, and we would have experienced a little bit more things, but the kids still had fun. They forgot the CLR, cool things, bride through some certain areas and agree on some things. And we did the same thing last year with two different cars, and we’re going to do the same thing next year with two different cars.

So we’re finally making the shift back over to Wisconsin with making those road trips and experienced on those different things. Um, for me personally, I, you know, in the past have been a workaholic. So for me to have quote unquote, freedom is. It’s difficult. Um, but I will say that this time I am pretty dang proud of myself.

Uh, the first four days I struggled in Wisconsin getting back to just kind of enjoying and spending time with the kids and just going outside and just shutting down. Um, but after the first four or five days, you know, it [00:04:00] was really nice week, number two week, number three of actually just getting up, going out and join.

And then, you know, at night we were going over to the local ice cream place, um, in the morning, going to the local restaurant that my buddy owns. That’s really what it comes down to. Can I get up and kind of go do what I want to do for a week or two and then have everything burned to the ground. And it’s, you know, it’s taken a little bit to get to there, but that’s that’s for me, freedom.

Mike: [00:04:25] Yeah. And one of the things that you obviously do in your own business, and you have a lot of people do it with beast mode is to put systems and processes in place so that your business can run without you. Right? I mean, when I first started in, uh, real estate investing in 2008, I came out of a technology company and I was like, this is like, Caveman.

There’s like a wild West. Like there were no, there literally there was no real estate CRM then. I mean, I started, my first CRM was high rise. Like we were just using like contact managers and there was nothing, you know, and then a few things came along, but there’s a lot, there’s way more technology in our space now.

But back then, [00:05:00] technology and systems and processes was checklists and whiteboards and spreadsheets and, you know, um, Manila folders sounds crazy. I’m like an old man, but, um, you know, we had a systems and processes, but it’s still required us to have to do stuff. There weren’t systems. They kinda did it while we slept, if you will.

Right. So maybe talk a little bit about, um,

Don: [00:05:21] you know, how automated

Mike: [00:05:23] can help real estate investors in their business, help them get more of their time back, the very same thing that you define as freedom. And I do too.

Don: [00:05:30] Yeah. I mean, originally when I built out the Podio platform that is now beast mode, it was for our need.

Um, there was never an intent when I first built it to, to build it, support it and provide it to others. It was really our need. Um, and then from that, you know, it kind of evolved and morphed to what it is today, but. Um, for me, it was, you know, the military has systems processes and all those things. And, uh, my first job in the military was supply logistics.

And part of that was buying and funding different things [00:06:00] for our, uh, unit that we needed and we needed to be able to track it. So, uh, little things like macros with Excel and then moving up to eight access databases and I built some crazy access database for the contracts department. In, uh, North Carolina and they still use it to this day to track like $300 million worth of contracts.

Hmm. And. It was better than some platform that they were using, that they spent millions on. So they still use it, you know, and those things kind of built upon to where we are now with the automation. So when calls come in, do I have to look through a bunch of emails? No. I go to the area that has all the call ins.

I look at my task, I manage those tasks and get through all of them and respond to them. And. Respond to any text. I have any follow ups I have. Um, and as long as I’m doing those key components of returning calls, returning texts, pushing them through a sales process. And I know what that looks like. Um, you know, you get them from a to B and you’re following up and building the rapport.

That one thing right there is the consistency is what a [00:07:00] lot of people lack, unfortunately, and without a good system, that consistency is hard. If you try to run. Consistently out of a, a Excel file or an email, uh, platform. It can be very difficult not to lose and scramble things and not be able to organize them in a way that makes sense.

So for me, it’s been, how do I build those systems so that. Real simple. As long as you kind of fall things through these little buckets and drop them from brand new to follow up, to offers, to contracts, that’s going to get us to a point where as long as I’m touching that lead every 30 to 45 days and texts are going out, ringlets are going out.

I’m calling them, they’re getting some direct mail. They remember me. When it’s time to turn around and alright, now I’m ready to sell. I did what I needed to do. I’m making a decision to sell. Okay. You kept calling, you kept contacting me. I remember you, you know, 98%. None of them are going to call or text or maybe send a piece of direct mail and they never come and reach out to these people ever again.

And if they do it’s by just miracle, um, you know, [00:08:00] for us to have that drip going out, it was needed. You know, when we first got started and I get it, a lot of people when you’re a one man band, or maybe even two or three man band, you only have so many, so much time in the day and you’re wearing all these hats.

And to be able to turn out on that automation and be able to do some of the stuff for you, you’re saving that time. And necessarily you make enough of the month employee, that person to sit in that role at this current time. So it helped us grow when we didn’t have the money to spend on the employees and on that hat within the company.

Mike: [00:08:33] Yeah, I think one of the things that’s great about, you know, the tools that are out there today, one of them is that

Don: [00:08:38] you can,

Mike: [00:08:39] so first off, if you could manage a team virtually like never before, right? Whether it’s virtual assistants or just, I mean, I have virtual assistants that are overseas and I have people that just.

Live in other parts of the country that, that work on our teams. And, um, I know you do too. So the ability, so like for people to just kind of know what they have to do without having to be told what, [00:09:00] like, as a manager, I used to have to come into my office and I mean, heck even our sales guys used to come in and get their like files for the day for their appointments.

You know, like those days are long gone, but that’s kinda how it was. Right. And so I think the ability to.

Don: [00:09:12] Manage,

Mike: [00:09:12] uh, people’s I guess kind of activities is easier than ever because the systems are telling them what to do, right?

Don: [00:09:21] Yeah. I mean, they’re walking in and they’re seeing, Hey, this thing has my name on it.

I said, I was going to call it today. And here it is. It’s popped up with today’s date. It’s under my file, my area that I have to call it. If I do these things consistently, I’m doing what I need to do and I’m hitting my numbers. So part of that is we are big in the U S a proponent and basically having KPIs and numbers that are assigned to a specific person or a role, um, And for us, we do the weekly meetings, things like that with our system, as they’re pushing stuff through the process, as soon as those button clicks happen, appointments set, completed, offer contract those dates of those appointments and are those buttons being [00:10:00] clicked are being tracked.

And you’re able to see that historically. So you can see that trend line and see is it going stagnant across? Is it going up? Is it going down? Do I have a sales problem? Do I have a marketing problem or are we doing pretty dang good. And we just need to keep doing more of what we’re doing. You never know that without the tracking.

And so that’s, that’s the big thing is how do I track it? And with our, you’re just doing the daily routine of sending appointments and completing them, making offers, and as buttons are being clicked, it’s tracking it for you. So you’re not having to do things on top of it. It’s already doing it as you’re doing the process.

Yeah.

Mike: [00:10:35] So Don, you, you, you have a lot of customers, you have a lot of friends that are active in the industry you’re involved in, you know, masterminds, like investor fuel, all those things. You’ve been around a lot of successful real estate investors. What do you think differentiates? Let’s kind of keep on the same vein of kind of freedom, like, and some people that are successful, um, By social media standards, I guess, um, are still like grinding and [00:11:00] working hard because they have to.

Yeah. I think that some people that have some level of success, uh, whether they’re, whether you can tell on social media or not have been able to put some automation in place in their business and create more of this kind of freedom that we’re talking about. But what do you think differentiates those two investors?

The one that. Um, you know, doesn’t, isn’t getting back time. Isn’t, isn’t, you know, money aside just, isn’t getting more of their time back versus somebody that’s just like hustling through it all. What differences. So those two people.

Don: [00:11:28] Yeah. As a, a recovering control freak, um, you’ve gotta be able to let go.

Mike: [00:11:35] Same.

Don: [00:11:36] Yeah, that’s, that’s part of it. And obviously the, you know, the white glove Marine Corps way, um, didn’t help necessarily with some of that, but, um, I’ve been able to figure out. That you know, for me to work 1820 hours hours a day, like I did for, I think almost nine, 12 months straight. That’s great. But at some point you’re going to burn out.

You cannot continue, uh, those types of hours [00:12:00] longterm. And being able to, uh, hand things off to people. And even if it’s 80% as good as what you did, it’s done. And Don sometimes it’s better than not getting done. Or your version of done at 2:00 AM when you weren’t paying attention because you were so dang tired, it’s probably much better with them doing it.

And when they take response for it, They’re better and looked away, students that you would’ve never even thought of. Um, and we’ve had some of those great moments where you hand stuff off and you say, this is yours. And when things change, I want you to update the videos. I want you to update the processes, um, and they take control of it.

And all of a sudden, you don’t have to worry about it. They’re checking in and you’re, you have certain numbers and KPIs weekly that you’re looking at, that those are important. And as long as those are being hit, All the other stuff behind the scenes really doesn’t matter. As long as it’s getting done.

You’re good. And for me, that’s been the huge thing at this point, you know, behind the scenes, we’ve got seven people that are working with beast mode behind the scenes for everybody. [00:13:00] Plus me, I guess, at the, at some point, right? So for me, I’m able to show so on a weekly meeting on Mondays, kind of find out where we sit, how things have gone over the last week.

And then on Fridays, we always do a training. A power hour where we kind of go through, what are some of the questions that we’ve seen over and over, over again, let’s do some training over top of that and make sure that we’re all on the same page of the way this should be handled. Um, and then we put that into our training portal, which at this point is Google classroom.

So we just put everything in there. They’re able to access it. And everybody’s on the same page. We’re all kind of marching to the same time. Um, we do, um, well, I call it morning nine at night where they basically tell me, what am I working on today? What am I going to finish today? Do I need anything from you, uh, to assist me at this point in time.

And then at the end of the day, they’re checking in real quick and letting me know what have they accomplished for the day. Um, those little things allow me to release the control and not freak out. Um, at least kind of in the know of what’s going on. I’m not just flying the plane [00:14:00] blind and praying that it’s all going.

Okay.

Mike: [00:14:02] Yeah. Yeah. Talk about that a little bit, a little bit more like some of the people that are listening right now, and we’ve done the same thing. We use a sauna and some other tools. I mean, there’s different tools out there, but how you can start to effectively create these checklist standard operating procedures for how you do everything in your business, which does allow you as the owner to start to step out and be like, okay, there,

Don: [00:14:21] we have

Mike: [00:14:21] a process for doing that.

Whenever you’re somebody new, they can just go look at the process. Whenever somebody is performing that process, like you said, you

Don: [00:14:28] have them update.

Mike: [00:14:29] The training on how to do it. Cause we do it differently now than we used to. Like, just talk about that. That’s such a powerful thing for a real estate investors to get right that down because that’s the thing that alone I was you to start to back away is somebody else knows how to do it.

And if they don’t go watch the training on it and if they have questions, they can maybe come to me or go to somebody else. Right. But just talk about the power that, cause I know you weren’t always there and I wasn’t always there either talk

Don: [00:14:53] about that. Yeah, for me at this point in time, we’ll use, um, Screencast-O-Matic uh, and [00:15:00] then that’s connected to our Vimeo account where everything is stored.

Um, I’ll normally do a large kind of overview 30,000 foot. This is what I’m looking for. This is kind of what I want. Uh, and then I’ll assign it to, whoever’s going to take it on. They’ll do the video. Um, I’ll quickly kind of briefly look at the video and or if it’s kind of the department, the department head will look at the video, uh, And then at that point, once that’s approved and they’ll actually make a document, some screenshots with, okay, this is how we do things.

Um, and we use manifestly for checklist. So we’ll do the checklist and that will get put into, um, our Google classroom. So, um, manifestly basically is just a checklist platform. And it gives you a hyperlink, that’s kind of a webpage and they’re able to just kind of review that checklist and say, yes, I did these things and I’m all the way from start to finish.

I’ve done everything I needed to do. Um, and that’s just kind of helped us at this point to where, you know, when a new client signs up for beast mode, we’ve got a [00:16:00] checklist. I go through all from start to finish what that looks like. If I’m. We have new users added or new features that are ad-ons that they’re requesting there a checklist for that.

And, um, you know, if we have credit cards that sometimes inevitably, you know, people will have issues with credit cards where they have to renew them. Again, you have all these different processes in place to where, when this pops up and it’s like current, multiple time, I just need to have a checklist and or video SOP for it.

Uh, and that allows me to not be the one that’s involved and there was a time. So you brought this up, there was a time when credit cards failed. It was me running down and making sure that the credit cards were updated and things like that. And, you know, that led to, uh, some people that were very happy actually, because they lasted about four or five, six months without ever having to pay me, uh, on beast mode.

Cause I was so running ragged that I couldn’t keep up with everything. Right. And that was the breaking point. So two years ago was the breaking point. When I finally hired people to come on. And be a part of the [00:17:00] team. And, uh, and it was, uh, the backend automation guys. That was where I was getting pulled in too much of, I love doing it, but I didn’t belong in the weeds.

I hired a guy within two months, hired another guy, and it seemed like every two months for a while there I was hiring people and it was more or less. I was finding people that were good people that wanted to work within the software industry. And I had a role kind of in mind and we would try some stuff out and I just said, yeah, Where a permanent role.

That’s not a good role for them, but I do have this other thing and they would be really good at that. And so I have moved people over from different seats, uh, when you kind of figure out what they’re really good at and what they like doing. Um, the hard part is finding good people. So if you have something, a need that they can put them into that role, especially if they’re happy with it.

Mike: [00:17:45] Yeah. And that’s something too that I feel like with, uh, in, in like the traditional real estate investors, business of acquisitions, people, admins, maybe transaction coordinators, things like that is one of the things that I think starts to give you some of your freedom back or some of your. Peace of [00:18:00] mind is having, I mean, a process for how to recruit people.

Because what I found is I’m like it, historically me hiring people is like going to the grocery store when I’m hungry. Like I just like, they sound like they, you know, good enough. Like I need somebody like right now. Right? Yeah. So you just kind of make some bad decisions and, and then sometimes you don’t.

Let somebody go or, you know, so they’re not the right fit. You tend to hang on to them because you’re like, man, such a pain in the ass to find somebody new and you just tolerate either bad behavior or poor performance or whatever. And once you have that process of like, well, let me just spool up a list of people that, you know, might be the right fit and you have a process for how they’re taking.

Uh, personality profiles or whatever the process might be. Right. You’re, you’re less likely to allow somebody to stay in the wrong seat because, um, you know, you’re just more confident in your ability to find somebody, but it is still hard. No doubt about it. And that then all that stuff is just

Don: [00:18:56] yet one more process

Mike: [00:18:58] that we all need is how [00:19:00] to, how to build our team.

Don: [00:19:01] Right. Yeah, for me, it’s um, what I have found for myself personally, and some of the investors that are in the masterminds that I’ve talked to that have been very successful is they get usually a couple of people that are really good at their role within the team. And then it’s who do you know that may want to be part of the team, right?

If you can start pulling in referrals, that’s been really good for us. Um, the first. Two hires that I made were set up. I think that what I needed, we brought them in, we tried a couple of people and then we wound up with those last two people that stayed now that we’ve had them. At this point, they’ve been with us for two, two and a half years.

Everybody else has other five that have come over, are all people that they referred and they’ve all stayed. I haven’t had to let go of anybody so far on that regard. So the first batch I did, and then after that, the referrals I’ve had real good luck with. Yeah, that’s great. That’s great.

Mike: [00:19:53] So, Don, a couple more questions for you.

So one is, what’s the, what’s kinda the biggest piece of advice you can give to people, mostly real estate investors that are watching here [00:20:00] that wants to get more freedom in their life. Like what’s, if they’re kind of gotten to this point to where their business is doing okay. But

they

Mike: [00:20:06] have some bad months and it hurts bad and some good months.

And, but it’s not like breaking through that to the next level. What’s, what’s kind of like advice or guidance. You can

Don: [00:20:15] give them. Yeah. So a pain right now is worth the freedom and the end. So, you know, part of it is, is it a pain in the butt to make the pro services is the checklist and some of the stuff that requires to get other people to be able to do some of these things.

Absolutely. Does it, does it make, you have to do some additional hours here and there because of it? Yes. Up front. It’s going to, but. That allows you to and bring these people in, have the correct processes in place so that you’re not some of the investors that in the beginning, we’ve had some that have tried to sign up and now why were we require a 15 minute call with us before we let anybody sign up?

Is I don’t want to hear, Hey, I’m going to hire a leads manager or position manager. And, uh, I just plan on letting them figure it out. I’m not going to figure out any of [00:21:00] how to use this thing at all. I’m just gonna let them figure it out. That’s not any way to go about it. You’ve got to know the top level, 30,000 foot view of kind of how this thing needs to look, how it’s going to kind of work.

Do you know, need to know the weeds and details? No, not necessarily, but you’ve got to know the big top level stuff and then be able to have these people kind of take the reins and run with it at that point. And if you don’t have the right systems, processes, checklists in place to where there’s some more healthy.

Carnival. And then the expectations upfront when they come in, it’s a recipe for disaster. You’ve got to have them basically come in with, Hey, every, every week we’re going to have some meetings and you’re going to have to provide some of these numbers. And these are some of the expectations that I have for you, because if you try to put that on them six months in, after they’ve already been here, it’s a little bit tougher than if you just do it upfront.

Mike: [00:21:46] Yeah, for sure. Awesome. Awesome. Well, Don, if folks wanted to connect with you, learn more about beast mode or anything else you’ve got going on, we’re going

Don: [00:21:53] to go. So easiest way to reach is going to be either our EDI automation, squad.com. That’s going to be more of the beast [00:22:00] mode side of things and demo video.

Um, any of the other stuff that we’re kind of involved in is easy button rei.com and reach out there’s a social media and the Facebook groups on both those websites feel free to request access and, uh, we’ll check out some more and always love helping anybody I can.

Mike: [00:22:17] Awesome. Awesome. Well, great to see you.

Thanks for spending some time with us today, Don. Thank you. Good to see you. We’ll see you soon, buddy.

Don: [00:22:22] Take care.

Mike: [00:22:23] Take care. Hey, I hope you enjoyed our freedom series eight shows with eight talented real estate industry legends. How can we work more together? I hope real estate investors in a few different ways.

I’d love to help you get to know you better. And here’s how. I run the investor fuel mastermind. It is a leading mastermind association of America’s top real estate investors. You can learn more about [email protected] In fact, our next meeting is coming up very fast. If you go to investor fuel.com, you can learn, schedule a call to talk with our team.

The second way is I help real estate investors generate better leads. I’m a cofounder of an agency that we call [00:23:00] the investor machine. You can learn [email protected] We help take a consistent and high quality lead generation off of your plate. So you can focus on, um, well getting more of your life back and driving the business.

The third way is I have a professional real estate investor network group. It’s a free Facebook group for professional real estate investors. Only, not for newbies, have a soft spot in my heart for newbies as well. And I’ll talk about that in a second. Okay. But if you’re experienced, if you’re actually doing deals each and every month, you should check out our professional real estate investor network.

By going to flipnerd.com/professional. That’ll redirect you to the right Facebook group. And last but not least for the past, almost seven years, we’ve created over 1500 video podcast shows, hundreds of blogs live so free training all on flipnerd.com. You can go there and check it out.