Join me for a chat with Chrissy King, President of Midwest Investment Club, a Madison, WI based REI Club. We talk about what Chrissy is doing to provide value to their members, what the right balance is for REI Clubs (support vs. selling), and her take on what makes a good REI Club.
Mike: Welcome to the FlipNerd.com podcast. This is your host, Mike Hambright. On this show, I will introduce you to VIPs in the real estate investing industry, as well as other interesting entrepreneurs whose stories and experiences can help you take your business to the next level. We have 3 new shows each week, which are available in the iTunes Store or by visiting FlipNerd.com. Without further ado, let’s get started.
This is Make Hambright. Welcome back for another FlipNerd VIP show. Today, I have with me Chrissy King, who is the president of the Midwest Investment Club, which is an investment club in Madison, Wisconsin. We’re going to talk to her, learn more about her a little bit, and about her club. Before we get started, let’s take a second to recognize our featured sponsors.
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Chrissy, welcome to the show.
Chrissy: Thank you for having me.
Mike: Great to have you. What’s the weather like up in Madison, today?
Chrissy: It is snowing crazy here today.
Mike: Oh, jeez. I’m in Dallas. Quite frankly, it’s cold here, so I’m sure it’s cold up there. I wanted to learn more about your investment club. Before we get started, though, I’d like to learn more about you and your background; how you got started in real estate investing and your motivations for even getting involved with the club.
Chrissy: I actually got my real estate license about 8 years ago. I was a stay-at-home mom and I just did a little bit of real estate on the side. I started working at Keller Williams, then. I was working with an attorney and he actually had the club at the time. I was his personal assistant, took on a lot of his buyer clients. He decided that he was too busy with his law practice to do the club so he just gave me the club. I had to figure out what to do with it.
Mike: Tell us a little bit about your club. You serve … I know you said you have maybe around 120 paid members. You serve investors of all types: Single-family homes, commercial, and everything in- between.
Chrissy: Do everything. Most of the people that come to meetings; we have a variety of people. We have the ones that are just starting, the ones that are getting back into it. We have our seasoned investors. We have a lot of hard-money lenders that come looking for people to pair up with to invest. I try to have a variety of different types of speakers there that isn’t just real estate; other types of investing, which I don’t do a lot with, IRAs or doing things like that. I have people that are educated in that to be able to help people use their other money to invest in real estate.
Mike: For those that know me, they know that I’m a true believer in the power of real estate investment clubs. That’s where a lot of us, even the most veteran people in the country, started, was learning from people at clubs, the speakers that clubs bring in, and vendors that clubs bring in and things like that. It’s interesting for clubs that they tend to serve many … a lot of different clubs have different purposes. Some serve themselves and have businesses of some sort, whether they’re attorneys or other things that help you get clients from it. Some are trying to find ways to partner with folks on deals and things of that sort, or have some sort of coaching program. Can you talk a little bit more specifically about your club? Then I want to get your take, just in general, on the core mission there for you as the president.
Chrissy: As me as the president, my main mission, I think, is it … I want to see club members work together. I want to see deals being done within the club so that the newbies that come in pair up with the veterans and be able to do their first deal. I have several members in my club that can’t pull the plug. They’ve taken classes and spent thousands of dollars on classes, and they could have probably bought their first property in what they spent on classes. Not saying education is not important, because it is. My goal is to get these newbies to come in with a veteran and buy their first property. I’m developing a mentor program for them to be able to do so.
Mike: Your mentor program, tell us a little bit more about that. Are you pairing them up with mentors? Are you providing some mentoring support?
Chrissy: I feel like I have some support. I feel like I’m still a little green because I haven’t done a ton of it myself, but I’m really good at seeking out the properties for others to buy. The mentor that I’ve added to the club has 20 years experience. His name is Steve Gilbertson; he’s been doing it. He’s done commercial, he’s done development, he’s done single-family home. He’s been in the business for 20 years. He’s got a background in accounting and mortgage. Ideally, I think he is a great candidate for mentoring people because he’s done every type of deal. He will have his own way he does the mentoring; if it’s like taking a cut of the first deal or how he decides he wants to do that. That will just be a service I offer.
Mike: One thing that I think a lot of clubs struggle with is how to monetize and justify the money that you have spend to run a club and things like that, where there’s a balance between having speakers come in that are selling things and providing good information. There’s a balance there, somewhere. What do you think for real estate investing clubs, what the right balance should be? Everybody has an opinion on that.
Chrissy: My club … pretty much everything I make on the club goes right back to the club. That’s what I spend on speakers. I’m in the process of designing a new website because I feel like that’s really important, because I didn’t have the greatest one before. I think that I’m not in the club to profit off the club; I want people to get a benefit from the club. Pretty much everything that the club generates goes right back into it: Having it at a nice facility, having speakers buying dinner and lunch, doing things like that to show the club that everybody is there to benefit the club. It’s not just about me as a president walking off with a big chunk every month from the club, because that’s not [inaudible: 07:21].
Mike: In all honesty, I don’t think most clubs make money off of the club. I think if anything, they justify it by that being a path to do deals together or bring business into their … whether they’re an attorney, brokerage, or whatever it might be, to drive business into their core business. This is a path for that. That’s always interesting to me to hear how other people run their club and how they monetize or justify the expense of the club. I think in many ways it’s a thankless business. There’s no doubt there’s a lot of work and organization that has to happen to pull off successful events.
Chrissy: That is for sure.
Mike: How often do you have events in your club?
Chrissy: We meet the fourth Wednesday of the month. Then as the new year as kicking off, eventually, I would like to be able to offer some classes, and then I would do those every other month, is what we’re thinking. I’ve just added some core members to help me with organizing stuff, just because the real estate thing isn’t all that I do. It’s time for me to have some club members step up and help organize things. That way, they’re more involved and we can get different types of speakers that they may have access to that I wouldn’t, or I make sure that I get a meeting content that everybody wants to come to try to generate more attendance at my meetings.
Mike: For the speakers that you have, do you feel like … and I don’t know the answer to is. Are you sought out for speakers to come talk to your group or is it more of a challenge for you to find good content to bring people in?
Chrissy: It goes both ways. I try to … just this past month, I had someone come in and speak about all the changes with tenant and landlord laws, which is really important because a lot of us have rental property. When it gets closer to tax season, I always have a tax person. I do get sought out by a lot of different people. A lot of them are selling product that I don’t think is something that will benefit the club, so I don’t necessarily let them in front of my group. I’m selective on who I bring in front of the club.
Mike: Talk a little bit about how you’re going to grow your club from here.
Chrissy: I’m thinking that generating a better website will help me with that.
Mike: Your website looks better than most for most RIA clubs. Most RIA clubs, even some very large ones, are still using Meetup.com as their primary platform.
Chrissy: I’m still working on that; getting better speakers, offering classes that will benefit. The classes that I’m going to offer are going to benefit the newbies, the ones that, they just need to that first deal, walking them through their first deal. I think I have enough experience; I could probably walk anyone through a first deal. Having a core group of contractors in the group too, so that the newbies, when they come in, they have someone that can do the landscaping, someone that can do the … if they don’t want to be a general; different people that are involved in the club.
We generate and use the club for all the investing properties and stuff that we do, because there’s a gob of us that are realtors. There’s a lot of services that club members offer that I think could benefit each other, too.
Mike: What do you think about … just trying to think of where real estate investment clubs just in general, not necessarily yours; where do they go from here? It seems like there is more opportunity to do things online. As you know, typically when you have a meeting, a relatively small percentage of your folks actually come because you have to go one physical location and fit in to a specific time. Do you think there’s opportunities to grow with more online offerings?
Chrissy: I think that is something that we’re looking at with my website, to be able to offer some things on that. I think via Skype is going to be huge, that people aren’t going to come to meetings anymore either, that they can do stuff from home. I see a lot of changes. I actually discourage some of that stuff because I’m a hands-on person. I like to look at someone when I’m talking to them, so I’m not encouraging that as much. We have … a lot of members really enjoy just coming to the meetings and physically picking someone’s brain because you can send someone an email, but it’s just not as personal.
Mike: It will never be a replacement, but just a supplement to do some additional things. Physical networking is never going to go away, for sure. Tell us about the layout of the Madison market. Are there other clubs in town?
Chrissy: There’s my club. Then recently, I think it was last year, there is a Madison RIA club. A lot of the members that are in my group are in that group as well, which I encourage that too, because he offers different things than I do. I think it’s beneficial for them to see two completely different clubs, and we’re both successful. We have probably a similar amount of members. He does more mentoring, I think, and coaching. I don’t offer as much coaching, but I’m just starting with the mentoring. We have different ways we run our club. I think that’s beneficial for people to be members of both clubs.
Mike: That’s great, because in a lot of markets, in all honesty, the club owners are feuding or they don’t … they wouldn’t send members of their club to another club. It’s great to hear that. I think that’s a shame in some instances. I understand why it happens, but I think it’s a disservice to the member, because at the end of the day, they want to build their network and learn.
Chrissy: I know in Milwaukee, I believe they have 3 or 4 clubs down there, too. That’s only an hour and 15 minutes. Occasionally, I will go to other club meetings down there, just to get a different type of perspective on how they run things, because we all run them differently, that’s for sure.
Mike: You also … tell us a little bit more about you. You also are an agent? Is that your primary business?
Chrissy: I work for Building Equity Development, is the name of our company. I have … I’m also the Executive Director for the Wisconsin Landscape Contractors Association; that is another part-time job that I do. I work exclusively with landscapers, contractors, irrigation specialists. We’re a small, little nonprofit group. I organize our garden expo, all the civic projects that we do in the community. I get all the contractors to volunteer their time, organize all the product that gets delivered to all of these events. That’s another job that I have, also.
Mike: You sound like a busy person. I think a lot of us … I really love talking to folks that are hard workers, because there’s so much of that that’s missing these days in America. I always appreciate talking to folks that work hard and wear a lot of hats. That’s where it’s at, awesome. Anything else you want to share about your club? Obviously, tell us how to find your club.
Chrissy: We’re the MidwestInvestmentClub.com. We meet the fourth Wednesday of the month in Madison, at The Coliseum Bar. Just look for us online. You can sign up for our free membership or free trial membership. Then eventually, there will be all kinds of goodies out there for the future. We’re still working on that.
Mike: Anything else you want to tell us about your club today?
Chrissy: Nope, I think that’s good. Thank you.
Mike: Awesome. Thanks so much for joining on the show today.
Chrissy: Thank you.
Mike: We’ll talk to you later.
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