This is episode #321, and my guest today is Doug Van Soest. Doug and his wife Andrea are successful real estate investors that operate in Southern California…and have cracked the code on “Follow Up”. Following up on old leads is very likely the most profitable activity you can do in your business, and if done right, will cost you very little incrementally…as you’ve already paid for the leads.
Today’s show is very action oriented, as Doug explains exactly what they do to follow up, including what systems they use, frequency of follow up, and more. Doug’s system includes a combination of sending follow up postcards, emails, voice messages and text messages… it happens for months on end, and is completely automated.
It’s a fantastic, information packed episode…please help me welcome Doug to the show.
Mike: This is the Flipnerd.com expert real estate investing show, the show for real estate investors whether you’re a veteran or brand new. I’m your host Mike Hambright and each week I bring you a new expert guest that will share their knowledge and lessons with you. If you’re excited about real estate investing, believe in personal responsibility and taking control of your life and financial destiny, you’re in the right place.
This is episode number 321 and my guest today is Doug Van Soest. Doug and his wife, Andrea, are successful real estate investors that operate in Southern California and have really cracked the code on follow-up and the follow-up process. Following up on old leads is very likely the most profitable activity you can do in your business and if done right, will cost you very little incrementally because you’ve already paid for those leads. Today’s show is very action oriented as Doug explains exactly what they do to follow up including what systems they use, the frequency of follow up and more.
Doug’s system includes a combination of sending follow-up postcards, emails, voice messages, and even text messages that happens for months on end and is completely automated. And actually, Doug claims that one-third of his deals come from this automated extended follow-up system. How would your business look if you had one-third more deals from spending no incremental marketing dollars to generate those leads? It’s really a fantastic information-packed episode, so let’s get started. Please help me welcome Doug to the show.
Doug, welcome to the show.
Doug: Hey, thanks Mike, thanks for having me.
Mike: Yeah, great to see you. For those that are listening, we’re in a Mastermind together and I met Doug probably I guess maybe about a year, a year and a half ago.
Doug: Yeah. We join our first meeting was, I think November of 2015, so about a year ago.
Mike: Yeah, yeah. And so Doug is a real estate investor obviously in Southern California with his wife, Andrea, and also they are the host of Spouses Flipping Houses podcast which is a great name by the way, so.
Doug: Well, thanks.
Mike: Yeah, yeah. Well, I’m excited to talk about follow-up today because it will make or break your real estate investing business. I’ve told everybody that for a long time and I know that you have developed some great systems and processes to automate some of this to kind of take burden off of the investors, so it’s going to be a great topic today. But before we get started why don’t you tell us a little bit about your background and how you got started and maybe some kind of early lessons that made you understand the importance of follow-up.
Doug: Sure. Well, yeah, we got started probably like nobody else ever did. We read this book called “Rich Dad, Poor Dad.”
Mike: Never heard of it.
Doug: Yeah, never heard of it. That book probably, you know, responsible for, I don’t know, half of all the investors who are kind of doing this today have read that book at some point, but my wife and I, while we’re engaged actually to be married, this was the year 2000, my best friend gave us this book, Rich Dad, Poor Dad. Now, he was actually involved in like Amway or something at that time, so it was kind of geared towards that. But we read the book and it just blew our minds on for the good, you know, we were both had sort of partial business major in college but the concepts that we were learning there, we had never really thought about or considered in terms of business ownership investing. You know, it was always just about where am I going to apply to get a job once I graduate?
Mike: That’s the interesting thing about college, isn’t it, is that, and even my wife and I met in grad school, so you’re never really taught to how to be your own boss. You’re taught how to work for somebody else or how to find a job or how to be appealing or how to dress right, and well, you can see what I have above the waist today, but I’ll show you what I have below the waist now. So, but the truth is you can do . . .
Doug: Business on top, party down below, right?
Mike: That’s right, that’s right. But, you know, that’s a great point is that this stuff is not taught in schools it’s just you have you learn it on your own or learn it from mentors and coaches or people you surround yourself with, right?
Doug: Yeah, or Robert Kiyosaki.
Doug: And we read the book, and, you know, we got married and three months later we both quit our jobs. I mean, she was a teacher and I was an admissions counselor for the school that we went to, and we just said, nope, we are not going to get stuck in this path. So we quit our jobs and we moved to Colorado and we started a kettle corn business.
Mike: Where at in Colorado?
Doug: Colorado Springs.
Doug: Colorado Springs, and I had roots there. I was born in Colorado Springs and I have some family still in the area and, you know, it’s kind of a long story about how that came about, but, friends of ours had started this kettle corm company in San Diego and so I just went to him and said you’ve got to teach me how to do this and I won’t compete with you. We’ll go do it somewhere else. So that’s what we did and we bought a kettle, bought a trailer, bought some bags of corn and sugar and we went to Colorado, and we just hit the ground running and started and we got contracts with, and we focused on sporting events.
So we got into the new Broncos stadium there which was called Invesco Field at that time. The Air Force games, the world arena in Colorado Springs, just a bunch of different . . . we did NASCAR events down there in Pueblo, and just had a blast doing that. And so we learned a lot, but we were entrepreneurs at that point. We owned our own business. It was kind of our first taste of, you know, entrepreneurship and we always knew though that we wanted to get into real estate. That was our ultimate goal, was to get into real estate, and this is back in the year 2001, 2002, but we were doing kettle corn.
And I’ll fast forward a little bit. We sold the kettle corn business. We saw that we wanted to get back to California and kind of get into real estate. So we sold the kettle corn business, it’s actually still operating today if you ever go to Bronco game get kettle corn, that’s us.
Mike: Yeah. I’ve heard that kettle corn sales are way up after marijuana was legal then at Colorado, so.
Doug: They go hand in hand, they just complement each other.
Mike: And other snacks, and other snacks.
Mike: That’s awesome. Hey, maybe take a second and just talk about, because, you know, it’s interesting because I deal, probably you do deal with a lot of small business owners or I know a lot of small business owners, not necessarily real estate but we all have the same problems. I mean, at the end of the day we’re in real estate but that is our kettle corn, that is our product, but you still have to market, generate leads, you’ve got to find distribution, you get to do all those same things, right? I mean, there are probably some lessons you learned in that that you’re able to rollover into the house-buying business as well, right?
Doug: For sure. I mean, I think the biggest lesson just came down to hustle. You know, it just, everything fell on our shoulders. Nothing was going to be handed to us. Any business or clients or, you know, “contracts” that we had to get was up to us. So I think we just really learned to take action and just hustle and not take no for an answer and just get out there and create business. And that’s what we did.
I mean, we were literally on the phone. We had gone to visit Colorado for Christmas, I think, the year, I’m sorry, the month before we quit our jobs. And on our trip home we decided we are doing this, we’re going to put in our two weeks and we’re going to move out here and make it happen. And we just got on the phone right then and started calling farmers’ markets and different venues saying, “Hey, can we sell kettle corn at your venue?” and sure enough we had two or three people say, “Yeah, sure, come on down tomorrow in the office and we’ll sign up.” We had nothing at that point. “Will you wait a month or two?” So it just I guess, yeah, just making it happen, and taking action was our biggest lesson there.
Mike: And that’s even for real estate investors, as you know, that’s like I was going to say, half of the battle, that’s more than half of the battle, right? It’s just saying failure is not an option that I’m willing to accept and I’m going to do whatever it takes. I’m going to start taking action right now, right?
Doug: Yeah. And just, you know, having the belief that you’re going to make it happen and not that failure won’t happen, but the little failures you just don’t let those crush you. Those are just the next stepping stone to see.
Mike: That’s right, you’re going to pass them.
Mike: So, let’s kind of fast forward a little bit to . . . so you started running and operating a real estate investing business and obviously you’re more successful today, now, than you were when you first started. But somewhere along that line you realized how important follow-up is.
Mike: And so what, talk about kind of the evolution of how you probably started and didn’t do follow-up that well at all probably and you’re like, “Well, they said no three time so why do I keep following up, right?” I mean everybody kind of goes through that and like, “Well, they already said no, they’re not interested.” But they didn’t say stop calling me. So talk about kind of your evolution or maybe some kind of aha moments where you started to put the pieces together.
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Mike: So talk about kind of your evolution or maybe some kind of aha moments where you started to put the pieces together.
Doug: Okay. Yeah, I mean, so when we first started investing in real estate we were just buying REOs, bank-owned homes. So maybe it didn’t apply as much at that point, but shortly after we started just marketing direct to homeowners. So now you’re in a whole different category. So we would, you know, we spent a lot of money on direct mail and buying lists and sending mailers out so we’re, you know, we have a marketing budget and we’re paying for these leads to come in. And, you know, we’ve made every mistake in the book.
So early on it was just us, just the two of us, and I was the one primarily responsible for taking all these calls and negotiating and following up, which we didn’t do a very good job of at first in trying to get the contracts. So I would have all the calls go to my cell phone. I would take a piece of paper which I called the lead sheet. I would jot down notes on the property and the phone number of the person who called and do my best to make a deal from those.
And pretty soon, because we’re sending out mail consistently over and over, more calls keep coming in every day, every week, and pretty soon that stack of papers or lead sheets kind of began to grow and the ones on the bottom just were never getting touched really. They would just get lost in the shuffle.
Mike: You moved on to the next thing, yeah.
Doug: Yeah, you moved on to the next thing. I had a new lead come in today so I’m going to work that one today. And that’s what you do, right? When you’re starting out, you kind of have to go through that maybe of learning what works and doesn’t work for you.
Doug: So a couple of years of that and I realized this is not working. We’ve got all these people who called, some of them when I try to call them back and never did talk to them again, and then I just forgot about them because their papers are on the bottom of the stack.
Doug: They’re probably sold to somebody else or who knows. So, there’s these leads that I’m just forgetting about and kind of wasting here.
Doug: So I tried to, I realized that I heard people say, “Yeah, you got to follow-up, follow-up is important.” In my mind like, “We’ll, I do follow-up, I called them back.” But I maybe called them back once or maybe twice.
Doug: That’s not follow-up. Following up, I decided, “Okay, we’ve got to do something better here.” So this stack of papers isn’t working. So first, I tried, “Okay, I’m just going to make it digital, I’m just going to put it in a Google calendar event for my follow ups, right?” So I have a Google calendar, I’ll schedule a follow-up call on a certain day, and that worked for a while but then again, the more leads I had, pretty soon you’ll have a Wednesday where there’s 30 follow-up calls that I personally still have to make. Mike: You were still the guy, right, you still have to do it all.
Doug: I was still the guy, exactly. I still had to dial the numbers and talk to the people and make those follow-ups and it became overwhelming and it still wasn’t getting done because, again, it was just me and that was the system I was using at that time. So I knew something had to change.
Mike: Yup. Yeah, I think for me it’s interesting because in my role, all the people that I’ve mentored and coached I’m always kind of look that as the guy that’s got it all figured out with follow-up which I still have a lot to learn and I’m excited to talk to you about your process today because I’m sure I’ll learn a lot even personally.
The one thing that I never told people for a long time is that personally, I’m horrible at follow-up. I kind of talked about the importance of it and here’s what we do and here’s what we do, but I never, I guess I never really said, for a couple of years I never said, “. . . but I don’t do any of it.” Because if I had to do it all, I’d have the same situation as you. I have a million things to do and I know that’s important. I know it’s important to do a lot of things in life but you just, you only, there’s only 24 hours in a day, and you just, you know, sometimes there’s just hotter fires burning, right?
Doug: Yeah, absolutely. That’s what it is. You only have so much capacity for the things you’re dealing with on a day to day basis and follow-up tends to get pushed aside.
Mike: And even though it’s important for me, it’s like after I hear the third time, “No, I’m not interested, I don’t want to sell my house or I’ve changed my mind,” or more, 9 times out of 10 you’re getting a voicemail, right?
Mike: Or phone, a number disconnected, which it might be reconnected the next day. But any of those excuses like, “They never answer, I’m not going to call them again.” So anyway, so where did you go from there? So did you realize that you were part of the problem?
Doug: Yeah. That’s a good way to describe it. I realized, yeah, if this is going to be up to me to do it this way, it’s just not going to happen. It’s not going to get done.
Doug: And, you know, when . . . I realized we’ve got to set up a system that this can happen automatically without me doing it personally. There’s got to be a way where when I’m working with a lead, and I’m not talking about just the initial follow-up, I guess, let me clarify because, and we were talking about earlier very, very few percentage, I don’t know what the percentage is but very few of our deals do we actually close on the very first call when somebody calls in and we talk to them.
Doug: Very, very little, less than 5% probably.
Doug: And so there’s always an element of some follow-up. You talk to them initially, “Okay, great. Let me get back to you when I, you know, I think about it with, you know, I talk to my wife about it. We’ll get back to you.”
Mike: Right, or talk to my siblings or pray on it or whatever it might be.
Doug: Yeah. So that’s normal and then there’s going to be a little bit of back and forth follow-up during the initial sort of negotiating stage.
Doug: But I’m talking about after we do all that, maybe we’ve seen the property, we’ve made an offer and for whatever reason we didn’t get the deal initially. It was rejected, the offer was too low, or, “Oh, we changed our mind, we’re not ready to sell yet,” whatever. We’re going to go list the home, and there’s any number of answers you might get for not getting it.
Doug: So I’m talking about those leads, those still . . . a lot of, most investors or at least me and other investors I know, we’re just kind of that’s just a dead lead at that point. I’ve made my offer they have it, they said no, move on to the next one, right?
Mike: Yeah, and I would say, I think you’ll probably agree with this, is that so, I’ve bought hundreds of houses, you’ve bought a lot of houses, so I think you’re going to agree with me when I say that most sellers that ultimately sell us a house were caught off guard by our offer because they might have known they needed to sell it at a discount but they just weren’t expecting our offer.
Mike: Like it’s usually lower than they thought. I mean, truthfully if it wasn’t and you said, “Well, you take this?” And they said, “Yes, I’ll take that right now.” Then your first thought is like, “Oh, my god, I think I just offered too much,” right?
Doug: Oh, yeah.
Mike: There’s no way that their expectations were at my level what I think is realistic or how I can make this work, and I think it just takes people time to come to terms with that or sometimes they never do obviously.
Doug: It does.
Mike: But, would you agree with that?
Doug: Oh, 100%. Yeah, usually they’re going to, yeah, they might, they’re always shocked, “Oh, man!” You know, in their mind the discount is 10% or something off the retail value.
Mike: They’re going to avoid realtor fees or something, right, yeah?
Doug: Yeah, exactly.
Mike: But sometimes, you know, they’re like, “Well, I’m just going to fix it up myself or I’m going to . . .” something else and then like three months go by and they haven’t done anything and then they’re just kind of realizing. I did it myself. I’ll tell you a story. Recently, we’ve started bike riding more with our nine-year-old son and my wife and son so we got like a rack for our vehicles and we’re just kind of like get, we’re just more mobile now with bikes than we ever were before.
So recently, my son and my wife both got a new bike and the place we bought it from took trade-ins on bikes. So we traded in my wife’s because I thought it was a good enough price, so like yeah, let’s just take it. I could probably make more if I sell it myself, right? This is kind of the same analogy that we deal with. But for my son’s bike, it’s a nice little bike, I mean it’s like brand new. He’s just outgrown it because he’s nine, and they wanted to give me $50 for it. I’m like, “I think I can post that for $100 in this like Facebook group in my community.
So here I am, I’ve posted it a couple of times, nobody buys it, and I’ve lowered it to $75 and I’m thinking I should have just traded the damn thing, and what’s $25, I mean it’s nothing. For me, it’s more of the game of like it’s not the money but it’s the same thing, right? People think they might have a better route, so let me do that and then they end up sometimes regretting that decision.
Doug: That’s huge, and, you know, it’s great that you had that experience because then you can relate more to the sellers and what is kind of going through in their mind because you’ve had a similar experience. We had sold a house to an investor similar way, you know? So I’ve been on the other end of it, so I can understand how that process goes.
Mike: Yeah. So what did you, let’s talk about, let’s start to kind of get into . . . well, before we get into the details of I know we’re going to talk about some of your kind of tactics and systems and stuff like that and even provide some tools, so for those listening you definitely want to keep listening for sure. Don’t go anywhere.
But real fast, I want to ask you a question that we got from Facebook. So this is from John Thomas Sinclair, and, you know, John asked the question how often, we’ll kind of, I don’t want to steal your thunder from what you’re about to talk about but the question was how often do you, this is probably not so much on the follow-up, but how often do you hit your mailing list and what’s your general message and do you kind of change your message I guess as you repeat mail the people?
Doug: Good question. So I’ll tell you what we do now and what we’ve done in the past. So, we have a pretty large market that we work in terms of the number of people that live in our, what we would consider our market. There’s probably seven or eight million people within an hour radius of us. So I try to narrow it down with our list to the most likely person that would sell to us. But to answer John’s question, our lists get hit on average of about four times a year. So it’s about quarterly. And I’ve heard different thoughts on that, you know, you want to be every 30 days, you want to be every six weeks, you want to be every six months. I just think the important thing is being consistent.
Doug: And staying consistent because I think half of the battle is just the consistency and the timing.
Doug: You might send a letter or postcard to somebody that just have to be when they got a notice of default or happened to be when they’re tenant, eviction started or whatever reasons. So timing is part of it.
Mike: Yeah. And do you change your message every 90 days or do you always kind of keep the same message or . . .?
Doug: So I used to have this whole about seven different postcards that I would send and they were all a little different but basically it said the same thing and in different letter sequences, trying to make sure that each person didn’t get the exact same mailer back to back. That’s what we used to do for the first few years. Now, I’m basically sending out the exact same letter every time in the [inaudible 00:21:12].
Mike: Yeah. Operationally, it just becomes difficult to keep changing your message, especially because even your list you probably are breaking that up into subgroups in mailing. I mean, I know the way that we’re doing it now is we have a list and we hit them, then we have it broken down into a week like what’s going to mail so we have mail in every week or whatever. So, it just becomes an operational nightmare to try to remember what you sent, what you sent to what group and . . .
Doug: And that was the whole reason really that we went to that. It’s just, I need to simplify this a little bit and not overcomplicate it.
Doug: We found a letter that we really like that we got good feedback on the wording and things, and essentially it’s just a typed letter that has a picture of our family on it and it kind of just explains what we do.
Doug: And that’s what we send out to the same people will get that letter four times a year.
Mike: Right, yup, awesome. So let’s kind of jump back into follow-up. So you knew that you needed to find some way to systematize it or get other people involved that wasn’t you. So kind of where did you go from there and then maybe start to share some of the tools you used and some of the strategies you have for kind of being efficient I guess.
Doug: Okay. Yeah, so I don’t want to get too techy with people but I’ll definitely give the tools and how we work our follow-up system. I think the bigger point though is that make follow-up a priority in your business, especially if you’re dealing with a lot of leads that come in. They’re expensive to get and if somebody called you once, the likelihood that they will sell I think at some point is pretty high.
Doug: You know, I always make the point like whenever you buy a new car, if you’ve ever just been driving by the Carlisle with your wife and just say, “Oh, let’s just pull in and test drive something. It’s just for fun, right? We’re not going to buy anything.” And, you know, within a month you bought a new car, right?
Doug: So that just kind of what happens. So when people call you, they may not be ready. Maybe they’re just kind of feeling you out or considering the idea of selling. Maybe they’re not quite motivated enough or ready, but at some point they will.
Doug: So you want to be there consistently on their mind, in their mailbox, in their voicemail, on their phone saying, “I’m here when you’re ready,” essentially.
Mike: Absolutely, yeah.
Doug: Yeah. I’ll share some of the tools that we use to make that happen.
Mike: Yeah, okay.
Doug: Back up a little bit. The first thing we needed was a, we needed like a CRM, a customer relations management software. We needed something on the computer that I could manage all these leads. As we begin to mail more and more people, the paper system wasn’t working anymore, Google Calendar was getting overcrowded, so we needed something and I stumbled across Podio. Actually, Joe McCall was instrumental in introducing that, him and Sean Terry introduced that to me. Mike: Right.
Doug: And we implemented Podio in our business, this was in 2014.
Doug: And along with that we found a bunch of other tools that kind of help us with our follow-up. So today, what it looks like is if Mike, if you call us because you got our postcard, you automatically go into our Podio system, I make you a 50% offer on your house, and you say no, you’re going to continue to hear from me via email, via text message, and via voice message for the next 14 months after you said no. And here’s kind of how we do that.
Mike: This is all kind of some automation inside of Podio you’re talking about.
Doug: Yeah, this is . . . right, this is just all back end, and also you’re going to get mailers from us as well.
Mike: Yeah. It’s all out automated. That’s great.
Doug: That’s correct, at least 95% of it.
Mike: Yeah, awesome. And for those of you . . . let me say it real fast though. Folks who listen, kind of like loyal listeners to the show have heard us talk about Podio before. I actually use Podio, we use Podio as well. And we have a number of different automation thing set up. The one thing that we don’t have oddly enough is some of the very stuff that you’re about to talk about.
So if you see my head down, I’m taking notes here just like everybody else that’s listening right now, so don’t think that I’m like falling asleep or anything, I’m writing notes. So go ahead.
Doug: Sure, sure. So along with Podio there’s this backend software called GlobifFlow, if you’ve heard of that. And that’s just kind of the engine behind Podio that can make a lot of automation happen.
Doug: I think Podio might even own GlobiFlow now.
Mike: Yeah. There were some sort of . . .
Doug: Acquisition or something.
Mike: . . . merger or something that happened recently. It used to be a separate product and now they kind of integrated this, so.
Doug: Yeah. You’ve got to get GlobiFlow to kind of make a lot of this backend stuff happened through Podio and that’s what we got. But essentially what we try to do is capture everybody’s email address first of all, phone number and email address. If somebody calls in, we just ask for the email address because we’re going to email you an offer, so through all the emails that will get added to are email autoresponder and we use AWeber, but there’s lots of different software out there. You can use MailChimp, you can use Constant Contact and any other number of I think you mentioned a Google one that was free for a while.
Mike: Yeah. There’s, so we use . . .
Doug: GMass or something?
Mike: We use Infusion Soft . . . yeah, GMass. I don’t know if that integrates because all of the stuff is operated are kind of kicked off by GlobiFlow, right?
Doug: Right, yeah. I love this kicked off of GlobiFlow.
Mike: Yeah. I don’t know if it integrates with that or not. But it might.
Doug: Yeah, I don’t know. And actually I will mention another backend tool that we use, it’s called Zapier.
Doug: Zapier.com is a program that allows two other programs to talk to each other, so.
Doug: If this happens in Podio, it will say make this happen in AWeber.
Doug: And so all behind the scenes. So we use Zapier, I think, to integrate AWeber and Podio.
Mike: Okay, okay. So if somebody calls and you make him an offer and they say no and then you somehow tag them or you do something at Podio that is what kind of initiates the automated follow-up, is that right?
Doug: Yeah. So we have a button that says “add to AWeber” and it will actually send them an email that says, “Hey, this is Doug. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me. I want to send you an offer but I just want to verify your email address first. So can you please click this link to get added to my system,” basically. So they do have to opt in, that’s one of the rules there on AWeber.
Mike: Yeah, I think that’s AWeber specific, so I think there might be some other tools that . . . because I think AWeber specifically requires usually like a double opt in which just means you’re confirming who you are.
Doug: Yeah, you’re confirming who you are.
Mike: So there’s probably some other tool, there’s lots of other tools that don’t require that but . . .
Doug: I think if we were to start this again I would probably go with MailChimp.
Doug: I think it integrates better with Podio from what I’ve heard.
Doug: And also it’s free up to like 2,000 contacts I believe.
Doug: But regardless, we use AWeber. We started with it so we still use AWeber. But we try to get them into our drip system for emails.
Doug: So they’re automatically whether we buy their house or not they are in this email system where they’re going to get I think it’s like 16 emails in the next 14 months, something like that.
Doug: So the next thing is let’s say we negotiate, we’ve got their phone number so we negotiate, we make an offer, the answer is no for whatever reason. In Podio, once we’ve determine that they’ve said no, they’re not ready at this point, we then click a button that says “put them on the follow-up list.” So from there a couple of things happen. Their phone number gets entered into a software we call Call Loop. We don’t call it Call Loop. It’s actually called Call Loop.
Mike: You’re not changing the names of the different companies out there.
Doug: No, no, yeah. So Call Loop is a program we use for text messaging and voice blast.
Doug: So what that does for us, and there’s other software as well I think. I don’t know if CallFire maybe is one. I think there’s one called Slydial or Slybroadcast might be the same.
Mike: Slybroadcast, yeah.
Doug: Yeah, I don’t use those so I don’t know, but . . .
Mike: Yeah. And some of these tools too, all the stuff, folks who are listening, some of these tools you just have to look and see like what they integrate with. If they use Zapier for example, that’s kind of a universal integrator and so sometimes you’re limited based on your CRM might limit which tool you could use to do like texting and/or voice blast or things like that I think.
Doug: Yeah. And I will say you can do text messaging, SMS messaging through Podio as well.
Doug: GlobiFlow will do that and we have that feature but we just don’t have that for our full length automated follow-up system.
Mike: Yup, yup, okay, awesome.
Doug: So that is an option but, yeah, so they get entered into our Call Loop list depending on what sales rep in our company talked to them and from that point they’ll get somewhere around 15 or 16, a mix of text messages and just voicemails from us for the next 14 months.
Doug: And so the phone will ring, if they answer it they’ll just, “Hey . . .” it will be a message of, “Hey, I’m Doug. We talked a while back, I like the house, just wanted to check in with you to see if, you know, you’re still considering selling it, so please call us.” Something like that.
Mike: Yeah. And those messages just to clarify, so I know the way Slybroadcast works as we’ve toyed with that a little bit, but, so that if you send it to somebody and I don’t know if you’re Call Loop tool works the same way is it doesn’t even make their phone ring, it just inserts a voicemail in their voicemails, is that right?
Doug: I think, well, I think that’s Slybroadcast. Call Loop actually rings.
Mike: Okay, and then it’s just a voice message that they have to listen to. Okay.
Doug: Right, or if it doesn’t answer it’ll go to their voicemail.
Mike: Right, okay.
Doug: Yeah, it does actually ring because I’ve put my number in there just to test it, you know, to make sure I’m getting called every so often.
Doug: And funny story, that actually . . . the Call Loop got hacked one time and everybody on our list got a call like 1:00 in the morning and I had some upset people for that.
Mike: They knew it was from you, I guess it was from your number or something like that.
Doug: Yeah, somehow it was our message, it was our system but everybody got a message at that time in the morning because Call Loop itself got hacked.
Mike: Yeah, yeah. So it was just a coincidence that the message said, “Go checkout flipnerd.com,” and it had nothing to do with me, no.
Doug: Yeah. So that’s a good one. But, yeah, I had people calling me back really angry on that one.
Doug: But that only happened one time.
Mike: So the cool, and just to clarify for folks that are listening in here, so that message you created those messages a long time ago and now they’re working every day. You have text messages, you have emails, you have voice broadcasts from stuff you created one time and everyday probably in your list people are receiving some combination of those things, right?
Doug: That’s right, yeah, in 2014.
Mike: And you’re not, you mean you set it all up and it needs maintenance every once in a while but that’s happening without you lifting another finger.
Doug: Yeah, and like I said before that was the goal. We needed something like that that’s going to happen automatically for us, so yeah.
Mike: That’s awesome.
Doug: The recorded, you know, it took a couple of days to kind of get it setup, record your messages and . . . but once it’s going, then it’s going behind the scenes, all the time.
Mike: And your goal with the whole thing is to try to reignite a conversation at least for somebody to say, “Have you sold your house yet? Can we talk about it a little bit more? Maybe there’s another, we can look at it again.” Or just that kind of, you’re just trying to get your foot back in the door, right?
Doug: Yeah. You’re trying to just stay relevant in their mind, stay fresh in their mind that reminding them, you know, stay in front of them, really. “We talked, here we are, we’re ready to buy your house when you’re ready to sell.” And so that’s the entire goal. It’s just, because there’s other people, they’re getting mail all the time from other investors if you’re in any kind of competitive market.
Doug: So when that timing is right for them, you want to be in that conversation, you want to have your message in front of them at the same time as well.
Mike: Right, right.
Doug: So with the text messages and voicemails they get on . . . they get put in that sequence where they’re getting those now as well.
Doug: Then, once a month we download, this is the part that’s still manual for us because I haven’t, I’m not techy enough to figure out how to integrate Podio with the mail house that we use but just download an Excel list of all the people that we have in the follow-up system and we can upload that and send them another mailer that’s a little bit different. Maybe a postcard is a little bit cheaper with follow-ups at that point.
Doug: So what happens is if you’re in our follow-up system like when you said no to our initial offer, you’re still hearing from me about two and a half times a month in various means, either email, voicemail, text message or mail.
Doug: For, again, for over a year.
Mike: Yeah. And so do you . . . I know you said I think is it 14 months, so do you stop at that point or do you . . .?
Doug: Currently, it was set up to stop at 14 months and lately we’ve been rethinking that like why did I stop it there, right, you know?
Doug: There’s been several properties we’ve bought that we initially contacted them two or three years ago.
Doug: And just, you know, they happened to continue to get mail because they’re still on our list so, which is another means of follow-up and we ended up buying the house but yeah, 14 months is not long enough. I’m planning to extend that and make it, you know, almost indefinitely, really.
Mike: Yeah. And I say the more time that goes by though, the worse your chances are of buying the house but earlier this year we bought a house that we made our first offer 54 months earlier. That’s longest one ever.
Mike: We’ve had some that were like two years or, you know, but like 54 months we’re like, “Holy cow.” In fact, we bought it for less 54 months later then we offered them a long time ago and it was vacant the whole time, like they paid taxes on it. It deteriorated more. They should have just taken our first offer, but . . .
Doug: Right. But probably . . .
Mike: But this is the one . . . and we use Podio as well and I have VAs that follow-up so we do a lot of actual calling to follow-up.
Doug: That’s good.
Mike: And I saw like 54 months of called and left a voicemail, called and left a voicemail, number disconnected. There’s a lesson in here that when somebody’s number is disconnected, it doesn’t mean that it’s going to be disconnected forever. They just maybe didn’t pay their bill and they’ve been put back on. So I’m just kind of, I would give up personally but I’ve kind of taught my VAs like you’re not allowed to give up until they say, “Stop calling me and take me off your list,” or they say they’ve sold the house, and he can verify it in the tax records that they actually have sold it because sometimes they say they’ve sold it, meaning it hasn’t closed yet but something is supposed to happen, you know?
Doug: That’s another great tip is, yeah, if they say, “We’ve sold our house,” find out what that means or you just . . . are you in escrow?
Doug: Yeah, “We just signed a contract last week.” “Okay, when is your closing date?” Find out when the closing date is and then follow-up again right before that.
Mike: Yeah. Because a lot of the stuff falls through, especially when it’s like . . .
Doug: All the time.
Mike: . . . a family member or a neighbor is buying it or it just falls through. So you never know.
Doug: Yeah. You never know. So that, yeah, that’s great you’ve got VAs doing your follow-up, you know, same thing.
Doug: You just want it consistently happening where you’re not the one having to do it.
Mike: Yeah, yeah. And it’s not intended to be intrusive. It’s just you’re trying to stay in front of somebody and, of course, they can stop getting that stuff at anytime. Would you say, do you know enough to say, because all that stuff kind of works in combination ultimately, it’s hard to say this exact like text messaging is like, you know, 90% of the results come from text messaging. But do you know which of those kind of things, you’re sending letters, you have voice broadcast, you have text messages, which of those things is kind of working the best would you say?
Doug: Yeah. That’s a good question. Somebody asked me that recently. I don’t know if there’s one particular avenue or one message that’s going out that’s really triggering the majority of these call backs. I suppose I could maybe try to go figure that out but all I know is almost on a daily basis I’m getting a reply to an automatic email that went out, or a reply to an automatic text.
Doug: You know, “Yeah, I’m still interested. Call me up and make me an offer.” That will be a common reply.
Doug: So then we can start that conversation again, you know?
Mike: Yup, yup. And like you said, so the letters, you know, there’s a cost with sending more letters or postcards and there’s a cost associated with these systems and kind of tell you this is all up but the text messages and the emails, there’s no real cost. You’ve already paid for those leads, you might as well just work them harder, right?
Doug: Yeah, and the cost is very minimal. I think we pay somewhere around $0.04 per text message that goes out.
Doug: It’s very cheap and our AWeber is $20 a month. So the cost is very low for the extended follow-up versus what the return is. And the return, we did an audit in our own system about six months ago and one-third of the deals that we got in that previous 12 months came from our extended follow-up system.
Mike: That’s awesome.
Doug: Meaning they had said no or we had just lost contact with them after our initial few follow-ups and then they went into the system and still we ended up buying the house. So one-third is pretty significant.
Mike: And truthfully, for folks that are listen to this, we can’t harp on this enough, that’s critical. I would say probably the average investor, there’s a fine line that separates people that are really successful from those that are just kind of getting by.
Mike: And if you could increase your business by a third without really increasing much cost at all, it’s like that’s all your profit. So if you’re just getting by right now, even if you’re doing a deal or two in a month or maybe sometimes even more, all of your profit could come from just putting something like this in place, right?
Doug: Yeah. And even if your leads happened to be like wholesalers or real estate agents, you can add them to some kind of a system where you’re continually staying in their mind as well.
Mike: Yeah, absolutely.
Doug: And work for just different types of investing business depending on where your leads come from.
Mike: Right, right. So talk a little bit about, because sometimes people, they understand this, they think, “Well, that’s awesome,” and they’re like, “But I’m not technical,” and you kind of get into it and you’re like I’ll tell you this morning I was going to print . . . I was trying to print something out of my printer which has never been a problem before and my printer is not working. I’m like, I don’t know what to do. Why is it not working? It says it works, it says the driver is updated. I tried to re-download the driver. All the simple stuff, I’m like, this has been working for 10 years. It’s not the same printer but I’ve never had a problem. And just look, sometimes people start to, they go sign up for AWeber and then it asks for something and you’re like, I don’t know, you just kind of stop, right?
So maybe just give some practical advice for people that kind of heard this that are not technical and this isn’t like hypertechnical stuff, but for the average person that is not fooling with the stuff every day, it could become a burden. Just one little thing to like for sure they’ll shutdown and like, “Forget about it, I’ll get to it later.” But what are some practical advice that people can kind of get started here?
Doug: Okay. Yeah, and I totally get what you’re saying and I’ve been there and when you can do something and hit a couple of hurdles and it’s like, oh, this isn’t even going to be worth it, you know, it’s just stressing me out, and my mental equity is depleting. That can happen so I guess the advice I would say, a couple of things really. Number one, if this isn’t your forte, you don’t like this kind of text stuff, if you still have a yahoo.com email address or an aol.com, su, find somebody else that can help you who likes this that can help you implement these things.
Doug: That’s one tip. And where do you find that person? Well, if you don’t have them on your team or in your inner circle or somebody you know then there’s a couple of places you can go to get some help. I would look on upwork.com and essentially if you’ve heard of oDesk or anything it’s a place where you can hire virtual assistance.
Doug: And you can type in Podio integration probably, I haven’t done it but Podio integration with Zapier and a dozen people will come up.
Doug: And so, you know, just like anything. You’re hiring somebody who may be in the Philippines or wherever to kind of help you with this, and you’ll have to talk to him and tell him what you want to happen but that’s one place you can go to help set your systems up.
Mike: Yeah. And I know that there’s even some Podio, because a lot of real estate investors use Podio now, there’s some Facebook groups that were like Podio users and stuff so yeah, you could just like, “How do you do this?” and probably get a bunch people to respond and say, “Go here, start here or here’s who I hired,” or whatever it might be, yeah.
Doug: Yeah. There’s a guy by the name of Dan Schwartz, if you just go to YouTube and type in Dan Schwartz and Podio, that’s honestly where I learned a lot of this stuff. It’s not rocket science like you said it’s not hypertechnical and I’m not a . . . I don’t write code, I don’t do any of that stuff.
Doug: But a lot of the videos he’ll have on there and Facebook groups that it will lead you to, you can get the majority of the info you need just from those.
Doug: If, again, that’s if you want to tackle or implement it yourself. If not, you don’t even want to go there, then get someone, just like anything. Get someone else who can do it that you can trust and then have them do it.
Mike: Yeah. The return on this investment, whatever it is, is not going to be a huge investment, is a great ROI, there’s no doubt about it if you can get this setup, yeah.
Doug: Yeah. No doubt, technology, it’s our best friend and our worst enemy sometimes, right? Like the printer won’t print, that . . .
Mike: Yeah, like . . .
Doug: I can relate to that.
Mike: Really, what I typically do is I just go buy another printer and plug it in. I don’t like . . . I’m not going to try fix it. So well, Doug, this is a great information, so any kind of final words you want to share like kind of wrapping this up. I know we talked about how important it is, some of the systems and tools was very detailed, so thank you for sharing all that. Any kind of final words of wisdom you want to share to kind of wrap this up of the importance of it and maybe what folks can go do today.
Doug: Yeah. I guess I would just kind of sort of reiterate don’t get hang-up on the technology stuff. Don’t get hang-up on that, “Oh, I have to use Call Loop and I have to use AWeber, oh, no, I have to use GlobiFlow, and oh, no, now my mind is blown. I’m not going to do it.”
Doug: Don’t get stuck there. Just hear the bigger message that follow-up is huge. It can be as simple as you hire a VA to do all of your follow-up to start and they’re the ones who are actually calling, and calling everybody back for you.
Doug: That could be pretty easy to set up. So don’t get hang-up on the things. Just get the concept that these leads are expensive. They’re the best list you’ll probably ever have is all the people who’ve called you before.
Mike: Yeah, they’ve raised their hand and expressed some motivation, right?
Doug: That’s right, yeah. So at some point they will likely sell so don’t just waste that away after your initial offer is rejected.
Mike: Absolutely, absolutely. Well, Doug, if folks want to learn more about you or kind of some of the stuff you’re working on, where should they go?
Doug: The best place is just catch up with us on our podcast page, it’s at spousesflippinghouses.com. You can learn about us there, you can contact us there. We have some videos of some of our projects and you can listen to all of our podcast episodes as well right there.
Mike: Awesome, awesome. Well, share a link for that down below the video here and definitely this is a great episode. This is great information that is practical and everybody knows how important this is, and if you somehow didn’t know it was important then now you know.
Doug: Yeah. No excuses anymore.
Mike: Right, right. Now you know and we’re giving you the tools to go do it. So awesome. Doug, well, hey, thanks so much for your time today. Thanks for sharing these lessons. It was fantastic.
Doug: You’re welcome, Mike, and I really appreciate you having me on. You’ve got a great show.
Mike: Thank you so much, thank you so much. And for those of the listeners out there, thanks for joining us again for episode number 321 this is, I think this was the best episode we’ve ever had.
Mike: Yeah, yeah, that’s exactly right. And thanks for joining us and if you haven’t watched the 320 episodes before this, you’re going to have a busy few weeks but go ahead and start to chipping away at it. We appreciate you listening to us and we’ll see you on the next episode.
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