In this interview I meet with Matt and Greg Sneyd, a father-son real estate investing team, and the leaders behind The Muve Group. The Muve Group, based in Salt Lake City, is a traditional real estate agency, investing business, lender, and more. Along with Matt’s Mother, Cathy, the Sneyds’ realized after living through the storm of the late 2000’s that they need to rethink their model – including a brand, putting in place scalable systems, and creating multiple streams of revenue. Matt and Greg share some great lessons, that every real estate investor can learn from in this episode. Don’t miss it!
Mike: Welcome to the Flipnerd.com podcast. This is your host Mike Hambright, and on this show I will introduce you to V.I.P.s 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 three new shows each week which are available in the iTunes store or by visiting Flipnerd.com. So, without further ado, let’s get started.
Mike: Hey, it’s Mike Hambright, back with another exciting FlipNerd V.I.P. show. Today I have with me Matt and Greg Sneyd. They’re a father son team with the MUVE group out of Salt Lake City. They do a lot of traditional duties as real estate agents and brokers but are also powerful investors, so we’re going to learn a lot about their model and how they got through the storm of the past few years and how they’re thriving now. Before we get started, let’s take a moment to recognize our featured sponsors.
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Please note, the views and opinions expressed by the individuals in this program do not necessarily reflect those of FlipNerd.com or any of its partners, advertisers or affiliates. Please consult professionals before making any investment or tax decisions as real estate investing can be risky.
Mike: Hey Matt and Greg, welcome to the show.
Greg: Hey, it’s good to be here.
Mike: Yeah, so good to have you guys on. Well, as I was mentioning that this was the first father son duo we’ve had, so, exciting to hear that. And in all honesty, I know a lot of fathers and sons and, that are in the business and even in my business my partner is my wife. So, I think family partnerships are great because you can generally hold your family members more accountable than you can maybe an employee, so.
Mike: Yeah, why don’t you guys introduce yourselves and tell us a little bit about what you’re doing out in Salt Lake City.
Greg: Ok, go ahead Matt.
Matt: Yeah, so what we are doing out in Salt Lake City is we’re real estate investors and we also run a traditional real estate business. We’ve been doing it for about eight years locally here. We started in 2006 when the market was doing really well but then it started to crap out, so it was nice because I didn’t get too many bad habits. I was 19 at the time when we started, and lucky enough to have him as a partner in it that he… that we were able to trust each other. It’s never been a question about trust in this relationship, so it’s been… that’s one of the biggest things that’s probably been something I don’t take for granted because I’ve seen other relationships go poorly because they didn’t have any… they didn’t have any trust or trust went south in that relationship.
Mike: Yeah. So, how old are you now Matt?
Matt: I’m 27 now.
Mike: That’s awesome, that’s awesome. I’d say, I tell people this, I interviewed somebody recently that… decided at the age 25 that he was going to get… he was, he was a mechanic… that he was going to start investing in real estate and retire by the time of 30. And on his 30th birthday he went in and resigned from his job as mechanic so, I tell people and I hear it all the time, if there’s anybody in real estate investing that has, you know, the biggest regret that I hear is that they didn’t start earlier.
Mike: And so, that’s awesome that you got started at such a young age and have the opportunity to work with your dad, so… So, Greg tell us a little bit about you.
Greg: Well my background… originally I was from Canada. And so I was a charter accountant up there, which is the Canadian equivalent of a CPA. So, I’ve got a pretty strong accounting background and have been in business for myself for about 30 years after I left the accounting world and then moved down to the U.S. Before we got involved in real estate, I was in the dental marketing and management space and did that successfully for a number of years, but then when Matt was 19, a friend of mine in Oregon was doing flipping. And he kept sending us copies of checks, you know, you know the…
Greg: And so we decided to go to a seminar and the seminar, you know, you bring along someone for free and Ron [inaudible 00:04:58] and from that we went to it and came back and just started implementing. And within a year we were doing it full time.
Mike: Yeah. That’s great.
Greg: And just haven’t looked back. It helps when your first deal that you do is a wholesale deal and you make $50,000 on it. That really kind of confirms in your mind that you can do this.
Mike: Yeah, yeah.
Greg: And so, people…
Matt: I quit the car wash after that.
Greg: So, that’s kind of my background and then…
Greg: Fortunately, Matt and I have always had a really good relationship. He’s got two older sisters, he’s the baby in the family and my wife is also involved in the business. She’s a real estate agent, so it truly is a family business and of course that has its ups and downs.
Greg: As you’re well aware of, but… as long as, you know, at the end of the day you can put any disagreements aside and go, “Okay, tomorrow’s a new day. Let’s move on and make it happen,” that’s what we’ve continued to do for over eight years.
Mike: Yeah, that’s great that’s great. Well tell us a little bit about the breakdown of your company from the traditional real estate, the agency side, into real estate investing and how you kind of split those up. A lot of folks that I know that wear both those hats tend to operate under a couple different brands. They try to kind of keep those separate one way or another, but, not that it’s right or wrong but, tell us a little bit about how you guys are set up.
Matt: Yeah, we actually used to operate under a couple different brands. One of which was just called G&M Property Solutions and we finally, since we were doing traditional and real estate investing, we saw that it was really hard to explain to people what our business was and they were, they misunderstood ok were we traditional or were we investment and what exactly do you guys do and it was really a long winded explanation.
Matt: About two years ago we decided, we saw that not a lot of people actually do brand, I mean home investors brands, but not, most investors do not use branding to their advantage so I said, like I went to a free class up at the University about branding and it was really good and it dawned on me that we needed to create a brand and an umbrella brand for everything we do. And that’s why we created the MUVE Group. And so, the traditional side we do, we have buyers and sellers and my mom also works with us, but she’s just only done traditional and she sticks to that and she’s really great at it. Me and Greg have mostly done the investment side.
Matt: And so, even though that still has its own separate entity, we blanketed everything with this brand that underneath that we also do some private lending deals, some joint venture deals. We wholesale as well. We just started up a wholesale model, but it was a lot easier for us to just make one brand, one website, one social media…
Mike: Sure, yeah.
Matt: Everything, and actually, it’s been a huge benefit, especially on the traditional side of the business, because we always have properties we’re pushing that we’ve remodeled and they’re really pretty properties so it beings in a lot of clientele on the traditional side.
Mike: Okay, okay. And so how do you, do you market separately for wholesale properties for the investor’s side of your business, versus the other side and how do you get past the, you know, I think the main reason that a lot of people separate those is because if you went to buy a wholesale deal and you said, “Well, if we just list it, or if you just fixed this up a little bit and make it nicer you could make a lot more money.” A lot of investors try to not have to go down that road because you don’t want to plant any, any, seed you know… you don’t want to plant those seeds that it may not be a good deal to sell to you, or the best path to take. So, how do you kind of work around that?
Matt: We take the approach that we want the best thing for all these people. We want to have them get the most money and be… a win-win situation for everybody, so when that happens we just, I mean, we’ll tell them you’re actually better off listing, because we can still make money off it that way. We want everyone to be happy, so we’re not going to be greedy. We’ve stepped away from deals that are short sales or whatever. We’ve stepped away from a lot of profits just because it’s the right thing to do.
Matt: You know, one that sticks out in mind was a short sale that we had an approval on that was low. We were going to do a short sale flip on it and then we’d get an offer and there was like a $70,000 spread on it, but the offer that came in to us, on the end offer, so we had ABC transactions on short sales, the C offer made it so we had a full payoff, so that there was no short sale. And we walked away from that just so we could do a short sale, we just made the commission that was it.
Matt: And, just for us, we, and our brand, we want to raise that level of investing. We saw a lot of people cutting corners on remodels and doing immoral things and having low ethics and we kind of were sick of that so we want to raise that level in the….
Greg: And whenever we do any of our flips, you know, we go in and make sure we pull permits and, there are a number of investors in this market and in other markets that don’t do that and that’s just not the way we operate. Everything we want to go by the book.
Greg: We want, we want people to really respect our brand. And we’ve worked hard on that, so, you know any time I’m going in to meet with a client that’s coming off a close card or whatever, I’m really thinking about what’s best for them. That’s my mindset. And, you know, if we can… If it’s not a flip, because they can make more money doing the retail sale, then we will try and help them. We just did one last week where I went out with them, I brought my wife along, she got the listing for it, so, you know, it’s still a win for us. You know, so…
Mike: Sure, sure.
Greg: And that’s just out approach to it.
Mike: Yeah. And I think, you know, there’s a lot of folks that, unless you’re an active real estate investor, you don’t realize that, you know… sometimes we go to houses for, to appointments to buy a house and it’s clear that the seller… I mean, you may think, “All I’m going to do is spend a couple thousand dollars cleaning this up and put it on the market. And why don’t they do that?”
Mike: But a lot of folks that are talking to us, in all honesty, they, they don’t even want to do that. They don’t want the hassles maybe of an agent coming to their house. So, I think there’s these preconceived notions in the market for folks that aren’t in the real estate investing business, that sometimes investors are taking advantage of people when, I can, I’m sure you guys have too. We’ve bought countless houses from people that really didn’t need that much work. They just didn’t want to deal with listing it and the nosy neighbors coming in and people seeing how they lived maybe and they just, they just wanted to walk away and they’re willing to accept a lower price for that.
Greg: Yeah. We’re talking to a couple people right now that are in exactly that situation. It’s hard for me to sometimes say, “Well, why wouldn’t you just do this?” And they just don’t want to do it.
Matt: Yeah and they straight up say, “I don’t,” you know, “I don’t want people coming through my house.” So, it’s really just asking the right questions to figure out what they want and then providing that for them.
Mike: Yeah, what’s the motivation? Yeah. Well, so I know you guys, from the time you started, you know, then you kind of hit the skids a little bit, and you’ve been able to kind of change your model, obviously with the branding, a lot of operational tools and putting some processes in place to really take your business to the next level, and we were talking before this, we started recording today, that I think a lot of people that were around in the mid-2000’s and made it through that period operate very differently today. You’ve learned a lot, people generally don’t take as much for granted, and they’ve had to focus a lot on systems and tools to help take your business to the next level. So, can you talk to us a little bit about how you made that transition and how you think about your business differently today than you did before the storm?
Matt: Yeah. You want me to take that?
Matt: So, before and when we were early on in the business, it was always like we were flying by the seat of our pants, which is an okay thing to do, it was actually, I would recommend it to start with because it’s a whole, what is it… ready, fire, aim? I think that’s a good thing to do. But, as you start to get more experience and you become more savvy, it’s imperative to create systems, so the difference now is that we have virtual assistants. We have, like a team of seven people now that we’re delegating things to, we’re not trying to do it all our… all on our own, and, you know, one of the systems that we, or one of the programs that we use which is, there’s many different ones out there but the one we use is Asana which is task management software…
Mike: Yeah, we use that too, yeah.
Matt: Yeah, it’s awesome, so, with that we create videos and we’ve really dumbed everything down and broken every stop of the process down. Whereas before we were doing it all of our… on our… all on our own, we weren’t tracking anything, it was just like we kind of looked over the quarter and say, “Did we make money or did we not make money?” And, “What did we make money on? Okay, let’s go do more of that.”
Greg: Yeah, I think that combined with High-rise, which is our CRM.
Greg: We get, you know Todd Tolback, who’s in our collective genius group, and he recommend it to us. And that was a big game changer for us, because it made sure that we kept track of every single person that we talked to, and we had a record of our dialog with them so that nothing ever fell through the cracks as far as our contacts.
Greg: And then, as Matt said, Asana, you know you sit down and you make a checklist of every single thing from beginning to end on every process in your business and then what you can do in Asana attach like a screen flow description of that task…
Greg: …the Asana task, so we have every single step that’s involved in our business from beginning to end all documented so anybody can come in, even a V.A. in the Philippines can watch that video and know how to exactly do that task.
Greg: So it really makes your business simple, and you know that nothing falls through the cracks.
Greg: And there’s just so many moving parts in the, in the flipping business, in the wholesale business, the funding business, and then the traditional real estate… you sit down and you go through that we’ve got hundreds if not thousands of tasks that have to be done.
Greg: And you just push a button and it populates and everybody knows exactly what they have to be done.
Mike: Yeah, we’ve done many of the same things that you guys have done. In fact, we used High-rise for years. We recently switched to Podio. We used High-rise for a long time, it’s a great, it’s a great tool. I mean, it’s
… the first time we started evaluating CRM’s, and there’s so many of them out there…
Mike: Is that you, every single one you find, it does something really great, but it doesn’t do this one thing that I need. And we kind of went round and round, like, well there’s no perfect solution and we came back to High-rise at the time because it was way oversimplified from what we thought we needed but…
Mike: Then we kind of found beauty in the fact that it’s so simple to use.
Mike: And you can’t customize it, that’s one of the frustrating parts, but, ultimately, that becomes one of the good things, because if you customize it, it starts to get messy and to kind of maintain all of that customization so.
Greg: Yeah, and I think one other thing, going along with systems, is your systems are only as good as the people on your team.
Greg: And so, and we’ve gone through, and I’m sure you have too, where you bring on team members and they’re not what you call A+ players. I’d be a B+, but we’ve found that you need A+ players on the team because it just helps to raise the bar for everyone.
Greg: The implementation of everything that’s part of our business goes so much better and so much quicker when you’ve got those top players. So, you know, if someone is setting up your business, and then you’ve got a friend, and the friend is not an A+ player, they’re probably not the best person to bring on the team. You know, and we’ve learned to go and do profiles on people before we hire them.
Greg: And some of those things so we get a really good idea of who that person is and that they’re going to fit in and last with us.
Mike: Right, right. Well talk a little bit about that. I mean, one of the challenges that every real estate investor faces is, is bringing in people to help.
Mike: And the problem… and really this is the case for all entrepreneurs, for all small businesses when you start to recruit people, the problem is that you can’t afford to have redundancy. So, you don’t have backups. So, it’s so critical that that person does their job or their task right and the fact that they’re probably going to have to use a cheesy clich?, wear a lot of hats. It’s just in a small business everybody has to be able to do about everything. But talk a little bit about how you recruit and what you look for and, you know how you kind of profile people to make sure that you hiring somebody that’s an A+ player.
Matt: Well, first of all, it’s in the ad that you post, you know. You can save yourself a lot of hassle by creating an ad that they basically have to follow instructions and anyone that doesn’t follow the instructions of the ad doesn’t even get past square one.
Matt: And they don’t get through the gate, so that’s the first thing. It’s kind of make a multi-step process. Then we bring those people in and we interview them, to get the initial feel of, just, we feel like we’re a good judge of character. My mom’s also a good judge of character. So, after that initial meeting, we, we say, “Okay, did we get a good feeling from these people? Do we think they’ll be a good addition to the team?” From there, they take a Kolbe test. The Kolbe is the A test.
Matt: The index test, basic personality test, any personality test works but you want to make sure that that personality matches the job description.
Matt: And the next step is, at least for the jobs that we do, is we do like working interviews, depending on the job. But we have them actually come in and work one or two days doing the job to see how well they do at it.
Mike: Yeah. Yeah, that’s great.
Matt: Before we hire them, so I have two or three like of the top candidates, come in and actually do that. And why that’s easy, I mean, initially you just have them do that but the reason that’s even easier now is because of the systems we’ve created.
Matt: You can plug and play and take … drop someone in and drop them out to a job like that.
Matt: The other advantage to that as well is it’s always hard to fire someone. Let’s say two weeks into it, you know they’re probably not working out. But you’ve invested this time in them and effort to train them that you’re like, “Aahh, I just want to,” you know, “wait it out.” So you end up keeping someone around that shouldn’t be kept around. So, that’s another plus to this system, but…
Greg: One, one other thing, and we’ve learned this the hard way.
Greg: Is there’s two types of people out there. There’s the people like us that are entrepreneurs. And there, there are the people that want to definitely be on a team. They want to work for someone and they want to make it long term work for someone. The people that are like us, the entrepreneurs, typically want to learn everything that we do, and then they want to go and do it on their own.
Greg: And so they come in for a certain period of time until they figure they’ve learned everything they can about how to flip a house and then they leave. That’s definitely not the type of person you want on your team.
Matt: Not that it’s bad, it just, like, more power to them, but…
Matt: It puts us back at square one again which doesn’t help us accomplish our goals, so. People that have done that with us, so, like, I’m happy they’ve gone and flipped on their own but what we look for and we’re straight upfront with people when they come in is say, “We are not looking for an entrepreneur that wants to go do this on their own. We want someone who sees the value in a team and realizes that, that with a team we’ll get a lot further a lot quicker.”
Mike: Yeah. What do you think about, it’s interesting… it’s an interesting conversation because I’ve had some challenges myself. I think a lot of entrepreneurs do, you want the best for those employees, you want to, you know, as your business thrives, how do you incentivize them so that they don’t get to a point to where they say, “These guys just made more money on one house then I make annually,” and as the owner not feel guilty about that because, in all honesty, well, you don’t understand that we lost money through three of the last four months, or that, you know, we have a tremendous amount of weight on our shoulders because of, you know, debts or other expenses, you know. Of course nobody ever looks at the overhead part of your business, they just look at the revenue and wow you’re killing it, it’s like yeah, but I have a lot of overhead to cover as well.
Mike: How do you kind of bridge that gap between wanting the best for your employees, wanting them to, you know, want to kind of thrive with you but not feeling guilty about how much money you make and that maybe you need to pay them more… It’s an interesting area that I’ve kind of struggled with personally actually.
Greg: Well, I think it’s important to give them a part of the profit that they’re generating, okay, and you know, every team member’s different but you just sit down and work on something that works for them and works for you and you know, so a person that’s handling our wholesale deals, give them a percentage of that profit that we’re making.
Greg: A project manager, give them a percent of that profit.
Greg: …so that they’re incentivized to go make more profit because they’re making part of it.
Mike: Right, right. How about with administrative staff though?
Greg: Well, with the administrative staff, that’s one of the things we like about V.A.’s.
Matt: Yeah, V.A.’s… everything administrative pretty much can be done by a V.A…
Matt: The best thing about a V.A. is if you do proper training through the screen flow and screen capture videos…
Matt: They’re like robots and they just, they do it exactly how they, you teach them and they don’t like try and get clever and do it on their own, in their own way, which is awesome, so. Everything admin, as long as it can be done on a computer we have it outsourced to a V.A…
Greg: Like, so in traditional real estate, you have a transaction coordinator. And, you know, they’re typically 20 bucks an hour. And you sometimes have to incentivize them too because they see all the numbers, give them bonuses and things like that. They’re replaced by a V.A. that’s three, three fifty an hour and they don’t, they don’t care about how much money we’re making.
Greg: They don’t see how much money you’re making and so there’s a real advantage to that.
Greg: But if they are key players on your team that are directly generating revenue, you got to give them a piece of the deal.
Mike: Yeah, sure, sure, yeah. So I think the challenge a lot of folks have is more of the administrative roles, or that I’ve had with more the administrative roles and I’ve, I’ve been a big fan of virtual assistants for years and I’ve, I’ve had virtual assistants in the Philippines and I’ve said it many times, is that a lot of my virtual assistants work harder than people that I pay much more…
Mike: …here locally and very happy to be part of the team and just, you know, and just have a very different work ethic than people in the U.S. generally do.
Greg: And they’re very smart people I’d say, you know, they’ve got college degrees…
Greg: And it’s sometimes hard to imagine how someone could work at that pay scale, but to them, it’s a great pay scale.
Matt: We also give them bonuses and stuff too and even the V.A.s we’ll send them Christmas bonuses or their holiday bonuses but to kind of circle back to your original question in short, don’t be greedy. If you have good people, pay them well. They know what you’re making and so don’t be greedy about it, because they will end up saying, “Well, I’ll go do this for someone else that will pay me more, or on my own.”
The second would be, be transparent. The more transparent you are the better because it creates trust in the team sense and also we’re totally transparent not only about our profit but our expenses and like you said most people don’t hear about the expenses. We make sure we talk about that. Not like, not like we’re talking about it all the time, but we’re open about what our expenses is… what our expenses are and our trainings cost that we go to on a quarterly basis, some of the networking groups that we’re part of, they’re not cheap and most of how our business excels is because we go to these different, you know, masterminds and networking events, so… yeah those are probably the two main points I would say as far as retaining employees.
Mike: Great, great. And what would you guys say is the split between your, in your business with, I know you have a number of different things, but in the traditional real estate side and the investment side. I guess from a, you know, not that you have to say your revenue, but from a revenue standpoint, what portion of your business are you dependent upon for the investment side versus the…
Greg: I’d say it’s about fifty-fifty.
Matt: Yeah, yeah.
Greg: We do do a lot of traditional, and with, with kind of a cross over there too, because when we buy a property, Matt is always the one that represents… I’m, I’m not an agent, never have been, so whenever we buy a property, Matt typically represents me on the buy and then we finish the rehab, my wife represents us to get that property sold because she’s extremely good at that. And then that brings in an additional traditional real estate because we have a sign out, we’ve done all of our marketing with the MUVE Group, we have a lot of followers. So, sometimes it’s the two kind of cross over.
Greg: I’d say, if I had to pick a general percentage, it’s about a fifty-
Matt: And the other thing I’d add to that is that I was talking at a, speaking at a REIA, it was like a panel of local experts and one of the guys who is a hard money lender, I think a lot of people don’t realize, one, how smart hard money lenders are because they’re seeing all the deals, everyone’s bringing them everything that…
Matt: They know all the players in the valley, they’re, they’re seeing everything behind the scenes and what he said is some of the most successful investors he’s seen are guys that have multiple streams and sense that they’re doing remodels they’re doing wholesales they’re doing traditional business because it’s all the same business and if you’re not doing or nurturing those in some way, shape or form, maybe it’s just that you’re referring those leads out…
Matt: But if you’re not capturing those business models in this industry, you’re, you’re just ignoring money that’s falling into your lap.
Matt: When we really started to focus on and nurture the traditional side of the business, we just are, it started to just blow up.
Mike: Yeah. It’s funny that you say that because I was literally just talking to somebody yesterday about, you know, in our market, it’s gotten a little tough to buy right now, it’s just the retail market is hot. A lot of hedge funds have been really active here, more competition than ever has come in and, and I just had this conversation about how lots of other successful real estate, specifically home investors, people that I know that are in the system that have been around for a lot longer than me have tended to have other businesses, whether it’s hard money, property management, the rental, their own rentals that they can just, as the market changes you just kind of lean into things that are working and sit on the sidelines and it’s crazy that a lot of real estate investors are a one legged stool and there’s all this ego and pride in always being successful at that one thing and it’s like, well that’s not even how Wall Street works, I mean, there are times when you say, I’m going to sit on the sidelines because the market gets too high right now, I’m going to wait for things to come back down and it’s tough if that’s the only leg of our stool is that you can’t sit on the sidelines. You turn the revenue spigot off and you only have one spigot so…
Mike: Yeah, I think that’s a smart move, is to have multiple streams of income for sure. Lots of irons in the fire.
Matt: Yeah, no, exactly. I’d say it’s a huge benefit to have those multiple streams.
Mike: Yeah. Awesome guys, well thanks so much for joining us today and definitely appreciate you being on.
Matt: Yeah, thank you for having us.
Mike: Alright, wish you all the best. And tell us, tell folks now if they want to get ahold of you or learn more about the MUVE Group where they would go.
Matt: Just to our website is probably the best place to go, which is themuvegroup.com, MUVE is spelled with a U, so the, MUVE, M-U-V-E, group.com.
Mike: Awesome, awesome. Well guys, thanks for joining us today.
Matt: Yeah, thank you.
Mike: Best of luck.
Greg: Okay, thank you, you too.
Mike: Thanks for joining us on today’s Flipnerd.com podcast. To listen to more of our shows and hear from incredible guests, please access all of our podcasts in the iTunes Store. You can also watch the video versions of our shows by visiting us at Flipnerd.com