Have I mentioned how we love to use virtual assistants (VAs) for most of our operations? Well, if you have been following along here at Real Estate Investing Mastery lately then you know what I am talking about. Today we explore a new facet of that VA jewel.
The facet in which I speak relates to marketing and how you don’t have to be the person in your business doing it all the time. There’s a VA for that! That’s right, if you know how to proceed you can get someone else to do the most important part of your business. As little twist on how we do things, I, Joe McCall, am the one being interviewed by my good buddy JP Moses. He is a maestro at the 3rd degree and knows just how to ask the right questions. Don’t miss this interview. It very well could be your first step to a more independent life.
Listen and enjoy:
- 00:22 – Special introduction from Joe
- 04:58 – A little back story on Joe
- 06:54 – Why are you doing your own marketing?
- 08:36 – What business are you in? Real estate or marketing?
- 11:00 – Marketing, automation, & delegation (& why you need it)
- 13:07 – Are you willing to do what it takes to make it happen?
- 18:40 – Why diversifying is a must for your marketing plan
- 25:00 – Simply put, you need to systematize. Here’s how:
- 32:59 – How can your VA know what to do if you don’t?
- 36:30 – Done is the new perfect: you can’t do it all by yourself
- 37:14 – Your plan doesn’t have to be perfect to start using it. Why you need to get started today
- 38:30 – Do you have realistic expectations of your earning potential?
- 40:57 – How many VAs do I need to execute my plan?
- 42:57 – You need help, but are afraid of the unknown. Here’s where to start:
- 46:18 – Your new VA is a big deal. Learn why you should treat him right.
- 49:34 – Good communication & structure are important factors for success with your VA
- 55:11 – Don’t say you don’t have the tools to manage a team. Here’s 2 good examples
- “Without leads your business is dead.” [Click to Tweet]
- Did you know that working backwards is the key to success in real estate marketing? [Click to Tweet]
- “You can hand-write 17 yellow letters while you’re watching Downton Abbey”. [Click to Tweet]
- “You can’t just sit in your underwear and push a few buttons and expect to make millions of dollars”. [Click to Tweet]
Mentioned in this episode:
- Download the Marketing Numbers Spreadsheet
Joe: Hey, everybody. Welcome to the Real Estate Investing Mastery Podcast. This is Joe McCall. I want to just give you a quick introduction to the interview that we’re going to be playing for you here for this podcast. It was an interview I did recently with a friend of mine, JP Moses. He was interviewing me and it was for one of his shows and companies that he helps, works with. JP’s a great friend of mine. On this interview I thought it would be good to share it with you guys. It’s just a good content interview talking about how I use virtual assistants to do all my marketing. I think you’re going to get something out of it. I think you’re going to like it.
I wanted to tell you also, if you go to realestateinvestingmastery.com, you can get our Fast Cash Survival Kit, and it’s free. There’s also a place where you can leave us a voice mail if you ever have a question. We’re going to start doing more questions and getting those released, trying to answer one or two questions a week or something like that.
Let’s see if something else … Oh yeah, just came out with a book. I just came out with a book with one of my business partners, Peter. If you go freebasicbook.com, freebasicbook.com, it’s a really good book called Brilliant at the Basics. I’ve always believed in the kiss simple principle, the kiss principle of real estate. Really it’s easy to complicate everything. It’s easy to complicate this business.
We wanted to write a book that says “Look, just back to the basics and be brilliant at the basics.” You got to get this book; it’s really, really good. You’re going to be hearing me talk more about it here in the new feature. It’s a book that we talk a lot about the marketing that we do, systems that we use, how we automate it, delegate it all out. It’s really good stuff.
All right, I’m going to go ahead and just stop talking here and let you listen in to this interview. Thanks a lot, guys. See you.
JP: Officially, welcome to Mogul Live. Guys, I’m JP Moses. I’m the director of awesome here, with realestatemogul.com, and I love doing these calls. I love having the opportunity twice a month to get somebody like Joe, or somebody else, an industry colleague who has some real expertise in a specific area and just giving them the unrelenting 3rd degree like I do. I love doing that with you guys and presenting it up to you on a silver platter, so that you can take from it what you will and invest it in your own real estate investing business and sharpen yourself through that.
Congratulations for being here on this call with us and for just being a Mogul insider, for being a part of our team here. You’ve made an incredibly smart decision, a wise investment in yourself, and truly there’s nothing else like what we’ve put together here at Real Estate Mogul. You’re here because you’re a Mogul Elite member, and you get a whole smorgasbord, that’s a fun word to say, smorgasbord of stuff.
You get a fresh real estate investing lesson every single day from one of our faculty members. You get these calls twice a month. In fact, I know some people who are members only because they want these calls. That’s how much value they get out of these. You get access to real estate deals through the “Do Deal” section. You get access to our network of private lenders when you submit deals and want to tap into the private lender network. Just a whole lot of stuff. Congratulations. Pat yourself on the back for being a part of this with us.
These sessions, if you’re new here, you should know, these are entirely unscripted. We don’t hold anything back. They’re designed to be very, very practical for you. We are committed to sharing the most practical and the most engaging and educational experience that we possibly can together. Just so know, I’m not just some marketing guy. I started real estate investing myself back in 2000. My experience has been very broad. I’ve done a little bit of a lot of things, but the lion share of my experience has been in the wholesaling area. I’ve done somewhere north of a couple hundred wholesale deals over the years and a little bit of a lot of other stuff too.
Just want you to know, I’m not just some guy doing this call. If you and I haven’t met, you should know that. Let’s see. Today, you heard a moment ago, in the hot seat I have invited the one and only, Joe McPodcast.
Joe: Right on. Bring it on.
JP: That’s a running joke, and it’s an inside joke. It’s Joe McCall. If you don’t know Joe, where have you been? Joe has been a close friend of mine for years now and a close friend of ours here. He’s contributed a whole heck of a lot of awesome stuff, a lot of great lessons here. In fact, if you just go search for the last name McCall, M-C-C-A-L-L, in the search box on the website here, you’ll see just how awesome the stuff is that he shared with us so far.
Joe and I are also in a Mastermind group together. We get together 3 times a year, and we horse around a lot , and we also learn a lot from each other. He literally flips dozens of houses per month, and he’s got his tentacles in multiple markets doing that. He is a systems thinking kind of guy. Truly, this is a guy who more than anybody else I’ve ever met, he understands the power of leveraging technology and teams and systems to really scale up his business. He just has a rare gift for teaching others how to do what he does. Joe, I’m really excited to have you here buddy. Thank you for setting aside some time to join us. Welcome, and before I continue with my housekeeping, welcome.
Joe: Thank you JP. I appreciate it.
JP: I mentioned the podcast. He has a phenomenal podcast that a lot of you guys have probably heard before. He and Alex do it. It’s “Real Estate Investing Mastery.” You can look that up in iTunes. He’s also … There’s just a lot of different places on the web that you can find Joe, but one of his most recent little pet projects is onehourleads.com, so you guys should check him out over there.
Actually we’re going to be talking more about that, so I’m not going to talk about it right now. We’ll discuss it a little bit within context of today’s topic. By the way, today’s topic, I think I forgot to say, is how to get a virtual assistant to literally do all your marketing for you. I know it may sound a little too good to be true. It may sound a little farfetched, but Joe does it, and he’s going to open the kimono for us here in just a moment. You ready? You got that kimono-
Joe: Yeah man.
JP: All right. Let’s do this. How to get a virtual assistant to do all your marketing for you? Now, I guess before we jump right into that topic, just for anyone who has not already developed some familiarity with you Joe, I think it would be smart to give a quick and dirty, reader’s digest version of your story, just a little bit of backstory, so that people have some frame of reference. A lot of people already know it. We don’t have to go too deep into it, but I want them to understand a little bit of where you come from before we jump into this.
Joe: Sure. Yeah. My background is civil engineering, so I’ve always enjoyed math, believe it or not, and I like systems. I graduated from high school. I kind of didn’t want to go to college, but I felt like that’s what you were supposed to do. I started going to community college; went to a bible college for a couple years, actually. Then, I went to Iowa State University, got my degree in civil engineering and started working for some large engineering companies traveling a lot. Got tired of that really fast and started settling down into St. Louis and working for some smaller companies, but finally quit my job in 2009 when I started flipping lease options.
Just been working full time ever since, so I’m still doing deals. I probably flip 5 to 10 properties a month. I literally only work maybe 5, 10 hours a week in that part of my business. The rest of my time, I spend coaching and teaching, and I have a … I’ve done free marketing service as well. We travel a lot too. I’ll talk more about that later because obviously, why get somebody else to do the marketing for you? Why don’t you just do it all yourself? Well, you can if you want, but if that’s your vision for your life is, but I think most people want to ways to automate and delegate that part of their business.
It’s really not that hard to find other people to do the marketing for you. I was at a point in my job where I was forced to do that because I didn’t have the time to do it myself. I just, through trial and error, figured out how to get other people to do everything for me. That’s my big goal.
JP: By the way, I should kind of get this out there. I want to make everything as much as we can of today’s conversation applicable to any real estate investor, regardless of whether you’re primarily a rehabber or a wholesaler or a landlord. If you acquire properties, and you want to do that through marketing, then what we’re going to discuss today, you should be able to apply some or all of it.
We’re also going to get a lot of questions. I’m sure people who want to know, “What is wholesaling lease options?” Just guys, we posted, or actually Joe has posted lessons on that stuff in the past, so just type his name into the search box after the call is over here, and you can look up some of the previous stuff he’s put together. Now, tell me about the One Hour Leads Program that you put together. What is that? Just help people understand what it is, and how today’s conversation fits within that?
Joe: Well, it all comes down to we’re not in the real estate business. We’re in the marketing business. Our primary job is marketing, getting leads. Without leads, your business is dead. Understanding that marketing is the most important element of this business, Leads are the lifeblood of your business, is the most important thing that you can do for yourself and for your family if you ever want to have freedom, the lifestyle, independence, then you need to learn and be a student of marketing, and you need to understand marketing, and you need to be good at it. If you’re not going to do it, you need to get somebody else to do it for you.
I think of marketing as marketing done for you, in spite of you. Because if you don’t get it done, then it’s just not going to get done. You’ve got to get somebody else to do it, so you need to have systems in place where you get the marketing done for you, in spite of you.
I’ve been wholesaling a lot of deals for a long time, and I was talking to a buddy, and I was showing him how many leads … I had made the comment … I said, “You know, look, I’ve got all these leads in one hour.” I did my marketing, which was actually my VA … Did the marketing, and I don’t remember the exact number of leads, but I got 50 leads back within an hour, something like that. He said, “Hey, leads in an hour or one hour leads.”
I created a simple course, just really simple course that shows somebody how to come up with a marketing plan, which I’ll talk about in a minute. I emailed you a spreadsheet, JP, that you maybe you could include with this content here, a spreadsheet that helps you kind of come up with a marketing plan because that’s the basis of all of this.
You have to know how much marketing you need to do. If you want to make a hundred grand a year, how much marketing do you need to do every day, every week, to get to that? You need to break down your income goals into things you can control. You can’t control how many deals you’re going to do a month or how much your average profit per deal is, but you can control how much marketing you’re going to do; how many offers are you going to make every day?
It all starts with that marketing plan. I like calling it marketing automation and delegation. In this course, I kind of focused in on those 3 keys to success: Marketing, automation, and delegation, and how you can get leads, literally, for free in less than an hour. Then, how you can get somebody else to do all of that for you. I created the systems, which is the automation part, and I also created in there the systems to delegate that stuff out. I showed in that course how to get a VA, a virtual assistant to do all that marketing for you. I even created the videos that you can give to your VAs, so I’ll train your VAs for you. I taught how to find the VAs and then once you find one, just give them these videos that I have, and they can do the same stuff for you.
Does that make sense JP?
JP: Yes. It really does. In the rest of our conversation today, I mean we’re not going to be able to cover obviously all of that, and that’s why you created a whole home study course based on the totality of what you just described. We’re really not going to drill too much into the marketing piece of it as much as the how to get a virtual assistant, the automation piece I guess and delegation.
JP: Let’s start though by drilling into the plan. There’s plan and then once you’ve made your plan, you systematize your plan. Once you’ve systematized it, you delegate it out, and then you just managed the person that you delegated it to. If we start at the very top of that, you’re at the plan. What is the process, for someone who’s never created a marketing plan, and there’s a lot of people … I’m sure the majority of people listening to us right now have not created a true marketing plan in the truest sense of it and don’t really know how to do that. Let’s start there. What kind of track can they start walking? How can they begin to conceptualize and actualize that?
Joe: Well, it’s important to figure this out because you need to know all your goals are realistic. A lot of people say “I want to make a million dollars a year” but not have any clue how much marketing it’s going to take to make a million dollars a year.
Let’s say, they would just want to make 10 grand a month. They don’t have any plan to do what they need to do to get there. You have to ask yourself, “Are you willing to do what it takes to make it happen?” and you’ve got to have a plan written down, so that you can hold yourself accountable, or somebody can hold you accountable like a mentor or a coach. If you know you want to make 10 grand a month, and your average profit is 5 grand, that means you need to do 2 deals a month. Well, you can’t control that. You can’t control doing 2 deals a month, but what you can control is how many postcards you send out every month, or how many Craigslist landlords and sellers you contact every day, how many bandit signs you put out every month or every weekend, or how many offers you make on the MLS every day?
You’ve got to work backwards from your big picture goals down into concrete actionable stuff.
When I was in construction, one of the terms that we used a lot was the “Six P’s,” p, p, p, p, p, p, the six p’s as in “Peter.” Prior planning prevents piss poor performance. Say that a hundred times. Prior planning prevents piss poor performance. Having a plan will help you be successful, and it’s really simple. It’s not complicated. You don’t need a business degree to do this. You don’t even have to do it and excel to do it.
What I did, is I sent you a spreadsheet, and I’ll walk through this, but you won’t even have to have a spreadsheet to … I can kind of walk through it over the phone, so people just listening can figure this out.
Let’s say … If your goal is to make 10 grand a month, and your average profit per deal is 5, well that means you need to do 2 deals a month. Well let’s say that you only sell 75 percent of your deals. You take 2 divided by .75, you get 3. You need 3 contracts a month. We got 3. Write that down. You need 3 contracts a month. I’m just going to walk through a sample marketing plan here. It’s really simple.
You need 3 contracts a month. Well, how many leads on average does it take to get a contract? It all depends on a lot of things. It depends on you. It depends on the market you’re in, but generally speaking, maybe 30 to 40 is a good number, so I’m going to do 35. If you take 3 times 35, you need 105 leads per month. That is 105 people, sellers, contacting you in response to your marketing. Then, if you’re working, let’s say, 5 days a week, you need 5 leads a day, approximately. Write that number down. Generally speaking, if you want to make 10 grand a month, you’re going to need to get 5 leads a day. These are people that are responding to your marketing.
JP: Let me just recap that real quick for anybody who didn’t have time to get paper and start writing this down. By the way, I see the spreadsheet you sent me. Obviously, the people in the live broadcast are not going to be able to have this, but we’ll put it up when we put the replay up. We’ll make sure that this is up there, so you can download it, so come back once the replay is up in about a week, and you’ll be able to actually get access to that. Thank you for sending that, Joe.
JP: Again, we’re starting with this assumption that you want to make 10,000 a month, and this is just kind of a simple way to calculate this. If your average profit per deal is 5 grand, then you need 2 deals. Obvious, easy math. I’m no math doctor, but I can do that one. The percent of deals that you sell is 75 percent. Okay, so this is a wholesaling example, so you’re assuming that only three-fourths of the deals that you get will actually end up turning into a profit. 3 actual contracts per month is what you need then in order to land those 2 deals. Obviously, these numbers will vary depending on what kind of marketing, and where you’re doing it, and that kind of stuff.
I guess a metric that has worked for you over time has been around 35 leads, is what it takes per contract. Is that right? 35 leads per contract?
JP: Okay. Then, if you multiply that by the 3 contracts per month that you need, that gives you 105 leads, is what you need to target, bringing in 105 qualified leads. That will get you your 2 deals a month, 10,000 a month. This is, obviously, guys … This should go without saying, but we’re not guaranteeing these metrics, these numbers. They’re going to vary.
What I appreciate is just even having like a baseline. Having something like this in front of me to say, “Hey, let’s treat this as a starting point, and then let’s run with it and see how my numbers compare, my real numbers over time.”
JP: Okay. Keep going. That makes sense.
Joe: Here’s an important thing. You need to always have at least 2 to 3 different types of marketing that you’re doing. 2-3 different types of marketing, and that could be Craigslist … I’ll talk about Craigslist in a minute here, what that is, because that’s … It’s real simple stuff. I’m not talking about posting ads on Craigslist. I’m talking about contacting landlords and sellers in Craigslist.
… Postcards, yellow letters, bandit signs, making offers on the MLS, just cold calling landlords, so there’s a lot of different marketing that you could be doing, but you can’t have all your eggs in one basket. My favorite marketing is postcards. They work really, really well. I’ve always done well with then. I also send yellow letters, but I also do some Craigslist stuff. I usually take those 3 things, Craigslist, postcards, and yellow letters, and I take a look at how many sellers should I contact every day? How many postcards should I send every week? How many yellow letters should I send every day?
What I’ve done in this spreadsheet here is I … Let’s say 33 percent of my leads come from Craigslist, 33 percent come from postcards, and 33 percent come from yellow letters. How much marketing should I do? All right. If I need 105 leads per month, 33 percent of that is going to come from Craigslist, so I take 105 times 33 percent, and that means I need 35 leads per month to come from Craigslist. If my average response rate is about …
By the way, I’ll give my final spreadsheet to you when we’re done here, so people can look at it as I’m actually going through these numbers. Let’s say 33 percent of my leads come from Craigslist. I take a 105 times 33 percent. I need 35 leads per month from Craigslist. If my average response rate from Craigslist ads are, let’s just say, it ranges from 10 to 15 percent, so I’m going to 10 percent. That just means walking down here, I need to contract 16 sellers and landlords every day in Craigslist. Let’s just bump that up with a fudge factor of 50 percent. I need a contact 25 Craigslist landlords and FSBO sellers every day.
JP: All right.
Joe: Good, and bump that up to 30. This isn’t an exact science. Now, let’s say 33 percent of my leads, a third of leads are going to come from postcards. Well, if my average response rate for postcards is 3 percent, working backwards the numbers … I need to send out about 350 postcards a week. 350 postcards a week. We’re back down into goals you can control, goals you can control.
Then, my third piece of marketing, I’m going to do yellow letters. Now, I like sending yellow letters to absentee owners with high equity, out of state owners, sometimes more of the specialty list, like code evictions, code violations, evictions, divorces, the state’s sales, garage sales … I’ll send simple yellow letters to them. Bottom line, I would need to send out, by my calculations, I would need to send out about 17 yellow letters per week. Okay. That’s easy, but I’m going to change that to 17 a day. Why not?
You can handwrite 17 yellow letters while you’re watching Downton Abbey. I don’t if that show is even on. While you’re watching TV at night, you can handwrite 17 little yellow letters and mail them the next morning. All right, so there you have it. You break it down from your 10,000 dollars a month goal down into 3 actionable things that you can start doing with your plan.
Number 1: Contacting 25 Craigslist sellers and landlords every day. When I say contacting, I should have explained this. I cover this in onehourleads.com. I send out an email, a text message, and I leave them a voice message. I will do that to 25 sellers every day, and I have a VA that does that. Then, I send out 350 postcards a week, and I handwrite about 15 to 20 yellow letters a day. That’s it. It’s not simple, not complicated, not rocket science.
When I was first getting started, I knew I had to do all of that stuff, so I would time block; I heard at the time, you’re supposed to time block your marketing, so I would block time out in my schedule to do that marketing. I just never got it done, so I decided, “I’ve got to get somebody else to do that for me,” and I did. There’s other things you could do like bandit signs. You could say, “All right. I’m going to put out 50 bandit signs every weekend.” Maybe you’re going to make 20 offers a day on MLS properties, or 20 offers on HUDs every single day. Whatever it is you’re doing, write that down. Stick it on your mirror in the bathroom, and that’s going to be what you have to do every day.
Look at that and think, “All right. How can I get somebody else to do all of that for me?” That’s what it is.
JP: Let’s talk about that then. Okay. There’s a great example and even a baseline for people, if they want to use it that way, of a marketing plan. As you described all that, the individual pieces, each of the individual pieces are very doable, but as I look at the totality of what it would take for me to do all that, it gets to be pretty overwhelming. It’s a lot to keep up with, and frankly, that’s why so many investors, myself for years included in this, struggled with on again, off again marketing because you can get in there and say, “All right. I’m going to market the crap out of this market right now.” You market, and then you generate a lot of leads, and then you don’t have time to do the marketing anymore, so you focus on the leads, and you do a couple of deals.
Then, all of sudden the well is dry again, so you have this ebb and flow, and ebb and flow, and that’s kind of the bane of the real estate investor’s existence. It’s very frustrating, and it’s no way to run a business. Looking at this like a business, once you create that road map, you have to systematize it. What does that look like?
Joe: Well, it starts with the plan, knowing what you have to do. Then, just simply writing down a list step-by-step of what is involved in each of those things. If you were to write a process manual, just bullet point by bullet point, what you have to do.
With Craigslist, it starts with, “All right,” go to Memphis.Craigslist.org or whatever it is. Then, go to the apartment housing section. Then, look for all of the homes that are … I like putting in search terms or key words and doing at least 2+ bedrooms, rent’s over 700 dollars a month let’s say, and for keywords I’ll do something like “-apartment” or “-apartments”; that removes all of the ads that have the word “apartment” in them. That will filter out all of the properties that don’t have any bedrooms or don’t advertise any rent. It takes a lot of the junk.
Now, I see a huge list of properties. The next bullet is start clicking through them. Then, when you find a good property, take the number, the phone number in there and copy it into a spreadsheet. I cover this One Hour Leads. I’m not trying to sell this One Hour Leads, but I just don’t have the time to talk about it all.
Joe: I put it into a spreadsheet. Then, I keep track in that spreadsheet of the title of the ad. I also put the email for that ad in the spreadsheet and a link to the ad. Then, I go to find my next one. Sometimes they don’t have phone numbers, but it still looks like a good house. I put the information in my spreadsheet. After about a half hour, I’ve got 30 properties in there. I just start going through it one by one, and I’ll send a text message to those sellers, and I’ll just say something along the lines of “Hey. I saw your property on Craigslist. You wouldn’t have any interest in selling it would you?” That’s if it’s a FSBO. I mean if it’s a for rent ad, I’ll say, “You don’t have any interest in selling that would you?”
If it’s a for sale by owner, I’ll say, “Hey. I saw your property on Craigslist. I am an investor. Is your price negotiable?” I’m looking for some motivation there. I send out an email with something along those lines, simple, just a phone number, no links. I send out a text message, and I send out a voice message. I have a way that I send a voice mail right to their voice mail without letting the phone ring. That’s all written down, step by step by step in this bulleted list of what to do.
Then, the last few bullets are, when a response comes back, what do you do with that response? I put those responses that come back in into Podio. I use Podio as my CRM to manage all my lead flow. Once I’ve got all of that bulleted down, I just create a video then of me doing it. There’s a several really good free tools out there that you can use to create videos, but I use Jing most of the time, J-I-N-G. Just Google it, and you’ll find it’s a free little tool you can download and video your screen on your computer as you just do this. You just video yourself doing it.
JP: Is Jing still available actually? I thought they ended the Jing project?
Joe: They said they were, but it’s still available.
JP: Oh, fascinating. Okay. Also, another one, screencast-o-matic.com is another one that I think you and I both just heard shared at our Mastermind, just an alternate…
Joe: Screenr is a good one too. “Screen” with an “r” at the end, Screenr.com
Well anyway, so you record yourself on video doing that, and then you can upload it, and they’ll give you a http link. They’ll give you a link for that video. Then, you paste that link to that video of you walking through and doing all of that into that document. I use Google Docs. Then, I just share that document with my virtual assistant. That’s their training manual, module, whatever. That’s their training. I share it with my VA, and they look at it. They read the outline. They watch the video of me going through it, and bam, that’s it. They start doing that.
I track. I give them what my goals are. I tell them, “All right. I want you to do this every day by 9am. I want you to do at least 30 a day, and I want you to go after these homes. When you get any responses back, I want you to put them in Podio here, and that’s it.” I can go in and see every day in my Google spreadsheet if they’ve done their work. I can go in and see if I have any new leads and et cetera.
When it comes to postcards, it’s the same thing. You just create a checklist of everything that needs to be done. Now, with postcards, sometimes I just do it myself because it’s just faster and easier, and if there’s one mistake on that postcard, that’s a lot of money you’re just throwing out the window. If the phone number’s wrong, then you’ve wasted all those postcards, and Click2Mail is not going to refund your money.
What I do is I send the same postcard out all the time. I’ll go ahead and buy the list, and I’ll put it into a spreadsheet, and then I’ll color code; I’ll break that list up into fifths, let’s say, and every week the VA will go in and upload the first fifth of that spreadsheet into Click2Mail and mail the postcard for me. There’s really no work they need to do. They just pick the postcard as a template. They upload the names, and it already has all of the names mapped to where they’re supposed to go. I already have money preloaded into Click2Mail, so they can send those postcards for me. It’s real simple. It’s kind of hard to explain over the phone, but just trust me when I say this. It’s simple.
You can get those postcards then mailed for you every week, or you could sit down once a month and just schedule those postcards to go out on a certain date, so you can create 4 campaigns for that month, schedule them to go out every week. I like breaking it up so you don’t get a ton of calls all at once.
When it comes to postcards, you can do them yourself. That’s going to be the cheapest, easiest thing to do. What I like to do is I like to find somebody who lives close to me that can do those yellow letters for me. Well, I used to use my old acquisition manager … His wife used to do them for me. I paid her I think 20 cents a letter, and it worked out to be about 10 dollars an hour, I think is what it was, but the total cost per letter, having it handwritten, put in the envelop, addressed, and stamped with a live stamp, was only about 90 cents per letter.
Every day she would do that and just drop them off at the office, and we’d mail them. It’s kind of too hard to get a virtual assistant to mail a yellow letter for you because they’re from the Philippines, but you can find a local assistant to do that.
The bottom line is, you just need to sit down for a little bit, think about this stuff, and write it all down step by step. Then, make sure you understand how to do it, and you can do it yourself first. Then, you can train, like do a little video of you doing that stuff, and Screencast-o-matic, Screenr, or Jing, and you put that video on the document and then that’s done. You’ve created a system. You’ve created a system now for all your marketing. It can be the same with HUD. Once you know how to submit an offer on HUD, you know the fields, the website you need to go to and how to fill in the fields and how you keep track of it all on a spreadsheet.
For the beginning investor, I can understand how that kind of sounds overwhelming, like “Oh my gosh, I just want to flip one deal. I just want to flip my first deal.” Starting off, you’re not going to be at this level. Don’t worry about getting a virtual assistant if you’re just trying to do your first deal. Once you learn how to flip a deal, or once you learn how to do the marketing yourself, it’s relatively easy to create that little system like I said, and then give that to a VA to do.
Now, in that onehourleads.com course, I did that for the Craigslist stuff and for a few other things too we talked about in there, where you can watch those videos in the documents and just give them to your virtual assistant, and they can start doing that for you. Did I lose you, or are you still there?
JP: No, I’m here. I had myself muted because there girls turned on the Frozen soundtrack, and I didn’t want it to bleed through into the conversation.
Joe: You were snoring.
JP: No. No.
Joe: I know.
JP: Quite literally had, “Let it go …” going on in the background. That’s right, 2 girls, we get a lot of Frozen in this household.
Joe: Oh, boy. It’s still better than the Lego movie soundtrack, the song, what is it? “Everything is awesome …”
JP: I’ve heard about that, but our kids didn’t have any interest in the Lego movies, so I was spared that one.
Joe: You’ve got to be grateful … “Everything is Awesome”
JP: You’ve got to start out with a plan, a marketing plan, and that plan is your blueprint. That is the step-by-step, and so you have to invest the time and the effort to create that. Then, you take that plan, and rather than trying to execute that plan yourself, you begin executing that plan yourself while simultaneously documenting every step of what you’re doing in a checklist format and a video.
Before you sit down and you do X, Y, Z, you write X, Y, Z on a Board Document or a Yellow Pad, or whatever, and you start bullet pointing out the steps, and then you record yourself doing that and talking and explaining it for whoever it is that you’re going be handing that off to, assuming that every piece of it, you’re going to be handing off. That’s the systematize part of it.
Joe: Yeah. You need to think big. You need to take a look at your list and think, how can I get somebody else to do all of this for me?
JP: Mm-hmm. (affirmative) I think one of the biggest limiting beliefs, and I know I struggled with this for years and I still often struggle with it is, if something is going to be done right, I’m going to have to be the one to do it because otherwise they’re only going to do it like 70 or 80 percent as good, and I don’t know that I can tolerate that. What’s your response to that?
Joe: Well, we’ve talked about this in our Mastermind. Done is the new perfect.
Joe: We all struggle with that a little bit, but sometimes you’ve just got to let it go. As horrible as this sounds, if it’s good enough for government work, it’s good enough. My point is, even if it’s just 80 percent complete, that’s better than nothing. If you wait until it’s perfect, you’re just never going to get out there. Now, I’m not saying you should settle for 80 percent complete, but just get 80 percent done, get it out there, and then fix it and adjust it later on as you go.
JP: Here’s another important piece to this too I think. We’re describing a pretty big … For somebody who hasn’t created or implemented something like that before, we’re describing a pretty big undertaking in terms of such a big marketing plan. You create the plan, but you create it … It’s kind of like you eat the elephant one bite at a time; you create the plan one piece at a time. If it’s too overwhelming for you, just create just a marketing plan for Craigslist and then stop if you need to, and then systematize that. Then, move onto the out-tasking, to the delegation, and then move on if you need to from that point.
After you’ve kind of gone through that process with a smaller piece and proven yourself that that’s what it takes to do it, then add in the postcards piece or the yellow letters piece, if that’s an easier to swallow approach I think. As you begin to feel overwhelmed by any part of that, just remember 2 things. One, eat the elephant one bite at a time. Two, you only have to go through this process once because once you’ve gone through it, then it’s all systematized. You’ve got the plan. You’ve got the systems.
If one employee doesn’t work, another one will because it’s all systematized. It’s a matter of plugging into the system that you’ve created. Then, that’s when you’re a business owner.
Joe: Well, the other thing that this is important, JP, is people need to get realistic expectations of the work that’s involved. You can’t just sit in your underwear and push a couple buttons and expect to make millions of dollars in real estate. It takes work. It takes marketing. Unless you understand that, if you want to make 250,000 dollars a year, okay, break that down. You have to talk to 10 sellers every day. Do you have the time for that? Okay? “Well, maybe I don’t want to talk to the sellers. I don’t want to talk to any sellers.” All right, well, that’s fine. Who do you need on your team to talk to those sellers then for you?
You may have to send out a thousand post cards a week. Well, All right. I can’t afford that right now, so I just got to figure out some of the cheaper forms of marketing. I can’t do everything that I want to do, so maybe they’re not ready for postcards yet. Why don’t I do just some handwritten yellow letters by myself or do some more bandit signs or make offers on MLS.
As you start doing more deals and start making profits, take 15 percent of your profits and reinvest it into marketing, and it will just start growing and expanding. It serves as a reality check. Think, “All right. I want to do all of this business. I have to have 3 VAs. Do I really want 3 virtual assistants to do all of this for me?”
It’s thinking about, “All right. How much money can I make?” That’s exciting, but you also need to step back and look at how much is this going to cost me, and are my goals realistic? Is this something that I really want to take on? Does that make sense?
JP: Yeah. It does. Let’s invest the rest of our conversation here now just focusing on the virtual assistant side of it because there’s some … I think there’s some challenges people have with the idea of hiring a virtual assistant at all from the Philippines. Let’s just get that out there. We’re talking specifically about the Philippines. You could hire virtual assistants from other places, but for reasons we don’t have time to go into right now, the Philippines tends to be a great place to get virtual assistants.
There’s some intimidation of that. There’s some mental roadblocks you have to overcome, and there are some legitimate caveats and things you need to be aware of when hiring from the Philippines. First question that comes to my mind is, for the plan we just walked through that you just gave us as an example, how many virtual assistants would an investor need? 1 or 3 or 2 or 10, what, in order to execute that plan?
Joe: Oh, 1, easy.
JP: Okay, so 1 virtual assistant. What would you expect someone to pay on either an hourly or a monthly basis, and are we talking full time, part time?
Joe: I flip-flop on this. Sometimes I may only need 1 VA, but I’ll hire 2 part timers.
The longer I do this, the more I like having just 1 dedicated full time VA that’s only working for me. One of the advantages to oDesk is you can find some good VAs, a lot of them. Most of those VAs though are working for multiple people at the same time. You can’t blame them because they’re just more of a project based virtual assistance. They’re just working with somebody that needs them for a couple of hours a week.
JP: Even if your hired them for 40 hours a week, they’re probably still working for other people in more time than that.
Joe: Right. Right. Now, I had VAs that I started off hourly, and I pulled them away from oDesk, and I’m paying them full time, still through oDesk, but I make sure they’re not working for anybody else. oDesk is real good to find the hourly based, project based virtual assistants that are maybe just doing onesie, a little twosie projects for you here and there, or maybe a couple hours a day, something like that.
I would rather find somebody who’s dedicated only to me, only working for me and nobody else. You can find a really good, full time, dedicated virtual assistant for 500 bucks a month. One of my favorite places to go is virtualstafffinder.com
JP: Yeah. I’ve used them. I like them.
Joe: To find those kinds of … Yeah. They’ll give you 3 pre-qualified VAs.
Chris Ducker, the guy who runs that company, I’ve talked to him a little bit. I don’t get any money from referring people to him, but he’s a good guy, real good guy.
JP: They are basically a headhunter for guys like us who need Filipino virtual assistants, so they … You tell them what kind of person you need, what skills, how many hours, and a pay range, and then they advertise in the Philippines and bring … They probably have a lot of people who are looking for jobs too with them because they’re known for that, but they filter; they screen through and find what they feel like are the 3 most likely candidates, and then they present them to you. You pay a onetime fee of I think 400 bucks.
JP: If you don’t like any of the 3 people they give you, I think they’ll rinse and repeat one more time for free and bring your 3 fresh new candidates without any additional charge. I hired my first Filipino through them.
Joe: Yeah. Yeah. They’ll do some pre-screening themselves, and they’ll do some initial interviewing to make sure they meet your qualifications. Even after you hire somebody, and if they don’t work out after a couple weeks or even a month, you can tell them, and they’ll get you 3 more.
The last time I did it, I hired 2 of the 3, and they’re still working for me full time, and I pay them through PayPal, so you don’t pay them through Virtual Staff Finder. You just pay them through PayPal or something.
JP: Do you happen to have like a quick punch list of skills, qualifications, or like a job description that you use for the type of virtual assistant that we’re talking about here that you could just rattle through real quick?
Joe: Yeah. They just need to be good with spreadsheets and databases, internet, online research … There’s different kinds of VAs. Sometimes I want a VA that has really good spoken English because I want them to do some phone calls for me, so that’s different, higher quality, pay a little more for that kind of VA. Then, there’s VAs that will work kind of more my teaching, coaching business, my education business. I might have them do some more re-purposing of my content, help me with blog posts and podcasts and stuff like that.
My real estate stuff, I’m mainly looking for … I’ll never talk to them on the phone or on Skype, so I don’t care how poor their English is, I just give them simple tasks to do online. Most of my VAs fall into that category. I pay anywhere from 2 dollars an hour to 3.50 an hour, about 500 dollars a month for those VAs. They’re really good.
JP: What about the ones who need to be good at English for phone calls and things like that what do …?
Joe: Yeah. Usually it’s 5 to 7 dollars an hour, about 5 bucks an hour. I’ve a real good guy. I pay 4.75 an hour too right now, and I give him a hundred dollar bonus per deal. He’s real good. You talk to him, and you can’t really tell he’s from the Philippines.
JP: Okay. Hundred dollar bonus per deal is a big deal for them, a really big deal.
Joe: Oh yeah. Yeah it is. Just like employees in the US, you need to really treat with respect. You need to manage them. You need to monitor their work. You need to give them clear goals and expectations. You need to monitor what they’re doing. The biggest mistake I think a lot of people make when they’re finding virtual assistants is they don’t clearly define what the VA is supposed to do upfront, and they don’t manage the VAs. They give them some work to do, and then they check up on them every couple weeks, or they check up on them in a month, and they realize they’ve been doing it wrong the whole time. Then, they get really upset and frustrated.
A lot of times the VA won’t understand, but they’re too afraid to ask questions. It’s really important you give them simple tasks, stuff that you can monitor and check on every day; are they doing it? Then, just communicate with them and show them the right way to do it and modify it as you go.
I heard a lot of people complain about VAs. I just have never had that problem. I have had problems of VAs just quitting, dropping off the planet, and most of those VAs come from oDesk because they just get too busy. They take on too many, or I’m paying them 3 bucks an hour, and somebody hires them for 4 bucks an hour.
I’ve had way more success than failures with VAs and it’s because I give them clear descriptions, clearly defined goals. I show them what I want. I show them my results in advance. “These are the results that I want.” It’s easy for me to go in and check on them every day and manage that process to make sure that they’re doing it right.
JP: What I’ve heard and what I’ve experienced in working with virtual assistants from overseas is it’s much more important with them, because English is their second language, even if their English is good, it’s much more important that you give them very clear systems, which you’ve already described how to create, a very clear step-by-step, here’s what you need to do, and here’s how you need to do it. If you leave the “How” up to them, then you create number 1, room for misinterpretation, and 2, it’s frustrating for them because they’re not already immersed in our industry, in our lingo, in our world, and even our western north American thinking, so the less you leave up to question in terms of how they need to do their job, the better the output is going to be.
They want to do exactly what you want to do. Filipinos, one of the big pluses with Filipinos is they have a fantastic work ethic, just generally, like culturally, they have a fan-, Obviously they’re still individuals, and they’re going to vary, but their culture has a very strong core of work ethic, so they want to do a good job, and they want to work hard for you … They want to be there for the long haul too because a lot of times in the Philippines, working full time from home for a big American company, is a prestigious thing as well. They’re motivated to … You just need to be very, very clear with them in what you expect of them.
I’ve also found it can be … This happened to me when I first started hiring virtual assistants. It can be frustrating. I want to trust people to a fault. I want to say, “Here’s the hours that you work, and let me know when you need help.” What I’ve found instead is, in addition to saying “Here’s the hours that you work” I also don’t want to wonder if they’re actually there or not. I can’t obviously check very easily, so I’ve asked my virtual assistants just each day … It’s just kind of like clocking in. Each day when you hop in, just shoot me an email that says, “Hey boss. I’m in for the day” or whatever. Then, once they’re ready to check out for the day, you say “Hey. I’m done.”
In that final email that they send, I want them to answer 3 questions for me. What did you do today, not in long detail, but like bullet points, “Here’s what I accomplished.” What did you accomplish today? What problems did you encounter today? The third question is, what can I do, me, John Paul, what can I do to make your job easier?
Those 3 questions gets them pro- … Having that as part of their job, it keeps an ongoing communication. I don’t have to wonder when they’re in, when they’re not in, and I don’t have to wonder if they’re encountering problems and too embarrassed to tell me about it because I’m asking them to tell me every day what they encountered so that I can come up with solutions for them. That’s what I want to do. You have to kind of give some … That’s how you manage an overseas employee in a way that gives them the space and the time to communicate with you and not feel embarrassed to do so. That’s been my experience at least.
Do you have any of your own version of that, Joe?
Joe: That’s really, really good. I don’t do that as much as I should, like have them email me every day, a kind of a status update. I do have them do like a time sheet in Podio, but I like the email idea better. There’s a software that I heard about from this guy that does that for you …
JP: WorkTimer? There’s one called WorkTimer that you can use.
Joe: I don’t … Oh yes, here it is. 15Five.com
The number, 1-5-F-I-V-E. 1-5-F-I-V-E.com
If you have a large team or a large number of VAs, this is a really, really cool product. I learned about this from Kent Clothier. Kent uses this for his team. He’s got quite a few number of businesses and people from all over the world. What it does is it kind of boosts engagement between your team, drives an alignment … I’m using words from their website here.
Employees spend about 15 minutes responding to questions every day on a website. They go to a website. They click a link, and it asks them certain questions like, “What’s going well in your work this week? What’s not going well this week?” Then, managers can spend about 5 minutes reviewing and responding. That’s what the “15Five” comes from. Employees spend about 15 minutes a day at the end of the day just answering 3 or 4 questions, just like you said, what am I working on, what are some road blocks, what’s working well, whatever.
The manager can look at that whole report in about 5 minutes and can respond or just get a feel for what’s going on. They have a free 30 day trial.
I’m looking at this thinking, “I need to do something like this. This looks really good.” It just helps … You be more effective. You know the pulse of your business; what’s going on? They also feel appreciated that they’re feeling heard. You’re not waiting until a week or 2 or a month later when there’s a problem. Does that make sense?
JP: Yeah. It does. Thank you for sharing that resource. I’m going to look into that myself because my entire team is remote. They live all over the place. I’ve got a couple in Argentina. I’ve got actually 2 that live in the Memphis area, but they don’t work here in … I work out of my home. Nobody else works here but me, so we’re all very remote, so I’m intrigued by that.
I’m curious, do you feel the need to have an actual in-person meeting with any regularity with your team when you have multiple virtual assistants or just multiple team members period. I do, myself. We have a weekly Skype meeting, and everybody …
JP: If somebody can’t make it because they’re on vacation or something, that’s fine, but otherwise the expectation is everybody is going to be there for at least an hour, and I run the show on that. We use teamwork.com to manage our entire company. I have a notebook in Teamwork that serves as our agenda, and that’s kind of my one big synchronization meeting with everybody, my one big sync up. Do you do anything like that?
Joe: No. I should. One of the tools that I really like is Trello. Have you heard of Trello?
JP: I have heard of it, and I’ve looked at it, but I haven’t experimented with using it. Tell me about it.
Joe: It does the same thing Teamwork PM does, but it’s just different. You have a board in front of you with cards on the board, and each project is … I forget what they call it … What’s the phrase? … Check out Trello … What is it? It’s like there’s a board with cards. It’s kind of hard to explain-
JP: No. I remember what you’re talking about, and it was just a different approach to project management. Each column is maybe a phase of … Maybe each column is a project or something, and you drag and drop these cards around. It’s very visual.
Joe: Yes. Yes. That what it is. That’s a good way to describe it. It’s a visual project management tool. You can create these new cards, and you can turn them into checklists and keep notes and assign people to responsibilities, so you can see … You have a stack of cards for maybe doing like “Planned,” “Doing,” and “Done,” for example, simple example.
All of your cards are in the “Planned” area, and you can drag them over to “Doing” when that little project starts. Inside of that card, you have your checklists of things that need to be done in your notes. You can tag it, and you can assign responsibility to things.
Then, you can drag it from “Doing” to “Done” when that stuff gets done. It’s a good tool, and it’s very mobile friendly. There’s really good Android and iPhone apps. Teamwork PM is good for the engineering type, analytical … They don’t like tables and charts and graphs. They just want to see it on a checklist or something. Trello is more for a visual type of a thing.
JP: Yeah. It’s funny because I’m a very creative person, but I think in checklists. I think in bullet points and sub-bullets. When I looked at Trello, I was intrigued by it, but it didn’t click right. I just couldn’t see myself without a notable learning curve jumping into it, but at the time, we were very entrenched in Basecamp. It was good. I mean Basecamp is a good system, but I think actually you’re the person who told me about Teamwork.
Joe: Yeah. I used to use it.
JP: I looked at it and was like, “Wow. That’s like Basecamp on steroids,” so we made the transition. At this point, we are very entrenched in Teamwork and really, really like it. Yeah. I’m not switching to Trello. Not right now, my team would kill me after working so hard to get everything set up in Teamwork.
Joe: Yes. Stick with it man. Teamwork PM is good. I liked it a lot better than Basecamp when I was looking at it.
JP: They actually bought teamwork.com. They used to be teamworkpm.com, but they bought teamwork.com a few months ago, so which is great for branding.
Joe: Yeah. Very good.
JP: All right. Well, we are at the top or the bottom of the hour depending on how you look at it. I always get that confused. We’re out of time in other words.
JP: Joe. I think we’ve done our job here. I feel like we’ve really dug in and explored this idea of how to realistically go about taking all of this marketing and turning it into something that is outsourceable to a virtual assistant. Actually, outsource is not the right word to use there. If you look at what outsourcing means, it’s taking work out of your company and hiring another company or something to do it or freelancer. What we’re talking about here is bringing a virtual assistant into your team who it serves as a specialist and arming them, not only with a plan that you crafted, one and done, but also with the training, step-by-step, which you did one time, and then handing that to them and managing them with that.
I think we’ve done an effective job in my opinion of busting through the limiting beliefs that it can’t be done because a lot of investors would tell you, me once upon a time included in this, that you can hire virtual assistants to do certain types of things, but you can’t really outsource your marketing fully to a virtual assistant. It’s just too specialized and too important and all the reasons that you have now dispelled as myths.
JP: You know what we didn’t do? Give everybody a quick snapshot and let’s wrap with this. How much marketing are you doing right now through this system, this systematized plan of attack, this run by your virtual assistance … How much marketing are you doing, and how many leads are you bringing in as a result of that, and how many deals are you doing as a result of that, ballpark?
Joe: Well, okay. My personal, my own business, I am sending out … I do my own deals, and I have a marketing services business where we do marketing for our clients. In our marketing services business, I don’t know. We send out 15-, 20,000 postcards a week, maybe.
I know I’m going to screw this up. 2,000 a month … No. We’re sending about 30,000 postcards a month. We’re sending about 30,000 postcards a month. We do that every 2 weeks. For St. Louis, where I’m doing deals here, we send out about 2,000 postcards … We just started sending out 2,000 postcards a week. We just started doing that. We’re doing some maybe 20 yellow letters a day. I’m not spending much time doing Craigslist right now, and for the simple reason, I’ve just been too busy to kind of start doing that again, but I’m going to be doing that.
We’re probably averaging 5 to 10 deals a month.
JP: At an average profit margin of ..? Ballpark it.
Joe: 7 grand.
JP: All right. Guys, that’s Joe living the dream.
Joe: Well, I’m starting to expand in other markets because … Here’s the powerful thing. Once you’ve got this figured out, it’s so easy to just duplicate in the new markets.
Joe: I’m starting to grow and expand into about 4 or 5 other markets right now, partnering with other wholesalers, and I’m super excited about that. That’s something I’m really excited about.
JP: No doubt. All right Joseph, thank you. I really appreciate it. As always, I enjoy doing these things with you man, and it’s always a lot of fun, and I mean, deliver a lot of value, which is … A big part of my own personal core value is giving as much value as I can to my friends and my colleagues in the world around me.
Moguls, thanks for tuning in. I really appreciate it. I love doing these calls with you, and I hope that you get as much value of them as is there to be had. Let’s call this one a wrap. This is JP and Joe out.
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