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REIM 098 In this episode, our guest – for real – blows my mind with the amazingly inventive things he’s doing in his REI business. I am not exaggerating… Robert Nickell is that awesome.

Robert and I met at Mastermind, and this guy is averaging about 8 deals a month. What’s cool about Robert is that he actually has a construction background and he’s a licensed Realtor.

But he gets better… he runs a company that trains VAs for other investors. He basically outsourced his outsourcing. Don’t worry, he’ll explain all about that and why systems rule; why VAs rule – and how having all that properly in place has changed his life.

Two more things to whet your appetite – he shares with us an awesome idea that I think is absolutely flipping brilliant! And Robert talks about the tactic that he says never works.

Get ready for your mind to be blown, friends…

Listen and enjoy:

What's inside:

  • 5:55 – Robert explains how he trains VAs to work for other investors
  • 9:20 – Robert talks about his REI experience
  • 17:08 – Robert talks about how he got started in Fortune Builders workshops
  • 21:20 – The challenges and strategies Robert encountered when he first began REI
  • 31:35 – The difference between just doing the process and really understanding what you're doing
  • 37:45 – The tasks that Robert’s VAs do
  • 54:08 – Factors that determine which tasks you should have VAs doing
  • 1:01:50 – Why Robert likes having live people answers calls instead of voicemails
  • 1:04:55 – Some other tasks that Robert has his VAs

Mentioned in this episode:



Download episode transcript in PDF format here…

Joe:      Welcome! This is the Real Estate Investing Mastery Podcast.

Hey, everybody. Welcome! This is the Real Estate Investing Mastery Podcast. In my opinion, the best podcast about real estate investing in the world. No, I'm just kidding. There are… We are really good. But, not to toot my own horn, there's a lot of really other good podcasts out there as well. I'm just really glad you're listening to us. And, I've got a great guest on the show today. His name is Robert Nickell and we're going to be talking a lot about systems, about outsourcing, and give you some really good actionable advice and tips on how to get good VAs. How to find good VAs that are already trained? I'm excited about this because this is one of… some of the biggest questions that I get from my clients is, “How do I get good virtual assistants?” “How do I find people that will answer the phones, return phone calls, make offers, do marketing for me, and do my social media stuff or whatever?” So, Robert's going to be talking a lot about that.

I just want to let you guys know. First, if you go to RealEstateInvestingMastery.com, we've got a Free Fast Cash Survival Kit. You've heard me talk about it before. If you haven't got it yet, why not? It's free. And again, like we always say, if you don't like it, we'll give you your money back. But, in that Fast Cash Survival Kit, we pull back the curtain and show you how we do deals. Alex and I… How we do deals in our own markets virtually, how we do our marketing, how we use our virtual assistants, and how I flip lease options. And, it's really cool! You're going to get a lot out of it. You're going to enjoy it. The other thing I want to tell you is, “Thank you!” for leaving us reviews. I'm going to read a couple reviews here in iTunes. It really means the world to us when you leave us reviews. And, if you go back about 5, 10 episodes, there was a podcast episode that we did called “Leave A Review – Get Free Stuff!”

And if you leave us a review, and you send an e-mail to that e-mail that's in those show notes, we will actually send you some free books and free videos that are not part of the free, normal, regular bonuses that we give out. Leaving us a review helps us in the rankings in iTunes. So, whether you leave us a good review or a positive… Or, a negative review… Yeah, whether you leave us a good review or an awesome review or any kind of review, we will give you this cool stuff. So, I'm just going to read a couple of them here real quick. This is a five-star. “Awesome podcast” from Krazylizzy. She says, “I am a podcast junky, and listen to anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour and 30 minutes everyday. So, I've gone through a lot of podcasts. A lot of podcasts! I stopped listening to them because of the hype and the lack of actionable content. Not the case with Real Estate Investing Mastery Podcast. I have listened to this show for the past two years, and I still get excited when I see they have released a new one. Keep up the good work!” Thank you Krazylizzy. We appreciate that.

And, just one more here. This is “Lots of Great Advice,” five stars from Ch@t2me. “Very well done podcasts. Covers a great variety of real estate topics from the guests with lots and lots of excellent insights.” That is really cool here. Oh! One more. I got to read this one. I love this because… We're going to… This time, we're going to be talking about it here with Robert. “Just What I Was Looking For!” Five stars from beginnow. “I just learned about the term “remote wholesaling” and I am totally excited. This is exactly what I am looking for to create wealth in my real estate investing endeavors! Thank you Joe and Alex for giving me access to learning more about this avenue of investing, which will give me more freedom to work from home or travel with my family in the future. I've listened to a few of the podcasts and can't wait to devour all of them up hopefully, offering me enough information and giving me the courage to put things into action. Aloha!” That is awesome! I love it.

You've heard me talking about him in previous episodes, I think. My wife and I are actually, right now planning on going to Prague in Czech Republic again in about five months. And, we're probably going to be going for maybe six months now. We're still talking about it and praying about it, like it's a big deal, right? But, I'm so excited. I love this business because it allows us to live anywhere in the world, anywhere we want, and still do deals. And, a lot of that is because we have the systems and the outsourcing in place so that our business can run for us in spite of us. And, it is true. The less you work, the more money you'll make, if you have the right systems set up in place. And, we're going to talk about that with our guest Robert Nickell. Robert, how are you, my man?

Robert:            Good, Joe! Thanks for having me. I really appreciate you having me on.

Joe:      Thanks! I sure appreciate you being here. We met at a Mastermind that we're both a part of a month or two ago in Phoenix. And, I love going to these Masterminds because you meet some people that are just crushing it in real estate and doing some really cool things. And, you do a lot of deals, Robert. But, you also have a business where you… I almost say you outsource your outsourcing, right? Like…

Robert:            Yeah. Pretty much. Yeah.

Joe:      You have a business where you train virtual assistants and you prescreen a ton of them. And, you train them for… like a 100 something hours of real estate investing training. And then, you give them to other investors to hire. Is that right?

Robert:            Yeah! That's correct. So, we have an enormous infrastructure built around the recruitment side. You know. Talent… Getting high quality talent. Talent is one of my biggest concerns, right? They got to be able to perform. And so, we have recruitment. That recruitment goes into… We screen them in IQ tests, engine personality profiles. And then, yeah. They jump into training. So, by the time they're done with our training program, they actually have close to about 200, 240 hours of training.

Joe:      Wow! So, before you even let them loose, they have over 200 hours of training. And, you prescreen them, which is I'm so excited about it. Never heard anybody do this before. You actually send them into personality profile tests to see if… If somebody wants somebody who's good at sales, they have to have a certain personality profile. Is that right?

Robert:            Yeah. That's absolutely correct. When we get candidates into our talent pool, one of the first things we do is we put them through a really extensive DiSC profiling… DiSC profiling. I'm sure lots of your listeners have heard of that. But, the DiSC profiling is really powerful to get a really clear picture of the talent before you ever start working with them.

Joe:      Right.

Robert:            And so, what that allows for is for us to hone in on a specific individual who's really going to be successful in what we're trying to do.

Joe:      Yeah. And, you've been doing this for quite a while. We're going to talk about your investing side of your business as well because that's going to tie into your journey in creating this business. But, you still do deals, right?

Robert:            Oh, yeah. That's still the primary crux to my business. My number one money maker is still real estate, and it probably always will be.

Joe:      And, you've been doing some really cool things with FortuneBuilders organization. Is that right?

Robert:            Yeah! So, I'm definitely associated with FortuneBuilders, having coaching for them for a long time. And, FortuneBuilders actually took me from doing a few deals a year, five or six deals a year to where I am today, where I am trying to do over a hundred.

Joe:      A hundred deals a year. That's awesome!

Robert:            Thank you.

Joe:      That's about eight deals a month.

Robert:            Yeah. That's about where we're at.

Joe:      All right. So, could you do eight deals a month without good virtual assistants?

Robert:            No stinking way! Not even close.

Joe:      Right! Right. Right. Right. Well, cool. By the way, if you're ever talking to Than, try to get him on my show, would you?

Robert:            I will. I will. I'll let him know that you gave him some pretty big shout out here.

Joe:      Yeah. I'm trying to… I've been trying to get him on the show for a long time. He's a busy guy. But, shout out to anybody who knows Than Merrill. Tell him that you've got to get on Joe's podcast' Real Estate Investing Mastery, and I'd love to talk with him. He's a good guy. I have talked to him. In fact, a couple years ago, we were talking about partnering together on some coaching, and I talked to him for almost an hour. Really nice guy. And, we were talking about him starting his own podcast as well and helping him with that. But, cool! All right, Robert. So, FortuneBuilders is a great company. You probably have learned a lot of stuff about investing. Talk about your journey, like how did…? What were you doing pre-real estate days? You're a young guy. I mean, were you flipping deals in high school? I mean…

Robert:            Yes, so… Yeah. I'll give you a little bit of my background. When I'm growing up, every summer… All summer long, what I did for my jobs… You know. Summer is between school, was I work for my best friend's dad who was a general contractor. And so, I spent my summers rehabbing houses essentially. That's what we did, and not for investors. This was for homestead people, who own their properties, and they wanted a new bathroom, and they want a new kitchen, or whatever it may be. And, I work for him long enough that we got to do some really awesome projects, everything from just redoing some small bathrooms to…

The last summer I worked for him, we built a $2.5 million house. He contracted to be the builder for a $2.5 million project, which in North Texas, almost on the Oklahoma border… We're actually in Sherman, Texas. It was actually, I think, the biggest house, most expensive house in Sherman at that time. So, I had a lot of construction experience just for my summer job. I got into college, and towards my senior year at college, I was starting to realize that I had to do something in life besides playing basketball and having a good time with my friends. And so, I was trying to really focus on what I was going to do career-wise.

Joe:      Yeah.

Robert:            And, my dad was a dentist and still is. But, we lived in a small town… a real, real small town in North Texas. There's less than 6,000 people in the town. And, my dad had a really successful… And still does, a really successful dental practice. The thing about the dental practice was… And, I guess this is really common with doctors especially in small towns, is they have a hard time collecting bills.

Joe:      Hmmm.

Robert:            And for whatever reason, people don't want to pay the doctor. They think that the doctor should be the last one to get paid. You got to put new tires on your car. You got to fix your car. Whatever it may be. Your kids are sick. You don't want to pay the doctor. So, what we started was what we called “soft collection.” I helped my dad create a… It's essentially a collection agency that we just send a letter series out to people in our town that would try to get them to pay their bills. It was really soft, so we didn't offend anyone. We just let them know, “Hey. You don't pay your bills. We potentially will report to your credit,” right? So, that led into… I started working my senior year of college that… Because I started that collection agency, I got headhunted from a local agency that was running a collection agency, and it actually ended up being the largest medical debt purchaser in the world.

Joe:      Wow!

Robert:            And so, it was my entire senior year. And then, immediately after college, I was in the collection industry. And, I was managing eight call centers across the country, and I was directly responsible for about 600 people. And, I was managing those eight agencies to a monthly goal. And, I was working my tail off, and I hated my life. It was just not a… Nothing against the industry or anyone there. It's just wasn't for me.

Joe:      Yeah.

Robert:            And, I was working really hard. I was working long hours. The job was good. I had a great opportunity. I was very thankful for the opportunity, but I knew I wanted to do something else. And, I wanted to do something else sooner rather than later. So, the guy that I was working for… That was the GC. His son, like I said, was my best friend. So, I called Kurt, and I said, “Kurt, we need to flip some houses on the side because I can't do this 8:00 – 5:00 stuff forever.” And so, my buddy and I started flipping one house at a time in far North Texas. And, the first property we ever did was a guy we knew. His father had passed away. And, we bought his father's 2-bedroom, 1-bath house in Denison, Texas for $11,000.

Joe:      Hmmm.

Robert:            We would go to that property everyday at 5:00 after work. We had worked from about 5:00 to midnight. His dad would come to spotlight the houses for us, so that we can work all night long. And then, we'd go back to our corporate jobs during the day each morning, and then we'd show back up at our projects. We did everything. Everything! We ran the electrical. We ran the plumbing. I never want to be under another house again. I've ran so many pipelines and PVC lines on their properties.

Joe:      Right.

Robert:            And, installed water heaters. We would do everything, and then we have called the professionals to come tie out the permits, right? So…

Joe:      Wow!

Robert:            We wouldn't want to pay anyone to do anything because we didn't have any money, but we still have to get the permits approved. So, we would pay the professionals at the very end just to sign off on the permits and say they did it. So, we did enough properties like that to know that that's not how you do it.

Joe:      Right.

Robert:            Talk about hating your life. It's like… I went from a job to now, I've got two jobs, and I was so overwhelmed, I had no time for myself. And, I really was not happy. So, I was trying to figure out, “Well. What do I do? I got to have a job. I got to make some money. So, what am I going to do?” I was flipping about four houses a year. But again, we were doing all the work ourselves.

Joe:      What year was this?

Robert:            That was in 2008.

Joe:      Okay.

Robert:            So, in 2008. And, at that time… 2008, here in North Texas, the market never really dipped like it did in the rest of the country. So, we definitely got heard. It flatlined a little bit. But, when we went to the recession, our economy stayed pretty strong. Very, very fortunate that the North Texas' economy stayed pretty strong. So, there was still some opportunity there, and it was actually a stable market which made me feel like I was just a good investor. But really, the economy in the market was primed for me to jump into investing at that time, if that makes sense.

Joe:      Oh, yeah. Uh-huh.

Robert:            So, what we did from there was that's… I was doing about four properties a year in 2008. And I guess 2008, 2009, and then coming into 2010, I was sick of it. I was ready to get out of real estate. I was ready to get out of my job. I didn't know what I was going to do. So, I quit my job. I quit flipping houses. And, I went and got my Realtor's license. And so, I worked as a realtor for a while, thinking that was going to be the best thing for me, and it didn't take too long to not really enjoy being a realtor. My anecdotal story is what I'm always talking about. I had this client, and they were actually close family friends of mine, that I spend three and a half months driving them around. So, that was over $2,000 in gas. Everyone in Texas drives a truck, and so do I. So, I spent over $2,000 in gas. They ended up buying a for sale by owner, and not telling me, and cut me out.

Joe:      No…

Robert:            I didn't have a representation agreement with them because I thought we were buddies. And after all that work, I didn't get paid. So, I realized pretty quickly that being a realtor can be tough. It can be really tough. So, long story short, that's whenever I kind of got associated with FortuneBuilders. I heard them. He came through Dallas, which comes alive. And, I got associated with FortuneBuilders, and their whole principle is built around “The E-Myth.” Michael Gerber's “E-Myth”?

Joe:      Right.

Robert:            And, which is just around leveraging other people's time so that you can grow and scale.

Joe:      Right.

Robert:            So, I took those concepts and it really made sense. The whole FortuneBuilders' principle is to not do every single thing I was doing, right? So, they took me… They basically showed me that every single thing I was doing was wrong, and then I need to change if I wanted to improve what I was doing.

Joe:      Brilliant!

Robert:            So, I really jumped in to what they had really absorbed and I took it to heart, and I've never looked back. And, that's kind of the short story of my journey.

Joe:      So, when did you start? When was your FortuneBuilders workshop?

Robert:            My first FortuneBuilders workshop was in, I think, 2011.

Joe:      Okay. And, did you just buy their courses? Did you sign up for the workshops? What did you do?

Robert:            Yeah. So, they came around. They do some preview of them. And so, I went to a couple of their previews, and I was immediately hooked. It's mostly because their sales presentations where phenomenal. I have never seen someone control a room and facilitate a meeting the way they did. It was really wild. I was really, really impressed.

Joe:      Hmmm.

Robert:            And, I was a business and marketing in sales major in college. So, I could identify all the principle that they were doing in their sales meetings.

Joe:      Right.

Robert:            But still, I was impressed, if that makes sense. Like, I knew they were selling me, but I was still sold. It was awesome. They had some impressive stuff going. So, I went to a few of their workshops to begin with. And initially, I wanted to sign up for their program, but at that time, it was $25,000 and I didn't really have it. And so, I kind of puttered around for a little while, and I just… I would do their free stuff online. I go to their websites. They've got blogs. And, I would just read all their free stuff. And, I would go to BiggerPockets.com after I've read all the FortuneBuilders stuff, and eventually, I said, “I need to join this team.”

Joe:      Yeah.

Robert:            So eventually, I went… I actually went to my parents and I convinced them to loan me the money to join the FortuneBuilders program. And so, I guess in about mid-2011, is when I officially signed up for that program, and I just… I haven't looked back since.

Joe:      Well. A lot of people think of that… They look at that price tag and think, “You crazy!” But, let me just ask you a simple question. Have you made your investment back?

Robert:            The first deal I did, Joe… my first wholesale, I made $20 grand. So, I pretty much got my whole investment back in the first wholesale since I was a member of FortuneBuilders.

Joe:      Right. And, it is expensive. But, I will tell you this. The best real estate that you'll ever invest in is the four inches in between your ears. I'm a firm believer in education, and getting it from somebody who knows what they're talking about. He's actually doing deals, right?

Robert:            Yeah. And, I'll add to that a little bit, if you don't mind.

Joe:      Uh-huh.

Robert:            It's not just the education, but it's the coaching as well. So, you can educate yourself all day long, but it's still from your perspective, right? You're still bouncing the ideas surrounding your head. What really helped me was embracing this idea of coaching, letting these coaches really kick me in the tail and light a fire under my butt and hold me accountable. And, that's really what took me to the next level. So, educating myself and then being coachable… Those were the two most valuable things I've ever got.

Joe:      That's really good. And, it doesn't have to be a large national coaching company.

Robert:            Oh. Absolutely not, Joe. A lot of the best coaches are right there in your own market.

Joe:      Uh-huh. So… But, you got to get a coach. That's my point.

Robert:            I agree.

Joe:      And, I often talk about the 3M's to success – our marketing, momentum and getting a mentor. Marketing is obviously where it all starts. And, there's something you have said about momentum. You do the marketing. You do it consistently. You're persistent with it. You're constantly doing the marketing. Getting the phone to ring. Practicing getting better. Building that momentum. Doing the follow-up. And then, getting a mentor to help you with that process, that journey… So, if you make a mistake… Well, they'll help you avoid the mistakes. And, they help you see the hidden doors or the traps that you might otherwise get in trouble with. But, having a coach, having a mentor… My point is this. It's super, super critical! And, whether you're an intern, whether you're in sports, whether you're in… No matter what kind of business you're in, everybody needs a coach. It's so important. So okay, Robert. Now, you're in FortuneBuilders. You start… What kind of strategy did you lean towards? Was it rehabbing or wholesaling?

Robert:            Yeah. When I very first started, I was having issues. I'm still pretty young. But at that time, I was really young. I'm in my early 20s when I first started. So, recruiting money, recruiting funding from private lenders was not the easiest task to begin with. They all just looked at me like I was a joke, asking them for money. So, the first strategy I really implemented was wholesaling. And, what that allowed me to do is actually the best thing that ever happened to me even though I wanted to jump right in to rehabbing.

I had the experience from contracting. I've done a lot of rehabs myself before. I have zero fear around taking on projects like that, mostly because I knew how to analyze a project. I knew how much it would cost. I knew all the fees associated on the sell side. So really, evaluating it, a deal was… I was totally confident in that from… pretty early on. But, what happened again was I didn’t have any funds to do any rehabs. So, I really jumped into wholesaling. And, the reason that worked out so well for me was it took my networking to the next level. Because in order to sell all these properties that was coming across, I had to build my buyers list. Well, how did I build my buyers list? I started by going to every local REIA group, right? Your real estate investment groups.

Joe:      Yeah.

Robert:            I started cold calling every single person I could that had a name because I signed up for every person's list. I opted into every list I could possibly opt into. And here in Dallas, gurus are dime a dozen, right? There's a million meetups. There's a million groups. There's a million different gurus out there. So, I just started cold calling every single one of them. And, I was trying to learn as much as I could. I was trying to build my buyers list. I am just trying to get involved. And so, wholesaling really allowed me to build a foundation, create consistent revenue, build the buyers list, and really build a stable business. And from there, I could kind of show and prove that I was trustworthy. I've proved I had a valuable business which really allowed me to raise money. So, I started with wholesaling. It was my foundation. It's not what I wanted to do. In my own mind, “I was a rehabber. I wanted to jump right in rehabs. Screw this wholesale stuff. I'm a rehabber!”

Joe:      Yeah.

Robert:            And, I was kind of forced into wholesaling. It ended up being the best thing that could have ever happened to me.

Joe:      So, do you do much rehab now? Or, are you still doing mostly wholesaling?

Robert:            I rehab about 10% of the deals I do.

Joe:      Oh.

Robert:            So, not a whole lot rehabbing, mostly wholesaling.

Joe:      Nice. And, I think that is important to think about. Because, I remember when I got started thinking, “Wholesaling. Yeah. It's not sexy enough.” I want to do the big deals. I want the big $30,000, $40,000 profit deals. And so, I was also buying and holding property. I was trying to do rehabs. Although, every rehab I've done, I've lost money on. Actually, quite spectacularly did I lose money on those.

Robert:            I don't mean to laugh at you, Joe. But, I just… I think we can all relate.

Joe:      Yeah.

Robert:            We got to a point where it's a little bit funny for all of us.

Joe:      Right! Well, it was when my back was against the wall, that I thought, “You know what? I need to figure out this wholesaling thing,” because you can't eat equities, right? I have properties with equity in it. Actually that, a few years later disappeared when the market crashed. But, you can't eat equities. You got to know how to make cash, and you have to learn how to make cash fast.

Robert:            Yes.

Joe:      So, when I started wholesaling, sure enough, I started making money, and realized, “You know what? The same amount of time that it takes me to rehab a deal and make money and all the moving parts that are involved with that – the banks, the buyers, the realtors, the lenders, and the inspectors. All of these moving parts that you have to worry about – the city, with the permits and the contractors. And, you could make good money on a rehab deal. But, the same amount of time that it takes you to rehab that deal, with all the headaches and hassles involved of that, you could wholesale three, four, five deals and make the same amount of money with a lot less work and be in and out of it really quick.” So, you have to ask yourself, “Would you rather make a quick nickel or a slow dime?”

Robert:            Yeah. And, Joe, not to interject something here, but one of the great things that happened when I started consistently wholesaling… And, you've talked about marketing and being consistent with your marketing. That concept changed my life because when I started consistently marketing…

Joe:      Yeah.

Robert:            …Which allowed me to consistently wholesale, my personal life improved dramatically, because when I was rehabbing, I would make a ton of money. And then, I'll go three months without collecting a check.

Joe:      Right.

Robert:            And then, I would make a ton of money on a couple deals. And, I was riding this roller coaster of success, and my wife was about ready to push me over the cliff. There was so much inconsistency in what I was earning, that even though it was significantly more than average person made, it was still so inconsistent that my personal life really struggled. It was really hard to come home every day and explain to my wife why I make a lot of money one month, then none on the next. Wholesaling, by having consistent revenue, it dramatically improved my personal life as well. My marriage improved because my business was improving. And, I know that might sound silly, but it was so true for me.

Joe:      That's interesting! It is true because… And, that's why… That relates to the thing about momentum that I was talking about, right? You've got to have the momentum going because… Most of us, when we have a problem in our business with cash flow, it's because we're not doing enough marketing. Marketing almost fixes all of your problems because if you're doing a lot of marketing, you're getting a lot of leads. And then, you can just cherry pick the best easiest deals to do.

Robert:            Any investor who doesn't see themselves as a marketer is in the world of hurt.

Joe:      Right!

Robert:            We are marketers as investors. Our vehicle is just so happens to be real estate. But, we are marketers.

Joe:      Well said. Really well said. All right. So, you're doing the marketing consistently. You start to wholesale a lot of deals. And, your wife is starting to like you more…

Robert:            Yup.

Joe:      …Because you're not going through these huge swings and these big valleys.

Robert:            Exactly.

Joe:      But, I bet… I imagine pretty early on, you realized, “Look. I understand the importance of marketing. But, if I don't get somebody else to do this for me, it's just not going to get done.” So, talk about your journey on realizing how much, how important it was to get virtual assistants to help you with this.

Robert:            Yeah. That's crazy. Because I would do is I would send… For example, a yellow letter batch, and I was getting to do some direct mail. I got it all together, and I had someone handwrite the envelopes. I have Craigslist ads for people to do the fulfillment or fold stuff, stamp these letters, and send them out. When I would send 500 letters and the phone would start ringing. So, I would have to stop sending letters and answer all these calls, do the evaluation, and go look at all these properties. And now, I'm two weeks down the road, and I haven't sent any marketing, and the phone's not ringing. So now, I pay someone to get the letters together. We've got them all back going. We have dropped them in the mail. And then, I would do the same process over and over again. So, I was just going up and down, up and down, up and down. I have had leads coming in but it was so inconsistent because without the consistent lead flow, I was just… I was constantly jumping. I would turn the marketing machine on and then, I turn it off. Turn it on. Turn it off.

Joe:      Yup.

Robert:            And, what happened was… When I turned it off, it took me literally a couple weeks after I turned it back on to recover from turning it off.

Joe:      Yup.

Joe:      And so, even though it felt like I was sending marketing out like once a month, it was actually hurting me significantly more than even that because it wasn't out all the time. But, I couldn't handle the lead flow, and I didn't really know what to do. But, I have… I'm licensed as a realtor and there's a local investor in my market who I got to know pretty well and we're now…. He's one of my best friends. But at that time, he was a rehabber and he had a successful brokerage. And, I showed up in his office one day and we started growing the brokerage together and really working together. And one day, I couldn't figure out how we were getting so much work on in the brokerage with only a few of us. We were just blowing and going inside the brokerage, and there were tons of things being done, and I had no idea how they were being done. My broker was leveraging virtual assistants.

Joe:      Hmmm.

Robert:            And, he had gone to a Mastermind where… I think it may have been Gary Keller from Keller Williams, had discussed this concept of using virtual assistants in your brokerage to really take it to the next level. So, you can have a closing coordinator. You can have a listing coordinator. You can have admins that do all of this different stuff. So, I started evaluating what my broker was doing. I took one of the virtual assistants that we had worked with in the brokerage, and I started training him to work for me. And, the first VA I've ever had was… I would get him going. I think that he had everything he needed, and he would send me an e-mail back with a million questions. And so, I spent about eight weeks one-on-one on Skype with my VA, beating my head against the wall trying to get him up to speed.

Joe:      Hmmm.

Robert:            After about eight or nine weeks, he was good! He was actually really freaking good. And, he was better than I was at most of the stuff I was doing – cold calling, answering the phone, data build… like just building lists and researching.

Joe:      Yeah.

Robert:            Because, I would get tired researching or pulling the lists, and then he would just blow and go. He never even looked up. He was just crushing it. So, I have one VA that was doing pretty well, and I wanted a second one. But, I don't want to train him. I was like, “I don't want to go through that again at all.” So I said, “Dennis, I'm going to bring someone on and get you some help. And, I want you to train him.” So, Dennis brought on a VA and started training him. But the thing was, Dennis still did not really understand investing well enough to teach someone how we're doing things, right?

Joe:      Right.

Robert:            There's a difference in just doing the process and really understanding what you're doing. And, what I mean by that… An example is, if you're answering the phone from the seller, you need to ask the right questions. And, you need to be an active listener to understand what that lead is telling you. You've got to be able to gauge motivation. So, whenever they're telling you information, you've got to be able to analyze and decipher, and what does that mean? And, what are actionable items as a result of that motivational level? What's our next step? And so, if this person didn't really understand or couldn't conceptualize what we're trying to accomplish as investors, then they're really weren't worth that much to me answering the phone or working with leads. And, I didn't want just the call center to fill out a little bit of information for me, because then I'm still doing all the work. It was no difference. And, I was just having someone that's answering the phone, but then I still have to do all the work. And so eventually, I created a really robust training program just internally for what I was doing.

Joe:      Yeah.

Robert:            Because, I was going crazy not having systems. I mean, talk about beating my head against the wall. It was… When everything was in my head and then trying to get that out to my team was just awful! I mean, it was horrible! And so, by having VAs and having to train people in my business, it forced me to micro mind map my business. And, what I mean by that is I had to map out every phase of my business step-by-step, what did it take to accomplish every single thing in my business. And, until I had that micro mind map, outsourcing was a nightmare, right? Because, I don't even really understand my own business to teach someone how to do these things.

Joe:      Right.

Robert:            And so, once I've mind mapped my business and got some VAs going… Honestly, it changed my life. And, that sounds a little cliché, but it really did. It changed my life. It changed my business. Because what it allowed me to do was focus on driving the bus. I had people in the back now running all the insulator tests, doing the day-to-day things that they needed to accomplish to run my business. But, I could focus on growth. I could focus on new marketing ideas. I could focus on creating better assistance. And so, it literally changed my day-to-day as an investor. What am I now responsible for? I'm responsible for driving the bus and that's where I needed to be anyways, and that's what VAs allowed me to do right out of the gate.

Joe:      Nice. Well. I like the fact that… Because a lot of people complain about VAs. “Ah. I don't have much success in VAs.” or “They don't work for me.” And immediately, when I hear somebody complain about that, it's usually 99% of the time… Maybe, that's a little high. But, it's usually because they have no trained the VA or they haven't figured out their own systems. They haven't written or designed the systems that they need to get the VA to that stuff. So, if you don't even know what you're doing… If you don't have the systems in place, then how can you VA know that stuff? And, how can they do it themselves? And, when you have the right systems in place, you can give them defined goals and defined targets, can't you? These are the results that I want to have. And, I need to have these by 5 o'clock everyday. And then, this is how you go do it. Does that make sense?

Robert:            Super well said! Very well said. And, I totally agree with that.

Joe:      Cool. All right. So, you start training VAs for your own business. And, how did that open up to becoming… I want to talk about what you have the VAs do here in a minute. But, to follow along this train of thought, how did that open up to you now are having…? How many VAs do you have working for your now?

Robert:            Uh… Well. Between the two businesses, the brokerage and my investing business…

Joe:      Yeah.

Robert:            And so, my investing business is in two cities, Houston and Dallas. And then, I've got the brokerage in North Texas. So, between… really, between… It's two businesses, three cities. We have five VAs going full-time.

Joe:      Nice! Okay. Now, in your business where you outsource your VAs, how many VAs do you have in that business?

Robert:            Yeah. We're at like 680 right now, I think.

Joe:      680?! That's awesome. All right. So, you're making… It seems like you're doing some really good things. You're doing some traditional wholesaling investing type of stuff. You're also doing traditional realtor type of stuff. And, you have a business where you're now giving people your VAs to train in the same systems that you use to your own business. Sounds like you got some good things going for you.

Robert:            Yeah! It's working out really well. And honestly, Joe, everyday gets better because I've just… As I improve my systems, and then working with enough investors across the country now, I'm constantly growing. I do everything I do as living, and what I mean by that is everything is open for change at all times. I have a mantra that I apply on all my businesses that I'm not going to hire someone unless they can provide value to me. And, what I mean by that is when I hire someone, I want them to take ownership of what they're doing, what their processes are. And, I want them to improve that, and then improve on that every single day. So then, I can take those improvements, and I can implement them not only in my own business, but I can help other investors do that as well in their businesses.

Joe:      Nice. Very nice. Okay. So, talk about some of the things you have your VAs do. And, focus on the wholesaling side of the business because that's what we kind of talk about a lot on this podcast. What are some of the things you have your VAs do?

Robert:            Okay. Awesome! Yes. So, my VAs run… They do about 80% of all the tasks that are required in the business. They do about 80% of them.

Joe:      Yeah.

Robert:            And so, pretty much any and everything that's on the phone or on the computer, they do. And so, that's from… when the lead calls us… The majority of our marketing is direct mail. We send a ton of direct mail out a lot using Every Door Direct Mail. We buy a lot of lists. I use Cris Chico and Gary Boomershine's REIvault.

Joe:      Nice.

Robert:            And, that's just been… That's a monster program they've got there. Very impressive. And so, most of my leads come from direct mail. So, I have a huge… A lot of call volume. So, the first thing they do is they answer the phone. They work through that lead flow from the phone to initial evaluation and categorization. So, they categorize these leads. It's either hot, needing follow-up, they're dead – meaning there's no chance at a deal there, and agent referral. So, our goal within the wholesaling business is to refer enough leads out to realtors and collect enough of the referral fee to cover the majority of the monthly overhead. So, when they're taking the leads, they… Their initial… The primary responsibility is trying to convert that lead into a deal.

Joe:      But, what… This is… That's brilliant! What you just said. And, because… That's what I'm kind of starting to do myself now, and I love this. So, maybe… Let me rephrase that. You… You're doing marketing for sellers that want to sell their house, right? And, a lot of the leads that come in, you're referring to agents. And, I'm assuming you're referring these deals to agents in your house. I mean, in your company, right?

Robert:            Yes. So, the way that works is… We're doing a lot of lists such as high equity, absentee owner lists.

Joe:      Right. Okay.

Robert:            So, the equity is there. But oftentimes, there's not a ton of motivation, right?

Joe:      Right.

Robert:            But… So, if we can get enough people to raise their hand and say, “They want to sell.” We're trying to capitalize on every lead. And the truth of it is, with those lists – my high equity, my absentee owner, lists like that… about 80% of the leads that come in… About 80 out of every 100… Are people looking to sell but they want full retail value.

Joe:      Right.

Robert:            And so initially, whenever I first started investing, I just let those leads go. And, I just… I never even thought about them honestly. They want full retail? “See you later. That's fine. Thank you for calling. I'll mark you off the list. I'm not going to send any more mail. Thank you very much!”

Joe:      Right.

Robert:            But what's happening was… the brokerage, we had all this newbie agents and they were terrible at prospecting as most realtors are. They're just bad at prospecting.

Joe:      Right.

Robert:            And so, in order to give these realtors some activity, I started referring leads over to them. And so, I just changed what our script was on the phone so that when you answer the phone, our initial elevator pitch and initial conversation… We have some critical questions that we're asking… Some critical information we're trying to get. Once we get that information, oftentimes it's very clear within the first five minutes of the phone call. If you're… Whoever's handling that lead is any good, it becomes very clear within the first five or six minutes on the phone, whether that lead is going to work for you and your investment business or not. And not always, but oftentimes, what we just say is… Our line is… This is what the… whoever's taking the call is responsible for saying. Once they get someone that they know will be a great agent referral, we just say, “Thank you so much for your information. It sounds like this is not a good fit for me. However, I can help you get the most money possible for your property by referring you to one of our expert advisors. I'm going to hand you off to one of our expert advisors that can help you get absolutely the most money possible for your property. So Mr. Seller, I'm going to have Wes call you this afternoon and he'll set up an appointment. And, in fact, why don't you just let me go ahead and set an appointment for you. Will this afternoon be a good time for you?” “No. No. No. I can't meet till tomorrow.” “Okay. What time is good for you?”

We try to set an appointment right there on the phone. And then, we have the agents just go meet on those appointments. We call that a warm handoff. If we can set an appointment for an agent, we change a 50% referral fee on their commission. If it's a cold handoff, meaning that this person said that they wanted to sell but they wouldn't really give us much information. We'll hand their information to the agent. And, if the agent has to start basically from ground up to work that from a prospect all the way into a lead, into a deal, then we take 25% off that transaction. We're generating enough activity in our business to refer enough leads out to cover a lot of our expenses each month. Does that make sense?

Joe:      That is so flipping brilliant! I'm excited, super excited, because we definitely need to talk about this in… maybe offline. Because, I got some really cool things I'm working on right now that I'm just not prepared to share yet on the podcast. But, it relates exactly to what you're talking about here. And, just in the interest of full disclosure to you guys, Robert and I are talking right now. I'm in the process of hiring one of his VAs to work for me. But, that's how much I believe in what Robert is talking about here, and he's got an amazing system.

And so, just so I'm clear, because I think this is brilliant. If more people got a hold of this, it would absolutely revolutionize their business. Because, if you've got realtors working with you or under you, or if you have a license or if your spouse is licensed or something, as one of the owners of your business, you can start referring you leads to agents, and you can start getting commissions on those leads. And, if you're doing enough of that, you could be making enough money from those agents. Quite a substantial amount of money, as a matter of fact, that it could pay for all of your overhead, all your marketing, all your virtual assistants, and in fact, maybe even more. And, I'm looking at some things right now, Robert, where if I do this in enough markets, I could be making… I'm not going to say how much yet. But, I could be making quite a substantial amount of money with the marketing I'm doing just for realtors. I could be doing marketing just for realtors. But…

Robert:            There's a second piece to that, Joe. Can I add the second piece to that?

Joe:      Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Robert:            So, what happens also is, whenever you start referring… So, I refer leads to agents that work for us in the brokerage, right? But, not 100% of the time. And, let me tell you why. It's because when you can put leads out there into the market, agents love that, right? They love you. So, guess what happens when that agent comes across a property that fits your needs as an investor? Who do you think the first person they call is?

Joe:      Oh! They're going to call you.

Robert:            They're going to call you. And so, what happens is… agents will be in the field every single day setting up appointments for my sales guys, for my acquisition team, to go and meet with them. When my acquisition team shows up, the agent is selling my company to the seller, right? They're selling me for me. And the reason is, the agent's trying to get paid. They just want to close the deal, right? And so, they're sitting there, explaining to the seller why an all cash offer where I paid the closing cost. We can even discuss negotiating the realtor's fees. Why that is so beneficial to the seller? And, why they should do that? So, rather than my sales guy having to their sales pitch and convince the sellers that we're trustworthy and they need to work with us, the agents have already done that. So, it makes closing that deal significantly easier. It is so crazy how powerful that is to have the agents on your team.

Joe:      Oh, man. I think we're just scratching the surface of what you could potentially be doing with this. But, I'm…

Robert:            Added to that, could I give one disclosure about that, Joe?

Joe:      Yeah. Yeah.

Robert:            The only thing I'll say about this is… For everyone, if you're an investor and you're marketing for… and leads that are going to fit your mold as an investor, it's… in my opinion, a conflict of interest and it does not work if you try to buy their house at a significant discount, and then you try to list that property at full retail. If you are offering a seller a certain amount and they say no, and then you try to just split the conversation into, “Oh, well. I can list if for you.” That almost never, ever works. You have to have someone that you trust that you, as an expert advisor for this person that you can set them up with. Because otherwise, the seller will just see right through you. They're like, “You want to offer me $50,000 for my $100,000 house. And, when I tell you ‘no,' now you're telling me I can sell it for $100,000 and that you'll represent me.” It creates a conflict of interest.

Joe:      Yeah.

Robert:            So that's why, you need to have really good people on your team as realtors, so that you can set those appointments and they can close those leads for you. But, if you talk to someone as an investor, you need to just follow through all the way as the investor. Stay in your role. And then, just have good team members that you can refer those too. That's all.

Joe:      That's really good. That's really good. You're having your VAs make these phone calls, right?

Robert:            Oh, absolutely. So, any inbound or outbound calls that come in, the VAs handle those.

Joe:      And, these VAs have good English?

Robert:            So, English is one of the national languages in the Philippines, and I hire all my VAs out of the Philippines.

Joe:      So, it's so funny. As I was… I just, an hour or two ago, interviewed a guy for our podcast. His name is Tom Wade. He lives in England and he's flipping a bunch of deals virtually in England while he travels all over Europe. He's an awesome guy. And, he has actually flipped deals in the United States. And so, what's funny is, a lot of the VAs he hires from the Philippines have Americanized English accents, which is hilarious.

Robert:            It is really funny.

Joe:      Yeah.

Robert:            They pick up on a lot of the lingo. They're really good with jokes. They know about like… celebrities, and they're really in tune with American culture. And, they love American sports such as the NBA. It's really funny.

Joe:      All right. So, one of the challenges he has is to train them with an English accent. Oh, British accent. His VAs… I mean, who would have thought that people would be complaining about getting VAs with American English accents in the Philippines?

Robert:            It's so funny! I have not thought about that, Joe. But, that's hilarious!

Joe:      So, yeah. I don't know if the… What's funny too is when I spent… We've spent a lot of time in Prague. And, a lot of the English that they teach people in Europe is more British English. So, sometimes, you'll hear the British accents from foreigners when they're speaking English. But what's funny, I guess… Yeah, in America… I mean, in the Philippines, you got to… If you're trying to hire a virtual assistant to work for you in England… I don't know how hard it would be to train a Filipino to have a British accent.

Robert:            Probably pretty tough!

Joe:      I would imagine! Yeah, that would be like us trying to learn Spanish with a Mexican accent, or from a European-Spanish accent.

Robert:            Yeah. Good luck!

Joe:      But, that is so cool! Because, Robert, specifically, I'd like to talk with you about doing that. I'm starting to do more marketing now for agents. I am a licensed agent myself. And, I've just… in the last couple of weeks, started doing Facebook ads….

Robert:            Yup.

Joe:      …For agents, that I've found some top producing agents here in St. Louis. And, I've been discussing and negotiating with them a structure where I could either take the leads that I am working on for my regular house buying business, and either send them to an agent. But, I'm also starting to do… Look at some more marketing specifically for listings, and it's different. It's still… I'm still targeting specialty niche lists. But, the marketing… Even some of the marketing I sent… I'm a little embarrassed. But, even some of the marketing that I send is like, “Stay away from those investors. They'll try to buy your property for $0.50 of a dollar. You should only sell with an agent and get more money.” So, I'm actually bashing investors on some of my marketing that I'm sending out. And so, I know I'm going to get a bunch of hate mail from that. So anyway, I love that… So, I'm really… This is so cool. If you actually set an appointment for the realtor, you can… you're negotiating 50% of the commission.

Robert:            Yeah. And, that's non-negotiable. It's either you're on board for that as an agent or you're not. And, I'm not going to negotiate on that. I'm not going to hand you a hot lead for you to list an appointment, going to go list a property, and then earn 75% of the commission. To me, it's worth more than 50% of the commission spread to have the leads generated and basically closed for you, before you ever stinking show up.

Joe:      And so… But, it's still fair. I mean, if you send them a lead without an appointment, you're keeping 25% of the commission. But, you might want to try to get 35%.

Robert:            There you go. That's a good idea.

Joe:      That's what I'm… I've been talking to agents. And, it's important too that you're working with a top producing agent who understands sales and negotiating, right?

Robert:            You got to have a closer. These people have to be… They got to be focused on closing. This is not a… We're not making friends out there in the field. We are capitalizing an opportunity and that's the only thing that matters. So, you got to have a really good agent that has created building rapport and closing leads. They have to close.

Joe:      And, that's really, really important. That's why they're… They're top producing agents for a reason.

Robert:            Exactly! Exactly.

Joe:      They understand the importance of speed. They understand the importance of calling that seller back immediately, a relentless follow-up. They put these sellers in campaigns to follow up with them and be persistently staying in touch with them. And, they have this tenacity of… They go into that listing appointment expecting to get a listing agreement. They expect to get that contract signed. And, without being a jerk, they're not going to leave that house until they get this listing agreement signed.

Robert:            Exactly.

Joe:      They have the confidence and bulldogged… What's the word? Pig-headed discipline to get it done. I love that.

Robert:            You got to be on a mission. These are mission-focused agents that are really good at building rapport and building relationships.

Joe:      Nice! Okay. So, Robert, I'm doing this now, right? This marketing. But, I'm just sending all of the leads directly to the realtors team, okay? The leads are coming into Podio, and then they're getting notified, and they're following up and contacting those leads. And, I have a negotiation… negotiated split on the commission if any of them turns into a listing. But, do you think I should have somebody, a VA, on my end, returning those calls or answering those calls first before I hand it over to the agent?

Robert:            Yeah. What you're asking makes sense and it totally depends on whatever strategy you want to implement. And what I mean by that is, what kind of overhead you want to have? What kind of prospect? Do you want to have team members that you're managing such as VAs to do that? What kind of commission split can you earn? You just need to kind of figure out what the cost benefit analysis will be? And, if… So, the agents… I mean, the VAs can be trained very easily to have high-level conversations with these agents. And, they can also set appointments for these agents, right? So, we've got VAs in the brokerage whose only job is setting appointments with prospects. So, we do a lot of online meeting duration for the brokerage.

And so, we've got VAs that all day are just on the phone dealing with prospects. And so, our buyer's agents within our own brokerage, they're only responsible for buyer representation agreements, getting them pre-qualified with our preferred lender, and then closing the deal. Our agents only work with individuals. They don't prospect. They don't work on the phone. And, in fact, once they have any kind of property under contract, they send it back in-house and we have VAs that are our closing coordinators.

So, our agents don't… They're only responsible for buyer rep agreements, pre-qualify with our preferred lenders, and then getting a contract. Outside of that, they don't do anything. And their schedules, what they're required to do is every month, for the full month in advance, which can be very difficult. But, for a full month, they've got to give my VAs a calendar. And, we share a Google Calendar. Everyone's got a shared calendar. And, the VAs know that availability the agents have. So, they're not having to call the agents to set appointments. They're just setting appointments in Google Calendar so the agent automatically gets notified where they need to be.

My goal is for buyer's agents to just be busy all day long out in the field. And then, I'm taking 50% of their commission for them to do that. And they either get that, they're either on board or they're not. So, it really depends… Your question is… it really just depends how you want to manage your business, and how you have that set up. I think you could be very successful the way you have it where you're just sending the leads directly to the agents. As long as you've got good agents on the backside, that are really going to value every lead you send. That's a fine structure to have. But, if you don't really trust those agents, you need to prequal and do the initial work in-house so that you know there are hot leads when you send them over.

Joe:      Well. That's a good question.

Robert:            Did I answer your question?

Joe:      Yeah. Yeah. Because… And, that's a great answer. I think the… For me personally, I would love to be able to go ahead and schedule that appointment and get them to commit…. Get that seller to commit to a time because “Money loves speed.” I like that phrase a lot because you got them on the phone. I mean, how often do you play phone tag with sellers?

Robert:            Exactly, Joe!

Joe:      And, you're calling them back and forth. So, I'd leave a message, and then I send it to the realtor. And, the realtor may be really good with calling and following-up, and they're calling them every day for a week. But, there's just… You can't connect at the right time. But, I've got that seller on the phone now. Well, I would… I think, I would prefer to try to get an appointment set right then and there.

Robert:            So, my goal…

Joe:      Yeah.

Robert:            My goal is to control everything but not be involved in anything, if that makes sense.

Joe:      That should be it.

Robert:            I would like everything to be my process. I want to have control on every single thing. I just don't want to do any of it.

Joe:      I… I'm going to title this podcast “Control Everything and Be Involved with Nothing.” I mean, that is what… any good CEO of any company does, right? I mean, you don't see the CEO of GE going on sales appointment. Well, maybe on big, big, huge billion-dollar jobs but… I mean, yeah. Even then, you don't see the heads of large companies going out and doing the day-to-day stuff. “Control Everything and Be Involved with Nothing,” I think, is a goal that we should all have in our business. But, yeah. Back to this thing where the seller calls, they're ready to go. I mean, they called you for a reason.

Robert:            Exactly.

Joe:      You know how hard it is to get people on the phone. I would say, “Yeah! Go ahead and get some kind of appointment schedule.” And, it could even be simple as, “Would you like to meet today at 6:00 or tomorrow at 9:00?” Right?

Robert:            Exactly.

Joe:      You're giving them these two choices.

Robert:            Yeah. And, you just train your VA or whoever. It doesn't have to be a VA. That's the thing. You don't have to hire VAs to do this. If you want to hire someone and have him sit in your office, that's great! But then, they need to be good on the phone. And, you just need to either teach them or you've got to get some help with that training. But, that person that is setting appointments, they're just using lots of assumptive closing, right? They're taught how to say, “Okay. You want to sell your property. We'll be there tomorrow at 3:00,” and the seller goes, “Uh. Duh. Duh. Okay,” right? You don't give them options.

Joe:      Yeah.

Robert:            You don't give them an opportunity. You don't let them back out of it. They called you. We're going to work together, right? And, you're just telling them that you're going to work together.

Joe:      You're expecting them to, “Yeah. Oh, that's awesome!”

Robert:            And, you'll get some pushback sometimes, right? Then, you'll close way more deals than you would otherwise, if you really use a lot of assumptive closing.

Joe:      You know. I was talking to one of my business partners, Peter Vekselman yesterday. I went to his office. Those of you who know Peter or have seen us talk about our coaching program. I went to Peter's office for the first time, and the guy's just crushing it. He's got a sales floor, literally, in his office of about a dozen people. I don't know. He's got 1,500 square feet in his office and every square inch has a desk in it almost. And, he's got people… Guess what? On the phone.

Robert:            Yup.

Joe:      And, his goal for everybody in there is to do 150 calls a day. They're doing some crazy ninja stuff with marketing and getting the phone to ring. They're doing a relentless follow-up. They have this wall where they have all of their current deals that they're working on, and folders that are hanging on this wall, kind of in this pocket system, and each column is for a different phase of the deal, right? And, it's just covered with note… with these folders of all these deals transferring them from the left to the right and to closed. And, it's so cool to see. Anyway, I said all that to tell you that right now, he is… He used to have all of his calls go to a 24-hour recorded voicemail, and the reason for that was you tend to get more phone calls when it's less threatening. It's less of a… It's less threatening.

So it's just, you call this 24-hour recorded voicemail, and you get more phone numbers, right? Well, you'll get a lot of calls, and then you call all the hang-ups, and you call all the people that left a voicemail. But, he's been testing this, and he has found that it's much better to have it just go to a phone number where somebody answers live. You may get a fewer… You may get fewer calls, but if you have somebody that answers the phone live, you weigh more than make up for the fewer calls that you get. I don't know if making sense.

Robert:            I think you and I totally agree. I've tried the call centers and I've tried voice. You can be successful with the voicemail. And, one of the things about a voicemail that's good is that, if someone leaves a voicemail, then their motivation if probably pretty high. So, you can cherry pick a lot of the leads that come in based around that voicemail. But, if you're really looking to grow and scale, and have a really strong business, then just picking leads that are… We call those self-closing leads. The deals are… They're basically selling themselves for you.

Joe:      Right.

Robert:            If that's all you want to do, that's fine. But, most people want to do more than just a few deals a year that are going to self-close. And so, I agree that it gives you an advantage to have a live person answer.

Joe:      And, it's also a huge advantage if you are driving people to your website and they leave their phone number. You got to have somebody call them back within a couple five minutes at the most, right?

Robert:            Yeah. There's tons of empirical data and there's not dispute around this. If you call someone within the first five minutes, you're over an 80% more likely to close and turn that lead into a deal, into an actual transaction. If you wait outside of 30 minutes, it drops down dramatically. But it's within… Literally, the first five minutes, you need to call them.

Joe:      Well. And see, that's what I'm so excited about, Robert. Because a lot of the mail, the direct marketing that I'm doing right now for these realtor listings, they send them to a website or even have them text a phone number with their information, right? So, even of the letter says “Just text your address to this phone number” because it's less threatening, right? But, imagine if you could have a VA or somebody local call that website lead or that text lead within five minutes, and get the appointment scheduled like… Dang! That's awesome!

Robert:            That's huge.

Joe:      That's huge!

Robert:            That's Rachel's full-time job for us. That's all that she does. It's… She sits there, and her job is… We've got online leads in the brokerage coming every single day. We leverage commission sales and several other PPC platforms, and her job full-time is to call people back. And because, that has proven what's successful for us, and it's been huge! I can't tell you how huge that is for our business.

Joe:      So, you call those leads, those website leads as soon as they leave the lead in there?

Robert:            Absolutely! And, because they'll answer the phone. They're a little shocked, right? They're a little surprised…

Joe:      Yeah.

Robert:            …That you call them so quick. But so stinking what? That's how you got them on the phone. If they knew you were calling, then they wouldn't answer the phone, right?

Joe:      Right. Because, part of the problem that I have in my regular businesses, it's just so hard to get a hold of people.

Robert:            Yeah.

Joe:      I mean… Peter was telling me, they have a 20% success rate of calling people back who left a voicemail. 20% success rate… It might have been a little higher than that. I forgot the numbers. So, you're just shooting yourself in the foot. You're wasting a ton of marketing dollars if you don't have the team in place. So… Well, cool. I'm excited about this, Robert, and we've already at an hour and a little more. And, there's a whole lot we didn't talk about. But, could you just go through real briefly, what are some of the other things that you have your virtual assistants do for you in your business?

Robert:            Yeah. Just to give some of the averages about what people usually use their VAs for… Just to kind of give your listeners a little bit of an idea, over 75% of people who leverage a VA leverage them for admin tasks. So, that's answering the phone, following-up, doing e-mail, things like that. We have our VAs try to do pretty much every piece of administrative task that they can possibly do – from research, and preparing presentations, and editing my PowerPoints. And, every single bit of the day-to-day admin tasks that are so time-consuming but necessary, we try to get our VAs to do that. We had a lot of marketing and sales support. So, they're answering the phone. They're doing lead flow management. They're following up with the leads. They're running comps. They put property packages together. My VAs manage my sales team's calendar because they're setting schedules for them every single day.

My goal for my sales team is when they walk in the morning… Each morning, we have a 30 minute pow wow. Then, all they do is pull up their Infusionsoft Dashboard and their days are laid out for them by the VA. So, they're every appointment, every place they're going, every comp. So, like if the sales team is going to go on an appointment to visit a potential seller and evaluate that lead, my VAs have already equipped them with their comps, the CMAs, both lease and sales comps. They give them a map so they can drive all the comps.

So, the full package for the sales guys is put together by the VAs. I want my sales guys doing sales. I want my realtors doing sales, right? The realtors need to do the fuming connection piece. And, all the support behind them is done by the VAs. The VAs also do what I consider customer service in my business, like people will call in and there's a lot of management. Even when you're wholesaling, you've got to manage the buyers, and you've got to manage the sellers, and you're the intermediary between the title company.

Joe:      Yeah.

Robert:            So, one concept that really took my business to the next level and I didn't even really realize how powerful it was. It was, when I'm wholesaling, I control the sale through the title company. And, what I mean by that is… Whenever I get a property under contract with the seller, I use the same title company every single time because I've had a great relationship with that title company and they're going to feed me information about exactly what's going on. And, it also controls the end buyer whoever I'm wholesaling to. They have access to information because the title company approves all content and all information that's going to be sent to that end buyer. I get to approve that before they get it.

So, my VAs are screening. They're screening settlement statements. They're checking assignment contract and make sure everything is there. They're going through all the checklist. So, I mean, long story short, they're literally doing every single task in the office besides meeting with sellers, besides meeting with the buyers, doing property… in-house property evaluations. My VAs can't… From the Philippines, they can't do a repair estimate in the house, right? They can guess what the repairs might be. But, they can't walk through the house, and they can't do repair estimates.

Joe:      Right.

Robert:            And, I'm not having them negotiate contracts. I'm having my sales team actually negotiate the contracts. But, I do have the VAs throughout fewer offers. I have an entire MLS offer system where my VAs are full-time. They scan through the MLS.

Joe:      Nice.

Robert:            They cold call these realtors, and then they're making offers. And, if that offer is closed, then it goes to my sales team for full evaluation, if that makes sense.

Joe:      Oh, yeah.

Robert:            So… Because, the VAs' never going to offer something that's going to get accepted right away. But, based on the feedback from the listing agent, the VA will categorize that lead. And, my sales team gets to just review all the hot leads for 30 minutes a day. They can review hundreds of leads that they need to very quickly because the VAs had put the property packets together. So, they're really… They're supporting the entire business. They really run the back-end of the entire business.

Joe:      Oh, man. This is a… It's quite an amazing system you have here. And, my mind is racing 100 miles an hour right now of things I could have these VAs do for me. I've been using VAs for years, and so I totally understand. I totally get it. But, there's still some times I have in my mind mental road blocks of like… Could they really do all of that? Could they really do this? Could they? And, just having the opening up of your… What's the word I'm looking for? Just kind of open up to the new possibilities of what you really could do.

Yeah, it's not going to be as perfect as if you're doing it yourself. But, it's going to be good enough where… And, it's still going to be really, really good. I'm not saying that it's just good enough. But, it will still be really good, but as not as good as what you're doing. But probably, actually even better now because you have somebody just focused on that one thing in your business, and they're going to be consistently doing it quickly, faster than you could be doing it on yourself. So, yeah. Maybe at the end of the day, it is going to be better. Well, cool, Robert. I mean, we've been talking about a lot of stuff and how can people get a hold of you? Where can they go to get more information about you and your business, and the VAs the you currently have and how you train them, and all that good stuff?

Robert:            Yeah. If anyone is interested in the VAs or the VA company, you can just go to VAEasyButton.com. So, the letters V-A… Easy, E-A-S-Y… Button.com… VAEasyButton.com. And, that's just an opt-in landing page there, so I can have your information, and I will reach out to anyone. And, if anyone just would like… Just needs help or would like to contact me, just opt-in there. In that way, I have all your info.

Joe: N  ice. Very nice! Do you use Twitter at all? Or, Facebook? Do you let people contact you in there?

Robert:            I don't have… My Twitter account, I'm not going to send anyone there because it's just all marketing. But Facebook, you can look me up at Robert Nickell. And, Facebook is crazy. I do a lot of business through Facebook. A lot of messaging, a lot of communication done there. So, my last name is spelled N-I-C-K-E-L-L. So, just Robert Nickell and you can find me there.

Joe:      Okay. Cool! All right, Robert. Well, thank you so much! I sure appreciate you. Guys, we're going to put all these notes, and links, and stuff like that on the show notes at RealEstateInvestingMastery.com. And I'm excited about this, Robert because we're going to be talking real soon here. Probably not today, but I'm going to call you tomorrow because I want to get going on this. I want to get going on this. And, I'm doing some really cool, exciting things with realtors right now that I'm excited to share with you. And, it may be good, I can probably put you in touch with Peter as well about how he does his sales floor.

Robert:            Awesome! Yeah. That would be great!

Joe:      And, Todd Toback is doing a lot of that right now as well himself. I don't know if you got a chance to talk to him.

Robert:            I have not. I just heard him speak at the same Mastermind we were at. Obviously, very impressive process and systems he has got.

Joe:      Well. He's got a machine. He knows how much extra money he will make every month with a good salesperson. And, I remember the exact numbers. I'm not going to say what it is, but it was pretty impressive. He's been doing this for quite a while. And, the money is made on the phone. The money is made on the phone for sure. All right. Well. Thanks, Robert! Guys, go to VAEasyButton.com to get more information on Robert, or look him up on Facebook. And, you can go at Real Estate Investing Mastery Podcast… RealEstateInvestingMastery.com to get our show notes and the other episodes. Please leave us a review on iTunes. We'd really appreciate it. Leave us a review in Stitcher too!

And listen, if you are out of the country… If you are living in Europe, in India, in Asia or Africa, I would love to talk with you. And, I love talking to people who live outside of the United States who are doing deals in their own countries and the United States. I'm finding that I'm meeting people left and right. It's so cool! The more I talk about travelling… The more I talk about Europe… In fact, there's Todd Toback calling you right now. But anyway, the more I talk to people with this podcast, in the audience, and the networking that I do, and the Masterminds that I'm a part of… I'm meeting people from all over the world… It is so cool, who are listening to these podcasts, who are actually doing deals and flipping properties. I've coached people, Robert, that are in the military, and have to work in Afghanistan, and have extra time to listen to podcasts, to study at real estate, and to start actually doing deals on their off time while…

Robert:            That is amazing!

Joe:      …They're in Afghanistan.

Robert:            Beyond amazing!

Joe:      You're right. Right. Right. Right. So, it is cool. But, thanks guys. We will see you all later. Take care.

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  1. This was my first podcast
    And it was great
    I am new to real estate
    Just 3 month in so I am trying to learn all I can

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