In this episode, Alex and I are talking with the king of all things systemization, Frank Curtin.
Frank shares his awesome knowledge with us about the importance of having systems in place and documenting those systems. In this episode, he tells us why you need systems (here’s a hint – to help scale and grow your business efficiently); why you need to be documenting; how to document; why it’s a constant process; actionable steps to get you started today; what ‘chunking it down’ means; and more good stuff.
Listen – systems and documentation are your friends. Your best friends. Your BFFs. Get the goods on documenting from this episode, trust me, you want this info.
Listen and enjoy:
- 0:37 – Joe’s recent HUD deals
- 12:55 – Frank tells us how he got started in REI
- 16:32 – Why systems are so important
- 28:05 – How to actually do the documentation process
- 39:06 – Why you should document
- 46:48 – Where to get started in your business today
Mentioned in this episode:
- Alex and Joe’s Fast Cash Survival Kit
- Frank’s site The Smart Guides
- Doc and Do
- Real Estate Investing Mastery
- Sweet Process
- Infusion Soft
Intro: Welcome, is the Real Estate Investing Mastery Podcast.
Joe: Welcome everybody to the Real Estate Investing Mastery Podcast. I’m glad you are here; we got an exciting show today as always.
Alex: As always.
Joe: Alex how are you doing?
Alex: I’m good man, how about you?
Joe: Awesome, awesome, been wholesaling some HUDs lately.
Alex: Really, actually getting some HUDs under contract?
Joe: Yeah, you know it’s crazy our friend Sean Terry, I did the course webinar series with him, probably it’s been four years ago now on HUDs.
Alex: I remember that.
Joe: It was, I said, uh, okay, I need to stop saying umm; that’s– I was talking to the guys before we did this podcast. I’m going to try real hard to stop saying uhh or umm, but let me say this, it was like four years ago that I did this webinar series with Sean Terry on flipping HUDs and I learnt a lot of great information on how to flip pods, but I just never did it. I have always been real comfortable doing what I’ve always been doing right.
Alex: Do as I say, not as I do.
Joe: I never was, this is the truth, I never was saying on there that I am regularly flipping HUDs, I was kind of like the co-host. I was just helping Sean. I was hosting the webinars, helping him out, doing the technical stuff of recording it and asking him the questions and setting it all up and packaging it at the end and putting it on a website, all that kind of stuff.
So I never did say I was flipping HUDs but I just never, I thought it was great, I thought man this is really cool. I was telling people, hey, you should go to Sean Terry’s HUD flipping webinar and get his course, but it wasn’t until just about a couple months ago that I said you know what; I’m going to take this HUD thing more seriously. And I have an assistance who’s a Realtor and I said, I want you to start bidding on HUDs every day, and we bid on about three to four HUDs every day but there is total at any one time maybe 30 HUDs in my area and so we’ve been on all…
Alex: That’s quite a bit actually, I was just when you were talking I was looking at my site and one in my county there is like three.
Joe: Right so, you know I– we have– and that’s the 20 that range all the way from $5,000 properties up to 200 or so. So I just told her start bidding on them every day, and so we bid on each HUD at least once a week and everyday it’s about four or five HUDs, and she doesn’t get to it every day, but I’m thinking about getting a VA to start maybe helping with that, doing some more of it, but we’ve got, I’m not kidding, in the last couple of months we’ve had about five accepted, five bids accepted.
Alex: Now what about on the flip side?
Joe: Well, we’ve flipped two of them.
Alex: All right.
Joe: Three of them we just didn’t sign the contract; we were in it too high.
Alex: What type of numbers did you got?
Joe: One of them we are going to make a $13,000 wholesale fee.
Joe: 13 grand.
Alex: On a HUD, that’s great.
Joe: Yes, and the other one I don’t know to be honest. It was — it’s not as big of one I know that, I think it’s more like five or $6,000 on wholesale fee on it. These are properties that if you are familiar with mid west you know, these are homes that are — they would only sell to landlords and they probably sell for 30 to 40 grand all fixed up to a landlord and they’ll rent for maybe $800 to $1,000 a month.
Alex: Now are you selling them to your regular buyers or is it something you are just putting out there and trying to, putting a line there and checking what kind of bites you are getting.
Joe: Well you know, the cool thing about the way I do deals, when I work with other wholesalers, so I partner with them, I do the marketing, I do the VAs and prescreening and put everything in podio. The cool thing about working with other wholesalers is they already have this amazing buyers list of people, and they are always trying to build it, but they…
Alex: You are talking your local market right now though, right?
Joe: Yes, so my guys they sell all of our deals with just a couple of phone calls or text messages.
Joe: Now I will say this, and this is something anybody listening to this, I’ve talked about it before but you’ve got to do this. If you are a deal maker and you are actually out there really doing deals you need to start local wholesalers mastermind in your city. I’m telling you this is one of the best things I have ever done for my own deal making business is because I started this group and there is a couple of really good realtors here in Saint Louis, but the big players don’t go to it right? And so I said, listen, I want to start a wholesalers group where you have to be somebody that’s actually already doing three to five deals or more a month to be invited to come, and you have to be invited to come. So guess what? It’s like all the big players now are here, they are coming to it.
Alex: That’s pretty cool.
Joe: No we don’t have all of them, there is probably, we probably have 75-80% of the whole sellers in the Saint Louis area that are coming to this. It’s once a month for one or two hours in my office and these guys love it, and here is the cool thing, we are wholesaling a lot of deals to each other. There is a couple of guys who are, you know, they are buying properties for their own, for their own inventory and so they are buying a lot of properties, and a lot of other guys they have maybe a deal that they can’t sell they need a buyer for, while somebody else has a buyer for them. So we are doing a lot of co wholesaling with each other in the group.
So we have our own little you know, Google group, people are wholesaling deals. Hey, I got a deal, does anybody have a buyer? Some guys are putting things on there and saying hey, I got a buyer does anybody have a deal? It’s amazing, these guys would not come to a regular rear group, you know, because they are not getting much out of it, but they will come to a group like this and it’s a great way. I don’t look at completion — I don’t look at other wholesalers as completion, I look at them as partners, does that make sense?
Alex: It makes 100% sense.
Joe: So anyway that’s– we are selling a lot of our deals through the group, and the crazy thing is this too, a lot of these guys are telling us this is what’s working for me right now or this is what’s not working for me. We are getting a lot of that from guys and it’s– at first everybody is kind of like walking in egg shells, kind of little leery of talking to other people and sharing their secrets, but the same side now people are really opening up and saying you know, I spend $1000– one guy spent over a 1,000 bucks putting advertisements on the back of receipts at the grocery stores. You know when you go to the grocery stores and you get the receipt on the back of the receipts is all those ads?
Alex: Yeah, usually you see it for some kind of little something but yeah absolutely.
Joe: He put like for a $1,000 he got 400,000 impressions on these receipts and it was just, we buy houses, a little text and his phone numbers right? Guess how many leads he got?
Alex: How many?
Joe: One, and you know who that one was? It was me because I saw the receipts and I called it to see who it was.
Alex: That was funny.
Joe: I was the only lead he got from that, yeah he tells us. Now maybe he’s lying, maybe he’s just telling us that it doesn’t work and it really does but you know, I believe him, it doesn’t work that well. So here we go, wholesaling HUDs, why? Because I can and you know, I’m not doing it. I have an assistant who’s is doing it for me and she– on these deals, I am paying her an hourly wage, but she’s great and she gets a little commission out of the deal as well. So she has a lot of incentives, she’s doing it, I love this business.
Frank: Absolutely, absolutely. That’s good, I mean it’s you want to set up your — you can look at all the different avenues of wholesaling and marketing and doing things and if you view them as a little micro businesses each thing, you can set up those little systems or those little business if you want to even call them franchises or whatever and you can have them going while you are doing your other things you know while looking for other ways to set up more systems and just putting the right people in place.
Joe: And speaking of systems.
Alex: Speaking of.
Joe: Speaking of systems, guess who we have on the podcast today? The famous Frank Curtin. Frank how are you?
Frank: I am awesome, thanks for having me guys.
Joe: We are going to talk a lot about systems with Frank; Frank is a guys that I met at…
Frank: He’s a systems man.
Joe: Oh man he’s probably the best around for it. He helps medium — well; it’s hard to determine the size of it. He helps a lot of large Fortune 500 type of businesses setting up their systems and stuff so he is, and he really is familiar with real estate. We are going to talk about all that in a minute. I want to first tell everybody because we haven’t done this yet.
Go to RealEstateInvestingMastery.com, download our first survival kit and leave us a review if you like this show we would really-really appreciate you leaving reviews for us either in Sticher or iTunes, I don’t know where else anybody listens to this stuff, but share on Facebook if you like it. I got a couple of good reviews here I want to read and I swear I’m not making this up. It says here, five stars from Gyle SI, Gyle-Gylasi02, “one of the best real estate investing podcast out there, I’ve been listening for three months now and I have to admit it’s one of my favorite podcast to listen to. I learn something new every episode.”
You know, I don’t know if you remember Alex, we interviewed Henry Owen, he’s a local wholesaler here in Saint Louisa and…
Joe: It was a few months ago and we just released it last week and I remember thinking as we were interviewing him, man we didn’t really talk about anything ground, like earth shaking or ground breaking or really all that exciting you know, it’s just this is what he does and it works. Guess what shock, I’m surprised, right? What he’s doing the basic simple stuff and it works in his wholesaling deals, but I had somebody yesterday here in Saint Louis that I saw he said, “hey, you know what? That interview you did Henry, amazing,” he thought it was just amazing, he learnt so much so much really good information.
He said, “Oh, it was just so encouraging” and I remember thinking that was kind of– I’m not knocking Henry because I thought maybe we didn’t ask him any good questions. It wasn’t anything that special, but people are being helped by this stuff that we are sharing. That gets me going, I get excited about that. Let me read another review here from Henry Peretusus [ph], Henry Peretusus, I hope I’m not making fun your… I’m sorry… he says, “get your note pads ready” five stars. “Joe and Alex bring it every episode; I tried listening to this episode while driving to the 95, but quickly stopped when I realizing the amount of content that they were dishing out that I needed to write down. I’m still research– I’m still searching for my first deal, but I feel more prepared with all the info I’m getting from this podcast, thank you and keep up the good job guys.”
That’s awesome, thanks so much and we got a bunch of other reviews so if you leave a review we will send you a bunch of free stuff whether it’s a good review or a bad review there is, maybe we will put this in the show notes but about 10, 15 episodes ago I had an episode called, leave a review get free stuff. If you leave us a review we will send you some free books, some free videos on top of what we already have in the first cash survival kit. So leave us a review on iTunes we will appreciate it. And you know what Alex, the real reason why we are asking for reviews, we are trying to surpass Shawn Terry on his reviews. That’s the real reason, we have 244, he has 297, so we need about 53 or 54 more to surpass Sean. So nobody tells Sean please, nobody tell him.
Alex: We are close.
Joe: Nobody tell him that we are trying to pass him up because once we do, then he will go berserk and then he will buy like a 1,000 reviews from Fiver or something.
Frank: That’s the secrets to reviews, right there guys take a note.
Joe: Okay, so frank, welcome to the show, sorry for the long introduction.
Frank: I’m excited to be here.
Joe: Tell us a little bit about yourself Frank. We met at a mastermind probably, have you been in the mastermind for a while, and you gave a presentation the last mastermind about systems, and you are known as the systems guys, but talk a little bit about how you got started in the business. You were working with a pretty large multinational company before getting into the real estate and systems, is that right?
Frank: I did and what it was is I got my MBA back in 1998 and I immediately went to IBM and I worked in their strategy group and my job basically there was do process consulting. So we could come in and on these large 100 to $200 million projects and we would document everything they had and then we would create a future state. Something this world would look like if they applied a whole bunch of new technology and stuff and I did that for five years.
It got a little old for me being on the road, I was on the road 45 weeks a year, I’d be, I’d leave on a Sunday, come home on a Thursday, so as my wife used to refer to me as Good Time Charley because I would come home play with the kids from Saturday and pretty much be gone again. So I left her with all the family raising responsibilities and you know I was out there gallivanting so I came home and I decided to become an entrepreneur and just do things on my own and like you I did say I did some real estate for a little while.
What I really found my niche though was back in 2008 when product launches got to be a hot thing, you know Jeff Walker came out with his product launch formula and then the real estate market took off. Guys like Tim Meyer and a bunch of different guys wanted to launch. And Tim knew me as a good project manger you know, he knew of my background and had solicited me to come on board with him and do this first project launch with him. I didn’t want anything to with it at first then I said, alright I did it as a friend and as a favor, and what I quickly realized is when I got into this, I started seeing all the gaping holes in people’s systems.
You know everybody, we all have systems, everybody has something whether it’s documented or not. We all do something to make money, and that’s our system. And what I started to observe is as I started getting into these businesses with these launches, I’m looking at their operations, I’m looking at their customer service, I’m reviewing all of the things they have to handle, the amount of volume of business they are about to take on.
And it just got me thinking, hey there is a need out here for these smaller businesses, the guys that are doing somewhere between a couple of hundred thousand on upwards to 10, 15, 20 million that they are not getting help or support and getting the documentation they need so they can scale and grow quickly, and they can leverage people without having to kill themselves doing it. That’s really what got me into the system side of things — is it started with the product launches back in 2008, and then by about 2012 it was really just digging into operations for people and doing that.
Joe: Speaking of Tim Meyer I just talked to him two days ago. He’s doing some amazing things right now with investors locally in the Houston market. I really liked him; he’s a real passionate guy. He goes at life 110%, and he is also really laid back. So he’s not like high strong, but he is doing some amazing things with local investors and I do — he is a systems guys, and he probably got a lot of that from you. Now let’s talk about that though Frank, why are– maybe why are systems so important? Maybe you can give us some examples.
Frank: Sure. Well first off there is four kinds of business systems that every entrepreneur fits into one of these categories. The first one is the conversation type. This is a guy that typically puts a business together and everything that they delegate out is all verbal. They are verbally– they delegate here; can you do this? Hey, can you help me do this? And most people when they start their business, that’s how they get off the ground. They start with themselves and then they’ll pick somebody and they’ll do stuff like that.
So a lot of the tasks that are needed to get done are just verbal communications among people. And then we start getting into the next person who I like to call the cliff note. And that’s the person that often starts developing a bunch of checklists. So they have all these checklist A, checklist B, checklist C, Ryan Dice is famous for his checklists, digital marketer and stuff like that. And checklists are great, but they don’t give the instruction of how to, it’s just the end the result and you make when it’s done kind of approach. So I think everybody is kind of familiar with that.
And then you start getting into the little bit more advanced person and there is what we call the book type. The book type is the person they start documenting a lot of things but it tends to be a little bit static. They’ll document it one time, people will go to it but then as — we all know things change quickly and rapidly in our space and in our world especially in the online world, technology changes, and the documentation gets a little bit old. So people start taking — they stop paying attention to it, to the documentation and they start doing it their way, whatever their way was.
They may have learned it from you through that little documentation but they’ll start doing it their way. And so now you’ve got this little pot of people that are out there doing their own thing even though they have the instruction. And lastly is the movie type, and this is the one that we are all ultimately striving to. You know how you want your business to run and when I say you, I am talking to you the general business owner. You know how you want your business to run, and if you think about a movie– if I read a book versus watch a movie, I lose the creativity in the movie because they are going to paint that picture for me.
So if they say red car for example, in a book they are going to start describing the current detail and you’re going to create the image in your mind. In the movie version, they’re just going to show you the red color. They don’t have to paint it for you, they are just going to drive this thing up, and there it is. And so you don’t get any creativity on it, you don’t get to create any new ounces about it. It’s just what it is that they show you. Well in business ideally we’d like to run like a movie. We want to show them exactly what we want so they’ll do exactly what we want.
One of the biggest complaints you’ll hear people say is that I can’t get anybody to do it the way I do it. That’s the movie concept but they don’t the documentation to support it. And so that’s kind of the general wheel if you will of where people start just verbally, shouting things out, all the way to the point where you start getting into these large corporations where they’ve got everything really well documented out, they’ve got video training for everything and they’ll show you step by step everything you need to know and stuff like that.
And there is no fortune 2000 company out there Joe that has– that’s started with all that documentation in place. At some point they started with a conversation and it just worked its way into a business and it just kept documenting and growing and leveraging.
Joe: Well why is documentation important and then– because you’re talking about the systems and there is four different kinds of systems. Are you saying that number is what we need to aspire to?
Frank: Eventually yeah. Obviously it’s going to depend on the type of business you have because if you’re in a repeatable process type business then the movie type would be an aspiration. If you are in a creative thinking, if you’re on a marketing firm for example and you have to go and create new marketing materials for people, for clients that’s a little different. That’s what we call framework thinking. So there is framework thinking and there is repeatable process thinking. That’s where I can hire lower wage individuals to do things for me then if I have to hire somebody for their brain, like for their actual thinking and creativity, like a subject matter expert and marketing or subject matter expert in some other discipline that I don’t have in my business, I have to be a little more flexible there. I can’t create it for them; I’m paying them to be the creator. Do you know what I mean?
Joe: Right. So for real estate investing business like what we have, we need to have the systems written down that are more of a repeatable process.
Frank: Absolutely. Yes, so you guys in the real estate space when you guys nail down the process that works for your business you’d like that to just– you want wash rinse repeat. Anytime you hear somebody say that kind of talk then that needs to be documented, really detailed because you want to be able to hand it off to somebody and have them wash rinse repeat and see that money still flow into your bank account, not out. So to do that the documentation…
Alex: That’s exactly what we were talking about today with the hard stuff.
Frank: There you go; you’ve got an assistant Joe. You don’t have it– you know, and Joe I know that you are one of more advanced people in the space when it comes to having a more repeatable system in place…
Joe: Woah-woah-woah I thought I was until I heard you talk and I heard your presentation Frank. And now I feel like a little child.
Frank: Well you know what it is there are a number of things that people need to think about when it comes to systems. There is a comprehensive business system which probably got you thinking one of those lines. See a lot of us we map out our deals, we’ll document how to do a deal but there is more to a business than just our deal. There is the whole back office, there is the hiring process, there is the accounting process, there is a number of things that happen in our businesses as well that have to be accounted for. And more often than not we don’t pay a whole lot of attention to those in the early days and it’s because if you’re not making money you don’t need that stuff. I don’t need to worry about hiring anybody; I don’t need to worry accounting if I don’t have any revenue.
So I’ve got — when we start that business it’s all about selling, selling, selling. We got to sell, we got to get deals going, we got to get deals flowing. And you — and a lot of people that you’ve helped have Podio and other resources that they are using from Infusionsoft to Zoho to other things where they are actually managing their businesses quite well from a deal flow perspective. They can bring a deal into the lead generation, they start that pipeline going and they spit out with a profit at the end and that’s a good feeling knowing that you have that.
But then there’s so much more to your business beyond that. Because now there’s well how do I get that person in there, how do make this faster? How do I allow for this cash flow part of it that underlies the whole thing? How do I make that better? How do I keep more of that money? Can I reduce cost over here? Can I– what are things that can I do? And every time somebody tags at your shoulder, tags on your shirt and says, “Hey how do I?” If they start their conversation with that, that’s an opportunity for documentation, if that makes sense.
Joe: Right. So then talk about what happens if you don’t have these systems or documents that written out…
Alex: You use that worse a lot, documentation. Frank. Meaning just go back and while you’re doing something making sure keeping track of what you’re doing so it is duplicate able.
Frank: It is. And anyone who’s a subject matter expert in your business– so like you’re going to be the majority of your subject matter expertise, but if you hire– let’s say you’re not a good marketer, and you hire somebody with a marketing skill, then they become that subject matter expert in your business for that, then you need what’s in their head. Because the reality is when we hire talent generally we’re hiring them for what they know right? And their application of that.
So they know something, and then they can also apply it. That’s why we hire people, that’s what we hopefully hire people. If we did that and we get the documentation done, and if they choose to move on for greener pastures, you’ve retain the knowledge that you initially hired them for. So the next person coming in doesn’t have to be as skilled, but they can still accomplish the same level of productivity, if that makes sense. And when I say documentation, I’m talking about literally getting it out of your head and under some form of digital communication, on paper , on digital, somehow some way it’s got to be something that we can show someone else who can step in.
For a lot of the smaller companies you got three, four, five employee type things. If somebody takes a vacation that could be like a week of no productivity, because everyone is relying on this person that just left, and they don’t have the answers that they typically would request from that person. Well that’s what documentation sort of alleviates. It’s where you– and I think Joe if you recall the presentation I gave, the very first question I asked is, what if you left your business for one full month? What would happen to it, right?
Joe: Yeah, yeah. And here’s a thing that I’m thinking about as you’re talking about this, because I’ve had systems where– like I’m going to be hiring a new VA to do some marketing let’s say. And so I’ll go into Google Docs, I’ll just write everything out, and then I’ll do a video of myself going through that stuff. So I have…
Alex: Joe, it’s…
Alex: That’s something I struggle with. You just said I just write everything out. That’s right there, as difficult of itself, for me anyway, trying to write everything out in a systematic, coherent, flowing process. You’re very good with spreadsheets and stuff like that like we’ve always said. But just going and writing everything out is — especially when you start getting into, well if this is this, then that is that. And if this is this is this, then that is that, if that makes sense.
Joe: Well, yeah. But you can write something really basic. But I think where you would probably — your strength would be then Alex is recording yourself on video doing that stuff right?
Joe: So you can write out — what I try to do is I’ll write out some simple — first I’ll start it off with what’s my objective? What are the results I’m looking for? Why I’m I doing this? So if it’s postcards, my goal is to send out a 1,000 postcards a week and I want to send them to — these zip codes, to these types of sellers. So those are my objectives every week. Or it could be I want something done every day by 10 am. I want you to go to the court website and scrape every eviction from the last seven days, and every probator whatever, and put it into this spreadsheet. And I want his done every day or every week, by Wednesday at 10 am. So you can write that stuff down, right?
Then, you record yourself on video doing that. But here’s the problem that I’ve had Frank, I’ve done that before and that’s great, but then when that VA leaves or I have to hire somebody else, I look at that and think, “That’s kind of outdated.” So I do it again sometimes. I don’t feel comfortable enough sending them that same procedure that I wrote a year and a half ago. So I’ll start from that previous document, the Google Doc, and then I’ll edit it a little bit, and then I re-record the video because there’s things that I’ve learned, there’s things that have changed over the last year and a half.
How could you — I feel like I’m only probably half way to where I need to be with systems. How do you make that stuff more evergreen? Does that make sense?
Frank: Yeah, absolutely. First and foremost, process documentation is a dynamic thing. It’s not static, it’s not a sit down recorded once and leave it. If somebody is responsible for executing against that and they take note of something that changed, they need to be empowered to update the documentation. Now, they’re three types of documentation that I think are needed in all business. The first one is the linear approach, that’s called step by step. That’s the text. That’s do this, open log in here, open this screen, go to this report, run these numbers, you know step one, step two, step three, step four, and it’s linear.
The problem is for most of the thing that we have, we have a lot of if-thens, right? So it’s the fork in the road. So if you see this then take these actions, if you see that then take these actions. Well, that’s where we start looking at perspective, right? And the only way you’re going to see perspective quickly is with a diagram. So if took those very same linear steps…
Alex: And now it gets even more complicated.
Frank: So now…
Alex: Exactly what I was talking about.
Frank: So now I diagram it, right? I’m going to tell you how to fix what I think you’re going through Alex here in a second. Okay, I’ll circle back to that. And then thirdly– so now I get that sort– because here is what I need; I need the instructions, that’s the text, I need the perspective that’s the diagram, and I need context that’s the video. That’s where you’re talking; you give your thoughts about it, right? As you’re doing it– because this is what you guys are probably doing Joe. You’ll come in and you’ll create that video, and not only are you doing the steps but you’re having a conversation with the person that’s going to listen to that. You’re telling them your thoughts. Okay I’m going to do this because I need this, right?
Frank: If I’m documenting process, you’re saying, “Do this.” You don’t say. “Do this because I need this.” You just say, “Do this.” And if you look at a flow diagram, same thing. It’s an action verb and noun. Log in to this URL, press this, click here, select that. These are all action verbs and then a noun, whatever that noun is that you’re taking the action on. So that’s process documentation. And with those three things in place, you now have all the modalities that will people will learn in. Because some of the people that you’re going to give task to all they need to do is watch the video one time and they don’t need anything else, and they’ll be able to go and replicate it. They’re just like, “Boom, boom, boom.” Everything and they keep nailing it.
Other people they need to see that fork in the route. So that diagram is very helpful for them. And then some people they could see it just linearly. I’m getting my little tongue tied going. And now Alex one of the things that people tend to mess up when they’re doing process documentation, it’s my number one pet peeve when I’m coaching people on this, they will start to create the process they wish they had, not the one they have. And it’s because they get stuck in this– they’re writing it down and an idea pops and “Boy, if I just did this.” Joe you probably do this with your Podio stuff. You’re just like,” Wow…
Joe: Yeah. I make…
Frank: Oh, hell! Why would I write it this way? Let’s just do this in Podio and do this”– and before long, this one process that you sat down to document which should have taken you ten, 15 minutes max, you’re now an hour and half into it, and you’re getting lost in your own process, because you’re digging in so deep as to what you could be doing. Because now, certainly you’re not happy with what you got. You’re like, “This could be better.” After you read it through.
And that’s one of the challenges I notice with people. So process documentation should always start with document what you have first. It’s called the as is world or the current state. It’s the way it is now. The reason you want to do that is you can test it. If I document what I have now, I can hand it to somebody, they can go do it and test it. And the outcome they get it’s the expected outcome. If try introduce something new, then whatever they get, their guess is as good as a mine; is to whether or not we got what we expected, because it’s new, right. Something we’re doing all brand new.
And so every process that you– Joe you mentioned something earlier and I like the way you’re thinking. You’re on the right track. Every process has a purpose, and you should write that down, so that the people who are doing this process know why they’re doing it. It should also have an initiating event. What’s causing you to do that? Like you said, “Every Wednesday I want to do this” or “Every day we search this county website for leads.” Stuff like that, that’s an initiating event. And then you need a goal. What is the expected outcome? So that when this person actually does all the steps, they know what they’re going to get. So in my documentation I always have purpose, initiating event, goal, and then tactic. And the tactic is the steps.
Joe: Can you repeat that again?
Frank: I start off with the purpose, then the initiating event. So what’s causing me to do that? The goal, which is the outcome I’m expecting. And purpose and goal, sometimes they’re the same, sometimes they’re not.
Frank: And I’ll give you an example of one. And then lastly will be the tactic. The tactic is what steps are you using to accomplish this?
Frank: So now think about his for a second. A purpose could be– I’m going to go to my county website to extract all of the NOD list, because on this county that I’m working in the Notice of Defaults are published, okay. So I’m going to do that. My goal is to get new NOD leads daily. That’s my goal. My purpose is to get NOD leads. I invest in NODs, I do short tests, that’s my thing. Well, then I need to get leads, right? Well, that’s the process I use for this website. That’s one of my lead generation sources.
So in my hierarchy world I have lead gen. So I’m going to do something to get leads. I’ve got some sort of an acquisition or deal-acquisition, so now I’m going to have the conversation, I’m going to have an appointment and a conversation with the seller to be able to do that, or an appointment with a buyer to sell something to. And then I’m going to have the negotiation part, and I’m going to have a series of processees with that. And then I got a disposition or an exit. I got to get out of this deal somehow or else I don’t make any money, right? Unless I’m a buy and hold guy, but I have to know what I’m doing.
I got to generate leads; I got to have conversations with people about it. They say yay or nay, I get them I negotiate deals, whatever that looks in your world and it could be multiple things. So when I do process documentation especially in real estate, I will map out deal [flow] first. Because let’s face it, until you get your cash flowing, you don’t have a businesses. You got a concept. And so we want to get all the deal [flow] mapped out. So if you’re into– let’s say like you just said, you do huds, but that’s not all you’ve been doing. This is something new you just took on three months ago.
In your world there is a deal flow process, from initiating the leads, generation component all the way through exiting it. And you would map out what you for HUDs and HUDs alone. Then you look for synergies, because sometimes there might be something you’re doing in maybe your other wholesaling business where you’re able to leverage what you’re doing procedurally and just plug the HUD leads into that, and still spit out a deal in the backside of that. Does that make sense?
Joe: Yeah. So again the purpose of creating these systems and processes and documenting it out, it’s real simple; so it can be repeated over and over again. So you can hire– everybody should read the book The E-Myth.
Joe: The E-Myth Revisited I think is the latest version of it. And that explains the why, I think, really-really well. Because you can be– the guy, Michael Gerber talks about, in the first part of the book, everybody wants to be– I’m doing a horrible job describing it. But everybody wants to be a business owner. But really what they find after they get into is that they’ve just created another job for themselves and they’re more stressed out than ever. They’re working harder than ever.
The dream that they thought they’d had of being independent and financially free is totally lost, because they have not taken the time to build systems so that they can hire other people to do what they’re good at.
Joe: Most of us are not good, maybe we’re, but we’re better at managing the business, being bigger picture, working on the business, not in it as the popular saying goes. So creating these systems, correct if I’m wrong, and documenting them is important because it allows us to grow the business without– and do more deals, make more money without pulling all of our hair out, and stressing out about whether it’s getting done correctly or not. Is that right?
Frank: It absolutely is. And if you look at it from this perspective Joe, if I hire somebody and that new person is going to consume 20% of my day requesting my assistance with their job. So I’m hiring them, they’re going to take up about one and half to maybe two hours a day of my time, to help them do their job. Well, if I hire five people, then where do I do what I’m supposed to do? And if I hire seven people, I got to work 14 hours just to support them doing their job, before I can even do my job. And so it gets to a point of what we call leverage capacity. There’s zero leverage capacity when you’ve reached your maximum, where you can no longer help another person and that’s what stiffles grow.
Joe: Well, that’s gets so frustrating. I know exactly what you’re talking about.
Frank: I just say a big term for that is called burnout. That will burn you out so fast.
Joe: For sure.
Alex: Oh, yeah.
Frank: That’s why a lot of guys don’t hire. They’re like, “I’m happy with my business [and] size of this.” It’s because they haven’t figured out…
Alex: You know…
Alex: That’s kind of the position I’m in. I talk to some of my friends around here. One of them is like, “I’ve got all these type sales people that have hired inside sales persons, outside sales person. And my overhead is like $40,000 a month.” I’m like, “Dude, you can have that.” you know that I’m saying. The thing with hiring is I’m like, “Yeah. I’m happy where things are. I’ve got a project manager in place that handles a lot of the different new construction projects we’ve got going on.” And I’m kind of at that point where I’m like, “Man I just do know if I want to bring on other people I want to be responsible for, and I’m kind of happy where things are.” And I know exactly what you’re talking about.
Joe: You’re having some good success Alex, but you don’t really have the systems written down or the processes written down. So…
Alex: I do, for certain marketing things, but not every single thing.
Joe: So frank answer that question. I’m going to play the devil’s advocate a little bit here. I think some people are maybe thinking this, why would I need all these systems written down? Why does Alex need to have everything documented? If he’s already happy where is at, he’s already successful with what he’s doing.
Frank: Well there’s a couple of reasons. Let’s look at the first one. When you start a business and it’s for yourself, your responsibility is to you and your family right? The moment you hire one person, your responsibility just grew to your family and their family. And you are running the show…
Alex: That’s exactly how I look at it.
Frank: And a lot of guys don’t. Because a lot of people, they don’t have an issue with hiring and firing. They don’t have an issue with that. It’s whatever the demands of the business are. Other people look at it and say, “Hey, as soon as I bring somebody on, I’ve got a responsibility for them and their family and their well being. And I need to make sure that if I want to”– I’ll give you the best reason why documentation is important.
If you want to get the maximum value out of your employees, you’ve got to give them the instruction and the tools they need to be the best they can be. Because if they struggle with their job– you could hire really smart people and if they don’t have the tools they need to do their job well and instruction they need to maximize what they’re capable of doing, they’re going to get frustrated. And a frustrated employee does not give you their best. And they’ll leave.
Joe: I think Alex you’ve been pretty fortunate to have really good relationship with your project manager, but if he was to quit or leave?
Alex: I’d be up a creek without a paddle right now.
Frank: And that goes, do you know what they do? Do you know what they’re– you know that the results are– do you know what…
Frank: They do?
Alex: Yes. I’ve got a– we’re talking new construction development and stuff like that. So he has a– because he’s not a licensed contractor, he brings in a contractor that we basically pay to use his license and manages, and that contractor does the stuff. But he keeps things moving I guess with the subs and things with that along with that contractor. So I don’t even talk to that contractor. He deals with him. And if he left then that would put me in that position where I’d have to deal with that contractor and things like that. So…
Frank: Right. So he’s got a subject matter expertise that you hired him for.
Frank: If he were to document how he does his interaction, so you have a process where you hire a contractor to come in and build for you, right? And you’ve got a project manger internal that runs those projects. If they document what they do, then this guy could take a vacation and you could keep moving. Because you could bring in a temp, you could do it yourself, but you can plug and play resources. Imagine trying to plug and play resources with no documentation, who’s going to do what? And what are they going to base that on? Because all of us if all read a book, we’re going to have a different perspective of how everything played out in that book. We all watch the movie; we all saw the same thing. Now how you internalize it that’s up to you.
If you only operate off a checklist or something like what which is typically how a lot of businesses run, then the knowhow of how these things were done, it’s almost next to impossible. And that’s a feeling of overwhelm. You get thrown into that. Somebody is just, “Hey, could you just cover that for John. John is on vacation this week. Can you cover that?” Nobody realizes how big of a task that actually becomes because this guy doesn’t know his job, and he doesn’t know how to find out the information of this job. But yeah, they’re going to be responsible for it for this week while this guy is gone, stuff like that. In your case, it’s one project manager. Do you have other people doing other things for you?
Alex: No. just the project manager handles all the different contractors. I mean he’s in the…
Joe: You got a VA, right?
Alex: Yeah. Oh, yeah, yeah. I’ve got a V– if you’re talking along those lines of marketing and stuff, like I have a VA that, or a couple of VAs. I have a data entry style VA that does a lot of my different pulling from the lists. And then I have a VA that handles the calls. And then I have a VA– yeah. The VA that handles the calls and then– well two VAs that handle the calls, and then one that’s doing the data, pulling and stuff like that but on the construction side of things. That’s pretty much what I have going with the project manager and the contractor that he works with essentially.
Frank: And one of the keys with documentation is time freedom. Let’s face it we all– everybody probably started working for somebody out of school, either high school, college, whatever. They started in a job somewhere. They did their nine to five or some other crazy hour shift type work or some short a thing like that. So they understood that. You’re only responsible for the stuff you did in that time frame. And when you went home you went home, because you didn’t have the responsibility or the burned of everyone else around you necessarily. I’m not saying that’s true for everybody but that’s the general statics.
When they open their own business, the hope was that, “I’m going to be control of me and my time, my schedule and my earnings and all this sort of stuff.” And as that growth start to happen, as the success starts to– you can feel it coming on, you can see the earnings coming in, and stuff and you start bringing people on, you’ll realize you’re working harder. Joe you said it earlier, entrepreneurs work hard. They work hard. And more often than not, they’re working upwards of two times the amount time they would normally spend at a job. These guys will work 80-100 hours a week in the early days. And they’re doing it because they have to.
Every time they bring somebody on without these formalized systems in place, it makes it difficult. Look at something like Subway or McDonalds or any of these franchise type companies. E-Myth talks about this more elaborately. But when you look at a franchise, how is it that in four months they go from a blank slate of land, to a full building with staffed employees selling burgers or selling subs? How do they do that? And it’s systems. They come in and they can hire– they know when to hire, they know their numbers and stuff like that. And they can do it so fast. But that first shop that was built wasn’t like that, right? That wasn’t done day one. They built that so that it could be repeated.
Mrs. Fields Cookies was a great example of technology exploding a cookie business. Her husband did that and it was amazing how quickly they exploded and then they got into trouble. For a whole another set of reasons. But everybody that’s ever walked in malls probably smelled the smell– the Mrs. Fields Cookie. They are purposefully blow fans out to blow it out into the mall, to get people to come in there. So it’s that systemization that gives you the ability, you and your business. The leverage you need, because you could only give so much of your time. And most of you want your time back. And when you talk about if I get bigger, it’s going to eat more of my time. Well, that’s what I’d be in for.
And they still get paid not necessarily a salary, but they get paid as an owner, through either stock growth or a few dividends or whatever it is they are getting paid. That’s the idea business owner.
Joe: Well let’s talk about– let’s break this down into maybe some simple things that people can start doing today Frank.
Joe: To start they want to document some of their processes, I want to make sure you talking about this one tool you showed me while we’re in Phoenix last December. But how– if somebody getting started listening to this, they want to have a business that they’re– that’s making them a lot of money, they’re not working 80 hours a week and they want to start hiring people, and they want to start developing systems and process, where do they start? What do they do?
Frank: The very first thing you need to do is you’re going to plan it out, because one of the things that can get very overwhelming very quickly is you look at the number of things you do in your business you going, “Oh Christ that’s going to take forever to get this thing documented.” So what you do is you chunk it down. Do something that is of value to you right away, so I always start especially in real-estate, because this is all real estate guys on here, start with your deal flow, look at your deal flow across the board. Joe I know you’ve gone in and helped people set up Podio to automate a bunch of stuff for people.
But when I’m talking about deal flow I’m talking about from the time you generate that first lead in the door, to the time you take the money out of that transaction, and you close it out and it’s off your books and the profits been recorded. So from that perspective so you got from lead gen to deal acquisition all that, chunk it down and attack them one at a time.
One good way to do this is don’t plan on getting it done in a weekend, it’s not going to happen don’t do that, you’ll go crazy trying to do that. Break it down, spend an hour a week, get your team together the one who’s– the team that’s responsible for that section, and if you’re by yourself if it’s a team one of one so be it.
But spend about an hour and just document what you do today the way you do it today, just get it written down. And then every week you can keep building on that, and keep in mind that as people are executing this you’ve got to empower them to make changes when the changes are apparent. The system you talked about was Doc and Do, Doc and Do was a system designed by me and another guy that was a very successful business owner, who went through these same struggles of documentation and deployment. So we put together the system because I wanted people to update things when they need to update them, because things change so fast.
The worst thing you can do is spend all your time documenting, like Joe you mentioned earlier you put it into Google Docs. It gets pretty statics until somebody gets in there and makes a change, and makes it updated. And then if you update it then you’ve got to decide when do you tell somebody? How do you communicate that it’s updated? Doc and Do is all real time.
Joe: Now Doc– how do you– there’s a website for that, what is the website?
Frank: It is Doc and Do, D-O-C-A-N-D-D-O, so it’s– as in document and do it, it’s Doc and Do.
Joe: Okay, D-O-C-A-N-D…
Joe: D-O. Now this is really cool guys there’s also something similar but not as robust called ‘Sweet process.’
Joe: But this so much better, the thing I like about it though either this is for something like sweet process whatever, it’s really easy to go in and insert steps or edit just the step, but not the whole document, you know what I’m saying. Like the way I used to do it everything is in Google Doc and I do one video for the whole thing.
Joe: Well if I were to change one thing, I’d have to do the whole video all over again. But something like this allows you to break it down in chunks just like you’re talking about, with subcategories right? So that you can look at it from a high level, then sub category level, and then sub-sub category level, and you can see the individual steps in there, and you can record little videos or instructions on just each defend step.
Joe: Right? Then when Google Docs updates their interface and changes their menus around or whatever, you can go in or have your team member who’s doing that process go in and create a new video for that just little step there, on how to– the new way it works once the software changes. Does that make sense?
Frank: Yes, and the easiest way — we talked about this documentation thing think of documentation as the brain and the body, right? We have — we’ve got limbs, we’ve extremities, we’ve all the stuff that do things for us, but the brain is the control center, right? And in your business you’re going to have lots of tools, you’re going to have lots of resources, that you deploy to do things for you, but somewhere needs to reside the instruction manual. The policies and procedures that let that business do the things it does the way you want it done.
So what Doc and Do has created is not to replace the Podios, and the Infusionsofts, and your websites, and all that, it’s not replaced any of that. On the contrary it’s to make them better, it’s to make sure that you use it the way your business needs it used. So as you know Joe in Podio you can customize to do a gazillion things, I mean that’s a very-very flexible system, but once its built you still have to have instructions on it how do I do this? How did you build this particular thing? So that way if they make a change, and update as we all know third parties software never changes anything when we break something, right?
Frank: Yeah welcome to Infusionsoftware world, right? When we talk about– it comes out I’m like how many websites are we breaking today. But it’s because things change, and we need to reflect that in our instruction manual. So you hurt your arm your brain tells you it’s hurt you know it right? So we need to be able to go out there and your brain is going to tell you to repair, it just doesn’t happen it’s your brain telling it to do that.
It’s maybe the subconscious part of it, but it’s still happening. We have to do the same in our business, we have to treat our documentation as the instruction manual, as the life blood of the business, so it gives life to the business, and really it gives you back your life, because until you do that you’re a hostage to your business
Joe: Well Frank where can– what are some tools or resources that you can recommend to people to maybe study, read, get more information on this stuff, or figure out how to do it? Or maybe even get some good examples things like that.
Frank: Oh absolutely, first and foremost you can go get a free account at Doc and Do and then– we have what it’s called a template gallery. And you can download templates and play around with them, and look at it, and you download it right into your thing, take a look at what’s in there there’s some documentation in there about that. So that’s a helpful resource it’s one of the things that we like about, is because other people can put some great ideas in there, and you can download it and use it if they make it available to you.
Joe: First of all, I didn’t know you were involved with creating this?
Frank: Yes, yep, and it was more like…
Joe: I didn’t even know that. I thought you just were telling me about it.
Frank: I tell a lot of people about it actually.
Joe: Well dah that’s why. But I did not know you helped create this?
Frank: Yeah I tried using a lot of the other tools out there, but one of the challenges I found…
Joe: I’m embarrassed I’m sorry Frank.
Frank: No worries- no worries, again we built this not– it’s not about me it’s about what it can do for business, that’s why we built it. And I don’t need to take any credit for it, yes it’s got a lot of the thinking behind it, it’s structure is based on how I worked with other people, and what their complains were about what they couldn’t do with Google Docs and other things like that. Just because of the dynamic nature that we knew business needs. For the very reason you said– I mean you said it straight up, “I’ll update it and then 18 months later I hire a new VA, and I’m just not confident that’s stuff is up to date I got to go back and redo it again,” right? That’s painful for its business owner, and it’s painful for any business.
It’s not to say that you go into the Fortune 2000 companies that they’re perfect, I mean let’s face it. But I will say this, when you get hired by one of those you’re up and running usually fast. They get you going quickly you know what you’re doing, but when a little guy hires you, and if you’ve ever worked for small company before there’s a lot of like, “Holy shit, what did I get myself into?” Because it’s like you’re not sure how this is going to go, you’re just not sure. So the better documentation we as business owners can do, the better experience our employees are going to have, the more profitable we can be, the more productive we can be, and that’s Doc and Do is designed to help support businesses who want to do that, that’s why it was created.
Joe: That’s really good. And I can see maybe people maybe a little overwhelmed with this, but I like what you said, “Just chunk it down, plan it out, don’t think you can get through this in one or two days or in a weekend give yourself sometime,” and I think this is fantastic. One of the things that am probably going to do, for me my mapping works really well to start this kind of a process out, because I got all these ideas in my head and it’s hard to kind of I just need to do a brain dump.
Joe: I think if some ideas that some of you are think about doing something like this just brain dump all of your stuff out, and if you do it on a mind map its easy to move things around, right? So we can move things in the correct order that they need to be in. I think that what I’m going to do with my business, and then out put it into something like Doc and Do, where I can then– it doesn’t have to be like 20 steps for each different procedure…
Joe: It can be just a simple one or two things, but if it’s– right now I can if my assistants were listening to this I know they’d be saying, “Joe are you paying attention? Are you listening to Frank, Joe? Hallo.” This is really- really good Frank. Okay so how can people get in touch with you do some occasionally one on one consulting with businesses, is that right?
Frank: I do, yeah.
Frank: I try to help people generally we work with one to two clients in a given month, and I won’t try to overload it in doing that. But they can reach me at the thesmartguides.com, and that’s a site that I use for sort of explaining what systems are about things of that nature, and they can sight up for a free consul and stuff like that, if they’re interested in doing something of that nature. So the key for any of these stuff guys is get started, keep it simple, do not over complicate it’s not complicated, don’t over complicate it, don’t over think it. The cardinal rule is you document what you do the way you do it, so you can test it.
Frank: Because really hard– if you don’t have a baseline and how do you know you improved anything anyways, right? So you do that you’re just going to lay it out, build it, and the improvement starts after you’re all done with your documentation. Then you go through the improvement process, then you can go again and hook up with a guy like Joe and he’ll Podio the crap out of our business, and you have everything all over the place so, and it will all be automated.
And that’s important, because a lot of people are manual still, especially in the real estate space; a lot of you are all manual. You’ll be of manual contacts, you’re manual everything, and there’s nothing wrong with that when you start absolutely not, but document how you do it, so you can get help
Joe: That’s good, and so many guys don’t know where you need help, you don’t what’s broken until you do document it and you see what you’re doing.
Frank: Funny story Joe you mentioned that I can remember when I was doing real estate in the mid 2000s’ my partner and I, we wanted to hire an assistant and for the life of us– and here’s me with me experience I had. And I was scratching my head going, “What are we going to have him do? We have like 7,000 things that we want to do so if we hired the first person what do we want him to do?” And we struggled with it for almost three months before we hired our first person, and said “Let’s just get some help somewhere anywhere.”
Frank: That’s how it came to be for us back then, because I didn’t follow my own advice back then.
Joe: This is really good all right guys so go to docanddo.com, D-O-C-A-N-D-D-O.com to check out this software website, and by the way the mobile version of this is really cool. I like mobile stuff that looks good on tablet or a phone; it looks really good on a device a hand held device. I was going to recommend that thing even before I knew that you were involved with it Frank. So now that you are involved, I’m extra highly recommending it to everybody.
Frank: Well, I appreciate that I hope it helps a lot of people.
Joe: I think it will and it’s just takes a lot of this concept and grounds it down into reality like, “Okay, well all these stuff sounds good theorily up here in the my brain, how do I make this more concrete where actually I can start applying it?” Well this kind of helps you do that just naturally, its’ really nice. Then to get more information about Frank, I’ve talked to some people that he’s worked with guys they’ve really get a lot of what he does for businesses, thesmartguides.com, T-H-E-S-M-A-R-T, the smart guides, G-U-I-D-E-S.com.
Well thanks Frank, I sure appreciate it we were talking a week or two ago about maybe doing a workshop together. We’re still talking and the talking phase is about that, I’m excited about that I’m hoping that something works out or happens in the near future, and those of you who aren’t on our list or the podcast list, just stay tuned and we’ll be talking more about that in the future, as we kind of narrow those– get those plans nailed down.
Frank: I have an idea if they respond to the comments like you talking about earlier, for your show and doing that…
Frank: Just say, “This is something you want,” if we enough comments like that then Joe will make that a reality.
Joe: Yeah okay, so leave a review on iTunes or on our website at realestateinvestingmastery.com, and let us know if you would like some kind of workshop where we dive deep into the stuff, let us know and if there’s enough interest out there, then we’ll get our butt in gear and start scheduling it earlier rather than later. So cool, thanks Frank for being on the show.
Frank: I appreciate it.
Alex: Great call.
Joe: Yeah that was really good, thank you Alex.
Frank: Alex I appreciate you’re honored as well thank you.
Alex: Great info.
Joe: All right guys go to Real Estate Investing Mastery to get the show notes, leave us a review on iTunes, and we’ll talk to you later, see you guys take care.
Alex: See you.
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