I have 19 flips in progress right now, which is the most I have ever had. There is no way I complete that many flips, write for the blog, do podcasts, and manage the other parts of my business without an awesome team. In fact I work less than 40 hours a week. I make sure the tasks I work on are things I enjoy doing and delegate everything else. Having a team has made me much more successful than I could ever be on my own. I am also much happier and less stressed out because of my team. I hear people say they don’t want a team because of all the work it takes managing people and they can do the job better themselves anyway. Even if you like working non-stop by yourself, it is not smart and usually not maintainable. What happens if you get sick, get in an accident, or cannot work?
What should be your ultimate goal when starting a business?
Many people start a business because they want to make a lot of money, have more control of their lives, or both. But most business owners spend way too much time working in their business instead of on it. The goal of a business should be for it to run without you. If you have to constantly be present and working for your business to succeed, you just created a job for yourself. Except owning a business where you have to constantly be present is worse than a job, because there is no one else who can fill in for you.
When I first started listing a lot of REO properties for banks, I was working 10 to 12 hour days. I was completing BPOs, driving by houses, and completing a ton of tasks. It was fun in the beginning, but when I went on vacation I was still working. It drove my wife crazy because I had to spend two hours a day working in the hotel information center so that I got everything done. When I got sick I still had to work because there was no one else who could fill in for me. I knew I had to change something, because doing all the work myself was not sustainable.
How did I start to build my real estate team?
I hired a part-time assistant to help me with my REO and BPO tasks. It took some time to train her, but it was well worth the effort. All of a sudden I had more time to think about my business, and not constantly work in it. I could go after new business, and I could flip more houses. Eventually my assistant Nikki became a full-time employee and I had even more time to work on my business.
Hiring help was not a hassle, it was the best thing I ever did. Not only did I have more time to work on my business, but the work was done better! She had more time to dedicate to certain tasks, which she perfected. I could complete those tasks, but I was doing so many things at once, and I was in such a hurry that I did not do them well. I could go on vacation without working the entire time! I could get sick and not be stressed out about late tasks and work not being done.
If you are worried about hiring people because you think you cannot afford them, they won’t do as good of a job, or you like doing it all yourself, what happens if you can’t work? A lot of business owners are the sole provider for their families, and they are the core of their business. Without the owner working, the business falls apart and no money comes in. Having a team and people who run your business is necessary in case something happens to the owner. We all assume we will be healthy all the time, but you never know what could happen.
How hard is it to hire people and create a team?
I bought my dad’s business in 2013. I should have bought it much sooner, but I was scared to take it over. I did not know anything about payroll, taxes, or workers’ compensation. Guess what? I still have almost no idea how any of that works. I ended up hiring Justin to manage the team for me and take care of all of those things. It may not be possible to hire someone to run a team for you right away, but there are thousands of companies who will help with hiring and paying staff. You do not have to learn it all yourself!
It is not always expensive to hire help either. Justin and Nikki on my team are both real estate agents. While I pay them for the things they help me with, I also get a cut of their commissions when they sell houses. Nikki is now the project manager on my flips and because she sells quite a few houses every year, she is almost free help. The split of the commissions I get from her sales are usually more than what I pay her! If you are a real estate agent and looking for help, hiring someone who becomes an agent on your team is a great way to start. They can help you with tasks and sell houses as well.
Many business owners try to be a one man show, but it usually does not work out well in the end. If you are dead set against hiring employees, you can still hire others to help with your business. You can hire a property manger, you can hire contractors to make repairs on houses, you can hire marketing companies to send out mailers, you can hire people to build a website for you. You do not have to do it all yourself!
For more information on success, check out my book: How to Change Your Mindset to Achieve Huge Success: Why your attitude and daily habits have more to do with making more money and having more freedom than anything else.
[0:00:59.2] MF: Hey everyone, it’s Mark Ferguson with InvestFourMore. Welcome to another episode of the InvestFourMore Real estate podcast. Today, I’m going to talk about teams; building a team, how my team works, why teams are so awesome, and just go through mindset of having a team, why you need one, how I built my team, who is on my team, how to hire, and how to handle it. I think it’s something anybody who wants to go into business for themselves needs to think about and needs to try and implement.
Now, if you’re working for a company, if you have a corporate job, you can take vacations on your own, you can leave work behind. But if you have your own business, if you’re doing your own thing as an agent, you have to have a team so you can relax and take time for yourself. Before I get too much into that, I have 19 flips going right now. I bought a couple of more flips last week, I’m up to 19, I have my blog, I have my real estate team, my rentals, there’s no way I could do all this without a team, absolutely no way.
I know people don’t believe me but I work less than 40 hours a week. I’m in the office eight to 8:30, I leave by five every day, a lot of times earlier. I don’t work on the weekends and I usually have time to play golf at least once a week during the work weekday. That’s because I have a great team, I’ve built a business that can run by itself in some aspects. Not all the way there, where it can run all by itself but I’m working on that. That’s really what the point of business is, not so that you’re working 80 hours a week yourself doing everything so that it can run by itself, you can work on big ideas, have fun with it.
With 19 flips, there’s no way I could do all that myself. Manage contractors, manage financing, finding deals. Stuff would start to go haywire, I would go crazy, it just would not happen and if you missed it, I came up with an article last week that talks about my 19 flips, I created a new kind of scoreboard for the flips, it’s under my resources page. If you want to get to it quickly, just click on the blue menu on the top of the website where it says “resources”.
You can drop down and go to the fix and flip scoreboard and it shows all my active flips, what I bought them for, what the repairs will be, how I bought them, pictures of them, videos of them and then how long I think it’s going to take and what the repairs will take. So check that out, kind of a cool little page I put together and yeah, let’s get going on this podcast.
All right, one thing I hear from a lot of people is, “I don’t want to hire anybody, I don’t want staff, I don’t want a team because it’s too much work managing people,” and it is work managing people. It takes some time, it takes effort to build a team and find the right people. If you don’t have anybody helping you, if you don’t have a team, that means you’re doing everything yourself and I can tell you from experience, it is much better, much easier to have a team to have people helping you than to try and do it all on your own.
As a real estate agent, as a real estate investor, as anybody who has their own business, if you’re doing it all by yourself because you’re scared to hire a team, you’re going to have issues. You’re going to have major problems with your family, with your health, with stress, with the business. Because you cannot do it all on your own. There’s a lot of real estate agents who try to go at it alone; they have no team, no assistance, no help, and they can’t take vacations.
Or if they do take a vacation, they’re working half the time, they’re on the phone, they’re talking to clients, talking to title companies, talking to lenders. They’re not taking a real vacation, they’re still working and while they’re gone, their business is struggling because they can’t show houses, they’re not there to help their clients, they may lose business, they may lose money, and it’s really stressful.
A lot of agents dread vacations because they know what’s going to happen, they’re going to get stress, they’re going to lose business, they’re going to be working the whole time. That’s not fun. But, if you had just one assistant, one person on your team or even an agent who you can partner with in your office, you can relieve a lot of that stress. They can show houses, they can take over for you. They can do fill in for you while you’re gone.
All it takes is one person really but if you can keep building, keep getting more people, it doesn’t get more complicated, it makes it easier, it gives you more time, which is what we all want in our life is more time to do the things we love. The more people you can hire, the more time you have to think of new ideas, to build the business, to make it bigger, to make it stronger, or just to relax more. Maybe you don’t need to be, have more money or bigger business or get bigger, maybe you just need more time.That’s what hiring people, delegating tasks can give you.
If you’re doing it all yourself, it’s a struggle, it does not work well. Even if you can do it for a couple of years, eventually something’s going to break, something’s going to happen and it’s not going to be good. Even if you love doing it, even if you love doing everything yourself, you don’t want to take a vacation, you have no family, you just want to work all the time. What happens if you get sick? What happens if you get in a car accident? What happens if you have to go take care of your sick mother for a month or something? You cannot work.
What happens when you cannot work? Will your business keep going or will it fail? It’s not a matter of if it will happen, it will happen to all of us at some point where you cannot work for one reason or another; family, your own health, stress, whatever it is and you have to be prepared for that, you can’t just hope it never happens and then deal with it once you’re in that position because that’s when businesses fail, if you have a family and they’re depending on your income and that business, what are you going to do? How are you going to take care of everybody?
Unless you have a huge nest egg built up or some other way to take care of yourself, you can be in serious trouble. That’s why the best thing you can do if you have your own business, if you are an agent, self-employed, anyway depending on yourself for your income, you have a team, you have an assistant, they can take over, they can help, they can kind of ride the storm if you get hurt, if you get injured, have to leave the job for a while.
Not only can they help out in the situations but if you want to go on vacation, if you want to take time off, you won’t feel guilty about it. You won’t feel bad that you’re missing out or losing money. A lot of businesses when they’re run right, get to a point where it’s like, staff and the people are happy when the owner leaves, “Oh you can get so much more stuff done, we don’t have to worry about them,” and it’s just a great feeling knowing you have something that will run by itself, run without you.
And at that point, it also becomes a marketable business where if you don’t have to be constantly working in it, constantly there to make it, make money, then you can sell that business to somebody else because they don’t have to come in and run it either. They can buy something that’s making money just like a rental property, an income property and that is the best way to make your business worth something.
All right, so let’s get in to how I started my team. I was on my dad’s team since I got into real estate in 2001/2002. He had an assistant for a long time. It was just kind of me and my dad and this one assistant. We did not get along very well, didn’t have any assistant. In fact, one time, she got into a screaming match with me in the office, cussing up a storm because I’d given her a list of things that I might need help with while I went on vacation and she didn’t like that very much.
Anyway, eventually, they parted ways, we got some new people on board but when I got my first assistant was right after I got into the REO business. I was an agent for five or six years, then I found REO, which is listing foreclosures for banks, listing properties for the government as HUD homes. I got super busy. I went from selling 20 houses a year to selling a hundred, and then 200 houses a year. I was doing 500 to a thousand broker price opinions a year and I was swamped. I was working 10 or 12 hours a day, it was fun.
At first I’m like, this is so exciting, “This is so cool, I have all this listings, I have all this BPO’s I’m doing, I’m making all this money.” But it’s also like, “I cannot keep this up, I can’t work this much for the rest of my life and not be stressed out. Never be able to take a vacation, it just won’t work,” and that’s when I ended up hiring my first assistant Nikki. It was not super stressful, I hired her part time, she didn’t start off full time right away and I just slowly taught her different tasks, different things to do, how to help with BPO’s, how to help with expensing, things I didn’t like doing, I taught her first.
That freed up my time to do other things, that freed up my time to pursue more business as a real estate agent. It actually made me more money hiring her because I had so much more time to pursue other activities. I wasn’t doing busy work, I was doing real important work. Once things really got going well with her, she learned how to BPO, I ended up hiring full time, she came on full time and I kept giving her more and more task, more and more things to do and it just gave me more and more free time.
That really helped me propel our fix and flipping business because I had time to find deals, I had time to analyze properties, I had more time to spend on that business. The REO’s kept coming in, we kept making money on that front, we kept listing houses and I also could add in the fix and flips, built that business because I had that assistant who helped me.
I could go on vacation, and I wouldn’t have to do all the BPO’s myself and this is back a few years ago when not everybody had a laptop with wireless, I’d have to go to the hotel’s information center and work on a computer for a couple of hours a day, completing BPO’s, which did not make my wife very happy. Things are much easier now but still, I very rarely work on vacation right now.
Eventually, like I said, my dad’s assistant, they parted ways and we hired someone else, John, who is on our team now and still as well. We hired John to help with contracts, help with talking to title companies, talking to lenders, entering listing information, all types of different tasks he could help with. Eventually he helped with the REO’s as well, he could do an inspections, take pictures, complete tasks, all kinds of things.
Again, that made my life so much easier too because just more help, freed up more of my time. Eventually we got to a point where me, Nikki, John, and my dad and in 2013, I bought the entire business from my father and that was not easy, that was a huge decision for me. It may seem like the natural thing to do, but I had absolutely no experience in payroll, in accounting for all of that, in taxes, no idea what I was doing.
I was really hesitant, it was just kind of this block in my mind that I could never take over the business because there’s so many things I had to learn, so many things I have to do. But what ended up happening was my best friend from college, my college roommate Justin, we started talking about different things, talking about life and money and jobs and work. Long story short, he decided to come work with me and get his real estate license
He had management skills. All of a sudden, I felt comfortable buying the business because I could give tasks to Justin that I didn’t want to do. Figuring out payroll, figuring out all that stuff, I never learned any of it, I gave it all to Justin, I said, “Hey, you figure it out. You run this business from the technical side, I’ll run it form the higher level philosophical side,” and it worked out wonderful. He ended up getting his real estate license, Nikki ended up getting her real estate license, they make money for the team, they also get paid in numerous other ways.
It made my life even easier with him here because I was doing the blog, writing articles. He could help with some of the technical side of that, I am not a technical person, I am not backing a programming HTML or learning all the things that you have to do with a blog to make it run. Other people do that for me. I focus on writing, I focus on ideas, I focus on the things I like to do. I don’t like technical stuff. You ask my team, I tend to break my computer, my phone, all that stuff all the time.
But just hiring those people, having those people on my team it was not stressful. It did not make my life worse because I had to manage them. It made it better because they freed up my time. They could complete tasks for me. We’ve hired other agents on the team and some of those agents we had have to fire, we’ve had to let go. It’s not fun. You know, not everybody you hire will work out well, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth it. You just keep trying, you keep building and eventually you’ll get the right pieces in place that make it make sense.
Now one of the really cool things about my team right now, like I said we’ve got Nikki, Justin, John, we hired a couple of other new agents who are doing fantastic. I have a cousin who helps us with some accounting stuff. My mom still helps with a few small things. There are all kinds of people helping us. But with Nikki, she sells houses. She’s licensed and she pretty much pays for herself because I get a cut of the houses she sells. We’ll see if she’s listening or not, hopefully she’s not listening and realizes how good of a deal I have.
But I don’t think I have to pay her anything because of the money I make from the houses she sells. The same thing with Justin, I don’t think Justin quite pays for everything I pay him. But when he sells a house, I get a percentage of that so as a real estate agent, if you can hire an assistant who then becomes licensed and then sells houses for you or works with buyers, whatever it is and you get a piece of that commission. I mean at a certain point it’s almost like they’re working for you for free and helping you out for free.
Maybe they get to a point where they’re an awesome agent, they don’t want to be your assistant anymore. Well great, keep them as an agent, make them happy, hire another assistant, an assistant to help you and help them. I mean one really important thing is, if you find awesome rock stars, really cool people on your team you want to keep them. You want to do everything that you can to keep them from going away and that doesn’t always mean more money or giving them raises or hire commission splits, sometimes it’s being appreciative or making their life easier.
All of our agents have an assistant, John or even Nikki helps them sometimes too so they’re not on their own doing everything. They have someone to help them. If they went out on their own to try and sell houses, make a little more money, they’d have to do all that work themselves. They’d have to write the contracts, talk to title companies, talk to lenders. It will be twice as much work they’re having all of that to do and in the end, they’re probably not going to make much more money per hour because they’ve got to do all of that themselves. So if you give people incentives to stay on your team, make their life easy, it’s really advantageous to you and to them.
All right so we’ve got our team now, we’ve got our agents, we’re still looking to build, we’re still growing. Like I said, a lot of our team is set up so that it runs itself. The real estate agent side of it. I do almost nothing anymore. I don’t even sell houses to friends and family, hardly. Very rarely do I ever do it. I hand off everything to my team because they do a better job of it, they have more time, and I still make money off those deals. For my rental properties I have property managers who are doing all the management, all of rent collecting, everything. I don’t have to deal with any of it.
Once in a while Justin will ask me a question about someone being late on rent, what I want to do, and that’s it. Very rarely do I ever have to even make a decision about what to do on things. He can handle all of it. The things I do spend my time on are on the flipping business, but if I really wanted to walk away from it, I’m confident my team can still handle it and do a great job. They have been able to find deals without me when I went on vacation.
They are perfectly capable of finding contractors, of keeping track of the job sites, of managing the projects, of expenses, of all of that, on listing houses. Really the main reason I work so much on the flipping business now is because I really like doing it. It’s really fun for me to see the houses, to find new deals, to see the repair work, to see them transform. That’s one of the funnest part of the job for me and that’s why I still do it so much.
Another thing I spend a lot of time on is the blog. Writing, the books, I spend a lot of time doing that, I like doing that as well. That’s fun for me. It would be tougher for me to delegate those things because I suppose I could get a ghost writer, I suppose I could have someone else do all of that, but they wouldn’t have the same perspective as I do. I’m sure most of my readers could tell if someone else started writing all the articles and there might be less typos. But I do have someone who edits most of the articles now, but that is something that I like to do.
Again, I do have the blog set up, with all the articles, with all the content, all the things we’ve done where it could also run by itself for quite a long time without me being there and it would still do just fine. Yes, it does make some money through different sources. So while there are some parts of the business I have to be a part of and I have to work in, I really could be fine taking a couple of months off and not doing anything and the world would not implode, the business would still be here as long as my team is still here and they didn’t all decide to quit. It makes life so much easier and so much more fun when you have that free time, that flexibility to do what you really want to do.
Okay, so what are some of the road blocks to hiring a team, to hiring an assistant if you are running your own business, if you are an agent? Obviously one of them is money. A lot of people don’t want to hire someone until they are making really good money. But something you have to think about is, when you hire an assistant and they start doing tasks that you don’t like taking some things off your plate allows you to grow faster. You can think about the big picture more, you can work on the business not work in the business and if you’re looking to grow faster, if you’re looking to make more money more quickly, sometimes hiring someone can do that even though you are having to pay them more and you might not have a ton of extra money in the beginning.
You don’t have to hire someone full-time. You can hire a part-time person. You can hire a virtual assistant. There are so many options out there with today’s technology for hiring people, delegating tasks, finding help. There’s always internships, mentorships. If you’re really good at something, there’s probably a really good chance that someone else wants to learn how to do what you know how to do.
If you’re good in investing, if you’re good at being an agent, if you are good at computers, whatever it is, there are people out there who probably want to learn how to do what you are doing and a lot of colleges have internships. They even have a free internship where you can get free help from someone who wants to learn from you. Or if you’re at a real estate investor club, there’s people who look for mentors all the time.
If you find the right person, you may be able to find someone who will start helping you a few hours a week for free just to learn from you, maybe even more time. Eventually if they are skilled, are good at what their job is then you can pay them, then you can start bringing them on your team as an agent. There are many people who want to learn how to be a real estate agent and would love a mentor to help them learn the business, learn how to sell houses and might even help them be their assistant for free for a few hours a week.
So money does not have to be the road block that many people think it is. It might take some time, some effort to find those people but don’t say, “Oh there’s no way I can hire someone because I don’t have the money. That’s just simply not true. Now another road block is what I’ve spoken of earlier, figuring payroll, taxes, how to hire somebody. I still don’t really know exactly how to do that myself, and I have 10 people on my team. So that shouldn’t be a road block either.
Maybe I got lucky, maybe having Justin help me figure all that out was pure luck. However, there are payroll companies, there are accountants, there are all types of people who can help you figure out exactly how to do it. You can delegate and hire that part of it out. You don’t have to learn it all yourself. You can hire a company to do it, maybe they’ll charge you a little more to do it. It’s probably worth your time to have someone else do it than go through the headaches of learning it yourself if you really hate that part of the job and you don’t want to learn it.
It’s simple, hire it out and that’s something else to consider. Maybe you don’t have to hire your own assistant or employee or put them on the payroll. Maybe you just start using contractors, other people to take more off your plate. If you’re managing your rental properties all yourself, hire a property manager. You don’t have to worry about payroll and all of that different stuff. You’re just hiring a contractor or a company to help you.
There are so many different ways that you can hire companies to help you, hire people to make your life easier without even having them be an employee just doing contract work for you. So there are just a lot of ways around it. You don’t have to be worried about the money, about the tasks, about the taxes, all of that. Figure out a way, do some research, and start adding to your team. Get an assistant in there who can help you be more productive, do more work, and work on bigger ideas.
Eventually that person, maybe they’re be it part time, maybe they’re a virtual assistant, will eventually bring on someone onto your team. They grow into a bigger position, add someone else, keep growing. It’s just an amazing feeling watching your team build and grow and it’s not a hassle. It’s not stressful. It’s fun and at the same time, you are making more money, you are providing a job, which is really cool to think that you are providing jobs for other people.
You are providing their livelihood, you’re helping the local economy. There are just so many cool things about business and, I forget what the stats are, but something like 80% of businesses that are started are just kind of a one man show or the person who owns the business is working full-time in that business and cannot leave. If they leave the business implodes and that’s not what a business should be.
As soon as you start your business, as soon as you go into business for yourself if you’re self-employed, you should be creating a plan, figuring out how you’re going to create something sustainable without you, how are you going to be able to go on vacations without working all the time? How are you able to work less than 80 hours a week, if that’s what you’re doing right now?
There are a lot of people out there who loved to hustle, love to work hard. Thee’s the entrepreneurial spirit, work hard, work like crazy, build something up now and then you can retire early. That’s awesome, that’s a really good attitude, you have to work hard. You have to work like crazy in the beginning but you shouldn’t just be focused on how many hours you can work, how hard you can work all the time, you have to work smart too.
And part of working smart is not just putting in the hours but building something and hiring people, creating systems, creating it so that you don’t have to do all the work yourself is building something that will sustainable and marketable. If you ever get tired of it, you want to quit, you want to sell it.
All right, so I think that’s all I’ve got for this episode. Really important to not get stuck working, doing everything yourself. Even if you think you can do it, even if you love doing it, we can’t always control what happens to our lives. We get sick, our family members get sick, get in accidents, get hurt, you won’t be always able to work nonstop your entire life all the time.
So the sooner you can start building something, the sooner you can make something sustainable, the better off you’ll be and the more successful you’ll be. Because it will give you more time and more freedom to do what you love, to think of big ideas, to work on things that make you happy and I think that’s what all of us really wanted to do, ultimately, is be happy and it’s hard to do that when you’re working nonstop, stuck in your business, doing busy work all the time.
All right, thank you all for listening. Hope you enjoyed the show, hope it helped you. Of course leave comments below. You’re all welcome to send me an email if you have any questions, [email protected], and we’ll talk next week.