In today's show, Larry talked with James Hawk of The Flip Fuel Show. James is a master marketer and a wholesaler who is doing a ton of deals. James shared the importance of doing follow-ups and several gold nuggets on how to do marketing effectively.
Larry: Welcome to the Brain-Pick-A-Pro Show live from Lake Wylie South Carolina and all the way in Florida, my good friend James Hawk. This guy is a master marketer. He’s a wholesaler, he’s a mover, he’s a shaker he’s doing a ton of deals. I got to tell you we got a chance to hang out in Phoenix a few weeks ago and man there was a party going on a big luau.
And the whole time I’m picking this guy’s brain, right. So I’m learning everything I can from him and I’m like, “Man I’m glad I don’t drink anymore so I can remember all this stuff. But please make a warm welcome, James Hawk. What’s going on buddy?
James: Oh man thank you. Thanks for having me on man. I feel like you built me up too much there.
Larry: Man I got to tell you it really was cool hanging out with you though and I hope you didn’t mind all those questions I was asking. Because I mean I’ve been doing this for 30 plus years but I’m always wanting to learn from people who’re out there in trenches and doing it and I can always learn something, right. I mean you and I both teach this stuff but we can always learn more, right.
James: Right. Absolutely man I enjoyed speaking with you as well. I mean geez you’ve been doing it so long, your wealth of knowledge it’s just incredible being able to talk to people like you that’s been doing it and has all that experience. And I mean you brought up a good point, it is true man it’s getting tough out there so anyone that you can join with and meet up with and kind of hang out and network is just critical now, right.
Larry: That’s exactly right. Why don’t you start out and tell our listeners a little bit about yourself? I mean I could tell them, you bought and sold over 1,000 houses and you bought and sold over $40 million worth of real estate. But tell a little bit about who is James Hawk.
James: Well so it’s interesting. I never went to college I would say that I barely graduated high school.
Larry: I know that feeling I’m in the same boat.
James: Yeah and all it was like Middle School I was on the honor roll did all the right things, got to high school started going down the wrong road a little bit.
Larry: Started looking at girls and cars.
James: Your focus shifts and just being a teenage boy.
Larry: Yeah you started focusing on girls and cars.
James: Right. And that’s pretty much what happened and instead of going to college I pretty much just went straight out of high school into doing construction.
James: I was actually a mason so I was laying brick.
Larry: Wow that’s a tough gig.
James: Yeah it is man. I mean I do not envy those guys that are out there doing that. It is a tough job, it doesn’t pay for what you have to do.
Larry: It’s tough work man and your arms they skin off like throwing a column of brick up to the next level, right.
James: Yeah, that. No, it is man it’s tough.
Larry: You know what I’m talking about.
James: So after that I got involved with this bridge company and whenever I got hired on there, I mean I didn’t know anything about steel fabrication, about how to read like plans the fabricated bridge or anything at all, how to weld. But I started at the bottom and I ended up working my way up.
I think I was there about four years. And when I left I actually ran two departments and I had a bunch of welding certifications, I was a certified fitters for like gutters and stuff like that. We actually did the Woodrow Wilson in DC.
Larry: Wow that’s pretty cool.
James: Yeah the newer one it was on like Mega Builders on Discovery Channel.
James: That Company was. Yeah so it was pretty cool but when I was doing that, I mean there was always something inside of me that I was just always attracted to real estate. So I started doing it part time like I had a friend, told this friend of mine I was going to be an agent, that’s what I wanted to do and he was wholesaling.
He kind of kept his cards to his chest didn’t really let me know too much.
Larry: Yeah you’re right.
James: I guess he didn’t want the competition and really there wasn’t a bonus mindset there. But anyway I started just diving in man learning everything that I can. I remember watching like Mike Jake YouTube videos because back then there wasn’t a whole lot of that. Like you could just find a million courses everywhere and a million videos on what to do.
So anyway I just got started man, I was working nightshift. I would work at night, during the day I would do real estate all day. And I did that for a about a year and a half straight and then finally I got my second deal which was like a $20,000 deal. And then I just quit man and went all in.
Larry: I hear you, that’s awesome. Now you’re in Florida market, right?
Larry: Yeah what part of Florida are you in?
James: We’re in Jacksonville. So we primarily work in like the North Eastwood area and then also a little bit of Central Florida like Orlando.
Larry: Right. And you know what man it’s right now the market is tough. You’ve got to be a good marketer to get deals right?
James: 100% man. Like a lot of people are going to be left behind if they’re not dialing in on the marketing.
Larry: That’s so true. So share with the listeners a little bit about what does your business look like? I mean you primarily wholesale, right?
James: Right. So we primarily wholesale, I would say that about 5% of our business is new construction and some rehabbing. A couple years ago it was more or so probably like 70/30 we did more of it. But we shifted away more from the new construction rehabbing just because of all the logistics and the scale building.
We both know wholesaling is not very difficult to scale that up. Currently we have about eight people on our team and we’re doing a good amount of deals every month. And we’re also looking to scale that even more, I mean with the marketing side of things we send about 100,000 plus pieces of mail a month.
Larry: 100,000 pieces of mail?
Larry: Man, that’s huge. That costs you a lot of money.
James: Yeah it costs a whole hell lot of money. and one thing I’d say though is I think it’s important for everyone to know that when you’re talking about anything marketing related, and this is a common misconception that a lot of people obviously you know this but a lot of people probably don’t, is they always think of it as like, “Oh man that’s so much money.” And they look at it like it’s an expense. But we both know that it’s really an investment in your business.
Larry: That’s so true. It’s every piece has an ROI on it.
Larry: Yeah that’s exactly right. Now you mentioned you have eight people. Tell us a little bit about your business structure if you don’t mind.
James: Sure. So we have fulltime transaction coordinator/like office manager. We have two lead coordinators, we have a fulltime marketing person on stuff and then we also have two home-like what we call home buying specialists. And then we have a fulltime dispositions.
Larry: Two of those acquisition.
James: Yeah two acquisitions yeah.
Larry: That’s good. And then you have two lead managers. Share with everybody what is a lead manager, what do they do.
James: Sure, basically what we have them do is any of the marketing the incoming calls, the web form submissions whatever it is, basically it’s their responsibility to answer those calls live or get back to people as soon as possible and then also follow up. So our whole backend like follow up system ties into them as well. So we’re making sure that we’re getting to people as soon as possible.
But then we’re also long terms we’re following up with people over time. Because if you know a lot about this business and you’ve done a lot of marketing, to people out there, it’s like the follow up is really everything because at the end of the day that money that you’re spending like if you’re not following up over time, then you’re losing the majority of everything that you’re spending in marketing.
Larry: That’s so true because especially in direct mail, takes a little while to get that pipeline built up.
James: It does.
Larry: And even if you send out 100,000 pieces you might close-I don’t know how many you might close, five or 10 on that. But also five or 10 of those deals or three or five of them might be six months or a year down the road, right.
James: That’s true man, it’s true. I mean it’s an accumulation effect with mail and especially because like you have so many people out there doing it. another thing with mail that I suggest to people all the time is don’t just send like go on one of the large website like whichever one know-hows that someone might use. You then just pick one of the barebones like templates and then just send that out all the time.
I would say like once you’ve scaled up I mean those are fine to get started but once you start actually scaling and developing a real business, start doing stuff a little bit different. Because you really need to stand out I mean there’s a lot of people sending mail.
And you know what, at the end of the day it doesn’t really matter how many people are sending it still works. I mean I don’t care what market you’re in, where you’re at, it always does work. But yeah I would say that as you grow, try doing some different stuff than what everyone else is doing.
Larry: Right. Now one of the big things now a lot of people are talking about and have been for a while is the street view postcards. Are you having any of those?
James: Yeah we do. We actually a custom one that we created that’s like a hybrid. So it’s like half street view and then it’s also like half handwritten and it absolutely crashes it.
Larry: That’s awesome.
James: Yeah it crashes it.
Larry: That’s awesome. So explain for everybody what that street view thing is. They may not understand that.
James: Yeah so what it is, is basically it depends on your mail house not every mail company can actually do it. But certain ones all they’re doing is basically taking your mailing list and integrating it with Google maps. And then they’re pulling in like a variable of like the street, the front picture of the house showing you from Google, is what they’re doing. And they’re putting that on the post card or letter which is really cool.
Larry: Yeah because when somebody gets a post card, they’re like, “Hey that’s a picture of my house.”
Larry: And they literally think somebody drove by the front of the house and took a picture of it and put it on the post card.
James: Yeah. And I tell you what, with those also I mean you’re going to definitely as far as like on the upset scale, you’re definitely going to get some on the heavier side like more around the nine or the 10 that are really upset about it. But at the same time it’s like you really can’t really worry about that, you got to send them. These people that get upset about say you’re sending them mail it’s like look I mean Walmart sends you mail every week or when Disney sends you mail it just is what it is.
Larry: You just throw it away.
James: You can’t let that bother you.
Larry: Right and the problem is they don’t have anything else better to do.
James: And that’s usually it as well right. That’s it’s usually like this older couple that really don’t have anything else to do. They’re retired and they’re like “I’m going to call this person and give them a what-it’s-for.”
Larry: Right, exactly. “Honey look what they did, they’ve been out here stalking us.”
James: Yeah I know.
Larry: That’s funny. So one of the most important things about direct mail is not only the piece that you send out but also the list. Tell us a little bit about how to find a good list, what makes a good list and that sort of thing.
James: Yeah so that’s a good question I mean because that is super important with mail. What we do is we have a bunch of different lists, right. I would recommend for anyone starting out that’s newer you stick with the distressed type list.
James: And those would be like tax delinquent, probate, eviction, divorce those types of lists. And believe it or not, this is an interesting list and depending on where you are it could be hit or miss but we send it so all is shared anyway. And that’s yard sales and the state sales.
James: Yeah, so we actually mail to yard sales and state sales and it works. I mean there’s usually not that many of them so it’s not that big of a cost. But we had success with it and we send them anyway just because it’s not that much money and we’ve gotten deals from it. But I would say stick with the distressed list in the beginning.
And then as you scale then you can move more into like the big lists like the equity and the absentee owners and owner occupied. And I mean we both know that does get really expensive depending on your market, there’s usually a lot of those. So and we use listability by the way for like our big lists, our equity lists that who we use.
Larry: Right your absentee owners list.
James: You’re right.
Larry: Yeah and then do you just pull your own eviction and tax delinquent and stuff like that?
James: Yeah, we do. We actually have a VA that we call our data specialist and she pulls all of our lists every week. So she goes into the county records and pulls all the divorce, all the probate and all the evictions and all that other stuff.
Larry: So tell us a little bit about frequency. A lot of people-I’ve heard from new investors, oh I tried direct mail and it doesn’t work. So let’s talk a little bit about consistency in direct mail and like sequence how often you mail somebody how many times you mail somebody, that sort of thing.
James: Sure and I’m going to tell you right now that is really the main point in this entire conversation of direct mail in my opinion. If you’re not consistent like if you’re not willing to commit to mailing somebody four or five times I will say don’t mail them at all. I mean it’s really a long term strategy you will get some beginning but it’s a long term and it’s the accumulation effect.
So I mean frequency like I think that you should at least mail your list, every list that you have at least once a month. And I don’t think that you should go any further out than that because other people are probably doing it and you need to stay like top of mind. So as far as consistency I mean if you can, recommend like mailing at least something every single week. But never let a particular list go over a month in my opinion.
Larry: Right. So what you’re saying is if you mail 100,000 pieces a month, you’re probably mailing 25,000 a week.
James: Right exactly.
Larry: And then on the fifth week it starts over.
Larry: How often do you pull a new list?
James: I would say that we mail so what we try to do is we do like a cycle of five. So once we mail a list five times then we’ll recycle it.
Larry: Right. And then your data person, your VA, they’re just adding to it probably. Adding new evictions new probates stuff like that.
James: Right. That’s exactly right. So throughout the cycle they’re adding and then we’re just mailing it over and over every month. And then once we get to that fifth time, we’ll save it and then hit it again like at the end of the year once and then we’ll also be starting a new one as well.
Larry: Right. I’ve had a lot of investors that tell me, “I tried this and I had a lot of undeliverables, got a lot of returns. I just threw them in the trashcan. Tell them what they should be doing with those.
James: Oh yeah you should 100% be sending those out and getting them skip traced and try to get phone numbers or updating the mailing addresses. I mean those are gold. It’s really important I meant those because really what’s happening is no one else is getting to them. So you have a huge opportunity there to be in front of somebody that no one else is really hitting.
So they 100% need to be going after those people.
Larry: That’s awesome. Now with your list do you also append the list and do life Facebook custom audience or telemarket the list as well?
James: So yeah with Facebook ads we definitely create custom audiences with all of our lists.
Larry: Explain that a little bit first.
James: Yeah so basically what you’re doing is you’re uploading the list into your Facebook ads manager account right. I mean you’re going to create an audience based on you can do it in three different ways right. Like you can append it and say try to get like the emails or phone numbers for them and then target them based on that.
But we certainly target it based on their address and then you’re just going to run ads right to them that are specific for whatever that list is. If it’s divorce then you create it like a custom ad that’s related to that but don’t be cheesy about it and kind of like dirt baggy like you got to do it the right way. But it can be really effective for sure.
Larry: That’s really cool because like if you have a list let’s say you have a list of eviction lists right, these are landlords that have just evicted somebody and they’re probably a tired don’t-want-to landlord or could be.
Larry: So you take that list and you upload it to Facebook knowing it’s an eviction list, so then you create an ad that says, “Are you sick and tired of dealing with tenants? Sell your house for cash now.” And your ad is only seen by those people. Man that’s like shooting fish in a barrel right?
James: No, it is man. I mean it’s highly effective and I mean unfortunately with Facebook ads I mean it seems like a lot of people struggle with is. But we average about $40 for a really good lead on Facebook and that’s across the board average of all our campaigns.
Larry: That’s great. Let’s talk a little bit about tracking.
Larry: I mean you’ve got a list for eviction, for probate, for absentee owner, for divorce whatever. You’ve got a lot of lists how do you determine this divorce thing is not working. I want to forget that. You want to track your different lists. So now share with people how you do that.
James: Yeah so every list and every mail piece will have its own phone number obviously and its own campaign. So that’s basically how it’s tracked within our CRM we have all different campaigns programmed in there, all the different data points for every piece in every list. So we make sure that every mail piece in every campaign or every list I should say they have their own individual like phone number and different type of mail piece certainly we can track it.
Larry: Right. So like if you’re sitting at 100,000 but let’s say 20,000 of it is eviction or 10,000 is eviction.
Larry: So those 10,000 are going to have a separate number, you probably Call Rail I’m guessing right.
James: Yeah we do use Call Rail.
Larry: Yeah callrail.com guys it’s great, I use it and you can set up different numbers for different tracking. So when a call comes in to your lead manager, you probably have it set it to where the caller ID is the actual number and they have it programmed in their phone so they can see eviction list call. And they answer the phone and they know it’s a landlord that just went through an eviction. So they know kind of how to handle that call right?
James: Yeah that’s basically exactly it. I mean we always know when the phone rings we know what that list is, who it’s coming from and also we have the call is always recorded when it’s incoming. So yeah we definitely know who’s calling at all times.
Larry: That’s good. And then your lead manager if they answer the phone, the manually put it into Podio, right? Is that the way they do it?
James: No actually it automatically goes into Podio.
Larry: Even if they answer it live?
James: Yeah even if they answer it live it’ll go in there and they can fill it out as they’re talking to them.
Larry: We do it a little bit different because my guys are saying get some leads that are just hate mail, they’re calling to complain or I was just curious or something. So they manually put it in and if they don’t answer it live then they leave a voicemail message and then it gets put into Podio if they don’t answer it live.
James: Good. And I don’t think there’s a wrong way. I mean I think that it just comes down to preference. At the end of the day, I mean that’s just really preference and whatever works best.
Larry: Right. So let’s talk a little bit about follow up because you’re not going to get every sale on every appointment. I think you told me when we were hanging out a couple of weeks ago that if they’ll book an appointment, you want an appointment, right?
Larry: Yeah that’s good. So if they’ll let the lead manager book an appointment for an acquisition person, that acquisition person is going to run that lead, run that appointment regardless or whatever else. But if they’ll let him in the house they’ll run that appointment and then they can follow up from there. What kind of follow up do you have if they don’t get the deal immediately?
James: Right. And I mean man it gets pretty intense depending on every different situation. I mean we really have it broken out almost like in a buying map kind of way or like a flowchart. Like if they do this you do that, if they do that then this happens and we’re going to do this on this time.
James: So it gets really in-depth but the high level view would be it’s usually a combination of emails, different like special type mailings then phone calls, voicemail blasts and then text messages. And it’s like a combination of those over time and it all depends on where that lead came from, what happened with the lead. So it gets pretty intense, but yeah I mean either way you look at it like you got to be doing something.
James: Rather I mean maybe you’re only doing like voicemail blasts and texts or emails or something, but always just do something.
Larry: Exactly. You’ve got to be following up with them because like you said a lot of those sales are going to come three, six, 12 months down the road.
James: Yeah I mean and I know you know this. I mean how many times have you probably done deals that came from maybe a postcard or letter you sent like three or four years ago?
James: I mean it happens to us all the time.
Larry: I bet, I believe it absolutely. So your marketing person, I’m sure they’re doing a lot more than say the direct mail or whatever.
Larry: I’m sure they’re doing a lot more than that. What are some of the things that your marketing person does?
James: Right. I mean so he manages obviously all the email campaigns, he helps manage all the Facebook ad campaigns, also all the ad words and all the Bing, PPC.
James: We do that. And then he also well now that we’re about to go on the radio he’s also heading that and merging those campaigns. And he’s also been working on campaigns for TV as well lately. So he’s always busy I can tell you that.
Larry: Man he sounds like a rock star, you could him out.
James: Yeah we keep him pretty busy.
Larry: I believe it. Now you’ve got a podcast and soon to be a radio show too, right?
James: Yeah we do.
Larry: Yeah that’s awesome. Flip Fuel I see your mic thing there.
James: Yeah Flip Fuel.
Larry: That’s awesome. And your podcast talks a lot about marketing, right?
James: Right it’s primarily about the marketing aspect for real estate investors. And I mean we both know that historically marketing is a fulltime thing man. I mean historically there [Inaudible] [24:40] various marketers and we’re in the marketing business. So I thought why not kind of bring that a little bit more mainstream and share what I have, and I share with a lot of people that are in my network what they know about marketing.
And that’s everything from how to get the deal and sell the deal and everything else. So that’s pretty much the long and short about what it is.
Larry: That’s really good. So James if somebody wanted to reach out to you or wanted to connect with you or check out your podcast or whatever, how will the reach out to you guys?
James: Sure, I mean they can obviously the podcast you’ll share it’s on the iTunes, you can easily find that there. And then I’m all over social at Flip Fuel so that’s on Facebook. That’s pretty much it I mean I’m more than happy to talk with everybody if anyone has any questions I can help them in any way.
Larry: That’s cool, that is good. Man this has been awesome, it really has been. And listen man I got a page full of notes here. That’s really good, just like I started writing stuff down when we were standing around at the luau chatting. I’m like, “I got to write this down.”
James: No man, it’s always great speaking with you. I appreciate you having me on for sure.
Larry: That’s awesome. Is there anything we can do for you?
James: I’m going to be releasing this Facebook ads course so I’m giving it away for free now. I’m not charging anything for it and it’s a full course about how to do Facebook ads to get sellers the right way. It’s almost done it’ll be released probably in the next week or so. And that’s going to be at flipmorehouses.com if someone from your audience wants to get it.
Larry: flipmorehouses.com, I’m going to be the first one to go over there and grab it when it’s ready. That’s awesome.
James: Yeah so it’ll be out probably within like a week and the domain and everything and everything will be hooked up to site and we’ll be ready to rock and roll.
Larry: That sounds great. Well man I really appreciate you being on. It’s been awesome, it’s a lot of great stuff. Do you have any partying words of wisdom to maybe somebody out there that’s struggling with their marketing? Because marketing is lifeblood of any business right?
James: It really is.
Larry: So do you have any parting words of wisdom?
James: It really is. I mean and I’ll just echo really what you said earlier because it’s just true, is consistency. Like what I say is like always you need to be consistent with your marketing. Always at least have three channels going, right. That’s another important point like never just put all your eggs in one basket because then if some break or it’s not working right, now all of a sudden you’re not doing deals because you don’t have one iron in the fire.
So always at least have three and I mean us personally we have over double that. But I suggest at least three channels going at all times. And then if something breaks and like you get stuck don’t be afraid to reach out to people and try, ask for help and network with people and try to figure out what it is. Don’t quit just because you had some issues, that’s going to happen.
James: So just keep going.
Larry: That’s so true. I’ve got a saying I’ve said for years: I would rather have 10ways to find one property than one way to have to find 10.
James: 100% man that’s so true.
Larry: That’s awesome. Hey man I really appreciate you being on. This is great, it’s really good I got a couple things I’m going to implement in my direct mail business now. And I’m so excited about it and thank you so much for sharing and guys listen up, I want you to go out there and sign up and start listening to his Flip Fuel Podcast.
And make sure you go over there and grab his free course. I mean it’s free, what do you want for nothing? Your money back, right?
James: Alright well thank you man so much I really appreciate you having me on.
Larry: Alright, thanks a lot man I appreciate. It’s great to see you.
James: You too man, bye-bye.
Larry: Thanks a lot. Bye-bye.
[End of Recording] [28:47]