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Running Your Real Estate Business Virtually with Connor Steinbrook
In this episode, Larry talked to the CEO of Investor Army, Connor Steinbrook. He went from facing bankruptcy to building a multi-million dollar company in just 3 years. He is an expert in doing real estate virtually.
Connor has built a number of successful businesses and is most known for his real estate companies in the tough Dallas Fort Worth market. Connor is a wholesaler, rehabber, landlord, and owner finance investor and has experimented with just about every single family strategy including investing with land trusts, IRA’s, and creating and selling notes.
Connor shared his expertise building and running a business virtually alongside social media marketing tips. He also shared how VAs can help a business, how to find them, and what are some of the ways to motivate them.
- Who Connor is
- Passive versus active income
- Wholesaling houses
- On building and running his business virtually
- Leveraging other people's money, time, and technology
- Virtual assistants
- Things a VA can do
- Having a bonus list
- Things you can delegate
- Setting up your to-do list
- 2 categories when finding VAs:
- - specific one-off tasks
- - continuous and consistent jobs/positions you need inside your business
- Ways of incentivising VAs
- Importance of consistency in releasing content
- On hiring someone
- Posting and scheduling on social media platforms
- Hiring issues
- Hiring and training
- Job security
- “Technology has allowed us to leverage a business in whole new ways we never had before.”
- “If you're not consistent with it (social media), you are going to be left behind.”
- “VAs are the first jump into building a real business and not just being a solopreneur.”
RESOURCES AND LINKS FROM THIS SHOW:
- Investor Army
- Investor Army Podcast
- Investor Army Youtube Channel
- Investor Army Podcast Youtube
- Contact info: 469-855-6963
Larry: Welcome to the Brain Pick-A-Pro show live from Lake Wylie, South Carolina, and halfway across the country, in the great State of Texas, in the DFW area, my good friend, Connor Steinbrook. What’s going on, buddy?
Connor: What’s going on, man? Thanks for having me on the show.
Larry: How you doin’?
Connor: I’m doing good, good. It’s good to see you again.
Larry: That’s awesome, man. That’s awesome. Guys, I met Connor, I don’t know, maybe a few years ago and – on one of the Financial Friends Network cruises which is a great place to go meet experienced investors that know what they’re doing and we were both speaking on it and, you know, you’ve been doing a lot of different kinds of real estate. You pretty much do it all and you’re really good at doing things virtually. You’ve had a virtual team, so, I mean, there’s a lot of stuff we can talk about, but I think the biggest bang for our listener’s buck is gonna be talking about VAs and then if we have time maybe moving into some social media marketing ’cause you’re really big on that as well. How does that sound?
Connor: Sounds good to me. Let’s do it.
Larry: Why don’t you first tell our listeners a little bit about yourself. I know you used to be a professional online poker player until the online poker players’ Black Friday, right?
Connor: Well, I mean I was always supposed to be a real estate investor, so I went off to school. At nineteen, I ordered the Carleton Sheets program off my parents’ credit card and this was the first time I was ever given a credit card and I didn’t know that they were gonna be able to see the charges live time, so I thought I was going to order the program, do a couple deals, get the money, pay it back before they ever found out, right?
Connor: Well, next day I wake up and I get an angry call from my parents. “What are you doing? You’re a freshman in college. You don’t have any money. How can you be a real estate investor?” So, they made me turn it back and I had to send it back, so I tell people I went into a much less risky business model going forward which was I became an online poker player, right? And so, I guess it worked out good for my parents when you look at it like that.
Connor: But so, what happened was I put $20 on an online poker site. This was right when these online poker sites took off and Chris Moneymaker, Tennessee accountant, normal individual, satellite into the big tournament. He put in like $40 into an online poker site and won a seat into the $10,000 main event, then he beat a field of a few thousand of the best poker players at the time and won, I think, it was like $2.3 million at the time and it sent a shockwave through the industry which was you can take a small amount of money and turn it into a big amount of money and every college kid in America’s head exploded and so that’s what started the online poker boom, and, you know, I was playing small stakes, penny stakes, and I graduated my way up, moved up the levels and I was what was called an online multitabler. We used to play sixteen to twenty-four tables at a time and we weren’t playing every hand. We were selecting hands to play and we were using, you know, betting tells, timing tells, and lots of different information, deductive reasoning to work back to figure out what people had but essentially that’s how I made a living for ten years and I rose up to the top of the world of online poker between mainly 2003 to 2011, then overnight the poker sites got shut down on Black Friday and I lost everything overnight, and this was a very tough time for me and, now looking back, it was a huge blessing for me ’cause it led me into real estate back to that path but what was considered at the time, I was a high net income, low net worth individual and this is very important for you guys that are young. If you have one income stream, working for a job or, you know, even if it’s a good income stream, if it disappears or you get sick and you can’t do that job or you can’t go to work, where are you? Right? So, I learned at this moment in my life I’d work for two things going forward. Multiple streams of income and passive income, and so I never wanted to have an active income strategy only as my sole income and so the difference between active income and passive income, if you never heard of this, guys, is, you know, active income, we’re trading time, energy, and resources once but were getting paid once. This would be like a wholesale deal or listing for an agent or a flip, even. Even though you can make good money, once that deal closes, you can’t sell that house again, anxiety picks up, when is the next check coming, how big’s the check gonna be, is it gonna be a half-million-dollar house, a hundred-thousand-dollar house, ten-thousand-dollar deal, twenty thousand, so it creates a lack of financial stability for people who work for active income. So, everything I do is to work towards passive income and to have those income streams so, you know, I went out there in the job world, nobody wanted to hire me, and so I realized I had to create a job for myself and that’s when I stumbled into real estate and it didn’t go well for me. I made every mistake in the book. I quickly ended up sixty-five grand in debt and I used a strategy called wholesaling houses to dig my way out of it and I started wholesaling houses and I saved up a little bit of money and was now able to graduate into flipping houses ’cause I had enough money to get into hard money loans. ’Cause most people think, a common misconception, Larry, as you see a lot of new investors coming in, is they think if they go find a deal at seventy cents on the dollar and take it to a hard money lender, they’re just gonna fund the whole deal. Now, they don’t realize they’re gonna have to have points at front, closing cost to cover that first draw, maybe leave some money in there as a temporary down payment, so you need a little bit of money to get in, so you have to wholesale houses to save up a little bit of money, then went into flipping houses, then I became bank financeable again, started keeping rental properties, went into owner finance space, and just kind of graduated my way up the ladder and started telling people my story, REI clubs locally then I got invited to speak at events, kind of like you did, and that started Investor Army, YouTube channel podcast which you’ve been on and just started sharing to people how I kind of did what I did, so that’s how I kind of ended up here. And, you know, one of the ways I built my business was virtually. You have a big trend in the real estate world to running virtual businesses. People are even flipping houses virtually across the country. People are creating turnkey properties. I mean, you’ve run your Filthy Riches program which is essentially a virtual program right there, you know, so technology has allowed us to leverage a business in whole new ways that we’ve never had before, so I quickly realized I could use virtual assistants. So, investors all understand leveraging other people’s money but you have to leverage other people’s time as well and technology, so virtual assistants are what created a huge explosion in my business because now I could take every little task that I did that was part of my job requirement where I was wearing every hat in the business, I was like a solopreneur, and now I can leverage it out because most people can hire acquisition guys in their company on a commission-based income stream where they pay them if the deal goes through but most of them don’t have the ability to hire a full-time office employee which could be $40,000 to $50,000 a year but they need someone to do that, those day-to-day tasks, posting ads, creating flyers, building e-mail lists, doing those time-consuming tasks of the job but nobody’s gonna do that on commission, so virtual assistants filled this void for people because now you can hire individuals out of Belarus, out of the Philippines for $3 to $10 an hour to do this for you, and that’s what I started doing and I started – we could probably go in and talk about certain things that we did but essentially what I did was I allowed systems to be put in place by virtual assistants for very low cost and that’s basically how I started running my marketing, all my sales processes, pretty much anything and everything that can be done through a computer or a cellphone could be done using a virtual assistant.
Larry: Man, that’s huge. That is awesome. That’s a great backstory. Man, you’ve come a long way. You’ve come a long way, and still a young guy.
Connor: Getting older.
Larry: So, let’s talk a little bit about some of the different things that you can have a VA do.
Connor: Right, right. So, they pretty much do everything for us. So, data entry, data scraping, like you can literally have them go pull lists. So, a lot of you what you also do – you know, you see this a lot, Larry. When people are starting to have success in real estate, what happens is they’re doing it all on their own. They’re spending their time, energy, and resources. They finally get two or three or four deals going and then what happens is they’re focused on getting those deals from acquisition to monetization where they’re starting to make money on but then they’re out there dealing with contractors, they’re dealing with trying to raise money to marketplace and then marketing falls off, and so then they get these houses sold and now they’re like, “Oh my gosh, now I need more houses,” and they start to ramp their marketing up so it’s this up and down, up and down where they don’t have that twelve months… in the pipeline.
Connor: Virtual assistants can help you do this while you’re getting your projects done, so you can literally have virtual assistants live time pull lists from the county, upload those lists into Excel, you know, go and skiptrace those leads for you, co-call those leads for you, fill out the deal intake form or the lead intake form, get that, you know, deal from A to probably Y and then you just come in and do the last part where you go in and contact them, so they can go and find out the mortgage information, they can find out the balance hold on the property to know if there’s any equity in it. They can pretty much handle everything that you would be doing up until the point you actually have to go out to the property because they can’t physically do certain things, you know, like go out there and meet with the seller but they can do everything on the front side as far as data scraping. We’ll talk about one of the ways that I created a bonus list. I guess we can talk about it right now, so, there’s a lot of different lists that I couldn’t get because we’re marketing in many different counties and as we all know, especially those of you who are marketing around the country, every county is a little bit different when you go to pull a list. You may be able to find a bankruptcy list or a co-enforcement list or a tax delinquent list real easy in one county but very difficult to find in the other county, and we know what’s it like to go and waste bunch of time getting lost in there, so what I did was I created a bonus list for all my VAs, a number of different bonuses that they could go after whereas if they found this list or they found whatever the task was, they would get a bonus for it and so they now – so you say you have six VAs working for you and you put up a bounty list for $25 apiece, $50 apiece, well, they wanna get those bounties so they’re gonna go in there and look quickly and they’re gonna go figure it out before the other VAs get it because that’s money up for grabs right there. So, it’s kind of like doing an affiliate sale or post-commission sale where they are only getting paid if they find that or if they complete that task, right? So, if you’re paying them on your own hourly time and they can’t go find it, then you didn’t get the benefit of it, right? But this is a way for them to increase their income and go find these on their own time and quickly we found all these lists that I had trouble finding for a long time, so they’re very smart, they’re very educated. Just because what we consider, you know, $5 to $7 an hour is not a lot, to them, they’re I believe on a three and a half to $1 exchange rate, I think the last time I looked, for the Philippines, so they’re actually making close to $20 an hour, which is not a bad income, you know. So, it’s not like it’s a job that they don’t have pride in.
Connor: So, they can go into county records and pull all sorts of lists and leads for you. They can take them. They can even handle your marketing, if you’re doing direct mail, they can pull it direct from the county, upload it to Excel, screen these lists, overlap lists, however you’re doing your own marketing, then ship that off to the mail servicing company and literally you don’t have to do anything except handle the inbound calls coming in. So, what they can do is you can automate all your marketing for one. You can use IP changers, you can use TeamViewer, you can have different systems in place where you can actually track their hours working ’cause we all know that’s a big concern for people, “How do I know they’re doing what they said they’re gonna be doing,” but that’s a lot of what investors are doing now. A lot of them are also having them co-call for them, set appointments because anything that you guys are doing in your business that’s a repetitive task, that’s just something that does over and over and over and over, posting ads on Craigslist, posting ads on classified sites, sending out e-mail flyers or sending out marketing or list building or data entry, data scraping, something that’s not a high-value task for you as the business owner can be easily delegated off to a virtual assistant, so one of the things that I did when I was creating systems and delegating in my business was, I think you know Mitch Stephen, he told me this,it’s a great – I don’t know where he got it from but what I would do is I would set my alarm to go off every hour throughout the day and so, as business owners, we get super busy, super distracted all day and so what happens when the alarm goes off is it brings you to a present moment of focus and when the alarm goes off, I’d say, “Is what I’m doing right now something that I need to be doing as a business owner or is it something that I can delegate off to a virtual assistant to do for me,” and so, say, I was on a phone call with a seller or doing something at a property physically with a contractor that I had to be there, well, that’s something I have to do, but if I was doing something that was a bad use of my time, well, I’d put it on my delegation list and I just start creating a list of things that I wanted to delegate off and then I’d figure out how to get a virtual assistant to take over this task for me, and I started just slowly, incrementally pushing pieces of my business off to different virtual assistants and that’s kind of how that process started for me.
Larry: Man, that is awesome. I love the hourly alarm just to bring you back to the present and make you consciously aware of what am I doing right this second.
Connor: Right. ’Cause we all know what it’s like to wake up and have a to-do list and a task list and have an idea of what we want to do throughout the day and then twelve hours later, we’ve been busy all day, we’ve been doing things all day but nothing has actually been accomplished and we look back and were like, “Well, I didn’t really get anything done,” and so, it’s – ’cause once those e-mails kick in and once the phone calls and texts start coming in, we veer off, and that alarm coming on stops everything in the chaos and brings you to that present moment of focus and, you know, basically allows you to get back on track for the day.
Larry: That’s awesome. That’s awesome. I’ve got something similar that I use for that. It’s this right here. It makes me aware of what I’m doing, right? What can I accomplish in the next five minutes right here, right?
Connor: Right. It’s just so easy to set up and, you know – I mean, I’m a big – like I got sticky notes everywhere. I’m a big believer of taking out the internal and putting in external because, you know, everybody’s using like technology and online calendars and online to-do lists but the problem is it’s easily able to have that slip your mind when it’s inside of technology, inside your phone, whereas if it’s, you know, a note right here on your computer, it’s right there front of mind. This is why we write our goals down, this is why we have to-do lists, this is why we write down brainstorming on a notepad ’cause we can see it visually and it’s right there in front of us, so it’s front of mind, so we’re thinking about it ’cause it’s easy to get off in the weeds throughout the day and kind of go off on a tangent.
Larry: That is so true. That’s so true. It is easy to get in the weeds, right?
Larry: That’s for sure. So, let’s talk about – you’ve given an overview of a lot of different things that a VA can do for you, so where do you find these VAs?
Connor: Right. So, I can actually help you get a VA if you are really needing one. I think you have – don’t you have a VA service?
Larry: No. Well, I used a couple of different services but I’ve got a couple of VAs with me that have been with me for years. One of my VAs has been with me, I don’t know, seven or eight years already and, you know, we’ve hardly ever talked on the phone and she knows what to do and she just does it, right? And then I have another one who’s been with me for about four or five years.
Connor: Yeah. I mean, if you got a good one, they’re gonna change your life and they’re gonna become part of your family. They’re gonna be – I mean, you work with them day to day. So, first thing, guys, if you're wanting to get a virtual assistant, first off, before you even do, do you even need one? And you need to have a scope of work in your mind of what you need them to do, first of all, because a lot of people, you see this happen, they get one and then they’re like, “I don’t even know what to give them, I don’t even know what to tell them to do,” because they just know that they need help but they don’t know what they need help with, so first off, I would create two categories. Specific tasks or employee type of jobs, so, you know, something where you’re gonna create something once or do something for a short job, maybe this one-hour task or two-hour task, go can go to Fiverr or Upwork and you can hire these individuals for specific one-off tasks that will just, say, create a banner ad for a new promotional product that you're doing or createa marketing flyer or something that you’re doing this one off. So, those are what I use those sites for. Those are great resources.
Larry: Small parts.
Connor: Yes. Specific task projects that aren’t recurring over and over and over. Then you have on the other side of the spectrum, you have positions that you need inside your business that are gonna work for you say twenty-five hours a week or forty hours a week that have continuous consistent jobs, right? So, for Investor Army, we have a virtual assistant whose only job is to post videos and post articles on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and it’s a full-time job that, if I was to do that on my own, it would be literally impossible because I can’t do everything at once, so if it’s a full-time employee that you need, they have VA services out there. You know, one of them that a lot of people are using is VA4REI. It’s the letter V, A, the number four, R, E, I. They’re a company that goes ahead and trains them a little bit for real estate. They put them, I believe, through a six-month training program so they have a little bit of an idea of verbiage of the business, they understand what comps are, they understand ARVs so they’ve taken some of that front-end training off the plate of the new investor because that’s one of the biggest headaches for people as they get a VA is they have to train them and then what if they train them and they spend all this time training them and then that VA leaves? So, if you are gonna train one, once you train them to do a task, you need to make them go and film a video of that task that you just taught them to do and create a scope of work for them and create, you know, I actually have a printed-out step-by-step manual of the systems and jobs that we do in our business but we also have them film videos of it so if they have to leave for some reason, the next person coming in, you just say watch the training videos to do the jobs so you’re not constantly retraining people. This is the same reason why people don’t use bird dogs all the time is ’cause they’re constantly training them and they’re constantly turning over and it burns people out. So, it’s good to create some type of video series of every job that you have been doing in your business ’cause you do it once, because a lot of them turn over quickly. So, the ones that turn over quickly are the young ones, the twenty- to twenty-five-year-old VAs, because they’re not getting this job for longevity, they’re holding that VA position as a bridge job to get them to what they’re actually wanting to do, if that makes sense.
Larry: Right, right.
Connor: So, you don’t want to go invest a ton of energy and time into one not knowing that they’re gonna be around, especially those of you who are gonna run a serious business for many, many years and have someone that could potentially be with you for five to seven years, like Larry said, so you wanna kind of gauge and talk to them when you’re hiring them. “What does your business horizon look like? What does the longevity potentially look like of you staying with me because I don’t wanna go invest a bunch of time, energy teaching you the business and then have you disappear in three months, four months.” And so that’s where I think a lot of people get frustrated with VAs.
Larry: Right. One of the things I’ve tried doing in the past, and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, I’ll give them a bonus at ninety days and six months and a year, so if they make it long term, they see a big bonus coming down the road, right?
Connor: Right. Bonuses inspire people and, you know, so we give them lots of bonus opportunities as well and just makes them work harder to get it and it helps them, you know, have – they feel more – I tried to give them pieces of the business that they feel integrated in where they actually feel like they’re tied in the business where my success is their success, and then they’re gonna be more likely to wanna work and have a positive attitude coming to work, because when we win, we all win, right? And so I think that having a component is good to have in a business like that.
Larry: That’s good. Give us an example of a way you might incentivize one of your VAs.
Connor: Right. So, Corrine, one of our VAs, my head VA that handles all my social media, so every time we hit certain numbers as far as how many subscribers we have, how many views, or how many, say, YouTube followers we have, she gets a bonus for every milestone that they hit. So, she is in charge of getting all these videos out, all the ads that we get out consistently and so if they’re not getting out, that means it’s a slower path to getting to that next milestone whereas if she’s on top of it every single day making sure that these are done even though that’s what she is getting paid to do as we hit these milestones, so it just keeps them wanting to do – wanting to keep it consistent going out because one thing with social media is if you’re not consistent with it, you’re getting left behind because you’re fighting for market share just as you are with any business, and, for example, like let’s say Larry is doing his podcast and he is putting out twice a week at seven o’clock on Monday and Thursday. Well, say, come Thursday, half his following hops on to see the podcast and it’s not on there. What happens on the back side of things is, well, they’ve already allocated that time of their day to watching Larry’s podcast. Well, now, they’re gonna go look for something else to fill that time and what if they stumble on a different person’s podcast or somebody else and they start watching that one going forward and they don’t go back to watching Larry because of a lack of consistency just because he was busy and couldn’t post it on podcast whereas if he had a VA that could do it every single week and get it up there every time, he could lose viewers that would be watching his show at that time, they’re gonna go somewhere else so consistency is one of the biggest things if you are gonna build a social media following, plus it also plays a role into the SEO algorithm that Google and YouTube have is they wanna see consistent content coming out. So, that’s where they can really help is making sure that they get out every day or post things every day when you’re building a brand.
Larry: That’s so true. That’s so true. In fact, when we set up the podcast, when you interviewed me,I think Corrine handled that. She put all that together. She set all that up.
Connor: Yeah, right. I mean, I couldn’t do really anything I do in any of my businesses. I mean, really, when it comes down to it, businesses in order to scale have to hire employees, right, but most people like we were talking about earlier, they can’t hire someone as a single investor coming out. They get to this point where they’re overwhelmed, they’re burned out. They know they have to hire someone but then they’re looking at, they may only be making 150 grand a year and it’s a big fear barrier for them to say, “Let me hire a full-time office assistant for forty to fifty grand. What if I spend time training them and I step off my business and deal flows drop and I can’t create income,” so it’s a very stressful time for them and so this is a quick – VAs are the first jump into building a real business and not just being a solopreneur, as we call it, because they’re not that big a risk. You can have them come in. You don’t have to hire them on a contract. You don’t have to hire them on a forty-hour week. You can, guys, just slowly step into it and say, let me have someone come in for ten hours a week, twenty hours a week, and slowly start to add and then when you have more money coming in, you can hire another one but, you know, another thing is I hire multiple ones, like say I’m gonna hire a new position for a VA. I’m gonna probably get four or five different VAs to do a test run with for probably two to four weeks, right? And so if you hire one, the odds that that person’s gonna stick with you a long time is not likely, so we wanna hire a few at a time, make them all do the same tasks, look at, you know, the results, see which one did the best job. Some of them just aren’t gonna be what you need, right? And so that’s one of the ways that we make sure that we could increase our chances of having one that’s gonna do the job correctly and stay with us longer, so we put them through a little test run to make sure they can follow directions, make sure they can hit timelines, and then we say, “If you can do this and you can meet these steps, we’re gonna give you more hours, give you more opportunity, give you more options for bonuses.” And so I think most people will just hire one at a time and get frustrated and then they don’t want to try another one, whereas you may wanna hire three or four at a time and give them the same job. Instead of hiring one right away for forty hours a week, why not hire four for ten hours a week? So, you’re spending the same amount of capital but you’re also getting to see how multiple ones respond and work to you.
Larry: Exactly, exactly. So, I know when I had a VA, unless it’s just something that is really they can do any time of the day, I wanna make sure that they can work nine to five Eastern time. How important is that to you, probably especially in something like social media. You don’t want them posting all the stuff at three AM, you want them posting things, you know, during US time, during the day when people are awake. Tell us about that.
Connor: Right. So, what we do is, you know, so like the Philippines is twelve hours of time difference, right?
Larry: They’re twelve hours ahead.
Connor: Right, and so, I mean I actually have them post usually between seven and nine o’clock our night which is when I see the highest volume of views come in because if you look at a 30,000-foot view of what a traditional person is doing that’s potentially jumping into the real estate world which is who you’d be posting ads for those new investors. So, they go to work. They’re nine to five. They get off work. They come home. They go get something to eat and then they relax and then usually from like seven to midnight is when really the highest viewership we see comes in. Now, you can hire a VA and train them how to use pre-set posting time periods. So, you can go into a lot of these social media platforms and post ads or have it set to where it posts at a certain time so for people who travel a lot or for people – because, like, really, like, you wanna have it like a television show. The reason why, say you’re watching Dancing with the Stars or whatever, it shows one day a week or whatever day of the week it is at that exact time so if you can have a consistent posting pattern where people can have an idea of when your videos are coming out, they can expect that it comes out so a lot of people schedule them to come out, say, three PM Monday and Wednesday is the two times that our new videos are coming out a week so they can schedule that and they can post them at two in the morning our time and post them into YouTube but they don’t actually go live until that time period, if that makes sense. So, they don’t have to be working during this time. Now, what you are gonna run into a problem is is if they’re not willing to, and some of the young ones will stay up and work in the middle of the night and do this but if you’re doing co-calling and you’re doing massive marketing to the seller or you’re contacting buyer leads or something where you need your VA physically on a phone talking to a person here, that’s not gonna work if its two AM there or two AM here when they’re working, right? So, you’re gonna have to find ones that specifically will do that. Now, there are VAs in a lot of areas in Mexico, in Central America that will do this for you and so you may have to find one here in your time zone that will do that. I don’t know how big your reach is, I’m sure you have a lot of people over in Europe too listening to this and all around the world but you need to find your time zone and find ones that are awake during that time because, I mean, one of the biggest benefits of having VAs is that if you’re awake from nine to nine here and they’re awake from nine to nine there is that you’re running a 24-hour-a-day business so you’re actually having someone, a physical person, not just having ads working online but you’re actually having physical work done 24 hours a day but you need to kind of break down your different jobs and tasks in your business and figure out is this something they need to do physically live time that they’re gonna be having to work with someone physically live time here in the States or is this something that they can do ahead of time and structure on a timing pattern that this work can go out incrementally throughout the day that’s pre-set on a predetermined time, timeframe, I guess you could say.
Larry: That’s really good. That’s very important. Usually, whenever I’m posting an ad, I will tell them they must be available between the hours of nine to five Eastern time. We had a guy not too long ago that we had hired to help us with our closings. He was gonna be our transaction coordinator and every week we have a Level 10 meeting. We run our business based on Traction and Rocket Fuel, the EOS system, and we would Skype him in, we would Skype him in and he would be in the meeting and he would be like this. You know, it was funny. I mean you could tell he wasn’t used to working, you know, the night shift in the Philippines. After a few days of that, we had to let him go because you could tell – I mean if he was falling asleep in the meetings, you know he’s gonna be asleep right after we hang up, right?
Connor: Right. I mean, that’s one of the ones that it’s just like he has to physically be there present to do that job. That’s why I’ve had, you know, issues with sometimes them calling leads, you know, ’cause you don’t want them calling motivated sellers at eleven o’clock at night US time, right?
Larry: Right, right.
Connor: So, that’s been one of our barriers of entry as well hopping over this is that if they actually have to be awake doing something at the same time Americans are awake. So, I would be looking into VAs, so like one of the ways you all can find a VA is you all can just simply go to LinkedIn and type in “I’m looking for a VA service that will work American US Central Standard time or Eastern time these hours” and there are a lot of them out of South America and Mexico that will do this for you. So, that’s how I get around that, but, I mean, you’re always gonna have some issues when it comes to hiring people, you know? Even if they work in your office, it’s still tough to get them to show up on time. Get contractors to show up to the property, right? It’s just part of it.
Larry: It’s the nature of the business. Now, do you ever recommend hiring a VA and training them or do you recommend just going ahead and hiring someone who already knows what they’re doing?
Connor: I mean, it would be good if you could someone that already knows what they’re doing. It’s just hard to find that person because, just like good help anywhere, if they’re a good employee, guys, like if you do find that good a VA, you need to do everything to keep them there and make sure that they’re happy and give them bonuses because, you know, they’re a big part of your business. Now, if someone, say Larry had a really good VA, I don’t think you’re gonna let them leave, right?
Connor: So, there’s just probably not a lot of them out there circulating and I don’t know a way to actually go out there and find one that, you know, is already trained and gonna do really well so you’re gonna have to train most of them, plus everybody’s business is different. Like, your business, your internal working is gonna be a lot different than my business even though we’re both on real estate. We probably have similar types of activities and systems that probably could overlap but, ultimately, there’s a lot of unique, specific things that are done within someone’s business that are kind of unique to them alone, so if you’re gonna hire more than one, what you need to do is you need to have one main VA that basically is your head VA or your office leader, I guess, and they need to work and train the other VAs and so if you’re gonna have at least three VAs or four VAs, you should have one that’s your head VA who is in control of coaching or training those other VAs and helping them plus as a checks and balances because if you have one VA that you trust, they’re watching these other VAs and I actually have multiple VAs that work out of the same property over in the Philippines and they’re all interconnected and so it’s a good way to – they can all help each other and work together. So, essentially you can build an office. I know like Brant Philips on our team here, he has a full office built out in the Philippines where he’s got like eight or nine VAs that work there, so it’s literally the same thing as if you had had an office here in the States, just virtually over there, and you can hop on Skype like we’re doing right now and talk to them face to face.
Larry: That’s true.
Connor: Just a limiting belief I think a lot of people have that they can’t hire someone that’s not physically present. It’s just the same thing with like people, like, well, I can’t buy a rental property or I can’t do a Filthy Riches type of owner financing strategy halfway across the country if I’m not physically there to walk in the property and see it with my own eyes.
Larry: Yeah, and I believe you’re right, it is a limiting belief. A lot of people think, you know, we got to be there face to face and there are even – like I had a VA a while back. He was putting in HUD bids for me. I mean, he was setting the woods on fire for a while. In fact, he was in Lahore, Pakistan, and they had like a huge eight-story building, big commercial office building. The first floor was nothing but restaurants and every other floor was nothing but a cubicle farm and they rented out desks for like $100 a month which included a phone and an internet connection and a cubicle, right? And he hired two or three other people and they call them BPO centers. I believe its business protocol outsourcing. Is that what that stands for?
Connor: I’m not sure, but, yeah, probably. I mean, that’s pretty typical for what they do. So, I’ve actually got a company that I’ve aligned with that has VAs ’cause there’s – from what I understand, there’s a big unemployment issue over there right now and VAs are becoming a big part of the market share of the job force over there and people are now training to become VAs. You can train them to do your business. I mean, a lot of the stuff that they’re gonna be doing is low task anyways. Like, it doesn’t take a lot of time to figure how to post an ad and so like you have to look at – you know, also, guys, there’s not just a static, fixed number that you pay a VA. So for a VA that’s gonna do very low-skilled task or a very low-skilled job, you may pay them $3.50 or $4 an hour, sometimes even $2.50, but if they’re gonna do a high-skilled job, like actually where they’re gonna have to communicate and set appointments and co-call and, you know, track these calls and follow up with them, you know, you’re gonna maybe have to pay them more like $8 or $9, more like real minimum wage. So, you’re gonna have a sliding scale of what they’re gonna cost. So people are always asking how much should I pay a VA and that’s really relative to your business and how valuable what they’re doing for you is so if they’re doing something that’s creating a lot of value to your business, you should pay them more and pay them well for doing so, but if they’re doing a job that anybody can do which is simply just cutting and pasting, you know, ads or pulling data from a county, once they watch a quick step-by-step video on how to do it, I wouldn’t be paying them very much for that to do those jobs.
Larry: Right, exactly. Exactly. So, what about, like your VAs, do they work just for you or do they also work for other people? Do you have them working part time or full time?
Connor: Yeah, I have mine full time pretty much. So, most of them – I mean, I try to give them at least twenty-five hours a week.
Connor: Most of them. Yeah, so they wanna just like you wanna know that they’re gonna be around and you’re gonna have some security with them being around, they wanna feel the same type of security. They’re just as much at risk and so like a lot of investors talk about, “Oh, well, you know, my VA is, you know, taking advantage of me, they’re not doing the full amount of work,” because it is, it’s scary, you’re like, “Are they actually doing anything? Or they say they’re doing something but they’re just sitting there at the computer sending me an invoice,” but there’s just as much risk for these VAs. There’s a lot of investors that are, you know, not so honest either and get VAs to do a bunch of work and then they don’t pay them, so it goes both sides. It’s a double-edged risk for them, and so they wanna know that they’re gonna have job security. And so I like to hear them say things like, “Just wait until next year” or “Just wait until three years from now where we’re gonna be,” just a few words come out of their mouth like that, on a subconscious level, they’ve just told you that they’re planning to be with you for a long time, and so those are the ones I wanna cultivate, put more time and energy in and build a better relationship with and give them more opportunities because in order to scale a business, there’s nothing more that sets you back and puts that roadblock in your progression than having an employee leave. That you just put all the time and energy into them and then they just disappeared on you, right?
Connor: The other thing is like people ask like, I mean, you can have them do all sorts of things. If you – you can create a company employee credit card ’cause a lot of people are like, “Well, I don’t trust them with my money” or “I don’t trust them to do things,” but you can put limits on your cards, say, whatever you’re comfortable with, $500, $1,000, $2,000 risk and so like say you are doing a marketing campaign, you can tell them, you know, I need you to pull five hundred leads and do five hundred probate mailers set to go by this date, and in the morning, they’ve already done that, they’ve pulled the leads, they’ve set the campaign, they’ve uploaded the mailer piece that you’re using for that mailing campaign to the mail service and they paid for it already, or you can set it up ahead of time with these companies where you have a credit card on file but, I mean, I let them, you know, do all sorts of things for me when it comes to that side of business. Ultimately, it just comes down to what you need them to do. So I would say, don’t overwhelm them. I think this is a big problem a lot of people have is they just throw so much at them and so, guys, like if you’re going to – even one of my VAs now that’s been with me for a long time, she almost left me early on because what I would do is I would give her these tasks to do, say, it’s a two-week task, and then three days into it, what do we do as a business owner? We’re like, oh, I’m just gonna switch directions right now.
Larry: We’re going this way.
Connor: And I’m like, I give her, “Okay, for the next two weeks you’re gonna do this, just this and this,” and three days later I’m like, “Stop that, go this way,” that’s very, very stressful for them and a lot of times, we expect them to know what we want them to do and it’s easy to overwhelm them and give them too many things. So instead of having – I would have one or two main tasks that each VA does. So instead of hiring one for forty hours a week, you may wanna hire two for twenty hours a week and give them specific tasks so they do that same task over and over and over and so like if I was to do a task – and this is another reason why people don’t outsource, Larry, is they’re like, “Well, they can’t do it as good as I can do it.” So let’s say that you are able to do a specific job in your business and if you did it on your own, you would get scored 95 out of 100. Well, or 90 out of 100. Whereas that VA may do it, they may get scored 80 out of 100. So they’re less productive, less efficient. But, when you start layering in everything that you do throughout the day, with the amount of time and distractions coming off that, you may now be at 70 out of 100. So – plus, as they do that task over and over and over, this is the only thing they do, they’re gonna get better at it, they’re gonna be able to do it quicker and faster and more efficient, so their skill level is gonna go up at it, when your time and distraction level on all the other parts of your business being the business owner is dropping so it’s going like this, so even if you’re better at doing it, if you’re only doing that one task, once you layer in all your other tasks that you do and then with them getting better over time, they’re still gonna probably do a better job than you for less cost and so I think that’s a confusion a lot of people have when they’re trying to figure out should they hire someone.
Larry: That’s exactly right, that’s exactly right. I have one for you. I had a VA a while back. This guy was doing a lot of repetitive tasks, okay? But it was computer task and it was things that – here’s what he did, and this guy was with me for years, right? And I called him a couple of times and – but, anyway, what he would do is he would write macros that would allow him to go out and do these tasks whether it’s posting ads or do searches or export lists or whatever, he would create macros and he would push a button and it would do all that, and then he also created a macro, he took about three screenshots, now you know this but maybe some of the listeners don’t, on a lot of the sites like Upwork.com, you know, it takes random screenshots of the virtual assistant’s computer, so you can see that they’re actually doing something. This guy took about three different screenshots, like one of e-mail, maybe one of the HUD home store, maybe one of my social media sites, or one of a Craigslist ad, and he had a macro that would rotate those screenshots on his computer so when we would look at his work diary, it would show different screenshots but it was the – it took me a while to figure it out, it was the exact same screenshot, right back to the exact same social media post or the same e-mail, and when we called him out on it, he said, “Okay, I’ll take care of it.” Then what he did was added like two more screenshots and started rotating those.
Connor: I mean, there’s things you can do. You can set production minimums that like you know that they’re going out like so like say, say you know you can post, say you’ve done that in your business for years ’cause you’re getting ready to go from yourself doing it and delegating off so say you know you can post X amount of units per hour, say fifty ads an hour.
Connor: You need to set like a minimum, be like, “I know that fifty ads an hour can be put out pretty easily, you need to be doing an absolute minimum of thirty ads an hour for the first few weeks and as you get better forty ads an hour or whatever,” and you can have like – a lot of these sites you can track that on the back end analytics to see the activity and see how much they’re doing and just tell them, be like, ahead of time, “Like if you’re not hitting these target goals, I’m gonna let you go ahead of time,” so pre-frame the situation and say, look, I need you to hit this many ads a week, I need you to post this many social media posts, I need you to, you know, create fifteen flyers for whatever, you know, and if they’re not hitting it, it’s – and a lot of people wanna give them extra chances and from our experience, it’s a habit, they’re not gonna change just overnight so like we may give them one or two chances but, like if they’re already doing, just like Larry said, like that guy, what do you do? He got called out and all he did was to try to create a better system to cover himself up. He didn’t just go and switch and just say how can I start posting these ads and doing my job, he just said how do I do a better job but not getting caught doing it, so when you start to see a character flaw in their work ethic and their integrity, it’s not just gonna change just because you want it to so it’s just better just to get a new VA quick.
Larry: Yeah, and, listen, I wasn’t saying he wasn’t doing the work. He was doing the work, he was just doing ten hours’ worth of work but billing me for forty, right?
Connor: Right. Well, the other thing is like, also, guys, like if you do get one you can trust, a lot of them are trustworthy and they just want the work to supplement a secondary, you know, they’re either a husband or wife supplementing the other one’s income and one thing that I see a lot of people waste a lot of money on is that they want them to send them an end-of-day report, right? Saying their job to-do list, that they did this, this, this, this, and this, well, there’s a cost of time to do that and a lot of times it takes them fifteen to thirty minutes just to type up their end-of-day report or to go back in and kind of break down what they’ve done, but you’re paying them an extra fifteen minutes a day to do that, over the course of a year, that’s a lot of time that they could have been doing something else on. What if they could have called two more different individuals, co-calling during that time period or what if they have posted more ads, so once I know that they’re doing what they’re supposed to be doing and I don’t have to kind of police them and watch them, I prefer that they don’t have to go through and put those reports in because they’re either gonna do it or they’re not, and it comes down to an issue of self-responsibility so I try not to. A lot of people want them to do that every day and prove that they’re doing the work but it’s just – I see it as a waste of cost. They’re either gonna do it or they’re not.
Larry: Man, I totally agree. I used to do the same thing. Send me a list of what you’re doing, but it takes up five or ten or fifteen minutes of their time, you know?
Larry: It’s a waste of time.
Connor: It’s the same thing every day.
Connor: So like why send me what you did every day, you know, and, I mean, if it gets to be the symbiotic, mutual agreement between the two of you, you have a relationship and they have room to grow and that you say, “Well, if we hit this certain target I’m gonna give you an increase,” or “As long as you’re doing this every six months, I’m gonna give you a quarter-dollar-an-hour raise.” They’re gonna keep staying working with you and you’re giving them more opportunities so that you don’t have to worry about them leaving. And they don’t wanna leave because they’re happy with where they’re at. But, yeah, if you’re having to constantly feel like you’re policing your VA, it’s probably time to experiment with a new one. I wouldn’t get rid of them right away. I would go hire another one first and have them overlap each other and then have a way to merge them out, I guess you could say.
Larry: Right. Plus you can cross-train them.
Connor: Right, right.
Larry: Man, this has been awesome. Connor, I really, really appreciate you being on here. You’ve shared a tremendous amount of information. Anybody looking for a VA, man, you guys ought to be able to go out there and find one and hire them, recruit, train, motivate, manage them, and give them incentives and make sure you get the right one. You ought to be able to do all that now, so, Connor, thanks so much, man. If somebody wanted to reach out to you, I know you have a podcast, you’re out there big on social media, you know, because you’ve got Corinne helping you out there with that.
Connor: Right. I couldn’t do it without my VAs. Like there’s no way I could get the amount of postings out, so, yeah, if you wanna scale social media, you have to, so, yeah. If you wanna follow us, go check out our podcast, Investor Army Podcast. Larry’s been on there. You can check out our Investor Army YouTube channel, and then you can just go to investorarmy.com to contact us or you can reach me at 469-855-6963. I can help some of you all get VAs. I know, Larry, you’ve got a big audience. If hundreds of people call me, I probably can’t help everybody but, other than that, you know, you gotta specifically figure out what job you want them to do, is it a specific task job or is this a full-time employee type of job, and then that’s gonna dictate which way you go as far as looking for them, so if it’s just a one-off job, guys, it’s best off going to Fiverr or Upwork but if you have the need of a full-time employee, reach out to me or reach out to VA4REI or one of these other companies out there.
Larry: That’s awesome, man. That sounds great. I really, really appreciate you being on. Thank you so much.
Connor: Thanks, Larry. Appreciate it. Always grateful to come on.
Larry: Thanks a lot, man. You take care.
Connor: Thanks, Larry.