Rob Coldwell on Building a Scalable PM Business from Scratch
Today, I’m talking with Rob Coldwell, the President of Rentwell, which has expanded from the Northeast to now managing around 2,000 doors in 6 markets.
In our chat, Rob shares how he navigated the early inflection points of first hitting 100 units, then 400 and then expanding to be multi-market.
We also cover:
- How to build a team ad develop your leadership skills
- The skills closing skills required to sell
- Advice on structuring a team during hyper-growth
- (01:23) – Background Leading up to Today
- (01:29) – How Rob got started in the property management industry.
- (02:22) – What Rentwell looks like today.
- (02:38) – Hub and spoke model operating in six different markets.
- (03:22) – Rob explains how their licensing arrangement works.
- (07:20) – Discussing Rentwell’s first inflection point and the changing perspectives as the business grew.
- (10:36) – Rob explains how they used external training resources to scale the company.
- (12:09) – Where his belief in the value of this training originated.
- (13:03) – The nuts and bolts of training a property manager in sales.
- (13:25) – Hiring property managers.
- (15:46) – Discussing Rentwell’s restructuring phase.
- (15:54) – Hiring property managers.
- (16:20) – Using Emyth Business Coaching.
- (16:32) – Identifying client fulfillment issues.
- (17:28) – Tracking metrics.
- (17:50) – The importance of aligning Rentwell interests with landlords and investors.
- (19:04) – Why lead generation came easy to Rentwell as an organization.
- (20:21) – Discussing their different approaches for their different markets.
- (21:54) – Building a Team
- (22:16) – Recruiting, onboarding and managing talent at a distance.
- (23:00) – Weekly calls.
- (23:00) – Rolling four quarter planning sessions.
- (23:54) – Compliance checks.
- (24:12) – Using Keller Williams for recruiting and staffing.
- (25:32) – The levels to which Rentwell uses the service to successfully find and hire talent.
- (29:13) – Discussing the important role of culture within an organization.
- (22:16) – Recruiting, onboarding and managing talent at a distance.
- (29:47) – Pitching Done Right
- (30:01) – Rob’s advice for closing new business the Rentwell way.
- (30:01) – Identifying ‘head trash’.
- (30:20) – Properly qualifying the customer.
- (30:30) – Competitive analysis.
- (31:12) – Tracking a client’s progression using BambooHR software.
- (33:53) – Knowing how to answer a client’s objections.
- (35:06) – How Rob handles client questions on pricing and fees.
- (35:13) – The occasional use of humor to gauge a client.
- (35:50) – Use of a pricing matrix to qualify the client.
- (36:30) – Rentwell’s pricing structure.
- (38:42) – How Rob handles overall risk-reversal.
- (38:42) – Use of a guarantee cancellation service.
- (38:42) – The ability of potential clients to speak with active clients.
- (38:59) – Using competitive and clear pricing.
- (39:24) – Transparency in communication.
- (40:52) – Rob’s default assumptions as to lifetime of a customer.
- (41:27) – Accidental landlords.
- (42:02) – Small investors.
- (42:32) – Rentwell’s client tracking protocol.
- (43:24) – Multi-family clients.
- (30:01) – Rob’s advice for closing new business the Rentwell way.
- (46:30) – Developing Yourself as a Leader
- (47:08) – Rob talks us through his thoughts on personal development and how it fits into his overall big picture strategy.
- (52:16) – An average day in the life of Rob Coldwell.
- (54:03) – Determining what really matters to you in your life.
- (54:38) – Life Happiness Index.
- (47:08) – Rob talks us through his thoughts on personal development and how it fits into his overall big picture strategy.
- (59:33) – What advice do you wish somebody had given you when you first got started in the industry?
- (1:01:44) – How much is too much to pay for a new property management contract?
- (1:03:03) – Who do you learn from?
- (1:03:56) – What is the number one recurring thing that you see property management entrepreneurs doing wrong?
- (1:06:09) – Are entrepreneurs born or bred?
- Mastering the Rockefeller Habits, Verne Harnish (06:39)
- What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, Marshall Goldsmith (08:04)
- Sandler Training (10:37) – Training resource Rentwell used for their property managers.
- EMyth Business Coaching (16:20)
- BambooHR (31:12) – HR software used by Rentwell to track client progression.
- Hal Elrod The Miracle Morning (52:22)
- Every Man’s Mastermind (55:36) – Rob’s personal mastermind group.
- Rock Thomas (1:03:20) – One of Rob’s personal coaches.
- James Spooner 1:03:31 – Learning resource recommended by Rob.
- Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill – Learning resource recommended by Rob.
Where to learn more:
If you want to learn more about what Rob is up to, head over to Rentwell.com. To get in touch with Rob directly, tune into the show for his personal email.
Jordan: 0:00:00.6 Welcome closers. Today we have another episode of The Profitable Property Management Podcast coming at you. This is season two, on sales.
I’m your host Jordan Muela, and every week I interview world-class property management entrepreneurs and industry experts who share actionable insights to help you grow your property management empire.
Whether you manage 100 or 1000 units, this broadcast is designed to help you see the big picture and to give you the tools and tactics that you need to get to the next level.
0:00:30.9 Today, I am talking with Rob Coldwell, the President of Rentwell. Formally Your Local Leasing Company, which operates out of Broomall, PA.
Rentwell is a sizeable player in the number of markets that they operate in, and their portfolio runs the gamut from single family homes to condos, to small and medium-sized apartment communities.
I’ve known Rob for some time. He’s a gentleman and a hustler, which I assure you is a very good thing, and today we’re going to be talking with him about growing your portfolio from scratch into eventually what is now a scalable organization.
0:01:07.1 Welcome to the show Rob.
Rob: 0:01:08.7 Oh Jordan, it’s great to be here. Thanks for having me. I hope to give a lot of value to your listeners.
Jordan: 0:01:14.9 Well, it was a pleasure to have you on. I have known you for awhile. I’ve seen the growth of your organization.
0:01:23.3 Give me the lead-up up to running a property management company. What was your background prior to getting into property management?
Rob: 0:01:29.8 Yeah. Immediately following property management, I was the Director of Franchising for a drive-thru grocery store concept called Swiss Farms.
And if you’re familiar with a drive-thru grocery store, there are not many around in the country, but you would pull up, you would get your gallon of milk, a loaf of bread, a dozen eggs – and I was enamoured with that company for quite some time, and I spent a good part of my twenties working for that company, working with them.
0:02:03.0 And I went from being the milkman at the Swiss Farm stores to then being the rental man, partnering with a gentleman in the business formally called, Your Loading Company, which was a tenant placement firm in my hometown of Delaware County, Pennsylvania.
Jordan: 0:02:22.2 Fantastic. From milkman to property management entrepreneur.
So, Rob, one of the first questions I have about Rentwell, is can you just give me some context on the company? Markets? Unit counts? Staff? How would you describe the company today?
Rob: 0:02:38.6 Sure. We use a hub and spoke model, where we’ve licensed the brand to some really talented business partners around the country.
We’re currently operating six different market centers. We are in the Tampa Bay area; Pittsburgh; Philadelphia; Baltimore, Maryland; and Wilmington, Delaware with six offices. And we centralized a lot of services and then we have the local teams that do the leasing, managing and maintaining.
Jordan: 0:03:13.9 Got it. Licensing the brand. That’s interesting. How exactly does that arrangement work?
Rob: 0:03:22.7 So we were – we started in late 2009 as a tenant placement firm and then in 2010, we took on our first property management clients and I came on board in 2012 full-time, having left the drive-thru grocery store.
So what we did for a number of years is just operate our single office. We got up to around 7-800 doors and our then broker of record, was moving to Pittsburgh, which is on the other side of Pennsylvania, and he wanted to bring the brand with him.
0:04:01.4 So we leveraged my background in franchising and we had our board of advisors, and we figured out how to do our shared services where basically, a royalty of sorts and a service fee is paid to the corporate hub, if you will.
0:04:20.6 And from that we were able to launch in Pittsburgh, and we had a very successful launch. We started with a small business that we had purchased and quickly grew that business. 0:04:32.9 So they were profitable.
Now we’re to the point – running around 2000 units across these market centers, and our hub and license company’s also profitable.
0:04:44.1 So, a bit of a bootstrap story where we have our shared services and then we execute in the field and it gives us the best of both worlds, we feel, because we can be nimble and local to our different geographies and those markets, but we have that larger company infrastructure and compliance, accounting, soon to be call-center that allows our local offices to operate more profitably, and focus more on the end user and those resonances, and not kind of get worried or spend a lot of time about the backend.
0:05:29.9 All the accounting and everything that goes along with running a property management firm.
Jordan: 0:05:34.0 So is this essentially a franchise? Or would you delineate this from being a franchise.
Rob: 0:05:39.1 I would delineate it from a franchise, because my partners and I at our corporate hub are also owners and we have invested into the local markets.
Jordan: 0:05:49.8 I see. Ok, but that said, it’s possible that somebody could want to open up in Dallas, Texas and you could not invest, correct? In which case it would just be a pure franchise.
Is that investment inherent in the model or is that more a circumstantial thing and you could imagine pivoting off of that to a more traditional franchise model is what I’m asking.
Rob: 0:06:10.3 Right. You could totally pivot this – our business model into a franchise model. It would be relatively easy to do.
Jordan: 0:06:19.5 Interesting. Ok. Great. So you said around 2000 doors across all the marketplaces?
Rob: 0:06:25.3 That’s correct. Yeah, some have been opened up for just about a year, so we went from two offices, a third office and then we opened up three in one year. And if you read the book, The Rockefeller Habits, 0:06:39.2 it talks about going – how different your business is from going from that one to six mark.
So that’s where we are right now. We like our size of where we are. We’re privately held. We have no debts, and our goal is to just operate as best we can in each of the markets of where we are.
Jordan: 0:07:04.1 So Rob, what was the size of the company when you came onboard? How many doors were they at roughly?
Rob: 0:07:10.1 January of 2010, we had zero units under management. We had …
Jordan: 0:07:16.1 Ok great. So you really took it – you really took it from day one.
Jordan: 0:07:20.0 Fantastic. So let’s then talk about that perspective that you have as an owner, and as a founder, and most importantly, as an entrepreneur, from transitioning the business through multiple phases.
Because, of course, we all know the phrase that what got you here won’t get you to the next place where you want to go.
So you’re kind of, as an entrepreneur, reinventing yourself as the organization scales. 0:07:42.6 Early on, what did you do to get to that first inflection point?
And I guess I’ll ask you, what did you consider to be the first inflection point in terms of the size of the company? Was it 100 doors? Was it 200 doors? What was it for you?
Rob: 0:07:57.2 Well, great question. So there’s actually a book that I’m looking at, written by Marshall Goldsmith called, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There. 0:08:04.8 It’s a best seller, so that is absolutely the case for – applicable to many things.
So the first was that critical 100 units. And then after that it was the 400 unit mark. 0:08:22.7 Ok. And for when it relates to sales, a big challenge that we had early on was not really knowing who are ideal client was. So we would take on almost anything and everything. Like, I would joke, if we got in four leads that week, or that day, or that month, we wanted five clients.
0:08:49.6 So, not very selective. Hit pretty much every challenge that I could imagine early on. That is – that critical first 100 units was a big deal, because that’s when you can start to – in our case, because we bootstrapped it, this was funded by MasterCard and Visa early on.
Jordan: Love it, yeah absolutely.
Rob: 0:09:17.4 So it was recruiting some friends and family that would do some part-time work and then also growing through the different vendors that are needed to operate your business. It’s almost like an engine where the RPMs start getting higher and higher and then you do these stress tests on it.
0:09:33.4 So, I wouldn’t want to go back to those early days. I don’t how much money you’d have to pay me to go through that. Knowing what I know now, certainly would navigate it a little differently. Right?
But there were some early challenges but I’m still enamoured with the industry. I like the industry and I wouldn’t want to discourage any of your listeners who are just getting started to go after an industry as property management.
Jordan: 0:10:00.6 No, it’s a fantastic industry to be in. And of course, nobody wants to go back. But I think the real irony is that, in reality, if we all knew what it was going to be like when we started, many of us would not have gotten started in the first place.
Because it’s always harder, it always takes longer, and it’s always more gruelling. 0:10:18.0 That first 100 doors, was that – were you the one doing the selling?
Rob: 0:10:23.4 I was not doing the selling. I had a business partner doing the selling and we had been trying to hire agents to do the selling. And we put them through Sandler’s sales training in their Presidents Club. 0:10:37.0
Jordan: 0:10:36.2 Wow. Well that’s progressive right out of the gate. First guy I talk to that actually tells me – that’s fantastic.
So you’re putting property managers – when you say agents you’re talking about leasing agents? What role were you putting through that training?
Rob: 0:10:49.0 Right, so we were portfolio based back then. And the idea was that each of these agents could have up to about 100 doors and make a healthy living from that.
We started out by cold calling ‘For Rent’ signs. Right? 0:11:05.6 Where we’d go through Craigslist, we’d scrub lists, we would – we had this whole Microsoft access database going and we would just dial for dollars, as they call it.
0:11:19.1 And that’s how we got started. We would just go to the vacancies right? We were called, “Your Local Leasing Company” and that’s how it got started.
0:11:28.1 So a lot of cold-calling, and we gave them some of that training to overcome objections, to reverse questions, things of that nature, because we were starting cold. And it was – I don’t want to say it was life or death, but you know, we had to get the business going.
Jordan: 0:11:51.2 So the fact that you actually put folks through sales training is kind of unique. Very, very, very few of my clients actually are willing to pony up for training. Particularly early on right? That’s even a bigger deal that you would invest in that from day one. Had you had any training from Sandler? Where did the belief in the value come from?
Rob: 0:12:09.9 Sure. So, getting back to the bootstrapped. I’m a big fan of bartering for services. So I had met a Sandler coach and I had one who was just getting his business started, and I had one through a Chamber of Commerce – a free program for him.
And it blossomed into a really nice relationship for a number of years and then I was able to just negotiate some things.
For once I’d learned the program and I helped him grow his business and give him referrals. 0:12:44.5 As I made the transition to go full-time into the property management space, that’s how we were able to structure to bring some more agents through the program.
Jordan: 0:12:55.0 Fantastic. I love it. So you’re innovative, you have that bootstrapper mindset. Necessity is the mother of invention.
0:13:03.9 Let’s talk about the nuts and bolts of actually training a property manager in sales though. That doesn’t sound like an appetizing prospect to me in the sense that the profile of what makes a great property manager really is pretty different of the profile of what makes a great sales person. 0:13:18.8 So did you hire based on folks that had flex capacity in terms of temperament? How did that go?
Rob: 0:13:25.4 That’s the challenge. I didn’t know that at the time. So, because I didn’t come from the property management space, and I really didn’t have a lot of direct experience with property management, except for a small portfolio that I was growing from graduating from college.
I didn’t really understand – I mean I had an intuitive sense of what would be needed for the property management, but I didn’t realize how hard it was and that the nuances and the personality types – right?
Because we would study the DISC profile. D-I-S-C. So, it was – there was some early challenges where yes, the better the sales person is almost the worse the property manager would be.
0:14:10.3 So at one time, we had like seven sales people. We were growing, growing, growing, but we didn’t have the infrastructure to support it on the backend.
0:14:18.6 And that was probably one of the most critical junctures where we had to then pivot the company, hire full-time property managers, change around different compensation models, right? And then make the transition from xyz sales person – is now no longer your property manager.
At that time we called them portfolio advisors. Right? 0:14:44.9 And then we would make that baton pass. And that was one where we retracted a little bit but it was better because we, you know, literally the wheels were going to fly off the bus if we had kept growing.
And our space that was Philadelphia market, there’s still bandwidth for more property management companies and we’re projecting some pretty significant growth over the next few years in our Philadelphia market.
But it was not the best way – it was the only way we knew how to get started, but it certainly wasn’t the best way to run a management company for the client, for the resident, the vendors, the community, etc.
Jordan: 0:15:24.3 So today is the company managed in more of a departmental type fashion?
Rob: 0:15:27.8 We are.
Jordan: 0:15:29.2 So, when you – where were you size-wise when you made that transition to kind of moving towards distinct roles?
Rob: 0:15:34.7 We went from about 750 doors and then we went down to about 500 doors and we restructured.
Jordan: 0:15:46.9 So, when you went down – like walk me through that kind of critical phase. What were the moving parts and what was that play there? How’d you work through it?
Rob: 0:15:54.5 I’m going to need to get some Tylenol if I have to go back to those files. But we – it was – I mean that’s literally what we did.
We hired property managers and then I just watched my cast position ((?)) 0:16:08.3 to not do the wrong thing for the sales agents. But the – getting the business was easy. Right? So, I was always taught – we also did EMyth coaching 0:16:20.9. Ok? 0:16:24.2 [Inaudible] personally, because I’d never been a CEO before.
So, EMyth taught us of lead generation, lead conversion, and then client fulfillment. 0:16:32.6 And when we looked at this, we had a client fulfillment problem, not so much getting leads and training – getting leads and then converting them.
Because the other challenge that we had was once the sales person was no longer responsible for fulfilling the promise, but they were incentivized to grow, that was a challenging time as well, where they were not in alignment.
0:17:03.6 So now our model is much different. Where there’s – where there are fewer sales people in each of the markets, generally the sales person is the owner, our business partner. Ok? And they are responsible also for the client fulfillment side because they both bring on the business and they’re responsible for the metrics of the company.
0:17:28.6 And the metrics that we’re tracking is not just what the EBDU ((?)) 0:17:32.7 is or the growth-rate is for our market center.
Those metrics are: what’s our rent collection. Days on market. Delinquency factors. We are on a software platform where we can track over time how much money are we sending our clients.
0:17:50.2 And that’s been a game changer over the last few years – is to – we would always say that our profit and loss – it was this is one of our sales…strategies, is to align our profit and loss of a Rentwell market with the profit and loss for that landlord, that investor.
0:18:13.6 And if when the sales wasn’t in alignment with that, we would take on a lot of business that we – that was not a right fit for Rentwell.
0:18:25.8 And then those were the clients that would cost us the most money, take the most time, you know, want to do their own maintenance, but not be able to execute well. Want to talk down to the staff because they were frustrated with their portfolio.
0:18:40.6 So, what’s been beautiful is, is launching new markets, we were able to get them started with that training right off the bat.
0:18:49.1 And then from living through all the pain, you knew what to do and what not to do and you could speak to it intelligently.
0:18:56.9 And then hopefully convince the partner, you know, this is why that client may not be the best fit at this point in time.
Jordan: 0:19:04.8 So when you say that it was easy to grow early on. The lead generation function came naturally to your organization. Would you say that that is still the case now? Has it been different in different markets, and if so, what did you do to actually manage that aspect of the business?
Rob: 0:19:19.3 We were pretty – in all regards, we were pretty adopters with LeadSimple. Actually…
Jordan: Very true.
Rob: 0:19:27.2 That was very helpful because we would have the paid lead campaigns online, and we wanted to be one of the first people to call them back.
And then also have, you know, what is working and what is not working, because we had six or seven sales people. Right? And we would be buying the leads for them. So that was a, you know, pretty early in that we adopted that software. Ok? 0:19:57.3 Can you repeat the question for me Jordan?
Jordan: Well the question is just, have you found it to be more difficult in other markets? Or would you say that the competitive differential there has less to do with – is less of a factor and is more just that you’re running your own race? Or have you found that Florida really was a lot different then what it was like to grow in Pennsylvania? 0:20:18.9
Rob: Oh yeah, great question there. 0:20:20.2
0:20:21.9 So, each of these markets is growing a little differently. And they’re growing with different types of clients. So what – the other thing that we learned was, because we specialize in both the scatter site single family, as well as the small multi-family – small enough where you wouldn’t need a full-time onsite manager.
0:20:40.4 We have to be careful of what clients we’re taking on based upon also the staffing that we have in a market. But absolutely, the ‘how we are finding this business’ is different for different markets.
Where sometimes the paid leads, we wouldn’t be converting them, they wouldn’t make sense. Other times, the direct mail would do gangbusters in some areas but then we’d hear crickets in others.
0:21:10.7 And that’s something that’s a big initiative for us for this upcoming first quarter of 2018 – is more marketing, because we have all our operations and they’re very solid. Right? Across all of our market centers. And now it’s time to, I’m going to say, grow again.
Jordan: 0:21:33.0 Step on the gas.
Rob: 0:21:34.4 It’s time to step on the gas. Yep. Time to get back in the mix.
Jordan: 0:21:39.2 Going from the – and now’s the time to start planning right? Not January 1st – you’re kind of too late when you’re trying to execute on a year long strategy, so good on you for doing that planning cycle. We’re in that right now ourselves.
0:21:54.8 Going from the macro to the micro. Now you’re in a position where you have sales people in multiple markets, can you walk me through organizationally, how you take – how you both recruit, onboard, and manage boots on the ground talent that’s 3000 miles away.
Rob: 0:22:16.0 That’s a great, great question. So we – I have a business partner, who is my COO, and he is – he started with the company pretty early on and has gone through the ranks.
So what we do is, we have weekly calls set up with each of our business partners and our original office and where we call our hub, that is located right next to our largest market center, which is our Philadelphia market.
0:22:44.7 So we are right there in the businesses. If you wanted to relate it to a franchise, it’s a bit like having your corporate region of McDonalds above a store.
Ok. 0:23:00.4 So we have weekly calls. Right? And the new program that we’re rolling out is our new HR program, where we take the 2018 plan, and that’s what we’re working on, our 2018 plan. We’re not doing five years out and four years out and this is where we’re going to be and all these units and all that stuff. We are – we do a rolling four quarters. Right?
0:23:26.5 So we’re going out for four quarters and we continually update our plan. So we’re continually looking a year out. Lots of communication back and forth and then the software is centralized so we have what are called market center liaisons that are working with that market on a one-on-one basis throughout the day. 0:23:51.3 Because they’re doing a lot of the backend function.
0:23:54.1 So let’s say Baltimore is signing up 30 new units, our corporate hub is helping them do all of that on boarding, going through our compliance checks and making sure that the best information is getting into the system. Ok?
0:24:12.2 And then our, my partner is working with the conversations with our business partner to make sure that we have the right staffing coming through. Ok. And for that what we’ve used is the Keller Williams 0:24:29.8 – it used to be called Recruit Select.
Jordan: 0:24:31.8 Oh yeah fantastic. I’ve audited that class. Love it.
Rob: 0:24:33.9 Yep. So we’ve – and that’s great. That’s a resource. Right? So I’m pretty sure everybody can go – that’s the Keller Williams coacher. Right? Where you can pay, and as you said, audit the class.
So that’s all about recruiting and leveraging your allied resources to find the talent. 0:24:52.2 And what’s great now is that now we know what those difference personality profiles are for the mix and there are really five or six roles that need to be filled in each of the markets based upon how many units we have in that market.
Jordan: 0:25:10.7 You know I’m curious. You brought it up, so I’ll just ask. What about Recruit Select do you actually practice? Because I was blown away.
It’s a pretty hardcore process in terms of the level of scrutiny that they expect to be applied to actually use as that mesh or that filter when bringing on a new hire.
Rob: 0:25:32.3 We use as much – I would love to say that we use the whole program. Right? We use as much of that as we possibly can. We’ve – I’ve made some bad hires over the years. I didn’t have a clear mission and vision and values early on, and now we have our values posted in each of our offices. 0:25:55.6 Number one being integrity.
Because how can you be a property management company and not have someone with high integrity in your firm. It just doesn’t work and it’s going to be very costly. 0:26:08.6
So, we have a whole program where we train – like on our version of Recruit Select, where we have – getting back to that EMyth term of position agreements, and what the desired result is for the property manager.
Because in each of the offices there’s a local property manager, there’s a local field manager, and then there’s that listing showing agent. Then when they get to a certain size they have an office manager.
0:26:38.8 So we use as much of that as we can with a lot of the face-to-face. 0:26:42.4 We start with a group interview. Right? So we bring everyone in and right there that’s going to weed out some people because they didn’t know it was going to be a group interview.
Jordan: 0:26:52.7 Nice.
Rob: 0:26:52.9 Right? And then after that we ask them to follow up with us so that weeds out some more people. Right? And then we do a field day. Whatever that field position is going to be, they’re going to spend almost a full day with us.
0:27:13.8 So I’m in the process of really learning the maintenance side of our company. Right? I think I’ve underestimated how critical maintenance is.
0:27:27.3 And I am physically there on rehabs and I’m spending a lot of time in the maintenance side of our business.
So when we’re looking to hire a new field manager who’s going to be overseeing these projects, they would go through the group interview, followup with us, meet with some of the team members and then literally it’s going to be like “Great, let’s get in the pickup truck and let’s walk a property. And let’s walk a few properties. And let’s go into some different neighbourhoods”. Let’s see what they’re comfortable with.
Same thing if we’re going to hire, let’s say an executive assistant, “Like here’s a bunch of paperwork, I’ll be back in an hour. Can you organize it for me and we’ll see how you do.”
0:28:11.2 And some people will walk out and some people will have it all organized and say, “You know the next thing you need to do is hire me.”
So just – you know, the proverbial hire slow and fire fast, getting back to that critical juncture, it’s – I – in hindsight is, assuming you’re making enough to feed your family and your emergency – you are surviving, my advice to anyone getting a small business going is don’t sacrifice a hire just for more growth. Or just because it’s easy. 0:28:52.2
Especially early on because then that person becomes part of your culture. Whether you want it or not. And don’t assume that, you know, never hire somebody just from that first interview, because anybody can fake it in that one interview.
Jordan: 0:29:09.3 You want to see some proof of concept.
Rob: 0:29:11.4 Absolutely.
Jordan: 0:29:13.0 So let’s talk about how the culture of the organization permeates through. If let’s say you’re having an annual meeting and every employee from every market center came together. It’s having a Christmas party.
One of your sales people, in a disparate market down in Florida comes up to you and is talking shop and they just ask you, “Hey Rob, I’m struggling. I’ve been doing the job for three months and I’m struggling with the closing function. I’m having some initial conversations, but I’m just struggling to get people to actually sign the contract.”
0:29:47.7 What is the general advice that you have for boots on the ground talent to effectively close new business the Rentwell way?
Rob: 0:30:01.0 Well the first thing that came to mind when you said that was ‘head trash’. 0:30:04.3 So what is stopping them from closing? Some, and I would go back to the Sandler’s sales training and a couple key techniques. Like are they selling past the sell? Right?
0:30:20.9 Are they – did they – were they working with a qualified candidate? Did they know what the “pain” was? How motivated was that person?
30:30 And then also, what’s our competitive market analysis? Because we’re not going to be least expensive property manager out there. In terms of our property management rates per se. We don’t run a flat-rate model. We do charge a percentage of rents and leasing fees and maintenance.
So we want to work with that client to have them understand what the blended property management fee is going to be. 0:31:01.1 The investment in the services. What is that blended going to be? That’s where it would start – the conversation.
And then we would, with this new – we’re using a software called BambooHR 0:31:12.9 where we can see how that person has been going through their progression.
Because it does take about 90 days for a new sales person to get up to speed with what we are doing and that’s like the critical juncture where we’ve invested in them and then also, I take it very seriously, because that person has invested in themselves.
0:31:36.2 And they’ve made either a career move or they’re getting into the space and they’ve put a lot into it. So if they’re not hitting their goals, then we both have a problem.
0:31:46.8 What’s nice about having these six markets is we now have enough people on the team doing similar roles where we can mastermind with each other. So we literally just wrapped up about a month ago, the Rentwell summit. That was for everyone in the summit – could come.
So our team in Florida, there’s six of them right now, the whole team came up. 0:32:16.3 And in January we’ll have our owner’s meeting, where all of the owners will come together.
And we will mastermind around topics and around our planning, and what are the big rocks for 2018. But in between those, what we’ve set up is calls where they’re not required calls, but we want to know who’s showing up to those and who’s participating in sales related calls, property management calls, maintenance calls, because the saying, “Experience is what you get just after you needed it.” 0:32:59.0 Tweet.
0:33:01.5 And that wisdom that comes with these mistakes and that’s what has always gotten me through the hardest times, is to say, “You know what, I’m glad we made that mistake.” For those who listen to Jocko Willmic ((?)) 0:33:14.4
Like when something’s going wrong and you say good. Well, because sometimes that’s all I’ve had to get through some challenging times. And I’m going to then steal that. “Good you missed the sale. Good. More time to get better.”
Where do you lose it – and then with the call-recording software we can then – we have a good database of this in our intranet. There are some common objections that you get that you just need to know how to overcome those objections.
Jordan: Like blocking and tackling. 0:33:52.5
Rob: 0:33:53.7 Like, “Why do you keep the late fees? I want to keep my late fees.” You need to know how to answer that. If you keep the late fees, some management companies they share it. They split them. Or they give them all to the client.
The first thing – we do a lot of trade shows, so our typical client owns 5-15 rentals. 0:34:14.3 And we find a lot of them at real estate clubs. And a lot of them, the first question is, “Well what do you charge? What’s your percentage?”
0:34:22.2 Well how do you answer that? Because it’s different if they have $600 one-bedrooms, subsidized housing, or if they have garden-style community with a three-bedroom, rents for $1500 a month. Or higher. 0:34:39.1 That rate – our rate matrix is going to be different for that.
Jordan: 0:34:41.7 So that’s probably the most common question. No doubt that is the most common questing. And when people gripe about it, my first response is, “Don’t blame the consumer.” In many cases – A: Never get at the money. Just general life principle.
0:34:55.9 B: If the consumer doesn’t know any better than to lead with that question, it’s your job to get them to a point where they actually prioritize other factors.
0:35:06.3 That said, Rob, how would you handle the pricing and the fee question in light of the complexity that you just explained?
Rob: 0:35:13.1 Some of it is going to depend on what kind of mood I’m in and how many times I’ve been asked it that day. You know, sometimes I love to say, “Oh we’re 50%.” Right? Pattern interrupt. Let me see if they laugh. If they don’t laugh, honestly I’m not quite sure I really want to be working with them. So, I start there.
0:35:38.4 I say, “No, in all seriousness I’d be happy to answer that. It’s not a one-size-fits-all. Maybe we should spend a little time. Let me understand what’s going on with your portfolio.
0:35:50.0 And then we use a pricing matrix which is going to help us understand the blended investment into the property management for your space. Do you do your own maintenance? Do your own tenant placement? Like, what’s going on right now? Are you even…” –I’m qualifying that person. So I’m going to not answer the question.
Jordan: 0:36:09.4 Ok. That’s one approach. Another approach is to just give them a range right out of the gate. Just to de-escalate it. You know. “Fees vary anywhere from x percent to x percent. Can I ask you some more questions to give you an exact answer?”
Rob: 0:36:22.9 That’s exactly right. Yep, “We’re five to ten percent on property management. That’s going to vary depending on what you have.” And you’re absolutely right.
Jordan: 0:36:30.1 So you mentioned that you’re not a low-cost operator. You guys are not flat fee, correct?
Rob: 0:36:35.0 We’re not a flat fee. Nope. We tried it. I spent – and that was a good way for us to grow. You know. $79 a month. Condo. Here it was. And for us it didn’t’ work for us. That model, we found didn’t work for us. Number one, we didn’t have to be. So we were giving up margin. And number two, we actually missed some business because they thought it was too inexpensive. 0:37:04.6
Jordan: 0:37:06.1 It seemed like a low – the Walmart of property management.
Rob: A little bit. Little bit. 0:37:13.8 So we – yeah go ahead. 0:37:16.5
Jordan: 0:37:16.7 So you mentioned early that is not the case. And obviously, if people are paying more – the more you charge, the more the burden goes up for you to qualify, but also to overcome objections. And the more the investment goes up, the more the perceived risk is. 0:37:36.0
I’ve always said property management fees can be sliced a million different ways. You can effectively charge people 1% and have enough fees on the backside to take it back to the equivalent of 10%.
Now I’m not saying that’s a good idea, but the point is, that initial number that people want to hear, the 7, 8, 9, 10 percent, is pretty deceptive in the sense that for the consumer they need the overall blended cost. I love that you’re calling that out.
That’s the service oriented, consultative thing to do, is to set the buying criteria. 0:38:11.8 “Hey Mr. Consumer, you probably haven’t done this before, but I have. And I want to give you some valuable insight that you can use to grade my company, but as well as to judge any other.”
0:38:22.4 That’s what that perspective of the blended pricing does. But if the net number is higher, which could be totally justified based on higher quality services, the perception of the risk goes up.
How do you handle overall risk reversal and the de-escalation of the perceived risk that comes from charging more?
Rob: 0:38:42.4 Well, I like to say – I mean, in our agreements they can cancel at any time. They can talk to any of our clients that have like kinded rental properties in their area. And speak with our other clients when it gets to that point in time.
0:38:59.7 Because we also are very competitively priced. Right? And we know what we charge based upon what service they need and the Rentwell – with the tag: ‘Lease. Manage. Maintain’.
That was very strategic in how we have our offering. So we have the one fee for leasing, the one fee for management, and then another fee for the maintenance.
0:39:24.5 And then we’re very honest and transparent about each of those components, especially when it comes down to maintenance.
0:39:34.6 So, it’s a shame, I wish I would have one of my top listing agents on the line with us, maybe a call for another day. But, you know, that’s – we have lost some business, or not earned some business because there was a better firm out there. Quite frankly. 0:39:54.6 Right?
That was – Philadelphia, you know, which is most of my experience on the listing side, I mean it’s a big city. There’s student housing, there’s high-end, there’s low-end, there’s new construction, there’s 120 year old town-homes. Road houses.
0:40:14.4 So, sometimes in some markets, we’re going for a business that we probably shouldn’t be going after. Because we’re not the best firm for that and I don’t want to earn that business because it’s not the right thing for that investor. It’s not the right thing for that client.
But our bread and butter in each of these markets, those are the ones that we want to go – and those are different in each of these markets. Baltimore is going to be different, have a different target than Clearwater. It’s going to be a different target than Pittsburgh. 0:40:47.0 We know where we’re at and we know where our competitors are at and we know how to earn that business.
Jordan: 0:40:52.4 I’m curious how you think about the estimation of valuing and the modelling of what a client is actually worth? Are you comfortable sharing some internal stats?
Let’s say somebody is opening up a new office and they need to come up with what a client is worth. And obviously part of that is how long the client is going to stick around for.
0:41:14.4 What’s your default operating assumption for a new operator in a new market as to how long the average client will stick around for?
Rob: 0:41:20.8 Oh wow, what a great question. So, in – so we look at our clients in three different ways.
0:41:27.4 We have those accidental landlords. Right? And because we are Rentwell and we do not compete with our realtor friends or our commercial brokers. We do get a lot of referrals for the accidental landlords. Right?
They couldn’t sell their home or they’d lose too much money if they did. 0:41:47.2 That client only stays with us two to three years right now. On average. That’s going to be of higher churn rates because it’s a good economy. Ok? Right? Then we have our – and we track them a certain way.
0:42:02.8 Then we have our small investors. But they’re buying properties that are rental properties. That are going to stay as rental properties. And we’ve had some of those clients from day one. Those clients we plan to have – as far as we would go out would be five years on that, in terms of planning for them.
Jordan: Got it. Ok.
Rob: 0:42:32.3 Right? And we track this. We have tags called PCR. Portfolio Closure Request. So when we went from the 750 to 500 doors, that was actually because we cancelled a lot of accounts on our side because we took on the wrong business and the wrong client.
0:42:53.2 So we track this in each of our markets, but I don’t know that as well as I will in about six months, because that’s a big part of what we’re doing right now. And that’s actually what we’ve gotten from some of the webinars you’ve done and my business partner.
0:43:14.2 We know what the industry standard is for that churn. Right? And it varies.
0:43:24.1 And that third investor type, which is the larger multi-family, we’ve repositioned three or four of those this year where we’ve come to the end of a five-year cycle and they’ve sold those buildings.
And we could have done everything right, they sell the building but then that new client doesn’t need us because they have it in-house. Right?
Or they already have a firm that they’re comfortable working with, or maybe they’ll use us for three to six months for the transition but then they’ll go in-house with it. 0:43:55.4 You know.
0:43:55.4 So what we look for is not so much what our churn rate is, but why. What was the reason behind it.
0:44:02.8 And for that we’ve been leveraging some virtual assistants where they are contacting every new clients within six weeks of them getting signed up. “How’s it going? Have you been introduced to your property manager? What was your leasing experience? Your management experience? Your maintenance experience? Accounting, etc.”
0:44:22.8 And past times we’ve also done a board of advisors. I’m big on board of advisors. So, like clients that are on a board of advisory council. To know like, how are we doing from your perspective? So I don’t think the churn rate as important as it is the reason behind it.
But on average I believe we’re around 18% that we know that we’re going – if we’re at 1000 doors we need to be replacing 200 a year.
0:45:03.7 And that’s also going to vary by market. If we launch in a new market and we’re seeing – and we’ve only been open a year but we’ve put some PCRs through. That’s a problem. 0:45:12.3
Jordan: 0:45:14.5 Churn rate is a great to focus on. Obviously with any of these critical metrics, they need to be things that you can actually influence. As soon as either you can’t, or you feel like you can’t, it becomes a vanity metric. It’s not of any value. So that underlying ‘why’ is how you get to that.
0:45:30.5 Before we go on, I do want to mention our show sponsor, which is the PM Grow Summit, which is happening at the end of January in 2018.
If you consider yourself a growth minded property management entrepreneur, focused on the ‘E’, like Rob Coldwell, then you’re going to want to show up to this event because it’s focused on sales and marketing. We touch on operations in so much as it is relevant to fuel growth.
0:45:57.0 This event is focused on helping you build out that virtuous cycle in your business. Up your sales and marketing game. Feed that revenue into operations and have revenue from operations be able to go back into sales and marketing to grow and to expand.
0:46:10.8 So, if you’re 100% focused on having a lifestyle business and going sideways, this may or may not be the event for you. You’ll probably take away some stuff from it, but if you are focused on growth, if you’re focused on developing yourself as a leader, this is the place to be. You can get $100 of your ticket by going to PMGrowSummit.com.
0:46:30.7 Rob, I know that you are really focused on developing yourself as a leader, as a manger, I want to transition to that next. 0:46:39.7 You’ve already mentioned in the course of this interview, Sandler, EMyth, Verne Harnish’s book.
I know you do – you facilitate a mastermind with people outside of the industry, but I know above all that you consider yourself an entrepreneur first, property – obviously you’re not a property manager, but the property management piece is second.
Can you kind of talk me through how you think about personal development and where it fits into your overall big picture strategy?
Rob: 0:47:08.4 Absolutely. It’s something near and dear to my heart. I am looking – I’m in my home office and I’m looking at these – the skyscrapers that we have with the flags on them.
One says Rentwell and then next to it says Personal Development, because I really believe that it’s a foundation that as we grow – I mean let’s face it, property management companies – I understand there’s a lot of really neat software out there and more and more can be done remotely, and I get all that, but at the end of the day, it’s still a people business. It’s still a service business.
0:47:46.9 So, we believe in pouring into our people as much as we can without crossing certain lines with them. So, when we do our Rentwell summits, we bring in different speakers, and the one that we did was the Delaware Valley Summit for Health, Wealth and Personal Development. 0:48:07.2 And then on the backside of that was our Rentwell Summit.
So, for me personally, a big part of you know, what got me here won’t get me there, was recognizing that and growing into the leader that I am continuing to grow into today.
And when I’ve had rough patches, it was because I have either gotten – let my ego get in the way. Right? Or I thought I was better than where I was and the universe comes right back to show me, “Hey you’re not buddy.” 0:48:40.3 Like don’t rest on your laurels type deal. You know?
So, to me, focusing on personal development and focusing on the changing landscape, not only in your own mind, but also in the spaces where you operate, it’s so important because without that, I don’t know how to operate very well. Quite frankly.
0:49:12.0 Like, I need a certain amount of learning and growth in my life. And it’s not – I studied a lot of the Anthony Robbins programs. Right? With the six human needs and I’m a junkie for the conferences in a way.
Where if I’m not going to them and I’m not learning these things – but I also have to strike the right balance, because I can – personally I can almost sometimes do too much of it and then not do enough of it at all.
0:49:46.6 So where I’m working on it in my life is evening myself out. And having more strategic planning and then also doing a better job to say, “This is what my plan was, how well are we doing on that plan?”
And I think that’s a – at least from where I am, and where I’m coming from, is – that’s my own personal journey right now. 0:50:16.6 And then also a challenge of being a small business is recruiting and keeping good talent. And we have some incredibly talented folks at Rentwell.
Quite frankly, one thing that I could worry and turn into concern and then create a plan around it, is I don’t want to lose that talent. 0:50:33.6 So, it needs to grow for them.
Jordan: 0:50:39.6 Right. Oh man, well said. So, if you’re focused on working with other A players. They say B players recruit C players. You want to be hiring A players to build the organization, the pie has to get bigger. Or else these people just naturally cap out. That’s a very natural progression. You don’t want that to happen.
When you mentioned earlier, those highs and lows – ego obviously is a big part of that. When you get too big for your britches and life slaps you around, there’s obviously on that growth track, a natural balance between ego and aspiration. You accomplish something. The ego grows a little bit, but then your aspirations increase and you realize you ain’t nothing again. Because the next level of where you want to go, you have to be in that student mindset again.
0:51:23.5 So that’s the natural balance between ego and aspiration. The challenge becomes when you start to go sideways and it’s easy for that ego to start to become disproportionate. When we talk about personal development, I get a very mixed response from my audience.
Some folks, like yourself, are all about it. Other folks, they kinda sorta see the value, but they’re just not quite sure if it’s worth the investment of the time.
One of the natural questions I have for you is, Rob, how do you make the time? 0:51:51.4 Now, in my opinion it’s kind of a false dilemma in the sense that it’s more about how did you decide to make that important in your life, because if it’s a priority you’ll naturally make the time.
0:52:02.4 At the same time, do you have any regular disciplines and routines? Like what is the average Rob Coldwell day look like and does it incorporate any reading, meditation, personal development time, etc?
Rob: 0:52:16.7 Sure. I am a fan of Hal Elrod’s principle of the Miracle Morning 0:52:22.8 So I had my miracle morning this morning. It was up at, let’s see was it 4:45 or 5:45.
Usually it’s one of those two times depending on when my first meeting I have scheduled and what was going on in the evening. So I have, Jordan, I have four children. The oldest is eight, the youngest is a year. 0:52:49.4 My wife is a saint.
And so, for me, my quiet time is in the morning. So that’s when I’m focused on me. 0:53:00.7 The first thing that I do when I get out of bed is I move. Right?
Some people call it the drunk monkey on their shoulder, where they almost don’t want to get out of bed, they want to keep hitting snooze, or they’re very anxious.
And I’ve had different periods in my life where I have had anxiety. And you know, it’s almost like the day is going to be much let me just keep staying here.
0:53:24.2 And then that’s when it snowballs and gets worse because you’re late, you’re running around, you’re not taking care of yourself. 0:53:30.9 So I’ve had those periods where I wasn’t taking care of myself.
And I’m very grateful to be in a period where I’ve kind of gone back to my roots and I have a practice that I call, Vision Through Purposeful Action. And this is where I’ve taught it to about a dozen different business owners here locally, in all walks of life, where I – you go through a meditation, you work with a coach to say, “Where do you want to be in the future?”
0:54:03.7 And actually, this is a EMyth principle. Day – like first week of EMyth, you write your eulogy. Right? So the eulogy is what people are going to read for you when you pass away.
So you write your eulogy and that was a profound experience because it didn’t say how much money I had in the bank, how many rentals I had, how many units I had. It was all about, “Rob made a lasting enterprise. He had fun. He loved his family and his friends. I miss the man. I’m a better person because of him.”
0:54:38.1 So, I – once a week I take out that eulogy and I read it. And I have a binder with these different components. I’m in a mastermind group and we’ve done something called, A Life Happiness Index.
0:54:54.4 Where, you know, — it’s great that your business is doing fantastic, but how about your relationships? Right? A conversation with my business partner this morning, “TJ, what’s a goal for you?” Right? And well it wasn’t income.
He was like, “You know what, I want to have some more fun. And I really enjoy this what we’re doing.” And I said, “Then you don’t want fun, because to us business is fun, you want adventure.”
Jordan: Right, right.
Rob: 0:55:20.6 You know, “What adventures do you want to have?” And then we wrote down six things that he would like to do. So then that takes that – and that’s why, for me, I like to look at a year.
So that’s a great time for that 2018 — for my own mastermind group, called Every Man’s Mastermind 0:55:36.6 That’s what we did.
0:55:37.6 So, in November we did a vision board, and now in December we’re going to take those vision boards and we’re going to create a one-page summary of what 2018 is going to look for for us. And for everyone it’s going to be different.
0:55:56.3 When I find myself getting jealous and I go on Facebook and I see that I’m home but somebody else is doing this or doing that or anything, that’s where I have learned to go into, and I’m – you know, going to use the word ‘face’.
Put the ego aside, be grateful for what I have – because there’s always somebody with a bigger business, there’s always somebody who it seems like you want to have these different things, but we are our own person and that’s where for me, personal development reminds me of that, and from having gone through different rough patches – one thing I would say is, if you’re not into personal development, maybe you could get into the exercise.
0:56:42.8 And I think some people are into personal development but they don’t realize it’s personal development. And they are taking care of themselves, and they are reading.
0:56:51.2 But my day starts with a Miracle Morning and then I am generally in the office, depends if I’m taking the kids to the bus stop or not, and then I work a full day. And then I come home and I want to eat dinner with my family.
0:57:08.9 A couple nights a week I’m probably going to be at an event. Right? Or I’m going to be having dinner with somebody. 0:57:17.3 And then on the weekends, it’s as much family time as I can get in. And then also some time for Rob. Because, you know, it’s important.
0:57:26.1 It’s important to sharpen our own, you know, saws, as they say. 0:57:33.8 I hope that answers your question.
Jordan: 0:57:37.4 That’s a great answer. I mean, obviously that’s your own internal well, is what you have to pour into other people. If I was going to distil down a lot of what you said, what I heard was driving clarity in your own perspective so that you’re able to act out of a place of intentionality. And I know in my own life, as an entrepreneur, as a hustler, somebody that’s willing to – that wants to win.
Rob: I fundamentally want to win at life, and because of that, I’m willing to throw myself into and at a project.
0:58:12.5 Sometimes that’s good, but the dark side of that is willingness to operate without clarity. And the longer that you do that – the longer I do that, the unhappier I get.
0:58:23.8 I can be doing things that are value added on a certain level, but if I’m operating without clarity, and I’m just grinding it out, A: I know that the value I’m creating is sub-optimal because I’m not coming from that place of intentionality.
But I also know that the perspective and the purpose and the mission is so necessary for me just to feel good about what I’m doing. And to really be happy and content.
0:58:48.2 At some point every entrepreneur has to graduate past the dollars. Past whatever the ego metric is. And for this to be a sustainable ten, 20, 30, 40 year career, there has to be something beyond that.
0:59:04.4 Taking – that’s what personal development represents to me. That’s what it gets at. It doesn’t get at – it doesn’t have to be moral, religious, philosophical, it’s about self-actualization, in my mind. And that’s why it’s meaningful to me. I appreciate you sharing on that.
0:59:22.9 I do want to move on to the rapid-fire section of the interview. I’m just going to ask you some short questions and I just want to get some guttural answers from you Rob. We do this with every guest.
0:59:33.4 The first question is this: What advice do you wish somebody had given you when you first got started in the industry?
Rob: 0:59:41.4 What advice do I wish somebody – I would have liked to hear, “Take a year off and go work for a firm.”
Jordan: 0:59:52.7 Ok.
Rob: 0:59:54.4 Don’t just go get started. Go work for a big real estate developer or something like that.
Jordan: 1:00:05.0 That’s fun. I can totally relate to that. There are definitely times where I crave having had some defaults that didn’t require doing so much stupid stuff just to get to the – like a basic operating default that another business would have had in place. I like that. 1:00:20.3
Rob: 1:00:22.0 The second one would be – I don’t remember the first three years of this business. Quite frankly. It was that intense that I took my year four to basically reconnect with my wife, my children and everything else. So it could have been done in a more balanced way. 1
:00:41.7 And I think a life coach would have helped me with that back in that time. So if I didn’t follow the advice of going to work for somebody else, it would have been to get a coach.
Jordan: 1:00:49.7 You’ve brought up that word balance a couple times. I’m curious. I think of Gary Keller, some other folks that are anti-balance in the sense that they feel like it’s more about opposing extremes that together create balance. What does that word balance mean to you?
Rob: 1:01:09.0 It’s the – it’s yin and yang. And I respect yin and yang. But what’s the point of having this business if your marriage is crumbling? What’s the point of having this business and making the money if your health isn’t there. So to me, the balance is personal and professional. But I totally get the extremes that you need to go through sometimes.
Jordan: 1:01:38.1 Yep, I hear you.
Rob: 1:01:38.8 There’s balance and there’s harmony and we could do a whole other call on that.
Jordan: 1:01:43.9 And maybe we will. 1:01:44.4 Next question is, how much is too much to pay for a new property management contract? We take your average owner, average property – I’m talking about organic acquisition, not buying a portfolio. So when you think about your marketing expense plus the sales labour expense, how much is too much to pay for a new property management contract?
Rob: 1:02:11.5 Wow. There’s a long pause here, because I’m a 1:02:18.6 [Inaudible] and I have a finance degree. So like, I would want to figure that out Jordan. I don’t have an answer for that. I’m sorry. Like, I wish I knew that. I probably should. But where it wouldn’t make sense financially for your business. Where the investment doesn’t get the return.
Jordan: 1:02:39.3 Honest answer from a very smart guy. This is an ego opportunity for you to just blurt something out and I appreciate the candidness.
And this kind of relates to the benchmarking study that we’re doing that we’re really excited about to try and establish some norms there.
I think there’s two things. There’s the norm of what is, which is useful. And then there’s the optimal number of what should be. And obviously the cost is a function of what the client is worth. But appreciate the honest answer on that one.
1:03:03.0 The next question is, who do you learn from? Are there any names you would toss out to our listeners of people that over time you’ve really got a lot of value from?
Rob: 1:03:15.3 Right now, one of my coaches is a man named Rock Thomas. 1:03:20.4 And I have some accountability going on with him and he’s helping me out with a strategy. I also – so that’s who I’m learning from.
I also learn from a man named James Spooner 1:03:31.0 who studied with Napoleon Hill of Think and Grow Rich. And those are the two that come to mind and, of course, the people in my mastermind group. I’m learning.
Jordan: 1:03:47.6 Love it. Putting your money where your mouth is. He’s got multiple coaches. I only have one coach so now I’ve got an inferiority complex here Rob. 1:03:54.9 Love the answer there.
1:03:56.8 Next question is this, what is the number one recurring thing that you see property management entrepreneurs doing wrong when you interact with them?
Rob: 1:04:11.3 When I’m interacting with a property management entrepreneur, why are they in the space? Expend more time for making sure that this business is set up for their lifestyle versus the other way around. And get out of some of the minutiae of all this, because that always exists.
Don’t spend so much on the yin and yang on what could go wrong. Because that is just part of this business. And I’ve fallen into that trap where, you know, thinking about what could go wrong and I’m meddling over it. So, when you get out to these conferences and you’re everywhere else, leave behind the minutiae and start thinking about some bigger pictures.
1:04:52.5 Because also, property management can lead you into a lot of other different cross sections of the real estate space. Those are things that I’m really beginning to explore now. And I think that we’re underpaid for what we do, quite frankly, as an industry. As a whole.
For when we’re operating very well and doing our jobs well. And that there’s a lot of other opportunities for us. So think a little bigger.
Jordan: 1:05:18.8 Yeah, I think so. I mean that’s part of the thesis – my thesis of why we see outside industry coming in to this vertical. It’s not because we’re underpaid, it’s because the outside capital has a perspective on how to increase the value extracted.
1:05:36.3 So whether that means having – like the Renter’s Warehouse model of having a low-price, flat fee concept but having a plan for collateralizing the overall business asset, brining on even more capital. To then find ancillary business opportunities. 1:05:51.9 That’s one thesis.
But I think there’s a ton of growth potential here in the industry overall. But you’ve got to have that big picture perspective, which like you said, has to go beyond operations and the banal minutiae of just running the day to day operation. Love that answer.
1:06:09.4 Final question of the interview. I ask this to every person that I talk to. Rob, in your opinion, are entrepreneurs born or bred?
Rob: 1:06:23.4 Born. They’re born. They can be supported over time, but I would say born up through their early life experiences. I believe they have it in them or they don’t. And it’s not for everyone. And just like not everyone should go to school to be a doctor or a lawyer or any of these other things. Not everyone should want to be an entrepreneur.
Jordan: There’s no value judgement in it one way or the other.
Rob: 1:07:03.1 No. But I believe that there’s some inner drive that some people have that other people don’t have. And it’s not necessarily they come out of the womb with it, but it’s pretty early on in childhood where it is. So then I could answer both ways.
But for me, I know I had it at an early age. And I’ve also seen some people that have not had it, but then wanted to have it. And didn’t work out so well for them. I also – I would consider myself an entrepreneur, but also not – an entrepreneur, I like the definition of they’re a starter. Right?
But I would not consider myself, let’s say, a serial entrepreneur. 1:07:49.4 So I don’t do a lot of different things. I really – like Rentwell is it. So, personal development supports that.
I am not just someone who – you know, I was almost ten years at Swiss Farms and I’ll be hopefully a lot more at Rent Well. As long as I’m offering value to the company, that’s where I shall stay. So, I think that you, you know – there’s a distinction between that small business owner growing their business and then also somebody who’s an entrepreneur that starts things but can start a lot of different things. There’s probably a spectrum of that.
Jordan: 1:08:27.3 Oh yeah. I’m sure there’s flavours. You’ve got your moguls out there. There’s definitely flavours and variety. But that answer puts you in the 10% of guests or less that have had a strong inclination to say that it was born.
For me, to take that perspective is really just a commentary on the belief that the type of person that will embrace the pain and the ongoing scalable pain and suffering that comes from running your own business and trying to scale it – that takes a special kind of person to do that and enjoy it.
1:09:08.9 Because like, you’re mentioning that comment earlier about TJ and the fact that both you and him like work. You actually enjoy what you do. It’s not this thank god it’s Friday sort of thing. My favourite day of the week is Monday. I don’t expect everybody to be like that, but it’s certainly my temperament and to hand somebody else a manual – you know, to take an EMyth approach and hand somebody else a manual and say, “Hey.”
You need to just have an almost borderline sadistic enjoyment of hustle and grind. That’s a challenging thing to do. I think that’s the rationale for the folks that take the perspective that it’s born rather than bred. 1:09:44.2 But hey, there’s no right or wrong answers.
Everybody has a unique commentary on it. It is what it is. 1:09:49.5 I really appreciate you coming on the show. If folks want to learn more about Rentwell and what you’re up to, what’s the best place for them to go online.
Rob: 1:09:58.1 They could email me, Rob@RentWell.com is my personal email address that I use. And they could check out any of our markets that they’re interested in speaking with any of our partners there and for anything that they needed. And I’d be happy to communicate. I love to meet new people, I love to have conversations and the property management space has been very good to me and I would welcome the opportunity to meet with some other folks from the space and see what we can all learn together and grow something great together.
Jordan: 1:10:37.0 Guys, if you got something out of this interview, I would encourage you to reach out to Rob. He’s a smart operator doing interesting things. Again, Rob, thanks for taking the time to talk with us and share your perspective. We’ll keep eyes on your continued success.
Rob: Jordan thank you.