Little Things in Business By Gary Harper

Gary Harper helps real estate investors build a better business—not by becoming better at finding deals, rehabbing, and managing tenants, but by creating better systems, hiring the right people, and establishing and reaching bigger goals through a complete business operating. This is what he’ll be addressing at his all-day workshop at the OREIA National Real Estate Summit, Oct. 31st in Cincinnati. If your goal is an easier, more passive business, you need to be there—and you can get tickets at www.OREIAConvention.com

It’s the little things like a free dessert or beverage that makes customers feel special and appreciated.  There is nothing difficult or expensive about paying attention to your customers likes and dislikes (Wayne’s Eggs) — remembering their names and keeping track of their buying preferences.  Little things frequently produce big results.  Unfortunately, many business owners miss the small things and then wonder why they lose the business to a competitor.  Here are just a few of the “little things” that can set your business apart from the rest.

  1. Smile. 

A smile is contagious and makes people feel welcome.  Oh, and by the way, it takes fewer muscles to smile than it does to frown.  Plus, research from the 1970s and 80s suggests that your facial expression might actually influence your mood.  (Try putting a smile on your face and see if you feel happy.)  So, make sure you have a smile on your face when you’re dealing with your customers, so they know their business is important to you.

  • Take Responsibility for Mistakes

Everyone makes mistakes and training your customer service team to quickly apologize for mistakes and rectify them is one of the most important “little things” you can do to enhance your customer service.  Sometimes that means accepting responsibility for something that isn’t your fault.  Perception is reality.  The goal is to do your best to satisfy your customer.

  • Go Above and Beyond. 

One of the best ways to wow your customers is to go beyond what they’re expecting.  Talk about building loyalty.  One of my favorite examples has to do with two competing discount shoe stores located next door to each other.  I had reward coupons for both stores which I didn’t realize were for another location.  The first store refused to accept the coupon even though it was in the same city. It was their corporate policy!  The second store gladly accepted my coupon which turned out to be actually not their coupon.  Both coupons were only for $10.00 off, but it was the way in which they handled the situation that spoke volumes.  The first store lost a good customer over $10.00 because now I only shop at the second store.

Of course, the little things can be easy to miss. After all, they’re little. And in a fast-paced, chaotic cult­­­­­­­ure, the newest and shiniest toys can distract us from the details that really count. You’ve got to be intentional when you look for the little things. It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth the extra effort.

As a business coach, I meet entrepreneurs every day that are great at creating a sellable product but struggling with running a business. They have made the jump from employee to entrepreneurship and they are having success, but they struggle with scaling properly.  

Many times, I hear statements like; my business is stuck, I have problems solving issues, I have the wrong people in my business, The business has become complex and communication has deteriorated or find themselves working more “In” the Business then “On” the business. Basically, that have plateaued, and they don’t know how to have a growth spurt. 

In order to grow and overcome these issues business owners need to focus and work on these main areas of business. Leadership, Vision, People, Processes, Data and Communication. 

Vision 

As leaders, it’s our jobs to provide a vision other can follow. As John Maxwell says “The leader finds the dream and then the people. The people find the leader and THEN the dream.” Have you found your dream? Your purpose in life or as many people call it your “Why”? Your “Why” will provide focus for your employees on where you are going, and the right people will align their goals to help you achieve yours. 

Do you have a clear vision in writing that has been properly communicated to your entire staff and is shared by everyone?  

“Anyone Can Steer the Ship, But It Takes a Leader to Chart the Course” Navigation requires vision and the ability to have good interpretation of the past and ability to understand and predict the future. 

As leaders we must plan ahead and create focus for our company and employees. Having a documented Vision Plan that includes your Core Values, 10 to 30-year goals that back down into 3-5-year goals that ultimately leads to creating a 1-year focus with 90 days goals for everyone that are leaders on your team. 

Leadership 

Before we have the right to lead others, we must make sure we lead ourselves first. The first person you need to lead is you. You should work first and hardest on you. You should ask yourself this question daily. What areas of my life need changing? 

I love being reminded every time I fly of the important of taking care of ourselves first. Over 1000 times I have heard these words from a flight attendant. “In case of an emergency in a flight… and the oxygen mask falls… Every flight attendant instructs you to put the mask on YOURSELF FIRST… so you can take care of others.”  

People 

“He who thinketh he is leading, and no one is following, is only taking a walk!” John Maxwell 

Do you have the right people based off your core values? Are they in the right position based on their abilities? Do they know their role or the role of others in your company? 

Every company needs to take time and document the positions in their company that are needed to grow based on the documented vision. Once this has been documented you can hire the right people for these positions based off their abilities and if they align with the company’s core values. 

By having the right people in the right position, you will have confidence to start “Letting Go”.  

Then you can stop working “IN” the business and spend more time working “ON” the business. 

“The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.”  

     – Theodore Roosevelt 

Processes 

Are your company’s main processes documented and then followed by everyone in the company? 

Many times, I hear a statement from business owners that they don’t have time or don’t know what to do? Documenting your business processes can often feel overwhelming.  

I get questions like where do I start? Do I document everything? Do I have the resources, and can they be pulled away from their daily tasks? You don’t need to create a 1,000-page Standard Operating Procedure guide; you just need to identify your 10 main processes and start knocking them out through a simple method called process mapping. 

Process mapping is a simple tool that allows you to identify the processes start and end points and the departments that are responsible for the steps in the process.  

Why Process Mapping? It helps you understand and analyze your current way of working. It allows you to redesign and improve the process. You can use process mapping to implement a standard way of working and train new employees. This allows you to communicate with other groups and external entities 

There are two categories of Process Maps: 

We us “As Is” maps to truly understand how a process works in the real world, to provide continuous improvement to the process. 

From the creation of the “AS IS” map I like to lean the process, remove waste, improve efficiency and then automate where it makes sense. That converts my “AS IS” map into a “Should Be” map which is the second map. 

We use “Should Be” maps to establish performance standards, to establish service level agreements, to establish standard processes, to establish process expectations, to provide training and to determine customer expectations. 

Data 

Most people overlook this area of their business or just justify having it by tracking their financials. But tracking data is much more than just a P&L statement.  

These data reports are also called scorecards, dashboards, flash reports, metrics, pulse report, key performance indicators (KPIs) and 1,000 other words. 

As business owners, we need this information to accurately predict where the business is going and ensure the company has a healthy heart beat. 

We usually find that there are around 10 to 20 key metrics that need tracked on a weekly basis and 5 to 10 metrics that need track monthly. 

Once you decide on the right metrics you need to add a weekly/monthly goal that needs to be obtained to maintain a healthy and growing company. Once I have these metrics and the goal outlined, I always assign these metrics to the proper people on the team to ensure they are reported on weekly/monthly. Having these numbers allows me to spend time away from the office or enjoying time off, while having peace knowing the health of my company. 

If you don’t know what these numbers are today, I plead with you to take time away with your team and develop these numbers and then use them to hold your business accountable. 

Communication 

Proper communication will reduce complexity and will add accountability. We all need accountability in our businesses. Lack of accountability will lead to complacency = DEATH. 

Communication starts with having the right meetings that ensure you are delivering value to your company. I feel there are three meeting structures that are critical. 

First meeting is a quick daily huddle that has a simple agenda. This meeting is a standing meeting that we communicate the following: Good News, expectations for the day, announcement of visitors and collaboration of needs from each department.  

Second meeting is a weekly meeting to work “ON” the business. We review the current state of the business through goals and metrics and identify any key issues and then we spend the next 60 minutes solving issues.  

Third meeting, which could be the most important meeting of all three, is the Town Hall meeting. This meeting allows the visionary/owner the ability to share their vision to the whole company. In this meeting, you want to structure it to last no more than 30 minutes. We start off with public praise, then communication of company wins and then end it with the vision for the quarter and monthly we include in this meeting the long-term vision as well. This meeting helps define the culture of the business and motivates that staff weekly. 

With all meetings, you should set up a routine. Each meeting needs to start on time and end on time. They need to be at the same time and the weekly meetings need to be on the same day. 

Good communication prevents bottlenecks and train wrecks where the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing. It allows you to review goals and provide accountability to your vision.  

The right system 

Having these systems in place you will be able to; 

  • Help you scale properly 
  • Bring out the best in employees 
  • Reduce employee stress levels 
  • Allow you to stop micromanaging  
  • Reduce employee turnover 
  • Dial in your business processes 
  • Create the right culture in your business 
  • Create a Vision for all to follow 
  • Get your team all on the same page pulling the same direction 

When companies have inefficient systems in place, it hinders the productivity of your employees. A great employee working with an inefficient system is not only an inefficient and ineffective employee, but you are essentially paying for an employee to do work they cannot fully accomplish. This leads to high turnover rates and lack of confidence within your organization. 

Wholesalers are the “Canary in the Coalmine” by Vena Jones-Cox

            When the real estate market starts to change, as it is right now, wholesalers are the first to be affected—and if you’re not ready to adjust your business when it does, it can be devastating for your income.

            When the real estate market is “Hot” (which is another way of saying it’s a seller’s market, with less inventory than demand), it’s harder to find deals at true wholesale prices, but very easy to find buyers, many of whom will pay MORE than the usual 70% of value minus repair costs for deals. This is the situation a lot of new-ish wholesalers are used to; the market has been increasingly hot for over 7 years now.

            When the market is “cold”—that it, there are more sellers in the market than buyers—getting deals under contract at pennies on the dollar is easy, but the hoards of anxious investor-buyers available in a “hot” market shrink enormously, and the ones who remain are relatively sophisticated, and get very picky when there are a lot of deals to choose from.

            It’s when the market is in the process of changing, as it is right now, that wholesalers find themselves thrown for a proverbial loop.

            As it transitions from cold to hot, wholesalers who actually know how to evaluate properties have a booming business; there are still lots of motivated sellers in the market during this period, but more and more buyers looking to grab some deals.

            It’s the transition from hot to cold markets that present a real challenge to wholesalers, and that’s what we’re facing right now.

            We’re already at the leading edge of a mid-cycle slowdown, and my prediction for the next 2 years of the real estate market is that it will continue to slow down until this looming recession finally hits. Once the stock market takes the dive it’s due for, we’ll be in full-on buyer’s market mode, and won’t come out of it until 2022 or so.

            Here’s what you’ll see as this happens:

  1. Days on market will increase first; then when inventory increases enough, prices will start to fall, as they already have in some of the traditionally hot markets like San Francisco.

  2. This will start to make buyers who are retailers more conservative; in a market with falling prices, today’s after-repaired value isn’t trustworthy; by the time the property is ready for market, it might be worth less than it is today—AND, because the hard money loans they typically use to buy and fix properties have a high monthly carrying cost, and extra 2-3 months on the market eats into their profit significantly.

  3. Landlord buyers will also be affected by a full-in recession; vacancy rates will increase and rents will probably decline slightly. With more vacancies and turnovers to handle, they have to see a no-brainer deal to take on additional rentals
  • Initially, most sellers won’t get the memo, and will still be basing their asking prices on what their neighbor sold for 6 months ago
  • Months after your buyers have started expressing concerns about the market, the media will notice that there’s a decline in prices, and will start trumpeting that from the rooftops, and  at that point, the thousands of new investors who seem to be entering the market every week will disappear, leaving only experienced buyers who are bargain hunting as potential customers for your deals.

I’ve been through 2 other mid-cycle slowdowns (and, of course, one major market crash), and here’s my best advice for not just surviving, but thriving while the market is down:

  • Make sure you’re bulking up your buyer’s list with experienced buyers. They’re smarter and pickier than first-time investors, but they’re also looking forward to this slowdown, so they can pick up some bargains for their portfolios. Just ask them. They’re practically bursting with excitement about it.
  • Make SURE you have your evaluation skills honed. A first time investor-buyer might believe the Zestimate is the real value of the property, and that a bathroom only costs $1,200 to gut and replace, but experienced buyers know better, and they’re your customers. At least, they are if you’re offering good deals. Which you can’t, if you don’t know what they’re worth.
  • Dial back your offers. It’s been easy to sell properties at 75%, or even 80%, of ARV less repair costs over the past few years. It won’t be when there’s more inventory. 70% is a good estimate of what a property will sell for as the market declines; when it gets full-on cold, you’d better plan at selling at 65% less repair costs.
  • Dial up your follow up. The market will eventually tell those sellers who still think their property is worth a zillion dollars today that they need to modify their expectations; you need to be following up with them regularly so that when they do get their reality check, you’re the one they contract with.
  • Think about grabbing some of those bargains for yourself. The thing that typically happens after a mid-cycle slowdown is the hottest part of the market cycle. When prices start to recover, they do it FAST, and then continue to shoot up until the eventual crash, 4-5 years later. While properties are cheap, why not get some to hold? After all, you don’t want to always be looking for the next deal, forever, right?

Getting you prepared to make MORE money in the coming slow market is one of the main goals of my upcoming wholesaling academy, on August 22nd-25th in Cincinnati. If you’ve been meaning to register, but haven’t, better get on it…I expect it to be at capacity within a week or 2. Learn more and get a seat HERE.

How to Work with Other Investors Right

            I was in Minneapolis a few weeks back, trying to explain to a room full of real estate investors how to leverage each other’s time and resources in a way that was mutually beneficial.

            The problem that I’d stumbled on, AGAIN, was that the brand-new investors in the room were either afraid to talk to the experienced investors, or expected them to cheerfully give up a ton of time to “help out” the endless stream of unknown new investors that walk into that huge group each and every month.

            And the experienced investors in the room all admitted that, while they wanted the new-ish people to succeed, they often felt overwhelmed by the “one quick question requests” 50 times in every 90-minute meeting, and had all had the experience of helping someone out, out of the goodness of their hearts, for many hours, only to have that person drop off the face of the earth with zero indication of whether all that effort had made any impact.

            This is a super-common state in real estate associations: a vague, general mutual frustration among both new and experienced investors, because they’re not taught how to work with one another in ways that BOTH value.

            So I decided to make a point: I asked who thought they were the newest investor in the room. A guy near the front raised his hand. I asked him whether he was really serious about doing deals. He assured me he was. I asked whether he wanted to learn from a really experienced investor. He said yes. I asked if he was willing to work really hard to get the undivided attention of someone who had a LOT of knowledge about how to make deals close. He said yes.

            The I called on Glen, a guy I happen to know is both experienced and true to his word.

            I said, “Glen, do you need more deals coming to you?” He assured me that he did. I said, “Glen, are you willing to sit down with this guy for 20 minutes and give him a list of what you’re looking for and in what neighborhood?” He said yes. I said, “If he brings you addresses of vacant and/or ugly houses in those areas, are you willing to pay to market to them, take the calls, and try to make the deals happen?” He said yes. I said, “Is there any limit to the number of these you’d be willing to process?”. He said No. “And if you get a lead from his efforts, are you willing to take him with you on the appointment, show him how you’re evaluating the deal, let him sit in on the negotiation with the seller, share the contracts you use, and do a post-mortem with him when the deal does or doesn’t close?” He said yes.

            So I turned back to the new guy and said, “Do you know that Glen is one of the 5 most experienced investors in this room?” He said yes. I said, “Do you understand what this will do for you?” He said yes. I said, “Are you willing to drive for dollars tomorrow get Glen 100 property addresses, even if it takes 5 hours?” He said yes. I said, “Are you willing to look up the properties in the county website and find out who the owner is and what HIS address is?” He said yes. I said, “Do you understand that there’s no guarantee that 100 addresses will lead to a deal worth looking at?” He said yes.

            I turned back to Glen and said, “If you close one of his leads, are you willing to pay him $500?” Glen said, “Depending on the deal, I might be willing to pay more than that.”

            Then I asked the young man whether he’d also be willing to be PAID for a deal he generated that successfully closed. Guess what he said?

            Both of these guys were really excited about this potential arrangement—because BOTH had the opportunity to get something they valued, and were willing to trade what they had (in Glen’s case, expertise and marketing money, in the new investor’s case, time and ambition) to get what they wanted (deals and knowledge, respectively).

            The only question now is, will both of them follow up on this mutually beneficial deal?

            Because either side could cause it to fall apart: I recently heard from a coaching student out of state that a leader in his group offered to help evaluate wholesale opportunities in return for half the profit, a deal that the student was happy to take. However, when he found what he thought was a hot prospect, the more experience investor basically ghosted him.

            And it’s super-common that the less experienced investor doesn’t follow through, too: I constantly offer members of my local REIA opportunities to work with me. I’ve made the same offer I set up between Glen and the new member; I’ve offered to help renegotiate wholesale deals that weren’t working (AND sell them, once they’re ‘fixed’) in return for half the wholesale fee; I even recently offered a guy who was stuck on negotiating a seller finance transaction to do the whole thing, including have the contracts drafted, provide any needed money, and help with the exit strategy, which he also didn’t understand, in return for a minority ownership interest in the property.

            Why? Because I want more deals, and I’m willing to trade pretty intense one on one training and resources for those deals.

            And you know how many people have taken me up on it in the last 12 months?

            Four.

            This is largely, I think, because in order to “play”, the new investor has to be DOING SOMETHING—generating leads, putting properties under contract, actually FINDING deals that they need help with. It’s partly because our group offers so many resources that, with enough focus, it’s often possible to get answers without giving away any part of a deal. But I think it’s partly because new investors are—rightly—concerned about not understanding enough about what to expect (or, possibly, afraid of being taken advantage of).

            So yeah, it doesn’t work for, or with, everyone.

Nonetheless, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it takes to successfully work with other investors, beyond just the “You have the money, I have the property” type of partnership that’s so common. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

  1. Both people have to understand and be good with the expectations. If you’re the new investor, and the main thing you want is a blow-by-blow account of what’s happening, and why, and access to every step of the deal, make this clear. If you’re the experienced investor, and what you want is specific deals to work on in specific parts of town, say so. Unstated, and therefore unrealized, expectations are probably the #1 reason that these arrangements go bad.
  • Both people have to be willing and able to do the work. I’ve heard tons of stories that go, “I sent so and so 500 leads and never heard a thing” or “I put up the money and he was supposed to do the work, but it’s been 8 months, and it hasn’t even been started” or “She said that if I found a hot lead, she’s walk me through it for half the profit, but she won’t return my phone calls”. In some cases, the problem is that one person has just promised something he doesn’t have the time to deliver; in others it’s that they don’t have the SKILL to deliver it. It happens, and if there’s a significant investment of money involved, you’d better have an ironclad agreement up front about what happens if the other person doesn’t deliver. If not, move on and find someone who can and will deliver what you need.
  • Both people must be ethical. It happens to both sides in these deals—experienced investors sometimes invest dozens of hours putting a deal together with a new investor, only the have the new investor sell the deal to someone and not “pay” the agreed-upon profit to the guy with the knowledge.

But mostly, I worry about new investors getting taken advantage of in these situations, because I’ve ALSO heard all the stories that go, “He said if I worked for him for free, he’d teach me all the ropes, but I spent 100 hours hanging bandit signs and all I learned was how to hang bandit signs”. And “He said he’d mentor me for free, but all he did was sell me a bunch of bad deals and tell me how good they were”. And “He said he’d mentor me for free and we’d split any deals I found, but then he sold one and made $10,000 and only gave me $500.” In some cases, I think these stories are user error or mismatched expectations, but in others I’m pretty sure they were unethical investors taking advantage of people. If you’re new, you should never, ever hesitate to ask other people about the reputation/experience of your proposed partner. It’s not insulting, and it’s not unusual, and if your wannabe partner tells you to keep what you’re doing together a secret, that should be enough evidence all by itself to keep you from working with them.

Don’t let the potential downsides keep you from trying to build these relationships, though: they’re extremely valuable, and can last a lifetime.

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Fixin’ to do a Rehab by Jerry Fink

Jerry Fink has been involved in various aspects of real estate for over 30 years.  In the early 2000’s, after being caught in another corporate downsizing, he went into real estate full time.  He’s my go-to for all things rehab, because his background as a CPA makes him very process-driven. He leads to all-day property tours at my Hands-On Wholesaling Academy, which is coming up again August 22-25

O.K., so you have gotten it into your blood, mind and soul that you want to be a Rehabber.  Take that ugly, smelly eyesore and turn it into the gem of the neighborhood.  No problem, right?  After all, you’ve watched all the shows on TLC and HGTV.  You know all about what countertops to choose…what color schemes will wow your buyers…and, that bathroom layout you have etched into your mind is killer….

Well, there may be just a bit more to it than you think.

In this article, I want to address some of the areas you will want to start with before ever lifting a hammer or paint brush.  Some of the things which, if done correctly ahead of time, will make your project run infinitely smoother, save you time and money, and allow you to keep any hair you currently have.

What Needs to be Done?

Believe it or not, this is one of the areas where most of us…even experienced Rehabbers…have some of our biggest challenges.  Do I replace the windows?  What about the furnace?  Should I use Home Depot countertops…Corian…mid-range?  There are a myriad of things to consider here, and the more experienced and wise you become, the closer you will be to “guessing right”.

For instance, one of the first things you must consider is:  Who is my end buyer / user – are you rehabbing for a landlord or for a retail buyer?  Vinyl flooring in a rental unit is just fine, but a retail buyer will really be impressed by ceramic tile in the kitchen and bath, and *may* be worth the extra cost.

So, once you have thought through who you are rehabbing for, and what “level” of rehab you are doing, you need to put together your “Scope of Work”.  In my business I have 2 levels of these; one for “Light Rehabs” (under $10K of work), and one for “Full Rehabs” where I am gutting a property, or getting into replacing complete systems.  For this article, I will be primarily discussing the Light Rehab Scope of Work.

How will you do this?  Do you think you will remember what needed to be done once you get home?  Not likely.  You could jot down some notes on a yellow pad, which would be better.  How about using a program that prompts you through all the common things which need to be done to a house?  Now we’re talking…

Over the years I have developed a program for doing just that.  It has line items for each component in each room.  I simply notate whether I am going to replace the duplex outlets or just the cover plates?  Is a new kitchen faucet in order?  What color should the living room be painted?

What Materials Will you Need and Where Will you Buy Them?

After you have decided what needs to be done, you will need to figure out what materials are required, right?  If you decided to change out the duplex outlets in each room, you need to add up how many and what color.  You need to calculate the number of single plate covers, and the number of double plate covers.  How much of that “oops” purple paint will you need to do that second bedroom?  And, how many trips to how many carpet outlets to find a suitable carpet at a price you are willing to pay?

I have to admit, early on I spent waaaayyyy too much time carpet shopping, and bargain shopping for this and that.  Finally, it occurred to me that MY TIME is worth more than that.  So, I went on a quest to find materials, and color schemes, and fixtures which work…and did the shopping just one time.

And, you may do just that.  Off you go.  Hours and hours at Home Depot and Lowes, the carpet outlets, the appliance store, the cabinet stores….and eventually you have come up with your list of appropriate materials.  So, now you simply marry your scope of work, to the materials needed, to the appropriate materials list, and the supplier list and you’ve got it made.  Well, pretty close to true.  You still have those pesky “sundries” items to consider:  Do we have any paint rollers left?  What about painters’ tape?  Did we use the last of the drywall compound (for patching)?  If you and your contractors are going to be efficient, all those things need to be available, too.

How about one better?  What tools will I (or my contractors) need to do what needs to be done?  Over time, I’ve even created a tools checklist, so I don’t have to hear my contractors sing “can’t do this today, because I forgot my whatchamagigger”.  Again, time saved, and productivity increased.

Who Will Do What, and When?

Ok.  So, you have decided what needs to be done.  What materials you or your contractors will need to do what needs to be done.  And, where you will buy those materials.  One main step to go before that first hammer is lifted.

If you have dabbled in construction, rehab, repairs, mechanics, etc. most of your life…your first inclination will be to do all the work yourself in the evenings and on weekends, and save all that labor cost.  Yeah, you can do that, and maybe do one or two rehabs a year.  That is fine if it is your hobby.  But one of the truisms of this business is that time is money.  Your single biggest enemy is not the cost of doing the rehab, but the cost of carrying that house.  Interest costs.  Gas and electric bills.  Taxes.  Insurance.  They will eat you alive.

However, if you are disciplined enough to get your scope of work completed, and organized enough to have your materials ordered and delivered, be smart enough to hire people to do the things that they do day in and day out.  I can hang and finish drywall, but the pros can have a house finished before I am through with one room.

I recently saw one of the Extreme Home Makeover shows where they built a 7 bedroom, 4,500 square foot home in under 55 hours elapsed time.  My head was spinning thinking about the logistics of pulling that off.  While we won’t be doing anything quite like that, the concepts are still valid – creating a coordinated workplan which will allow the right people, with the right skill sets, to have the right materials and supplies available and do their part in the overall project.  You can plan this on a napkin, or you can do it in an industrial strength program they may use to build a new stadium.  For the level of rehabs we do, a simple one-page overview chart works just fine.

Rehabbing a house can be an extremely satisfying experience.  To this day, I absolutely love going into a neglected or abused house and visualizing the end product.  I see the fresh paint and the new carpet.  I see the neatly cut-in landscaping beds.  I see that welcoming red front door setting off the blue siding and white trim.  I see the product that today’s buyers  and renters are looking for.

But the best part is this.  With the experience I have, and with the systems I have created, I can see all this in my mind…and I can watch it unfold…and I can manage it so much more easily.

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Fight Socialism: Be a Mentor by Pete Fortunato

            Don’t tell him I told you so, but I love Pete Fortunato. He’s the smartest man in real estate and a true guru’s guru. He’s also an unabashed libertarian who speaks and writes about things other than real estate, as in this article.

            Pete is making a rare REIA appearance in Cincinnati on April 4th. It’s just a 90-minute, no-sales presentation on how to use what you have to get what you want—including a mentor. If you can get there, do; there’s more information at  www.CincinnatiREIA.com

            It was a radio talk show. An apologist for my generation (baby boomers) was explaining about how we were all victims of the lies of the 1950’s.

            The speaker said that as children his generation had heard and read many Horatio Alger stories; stories in which a young, ambitious person dreamed of becoming a financial success and went on to turn that dream into reality.

            The speaker argued that he had believed that he, like the heroes in those stories, would create success for himself. Reality, however, is different than fiction and the difference had left him and his fellows disappointed and depressed.

            “We believed those stories!”, he said. “We set goals, worked hard and we still failed. Now people have given up. They no longer believe that they can create a better life.”

            The ingredient that existed in fiction but was not available to them in the real world, he alleged, was the mentor.

            In each Horatio Alger story, the successful entrepreneur discovered a mentor who was willing to teach an ambitious youngster. In the real world people are too jealous of what they have to share trade secrets with anyone. Successful people do not share and we fail and despair for lack of mentors, he concluded.

            I listened to the radio in disbelief. What I was hearing was in direct conflict with my experience. Every successful man or woman who I have met has been delighted to find a person who is interested in what they are doing. I have been advised and helped again and again.

            I was taught to choose carefully the people with whom I associate.

            I know that one takes on the attributes of those who surround him. Optimistic, forward-thinking, purposeful people have always been my friends. It can be (and should be) that way for everyone. Such people are generous in their encouragement and aid for anyone seeking to create a better future.

            The talk show haunted me.

            Maybe, as role models have changed from accomplished people to teachers in government schools, the majority of Americans have changed from people who work for what they want to people who vote for what they want.

            Maybe, as we have changed from a society of producers to a society of consumers a jealous American majority has come to believe that successful people are dominated by envy rather than by optimism.

            Maybe, as civilization has become more and more litigious, successful people who have much to offer have taken on such a low profile as to be unrecognized by others.

            In your world I know you have found business and financial friends. I urge you to cherish and nurture them. I hope that you will seek out and encourage others to stop hoping and start working to create a better tomorrow.

            Don’t let a promising person despair of finding support and encouragement.