Jerry Green is an REI coach and educator, as well as president of Real Estate Solutions Unlimited Inc., which helps communities rehabilitate neighborhoods and provide quality housing. In this episode, he tells us about the four pillars of building a CRE business: setting goals, reverse engineering those goals, creating an accountability chart, and setting your system up to track key performance indicators.
Jerry Green | Real Estate Background
- REI coach and educator, as well as president of Real Estate Solutions Unlimited Inc., which helps communities rehabilitate neighborhoods and provide quality housing.
- 65+ rental properties
- Based in: Germantown, OH
- Say hi to him at:
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Slocomb Reed: Best Ever listeners, welcome to the best real estate investing advice ever show. I'm Slocomb Reed, and I'm here with Jerry Green. Jerry is joining us from Germantown, Ohio, in the Dayton area. He is a real estate investing coach and educator, as well as president of Real Estate Solutions Unlimited Incorporated, which helps communities rehabilitate neighborhoods and provide quality housing. In his current portfolio he has over 65 rental properties. Jerry, can you start us off by telling us a little bit more about your background and what you're currently focused on?
Jerry Green: Absolutely. Well, thank you very much, first of all. I appreciate this. Yeah, guys, just to kind of give you a little more of my background... I started in the real estate space back in 1994, so it's been 28 years. So I've been doing this a long, long time. And over those years I've pretty well been through pretty much all different investment strategies, all different classes of real estate when it comes to multifamily, residential, single families... You name it. Commercial, I've done family Dollar stores, and pretty much everything over these years. But the main thing on this is that when I started this business back in '94, I actually lived over in Springfield, Ohio at that time, started the business, and the way I got started was I was in a position where I was working with my father in an electrical contracting business; I had a large general contractor fold his doors, and pretty well put us in the position where we were forced to file bankruptcy and figured out something to do. And I saw an advertisement on a local TV station in Cincinnati, and decided to go to an event. Because back then we didn't have all the cell phones, and ads popping up, and everything else. It was just television or newspaper, the only ways to find out anything.
So I went to that event, sat there for three days, and next thing you know, I said, "Man, I think this is something I want to do." I didn't really still understand what needed to be done, but I learned one thing there; that was a strategy called wholesaling. And I knew that was something that could work for me, because I needed cash.
So immediately, I left there and tried to figure that out, and I actually ended up hiring a mentor from that event... And the only way I could figure out how to pay him was actually borrow my mom and dad's credit cards. I paid him $10,000 to become a mentor for me. And that's how I got started in this whole game.
And it worked out where I started really just wholesaling over in Springfield there for many years; a lot of people had no idea what it was. It was just kind of a foreign thing back then, and everybody was like, "What are you talking about?" So I had to educate a lot of title companies, attorneys and everything else... But I just kept on pushing. And then from there, I developed into the rehab side of things, I started doing the fix and flip model, grew that side... My story goes on and on. I went through a major tragedy in the year 2000-2001, I lost my first spouse to cancer, and had to rebuild my whole business, whole life again... And then getting remarried, ended up moving over to where I live now, in the Dayton area in the Germantown area... And when that happened, I restarted the whole business up again, firing on all cylinders, built a massive rehab machine... I think we had at one time four full-time project managers working for us... And I realized I hated it. I hated it, I couldn't stand the business. I couldn't stay in my team. And I ended up letting about 75% to 80% of the people go, and rebuilt the entire thing. And that's something that changed everything in my life, because I built it based upon a true business, not something where it was just all about me grinding all the time.
So I changed that all around, built that out, and now today, many many years later, we do this on a high-level. I've done just about every type of strategy over the years, but one of the big things that we do now is still wholesaling on a big level, we do a lot of renovations, and we still buy and hold with some creative financing as well. But I've removed myself from the day to day side of things. Now my team will do anywhere in upwards of 18 to 20 deals in a month, and I'm in a position where I've been able to remove myself from that day to day. I have a COO that runs the organization, that allows me to step away and just see things on a higher level.
So it's been interesting, for sure, and a big journey... And that's the real quick version of it... And I've also been blessed to be able to start helping others... So that's a passion I really enjoy, because from being able to remove myself from the day to day in the real estate business has allowed me to spend more time helping others through education... And we do that through training people, through our -- we do a systems and operations training, right here in our office, and also this year I made a major move, too... I actually purchased the REI Sales Academy from John Martinez. And that was a big move that we had planned on for about the last year and a half. So that's the nutshell. That's a quick version of it.
Slocomb Reed: Nice. Jerry, you've given me a lot of things that I have questions about... For our listeners, I also did a lot of my growing up in Springfield, Ohio, but that conversation is not going to be very relatable to the Best Ever listeners, so I'm going to try to avoid all of the little references and things that we can make. Your business now you said is doing up to 20 deals a month. And those are wholesale deals?
Jerry Green: The majority. We do wholesale, we do a lot of renovation strategies as well, and we do still buy and hold properties too.
Slocomb Reed: Gotcha. Okay, cool. And I introduced you as having a portfolio of 65 or more rental properties. Are those primarily single family homes in Springfield as well?
Jerry Green: No, not really too much in Springfield anymore. A lot of the stuff's over in the Dayton area. And we've actually - that's some older stats on things. We'd build things up... We had close to almost 200 units at one time. And then we turned around and sold a lot of those off over the last several years, with just the way the market's been, and the way buyers have been wanting to invest into things, especially when it comes to the multifamily side.
So we cleaned a lot of that up. Our main focus right now is to just continue to focus on what we look at as our business as a cash flow source... Because I build it truly as a company, and I don't have to be involved in the daily acquisitions of all those properties. So it allows me to have that truly as a company, and then we can invest into other vehicles, such as other businesses, as well as buy and hold type deals. But one of the cool things we're looking at right now, as I'm looking with my kids, is we're looking at getting involved with a tiny house business, too.
Slocomb Reed: Nice. That is interesting, a tiny house business. I do want to drill into a couple of things here that I've heard you reference... One of them is scaling your business in a way that gets you personally as the owner-operator out of the day to day grind. I feel that on a daily basis I am an owner-operator of primarily multifamily and apartments... And I do the majority of my own general contracting for that portfolio, and some third-party as well. So I know a lot of our listeners will resonate with building an active real estate business, and also trying to step out of the day to day and have a life... So what are your biggest insights from your experience? It sounds like both doing it the wrong way, and then starting it over and doing it the right way - what are your biggest insights that you can share with our listeners?
Jerry Green: Well, I think some of the big things that I have to say is first of all, yeah, one of the questions I get asked a lot, they say "Hey, what would you do differently if you could go back and talk to your younger self, back when you were in your 20s just getting started in the business?" And one of the ways I always answer that is that I would have started looking at the real estate game that I was in as a business on day one. Because here's what I realized - and it took me many years to do this - was that it's easy to become set up into what I call the deal-chasing mode, where you're just chasing deals all the time. And when you're chasing deals all the time, it doesn't allow you the ability to pull back and look at things on a much higher level, like a 10,000-foot view, and say, "Oh, wait a minute, I need to do this, I need to do this." And you start understanding where all the boxes are in regards to responsibilities in your company. And when you're constantly in it, it's hard to see that.
So one of the first things that happened to me, that I think all listeners can do, is you have to realize this is a business, and you need to think about it. And it doesn't matter if you buy and hold, fix and flip, whatever you do, it doesn't matter on that; that's an exit strategy one way or another. So what I want you to look at is -- I'll tell you what I did... When I went through that major transformation years ago, and I ended up letting all of my team members go, I drew the line down the center on a piece of paper, and one side I wrote real estate, the other side I wrote business. What I realized is that majority of the people spend their lives all on the real estate side, and never look at it as a true business. But when you start looking at it as a true business, then you start putting in place people - it doesn't mean you have to have a big team; but then you start putting in an overall operating system, backed by processes, and then you start understanding that if you work on this side here, the business side, then really all real estate is is a product, like any other business. That's all it is, it's just a product. And what we can do is we manage the business side, then we can turn around and turn more product; even if we're keeping it, it doesn't really matter. We're able to facilitate more of that product in an easier format, and it allows us to start stepping out of that.
So one, I think is that you've got to get clarity that this is a business, and you've got to start looking at it that way. Number two, I think what's super-important is that you've got to start looking at -- actually, I call it the four pillars to this business. One is you've got to set clear goals when it comes to income goals; get that clarity written out. Number two, you've got to reverse-engineer those goals, so you know what actually has to be done in the way of actually tactical things to achieve those. And it comes down to very clear metrics on that. You have to reverse-engineer those. Number three, you have to set in what we call an accountability chart. And that accountability chart, even if it's just you - some of your listeners might be doing it all themselves. Set that accountability chart up where you will understand all the moving parts... Even though you might be wearing every single hat, lay it out that way, because that's the only way you're going to get clarity. And this is something I've done for many of my students; I have laid out the accountability chart, and they say, "Wow, I'm doing this, I'm doing this and this...", and it's like, that has to become real to you, and you have to see it... Because if you don't ever see that, what happens is it's too easy to just keep doing it. It's like the plumber; if you think about it, they drive around in their truck, and they do plumbing for their whole life, but they never took time to step out and look at it as a business and say, "Oh, these are all the moving parts." So you've got to get clarity on that. So that accountability chart is a key component.
Then the last component that we have of the four pillars is you have to start putting in what we call tracking/KPIs, the key performance indicators. Even if it's a solo person, you have to understand how you're using your time. If you're going to be in a position where you want to do multiple deals, it's like, how do you use your time? How are you setting that time up in regards to are you putting out offers so many days a week? You have to understand that. And when you start doing that, you'll start managing your time differently. You'll see results start coming in, and you just work those four pillars. The cool thing about it - if you do that, and you constantly check yourself through those four pillars, you can grow at any level you want.
Slocomb Reed: And those four pillars are setting goals, reverse-engineering those goals, creating an accountability chart, and then setting up your system for tracking, ideally with key performance indicators. Yes?
Jerry Green: Yes. You got it, man.
Slocomb Reed: Yeah. You know, those are not real estate words. To your point, the vast majority of the reading I'm doing about building my real estate business is not about real estate. Gino Wickman, Michael E. Gerber, Jim Collins - those are not real estate authors, but those are the authors that I'm going to, to learn how to build a real estate business. I really resonate with what you're saying here.
You said recently that you bought a real estate sales company?
Jerry Green: Yes. Actually, this year, we just did this in April... We purchased the REI Sales Academy. It's been the number one sales training platform for real estate investors for pretty well about the last seven, eight years here. And it's a national brand, like I said, called the REI Sales Academy; originally created by John Martinez. And I purchased the company this year from him. And a big reason that we purchased it is because it was a great fit for our model. We're already training people on acquisition skills... So that's a big thing; we train people [unintelligible 00:14:46.29] what it's known for is people to learn how to convert more of their leads, and not only convert more leads, but also get better deals on those leads. So it's a process, and that's what it comes down to.
A lot of investors, that's one thing they miss, is they get involved in the business, and they go out there and what they're doing is they're doing the old method, just throwing spaghetti on the wall. Throwing out offers. Well, throwing out offers will get you some deals, but mastering the sales process will get you a lot more deals, because you take away from that old sales type thinking, and the problem with the old sales type thinking - it works on what they call the logical brain, whereby the user says, "Oh, this is the number. Either works or it doesn't." Well, that's not the truth. The truth comes down to that all complex decisions are made from the emotional brain. So what we have to learn in proper, well-oiled sales process is to work from the emotional side of the brain. And that's how we build connections with sellers. That's how we're able to convert more deals.
So when you start pumping out ways to generate leads through marketing sources, why not convert more of those leads coming in? Because a lot of people think the key is just generate more leads, where it's not all about generating more leads, it's converting more of the existing leads.
Break: [00:16:22.22] to [00:17:28.05]
Slocomb Reed: Jerry, did you buy that business already running like a well-oiled machine? Or did you buy that thinking about the REI Sales Academy as one of your businesses - is that something that you're having to implement your business building practices into?
Jerry Green: The business was very well-oiled; he had built it out really a tremendous system that's already in place. So when we took over it, we were in a position where we were able to start cash-flowing within the first week. So that comes from an existing business that's well-functioning. So obviously, we are applying a lot of things that we teach, but he had a lot of this already set up, so we were able to bring it on board -- we only had to hire one additional team member, so we were able to bring it in-house, and hire an additional team member. But overall, the overall processes were there, the overall operating system was there; we just had to learn it, and then start working it.
Slocomb Reed: Nice. Thinking about implementing your business building system... When you have put together your accountability charts for your businesses, thinking about scaling or thinking about undoing the business where you had to do everything yourself and then redoing it to have an accountability chart, and be able to delegate and leverage your time, what were the first responsibilities and the last responsibilities that you delegated in the operation of your business?
Jerry Green: That's a great question. I do get asked that a lot, too. Really, one of the first things that I looked at was getting myself out of all the tasks that were not one, revenue generating, and also tasks that were not in my what I call unique ability. Because there was a lot of things I was doing that I just totally sucked at, that I should have never been doing in the first place.
So I had to eliminate those, take those off the table, and then also anything that didn't move the needle... Because I see so many people, especially newer investors - they get out, get involved in the business, and they get caught up in "I gotta have this perfect CRM. I've gotta have everything just perfectly lined up on my marketing stuff." And they'll spend all that time on that stuff, but they don't spend any time on doing deals, which really moves the needle.
And then I look at one of the last really parts of the business that I was able to let go of is really more on what we call like our disposition channel. So when we're selling our product, our deals to other investors, for owner-occupants, whoever wants to buy... That was one of the last areas I let go of, because I built the frontend model up front first, took all those tasks off me that were tasks that would limit my growth of the business; I took those off of me, I was able to focus on what I need to focus on, really built my sales skills, acquisition skills up, and then started putting people in more in the operational side, because that's the thing that I was not good at when it comes to... I can think about it and put it together, but I couldn't operate it and actually do it. I was not fast enough at that.
So ultimately, I put those into place, and then one of the last ones I always look at is typically selling the product, because that's one of the steps that I find that most people let go of towards the end, and that was one of the ones for me as well.
Slocomb Reed: That is insightful, Jerry. Being a host of a daily podcast and being as curious a person in just my normal everyday life as I am, I ask these questions to a lot of people... And when I ask people what they do and don't delegate, the answers tend to fall into one of two categories. And you kind of touched on both. One of the categories of answers is delegate what you suck at, and do the stuff you're good at. The other category is delegate the non-revenue-generating activities, and keep the revenue-generating activities. Those are fairly common sense answers. It's not always clear how those work, especially to your point, when you are not taking the time or the space to have a 10,000 foot view on your business, and you're focused on the grind. Those are not very transparent differences. That being said, for you specifically, last question before we transition the conversation, thinking about your own skill set and the activities that generated revenue for your company, were there any revenue-generating activities that you needed to delegate because they weren't in your skill set? Or were there any non-revenue-generating activities that you had to keep because you were uniquely positioned to do them?
Jerry Green: So ones that I would say keep, because they were revenue-generating?
Slocomb Reed: So generally speaking, you're supposed to delegate the stuff you're not good at, that doesn't make money. And you're supposed to retain for yourself when you're scaling a business the activities that you are good at, that do generate revenue. So I'm asking if there's been a criss-cross anywhere for you building your business, where you needed to retain an activity and do it yourself, but it was not revenue-producing, or you had to give up an activity that was revenue-generating, because it was not within your skill set?
Jerry Green: Absolutely. When you're doing it as many years as I've been doing it, I've had to go through that definitely more than once. Some of those activities - I think about this over the years... Obviously, anything regarding different times I had to step back in and do some stuff on the operational side, such as planning, scheduling things for the team, dealing with HR type stuff, which is no fun, and I don't enjoy it at all... So there was a lot of that stuff that I just had to step in on... And I had to do even bookkeeping type things. But I had to do it to make sure it was taken care of on that side. And when it comes to other activities that were true revenue-generating things there - I've done a pretty good job over the years of being really focused on those revenue-generating activities, unless I had to step in and do the other things that had to be done.
I think the main thing though from this is that one of the big words that most people don't think about is you have to learn to put constraints in your business. This is a tough thing to learn. But it is one of the rules of really building your business to a point if you ever want to scale it. And what I mean by that is you have to be in a position where you have to realize, first of all, especially in the real estate space, you can't do it all. You can't do buy and hold, fix and flip, 100 different strategies at once. It is not focused. That's not scalable.
So you have to put constraints on the path that you're willing to go when it comes to your business. You can't do all these multiple exit strategies at one time; you also have to be in a position too where you start putting constraints on margins you set per ,deal constraints on certain things you do within your business. That's a good way to help control what we were just talking about... Because a lot of times what happens as owners of a business, owner-operators, they want to be involved in every single thing. But when you start putting constraints on yourself, and you say, "No, you're not going to do this anymore", or "I'm going to delegate this by this specific date", those are some of the things you do to really move the needle on your business.
It's just like when we were growing -- I've got a CEO that runs everything for me now, and she runs our business in Ohio; she actually is located in Colorado. So she runs it virtually. But she used to live here. But one of the things we've done was we worked with her on things, and over time she would start running certain meetings. And then I would be in a position where I wasn't allowed to speak in the meeting; I could just sit there and listen to it. And we put constraints on that. Then eventually removing me from that meeting. So these are the things you have to look at. And that's the only way truly you can build this business up to make it scalable, is you have to put constraints on. And then if you put the constraints on properly, then you can prepare it to scale. But if you try to get it to scale too soon, it will all come back in your lap.
Slocomb Reed: I've had a lot of stuff come back in my lap in the last year, year and a half, Jerry... This has been very insightful. I know our active investor listeners are following along very closely with what you're saying. That said, it is time - are you ready for the Best Ever lightning round?
Jerry Green: Sure. Fire away, man.
Slocomb Reed: What is the best ever book you've recently read?
Jerry Green: Recently read?
Slocomb Reed: Yes.
Jerry Green: I would say the most recent one that I really enjoyed, by my friend Trey Taylor, which is "A CEO only does three things."
Slocomb Reed: "A CEO only those three things", by Trey Taylor.
Jerry Green: Yeah.
Slocomb Reed: Jerry tell me about that book, "A CEO only does three things."
Jerry Green: So really, what that's about is it's about you as a leader understanding that your focus has to be, as you grow your company, and even when it's small, the more you can get towards this focus, the better. And you really need to focus on numbers, culture, and people. And if you focus on that, you're going to find that you're going to be able to grow your company a lot faster, you're going to be able to make a bigger impact, you're going to enjoy yourself more, and you're going to see what it really takes to run a business. Because too many people get hung up on doing everything else. I think that's a powerful book that goes right along with what we were talking about today.
Slocomb Reed: That's excellent. And it is downloading in my Audible account on my phone now.
Jerry Green: You're going to enjoy it.
Slocomb Reed: We've got to get the lightning back into the lightning round though... What is your best ever way to give back?
Jerry Green: Best ever way to get back is really through a lot of content I share, and speaking at events.
Slocomb Reed: Jerry, in the last 24 years of your real estate investing career, what is the biggest mistake you've made, and the best ever lesson that resulted from it?
Jerry Green: I made a lot of mistakes. I'd say one of the biggest mistakes that I've made is not moving fast enough when it comes to executing my plan. The reason I say that is there's too many times that you get in a situation and people are like "Oh, should I do this? Should I not do this?" Well, it's called decision fatigue, and it'll wear the crap out of you. So what was the other question?
Slocomb Reed: What is the best ever lesson that has resulted from these mistakes?
Jerry Green: Oh, the best lesson that I've learned on that is that life's just so freaking short, and that you don't get into this business to just create yourself another job. Do this to build a business that really allows you to do what you want, and build a lifestyle business. Don't build a slave business, build a lifestyle business.
Slocomb Reed: I may be asking you to repeat yourself here, but what is your best ever advice?
Jerry Green: Best ever advice? Invest into yourself, and never stop doing that.
Slocomb Reed: Awesome. Jerry, where can people get in touch with you?
Jerry Green: Well, a couple different ways... You can, one, follow me on social. You can follow me on Instagram, @theJerrygreen, or you can look me up on Facebook too, just look under Jerry Green, and right there in Germantown, Ohio. You can follow me on there. Or check out my website, it's theJerryGreen.com. You also can check out our website for the REI Sales Academy.
Slocomb Reed: Great. Those links are in the show notes for our listeners. Best Ever listeners, thank you for tuning in for this episode. If you've gained value from this conversation about business building within real estate with Jerry Green, please do subscribe to our show, leave us a five-star review and share this episode with a friend who you know is going through some of the struggles that Jerry and I have been sharing, that we've been going through the last 28 years. Thank you, and have a best ever day.
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