A little bit of a change up for today’s Follow Along Friday, we’re having a guest on the show with Joe. John has been on the show in the past (episode 487) and is sharing some of the best things he learned in his business last week. Of course Joe will be sharing his best lessons learned last week too. If you enjoyed today’s episode remember to subscribe in iTunes and leave us a review!
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John Casmon Real Estate Background:
- Real estate entrepreneur, controls over 700 units as a GP
- Host of the weekly real estate podcast Target Market Insights
- Based in Chicago, IL
- Say hi to him at https://www.casmoncapital.com/
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Joe Fairless: Best Ever listeners, how are you doing? Welcome to the best real estate investing advice ever show. I’m Joe Fairless, and this is the world’s longest-running daily real estate investing podcast. We only talk about the best advice ever, we don’t get into any of that fluffy stuff; we hate that fluffy stuff.
Today we’ve got Follow Along Friday, and – well, this is a special Follow Along Friday, because we’ve got a guest who’s going to be co-hosting this with me, John Casmon. How are you doing, John?
John Casmon: I’m doing great, Joe. Thank you for having me on.
Joe Fairless: Yeah, nice to chat it up with you on this Follow Along Friday, standing in for Mr. Theo Hicks. Theo will be back, Best Ever listeners. I’ve known John for – was it like four years or so we’ve been buddies?
John Casmon: Something like that, yeah.
Joe Fairless: Yeah, probably about four years… Great guy. He’s the host of Target Market Insights Podcast. He is a general partner on 700 units. I’ve interviewed him on the show, you can just search his name. One episode was episode 478.
I’ve been told that iTunes doesn’t like numbering the episodes anymore, so I don’t know how I’ll keep track of that moving forward, but… For past episodes, episode 478, I think you can still go check that out.
So today – Follow Along Friday, similar to other Follow Along Fridays. We are gonna talk about things that we have learned recently, or observations in our business… Not to talk about it, but more to be focused on how it will help you, Best Ever listeners. So we’re always gonna be focused on “Okay, this is what happened, but here’s the takeaway and here’s how it can be beneficial for you.”
With that being said, John, when I asked you “Do you have some lessons learned from this week?”, you snickered and you were like “Oh yeah, I’ve got some lessons learned…” So how about you kick it off? What do you have going on?
John Casmon: Yeah, we’ve got a few things going on. Right now we’re in the final stages of getting under contract on a property in the Cincinnati area, and we’ve been working with a broker on this for a little while now… And what I’ve realized is that we’ve had some conversations, and I believe he started to lose confidence in our ability to close. Part of that is because we were looking to go hard money upfront, and because of that I was asking a lot more questions about “How solid is the building? Is there any deferred maintenance? What’s gonna happen?”, all those kinds of things… And as we were asking more questions, and kind of taking our time, making sure the contract was written the right way, making sure that we understood what the out clauses were, things like that, he grew more and more concerned…
So I realized that we wanna make sure we address our concerns, and making sure that we’re not entering into a deal we’re gonna lose money upfront or don’t have any out clauses, but on the same note we’ve gotta manage that broker relationship… Because at the end of the day the brokers are the ones giving us the leads, giving us the opportunities on these deals, and we need to make sure that we’re building and strengthening those relationships. So part of me was making sure that they understood where my concerns were coming from, that we had full intentions of closing, and as long as the seller was willing to work with us on remedying any of the issues that came up, we’d be willing to move forward, but we weren’t necessarily dragging out signing the contract or things like that. We just wanted to make sure we were all operating under the same premise of “Hey, we all wanna sell and buy this property. Let’s make sure we’re putting ourselves in the position to do that.”
Joe Fairless: And why do non-refundable money day one, versus say seven business days? That way you don’t have the risk of some things coming up.
John Casmon: That’s exactly where we netted out. They started wanting us to do hard money day one; as we went back and forth on what would make us comfortable, we landed on five business days. That gives us enough time to at least get in there, see if there’s anything major that’s gonna scare us, or that we know we don’t have in the budget to fix… And if not, if they’re small stuff, we can obviously work around those kinds of issues. So that’s where we netted out, but in that process, that was like maybe the second thing that slowed down our process; and then I was just in town, looking at the property, right before we signed the agreement, and lo and behold there is a pretty substantial leak happening in the basement.
I sent the video to the broker, and then we talked back and forth about “Well, how is this gonna get fixed?” And keep in mind, we’re not under contract; we’ve agreed to the LOI, we have our attorneys hammering out the purchase and sale agreement, but we’re not technically under contract. And again, with my money going hard after five business days, I wanted to make sure this was gonna be remedied correctly… So this was something else that kind of dragged on the signing of the purchase and sale agreement, and I think the brokers are just kind of getting irritated that there’s different things that keep dragging us on… But again, I’m trying to make sure we protect ourselves and they don’t do a crappy patch job to get that fixed and “Okay, it’s no longer leaking”, but now I’ve gotta deal with this issue… And who knows what else this is; it may be an underlying issue that there are other problems at the property. So for us, it was giving us some pause, and I’ve talked to my partners about it.
So it was just one of those things where we have some concern; we still wanna move forward, we just need to make sure we protect ourselves in that process of moving forward.
Joe Fairless: And why initially come in with non-refundable day one money? Is that where the market is at with properties like this in Cincinnati, or was that something that you all wanted to do to be above and beyond what the other offers were?
John Casmon: It was to be above and beyond the other offers at that time when we were looking at it. The property actually works very nicely for us, because it’s seven minutes away from our other property, and it would give us 72 units within a seven-minute drive. So for us it provides —
Joe Fairless: It’s got a nice ring to it, too.
John Casmon: Yeah, exactly. So it gives us some economies of scale right there, and we think that that would really help us improve not just the asset we’re looking to acquire, but the asset we already have under contract, or that we are already operating. So we liked it a lot, and we think that this would be a really great addition to our portfolio for those reasons… So we felt like we could make a strong, competitive offer, that could put us into position to move forward… Plus, our investors saw it, they really liked this deal, and we felt like it was a pretty strong one. Again, we’ve been looking at a ton of different deals in the area, and not a whole lot is making sense… So this was one that did make sense, it kind of checked the boxes on a lot of that criteria that we have, so we felt willing to make a pretty strong, compelling offer to get this.
Joe Fairless: Your background’s in marketing, right?
John Casmon: Correct.
Joe Fairless: Not in construction management, correct?
John Casmon: Correct.
Joe Fairless: So therefore who are you going with to the property, who has that expert eye on construction and deferred maintenance and mechanical systems, who’s gonna say “Hey, John, hold on, there’s an issue here, and this is a major issue.” I mean, clearly, a bunch of water somewhere — I have a marketing background too, so you and I could spot that; pretty obvious. But some other things might not be as obvious.
John Casmon: Yeah, I took a contractor with me on that one, just to take a look and see “Hey, here’s roughly what I have estimated for repairs, for our renovation schedule… I want you to come in, take a look; let’s see if this looks right, what are projecting, let’s see if there’s any concerns you have…” So I took a contractor with me. Once we are under contract, we’re gonna get an actual inspection and have him go through everything, understand the mechanicals, understand everything else that’s going on… Because to your point, I have no clue; I’m not the guy to– all the roofs look the same to me. I’ve had people show me, “You see this, where this has come off?” I’m like, “No, it looks the same to me.”
Joe Fairless: [laughs]
John Casmon: I cannot tell a new roof from an old roof, so that is not my expertise at all. I definitely am leaning on contractors, inspectors, specialists; anything water – I’m gonna bring a licensed plumber to come take a look at that, who can take a look and give me an accurate quote of not just what it costs, but is this a sign that there are bigger issues at the property? Is this something that is an isolated incident, or is this something that is taking place in multiple places around the property? That’s something that we wanna bring in those specialists to help us identify things that I certainly wouldn’t be able to find by myself.
Joe Fairless: And I think starting out, I was too proud to admit what you’re saying and what I currently say, and that is I’m not an expert in all these different areas, so I need to make sure I bring in the right team members. That can be a very expensive mistake if we don’t admit that “Hey, we have a certain specialty, and we need to bring others who have the specialties that are required for us to be successful.” It’s so important to identify what we’re really good at, and then bring on those other people to compensate for what we’re not good at, or what we’re average at, because we’ve gotta be exceptional in this business. We need to be competent in all areas, but it’s impossible to gain a deep level of expertise in everything; I think it’s impossible to get deep level expertise in everything, because other people are dedicating their whole lives to it… So it’s pretty hard. Thank you for sharing that, and some valuable lessons there.
John Casmon: Yeah, thank you, Joe.
Joe Fairless: So on my side I’ve got three things, and they are — one is an observation that will be helpful for anyone scaling a business; second and third are more personal development, but they certainly have implications toward the bottom line with the business. [dog barking] That was my puppy dog Jack, barking at the UPS man; he’s thirteen pounds of fury right now.
So the first thing is West Coast team members. I live in Cincinnati. Strangely enough, it’s in the Eastern Time Zone. I don’t know how Cincinnati got an Eastern Time Zone; that’s another story. Cincinnati is in the Eastern Time Zone, which I love. The challenge is if all the team members are in the Eastern Time Zone, then when West Coast investors – I’m thinking about investors in particular – e-mail us, specifically me, and ask a question, 95% of the questions are more administrative related, so I always have a team member handle that, and then eventually they start e-mailing that team member… Like, “I wanna change my checks to receiving ACH”, or “I have a new address”, or “Were the K1’s sent out for this property yet?” Something like that.
What I’ve found is we have a West Coast team member… Her name is Chat, and she is an executive assistant for our company, Ashcroft Capital. And the dynamic of the time zones is just a wonderful thing, because if it’s six o’clock or even seven o’clock Eastern Time, well, it’s four o’clock her time, because she’s in California, and she’s able to handle those requests for an East Coast investor who’s emailing us at 7 PM, and probably not expecting a reply until the next day… And she’s able to handle the West Coast investors, who probably do expect a reply that day, because it’s 4 PM their time.
It’s something I hadn’t consciously thought of, but it’s an excellent customer service bonus… Or even, at this point you wanna exceed expectations, so I’d say it’s even mandatory, as you scale, to have a customer service person or an executive assistant be on the West Coast, so that when you do get late night inquiries, it’s still within the business hours of the West Coast person, and they’re able to respond, and investors are really impressed, they’re like “Thanks a lot for getting it addressed so quickly.” I’m always being responsive regardless of the time, for the most part, but there are certain things that our team members do, the administrative things… So I will just copy her and then she’ll address it with them, and it’s wonderful.
John Casmon: And for your East Coast time zone, do you have a different assistant who helps with the East Coast, or are you more involved in some of that?
Joe Fairless: Yeah, I do have a different assistant who helps with East Coast. We’ve got the 8 AM Eastern Time covered, and then we’ve got the 8 PM Easter Time covered.
John Casmon: Right. So you pretty much have a 12-hour coverage there, between East Coast and West Coast time. That’s pretty solid.
Joe Fairless: Yeah, yeah.
John Casmon: Have you heard back from those West Coast investors, or even East Coast investors about that directly?
Joe Fairless: Not directly, but they say “Thanks a lot for addressing this so quickly.” So they don’t say “Thanks a lot for having a team set up so that you can address it so quickly on the West Coast”, but the takeaway is they’re appreciative of it. Any investor in our deals, when you talk to him/her, they’re gonna tell you “We have top notch customer service.” I’d be shocked if anyone doesn’t give us five out of five stars for that, and this is one component.
John Casmon: Awesome, awesome.
Joe Fairless: The second thing… Here’s the problem – the problem is connected to number one, what I was just talking about, about always being responsive on e-mails, and stuff. Well, the downside to that is I’m always on my phone, looking at the screen… And it’s not healthy. I was recently interviewing someone – he’ll be on the show later, too; it’ll go live in about 30 days or so – and he told me three tips. I’ll give you two. Two tips to not being on the phone as much, but maintaining productivity. I was like “I’m all ears. Tell me. Please, please, please. I need help.” And one tip – this is pretty obvious – is to remove all notifications from your phone. Every single notification. No apps can give you a push notification, nothing. Well, I almost did that. I still have my calendar app and I still have text message. So text message and my calendar app – they still do push notifications, but I took away all the other notifications, so that I don’t get notified on a push notification whenever the app wants to talk to me… Because then I’m sucked into the world of thumb.
John Casmon: Manually, one by one?
Joe Fairless: Yeah.
John Casmon: How long did that take you?
Joe Fairless: Oh, I don’t have a lot of apps, so 3-4 minutes.
John Casmon: Okay.
Joe Fairless: And the second tip – it has made a bigger on my impact on my time on my phone, decreasing time on my phone, without losing productivity… The second thing is making my phone — he said greyscaling it, so that when you look at your phone it doesn’t look like a carnival or a wonderful playland for you to go into and spend a lot of time… All these different colors, and buttons, and stuff to play and push. Instead, just greyscale it.
I have an iPhone. I didn’t see an option to greyscale, but I did see an option — it’s called Night Shift, and it basically makes your phone like pee yellow; it’s like a filter. It’s very easy on the eyes, and a little hard to see during the day, but I don’t think I’m hurting my eyesight as a result of doing this… But you can make it a Night Shift. I actually do the Night Shift literally 23 hours and 59 minutes, because I didn’t see how you can do permanent Night Shift… So I just have it so it just recycles one minute every day. So one minute of a day it’s not this way, but otherwise it is.
That’s very helpful. It bugs Colleen, my wife; you wouldn’t believe. Whenever she looks at my phone, she’s like “I can’t [unintelligible [00:17:32].08]” and that’s the point! That’s the point, so I don’t like how things look, so I’m not on the phone, zooming around and doing stuff that is not leading to productivity.
John Casmon: So from a psychological standpoint it’s to make the phone less attractive, so it doesn’t look fun, it doesn’t look engaging, and you just do what you have to do on it to get back off of it.
Joe Fairless: That’s right, yeah. And e-mail is the number one thing I use it for, and will continue to use it for. So those are two things – West Coast team member, and two tips for not being on the phone as much, while still being productive. The third tip is I have a problem with chocolate, I’m gonna admit it; I have a problem with chocolate, and it’s something that — my family has diabetes, it runs in the family… Heart attacks, strokes, all sorts of nastiness. Although my grandmother is 103 years old, and my great aunt is 98 years old, and I’m going to visit them soon in Michigan. So the women do a great job living in my family; the men – not so much.
I’m a healthy guy. I just got a physical recently – top notch across the board. But if I don’t fix this chocolate thing, then I know where I’m gonna end up, quicker than I should. So I’ve been trying to identify, what is the best freakin’ way to stop eating as much chocolate. Because there’s sugar in everything… I believe it will be nearly impossible; nothing is impossible, in my opinion… But nearly impossible to eliminate sugar altogether. There’s sugar in a ton of stuff – fruit, everything. So I don’t wanna eliminate sugar, but I do want to decrease the chocolate. I’ve been struggling with that…
The reason I’m bringing this up is our health leads to our productivity, which leads to the bottom line of our business. So it certainly is all connected. I tried many things… Only eat desert one night a week. Well, that one night you’d better watch out, buddy. [unintelligible [00:19:28].01] That didn’t work.
Another thing I’ve done is just have it in moderation. Another thing I’ve done is just eat it within a certain window of time. Well, none of that worked… And what has worked is – you know I work with Trevor McGregor; I hire him as my life/business coach (coachwithtrevor.com). I’ve worked with him for 5-6 years; I’m not sure exactly how long. I’ve worked with him for many years. And what he taught me recently, and which I’ve implemented, which has been successful for me, is something called a 50-stack. What a 50-stack is is writing down 25 reasons for why eating chocolate will be a negative in my life. I will get diabetes; I will, as a result, lose my toes; then I won’t be able to walk Quinn, my daughter, down the aisle, when she’s married; then I’m gonna lose my leg; then I’m gonna lose my other leg. Doing some extreme examples of that, but 25 of them for what are the negative consequences of it I continue to go down the path that I’m going down.
Then on the opposite end of the spectrum, 25 positive that will result from me not eating, and eating more healthy stuff. I will be able to run around and play soccer with Quinn; I’ll be able to grow my business and optimize my performance and add more value to the world, because I won’t be focused on my health as much, or lack thereof, I’ll be focused on contributing.
This is very powerful, because it hardwired my mind to think about it differently. I eat fruit still, that’s cool, but the chocolate thing isn’t nearly as desirable to me as it previously was. In fact, I have not had a piece of chocolate since then; I’m sure I will in the future. But this 50-stack idea is a great solution for if any Best Ever listener is trying to kick some sort of habit… Because it’s a lot more powerful than other things that don’t reshape how you think about that bad habit. So I thought I’d share, because it worked with me, and I figured it could work with some other listeners who are looking to reshape something in their life.
John Casmon: That’s a great tip to share. I can imagine how visceral it is to sit and write down all of those things, especially when you talk about your daughter, and the life that you’re trying to build for her, and walking her down the aisle, and the fact that you might not be able to do that, how that can change.
I think Tony Robbins has a similar approach, where he talks about if there’s a habit you’re trying to change or you’re trying to break, you need to sit down and write all the things about why you wanna break it and what your life would be like if you don’t break, and what your life could be like if you replace that habit with a new habit. I think it’s powerful stuff, and it’s something that — we’ve got some small things that I’m trying to do as well, that I think I can take that 50-stack and implement it… So that’s a great piece of advice.
Joe Fairless: Yeah. And I’d known about the stuff that Tony talked about, but I hadn’t intentionally done it, and packaging it in a way called “the 50-stack.” And full-transparency – the 50-stack is supposed to be “50 reasons why it’s good and 50 reasons why it’s bad.”
John Casmon: Oh…
Joe Fairless: But I was like, “Dude, this is a lot”, so I shortcutted it and I made 25+25. I totally am not calling that a 50-stack, but regardless, it’s worked. Well, John, how can the Best Ever listeners learn more about what you’ve got going on?
John Casmon: Yeah, if you’re interested in attending the Midwest Real Estate Networking Summit, you can go to midwestresummit.com. You can also check out our website, casmoncapital.com to check out anything else that we’re doing.
Joe Fairless: Sweet. Well, good catching up with you. Best Ever listeners, good hanging out with you, too. We don’t have a trivia question, we’re not gonna have a review today, but we did have some helpful things that will help you along your journey. Grateful of you being our listener, and we’ll talk to you tomorrow.