Bob Lachance is an Ex Professional hockey player who dived right into real estate investing with no experience. He took a leap of faith, by asking an investor if they needed help and from there, his story began. He shares a valuable lesson from a mistake he made along the way that cost him $150,000 in one day. He is a good example of why you keep pushing forward, taking every mistake as a lesson, and staying open minded to discover what you will be good at.
Bob Lachance Real Estate Background:
- An active business owner and real estate investor since 2004
- Ex professional hockey player
- For the last 5 years Bob has run one of the premiere Virtual Assistant Staffing companies in the world. REVA Global LLC.
- Based in Hartford, CT
- Say hi to him at https://revaglobal.com
- Best Ever book: Traction
Best Ever Tweet:
“I look at everything as a learning experience, I invested outside my area of expertise I didn’t know anything about knock down rebuilds. Failure is what it is, it’s something you have to learn from.”- Bob Lachance
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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, where we only talk about the best advice ever, we don’t get into any of that fluffy stuff. With us today, Bob Lachance. How are you doing, Bob?
Bob Lachance: Very good. How are you doing today?
Joe Fairless: I’m doing well, and looking forward to our conversation. A little bit about Bob – he’s an active business owner and real estate investor, and has been one since 2004. He’s an ex-professional hockey player, and for the last five years Bob has run Virtual Assistant Staffing, one of the premier virtual assistant staffing companies in the world, called Reva Global. Based in Hartford, Connecticut. With that being said, Bob, do you wanna give the Best Ever listeners a little bit more about your background and your current focus?
Bob Lachance: Absolutely. First of all, thanks for having me. I love your show, so I really appreciate the invite.
Joe Fairless: Yeah, my pleasure.
Bob Lachance: Absolutely. A quick rundown – I started investing back in 2004; just like you said, I played professional hockey prior to that for eight years, four years here in the United States and four years in Europe. My professional career here in the United States – it’s equivalent of the Triple-A in baseball. So for your listeners, I was drafted by the St. Louis Blues, played in their minor league system for two years, and then two more years here, and then had a good run in Europe.
After that, I had to make the transition, which was pretty difficult to figure out what I was gonna do after playing professional sports, which is not the easiest transition. Fortunately for me, I didn’t have that many options, because I left school two classes before getting my degree.
Joe Fairless: Oh, my…
Bob Lachance: Yeah… I have three kids right now; my wife — at the time I had just my one son, and it was actually pretty interesting… I either had to go back to school and get my degree, or figure out an industry that you didn’t need a degree in. At the time – this is actually pretty fun; I’m totally different today, but at the time I did not wanna go back to school. My love for school wasn’t the highest… So I decided to do a lot of research on different industries that did not need a degree. Real estate investing always came up first, so I decided to jump into that space in 2004.
I read a book, Rich Dad, Poor Dad, which I’m sure everyone’s familiar with, and then I bought a course online all about real estate investing, but not really anything specific.
Joe Fairless: What course was it?
Bob Lachance: It was the Ultimate Real Estate Investing Guide, I believe, by a guy by the name of David [unintelligible [00:03:52].08] I believe he’s an attorney. This was way back…
Joe Fairless: Okay. Alright…
Bob Lachance: But it was fantastic, because I learned about all different mediums, whether it’s buy and hold, whether it’s rehabbing, whether it’s wholesaling… So it just got me into the game. What I did was I jumped in my car — I learned something from that course about farming your areas, which means you’re driving through neighborhoods and looking at anything that’s distressed… So I call on probably about five different signs, many of them were listed by real estate agents… And one of the things that I learned from there is networking, networking, networking is one of the most important things you can do in real estate investing, which I 100% agree on.
So I called this one agent, the property was vacant… It got me into the property. I waled in the property and it was a really bad stench of cat pee. I remember reading this in the course — you could probably relate to this, being in residential back int he day, right?
So I got into the house, and I remember reading in that course that not many people are gonna make offers when there’s cat urine in the house, because at the time there weren’t the products that we have out today. So I made an offer on the property… I believe the property is listed at about 175k. I made our offer at 135k, they accept. So I’m like “Alright, cool”, but the problem was I didn’t have bank financing, I didn’t have contractors, i didn’t have anything… So I kind of had to search around for contractors, which I found. Bank financing was easier to get. I had cash to rehab it, so… Literally, in a month I put everything together, closed on it, rehabbed it within a month, and made about $32,000.
Joe Fairless: Nice!
Bob Lachance: I sold it in two months, which was awesome.
Joe Fairless: Yeah, 32k/month, times 12 months – you’re doing very well.
Bob Lachance: That would have been awesome… [laughter] If I had consistent marketing going out… I had no idea about anything. I literally left the hockey rink and I was a business owner. I knew nothing about business. So one of the other things that I learned as well is when you’re networking and joining communities where your peers are… So now I’m a real estate investor; again, my peers were literally living in a hockey locker room, which – once you leave the locker room, you don’t learn too much about business.
So I joined a local real estate investing group, and the first actual speaker that I saw was speaking on pre-foreclosure short sales… So I got hooked right away. I invested in their course, and that’s what I wanted to do. I used to be a rehabber, now I’m a short sale investor. Again, I had shiny object syndrome; I was buying everything at this time.
Then one thing that I did that was probably the best thing that I’ve ever done – the next meeting at the Connecticut Real Estate Association I asked ten people who the top pre-foreclosure short sale investor was in Connecticut, and they all pointed at the same individual. His name is Patrick Precourt. I went up to him, and I said “Hey Pat, I don’t know if you’re looking to adding one to your team, but I just retired from professional hockey and I’m looking to get into pre-foreclosure. Do you have any openings?”
I didn’t ask him for any money, I didn’t ask him for a paycheck, I didn’t ask for anything. I offered to give my services to him for free, and he said “You know what, Bob, actually I am looking for an acquisition person.” And I had no idea what that meant. [laughter] But what do you think I said?
Joe Fairless: Yup…
Bob Lachance: I just said “Absolutely.” And you know what he did? A nice gentleman [unintelligible [00:07:23].12] we laugh about it today… He gives me a list of pre-foreclosure homeowners, and a script. And he goes “Here you go.” And I’m like “What do you mean, here you go?” He was like “Go door-knock.” And I’m like “Alright.”
So I literally from 10 AM to 3 PM, every single day, Monday through Friday, I door-knocked on the lists he would give me every week. I would door-knock, I had my script, and I would fumble through a lot of it, but probably the best thing I’ve ever done in my life, and I’d highly recommend if anyone wants to learn something from the ground up, you’ve gotta experience it.
Joe Fairless: How long did you do door-knocking for?
Bob Lachance: I did that for a little under a year.
Joe Fairless: That’s a while… And you said “10 AM to 3 PM, Monday through Friday.” Why not do it on the weekends, when people are more likely to be home?
Bob Lachance: Well, the reason was because I was married as well; I’m married now, but I was–
Joe Fairless: You wanted to stay married?
Bob Lachance: Yeah, that’s exactly right. [laughs] I wanted to stay married. And I was in Europe by myself for four years during the season, and I’d come home often… But it was time to — it’s like the everyday life; I decided not to pick that time because, obviously, I wanted to stay married, and a lot of other reasons… But I had my son at the time as well, my first kid, and it just didn’t fit with the family schedule.
That’s when I found — and Pat was my mentor at the time; he said “That’s the best time to hit people that aren’t working”, so the list that he was giving me was a pre-foreclosure list, and if they’re having financial challenges, they would be home. So that was the mindset around that as well. So I said, “Alright, great.”
So I did that for a while, and then I graduated and I brought another door-knocker on in my place. Then the next year I would sit literally on the phone like we’re doing now, I’d have my headset on, and I’d be talking to banks every single day, from 9 AM to 5-6 PM, negotiating short sales… Which was absolutely incredible, incredible training.
At that point we became full partners. Within that time we were doing wholesaling, we were lending money… There’s a lot of other things that we were doing within the real estate niches… But we got asked from a company out of Florida at the time if we would run their coaching program, that was specifically based around short sales. So Pat and I said “Absolutely.” We ran that coaching program for about a year, and then we also — at that point there was another company where my good buddy is now… I guess I’m biased, but one of the top education companies around now, back in 2006 they asked us to be on their team, to help run their coaching program, because they’d just started it. Pat and I were like “Hey, you know what? Absolutely. Let’s do it.” So we helped launch another coaching program in the 2006-2007 time.
Then through that time — it’s pretty interesting… You learn a lot; when you’re part of different masterminds, and working with coaching students, you learn a lot about what’s needed in the industry. They made us really look at our own business.
We noticed that there was a huge, huge void in the industry, which happens to be time. So it doesn’t matter how successful or not successful you are, if you’re working part-time or you’re working full-time, time always is a challenge for every single one of us.
So it took me a number of years to try to figure out “How do we fulfill and fill this void in the industry, which is getting people’s time back?”
Fast-forward to 2013, I got introduced to the virtual assistant world. To be honest, Joe, I had no idea what a virtual assistant was, at all, in 2013. Then I did some research and I noticed it was more commonplace for the realtor world, and the real estate agent world, and brokerage world, rather than the real estate investing world. So I hired my first VA, and then a light bulb went on. Boom. I said “You know what – this is definitely a void that needs to be filled in the real estate investor world.”
After working with my virtual assistant for a year, I decided to start my first company in 2014. When I first launched it, it was very difficult — I don’t know if you’ve ever started a company out of country, or in a different country, but…
Joe Fairless: I haven’t.
Bob Lachance: There’s a lot of things that you have to figure out, there’s a lot of trial, there’s a lot of error, there’s a lot of testing… But we launched the first company in 2013 out of the Philippines. We figured out the logistics, and fast-forward to today, that’s where Reva Global is.
Joe Fairless: Wow. I’m curious — and this is in no order of importance with my questions; I was just writing down some notes… The first coaching program – you were in it for a year; why only a year?
Bob Lachance: Because that’s when it was hot. They were the marketing company behind it, so they were selling it and marketing it, and then the industry started changing a little bit. We were doing simultaneous closings through land trusts, and a lot of title companies started changing what we were allowed to do… It was about a year, a year-and-a-half that we actually ran that.
Joe Fairless: Okay. And you didn’t ask the top short sale person — what is his name?
Bob Lachance: Pat Precourt.
Joe Fairless: Pat. You didn’t ask him for money, you just ask if he had any openings. Did he pay you for the first couple months?
Bob Lachance: He paid me some commissions on closings, yes. I did okay the first year, but… I’m glad you brought that up, because I think that’s a huge takeaway. If you wanna get things in life, always give before you get. I think that’s really, really important. That’s one of the things that I did, which was lucky that I did that, but I think that’s a great takeaway. I was young at the time, and I just happened to have a mindset of always giving before you ge.
Joe Fairless: What was your most uncomfortable moment as a door-knocker for almost a year?
Bob Lachance: Well, a couple of them. Obviously, one of them is walking up to a door and seeing somebody look through the blinds, close the blinds and not answer the door… That happens very often. I’ve had a couple doors close in my face…
Joe Fairless: They’re a good judge of character, huh?
Bob Lachance: Yeah… [laughs] We do that now, right? If someone knocks on the door, you’re like, “Oh, man… What are they trying to sell me?” And I understood exactly where they were too, and that’s one of the things that if you put yourself in their shoes and understand what they’re going through… I also had a leave-behind package that was very successful; I’d leave a package behind if they didn’t answer the door.
Joe Fairless: Okay. That’s not a very uncomfortable moment though. What was an uncomfortable moment, thinking back?
Bob Lachance: An uncomfortable moment was this one instance I was in Bristol, and I sat down with the wife, and then the husband wasn’t there. We’d go through the whole spiel, and then I would have to go back for another follow-up thing, and the husband kicked me out of the house. That was probably the most uncomfortable thing. “I didn’t agree to this!” etc. There was a lot of choice words that he used… That was the most uncomfortable part of it. But again, I always looked at it as “This is part of the learning curve, and a necessity of growing.”
Joe Fairless: Knowing what you know now, how did Pat get to be the top short sale investor in Connecticut at the time, where when you asked people at the real estate meetup who was the top person, they all pointed to him?
Bob Lachance: He did a lot of speaking within the REIA group. He would help open up the REIA group… He’s a little older than me, so he had a ton of experience through every niche of real estate. His family had a home inspection business. He built houses, he did lease options, short sales… So again, a wide variety of education, knowledge and experience on all aspects of investing.
Joe Fairless: You said you had a leave-behind package that was pretty effective… What about it was effective?
Bob Lachance: The front package says “Nowhere to turn?” And we had two sides of it. We had a program at the time to help them stay in their house, and sell their house. For instance, if you recall, back in the day refinancing was very easy, even if you had a foreclosure on your record. So we partnered with some mortgage companies to actually help them stay in the house as well. So we had more than one option; rather than just buying their house, we actually helped them stay in their house as well.
Joe Fairless: And how do you make money when you partner with a mortgage company to help them stay in the house?
Bob Lachance: We did not. It was just a service that we offered to help the homeowner out. We always look at it as, again, if you give, you receive in the end. So it’s just one of the things that we’ve always done.
Joe Fairless: Now let’s talk about the virtual staffing company, Reva Global, that you have. What differentiates you from other staffing companies?
Bob Lachance: Great question. I get that question actually a lot. We run our VAs through a very tough recruiting process. First of all, our VAs are all four-year college graduates, very strong language and communication skills, limited accent, and they have a high emotional intelligence. They’re also 6+ months in the BPO industry, which is just like the call center experience… So that’s one of the things that does separate ourselves.
We also run them through a four-step recruiting and interview process. We run them through what’s called a systems check. For those of your listeners that have used virtual assistants, one of the stressful things that happen is their connectivity. The virtual assistant, whether it’s anywhere in the world, sometimes connectivity is a very big challenge, so what we do is we run through a systems check to make sure that they have the correct hardware, the correct internet speed, and the correct internet provider, and also the correct storage on their computers before they even pass on to the next step.
We also run them through a background check, because you’ve gotta know who you’re working with. Also, we run them through a three-point competency and oral proficiency checklist, and then last but not least, we also run them through a DiSC profile. Have you ever done any DiSC profiling at all?
Joe Fairless: I have.
Bob Lachance: Okay, cool. This is a behavioral, personality kind of assessment. So what we do is when the VA goes through our process, we have a whole profile on them. And then when a client comes to us and says “Hey, I want a cold caller” as an example, we look back at the DiSC profile and — it’s almost like Match.com. We have our placements team match up the client with the tasks that are needed, that fit that profile, as an example.
Joe Fairless: And from a profitability standpoint, why put focus towards a virtual staffing company, versus just stay on the real estate investing path?
Bob Lachance: I actually do both. I invest in some commercial syndications and I also have a standalone commercial building as well, with a used appliance company in it, that I also invested in… And I have a number of buy and holds as well. So I still actively do it using my virtual assistants. It’s a void in the industry that I saw, and it’s something that I am extremely passionate about because of the individuals that you can help throughout the world. It’s just something that I’ve always been passionate about.
Joe Fairless: You mentioned you have a commercial building with a used appliance company, that I think you said you invested in that company, too?
Bob Lachance: Yes, I invested in that company. I wouldn’t recommend investing in a used appliance company. It’s not the highest-producing money-maker out there… But I bought into it along with the building, and it’s given me a small return, but it’s more of preserving my cash, to be honest; it’s not a huge money-maker.
Joe Fairless: Okay. So let’s talk about that commercial building. Did you own the building first, and then you had them as a tenant, or how did that work?
Bob Lachance: It was my buddy – he’s got a new appliance company and a used appliance company, so I bought into the building and the business at the same time.
Joe Fairless: Okay, got it. What deal have you lost the most amount of money on?
Bob Lachance: It was a knock-down/rebuild in Greenwich, CO. We had a modular company setup to put a module home on it, we got sold into it… It was one of those deals where we had to jump in. [unintelligible [00:19:21].25] I learned a lot since 2005, but… It was “the deal of a lifetime.” “I couldn’t pass up.” So me and my partner lost $150,000 in one day.
Joe Fairless: In one day?
Bob Lachance: Yeah… [laughs]
Joe Fairless: That’s kind of impressive, to lose it in one day. What happened, exactly?
Bob Lachance: The down payment had to go hard for that one day, and then we put it down, and all of a sudden stuff hit the fan, and we hired an attorney out of Greenwich at $450/hour, and then before you know it we’re 10k deep, and we had a decision to make – do we keep fighting it to where the chances of us getting our money back are probably small, or do we just walk from it, lick our wounds, learn from it? I put 75k in, which my wife wanted to kill me, and Pat put 75k in, so we had to make an educated decision to walk on it or keep fighting for it… So we walked.
Joe Fairless: What exactly happened with that deal?
Bob Lachance: Permitting. We got sold into “all the permits were set up”, we were gonna scrape it, and then put the modular up… But came to find out that the seller wasn’t 100% truthful, and then by the time we learned that, our money was already in his pocket. We didn’t dot all our i’s and cross our t’s, so… Yup.
Joe Fairless: And I don’t wanna keep on pouring salt on the wound, but it’s been a while…
Bob Lachance: [laughs]
Joe Fairless: It’s been more than a decade since then, so… I sense it’s still a little bit raw, but you’ve pretty much recovered–
Bob Lachance: Yeah, I laugh at that… I look at everything as a learning experience. It’s just something — you know, invested out of my area of expertise, I didn’t know anything about knock-down/rebuilds… I look at everything as a learning experience, and… Hey, failure – it is what it is. Failures you’ve gotta learn from.
Joe Fairless: Yeah. Well, on the opposite end of the spectrum – best ever deal you’ve done?
Bob Lachance: Best ever deal we’ve done… Well, there’s a number of rehabs, but I would say it was the 10-unit commercial building I bought in 2014. It was a vacant building, bank-owned, just a bunch of (ten) storefronts. It took us 3,5 years to get it up and running, and we sold it. Bought it for 200k, put 60k into it, and sold it for 400k.
Joe Fairless: Bravo!
Bob Lachance: Yeah, not bad. Longer-term, but… Great.
Joe Fairless: Based on your experience, what’s your best real estate investing advice ever?
Bob Lachance: My best real estate investing advice ever would be to get educated on what you’re looking to do in real estate, and get a mentor. I’m huge on education. Back in the day, back in school I wasn’t, but in my professional from 2004 on, I invest a lot of resources on education and mentors.
Joe Fairless: We’re gonna do a lightning round. Are you ready for the Best Ever Lightning Round?
Bob Lachance: I’m ready, I’m ready.
Joe Fairless: Alright, let’s do it. First, a quick word from our Best Ever partners.
Break: [00:22:13].03] to [00:22:54].14]
Joe Fairless: Are you going to take those two remaining classes? Why/why not?
Bob Lachance: I am not, because I do not want a fallback position. If times get tough, I do not want anything to fall back on and to give me an excuse to work for somebody else.
Joe Fairless: Best ever book you’ve recently read?
Bob Lachance: Best ever book is Traction, by Gino Wickman.
Joe Fairless: Oh yeah, I just listened to that… That was my very first audiobook that I listened to, and then I liked it so much I bought it, and it’s right next to me on my desk
Best ever way you like to give back to the community?
Bob Lachance: I love helping out, I love brainstorming and figuring out different ways to help people when they have challenges.
Joe Fairless: And how can the Best Ever listeners learn more about what you’re doing?
Bob Lachance: Absolutely, you can go to my website at revaglobal.com, or if you wanna contact me, you can send an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. That’s my virtual assistant site and company.
Joe Fairless: Giving before you get, making sure that you are educated by people who know the industry before jumping into the industry – you’ve done that many times throughout your career… And it goes back to the Rich Dad, Poor Dad, and then the course that you took, asking people at the REIA “Who’s the best person for XYZ?” and then you reached out to that person, and now off you went, as a result of that. I think there’s a common theme there.
And then when you didn’t do that, with the knock-down/rebuild in Greenwich – well… [laughs] There are the results there, too. So I think there’s a particular success formula that we’ve uncovered through this interview.
Bob Lachance: Get educated, right?
Joe Fairless: Get educated, that’s right. Well, thanks so much for being on the show. I hope you have a best ever day, and we’ll talk to you again soon.
Bob Lachance: Thank you, Joe. I appreciate it. Thanks a lot.