Jennifer is the Co-Founder and COO of Leafy Legal Services and the Co-Host on Leafy Podcast. She also has experience specializing in scaling business with remote staff. She helped grow a digital marketing company from 3 to 221 people in 21 countries in under 18 months. In this episode, Jennifer shares the best ways to go about finding top talent to work remotely and how you should approach management as a remote manager.
Jennifer Gligoric Real Estate Background:
- Co-Founder & COO of Leafy Legal Services and co-host on Leafy Podcast
- 20 years experience in real estate
- From Galveston, TX
- Say hi to them at https://www.leafyassets.com
Best Ever Tweet:
“If your organization is so bad at hiring, that you have people you just can’t trust, then you need to fire those people who are doing the hiring.- Jennifer Gligoric
Theo Hicks: Hello, Best Ever listeners. Welcome to the best real estate investing advice ever show. I’m your host today, Theo Hicks, and today we’ll be speaking with a repeat guest, Jennifer Gligoric. How are you doing today, Jennifer?
Jennifer Gligoric: I’m doing great. Well, as good as can be expected. [laughs]
Theo Hicks: Yeah. Jennifer’s first episode probably has not aired yet, because we interviewed her about a month ago and rescheduled three or six months out. You’re hearing this month first, because we are going to be talking about the Coronavirus. She is the co-founder and COO of Leafy Legal Services, as well as a co-host on the Leafy Podcast. She has 20 years of experience in real estate, is from Galveston, Texas, and you can say hi to her at LeafyAssets.com.
She focuses on working remotely, so what better time to go over some tips and tactics for working remotely with your employees during a crisis where everyone is essentially forced to work from home and self-quarantine in their homes.
Before we get into some of the tips and strategies that Jennifer has with us today, do you mind telling us a little bit about your background and how you got to where you are today?
Jennifer Gligoric: Sure. I actually have 25 years of experience in crisis business intervention. Before I became an asset protection specialist and owned Leafy Legal Services, I would be the person that would come into your business and if everybody is on fire and running around, I would figure it out, put out the fires and get you all back on track. That’s what I did.
Then about a decade ago I started to specialize in placing top talent American workers only remotely, and scaling businesses remotely. My biggest scale was taking a digital marketing company from three people to 221 people in 21 countries in under 18 months.
From a strategic HR standpoint, which I have a strong background in that, sales and marketing, as well as asset protection, because I’m a real estate investor and that’s important – but from a strategic HR perspective, being able to be not geographically limited with talent, especially if you can have the entire United States, is a game-changer for most businesses. But it’s a very different skillset. The managers have to manage differently… Everything is different, which everybody is figuring out very quickly right now, as we speak… So I can help you all out, hopefully, with that.
Theo Hicks: Thanks for sharing that. So let’s start general, and then I can maybe dive into more specifics. Let’s just look at it from the perspective of someone who maybe has a business, is used to working face-to-face with their employees… Because I know a lot of real estate investors do work from home, but are used to working face-to-face with their employees. Let’s talk about from a management perspective first – what are some of the things that they need to start doing differently, now that they’re not seeing their employees face-to-face every single day?
Jennifer Gligoric: You have to be a much better communicator than you ever have been before. Utilize technology. We have all the technology for you to be the best possible version of your management self. People that I’ve worked with remotely, who I’ve never met – I know more about them and their personal lives than people I’ve sat across from cubicles. People are gonna figure that out quickly, who’s a good manager and who’s not. You have to be a people person, and that is gonna be very difficult for you guys in tech who are introverted by nature, you wanna do everything by text – you can’t do that anymore. I’m sorry, you’re gonna have to change.
You’re going to need to utilize video communication software, whether it’s Skype, Google Hangouts, Zoom, FaceTime… There are a multitude of free and very cheap platforms you can get everyone on immediately. You need to be able to have that with them and talk to them, because body language is important, inflection is important… Please do not rely on text. You’re gonna find your organization is gonna falter very quickly.
And also, don’t burden your people. You want to set up clear times that they need to be there, when you’re gonna be looking at them, and then let them work. If you do it correctly, you’re gonna see people innovate, and don’t be afraid of that. Welcome it. They’re gonna come up with some unique solutions to whatever problem you are facing.
I was reading the news and there was a pizza joint, and they’re like “What are we gonna do?” They turned the waiters into delivery drivers, the guy was able to get three huge packs of toilet paper, and they sold one thing of toilet paper with every pizza, and they’re actually doing better now financially
Theo Hicks: That’s such a great idea.
Jennifer Gligoric: Yeah. “You get a roll with every pizza, okay? Because we have this crisis.” And then you have people shifting, you have people saying “Okay, let’s make face masks now. Let’s see what we can do.” You’re gonna have the helpful people that are gonna come up with stuff.
So no matter where you’re at, there are ways to pivot, and you need to listen to the teams. That’s why you have to be a much better people manager. But you wanna look at the in the face.
Another thing I’m going to tell you – every single bean counter right now in the corporate world is “We need time trackers. We’re gonna pay these people and they’re not gonna do anything.” Please shut those people up right now. That’s not really going to happen. And if your organization is so bad at hiring that you have people that you just can’t trust, then you need to fire the people that are hiring those people. You need to make a change when it all comes back.
There are time trackers like TimeDoctor and other software – they’re insanely invasive, and they cause obesity, stress… It is going to ruin your goodwill. You wanna use software like Toggl. Now, I don’t get any money for this… It’s Toggl.com. They have a free version, and they have a very low-cost version. It gives the power to the person, they can put it on their phone, it doesn’t run down their battery, and you can at least project-manage from that.
For project management software you wanna use Trello. That’s a real low-cost, easy one to get into if you don’t already have an enterprise software solution. And the majority of the people really suffering right now, let’s face it, are small businesses. The corporations – they’ll figure it out; they have big, universal Salesforce, they have these amazing hundred-grand enterprise software solutions that they’ve embedded, and they can work with remote. For everybody else who’s doing everything in an office, you’re gonna need to find these. Your accounting software should already be online. If it’s not, look at WaveApps.com. That’s completely free, unless you use payroll.
We’re a fan of Zoho. I love Zoho CRM, Zoho Books… Look into it. You’re gonna find that there are ways you’re probably gonna save money during this time, and you’re not gonna have to cut staff. You’re gonna wanna be creative on that.
Slack – I cannot overstate having Skype or Slack for your communications. Slack has free channels. I have run entire businesses with hundreds and hundreds of people worldwide on Slack and Skype. It can be done, you can be insanely profitable. So don’t worry about this; this is a challenge to innovate.
And many of you might actually come back to the drawing board when this is done and say “Hey, we did it. What are we paying this rent for? Why are we paying for this air conditioning in this office? Maybe we could spend that money and take a company trip, and help the environment, and not clog the roadways with Carbon emissions and traffic.” There’s gonna be a lot of companies that are gonna come out of this pivot and they’re gonna be different and much better. So be looking at it from that standpoint, rather than panic. I suggest that highly.
Theo Hicks: I would imagine that we’re definitely gonna be transitioning more to a remote environment, since all the large corporations are forced to work from home, and realizing that maybe we can do this without having to go to the office every single day and meet face to face, by using all of these different technologies that we have at our fingertips… So I appreciate you providing advice on that.
You also mentioned that you have experience going into businesses that are facing a crisis, and I’m sure that — because we talked about a lot of tactical things that people should start doing, but what about the mindset aspect of it? When you go into a business that’s entirely collapsing, I’m sure a lot of people are discouraged; there’s a lot of negativity floating around. Assuming that the same thing is potentially happening with a lot of investors right now – there’s a lot of uncertainty, people don’t know what’s going to happen come April 1st, May 1st when rent is due… So besides these tactical things that we’ve talked about, what is some advice you have from a mindset perspective?
Jennifer Gligoric: For mindset — I’m gonna tell you, I’m talking to investors every single day right now, because we’re in the protecting assets, and everybody’s like “Oh my god, I should have done this before”, right? But there are two camps – there are the people that are just getting into it, they don’t know what’s gonna happen, they’re over-leveraged or whatever, and they’re experiencing a lot of fear. Then you have the people that see this for really what it is.
So please get out of the fear mindset. I’m gonna tell you, ten years from now you’re gonna be sitting with your investing buddies and someone’s gonna say “Yeah, I was able to snap up two multifamilies because the person just didn’t know really how to do it, and I was able to get a decent deal on it, and keep the renters that were in there, because I was able to keep them in while things settled down, and that just springboarded me.”
You’re gonna hear stories ten years from now of people going “God, why did I do it? Why did I get out of the game now? I should have invested, I should have looked at other opportunities, I should have looked at notes.” Because there are people right now that are positioning with all of this, and it’s gonna be the time that people go “Man, if only I could have gotten in at 2020.” That’s the mindset you need to have. You need to protect yourself, you need to leverage what you can as a small business owner, and hopefully you have been treating this as a business. If you haven’t, then at least the one thing you need to take from this is that this is a business, and treat it like a business. Protect yourself like a business and have the mindset that this business is going to be successful, so what do successful businesses do?
Because I talk to people who are running with sometimes 30-40 properties that they don’t really have a structure; some of them are in their name, they’ve got 10 properties under one LLC, and I’m like, “Oh, my goodness…” And that’s a lot more expensive to fix that than if they would have had the right structure in the beginning and just built from there.
Theo Hicks: You kind of briefly mentioned this when you went through what you’ve just said – you said “People in that second camp, that see what’s going on for what it is, are gonna be ten years from now thriving based off of the decisions they made during this time period…”
Jennifer Gligoric: Oh, more than ten years from now. In ten years this is going to be the people we’ve been listening to that held on to their multifamilies during 2008, and now they are at the top of their game. So they were successful way before ten years.
I’m telling you that now is the time not to panic. There are very specific things you can do. You need to write all your congressmen, your senator, your governor, your legislator; you need to push, since we don’t have a lobbyist for real estate investors really, that I know that you can write, that’s up there… And you need to just write them. You need to utilize any of the moneys that are coming through, treat it like a business, fill out the forms, go to the bank, and use this as a time to not be risky, but to push forward. Instead of turtle, pull back, sell, be scared… Don’t do that now. That’s not what successful businesses do. They stop, they pivot, they reassess and then they see where that can go forward. It might in a different type of investing.
Maybe you’ve just done single-family and you want to do multifamily. Maybe you need to negotiate and say “Okay, now’s the time if I need cash, I’m gonna go to the people that have been renting from me for the longest and see if anybody has any down payment money and see if we can transition them into owning that house. Get me some cash, and then they can get out of the rental game.”
And there are experts like Mitch Stephen, that do incredible podcasts and incredible information that can help you do that, that have mortgage servicing companies. That company can service that note. You’re gonna have to think outside the box, but this is the time to do it. This is an incredible time to think of things different and capitalize on a situation.
And don’t lose your humanity in it. I’m not saying that. Because people hear “capitalize” and automatically it’s a negative connotation now… But I don’t mean it to be negative. I meant take these lemons and try to turn them into lemonade, because you tanking yourself and your company isn’t helping anyone. It’s not helping your family, it’s not helping your community, and it’s not helping this country. You managing to do well is much more helpful in the long run, so focus on that.
Theo Hicks: You mentioned a few opportunities. One of them was note investing, the other one was obviously not panicking and holding on to your properties, the other one was go to your long-term residents to see if they are interested in buying the property… What are some other opportunities you think are things people should be considering right now besides those three that I’ve just mentioned?
Jennifer Gligoric: Well, every single person needs to know the law. I’ve been on Bigger Pockets, so I’m very big on there as far as a contributor, and I listen… And there are a lot of people coming out saying “We’re just gonna evict people. It doesn’t matter what orders are in place”, because there are some areas of the country that have a no-eviction or a stay on evictions. “We’re just gonna tell them to go.” And I’m thinking “Well, you’re just gonna get sued so hard for that.” Don’t be like that. Think about the law that you have, look back on the property that you have, go to the banks or go to the SBA and say “This is what I have right now and this is what I’d like to be able to do, because I need to be able to keep the renters there, if at all possible.” Because trying to turn over an apartment right now is really not what you wanna be focusing on. Not if they were a good paying renter.
You wanna try to keep them in that property until they get back on their feet, and help them. And not overburden them to where they’re angry at you and they’re gonna leave, the moment that things get back on track. This is America. We’re Americans. Things are gonna get back on track much quicker than anybody realizes, because we are who we are. It’s in our DNA.
So you don’t wanna upset an entire complex full of people… Think about what you’re gonna write them, write something reassuring, try to get some money in place to help who you can and be reasonable about it… Those are things that you can do right now. And if you already have cashflow coming in and you already have that, a bank’s going to know that they’re gonna be able to get some money, too. Because everybody is going to be looking for the stimulus money, and eventually they’re going to pass it.
Theo Hicks: What about buying? Should people be buying right now?
Jennifer Gligoric: Yes. I just was speaking to Net Worth Realty, which is the largest realty agency. They’re all over the country, [unintelligible [00:16:24].08] and they only deal with real estate investors. So they buy distressed properties, they sell them at wholesale, and then they have agreements with Home Depot, and contractors, and hard money lenders… So they help real estate investors get in the game, and either flip or rent these properties after they rehab them.
Every single one of the realtors I talked to — a huge office, one of the most profitable offices in the entire Houston area, and every single realtor I spoke to were real estate investors. Some had 20+ properties they were all scanning their own deals. So if they’re doing it and they see the thing, I know everybody else should. They were all very positive about it, because they were investors themselves.
So the person who invited me – her name is Amber Lynn – she had two properties that they were flipping right then. So they weren’t stopping. So they are putting their money where their mouth is. I would look at people like that, that see the trend… And there was an uptick in interest in investors. There was an uptick in people that said “We’re gonna have to buy foreclose notes.” I talked to one guy who had already been trying to negotiate to get foreclose notes, to try to get into that game…
And his thing was “I’m gonna try to work with these people to keep them in the house”, because there are going to be companies that hold notes that won’t be able to float it because their management isn’t good. Well, that doesn’t mean that they don’t have actually good renters, it just means that they’re unable to do what they’re supposed to do at this time, because they just don’t have good management. You’re gonna see that happen, too.
People who don’t listen to podcasts, who are not taking the right advice – that’s the time for investors to come and get those notes, keep the people in the house, and now you have a performing property within 2-3 months. So that’s gonna be another opportunity to look for. There is a lot of opportunity right now, I’m telling you.
Theo Hicks: What about from an asset management perspective? Because you specialize in asset management now. You already mentioned this in the beginning, that people are reaching out to tell you that there’s things they wanna do now, that they should have done already… Maybe just tell us what those things are.
Jennifer Gligoric: Well, if you’re not operating anonymously, then that’s something that you really need to do. That is the first layer of protection. If you have an LLC but your name is tied to it, that LLC is a very flimsy protection. What you want is to have your operating company, anonymous, to where your name is not tied to it, and then you want to operate from one anonymous structure, and then put your properties in another anonymous structure that is not tied to it. When you have that set up, it’s scalable, you’re protected, and in the long run it’s a lot cheaper to do that.
All the people who are LLC stacking right now – you’re gonna really need to think about that structure… Because even just now, you have all these EINs, all these bank accounts you’ve gotta worry about, all these different properties. Many of you who have many properties, what you’ve done is you’ve put 3-4 properties under one LLC. Well, that’s not very protective; they can all get attached in a lawsuit. And when there is economic instability, unfortunately, that brings out the people who are lawsuit-friendly. You’re gonna get a rash of attorneys, and renters, and all sorts of things that are gonna come out of this. And if you’re protected, you’re gonna make it very difficult for then, because those are the types of people who are looking for low-hanging fruit.
“I know that they own this property, their name is on the lease, their name is on this LLC. That is something I can attach a lien to and I can get recovery.” Because a lawyer needs three things to file a lawsuit – they need the law, they need the facts, they need a recovery. Law and facts can be massaged, but recovery…? If they look you up and there’s nothing to find – well, is that lawyer really gonna spend all that time and money just for a needle in the haystack? Probably not.
Now, on the converse end, if you have a legitimate grievance and you want to sue someone, and they have actually wronged you, the attorney will take the case; you’ll be able to move forward. So if you’re doing something wrong, then you’re probably gonna get sued, and they’ll probably win. So don’t do wrong things. These structures are to protect people who are doing the right things against people who are doing the wrong things, not vice-versa.
Theo Hicks: Alright, thanks for sharing that. Is there anything else that we haven’t talked about already that has to do with mindset, opportunities, asset management, managing employees remotely during this pandemic, that we haven’t talked about already?
Jennifer Gligoric: Just be kind. Be kind to your staff. Any kindness that you give right now to the people that you’re dealing with… And I know that if you’re an investor or a business owner, and a project — everybody’s having delays and all sorts of things happen… But just chill for a little bit and give some kindness, and then do what you can on your own end.
Remember – think outside the box, go look for extra loans… I know some people are leveraged to the hilt, but there are gonna be things coming down the pipeline that you can utilize. Don’t close your mind to help and don’t close your mind to an expansion in a time of crisis.
The people who looked at crises historically and said “You know what – I’m bankrupt right now, but I’m gonna move forward”, those are the people that you find that are wildly successful. They managed to get out of it and they managed to do good. So be that type of person.
Theo Hicks: Alright, Jennifer, I really appreciate you coming on and sharing your advice. This is a very powerful episode and I think it’s gonna get a lot of traction, especially during this time, because you gave a lot of practical advice on how to manage employees remotely… You basically said that it’s gonna come down to you needing to be a much better communicator, and utilizing technology to do that. So using VA communication software like Skype, Google Hangouts, Zoom, FaceTime… I think you also mentioned Slack, that you really like…
At the same time, you don’t want to overburden your employees and have 8-hour Skype calls every single day, where they’re working and you’re watching them. So you wanna set clear times for when you’re gonna have your face-to-face meetings, and then let your team members work on their own without using some sort of time-tracking software, because that’s when they’re gonna be able to innovate. You gave a great example of — for some reason, everyone loves toilet paper right now… So – selling one piece of toilet paper with every pizza box. I thought that was pretty hilarious.
You also talked about Trello and Zoho property management software, and then for accounting software you said the Wave app.
Jennifer Gligoric: No Wave app is accounting, Zoho does accounting… Zoho has a whole suite; they have a lot of things at Zoho. And then you’re gonna have to track some people’s time, you just will, especially if they’re per-project or hourly… But I would suggest Toggl.com. That software is not invasive, it doesn’t bog down their computer… All the other ones I’ve ever tested – and I’ve probably tested every one out there at one point or another in my career; you don’t want graphic designers and then your whole thing freezes because you’ve got Photoshop, and InDesign, and Illustrator, and the stupid time tracker is eating up your resources. So that one doesn’t do it…
And they can use it on their phone while being on their computer. So their phone can be tracking them, and then they write in what they’ve been working on. If you’re a good manager and they do take your directions, don’t have them write paragraphs… But you’ll be able to see if what they write, what you see in Toggl matches their output. You’re going to have to step up your management game, you really are. And you’re gonna have to care about people, too. And let them know that you care about them. That shouldn’t be hard, but for some people it is… So work on it.
Theo Hicks: Yeah, perfect. So that’s the managing employees part. We also talked about mindset… Basically, people fall into one of two camps – it’s people that are either just getting into it, or are very over-leveraged, and are kind of terrified and panicking, versus people who see it for what it is, and realize that there are opportunities out there. People in that second camp, ten years from now, are gonna be sitting around, talking about “I’m really glad I held onto those properties, I’m really glad I bought those properties”, whereas people in camp one are gonna be full or regrets, and wishing that they had invested.
From another mindset perspective we said that hopefully you’ve been treating this as a business; that’ll be very helpful, and help you not to panic and realize that, just like a business, you’re gonna push forward. If you have to pivot, you have to pivot, but there are opportunities out there. You gave some examples, like going to some of your long-term residents who’ve rented the longest, to see if they’ve got down payment money to buy the property.
Making sure that everyone knows about the law of evictions, and that even if you’re allowed to evict people, it’s probably not the best time to do that, because you don’t want to upset everyone at your apartment. Instead, figure out ways to keep them there, figure out ways to help them financially and write something reassuring to them to let them know that you’re looking out for them. I know Joe’s company sent a lot of letters with some medical advice from the CDC and WHO.
You also talked about how people should be buying real estate. You’ve got realtors and other people you’re talking to that are putting their money where their mouths are and buying real estate.
Another opportunity will be foreclosed note investing, but making sure that you are working with the people to keep them in the house, as opposed to bringing on a bunch of properties that you might not be able to manage.
Then we talked about the asset management side of things. One thing that people really need to start doing is to operate anonymously. Because when economic instability hits, it brings up all the people who wanna sue, and they’ll go for the people that are low-hanging fruits. They look up your name and see they have 25 LLCs, with 45 different properties attached to their name… They’re gonna be able to go after you a lot easier than someone who owns the same 45 properties, but is operating under an anonymous operating company that’s not tied to them, and then another anonymous structure that the properties are in. They’re not gonna see anything under your name. Sure, they could find it if they dug a little bit deeper, but it’s not low-hanging fruit. So as long as you’re not doing anything shady, operating anonymously is the way to go.
And then lastly, you said just to be kind to the people that you’re dealing with. Think outside the box, figure out ways to find more money, like go after extra loans, and make sure you’re not being close-minded to help, and expanding.
I think I’ve hit on everything we talked about. Jennifer, I really appreciate again you coming on and giving us your expertise on what people should be doing during this Coronavirus pandemic.
Best Ever listeners, as always, thanks for listening. Everyone, please be safe. Have a best ever day, and we’ll talk to you tomorrow.