Ryan Groene Real Estate Background:
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“The old saying really is true – Your network is your net worth” – Ryan Groene
Theo Hicks: Hello, Best Ever listeners, and welcome to the Best Real Estate Investing Advice Ever Show. I’m Theo Hicks, and today we’ll be speaking with Ryan Groene.
Ryan, how are you doing today?
Ryan Groene: Good. How are you?
Theo Hicks: I am doing well, thanks for asking and thanks for joining us again. So, Ryan is a previous guest; make sure you check out his first episode, episode 1999, where he talked about his background and gave his best real estate investing advice ever. Today is Sunday, so we’ll be doing these Skill Set Sunday where we focus on a specific skill set that our guest has and has helped them scale their real estate investing business.
Before we get into that, a refresher on Ryan’s background – he is a full-time mobile home park owner and operator. He has 7 mobile home parks, totaling 300 spaces. He is based in Charleston, South Carolina, and you can say hi to him at his email, which is firstname.lastname@example.org.
So Ryan, do you mind telling us some more about your background and what you’ve been up to since we last spoke?
Ryan Groene: Yeah, I think the last time we spoke was back in March/April. So since then, I’ve sold two parks at the end of last year. We just closed on another two in Lexington, Kentucky, and also just have a couple of parks under contract, looking to buy more before the end of the year. Really pretty much in the Midwest/southeast is where our primary focus is, but also a strong foot in Ohio as well. That’s kind of what I’ve been up to. I got a dog as well. I know it’s not real estate related, but just life related, and then also just trying to deal with this Coronavirus. So it’s just like everybody else.
Theo Hicks: If you’re watching on YouTube, you can see he’s got a little [unintelligible [00:04:59].00] is that your dog?
Ryan Groene: Yes. [Inaudible [00:05:01] My dog is in the other room, caged up, so he’s not running everywhere, because he’d be running crazy. But it’s just a bookend. And yeah, I’m a big dog person. I think I’ve mentioned in other episodes about how I like to give back to dogs.
Theo Hicks: Perfect. Well, the skill set, we’re going to talk about is the power of networking, and how you can use networking, leverage networking, leverage other people in your network to grow your real estate investing business. So Ryan, the floor is yours. Tell us how for you, in your personal experience, networking has helped you grow your mobile home park business.
Ryan Groene: Networking has really taken me to where I am now and where I’m trying to go. I hate to use the cliché that your network is your net worth, or whatever; I may have said it backwards. But everybody knows that saying, and that is true. I didn’t learn for a long time – it took me probably many years to realize that my skill set is better suited for building and networking and talking with people and helping them grow their business while also growing mine… And it pays dividends; you never know when your network or some person you meet is going to be useful in your business.
I started in this business — I did have some money to invest in my first deal. And that was two years ago that I basically emptied my 401(k), quit my corporate finance job and then also just did the deal with some people that were in my network. I had met them a couple times, talked with them about doing some deals; we were both kind of chasing the same deal and we actually decided to partner on it. We still hold that park today, and it’s probably been one of my better buys, for sure.
And also just people that I’ve met from years ago; plenty of events I go to all the time, whether it’s just coffee with somebody or a general real estate event… If I’m in an area, or even in Charleston – I moved to Charleston about a year ago. So I literally looked on meetup and events, and I go to all these different events, and I was telling everybody I was a mobile home park investor before I actually owned anything, and it’s helped me grow my net worth and buy deals, because it’s just getting out there and talking with people.
And then it’s also face to face… There’s many ways to go about networking, go about doing different things. One is obviously in-person meetups. It’s a little hard nowadays in 2020 with Corona, everything’s virtual. I’m an in-person person, I would rather have this conversation with Theo and record it in person… But being that it is Coronavirus and all this stuff just aside, a lot of stuff is still virtual, right? There’s plenty of different platforms out there. LinkedIn is probably one of the better platforms to just grow your network online. And then also just building your own personal brand, like Joe and the Best Ever team has done, right? Joe built his brand online and having an online brand. I don’t have a strong online brand; that’s something I could definitely do better at. But also I am online, right? I’m in all the Facebook groups and LinkedIn groups and I’m reading all the comments and commenting and trying to add value wherever I can.
And then also, at the end of the day in your network, if somebody has a deal and you can help them – either buy it, or wholesale it, or do something with it, and capitalize on it – they’re going to remember you down the road. I do a lot of stuff for free, meaning, I don’t get paid for talking on the phone with a newbie investor, or just anybody. I’m always available for a phone call or an email or a text message, and helping grow other people’s businesses while also growing mine.
Theo Hicks: Yeah, I wanted to elaborate on that a little bit. So you mentioned that you recognized you had a natural skill set for networking with other people, but that wasn’t just talking with people.
Ryan Groene: Yeah, exactly.
Theo Hicks: You said that you took it a step further and you were helping them to grow their business. You were doing things for them for free. You talked to newbies over coffee. Can you maybe give us a specific example of a time where you added value to someone for free, and later on long down the road that came back to you in the form of some positive, either financial benefits or some other benefit?
Ryan Groene: Yes. For example, something I still do to this day, I leverage highly— I’m not a cold caller. Nobody really likes cold calling, but I just don’t like doing it at all, and I’ll make up every excuse. So talking about a specific example and what I do in my business – there’s a lot of people that want to get into mobile home parks that maybe don’t have a clue where to start, or they don’t have a database on how to cold call. So I have all that, right? I’ve done all that hard work. We’ve paid all that money, we have that databases. I have access to pretty much all the owners in the space, and then I also have all of their information, right?
So a lot of investors that are out there that are looking to get started, I will give them access to my database, and I say, “Hey, start calling or pay a VA to do this call. And when you get a deal, all I ask is that you give it back to me. I’ve already spent the money. Give me a first look; I’ll help you walk through the deal, I’ll help you analyze it and also help you either place it or I’ll buy it from you.” And I’ve done that a number of times. In the last few years, all my deals have come from assignments, meaning I paid a wholesale fee of X number of dollars. And that’s from a beginning investor who was just looking to grow in the space. I bought exclusively from him, and I’ve also bought a couple deals with another gentleman in Cincinnati as well. So that was just cold calling, and he didn’t necessarily have the knowledge on how to operate a park, so we partnered and I operate the park for him.
Theo Hicks: So for this strategy, you give them access to database, and then if they find a deal, they have to show it to you. Then from that standpoint, the options are you buy it, or you’ll help them figure out what to do with it, whether it be wholesaling it or maybe taking it down themselves.
Ryan Groene: Correct. A lot of people, they call an owner, and a lot of these owners are getting called all the time; but if they’re local to the area or maybe they know something I don’t or maybe that owner just likes that person better. You never know, you might catch that owner on the right day, too. It’s all about timing. All I ask is that I get first look. So really, what that means is if it’s a deal that I think is worth pursuing and maybe I want to buy it, I just ask that they bring it to me. I don’t really ask for anything in return. A lot of the people that I turned databases over to, they last about a month or two, maybe 90 days, and then they’re kind of out, right? A lot of people want to get started. It’s just like anything.
It’s the people that over time that they’ve used it and they abused me, meaning they just constantly blow me up — and I don’t mind that, because I know over a long period of time it will be worth it, because they’ll bring me a deal and it will also make me money, which is what I’m after. I’m looking to grow my business pretty extensively.
So does that kind of answer your—does that—
Theo Hicks: Yeah, 100%.
Ryan Groene: [unintelligible [00:11:32].10] how to use that and stuff. I don’t make them sign anything, I keep it very simple and non-complicated. Because I’ve tried doing that before, and it just complicates things… They don’t really work for me, they just have access to my database, and if they move a deal without me knowing, karma comes around; what goes around comes around, and this industry is very small, so word goes around about your reputation.
Theo Hicks: Exactly. Something else that is interesting—it’s not interesting, but I agree with, and I’ve come across a lot when I’m doing these interviews…. People who are really good at networking, they talk to everyone about what they do, and the reason why is because they never really know if that person is going to be investor in their deal or if they’ll send them a deal, if they’ll be a partner, either right away or in a year from now, or in 10 years from now.
I think I talked to someone just before this conversation with you where he called some guy that he hadn’t talked to in 15 years, and he happened to be in a spot in his life where they were ready to do a deal together. So can you give us an example of a time where this kind of concept of not really knowing when someone’s going to be helpful to your business has occurred for you?
Ryan Groene: Yeah. Recently, actually, somebody that I met years ago in Cincinnati, when I lived in Cincinnati – I owned nothing at the time, I think I was living at home, I was right out of college, probably five or six years ago… We just would have lunch together; I would consider him kind of like a mentor. And then I started growing a little bit more over time, and he was always, “Hey, if you’ve got anything, let me know,” I never really had anything. And then up until recently, we just ended up buying a deal together. And it was a relationship that we kind of just had over the course of five years.
So you never know when something might strike. It’s just always keeping someone in mind… And also investors that are looking to grow too, they’re always putting their [unintelligible [00:13:22].14] out there as well. So it took time. For five years, I never really had anything up until recently that kind of met his standards and metrics, and then we connected on it, and hoping to connect on a few more.
Theo Hicks: Do you have a daily or a weekly routine for your networking? Is there a certain time of the day where you say, “For an hour, I’m going to go on LinkedIn, in my groups, and comment,” or is it more whenever you have available time you focus on your networking? Or is it something that you have scheduled out weeks or months in advance?
Ryan Groene: Typically, if somebody reached out to me on like Facebook or LinkedIn, “Hey, do you want to connect,” or if it’s about a specific deal, I like to schedule calls in the afternoons. Typically, my mornings are consumed with emails, meetings and other [unintelligible [00:14:04].14] moving things towards my actual business and operating my business. I like to do meetings in the afternoons.
Commenting and then returning emails could be in the morning or in the afternoon or at night. It just depends. So yeah, I do book them out. I like to book calls, and that way I know, “Hey, this my set hour that I have for you.” That way, I really don’t have any interruptions, or I can schedule around it.
Theo Hicks: And the last question would be networking and the funds. So you mentioned that for your first deal, you and a few people in your network were actually looking at the same deal, and decided to come together to do it together, and it’s one of your best deals… I guess it’s not necessarily finding the deals, but maybe — because I’m not sure how you fund your deals, like if you’re raising private money. But whether it’s private money or partnerships on actual deals, you kind of mentioned already the cold calling database strategy… But for that first deal, can you kind of walk us through how networking helped you do that deal?
Ryan Groene: Yeah. So strangely enough, it was actually Facebook. So somebody posted, “Hey, I’ve got this deal” in one of the forums on Facebook, or one of the groups, mobile home park groups… And I was like, “Hey, I’m interested.” It’s the right size, right area. Then I found out some other people that are in my network were looking at it as well. So we ended up just connecting and then partnering. We all put money in, and then based on that money, that’s what our equity shares are worth, and then we all have active roles.
All of my deals have been partnerships where everybody’s active. So when I use the term investor, it’s not from a passive sense. It’s more of about they’re an active investor, they’re active JVs, and stuff like that. So I’m not syndicating, deal by deal; joint venture is what I do so.
Theo Hicks: Sure. So for this deal, the partnerships came from Facebook, some of your other deals came from this database… Are those the only two ways you’ve gotten partners?
Ryan Groene: In-person meetups, having coffee with them over time, speaking with them over emails, over phone and then also over Facebook. We knew each other just from—obviously, we took it off of Facebook and we talked on the phone, and we set up different meetings, and stuff like that. Zoom calls, we had meetings about what we think about the deal, who should do what, this, that and the other… And then we meet up normally once or twice a year actually at the property. That’s pretty much it.
So that’s in-person meetups, and then taking that relationship and continuing to nurture and grow it. And then also online, and then taking it offline, like connecting over the phone, connecting over emails, talking about deals, stuff like that.
Theo Hicks: So the last question… For someone who wants to take their business to the next level, they’re listening to this episode, and they comprehend, they understand that networking is very powerful, that their network is their net worth… But they’re saying, “Well, there’s a lot, there’s a lot going on here. There’s a lot different strategies and different techniques.” So what’s the number one thing that someone listening can do today or maybe like this week, that can get them moving in the direction of growing their network?
Ryan Groene: My number one main advice outside of normal Corona times is grab coffee, grab lunch, grab whatever, pay the bill for that person that you take out to lunch or coffee or dinner, for somebody that you want to emulate and be like — for me, there’s other people that are ahead of me in my business, that I will gladly take to coffee, take to lunch and pay for it. Because it might seem like a small amount of money and a small task, but in the long run, that’s kind of my number one advice… Outside of Corona times, try to get in-person, in front of people. And if that’s not your thing, then continue to do the talking on the phone and stuff like that. But in-person, with somebody that you want to be like or you want to get some value from, that’s what I would say. Because at the end of the day, my mentors and coaches, and all that stuff, are people that I’ve learned the most from, and that I’m gladly to take 30 minutes and pay for coffee and all that. I try to do that all the time.
Theo Hicks: Alright, is there anything else that you want to mention about the skill set of networking, or any other call to actions you have before we wrap up the interview?
Ryan Groene: My only thing is, if you’ve been putting off connecting with somebody, just send them a text, shoot them an email; it doesn’t have to actually be face to face. It just takes one thing to get the ball rolling, and you never know when that person or coach or mentor is going to help you.
Theo Hicks: Perfect, Ryan. Well, thank you for joining us again and talking about how networking has helped you grow your business. Lots of advice about networking, so some of the top takeaways, things that resonated with me – as you kind of just mentioned right there at the end, the reason why you want to network, the reason why you want to tell everyone what you’re doing is because it’s going to eventually benefit you, whether it’s immediately or it’s sometime down the road. So you gave the example of someone you met five years ago in Cincinnati. After building that relationship for that time period, you guys bought a deal together.
We talked about another strategy that you do, which is you add value for free at a minor level, relatively speaking; you will go to these different Facebook groups and LinkedIn groups and answer people’s questions and take meeting over coffee, all the way up to giving people access to your database of mobile home owners, so that they can actively, at the very least, practice cold calling people, and at best actually do a deal, either themselves or with you.
We also talked about how you were able to do your first deal over Facebook, through networking. So Facebook, finding partners, cold calling in the database, find partners in in-person meetups and then the best thing people can do is the coffee/dinner/lunch type of meetup, either with newbies or with even better someone who is where you want to be eventually, someone you want to be like. So we want to emulate, take them out and then pay for it to add value that way.
So besides that, there’s lots of other things that you talked about, so again, I really appreciate you coming on and taking the time to speak with us today, Ryan. Best Ever listeners, thank you for listening, have a best ever day and we’ll talk to you tomorrow.
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