You're listening to the REI Marketing Nerds podcast, the leading resource for real estate investors who want to dominate their market online. Dan Barrett is the founder of Ad Words Nerds, a high tech digital agency focusing exclusively on helping real estate investors like you get more leads and deals online, outsmart your competition and live a freer, more awesome life. And now, your host, Dan Barrett.
Dan: Alright. I'm here with Andrew Newland from OzarksHouseBuyers.com. Andrew, how are you, man? What's going on?
Andrew:I'm doing great. How about yourself?
Dan: :I'm doing well. We were just talking. I'm still a little sick, so I've been coughing and hacking my way through the day, but this is the first day in a solid week that I'm actually - I don’t have a fever and I slept more than six hours. So basically, I feel amazing. So that's good. So you're going to get high energy Dan for this interview. But … [0:01:11.7]
Andrew:Looks like we picked the right day.
Dan: :Definitely we could not have done this a different day. But so for people that don’t know you, you are a real estate investor. You're in the Springfield, Missouri and surrounding areas. Can you describe your marketing a little bit? Like where are you investing right now?
Andrew:Yeah, we're in Southwest Missouri. Our hometown is Springfield. To us, it's big, but to most people, it's a pretty small community, 165,000, 170,000 people in Springfield, the metro area roughly about 250,000 - a lot of rural towns that connect right up to it, and that's where we primarily focus on and then we do some investing down in Lubbock, Texas as well.
Dan: :Alright, cool. And so for people that want to check you out there, I know you have a different website for Lubbock, which is 806HouseBuyers.com. [0:02:04.4]
And for people that are listening, we're going to link to Andrew's websites in the show notes for this episode. So if you go to AdWordsNerds.com, you click on the podcast link, you'll be able to find links to Andrew's websites and everything. And I'm really going to encourage people to do that. But before we go down that route, let's stay here and talk about the basics a little bit. So break down for people the kind of investing that you're doing. What's your model right now? Are you flipping, wholesaling - what's your kind of thing?
Andrew:Yeah. We focus on just generating leads, getting a house and finding a good investment property. And then once we have identified that and we moved towards closing, we have three strategies we use. We will wholesale to other investors we work with. That provides the cash for us to keep our operations going. We'll fix and flip one or two projects at a time and then we try to add to our rental portfolio as we go along if the deal fits our criteria. [0:03:03.8]
Dan: :Okay. And how long have you been doing that? How long has this business been in this current iteration?
Andrew:Yeah. We bought our first property in 2013 and bought a couple of properties over a 2-year span and then went full time in 2015 and well, we're still here.
Dan: :Yeah. What were you doing before you were full time?
Andrew:I was in the Army Reserves. I was going to college and I was an apprentice electrician.
Andrew:All at the same time.
Dan: :Yeah, well - that sounds like a lot of stuff to me. I don't know - I've never done any of those things, but that sounds like kind of a lot. So what made you jump into real estate at all? It sounds like you had a lot of stuff going on. So what got you into real estate investing? What was your gateway drug, if you want to call it that?
Andrew:Yeah, my business partner, Josh and I, we have been friends since we were young teenagers and we started working on, a couple of our friends had some rental properties. So we began working on them for them during the summer as side jobs, and we realized what they were doing with their financial future and what real estate was doing for them. [0:04:12.0]
And they kept saying if we knew then what we know now, we would have started at your age. And we just took that to heart. We just took action and said, you know, we really don’t know what this is. We don’t know if we will truly enjoy it, but we like working on houses, so let's give it a shot. So that's exactly what we did. We bought the first house and then got addicted after that.
Dan: :Wow. That's really amazing. You know, it's funny - literally, I was on a call before you and I started talking, and it was someone else who is running a marketing agency and I was having this conversation with them and I was saying, you know, if I could go back two years and tell myself x, y, z - this is what I would say. And as I was talking about that, literally the thought I had in my mind is no one ever follows that advice. You know the advice where you're like, if I could only go back in time and do blah - like, no one ever does that. [0:05:04.1]
And no one ever actually does the thing. So you actually did it, which is pretty amazing. I think especially at a younger age, to have that kind of forward thinking mindset is pretty great.
Andrew:Right. Yeah. I feel like we're lucky that we took action. I, looking back, know kind of like how blind we were, but we just had the hustle and the determination to make it work no matter what, and we just stayed persistent and just kept growing. We have never taken a step back.
Dan: :Yeah. I mean, I think that's really awesome. So are you still in business with that original partner?
Dan: :Awesome, man. That's super cool. So tell me a little bit about your market. So when you're in that Springfield area, is it competitive? Do you have a lot of investors around where you are? Is it, I don't know, just describe to me kind of like what your day-to-day competitive landscape is. [0:06:03.1]
Andrew:Yeah. I, one I think it is all relative. I would love to find a market that is not competitive. Fortunately, in our market, I don’t feel like it's super competitive and I say that not because we don’t have competitors. And when I say "competitors" I am not always talking about other investors, but we're talking about real estate agents. We're talking about other options to those home owners. But we track our leads whether we buy the house or not pretty well and not often do we see "competitor" do a deal that we were working on. It does happen, but not as much as I would expect in order to call this a super competitive market. So definitely, there's competitors out there, but really we work more with them than we do against them. It's a good, stable market. Our medium house price range is 120-130, depending on who you talk to or the source. And we have good stability, so it doesn’t fluctuate as if you were in San Diego or Miami or one of the bigger markets. [0:07:03.9]
So it's a very even, rental market - it's great for rental properties. It's not so much for the fix and flip market. You can, but the margins usually aren’t big enough to outweigh the risks. I mean, a lot of people out of state come to us since we are wholesalers looking to buy properties from us and they have very, very unreasonable expectations especially if they're watching HGTV a lot. And they quickly learn that it's just when the house is $120,000 and up to $150,000, you can't make a $50,000 profit and do a full rehab and make sure that the person you bought it from got a good deal out of it.
Dan: :That's interesting. do you feel like the whole HGTV thing - has that made it easier to work with people because they just have a much deeper understanding or like, you know, I don't know if deeper is a good word for it, but they have more of an understanding of what it is that is actually happening behind the scenes. Does that make it easier to do deals or does that make it harder? [0:08:00.2]
Andrew:Yeah. I think I know what you're asking. Like the public now knows what a roll is. They're starting to put a name on our industry and validate it. Yes and no. I mean, it helps us a lot of times, just going in and talking to the owner. They understand the expensiveness of it and the reality is HGTV prices on rehabs are actually more than what we end up paying. So that benefits us. They see, hey this is bigger, but at the same time, it hurts us too because they see it as a big money ticket and if they're price sensitive, which that happens and usually those are the ones we are not doing a deal with anyways, they see the flashiness of the shows, but in reality, we don’t really come across either way. We don’t get too much feedback because of the shows.
Dan: :Yeah. I can imagine if you're pulling up in your Bentley, getting out with your $5,000,000 suit or something.
Andrew:With a TV crew following me up to the front doorstep and yeah, putting on makeup - yeah. [0:08:58.6]
Dan: :Yeah, I can see how that would make sense. It's really interesting, man. I've been thinking about that lately. It's such a different era for investing because who in their right mind - you know, if you went back to 20 years ago and just said, "Hey, real estate investing is going to be one of the most popular TV show concepts," I don’t think anyone would have bought that. It just really strikes me as a very kind of odd cultural moment that is both good and bad, obviously, but it's been really interesting to watch the effect that's had on the people that we work with and what everybody does.
Dan: :Yeah, it's funny. So for you guys, what's your marketing mix look like? How do you go out and get motivated sellers? Is it a small enough market where you are heavily referral based? Are you doing a lot of direct mail? What's your kind of mix look like?
Andrew:It's our market - it's so small, we feel like we have to do all marketing channels in order to scale the way we want to scale. I have got friends in big cities across the country and I almost envy them - it's like yeah, this is the one channel I do really well at and I go really deep. [0:10:11.3]
We don’t have that luxury, so we do a lot of direct mail. There's a lot of different people we mail to in the area, just saying, hey, this is who we are and this what we do - if we can help, please reach out. We do a lot of AdWords for now, thanks to you guys working on our SEO. We tried Facebook, not a lot of success but I think we have got a game plan to revamp that. Referrals are trickling in more than they have in the past. That's something we are trying to focus on, is to become more of the professional home buyers in the area. You know, the fact that we aren't just out there to lock up a house and try to sell it. We're actually home buyers and we will buy the house regardless of our end strategy. We do a lot of referrals out as well, so we're making good connections. Those are probably our key marketing channels, and then we have a ton of small ones that we're constantly trying - outbound calling, we used to be the horrible people putting out signs - that was not worth the hassle. So there's a ton of small ones we use. [0:11:10.8]
Dan: :Yeah. It is interesting, you're saying if you're in a smaller market, you really have to kind of hit on all cylinders because there's not any one channel that is going to be like, well this channel produces 500 deals a year or something like that. You know what I mean?
Dan: :It's got to be kind of a bringing everything together, which…
Andrew:Yep. We have got to turn over every stone.
Dan: :Yeah, yeah, yeah. You know, it's funny - so I said earlier, I wanted everyone to go check out your website, and you should. So if you are listening to this and not if you're driving. If you're driving and you're listening to this, don’t do this. But if you are listening to this, you're at a computer, you've got your phone or whatever, the website is OzarksHouseBuyers.com. Now, correct me if I'm wrong - I'm almost positive of this but I didn't double check it before we jumped on the phone - did Carina design your website? [0:12:02.7]
Andrew:Yes, sir. That's correct.
Dan: :Okay. So Carina, Carina is the designer at AdWordsNerds.com and we don’t actually do a lot of web design. It's very rare for us, but she kind of designed this website. It is my favorite investor website design I think I've ever seen. I really love it for a variety of reasons. So I definitely want everyone to go check it out. How big do you think online stuff is for you guys, in general? Because some markets, it's bigger than others. Is it a big part of your strategy going forward or is it kind of like well, it's like one arrow in the quiver of arrows? Where does it fit for you guys?
Andrew:Without a doubt, last 12 months or so, it's become one of our main focus. So if I could focus on only two things in business, it would be direct mail and the online presence. And I know online presence is pretty broad, but we're getting great Adwords and I really like the people that reach out to us because they found us. I mean, they weren't solicited by us, and so those are the people that we truly tend to help better and more. [0:13:04.4]
And then with the website, Carina did an absolute amazing job. I kind of gave her an idea of what I was looking for, but said just do it, and then she gave us that concept. We tweaked it a little bit and it turned out exactly what I had imagined, and I get great feedback almost on a daily basis. One thing we also heard, we pay really close attention when we're talking to leads and people that reach out to us is consistently how we present ourselves to the public. We're not hiding behind a name. We're right there. Our face is there. Our name is there. Our phone number is there. We have a ton of reviews, ton of reviews on different platforms. We're real and we try to be as real as possible and it's very clear when you land on our page what to expect from us as well.
Andrew:And we're not pushy. It's like this is the services we have. This is who we are. So by the time someone calls us, they feel comfortable. So yeah, I think from a lead generation standpoint, it's a huge focus of ours but the credibility and setting the stage for a good close needed, it helps as well. [0:14:05.4]
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Dan: :You hit on two - I mean, it's really even just one massive thing. And this is something I have harped on on this show before, but I want to say it again because I think it's really critical and I think, just like you said, you guys do a really good job of this - your faces are on the website. Your names are on the website. There are so many real estate investor sites that you go to and if you want to call them, you have no idea who you are calling. None. You don’t know what their name is. You don’t know anything about them, and I think it creates this very real anxiety barrier for a potential seller to reach out to an investor. And it's like you can just look at the website, you see everybody's faces, you know what you guys look like. I think you've done a great job of that. The other thing that I want people to definitely, like I said, it's OzarksHouseBuyers.com is the website. Go to this website and check out what they've done here. It's really, really good. You guys have done such a good job of highlighting reviews and highlighting Facebook reviews, Google reviews, video reviews. Reviews and testimonials from sellers are one of the biggest selling points of any real estate investor website. They make such a huge difference, and so few investors dedicate the time to actually getting them. So do you guys have a process or a system for going about requesting reviews or getting videos with your sellers? Do you guys go about that in a deliberate way? How do you do that? [0:16:16.9]
Andrew:Yes. It's literally part of our closing checklist. So our sales guy, when he closes the house with the sellers, he is to ask every single time, "Hey, it'd really help us out if I can take a really quick video," and I actually have to admit I have got a ton of videos I've not even uploaded onto the website yet. So it looks good already, but I still have so much more content to put on there. And so he does that every single time at closing. Usually we get, I'd say about 30% to 40% of the time, we get a video. The other percent of the time, it's a good reason why not, because most people we are buying houses from are in a difficult situation…
Andrew:And so they don’t want to broadcast it, and we completely respect that. And then, once the file is closed and our lead manager is going through that file, closing everything out, loading up documents, she always reaches back out to the seller to thank them and make sure that we have covered all of our bases and then also ask, hey, if it's appropriate, would you leave us a review at one of these three sites - every single time. [0:17:08.8]
Dan: :I mean, I think that's so huge. It's like you just said, right - you're not forcing this down people's throats, but you're asking, and just asking, it's this huge step and so if you're listening along with this or you go over to Andrew's site, I want you to think about this this way: If you scroll down his page a little bit on his homepage there, he's got a reviews thing. There's a little button that says "See all our reviews" and they've got a reviews page, and their reviews page does this thing, and this is what I would give as a goal to any real estate investor that is listening to this - if you go to this page, you can scroll down a couple of different times before you get to the bottom of their reviews page. It's just filled with good reviews and testimonials, and there's this really huge psychological effect of the scroll. [0:18:01.0]
I think most people are actually not going to read and watch every testimonial, but if you can get them to get to the reviews page, just be curious about what other people are saying, and they get on that page and they have to scroll multiple times to get to the bottom, what they internalize is these people do a lot of business, a lot of people love doing business with these people, these are quality people, these are trustworthy people. It is absolutely massive. I think you guys have just done a really killer job of doing that. So I think …
Andrew:Thank you - I appreciate it.
Dan: :Yeah, kudos to you.
Andrew:Carina obviously was the true architect of all this, but I do appreciate it.
Dan: :So I'm curious, just sort of a random question - so you guys have the chat window on your website as well, a little thing that pops up and says, "Hey, how are you doing."
Dan: :Do you guys get a lot of inquiries through that thing or not necessarily?
Andrew:We do. I think we have had that for only 3-4 weeks and we have gotten nine solid leads off of it already. [0:19:04.7]
Dan: :Wow. Alright. Cool.
Andrew:I think the way it's presented, though, you can't be in their face and I don’t think the opt in page boxes work. It has to be a subtle - remember, and the key to marketing is give them multiple opportunities to get a hold of you so they can pick one that works best. You should be marketing hey, call or text us. Right? So it eliminates the fear of the phone call, if they'd rather text. The same thing on the site - if they want to talk someone live, I did it myself ordering something online the other day, and the fact that the chat was there, they were able to answer my questions without having to wait on the phone for 10 minutes to get someone that didn't know the answer.
Dan: :Yeah. I think for - it's interesting - we tested them a couple of years ago and they didn't do great, but I think the acceptance of them and the general knowledge of them is a lot higher now than it used to be and I do think that you guys also do it in a good way, where it's relatively not intrusive. It's not preventing me from browsing the website - you know what I mean? [0:20:04.6]
It's like or you've got some of them that make a sound when they open up, and it's like I want to throw my computer out the window. What about your Lubbock investing business? So how different are the two markets and what made you get down into Lubbock in the first place?
Andrew:We were in a mastermind and we met this couple that were trying to do very similar things that we were doing, and they had a lot of other businesses they were running and we had a system, an oiled machine working in the background for our business. So we both realized there was an opportunity - hey, you be our boots one the ground - you be the face, you be the sales. We'll let you use our system. So we kind of just partnered up on that. Josh and I at that time were already talking about, hey, we need to look at going to a different market, so it was a great opportunity to ease into a new market. The market was very, very similar. It's 250, 260,000 people inside Lubbock city limits and it's a college town just like Springfield, very stable, but yet rural - there's no major towns. [0:21:05.0]
We're three hours to St. Louis, 2-1/2 hours from Kansas City. Same thing with Lubbock. So it has a lot of similarities. Price range is very similar. Marketing seems to be feeding the same. So that's helped out a lot and there was not a big learning curve, like going from here to San Diego and like, oh, these houses are seven figures and I buy houses usually between 20,000 to 70,000.
Dan: :Right. Yeah. That's really interesting. I think it makes a ton of sense to expand into a market that's pretty similar to your own just because, like you said, it's the learning curve is so much lower. You know, there's always going to be some stuff that's different. How has it been - so you have a partner yourself in your current business - you're partnering with these other people. As someone who - my business is my own and I always say I would have liked to have a partner. I just never did. How has it been, kind of good or difficult or challenging to work so closely with other people as you grow these businesses? [0:22:08.2]
Andrew:All of the above. It's been great. I truly believe that Josh and I both would have been successful without each other, but without a doubt, we're successful better, longer and happier because of each other. We push each other. Where he's weak, I'm very strong. Where I'm weak, he's very strong. We complement each other very, very well. But because of that, there's always going to be friction. There's always going to be challenges. There's always going to be communication issues. You've got two chiefs running the tribe. It does present some challenges, but we have learned to get past them. We have learned to see that that's a good thing. I think any relationship that ever presents themselves as flawless and everything is good to go, someone is lying to someone, and so I appreciate the candidness and openness and the fact that we're both willing to push each other. So when I'm down, he's up. When he's down, I'm up. Long distance partnership has its own different set of challenges. [0:23:01.7]
You have that plus the communication, the expectations, the inconsistency of face-to-face interaction, which I think is a huge part of business. So it's definitely challenging, but I think the name of the game nowadays is all the information is out there. Everyone knows what to do to succeed in life in business and in real estate. It's how do you get there quicker and leveraging other people's weaknesses and strengths and their knowledge and systems is one of the biggest key parts to that.
Dan: :So, when you were first getting started, right, you were first getting that advice about what I would have done if I knew what I knew now - did you know that your partner kind of complemented you in that way or was that essentially a lucky accident?
Andrew:It was an accident, absolutely. We were just really good friends and we were like, hey, you know, you know how to work on houses. I'm really good with business and sales.
Andrew:Let's do this, and then just over time that we really learned about each other. I was 25 and he was 22, so we were still relatively young in life period, so we didn't know much about ourselves. So it's been a huge, huge learning curve but yeah, I would say it was by accident that we meshed up pretty well. [0:24:15.1]
Dan: :Is that how the division of labor is? Are you kind of like the business, sales, acquisition person and he's the contracting, sort of like actual house work person or is it divided differently?
Andrew:Absolutely, that's what it is. I take us from the first 50 yards. He takes us to the back 50 yards. So I work with the marketing, the sales teams, the acquisition all the way up to contract, and then he takes it over, executes the proper strategy and if it includes the construction, he runs construction.
Dan: :Alright, cool. It's so funny, man, it's like you do a lot of these and you start to see patterns and I think the successful businesses where the partnerships that work well, there's almost always that really starts separation of responsibilities, where it's like you do this part, I do this part. And I think it's weird where it meshes and overlaps is where a lot of the problems end up happening and you get people who are like …
Dan: :… who are both 50/50 and we both do everything. That seems like a recipe for disaster. [0:25:17.7]
Andrew:Well, it creates horrible communication, and then there's no responsibility and there's so much confusion on what is being done and it's not efficient at all. I think I can go back over the last several years and benchmark where we took another step forward and one of those benchmarks is when we both stopped going on appointments together because why were we both spending an hour and a half looking at a house when only one of us needed to.
Andrew:So we were able to scale that. So if you're doing everything together, that's the first thing I would do is just, hey, how about you do this and I do that. And then once we started giving each other our own buckets of the company to focus on and responsibility, we stopped getting in each other's way. We didn't have to get each other's permission. It cleaned up communication and responsibility so we all own our own little thing and that's what we focused on. [0:26:02.2]
Dan: :You know, it's kind of like the secret ingredient to that is trust. Right? Because if you're going to let go of the back half of your business, you've got to trust that other person has got your back. Right? So it's like you guys had the trust there and it's kind of what allows you to specialize and be the best at your part of the business.
Dan: :So, what's your plan? Let's think kind of like long term - what do you guys want to do with this? Is this kind of a business where you're like, hey, we're going to grow it, we're going to keep it kind of where it's at? Is it something that you are really trying to scale? I know you guys are saying you've got a really powerful system in place and it sounds like - like every investor that is really crushing it, you guys are systems oriented. So what's the kind of long-term vision for Ozarks House Buyers?
Andrew:It's going to be a transition, so we're on a cash heavy phase, and I think that's typical for newer, younger teams or investors out there. So we have got our system down. We know how to make operations work. We know how to bring in deals and pay the bills. [0:27:10.8]
So we will, within the next 12 months, start transitioning to more of a hold operation. So we won't take away from it so we have built an operation. We have a team. I love sales. I love managing. I love directing and leading. So that will always be my puppy. I will always grow that as big as we can get it, but the end goal is to be passively free. I think that's very common. I'm not going to be able to do that running a sales team, crushing deals every month. So we will transition to where we're preparing for our future. What that looks like, specifically? We have a hard time putting a name on it because it changes and the market changes, so I don’t want to limit ourselves, but definitely multifamily. We're attracted to self-storage units and mobile home parks as well. But large items is covered by the cash flow that truly is going to get us to where we want to be in life.
Dan: :Yeah. I mean, that's, it sounds amazing, man. I think you're right - it's like it's so much work to grow a business from zero to one. Right? [0:28:06.4]
It's so much work to go from nothing to something, especially something that's stable. And having that kind of passive aspect of that is just such a big force multiplier because then you're really free to do anything. Right? If that business runs without you and you're providing cash flow, then you only have to do the thing that you really want to do, and that's a really, really powerful place to be.
Andrew:It creates that time and that room for creativity because then you can start thinking elsewhere. We're all stuck in I have to do this, but when you remove yourself from that, then your time is now freed up to be creative, to build and scale or go into something else that you want to do.
Dan: :Yeah. And that's when you really break open interesting parts of the market. Right? You start to see new ideas, new models emerge and there's a ton of room for that, I think, in investing. So that's super, super exciting. For people that want to learn more about you guys and what you're doing, where should they find you online? [0:29:06.0]
Andrew:Yeah, they can go to OzarksHouseBuyers.com, our website. If they're in the Texas market, they can go to 806HouseBuyers.com as well. We're on Facebook; you can look up Ozarks House Buyers on our Facebook page or you can just look me up - Andrew Newland as well. If you reach out to us, we'll gladly help any way we possibly can.
Dan: :Alright, cool. And I will definitely link to both websites, the Facebook page, and I'll link to Andrew, if that's cool, I'll link to your Facebook as well so people can find you. And yeah man, this was an absolute pleasure. I really enjoyed it, getting to know a little bit more about you and what you guys are doing. And again, if you guys are listening to this, if you're an investor and you want to see someone who has done a killer job on their online presence, and I really mean that - definitely go check out OzarksHouseBuyers.com. I highly recommend it. Andrew, thank you so much for coming on, man. It was my pleasure. And thank you so much for being on the show.
Andrew:Thank you, Dan. I appreciate your time and you're team.
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