#12 How to work in multiple markets with James Hawk
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Guest Bio: James Hawk is the founder of REI Automator. He wholesales in multiple markets. He’s doing over a hundred transactions a year and has an awesome education and software business.
Welcome to today’s show. We have an awesome guest today, Mr. James Hawk, out of Florida. He hosts sales in multiple markets. He’s doing over a hundred transactions a year and has an awesome education and software business. He’s the founder of REI Automator. Excited to have you on the show. What’s going on, James? How you doing bud?
Thanks man. Hey, I’m excited to be on here. I appreciate you inviting me.
Absolutely, man. So one of the things that I noticed about you and it’s kinda hard doing this is that you don’t do deals in your own backyard. So you live in Southern Florida, but you do deals in other parts of Florida. So tell me a little bit about that, why you picked your market, how you’re doing those deals and just tell me a little bit about your operation.
Sure, sure. So we have a team of about eight people like in Jacksonville, right? And I have a business partner that lives in Jacksonville. I’m from St. Augustine. So I grew up there. I know the market really, really well that’s our primary is like all that, like Northeast Florida, those top three counties. So I have a team up there. I live in Miami now and then we also like market in Orlando in some of like central Florida as well, but we are virtual, right? Like we actually have two offices up there one, we own one we’ve rent and no one’s ever there. Right. So everyone, everyone worked from home. And then we have some VAS as well and stuff like that. But yeah, I mean, it obviously makes it much easier that I do have a business partner that is physically there.
So you told me the story just a little bit ago about how you guys met. So you guys came across each other, I think you said from Craigslist, you guys did a deal together, made a bunch of money made like a 6 figure paycheck on a deal so tell us how that goes. Like, you know, business partnerships are, it can be really tough, but they can also be very profitable. So tell me a little bit more about that, how you set that up and how you guys structured that.
Sure, sure. So in 2013 he was posting this one deal on Craigslist that I seen, I run across it a few times. So I reached out to him knew he would be another wholesaler and, you know, like we decided, Hey, let’s, let’s meet up at this property and meet. So we met that day and then we started talking. I was like, Hey, you know, I have this lead in Ponte Vedra which is like a very like upscale really, really nice, like wealthy area. If you like golf, the players championship, that’s where the flares championship is held every year. So anyway, we go over there, this property just for him to, we just met each other to take a look and you know, we’re walking it and we’re both just talking about man. You know, we had never like fixed and flipped a property, either one of us at that point. So he was like, what if I bring the money? You go lock up the deal. And we flipped this together and, you know, look our values and everything seemed like they were aligned so I was a little hesitant first. I’m sure he was as well but you know, we decided to do it. We made the agreement and yeah, it worked out really, really well, man. I mean, that was like our first like fix and flip to where, you know, we’re both doing the home Depot and Lowe’s thing, you know, that whole deal. And we made just over a hundred thousand dollars on the deal. So it obviously went really well. But what we noticed in the process is our different skill sets, right? Like, so it’s kind of like the ying and the yang, like what I’m great at, you know, he might not be as good at and then vice versa.
So, you know, we decided, Hey, what if we just put our companies together, merge them and then went out there and tried to divide and conquer, right? Like you, now we have like all the strengths, right. We really need to absolutely crush. And it’s worked out really, really well. I mean, partnerships can be tough, right? Like, is there a times where there’s disagreements and everything like that we both have such a high level of respect for one another. We hear each other out if there’s ever an issue it’s addressed immediately and then we just work it out. Right. So that’s how we’ve been able to move on. We, we leave our ego at the door. It’s never about that. And that’s one of the biggest things that, you know, really kill partnerships when you think about it is, Hey, I’m right. I want to do this and I’m not flexible or negotiable at all. And you know, that ends up usually killing, sorry.
Right. And I’m sure you got to really know each other on that first transaction. Because I imagine if he made a hundred grand on it, you probably had to do quite a bit of work. There was quite a bit you know, there’s a lot of details that go into transaction. And when I work with somebody even like just within a short amount of time, I can tell how they work. Do they do what they say they’re going to do? Do they do things on time? You know, that kind of thing. So I think whether it’s a partnership or someone you’re with that you’re working with, that’s super important. It’s like how you jive with that person and how you work with them. And there’s a lot of adversity. Right? You get to see what people are made of when there’s adversity. So I imagine you probably got to see some things within that project that probably weren’t going a hundred percent the way you wanted to, but you could see how your partner reacted. Right?
Absolutely. That’s a great point. A very, very good point. So yeah, during that entire process, we learned a lot about one another, right? So we learned like where our, like I said, where our real values were you know, how he works, how I work, does that mesh well together. And again, like, you know, at the end of it, we really, we realized that our skill sets compliment one another and our values were aligned and, you know, we’d build up a, you know, a real strong amount of trust for one another going through that process. So we decided to like I said, go out and merge those companies together and its it’s been history ever since. Right. So it’s being good.
Awesome. So tell us about so you did the flicks and flip there. I mentioned you, you have a wholesaling business, but you do some flips as well. So what do you decide that you wholesale and what do you decide that you actually rehab and flip?
Yes, for the flips and over the years we went back and forth. There’s been times where we were only fixing, flipping where there’s times where we were only wholesaling. Right. So we’ve, we’ve been down the road of, you know, really trying to figure out what we wanted the business to be. And now it’s just a blend again right of both of those. This year we’ll probably fix and flip like 55 or 60 houses and then we’ll probably wholesale, you know, like I said around the a hundred or so. But what we do is we’re looking for the most desirable properties that are going to move the fastest that are like $30,000 and under rehabs we only in special cases, will we take on some of those bigger, bigger projects like that we would back in the day. So we’re looking for the in and outs, right? Like if we can make double the amount that we would wholesaling it and you know, it’s going to be an easy turn that we know will sell quick. We have strong crews and everything, then we’ll go ahead and rehab it.
Right. Do you ever wholesale properties? So for the listeners that don’t know what wholesaling is, it’s basically closing on a property, doing a little bit of work to it and put it on the market, not doing a full rehab. So it’s not quite a wholesale and it’s not quite a, a rehab or wholesale or a retail. Right now we’re doing a bunch of those. I mean, we just clean properties up, we close on them, we put them on the market and people are fighting over them as that’s something that you guys do as well.
Yes we do. We do some of those as well. We do more, more like fix and flip. But yes we do some hotels.
Yeah. Well, cool. So how does your organization run? So, you know, once you get to like even just 10 to 20 transactions a year, you really need help. Right? So obviously you’ve probably grown a team, show us how that, tell us a little about how that structure is, how you manage them, how you, you know, have built a culture and kind of how you manage your team and how that part of the business runs.
Sure. So we have what, like an office manager, right? Like an operations manager. She’s been with us like four years now. She’s amazing. She knows the business in and out. So she’s really like come up from within the company which I think is amazing. Like when you’re trying to put someone in that type of role, it’s hard to bring in someone from the outside that doesn’t really understand your business and put them at that high level over everyone. So we groomed her to basically come up. She’s fantastic. She manages like all the day to day. And then Hunter and I obviously she reports to us. So if there’s issues that need to be addressed with like the marketing the sales side, you know, dispositions, whatever it is, then she would bring that to us. She runs the morning meetings. We do like a weekly operations meeting and then like one weekly team meeting with everyone together. And, you know, for the rest of the week she is managing them. And then I will communicate with the sales and marketing side as well when needed so I’m involved with that, but yeah, for the most part, she plays a big part in like managing the day to day for us.
Would you call her your integrator? Because you know, with most businesses there’s visionaries, right? There’s those that want to do it. Right. I think most, I think most entrepreneurs are visionaries.
That’s Hunter too, by the way, there are two visionaries.
Well you need, you, you need your operations manager, right? You need someone to take the details of, of the day to day operations, run them, make sure all the I’s are dotted T’s are cross because we’re out there going and, you know, create new ideas and, you know thinking of new things to add to the business. Right. So, so how did you find her? So she’s been with you for years now. How did you find her and I guess tell us a little bit about how you brought her into the business.
Sure, so Hunter played a big role in this one. I got to give him the credit because he was dealing with the insurance, like for our properties. Right. So at the time we were using an insurance company right across the street from from our office and she was writing policies over there and she was phenomenal, right. Like, so we really liked her a lot. And she came over and interviewed she started as transaction coordinator and then also like lead coordinator. So like a blend of that and then she just moved up from there. So, you know, some of, some of the most key people, what I, what I’ve found to be true you know, that you go to hire, sometimes they’re, they’re already getting your network somewhere, the right person that you’re looking for. If you just really like open your eyes and look at who you already have around you, who do you have some type of relationship with already in the business, whether it’s a vendor or whatever, not suggesting go out there and try to steal people. Right. But she like really opened up to us about how she was interested in it. Didn’t like we went over there and tried to recruit her. Right. So she opened up to us and gave us interest and you know, moving over, working with us and interest in the business. So we explored that and allowed her to interview and she did really, really great. And we hired her and then that’s, that’s it, you know, we’ve invested in training for her like management training and everything like that. We brought someone in to spend like three days with her and she has like ongoing calls. So, you know, we invested in her, right? Like you invest in the right people and they’ll shine
Yeah. So I’ve found that when I hire someone, there’s usually two different sources of finding them that most people don’t use. So there’s obviously like, indeed there’s Craigslist, there’s all those other things. So I’ve hired people similar to you, to where I,worked with them and just goes back to the same thing. When you work with someone enough, you get to know how they, how they are. So I’ve hired people that way as well, where I worked with them outside of the organization on something else. And I said, Hey, you want to come work for us? And then the other one’s referrals. So I don’t know if you have people in your organization that have been referrals, but referrals are the best source. I feel like, because if someone’s referring someone, your organization, then they probably know who they are. They can vouch for them. They don’t want to put their name on the line. That’s a good source of you know, hires as well. Have you, have you hired anybody from referral sources before?
Yes. Yes we have. We’ve had, I had a couple of them. One is still there and then one, we ended up having to let go. But the one that we let go, she did work with us almost two years. And she was the lead coordinator for like phenomenal at all of the organization side of it. Right. Like, and being like very much assistant to acquisitions and making sure, because typically salespeople aren’t the most organized. Right. We all know that. So she, she played that role really, really well, but, you know, I think she started going through some personal stuff and then eventually like the quality of like tonality of her voice and just the quality of her, like on the phone with people just went down to a point where we couldn’t avoid it anymore. And, you know, unfortunately we had to remove her, but other than that, like I’ve had good experience with them referrals as well.
So let’s talk about REI Automator. So I mentioned that earlier, a pretty cool program. I actually just signed up for it and get getting ready to download some lists. So tell us how you started that. So you’re a real estate investor. REI Automator is a real estate investor program that downloads you can download lists and do some other automation. So I guess tell us a little bit about REI Automator, how you decided to come up with that and what else you’re planning on doing with that as well?
Sure, sure. So someone presented to me actually I was working with a mail company at the time this was a few years ago and I said, Hey, if you see anything out there that really, really looks cool. You know what I mean? Like as far as like the software side we’re looking to invest in something, buy something, whatever it is. Right. So I went on a little, like I want to buy some businesses kick for awhile and he presented me with this. So it’s, we basically white labeled an existing software that was already on the market and then added in like some additional features, packaged it with like some training. Now we have like the free course that comes with it, all this stuff that you actually need to do deals we put in there, right. That was in addition to what was being offered before with just that software that was out there on the market. But I mean, I couldn’t be more excited about it. You probably don’t even know this, but Sean Terry is actually a business partner in there with me as well. So we brought Sean and he was blown away by it. He uses it in his business every single day. And dude, yeah, we’re gonna integrate, like you mentioned earlier, the texting in there so that’s coming very, very soon and I’m also working on the CRM side as well to get that integrated. But I mean, literally anything that you can think about other than that, like the CRM side and like the text marketing is in there, the highest quality data by far we use all three of the main data providers out there for real estate related data and filter it all through for accuracy. So it’s just again, like I use it in my business every single day and many, many other people do as well. And it’s just an incredible tool.
So you download basically leads. You get him skip traced, you can upload them, send out a mail campaign, you’re getting ready to be able to have a text feature and then there’s something else I’m missing as well. Isn’t there another feature in there that it has?
Well, I mean, it has any, any of the data almost that you could think about. We’re only missing a couple of lists. Like we even have tax link when it’s all that stuff. We have cash buyers. Now the app is out so many people don’t even realize this, but we have advanced driving for dollars, like technology in there. So where you can like anything out there right now that does drive them for dollars. Like we leveled that up. So we basically put like everything that you have online in your pocket. So if you want to do a CMA and like a couple clicks, boom, you got to see a man. I mean there’s nationwide MLS access. So we even have sales prices in nondisclosure States. Obviously they can never be a hundred percent accurate all the time, but that is something that’s really cool that’s in there so yeah, I mean there’s a lot, man, like heat map, if want to do analysis on price, growth, rent growth. If you want to estimate rehabs, we’re integrated with a blue hammer, which goes and pulls local market data and every market on the average labor cost average material costs. So you can build really in depth rehab analysis proformas, like it’s all in there.
Awesome man, it’s really important to have like, you know, good software and especially something that’s automated because to be able to download a list, have it skipped traced, put it in a mail campaign to do all of that. And just, you know, one, two, three steps is, is super important, especially if you’re mailing out and you know, doing thousands or tens of thousands of mailers every single month. So that’s pretty awesome. So the CRM you’re going to integrate with REI Automator or is that going to be a standalone a standalone company?
No. So It will be available just as a standalone as well, but I am planning on doing an integration, right? Like that’s, that’s the goal is to create this as like the one stop, everything that you need for the business, rather you’re brand new, you’re an advanced investor. So from beginner all the way until someone doing, you know, hundreds of deals a year, it’s going to work just as well for you. So that’s the goal that I’m working towards right now. And that CRM, like I mentioned to you earlier, I have $20,000 plus invested in Podio right now. And man, it’s still just not there. You know? So I just, I think it’s a real need. That’s one of the biggest questions I hear all the time is CRM, CRM, CRM. So we went out and we hired a developer and now we’re going to build out based on everything that we know, what we would like to see you know, I’m the best, you know, the best CRM that a real estate investor would have immediate access to that would work for their business.
So what is working for you right now? As far as marketing? Because obviously the competition in the last few years has become pretty fierce. A lot of people are doing a lot of the same things what’s working for you guys right now. And is there anything that you’re looking at implementing in like in the near future that you haven’t done in the past?
Yeah. This is a great question we do a lot of texting. We still do a lot of direct mail. I mean, I, there hasn’t been a week. That’s went by since, you know, 2000, probably 2012 that I haven’t sent direct mail. So I mean I literally, we just never stopped and all that momentum is it’s paid off. Right. It’s still some of our biggest deals, believe it or not come from a direct mail, but yeah, so I like texting, I like direct mail. We do a little bit of cold calling we do PPC. We run some Facebook ads and you know, we we’ve tried just about everything, right? Like we’ve done radio, we’ve done TV, we’ve done all that stuff. But those marketing challenge right there that we’re using right now seem to be performing the best and to answer the part to that question, what we want to ramp up even more is texting, even though it’s super hot and it’s very, very competitive. I think that a lot of people aren’t doing it like, well though, you know what I mean? It’s just very like blowing go, you know, send out 20,000 a day and just go through and pick the low hanging fruit where I see the bigger opportunity in texting is trying to, you know, build relationships, you know, set up that rapport to where you can have strong follow up with all these people and close them later in the selling cycle. So I like that a lot more like really getting in and trying to you know, have conversations with people and the majority of people I talked to or just more so like just pick the low hanging fruit out of there. So I think a lot of money is being left on the table, even with the people that are out there doing it.
Yep. Cool. So what do you feel like is, I guess something you can share with our listeners that has gotten you from where you started, what’s it been about 10 years now to doing over a hundred deals a year? Because like, you know, I mentioned this quite a bit that like, it’s hard for some people to find one deal like their first deal, let alone do be doing, you know, 10 transactions a month. So what do you feel like is, I don’t want to say the secret, but like I guess kind of something you can share that kind of got you to the point where it gave you momentum to get where you are now.
I mean, and I’m sure You’ve heard this a million times and you already know what the answer is, but it’s consistency in marketing. That’s, that’s really it. Like, you gotta stay consistent if you want to build that momentum. Right. It’s, it’s simple. When you really think about it, like to get consistent deals, you need consistent leads to make consistent offers. So that that’s really it. Like, and everyone, I feel like goes through this, this little like motion when they start and you know, they’re scrambling, right? So they get a deal then they’re like, alright, now I got to sell the deal. So I don’t have time to market and take all these calls or like whatever they’re doing over there. So they focus on selling the deal and then they, they just get caught in this vicious cycle until finally you realize, okay, so I have to be consistent over here. Like once you’ve done a couple of deals, you can probably hire someone to make sure your marketing is consistent. So that’s really, I mean the consistency man is Key and then, you know, willing to market when other people, You know, like around Christmas, not a lot of people are willing to Mark around the holidays, take time off stuff like that. You build the process and system outs where you are always marketing every day of the year in some way and it’s inevitable as long as you can close the deal, you’re going to be doing deals consist.
Yeah. And some people are worried about funding and you know, some other things and it’s like, man, if you’ve got a deal, that’s good. You can figure out how to get it funded. You can figure out who to sell it to. Like, that’s the main thing, just consistency and like finding the deals, you find it, you can figure out how to do it and make it happen for sure.
I agree, man.100% percent.
Yeah. So tell us What about your So you told us a little bit about your team are you looking to add people to your team? Do you feel like you’ve got your team where it needs to be like, what are your future plans?
So we’re gonna add more sales right now. And then on this side on like the REI Automator side and everything else hiring two people immediately for that and so, yeah, right now we’re looking for about four people and then after that, there’s probably going to be about one more role in the business, the actual house flipping business. And then after that, we, we should be rocking and rolling for what we’re trying to achieve. I mean we’re not really interested and, you know, growing this into, you know, a 1000, 2000 deals like a year business, right? Like there, there’s a lot of other ways that you can do, you know, a couple hundred deals a year, whatever do really, really well. And then reinvest that into more of the wealth building strategies that, that peaks our interest a lot more than, you know, staying in the grind every day of just wholesaling and I mean, because this transaction at the end of the day, right. And we stopped doing deals, stop making money.
Yep. Absolutely. So sorry to skip back. I forgot. I forgot to ask you, you said consistency with marketing, so direct mail. So I’ve had this conversation with many people and I want to get your opinion on it. From a direct mail standpoint, when you buy a list, is it your opinion that you buy multiple lists and just mail them once and just, you know, find different lists or do you, do you Mail that list a certain amount of times to make sure that they get your message enough that they remember you and finally ended up calling you if they don’t call even the first and the first mailer?
Yeah. So depending on the list of we’re going to hit them four to six times, at least and what’s cool with, obviously we pull the data out of REI Automator. So there’s a feature in there. That’s like a list stacking feature. That’s an add on it’s like $27 a month. And what it’ll do is auto update all of your lists. So you can stack motivations, like it’ll track, like how you’ve marketed to that individual lead and then, you know, so your list is always fresh. If a house sells, then it automatically pulls it off of that list for you. So it’s always like fresh data and we’re going to just keep hitting it. You know what I mean? Like that’s really how we found a lot of success in direct mail if we were just mailing a list once that would be in my opinion, that’s that just doesn’t make a lot of sense for direct mail.
Well, awesome. So push button marketing. I love it. So when you said list stacking, so I just, I just heard this term recently. I hadn’t heard that before. I guess it’s become more popular recently. I’ve been in business 20 years and finally just, just heard about it. So for those who maybe didn’t understand, I wanna, I want to make sure I understand it correctly. List stacking is basically buying multiple lists and then seeing what names are on multiple lists so that you can hit those people and make sure you really concentrate on those because there’s a greater chance they’re going to sell their house. Am I right on that?
You’re right on that buddy. You’re right on that. So it’s essentially finding the patterns, right? Like people that are on multiple lists that have multiple distress indicators, you know, maybe they have a lien here and then, you know, they’re also going through a divorce or something like that. So the probability of them selling become much greater.
Cool. Anything else you want to share to the listeners before we jump off? Any other words of wisdom or anything else you want to share that has been really helpful to you in your real estate business?
Well, I, I mean, I will share this about anyone. That’s actually in a business partnership out there because every time I do a podcast, I always usually talk about that a lot, because many people go through this, right. Have a business partner and a lot of people fail at it. Right. And,uyou know, so I get that a lot and really, it just comes down to look, if you do have a business partner, you gotta be able to really just put the, go to the side, right? Like, and work at things together, make sure the vision is aligned. All right. You can not be working towards two different things. So if you are going to go to the business partner route, you got to make sure that you have 100% clarity right on that both of you are moving in the same direction with the same goals in mind. And I would recommend doing at a minimum if not every quarter, right? Like at least at a minimum every quarter, but maybe even a monthly like meeting where it’s just you two or three or however many it is. And you just say like an alignment meeting, make sure that you’re still aligned in moving towards those same goals because time, you know, distractions that are going on in life, shiny objects before, you know, it, it doesn’t take long before you start like pivoting and moving in different directions. So keep that alignment. And that is one of the keys of a great business partnership.
Good stuff. I think it’s even the same way with employees and employees that need to have the same values. Employees need to be aligned with the goals and the motivations of the company. So I would take that into every part of your organization and probably even your contractors, you know, like, yeah, it might be a little bit tougher, you know, you, they may not be a hundred percent aligned, but the more you can get aligned with the people you work with about ourselves,uappreciate you joining us, James. Thanks for your words of wisdom. REI Automator, we’ll put a link down below so you can go check it out. Uhood stuff. So I appreciate it, James and we’ll uhe’ll touch base again soon, man.
Thanks for having me on brother. I appreciate it.
Alright. Have a good one, man.