Alex Brant
Simple Quarters

Episode Summary

In this awesome episode of Supercharged! we dive back into the world of Real Estate Investing with Alex Brant from SimpleQuarters & SimpleWholesaling. 

Alex’s companies started out using Podio with a pre-built InvestorFuse system, and have spent the last year customising their system to increase their efficiency and productivity!

We talk to Alex about how eSignature integration saves his team hours of work each week as contracts are automatically generated and sent and signed. We look at how Podio helps them market by automatically sending email blasts, texts, follow up communications and postcards. 

For anyone in the Real Estate Investing community who wants to start performing better, we recommend listing to this podcast!

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Speaker 1: 0:00

Welcome to powered by Podio. Automation is everything. Super. Charge your business with Podio. Get ready for another episode of supercharged with Jordan Samuel Fleming, your weekly dive into the awesome impact workflow and automation can have on your business when it’s powered by Podio. Join US each week as we learn from the top Podio partners in the world as we investigate system integrations and add ons and hear from real business owners who have implemented Podio into their business. Now join your host, Jordan, Samuel Fleming, CEO of Gamechangers for this week’s episode.

Jordan: 0:45

Hey everybody. Welcome to this episode of supercharged! I’m your host, Jordan Samuel Fleming. He had to talk all about the power of workflow and automation when your business is Powered by Podio. Today’s guest is Alex Brant from real estate investor companies Simple Quarters and Simple Wholesaling. We know that real estate investors are a big advocate of Podio, so I’m really looking forward today to hearing from Alex about how they use Podio and what they’ve learned. Alex, welcome to the podcast. Introduce yourself.

Alex: 1:12

Thanks man. I’m glad to be here. So yeah, I’m Alex. I work with Simple Quarters and Simple Wholesaling. I do a lot of the systems stuff as well as marketing. I kind of run all the background. Anytime there’s any issues or anything that can be improved, I’m there to help.

Jordan: 1:29

And just so people understand the type of business you guys do, um, can you just kind of give an overview of the type of business you do? Um, so that they know, you know, cause there’s so many, there’s, there’s the flippers, there’s the buy and holds his, you know, wholesalers. So what do you guys focus on?

Alex: 1:43

Yeah, exactly. So we do wholesaling. Um, we’ve focused on that primarily. Um, you know, basically we market out to any potential sellers, um, through direct mail, through a dump, a bunch of other sources as far as, um, on online presence, organic, um, you know, ranking all of that. Um, and then we kind of have all of our leads go into Podio, which we’ll talk about here in a second. Um, we wholesale and we actually buy them directly from the owners, um, versus assigning. So that’s kind of a benefit of working with us. And we can kind of go into that too as well. So that’s it.

Jordan: 2:21

Excellent. And uh, so you guys, how long have you guys been working with Podio?

Alex: 2:26

Yeah, so we actually started in December of 2017 and so we’re going about a year and a half now, year and a half.

Jordan: 2:36

And um, and did you, I mean, uh, you obviously took a leap into Podio and you’d started and then what did you end up doing? What, like what was the journey you guys went through?

Alex: 2:48

Yeah, so, um, we kind of went with a custom build of Podio to start something that was kind of prebuilt, um, for primarily wholesalers and real estate investors. Um, but then we started to realize that a lot of what we needed to not fit that mold, you know, that 80% of people don’t use, um, you know, a lot of tasks. We’re going back and forth and just getting lost in translation. Um, so we try to start to build that out a little bit. Um, so that’s kind of one piece on the acquisition side, there’s just a lot of tasks going back. And forth. Um, so we’ve created a system where with Gamechangers, um, we’re able to quickly see a status of any given, um, lead and we can quickly see that in any kind of filter inside Podio. And then we’ve also created a system on the disposition side, um, where it walks through everything from the title company, um, to if we go to market it to any potential buyers. Um, we’ve created a whole system there. It for email blasting.

Jordan: 3:52

Yeah. I, I uh, I will put my hands up and say full disclosure to people listening. Um, my company does work with Alex as Podio consultancy. So I, uh, I actually don’t know the system as well as some of my team who know your system really well. But, um, but you know, I’ve watched your system grow and you, you are one of the ones that you guys have been really quite aggressive at, uh, at chiming into other systems to make your workflow automated. So if we think about the different systems you’ve connected to in the benefit that’s brought to you, there’s e signature, there’s a trust pilot, although there was some glitches with that. I’m pretty sure from their end, I don’t remember if there that’s still ongoing, but trust pilot was being a real, really annoying with their API. Um, and then there’s I think. And then, um, I don’t even know what else. So, so talk, talk to me about how you’ve managed to make Podio connect to other things and what that’s brought you and what, why that’s been a big change.

Alex: 5:02

Yeah. So kind of talk about all those that you talked about. So, uh, you know, basically we’ve created a transactions APP. Once we get a contract, um, you know, agreed upon with this seller or owner and we agree to buy it from them. Um, there’s a couple things that happen. So we have a mail gun, which is one that we’ve set up and that’s just an email service that allows you to blast out, whether it be our cash buyers or sellers. Um, anyone else in our contacts or podcasts. We have our own podcasts and anyone that wants to reach out to us, um, we have a way to contact him directly through Podio. I’m kind of based at where it’s at in the process. So for example, we get a contract and we send it to the title company and it all happens automatically for mailgun super, uh, super efficient and we’re not having to spend half our day, you know, creating and writing those up, attaching documents. It all happens right from Podio. So that’s super efficient, super awesome.

Jordan: 6:05

So that saves you a lot of time then like that’s what, what would be the set? So before manually you’d have to create the documents, create an email, send it out. And now if I recall your system, it’s basically kind of click a button.

Alex: 6:20

Yup. And it goes right? It goes, yeah, it figures out who the wholesaler is that we’re buying it from. If it’s an assignment or figures out who the seller is and it goes and, and that’s it. We’re not pulling all that information together. When I spend time proofreading emails, it just happens automatically. So, so, yeah. Uh, and then once we close the transaction, um, we have this thing called lob set up and they just send some automatic automatic thank you cards. I’m just goes out thinking either the buyer or the seller, depending on which side of the transaction, um, for working with us and asks, you know, basically for review and kind of goes from that point. I’m just a nice little personalized touch on that. And then there’s trust pilot, which is another kind of review source and that’s, it has a lot of Linking with Google, um, kind of helps with some of our organic pages as well as gives us an outside reviewer outside of Google because Google can, you can kind of inflate that trust pilot is a little bit more verified. Um, and then, yeah, I mean are, those are some great tools that we have, um, as far as linking stuff from third parties into Podio. Um, and we have some, some Zapier stuff as well, but that’s, that’s kind of what links all that is through, through Zapier. So.

Jordan: 7:38

Sure. And, and in terms of, you know, I guess where people, um, where you are able to link into systems like Um, uh, and by the way, did you know, just out of curiosity with law, uh, they’ve got their address, Verification Service is API driven as well. Okay. So you can actually query addresses and see if and see if the person, if it’s a V, if they’ve got a verified person there, um, which may, you know, which can cut down on marketing cards if you’re, you know, you can cut out some people at sometime. Um, but, but in terms of like RightSignature email blasting, for those of you don’t know, email mail gun, which is a tool you use is an API driven transactional email server, which we can use with Podio to blast out to however many email addresses either as a blast. Like I want to send one email to 15,000 people or as just, I want to send one email to this person. Um, and Mailgun is free for the first 10,000 emails a month and then it’s $5 a month for every 10,000 after.

Alex: 8:49

Yeah. It’s super cheap. I mean, what are you talking about?

Jordan: 8:52

I mean, even if you’re sending 50,000 emails, who cares? It’s, that’s not a lot of money. Okay. Um, so I, you know, and then, um, let’s just go in terms of how the Podio system you’ve got and how you’re organizing workflow because that’s another thing, you know, the automation you’ve talked about and the saving of time that’s just amazing. Like that is gold. But what about just the, the transparency and organization? How is Podio helps you with that or, or, or not as the case may be?

Alex: 9:26

Yeah, it’s super simple. We have, um, or 15 different lead sources. Um, and to manage all of that just through email or excel or whatever kind of other system is out there at the level we’re at is just too much to manage outside of a system that combines it all and makes it all seamless and one system. Uh, so what we have is a system where, you know, whatever type of lead source, whether it’s from a web form, some from someone that’s inbound calling, um, to a PPC lead, which is pay per click on Google, um, or if it’s a motivated seller lead from one of our lead sources that we buy from. It all goes into Podio. It all tags a campaign. And then from that point we can see very quickly was a filter, um, what status that lead is and um, ended up from that point. Um, we basically have a lead manager that puts out all of our, um, tasks or anything else as far as getting information from the sellers. Um, and then our acquisition managers can handle it super simple and they just look at, you know, what, what status they’re supposed to look out for the day. Um, so for example, you know, they might look at all the offer ready for the day and they can just quickly click on all of those offers, send them out, super simple to look at, and it’s all in one place.

Jordan: 10:54

Perfect. Now, one of the things I’ve heard from a lot of real estate investors and I, I mean I’m not a real of the investor and I’m never going to be one, but um, is that the followup is critical. Um, you know, people lose leads because they lose, they never bothered with the follow up. Um, what has been your solution for that in Podio?

Alex: 11:13

Yeah, so we have a followup system based on anywhere from, we can’t reach him for the first contact. They’ve left us as a voicemail after hours or they’ve put in a web form. We try to reach out to them. We can’t get ahold of them for whatever reason. We have a system that follows up with them for up to a year and a half. Um, at any point in the process from, from that first initial trying to get information to, we’ve given them an offer and we’re waiting on a response. Um, there’s a system in there that has text blasting, has ringless voicemails. It has, um, emails. And then it also has, we actually like to send some offers once we know some details about the property. We’ll just send some offers out to them, either through their email or in the mail through lob, which we had talked about that already. So, um, yes, so super, super good. We get a lot of responses from that and, uh, it allows us to, um, get more leads that we might not be able to manage, you know, out of all the leads we have and put some on these automations that it kind of help in addition to, you know, cold calling and calling out to, to get ahold of him.

Jordan: 12:23

And would you agree, I mean like if you’re, if we’re talking, you know, a real estate investment company and maybe just looking into Podio, um, you know, and, and thinking about, you know, what are the things they need to focus on, what would you say is, is a good first? Like, is is the followup a critical element for maybe getting started? Or like where would your instinct be just having seen it and having kind of seen how the system developed for you?

Alex: 12:51

Yeah. So, um, I don’t know if I should talk about this too much, but we’ve, we’ve gotten to, we first started out with the InvestorFuse system, which is a prebuilt Podio system and it has a lot of that followup already built into it. So you literally, it’s plugin play. Um, you put your leaves there, you click a button and it starts. Now obviously we’ve customized it a lot with Gamechangers to, to do some further functionality. Um, but it’s super, super rate ago. Um, and once you start, you know, you have an acquisition manager going through, taking those leads, taking notes down, following up with them manually, and then you get to that point or eventually you need to probably put some of them on automation just so you can free up some of your time. Um, and that, that’s probably the crucial part so you can get more deal flow coming in and, uh, eventually win more deals.

Jordan: 13:44

It certainly sounds from, from what we’ve heard from a lot of our real estate clients, is that the followup is, you know, we’ve, I think we’ve just built three followup systems for guys in the last two weeks just because that, that is the bit that they’re dropping the ball on. Um, you know, because if it’s suddenly goes three weeks down the line, they’re working on a whole new batch of leads and they have not bothered. And yet, somehow we all know that sometimes it takes six or seven touches before you, you know, you, you, you get, you get something from someone. So if you don’t do that, you’re in danger of massively missing out. Um, now in terms of communication, I mean, you, you, you should absolutely InvestorFuse is a, you know, was a pioneer in Podio. They’ve now moved off Podio, the platform, um, to their own a, a platform and a, you know, that, that’s, I mean, I hope it’s going well for them. They’re, they’re good guys. Um, but he, you know, that, that was a real pioneering product. Now when you say about the followup sequences, did the content of those followup sequences come with the system or did you have to do it yourself or did you take what there and customize it?

Alex: 14:53

Yeah, we took what was there customized, they have a very good system. They have a bunch of prewritten scripts, text messages, emails, all of that. But we’ve customized it more for our specific business. And um, yeah, I mean basically I’ve customized it for if they respond, it comes back in through call rail. Um, we have a lot of callrail tracking in and that’s, that’s kind of related to campaigns, but it pulls in all their information and smrtphone does this same thing and know you guys have a lot of that stuff. So yeah, that’s, that’s Kinda how we did that.

Jordan: 15:29

Yeah. And the, I mean, the call rail, uh, you know, the call rail, a tracking, I think that was another one that they really brought, brought in. Um, and that was that, that was a big, a big milestone for people to be able to track those phone calls and, and push them into the, the seller leads. And, and make sure you’re tracking all of that, um, and having different numbers that you can put. So is that how you use CallRail? You got a wide range of numbers and each one of them will be different types of marketing.

Alex: 15:59

Exactly. Yup.

Jordan: 16:00

So, so do you use, when you to look at like the campaigns, um, you’ve obviously got some campaigns that are our call rail type tracking numbers where you’ve got, if you know that it’s from this marketing cause it comes in from this, uh, phone number. Uh, I then you also have these PPC SEO, social media type things, web based ones which come in, um, and then, uh, come in via a form of some sort. Um, and then they’re attached to the campaign. How do you, um, do you measure your performance of the campaigns in Podio? Uh, w w how do you manage that to see what’s working well or not?

Alex: 16:38

Yeah, so, um, we have actually recently, uh, use a third party that kind of pushes everything from campaign and takes a daily snapshot, um, and sends it out to basically a tracker in an excel sheet right now. Um, and then we can kind of dig deeper into, uh, how much each campaign is costing us. There’s ways to do that and Podio. Um, but we decided to kind of push that outside of Podio and into an excel sheet for right now. And it, it’s, um, a great way to kind of see, you know, taking that next level of trying to figure out how much is each specific campaign costing, what are our offer rates, what our appointment rates, um, cause those are ultimately what get more contracts, um, or are those numbers. Um, and then kind of what, how much do we make per deal? What’s our spread look like? Um, so we’ve, we started to track all of that and it’s been great so far. So

Jordan: 17:36

KPIs, I guess. Um, do you, uh, what are the KPIs that you tend to focus on in, I mean, you’ve got the ones in excel. Do you, what do you do in Podio or if it, if anything?

Alex: 17:45

So I don’t remember your system that well. Yeah. Yeah. So we’ve set up some filters and Podio, but are our main things for our acquisitions team. Um, are, you know, any of the new leads that we touched them within 24 hours or less. Um, and then basically we have offers made an appointment set and walkthroughs completed. So those are big numbers that we look at. Um, and then obviously there’s costs tied to our marketing pieces. You know, what pieces are working, what pieces are, you know, for this campaign, why aren’t we getting any offers sent out or they just, bad leads was a quality not there. What’s going on with them? I mean, kind of start to identify, hey, maybe we should back off on this marketing piece, uh, increase this marketing more or do something different with this campaign. Okay.

Jordan: 18:34

Um, but, and, uh, in terms of, you know, I know the KPIs are on the tip of everybody’s tongue. Uh, whenever I talk to them, then how do I track my KPIs? How do I track my KPIs? Um, do you know, is that a, is that stuff that you’re, you’re going to continue to develop or do you feel like, did you feel you’ve got a good handle on it now? Um, is that, uh, you know, you are, there’s still bits missing from that for you.

Alex: 19:01

Yeah. Um, so there’s always improvement. Uh, the one, the one big thing with having it kind of in an excel sheet is that you can’t necessarily click, uh, click it and it goes somewhere and Podio where you can see those specific needs. Um, so we’ve had to kind of also set up filters in Podio. So if we want to see, you know, what offers have we not made yet and we can filter it by campaign, we’ve set that up. Um, so that’s Kinda one downfall. The other good part about it is it’s kind of separated. Um, we can have a tracker and a backlog of, you know, if we need to go back on a certain day and see what that snapshot looked like, we can see that. Um, but yeah, those are super important and I think right now it seems to be working. Um, it’s just getting the right filters set up so we know where to find that data inside Podio, um, and go from there.

Jordan: 19:57

Sure, absolutely. Um, and there’s actually, there’s a new plugin I’ll have a, I’ll show you offline, which will help you, um, some a new KPI tracking in terms of visualizations as well. Um, but it’s, uh, it’s actually pretty cheap and pretty amazing. Um, so I’ll, I’ll show that to you to a bit later. I’m going to do a whole podcast on that at some point. Um, uh, with a question. Um, now, uh, another thing I wanted to ask is, you know, we’ve got a, there’s a lot of real estate investment companies that that are, are, I mean we still talk to people who have heard about it, but I haven’t taken the plunge. What has been the staff uptake? Like the challenges around that, the, you know, what has been your experience with that as a company that’s bringing it on board and now has a pretty mature system that’s doing a lot of stuff.

Alex: 20:47

Yeah. So, um, you know, right away, um, the first thing that comes to mind is getting the leads, um, you know, from our old system into the new system and at what point do we just kind of stop and say, Hey, let’s, you know, this day forward, let’s put everything in Podio. Um, let’s stop working. You know, the old leads. That was kind of a transition point that took, you know, a couple of weeks to get the team use to and hey, stop working these leads. They’re already, you know, in the new system. Um, that’s kind of the one thing. Uh, we were on Insightly before, which is a great CRM. Um, it’s just probably not the level we were looking for. Um, Podio kind of took it to the next level where it has ability to filter a mass, you know, any kind of lead source. You’re looking for any type of type, what, what the status is. Um, and then once we kind of got that, um, going into the transaction, so once we get it under contract, um, how do we get, what’s the best way to market to our cash buyers? Um, and what, where is the best way to find that information? Um, so there’s a lot of stuff that might, before we used to tracking in Excel, um, we have, you know, here’s all the Two bedrooms we have, here’s, um, you know, the price points we have. Here’s what we bought it for. But then we found that almost all it didn’t match with Podio said. So we were having an issue in a disconnect where, um, the team would not necessarily update it in Podio, but they might have it on there, you know, legacy spreadsheet. Um, so just getting the team on board with that, um, has been a struggle, but we are pretty much there now and we’ve actually created a system, um, that pushes, we’ve, we’ve trained the team now that when we create a transaction and we create a contract, we’re buying, um, it just pushes to that excel sheets. The, if, if they try to update it, we’ve kind of made it foolproof that if they update it on an excel sheet, unless they update it and Podio, it won’t correct it. It’ll, it’ll go back to what it was and Podio. Um, so that’s kind of eliminated some of the errors so they know that, you know, they have to put it in Podio, so it’s, you know, everything’s in the right place and what it was the hub. Yep. Let me go look at tracking and everything. It’s in the right place. I was done then.

Jordan: 23:14

I think general, did you find the, have you found that the staff have, have found, you know, has it been, have they found it relatively easy to learn? I mean, cause there’s two elements there. Uh, when you all onboard, there’s, um, there’s simply the learning how to do stuff and then there’s the getting it to be routine because you know, and those are actually two separate things. And, and to be successful you need them both happen, but, but you need sort of to learn it and then to live it. So in terms it sounds like living it is a work in progress that just still kind of pushing but you’re more or less there now in terms of learning it. What was that learning curve like?

Alex: 23:57

Yeah. Um, so before, um, we, we just had to train the team on how to use specific filters and if they want to look at, you know, a certain sales style, um, how do you find that information? You know, if I want to find what’s, you know, items that we’ve made offers on but we don’t have under contract yet, where do I find those? Or if we’ve bought the property, um, you know, how do I find, are we marketing this one? Have we already sent out email blast or are we waiting on something between our property manager getting a lockbox? And pictures, are we waiting on our team to create a presentation to blast it out? Or what, what, where is that at in the process? Um, and just training the team on where to find those were each property is at in the status,

Jordan: 24:46

the data manipulation and filtering the Podio can do is actually amazing. I mean that the ability to drill into exactly the data that you want is, is one of those ones that I think most people don’t really realize how powerful it is until they’ve used it for a bit. But once you realize how powerful it is, it can drill into the exact things you want to see at any given time. Yup. Um, uh, so I really liked that. I uh, I think that’s really interesting. Um, and then I guess just finally, you know, you know, cause I think real estate’s a, you know, a, I think there’s a lot of people that’ll, that’ll find this interesting. You guys have, you guys have started with Podio and then you’ve now gone and customize the system that’s doing email blasting to sell it, you know, cash buyers and all this sort of stuff. I think the review of the fact that you’ve done all of this automation around the acquisitions process around the contracts and the emails and all that and saving that much time is great. As, as, as the KPI and the transparency. Um, let’s just finish off with a bit of a, a sort of plug for you guys. I mean, uh, what markets are you in? What are you looking for? What do you do? What are you looking for? I’m going to make sure I put your website address and a and all of that into the podcast home, but just give us a little kind of summary of what you guys are doing in case anybody’s there and, and has a deal for you.

Alex: 26:08

Yeah. So, um, yeah, we’re in the Indianapolis, Indiana market. I’m here in the U S and um, we’re, we’re buying pretty much anywhere in central Indiana. Um, we’re, we most like wholesale, like I said. So we’re looking for any type of investment properties that we might need, anything from a little work to a lot of work. And we’re also looking for cash buyers. So anyone that’s interested in partnering or looking at, you know, potential deals for rentals or flips. Um, we have great inventory and our websites is and that’s kind of where you can find all of our, our buying side of the business is called Simple Quarters. Um, so that’s kind of our entity to, to buy. Um, people don’t necessarily like selling to a wholesaler, so we’ve kind of separated that, have different branding apart from those. And uh, yeah, if there’s anything we can help, you know, Jv on a deal partner, if you have any Podio questions or anything. Um, I’m here to help. And uh, so it was our team.

Jordan: 27:08

Absolutely. Well thanks so much for time today for those of you who are wanting to find out more, but Alex, SimpleQuarters and SimpleWholesaling. I will put the links into the podcast as well as on the webpage home. I encourage you, go take a look. Um, I, I know, I know the guys in the company and, uh, you know, uh, probably a great JV opportunity, a great, great opportunity to, to work with them because they’ve got a real professional outfit, which is what you want to see when you’re, when you’re talking about this kind of money, uh, and, uh, when you’re talking about these sorts of properties. So go check them out. Alex, thanks so much for your time mate and uh, you know, have a fantastic week.

Alex: 27:45

Yup. You too. Thanks man.

Speaker 1: 27:47

You’ve been listening to a supercharged with Jordan Samuel Fleming. Subscribe today on Itunes, Google play or Spotify for your weekly dive into how you can supercharge your business by making it powered by Podio. Be sure to check out our website. We are where you can learn more and arranger 30 minute call with Jordan Day, help you understand how Podio supercharges you.

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