Ep. 10 – Cold Calling Sucks (Let the VAs Warm it Up!) with Bob Lachance, CEO of REVA Global

About Bob Lachance

Bob Lachance has been an active business owner and real estate investor since 2004. Bob is an entrepreneur by nature and currently owns, operates and manages many different businesses around the world. Bob helped create the top Real Estate Education and Mentor/Coaching program in existence today, FortuneBuilders, INC. Bob also created one of the premiere Real Estate Virtual Assistant Staffing companies, REVA Global, LLC (REVA). Bob is an expert in the real estate investing space and has an incredible reputation for creation, implementation and execution.

Prior to getting into the business sector, Bob had a successful 8 year professional ice hockey career which allowed him the privilege of traveling and living all over the US and Europe. Bob was also a member of the 1995 National Championship Boston University Ice Hockey Team.

Episode Summary

Real Estate Investor Bob Lechance and host Jordan Fleming get into one of the most effective yet dreaded parts of real estate investment: cold calling. They discuss why it’s a necessary evil, and the ways to streamline the process of cold calling by outsourcing it to quality VAs. 

“Business owners don’t have to do the initial cold call. We want to be talking to the individual that already raised their hand to say, ‘yes, I’m willing to sell.’ That’s when it gets to your plate.” – Bob Lachance 

Investing in your team – including rigorous quality assurance of the VAs you hire – is the ticket to growing your real estate business. Jordan and Bob discuss the companies they’ve grown, including the growing pains of realizing you can’t do everything yourself, even when you want to. 

“The technology takes you there, and then the non-technology will be investing in your sales team and understanding sales strategy.” – Lachance on the intersection of technology and non-technology assets. 

The conversation turns to leads and the importance of separating a true lead from reports of potential leads. Your CRM should only have clean data and surefire leads. Bob explains how he made the mistake early in his career of overloading his CRM with thousands of records. 

“The only time you throw anything in your CRM is when someone says they want to sell. Boom! That goes in your CRM.” – Bob Lachance

Of course, the episode ends with a Fast Five that’s chock full of technology recommendations, and actionable advice on how to actually use your technology, instead of letting it sit and waste money. 

Transcript (automatically generated)

Hey it’s Jordan with another episode of That Real Estate Tech Guy, I am delighted that my co-pilot for the episode is Bob Lachance. Bob, give us a little bit of background. 

Jordan, first of all, thanks for having me. Little bit of my background: I played professional hockey in the United States for four years, and then for four years in Europe. After that I jumped into the real estate game, back in 2004. So now you know how old I am! I started running a couple of real estate education programs while I flipped properties, did wholesaling, rehabbing, buying holds, etc. Fast forward to 2014, I started my first virtual assistant company out of the Philippines. Eight years ago today and now we’re at about 1000 virtual assistants. I also have a real estate investment company. Last year we did 166 transactions: buy, sell, fix, flip, buy, hold, etc. Now we’re set to do a virtual assistant side, we’re at about 1000 VAs, and on my real estate side, we’re looking to do over 200 transactions. 

Fantastic. So if you think about your journey, which I’m not going to date you again, but it’s a lengthy journey in the real estate business, how was technology featured in that? How has it helped you? 

Yeah, it’s interesting. Back in 2005 I actually started a couple of software companies. One was called Finer Solution, and it was actually really, really good. But there’s so much competition; I’m not a tech dude, just to be honest with you. But I knew that it was a needed product in my business. And then 2005 ‘6, ‘7 ‘8 ‘9 plus, we’re focusing on short sales. So we started another company called Manage My Short Sale.com. It was how we actually managed all of our transactions. Really, really good product. We changed it and rebranded it to Prop Tracker, and ended up upselling it to one of my buddies because he was using it in his business. So we ended up selling that out. 

But to answer your question: technology is the basis of what we do. If I look at everything that we do – you have Google Sheets, you have Excel, you have all that kind of stuff. But when you hit a certain level in business you need technology. 

For me, personally, the backing of what we do in real estate is tied to technology. Without technology, you’re gonna be behind all your competitors. I know people can run very slim, but going through the years without technology? You’re kind of screwed. 

There’s an element of scale involved where the necessity of technology almost becomes a given if you’re really trying. That’s the premise of the show: if you’re trying to scale a business, starting a business is easy. Anybody can start. But actually scaling a business is not easy. And that’s when technology comes into play. So how many people are involved in your real estate business right now?

Eight to ten virtual assistants, maybe even more. We have about 15 people in our office here on the real estate side, that’s acquisition, dispo, transaction coordinator, office manager, etc. So those are in our office, and everything ties to all the technology that we use, right? We use all of this stuff that we do on a daily basis because it gets chaotic if you don’t have the right systems in place. When I first started real estate I didn’t have anything. I would door knock. First and foremost, the world is different. Now, if you don’t have technology, you’re screwed. Because back in the day, when I first started, I literally would get a list of pre-foreclosure properties and I would go door to door, knocking on doors. I’d have a leave behind pack. This is from 10am to 3pm, Monday through Friday, and then I would come home. And that same list, I would look online, like 401 dot com, or White Pages, or whatever it was, and I would try to find their phone numbers. And then I would dial till about 7, 7:30 every single day. So it’s a lot different.

One thing I’ve noticed is that there are a lot of people who get into the game looking for the golden ticket, right? But there’s not a successful person in the world that doesn’t have an element of graft. You have to get your nose in and graft and grind at some level, and technology’s not going to change that. But when you get to that level, you can then take off. 

So let me ask you in terms of your systems. Everybody focuses on acquisitions but leads aren’t anything unless you close them, particularly if you’re wholesaling. Can you explain to me a bit about how your system works at the dispo level or how it influenced you?

So we wholesale on the MLS Novations, there’s different names for a lot of the disposition that we do. What happens when it comes into our acquisition team, is that it comes in, obviously, to our Podio system. So once we get a property under contract, it goes right to our dispo team and our dispo team, they get on the phone with the seller to then educate the seller on how they’re going to be working with them hand-in-hand. They get to hold their hand through the process. At the same time, once they do that. they build rapport with the with the seller, and then they’re hammering the phones, right? We use a lot of different technology. InvestorLift is one of the technologies that we actually use to help dispo. We use the MLS as well. I mean, there’s nothing better than picking up the phone, human beings actually calling person-to-person-to-person. We need the tools to be able to blast it out all over the place but there is a human element that is very important in our business. A lot of people are scared to get on the phone. Well, hire a virtual assistant to do it. My point is there’s an answer for everything. Use technology to blast it out to the world, but you still have to pick up the phone and talk to human beings to be able to sell these properties. So we do a very good job once it’s inside our systems to then follow up through the process.

Presumably, then, a key part of the system is the visibility of what everybody’s doing at every stage. That’s always been my argument against using Excel. Excel is fine if it’s you on your own, trying to close a few deals but when you’ve got a team of people working through that process, visibility has got to be key. What have you found are your key visibility points in your systems?

A lot of it is homework, right? Because a lot of stuff that we do we have, like phone numbers that tie to that system. So then when we have our acquisition, you guys are calling, we want to know how many dials we’re doing today, what’s their talk time, etc. If you don’t have those metrics, then as a business owner, you’re catching your tail, you have no idea. Because as business owners, we’re spending a shit ton of money. On marketing, on office space, and blah, blah, blah, whatever that is. You’ve talked to many different entrepreneurs – you have to look at every penny that comes in your office, and every penny that goes out. So I think it’s very, very important to keep those metrics right in front of you. 

We have a metric screen through Podio, obviously, that’s tied to smrtPhone as well, that keeps all of these statistics for us. We look at those every single day. We can then review them with the team and say, hey, Joey, you did great today, what happened yesterday? You hold each other accountable, because as a company owner, you have to. If you don’t have the metrics, in the end, how are you going to be able to track anything?

And where are you going to spend your money next? 

Correct. If you have a marketing channel that you’re just cold calling, how do you know how many leads came in? If you’re just text messaging where you want to open up a new market, you don’t know any of this unless you have metrics to back where you’re going to spend your money. Or invest your money.

I think people get scared of cold calling for two reasons. One, they’re terrified of making phone calls. But the other concern I see is they want to invest in a VA and they’re worried about quality assurance. How are they going to train a VA? So how do you leverage technology to ensure the quality of the VAs you’re using in your own business?

Here’s how I best answer that question. Let’s give an example of cold calling, right? Beginning of the day, nobody’s calling. They wake up, the phone’s not ringing at eight in the morning, of course. We start at nine in the morning. And by the time the end of the day comes, they send us an end of day report of how many dials did they make, how many leads did they send, etc. You made a good point: cold calling sucks. I’ll be honest with that. It’s awful. So if anyone’s listening to this call, when it’s a necessary evil, this is why virtual assistants are fantastic. But here’s a big thing that a lot of people don’t understand: we as business owners don’t have to do that initial cold call. What you want is that individual that raises their hand to say yes, I want more information or yes, I’m actually willing to sell. Then we’ll go to you, me, our acquisition team, etc. That’s already been, in essence, pre-screened. There’s no reason for us to send them forth all day long and just get beat up. No, no, no. That’s a great task for someone else to do. Right? You already get through all of that other crap. It gets to your plate. It’s already dusted off. It’s shined up.

It’s teed up and you just have to be able to take the swing.

Correct. So this is another example of what you should do as business owners. You should invest in your acquisition team, in your sales, sales skills, etc. The technology takes you here, but then the non-technology will be investing in your sales team and understanding sales strategy. A lot of people don’t put that piece in there, and it’s very, very important. 

And invest in your own training: learn better techniques, better ways of listening, active questioning. If you’re going to be the person who’s closing, invest in your own education.

And to add to that, obviously this is a technology podcast, so in this case, the technology is recording the calls. Now you take all the best calls in your office, and when you have a killer sales call, how great is it to go back later on, put that recorded call into a folder so you can go back and rate them or go back and listen to them. Because the thing is, some calls are fantastic, and some calls we do are not as good. So it’s always good to get back into that frame of mind: when you have those recorded calls to retrain yourself or retrain your guys. All of our salespeople are different types of personalities. So you could take one great thing from one, one great from another, and another, and then make it your own.

Those are the tools that will help facilitate the development of your people and that’s half of the technology game! 

But let me switch gears and ask you a question about process, specifically getting so many leads that you start to lose track. Do you have a methodology for ensuring that as new things drop into the top of the funnel, you’re not leaving behind money on the table by just ignoring them?

That is actually a very good point. People don’t understand that the leads can pile up on top of each other and they forget this. So they go down, down, down. The most important way you make money is in follow up, you know? I think the average touch point to get a contract is like 7 to 12 touches, right? So that means you’re screwing yourself if you don’t have the right technology to be able to follow up. 

What we do is make a call, put a follow up status. So then when you come in the next day, whatever that follow up status is, you know you’ve got to call those numbers. And it’s funny because it was probably one of the most important things back in the day when managing My Short Sale because we were talking to banks. So every time I would call a bank, a loss mitigator, I’d call back,  and I would have to know: Hey, Jim, when’s the next time I follow up? And he’d say “well follow up next week when I’m in the office.” So if we didn’t have that type of technology, I would have been screwed, I wouldn’t have closed any type of deal at all! Because I was constantly dealing with all these different banks and all different processes and different numbers. If I didn’t update my notes and put that exact phone number in, I’d be catching my tail waiting on hold for another hour. So I think that’s the most important part, to your point. Use technology when you make that call, and then put a follow up date in that same technology. Because if you don’t do that, you’re gonna be screwed.

I also find as a business owner myself, with about 40 staff at this point, that once you scale to a certain level, if you don’t have a system that is managing things, that is outside of your head, and giving you a view of things? You keep it in your head and you never sleep. You’re constantly churning over what you’ve forgotten. I think there’s a hidden value of having a good system, which is to take things out of people’s heads, whether it’s your own or your staff, and making sure it’s black and white, and transparent to everybody. What happens if, you know, I get hit by a bus tomorrow, and I was working on five things internally? That’s no good for anybody. 

Forget business for a second. You have kids, they have sports, they now have apps for everything. I have a teamsnap app that has my three kids schedules in it. They all play ice hockey so I have to go there all the time. Say alright, I know I practice every Tuesday, Thursday, but what about the game schedule on the weekend? I gotta run around, sometimes I have to hit three games each, right? I have nine games I have to get to. You have to know exactly where everything is in the process. And that’s just on the personal side for one sport. Your kid plays two sports, you throw business in there, you’re now to your point: if you don’t have that technology behind you, you’re gonna be forgetting stuff, people are gonna be pissed off at you, you’re gonna miss deadlines, you’re gonna leave money on the table. The whole nine yards. 

Absolutely. Everything comes down to a question of scale. Systems are a critical part of your life and your business. 

Like you said, if you’re a solopreneur, you’re not going to scale, you’re not going to get bigger, if you want to do one deal a month, you could do it without technology? You can do that. But if you’re going to build a team, if you want to replace yourself – and in the end, think about this as a business owner, you start a business to replace yourself. You’re helping growing, you’re employing people, you’re hiring people, you’re giving back to the community, all that kind of stuff. And If you’re stuck inside your business, you’re only limited to so much.

Absolutely. Well, one final question before I get into the Fast Five questions is around data and cleansing data. 

Sometimes people sack up loads of leads, don’t do anything with them, and still call them leads. You’ve got 1000s of leads, but the truth is you’ve got 20, and 1800 are shit. Do you ever think about the quality of data in your system? And how do you address it?

Leads and records are two different things. The only thing that you should ever put in your CRM is a true lead. I’ll give you an example. Let’s say you’re doing cold calling text messaging and direct mail. That list that you have, those are records. Do not throw those records in your CRM. The only time you throw anything in your CRM is as soon as someone raises their hand that says they want to sell. Boom, that goes into your CRM. There is a misconception because everyone asks  – do I throw all of these records in my CRM? No, don’t do that. You’ll have all dirty data and nothing’s gonna be clean. You can’t track hat kind of stuff. A lot of people that start at the beginning make that mistake. It’s only a record, you pull a list of 50,000 names? Those are records. Those are not leads yet.

I 100% agree. It’s been one of my bugbears for a long time. If you keep your data clean in your CRM, you will have true visibility. You let it get dirty, you’re not actually going to know anything. 

Fast Five Questions

  • What technology product has had the biggest impact on your real estate business?

Obviously we have our Podio system, we have our smrtPhone and have InvestorLift, I’d say those three right there. We use Prop Stream as well, which gives us our data. I’ll give you four!

  • Okay, fair enough. Question Number two, what is the biggest mistake you’ve made with technology in your real estate business?

When you actually start, it’s finding the right one. We’ve spent so much money, literally so much money. We changed CRMs, we got sold into another one. It’s about finding the right developers to actually help you with your systems, because there’s shiny objects all day long. We all think we can run our business by ourself. That’s all bullshit, right? What you should do is work with somebody that you know, that has a system that you like. For me, a referral business is really important. That’s how we met you! We met you through our buddies from Podio. So for me it’s best to get a referral and then go from there.

  • Question number three, what is your best advice on how to start integrating technology into a real estate business when just starting out?

Just starting out, I would get that referral. And then I would implement it. So whatever that technology is, you have to use it. Technology is worth shit if you don’t use it. That’s the biggest thing. There are a lot of technology companies where people don’t use their product, and they just ding them every month. Ding, ding, but they don’t use it. If you don’t use it, you’re not going to make money with it. 

  • Question number four, what is the one thing you wish you’d known when you first started your real estate businesses, in terms of technology?

I would have started using and building my buyer’s list right away and putting it into a CRM. There’s a lot of wasted money. You come home from an event, you have all this business info and you have to put it into a CRM and actually use the CRM to blast out deals. That’s one of the things that I made a mistake on at the beginning.

  • If someone was just starting out, what are the three technology products you’d recommend? I’m gonna guess CRM, InvestorLift and a phone system. 

That’s right. And a way to get data. Where to get data, wherever you’re gonna get that data, PropStream is a great one.

Everything is about a journey. It doesn’t have to be zero to 100. You can step your way up. 

Yeah. And then let me add to that. One of the technologies I forgot to metnion that is a big part of our business is a text messaging platform called Launch Control. It works very, very well. I forgot to add that because there’s so much technology that we use.

I’m recording a podcast with Launch Control!

I do a ton of work with Launch Control, I’ll definitely give them a huge shout out as well. 

Listen, just before we sign off, let people know how they can find you!

Yeah, absolutely. We’re online at Reva Global, revaglobal.com. You can send me an email, Bob@Revaglobal.com. We also have a medical division side on the virtual assistant side that does prior insurance verifications, prior authorizations, etc.

Yeah, absolutely. We’re online at Reva Global, revaglobal.com. You can send me an email, Bob@Revaglobal.com. We also have a medical division side on the virtual assistant side that does prior insurance verifications, prior authorizations, etc.