Hey everybody, it’s Jordan Samuel Fleming with another episode of That Real Estate Tech Guy. And I am delighted to welcome into the co-pilot chair today, Bobby Suarez, from SelltoBobby.com. Bobby, thank you so much for joining us on the podcast. Can you just give a little introduction to yourself and the business?
I’m a wholesaler, fix and flipper based out of Miami, Florida. We do deals pretty much from Orlando all the way down to Homestead, which is right before the Florida keystart.
Can you give me a little sense of your fix-and-flip journey? Since you started out, how’s that gone? Just to give a bit of background on the business itself.
I got into real estate about 20 years ago in the mortgage industry. And it was like 2001. I did that till the market crashed and lost it all, went bankrupt, had to go get a regular job. And in 2011, I got back into the industry, working for a company that represented Hedge Funds. And they were, in essence, the pioneers that would buy single-family rentals for Hedge Funds. So we were like the acquisitions department for the Hedge Funds. And I got started working there in the acquisitions department, I learned how to underwrite deals and how to analyze deals. I did that for a few years. We represented a bunch of the big companies. And in 2014, I started on my own, and we had a fix-and-flip operation. Then I figured out what wholesaling was. We were getting deals off the MLS, then I found out that you could market to sellers directly. And here we are now, pretty much doing tons of marketing. We’re heavy on TV and PPC, and yeah, like I said, here we are now.
In terms of fix and flip and sort of wholesaling, you started investing in different kinds of lead generation bets from TV, PPC, and all those. How have you been able to scale that aspect up and deal with an increased volume of leads? What has been your way of dealing with that?
The most important part, I believe, is having a good CRM that we understand. So right now we’re using Left Main, which is inside Salesforce. It’s great, easy to use, user friendly. And that’s definitely helped us scale our business and keep track of our leads that are coming in.
In terms of the Left Main ecosystem, it’s built inside of Salesforce. People look at Salesforce as this big behemoth of a system that can be a little potentially daunting. But inside Left Main, what are the key bits that are really helpful for you guys as a team to make sure that everything stays together and you know where everything is?
The good thing about Left Main is that they provided training when we transitioned over to them when we had Podio. So honestly, I’m not on the techie side. I had my COO handling the entire transition. But the good thing is that they provided training. They taught us how to use it. They taught us the evolution of the lead inside Salesforce on Left Main. It definitely works a lot better than when we had Podio.
Just the fact that you’ve got someone like your COO who is driving that stuff forward speaks volumes as to when you scale a business and you have to drive these elements in. The fact that you’ve got someone in place to do that and to put the pedal down for that is, in itself, telling. How many people are in your organization now?
Right now, we have a team of 14 people.
In terms of making some decisions around advertising, how have you found expanding your lead generation channels? And have you found any trial and error? Have you been guided in a way for all of them?
We used to do a lot of outbound leads. We used to do a lot of outbound marketing, like SMS, and cold calling. I just found that it was a headache to handle those leads. They’re kind of like low-quality leads. So I wanted to go after the Rolls Royce quality leads. And that’s why we switched over to inbound marketing type leads, like TV. So now what we did was cut off a lot of the outbound. We don’t do any more outbound. We only do TV and PPC, and we keep it very simple. I want my acquisition reps working on top-quality stuff. And if it’s not, then we pass it back to our lead managers, and our conversion rate has increased. Even though the leads are more expensive, we’re definitely making more money, and we’re more profitable now.
The people coming to you because they’ve seen something and are reaching out to you have greater chances of being a much higher quality lead than a list you buy. Even though you may be spending more per lead, in general, if you’re going to be converting a lot more, your percentage is higher, and you’re not spending a lot of money on crap.
100%. My acquisition agents would get super frustrated when they would get a bunch of these cold-calling leads, and they would have to go through hundreds of leads to try to get one contract. And now we’re converting one out of every 14 leads into a contract. So it’s a totally different animal, for sure.
That’s a completely different ballgame. One of the most important things to do if you’re investing in this kind of inbound lead and channels is to make sure you’re quickly dealing with anyone who does contact you. It has to be at the top of your concern. Do you have training or rules that you follow in-house to make sure that the leads that come to you are dealt with efficiently?
We definitely do. So we use CallRail. We use different tracking phone numbers through callrail.com. So when they call in, we have lead managers that work seven days a week around the clock. And their job is to try to answer every lead live. And if, for any reason, they can’t, they’ve got to call right back and get that lead immediately. And let’s say they went to our website and submitted a web lead. Then we try to get back to them within five minutes of them submitting the web lead and try to get that client on the phone and schedule an appointment immediately. While they’re hot, for sure.
If someone’s reaching out to you, the chances are, they’re in distress and potentially reaching out to a number of people. They’re looking for help. And they’re kind of bashing the Help button. And if you’re not on the phone with them immediately, someone else is going to be, right?
100%. Especially with PPC leads. When they’re searching on Google and they put, “I gotta sell my house fast in Miami,” for example. They’re sending their information to eight different websites. So you’re in a race against time. The first person that calls them and gets a hold of them—odds are, those are the people that are going to do business with that client. So it’s super important – speed at that moment. Now, with TV, it’s a little different. What I like about TV is the credibility that comes with it. So when they see you on TV, they automatically see you as a credible company. And they want to do business with you regardless, even if they’ve been reaching out and talking to other companies. Even if somebody else offered them higher prices or higher offers, they’d still want to go with that company on TV because they’re more credible. So maybe that’s why we’ve been going a lot deeper into our TV marketing, for sure.
When I spoke to Darren, I was surprised at how cost-effective television can actually be. It might cost more than bringing up 1,000 postcards, but the truth is, if you’re getting a good return and a good conversion rate, you can probably afford it pretty quickly. Were you surprised that it was as effective for you?
Definitely, to start off with TV, you need a big bankroll. I’m not gonna lie. Like, right now we’re spending almost $200,000 on TV a month, while I’m in a big market down here in South Florida. And not only that but to do it effectively, you need a good team. So if you have a small team and you can’t handle the leads and the inflow, you might as well not do it. So you’ve definitely got to have a good team built that could handle the leads, and they’re good quality people. And I definitely think you’ve gotta have, you know, six months of marketing set aside to get started on TV because it is expensive, depending on what market you’re in, to bankroll the marketing. You’ve got to have money just in case you don’t get any deals in the first few months, which could happen.
I think it’s critical to reinforce the idea that if you don’t have that team to catch the leads and work on them effectively, then you are going to be wasting a lot of money because you have to be able to handle them. As someone who cares a lot about the growth of your company, how does having Left Main in place give you the information needed to make decisions around marketing?
What I love about Left Main is that it has reports that you can pull easily, and its dashboards are recreated. I created a CEO dashboard or a sales manager dashboard that I could just look at, and you could even get it emailed directly to you. So that’s what I did. I get an email every morning, and I look at it and see how many leads we have for the week and the different KPIs that we track. That way, I have good fingers on the pulse to know what’s going on in my business for sure. So definitely, the dashboard reporting is super useful. As I said, it’s very user-friendly.
And gives you, as the owner and your top team, the information you need to make the big decisions around marketing spend or whether you need to, in fact, tool up your team a little more.
Inbound leads still involve people talking to people, and you need a team to work with them. As someone who’s grown a very respectable size team, how do you maintain quality across the different people in your team? Do you use CallRail or call recordings to make sure that quality is maintained over time?
We do. When the incoming calls come in, they’re recorded on the call row. But we have a sort of phone system that’s integrated into Salesforce. And it’s RingCentral, I believe. And I know that a lot of our calls are recorded. And we go back and listen to them to definitely train our staff to make sure that they are handling calls properly, or our managers are able to do it for sure.
As you look ahead, do you and your COO have any conversations about ways you want to utilize different elements of technology, or is there a strategy in place for your company? Or do you find that it’s more reactive to what happens?
We do have a plan to make our CRM better and automate more things that we haven’t automated yet. Because Left Main comes in, it’s kind of like here’s an out-of-the-box CRM, but you still have to customize it to your business. Everybody’s wholesale and fix and flip business is a little bit different. So we want to maybe tailor it a little bit more to us and automate certain things. So we are definitely going to hire a developer to help us set that up. I mean, we’ve already done some stuff in the past, but we definitely want to continue making changes to make it better.
In terms of automation, one area that people talk about a lot is follow-up cadences. We’ve got to live where working technology can really assist with that. Is that something you’ve done already? Or is that something you’re going to be working on and developing?
I’m a little bit old school when it comes to those follow-up sequences. I know the Left Main has some, but I like a live person following up on our leads, especially since they’re high-quality leads. And I know a lot of sellers get texts and automated stuff. So I kind of want to stand out and be different, and that’s why I feel that we’re successful. So when it comes to following up, we have live people following up on our leads for sure.
I don’t think of it as old school so much, as I see it as high-quality leads needing high-quality follow-ups.
100%. Once we changed the inbound marketing, I wanted to nurture those leads differently. So definitely, I’m investing a lot more money. We don’t have any virtual employees like we used to have when we were doing a lot of outbound marketing. Everybody is in-house. So I definitely want to make sure that leads are being handled properly. I, for example, get texts all the time from different investors wanting to buy my rentals or whatnot. So I want to stand out. I always see what other people are doing. And I try to do something different, for sure.
That’s a good marketing principle. There are times when I get people reaching out to me on LinkedIn thinking that I can’t live without their service. I have responded positively to a couple of people who came to me in a way that was considered, as opposed to the 98% of people who are just being like, you know, sending me the next drip every three days.
Their bots system is really sending you the message. So you know, it’s not them for sure.
I love that you’re bringing a slightly different perspective to this saying. Yeah, there’s maybe some validity to it. But actually, there’s also validity in the human touch and making people feel like they’re valued. Maybe technology is just not going to help you except to give you a reminder to do it.
Correct. And that’s why we use a task inside Salesforce, for sure.
I was gonna ask you what other software other investors use. That you’ve been hearing a lot about? If you don’t mind me asking,
With CRMs, we hear Realeflow, Left Main, InvestorFuse, Podio, and the different Podio versions there are out there. You know, REISift, and a couple of others. I hear from people all the time. I’m biased, of course, because I’m the CEO of smrtPhone. So obviously, that’s a system that people use as well. But then, of course, we’ve got some great calling options out there with call tools and Ready Mode. Some of the biggest things I’ve been hearing lately are a focus on data for people who are still doing cold calling or are looking to expand their buyer’s lists. I’ve seen a lot of traction towards companies like Audantic, 8020 REI, where they are using data science to drill down into better data opportunities. That’s probably the biggest trend I’ve been seeing in the last little while, to be honest.
We actually use Audantic, too. We buy data from them to help build our buyer’s list. They have a product called Buyer Sonar. Amazing.
That’s a really big part of the conversation over the last four months. I think Audantic, 8020, is bringing their real estate knowledge into the data in a way that nobody else has ever done before. And I feel like that’s a powerful part of the conversation right now.
Completely agree. Everything is super accurate. What they have in their systems is incredible.
We’re going to be integrating smrtPhone with 8020, Audantic, and Townsquare in Q1 next year to give people the ability to bring data in and call and text them a little quicker. And I chose those companies because I think they’re great.
We actually used to use your company, smrtPhone, when we had Podio years ago, when I first got started. By the way, great products. I heard somebody mention that they were using smrtPhone with Salesforce, so I’m gonna look into that.
How to Find Bobby Suarez
They could reach out to me through social media on Facebook, Bobby Suarez. On Instagram, it’s Bobby Suarez REI and it’s Suarez spelled s u a r e z.
I’ll make sure all the links to your social media and your website are popped into the podcast episode notes on the website. And I wish you the very best in health and happiness.