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Callan Faulkner runs a company called REI Optimize, which is a high-end, done-for-you CRM and technology implementor for land investors.
I met Callan earlier this year at a real estate investing conference. As I was listening to her talk about her ideas and experiences, I kept having all of these “Wow” moments where it hit me that she has some fascinating ideas and seems to know how to use marketing mediums that the average land investor isn't using.
We’ll ask Callan what's working best for her and her clients, and she'll explain some new ways to get deals, with or without direct mail!
Links and Resources
- REI Optimize (Callan's website)
- Pebble (formerly REI Conversion)
- Direct Skip
- Launch Control
- REWBCON (Use coupon code ‘SETH' for a discount)
- How to Find Land Specialized Real Estate Agents
- What Are “Dispositions” in Real Estate?
Seth: Hey everybody, how's it going? This is Seth and Jaren. You're listening to the REtipster podcast.
Today we're talking with Callan Faulkner. Callan runs a company called REI Optimize, which is a high-end, done-for-you CRM and technology implementor for land investors.
I met Callan earlier this year at a real estate investing conference. As we were standing around in the same circle, I was just listening in as she was talking about her ideas and experiences. And I kept having all these “wow” moments, where it just hit me that, “Man, this person really is smart. She knows what she's talking about, has some really fascinating ideas, stuff that I don't normally hear in land investing circles.”
And I thought we got to get her on the podcast and just dig in a little more and find out what she's doing and what's working. And maybe just looking at the whole land investing, marketing side of things and management side of things. I don't know, maybe from some different perspectives that some of us maybe haven't thought of before.
So that's what we're going to talk about today. Callan, welcome to the show. How are you doing?
Callan Faulkner: I'm doing great. Thanks for having me.
Seth: Yeah. You bet. Maybe you can just tell us what is your origin story in the land investing business, when and how did you get into this?
Callan Faulkner: Yeah. I started my business with my business partner, John, about two years ago, right in the beginning of the pandemic. I had spent the last 10 years, my entire career in the technology space. So, I was and still am, a CRM consultant. For those of you that don't know CRM, that stands for Customer Relationship Management. And I was doing implementations of these big tools that would manage marketing automation, would manage pipelines, would manage customer service call systems for Fortune 5000 companies.
As an automation queen, I am obsessed with automation, time efficiency. That was my gig before. Just like most of us listened to a podcast and had some cash on hand, had some money saved and knew I wanted to get into real estate, but I am not handy at all. I can barely put my office together. Like picture frames were not hung by me. I knew that houses weren't an option. So, land it was.
Jaren: One of the things that I really want to get into in this conversation is leaning on your expertise for insight into mail pieces and direct mail and getting into marketing. Because I know we're going to probably talk a lot about really sexy automation stuff that gets deals while you're sleeping.
But I think a good place for us to start the conversation is going to the epicenter of what all land investors do right now, which is kind of the run-of-the-mill thing of sending out direct mail. So, before we started the conversation, one of the things that you said that I thought was very interesting, use the cash flows, I want to bring land investors into the 21st century is what you said.
Callan Faulkner: Yes.
Jaren: And I really, really like that. And I want to unpack what that means, but let's do a deep dive on direct mail and direct mail practices for a second. Because I know a lot of land investors that I talk to, they just grab their template from whatever camp they came up under and they just put their information on it and send it out. So, what do you think people do typically with direct mail that are not good practices and what are the best practices for direct mail?
Callan Faulkner: Yeah. I have a lot to say. I want to preface the conversation. I feel like I'm like a doctor. I'm not a doctor. I'm not an attorney. I'm not a financial advisor. Everything that I'm saying totally depends on where you are in your business. If you are just starting your real estate investing business and you have no idea what market to go into, you're testing different things, use the easiest and cheapest start.
Some of these things I'm going to talk about today, especially as we start talking about CRM and automation and investing in technology, only comes when you have a solid business underneath you. You have maybe one or two people working for you. You have expectations, you have goals, you have a vision, you have process. Those things take years to develop.
So, as you're listening to this, I'm sure we are all these entrepreneurs. We're hungry. We're hustlers. We feel like this pressure, like I got to move faster. Just take a breath. All these things are going to be waiting for you. Don't do them too fast because you're not going to be ready. That's my little TED Talk there about all these things we're going to talk about.
So, let's talk about direct mail. In total honesty, we started with a classic education program. We went right into rural vacant parcels, buying for $1,000, selling for $4,000. Doing 5,000 mailers a month, just a classic mailer, normal, pretty much the normal letter that everyone sends. It's the windowed mail. We had a decent response back in 2020, early 2021.
But last summer, our response significantly dropped off and we tested a few different markets. I'm hearing the same thing from a lot of other land investors. And that was the biggest push to figure out what other people are doing in other industries.
And we can talk, we can really look to wholesalers. We can look to multifamily. We can look to these commercial investors. My wholesaling house friends were laughing hysterically when I was telling them the mail that we're spending and the money that we're spending. They're like, “What are you talking about? You're just sending this junk mail to people and hoping that they open it?” I'm like, “100%, that is exactly what we're doing.”
Now, I think if you're testing a new market, yeah, do some cheap marketing, see what works, test the waters. But once you find a market that you know is working, for us, we've got a market that we've been working for two years and we will probably work it for the next 10. We are getting a deal almost every week there.
Jaren: What's the market? No, I'm just kidding.
Callan Faulkner: Everyone knows what it is actually. Every single person that works with me knows what it is, which is kind of funny because I've actually had people reach out and be like, "Can you help me comp this?" I'm like, "Absolutely not. I've spent two years learning this market, like this is my baby, but you can sell it to me. That's fine."
So, we flipped over to texting. We started doing texting last July. Very recently we've started testing some new mail. So, we'll go into the whole texting conversation because I think everyone's going to be really interested about that.
But here's what we know about mail. People that you're talking to are getting a ton of mailers. The other thing that's happening is there's a lot of new people coming into the market and they're testing out their pricing and oftentimes they're pricing a little too high. They're pricing it too low. They're putting a number on there and it oftentimes is creating this decision in the seller's mind of like, “Well, who are you? What are you doing? How do you know this is my offer?”
A couple of things we know for sure. Anything that's handwritten on the outside of an envelope is going to get opened. If I sent you, Seth, a handwritten to your name, your address with a pen and my name, my address with a pen. And here's a trick, that it has the stamp of where it came from. So, a typical letter, it has the stamp and it has the location of where the letter was sent from. And if it has an actual stamp on it, that letter is way more likely to be opened than something that looks like maybe a bill or a piece of junk mail.
Seth: One question on that. When we say handwritten, are we talking about just a handwritten font or are we talking like somebody literally took out a pen and you can see the indentation on the paper?
Callan Faulkner: Literal pen.
Seth: Okay, got you.
Callan Faulkner: Literal pen indentation on paper. I've recently partnered with a company called Robot Ink Marketing. I'm working with them to create a package for some land investors. So, check my website reioptimize.com, but they have created a patented product. It's a machine that actually has the pen writing on the envelope. It's about $1.50 per mailer. So, a little bit more expensive.
Jaren: That's like double, that's a lot. But yeah.
Callan Faulkner: But if you have a honey hole, which we do, where we're making $15,000 a deal and we are getting triple the response rate, what does that mean for your ROI? If we're going to triple the amount of deals, right now we're doing about three or four deals a month in this area. If we're going to get that to six to nine, it's not even a conversation of whether or not this is work.
Now, back to "Is this right for you?" If you don't know this area and you don't know how to disposition, you don't know how to sell, you don't have a team, you don't have a great title company, you don't have, maybe, some boots on the ground to check the property out, this particular mailer might not be right for you.
But once you figure out an area and you've sent, I call them the cheaper mailers. You sent maybe some cheaper mailers. Maybe you've done some cold calling. Maybe you've done some texting. There's still a list of people who have not reached out to you yet. Those are the folks that you're going to send this mailer to. So, you're going to start with this list of 10,000, weed them down with the cheap marketing. And if this area is still producing, now I'm going to spend some money.
Jaren: It's interesting. One of the things I wanted to ask you, I really appreciated how you broke that down at a high level, but where do you go in terms of the practical, like where the rubber meets the road? Do you break down your approach in phases? Because if you're doing cheap marketing, as you say, first, mailing everybody and then paying attention to who responded and then removing those from that list. And then using that consolidated list of people who haven't responded in any capacity with this, using that list for this handwritten font, Robot Ink Marketing, you said?
Callan Faulkner: Robot Ink Marketing. Yeah.
Jaren: Yeah. So, do you break down in phase one, phase two? What does it look like practically when you're in the trenches? Let's say I'm brand new, I'm your student and I got $3,000 for direct mail and I have a list of 10,000 records. Where do I go from here?
Callan Faulkner: That's such a great question, Jaren. Okay. So, let's go the cheap route and then let's do the same example, but let's say you're an experienced land investor and you've got a bigger budget.
Cheap scrappy route. Number one, if you really want to take advantage of a list you've paid for 10,000 records from PRYCD or from DataTree. You've got all of these land records sitting here. You should put them somewhere. The best option, cheap, easy to get set up, really easy to use is REI Conversion Pebble CRM. You can get all your properties uploaded into that system. It's a little bit more work on the data side, because you've got to update as you go, but totally worth it. If you're going to spend the money to get this list, I want to know who's reached out to me, who’s responded to me, what properties do I not want?
And make sure that as you're going, maybe you do a status on the property record and you just create a little dropdown and I keep it really simple. It's literally called interested or dead. Those are the three options for a property.
And as you do your marketing, you just have your virtual assistance. Or if it's you, then it's you. Just update. Somebody reached out, we looked at the property, it's skinny, no road access, dead. Somebody reached out, we're interested, we're going to move them through the pipeline. Now they're marked as interested. And we just have to always go back and make sure we're updating that property list.
Now, let's just say we start with my recommendation, the cheapest form of marketing is texting. Texting is, I mean, you can get a system up for $300 a month, but you do have to skip trace your list. I've got a partnership with Direct Skip. They are on my website. They are a skip tracing company.
Skip tracing is the act of taking a property owner's information. So, their mailing address, their name, the property address. You don't have to have that, most of us don't for our pieces of land. Uploading it into Direct Skip. And then they will give you back that person's phone number, phone numbers, plural, email addresses their age. Are they dead or alive? Are they on the DNC list? Are they a litigator? All their relative’s information. I usually get up to like five, six relatives, and then you'd take that information. And I would put that into Pebble as well. I would upload that against the property record, because you'll have the APN. And then I would upload that into your texting tool. And this is again, I spent a whole hour on just the texting piece and this is part of what I teach to my clients, this whole process.
And I would send that entire list of text messages. Super normal. Usually, you're only going to get about 60% of the list that actually has a mobile. The other 40% are only going to have a landline and some are only going to have an address.
So, if you do send a lot of mail, there's your list right away, right? All the people that don't have a mobile, that's your mailing list right away. And then the 60% that have a mobile, let's try and reach them via text message. Ask them if they're the owner of the property. Would they consider an offer on their lot? Try to get them to respond. I could go into tons of details on text strategy and whatnot, but starting with texting.
In most texting tools, you can do an export of people that did respond and you can upload, again, anytime you upload into Pebble, you can match on the APN and just update that list. These are all the people that responded. And then after a couple months you'll be whittling that list down. And then now it's time for the next form of marketing.
Jaren: And so, that's phase one.
Callan Faulkner: Yep.
Seth: I've got some just nuts and bolts questions about the texting thing. So, this is something I've heard people talk about, but when I hear people talk about it's like, does it work? It's not, this works and this is how I do it. So, I'm really interested just to find out how this is working for you and sort of the pros and cons of going this route.
And actually, just to clarify, I know we've spent the first few minutes talking about direct mail and now we're talking about texting. Are you saying texting should be done in addition to direct mail or instead of direct mail? And which comes first?
Callan Faulkner: In my opinion, everyone has their own comfort. Some people really love direct mail and it's working for them. If that's working for you, stick with direct mail first and then move to text. For me, texts are working incredibly well. In fact, we didn't even send mail for six months. We just recently, month or two, started picking up mail again. That was last July till last month. And we've been doing the best we've ever done with just texting. Now we are missing a significant portion of our list by just doing texting, but we were able to test a bunch of markets.
Now let's talk about the nuts and bolts of texting. So, go ahead if you have a specific question.
Seth: What is the cost for skip tracing? Because I know I've done some skip tracing before too. And sometimes either nothing comes back or they get 10 different numbers, none of them work. And I’m just trying to figure out, I assume you don't have to pay anything when nothing comes back in terms of a phone number, right? And I don't know, just the cost of that kind of thing.
Callan Faulkner: Right. Direct Skip is the company that I've partnered with. I've got some really good pricing negotiated with them for land investors. I did a bunch of research on skip tracing and I also tried a couple of different tools.
The reason why I went with Direct Skip is that they pull from a database called IDI Core, which is one of the top record consolidation companies. They actually pull from credit reports. So, if you go to lease a car or you're applying to a rent department, they're actually pulling from that data, that's going into their credit report. So, it's very current.
You will pay if somebody has a landline. You can't necessarily choose, “Hey, I only want to pay if they have a mobile.” And then I've negotiated them down to 10 cents a record to pull, but there are packages. So, I typically get the package, I think, it's about 10,000 skip traces for eight cents apiece.
Seth: Awesome. Got you. And then when it comes time for texting, what software is being used for that?
Callan Faulkner: I looked at all of them again, I partnered with a company called Launch Control and I've created a little community with them. They were meant for house wholesalers, but I have been working directly with them to make this really friendly for land investors. And they've been extremely awesome. And I'm actually partnered with them on more education. But if you go see REI Optimize and then go to recommended tools, I've got the Launch Control link there.
And Launch Control, the reason why I love them is they actually started with a group of attorneys that came together and basically said, look, we know that this is out there. It's TPCA compliance. And we are concerned about being compliant. We're concerned about real estate investors being compliant. They work with and they're partnered with something called the Blacklist Alliance and they do TPCA risk mitigation.
That was my biggest concern. It was like, “Is this legal? What's legal? What's not?” And so, they've created a tool that has basically been created, what do we call when you bowl with bumpers? Like all these guard rails so that you and your team are not breaking TPCA rules.
For example, one of the rules that the TPCA has put in place is that if you text somebody a first text, cold text, you have to wait 30 days to text them again if they don't respond to you. So many other tools out there just allow you to text someone at 28 days, 20 days, 15 days, two days, one day, and that's breaking TPCA compliance. You may not even know that you're doing it because your team is the one that's sending out texts.
So, this tool physically does not allow you to send a text to somebody within 30 days. They recognize that, “Hey, nope, this has been sent before. You cannot do that.”
There are negative keywords that the carriers are looking for. They're looking for words like "county," "purchasing," "selling." Literally every word that you could imagine they're looking for. "Interested," "out of the blue," "COVID," those are all negative keywords that the carriers are constantly looking for to identify spam. When you're writing texts in this tool, you cannot even save a message if you have one of those words in there.
They also have something called spinner tokens. So, the other thing that the carriers are looking for is the same message going from the same number over and over again. So, if you use a tool that just allows you to drip a text, and then you send an email, then you send a text, but you're sending the same message over and over and over again, you're not even going to realize it because you're not going to see it. It's going to look like it's delivered, but it's not. They're going to catch it if they're getting really good at it.
Launch Control has something called spinner tokens, which means that you can set a third of the messages to get “hey,” a third to get “hi,” and a third to get “hello.” And you can create these little tokens so that one message could have like 80 different variations on it. And then a full template is five messages. I've got a copywriter, he plays a game with himself to see how many variations he can get. But a lot of times we're seeing 800 or 900. Somewhere between 500 and 1,000 per one template. And we have 10 templates.
Jaren: Sorry, just to clarify, that was Launch Control, correct?
Callan Faulkner: Yep. I've got my five here. Launch Control, Direct Skip. We haven't talked about Freshsales, Pebble, and then Robot Ink. Those are my favorites.
Seth: I have talked to people who have done a bit of ringless voicemail drops, which I believe has changed a bit over the past year or two in terms of what you're allowed to do. So, I don't even know if that's a viable option anymore. But the thing that I had heard about that was that it's very effective and it's a different type of way to reach people that they don't usually expect through mail. But I don't know if it's a downside or upside, but you basically have to be ready to respond immediately after you send them out. Because you're going to get hammered with people who are calling you. Is that how texting works too?
Callan Faulkner: Yes. Ringless voicemails are out. I'm just going to put that in a whole another bucket because the TPCA pretty much prohibits any call to a wireless number using a pre-recorded voice without express consent of the recipient. That's a really dangerous line. It just depends on the amount of risk that you're willing to take on in your business. I would highly recommend just having a 30-minute conversation with an attorney, understand what would happen if somebody did come after you. It may not be the end of the world, but that's a whole different camp versus the texting camp. Ringless voicemails are very effective, but you have to make sure that that voicemail does not sound recorded at all. And we can talk about that in a moment. The texting is the exact same.
So, pros and cons of texting. Pros is that it is so easy to get out text. It's a neutral text. I can literally in a half hour, like this morning, my VA reached out and she's like, “I'm out of leads in Launch Control.” Perfect. I literally pulled a new list down from DataTree, uploaded in Direct Skip. That took about 20 minutes. Pull it back down, put it in Launch Control. Within an hour, she's often running with a new list of 2,500 people to text. That is amazing.
But when you do that, she's getting a lot of response. And if you send a batch of 150 messages, I'm expecting you have to be sitting there for an hour. And I would dedicate 90 minutes because what's going to happen is people are going to be texting you. I want you to respond within three minutes, ideally, because they have their phone. They're sitting right there. They texted you back and said, "Hey, I'm actually kind of interested, or, "Yeah, tell me more." Okay. Boom, open up MapRight, put their APN in there. Look at their property. Do we want to buy it? Yes. Okay, now we need to engage. Get them on the phone. I've never purchased a property that we got via text that we did not talk to somebody on the phone. That's just not going to happen.
So, this tool really just bubbles up conversations for you, but you have to have somebody sitting there responding. We have two full-time virtual assistants that are in the texting tool.
Seth: And I guess that kind of leads into my other question of in this initial message that you're sending to people, what are you saying? Are you telling them to reply to this text or email me or go to this website or call me? How are you trying to steer the traffic?
Callan Faulkner: Such a good question, Seth. So, it depends on your strategy. It depends on how big your property is. Are you going after small little lots in Mojave? Are you going after 100-acre properties in Atlanta? What are you doing?
If you're going after smaller lots where there's not as much margin and you're trying to get numbers, I would straight up ask them if they'd be interested in having a conversation about getting an offer on their lot. You can totally put an offer in the text. I make myself different by not, but I have four people working for me. So, I have more ability to do DD on the backside. If it's just you, you might want to consider putting an offer or a range offer in the initial text to cut down on people that are responding to you.
If you have a VA, I would say, "Hey, Blank. My name is Mary. I’m reaching out. We've been really interested in your lot, in your plot, in your parcel in a blank county, in a blank city. Have you considered a number or would you consider an offer? Are you open to selling?" You can't use the word selling. "Are you open to an offer?" You get the idea.
If it's a bigger property, which we're also doing, we're doing more entitlements, some subdivision work. I like to verify something about utilities. It looks like there is, but I wanted to verify legal road access. I think I see it, but you guys have power to the property. Just asking a question.
Now here's a tip. If somebody responds to you, even if they just say yes, no, thumbs up, whatever. All of those rules that I was telling you before are out the window. So, you can use those negative keywords. You can use emojis, you can write whatever you want as long as you want. If they respond, all bets are off. So, that is part of the strategy too, to just get them to respond.
Again, if you lead with more of that type of question, you're going to have to qualify them because they literally might just be answering your question. They might be not interested in an offer at all. So, it is more work to do the texting. You have to have a VA that's trained to do this, in my opinion. If you're just a landowner or land investor that's starting, I would not recommend starting if you're doing texting yourself, because it is so much dirty work. You're going to get 10 responses and maybe one you're actually going to want to move on.
Jaren: I have a couple of questions on that. Practically, if let's say I have a list of 10,000 and then I put that through the skip tracing software and I get back 7,000 records, 6,000 records with phone numbers. Some are mobile, some are house lines, main lines or whatever, non-mobile we'll just say. What practically does it look like in terms of a time commitment? Like I'm sitting here, it's a land day. I have no coaching students. I like doing my thing. I send out a massive list like a text blast. How many hours am I going to be sitting there communicating back and forth with people? Because you say it's more work, but how much more work?
Callan Faulkner: Yeah, that's a great question, Jaren. I would say, and it totally depends on your area in terms of the amount. If you're going after 100-acre properties in Austin, Texas, you can send 500 texts and get like two responses. So, it kind of depends, but let's just say you're getting a pretty significant amount of responses, which is typical of any normal market. I would say two hours, kind of block out the two hours. That's enough to get through a pretty significant amount of conversations. In Launch Control, another reason why I love it, they've got these quick replies in there. So, if they say, "Yes, I'm interested," you can just have these little quick replies, like, "Awesome. Let me get some more information so I can build out an offer for you." And I have all this kind of strategy and the tactics baked out if we want to go into it a little bit more. Yes, I would say about two hours, Jaren, for a solid texting session.
Jaren: What's the time I can expect to be working those leads? For two weeks, three weeks in terms of non-automation, like manual, like, hey, I'm having this conversation, this person seems very motivated, whatever. Because you said 10 and expect to get one. And for how many texts would you say is that kind of a general rule of thumb?
Callan Faulkner: My general rule of thumb if you're doing like classic, like my market is like mid-tier making about $15,000 a deal. It takes us about 2,000 texts to do one deal. That's about normal. So, 2,000 texts. We have about a 19% response rate, but that includes people saying not interested, stop, whatever. And it's neutral. So just keep that in mind.
So, let's say out of that, if you get about 150 people that you actually have to respond to, out of that you're going to get one that you're going to pull the trigger on. Now, we talked about this before but as land investors, we have this feeling that we want to go for the kill right now. Are you interested in an offer right now? And if someone says, no, we just mark them as not interested and we never talk to them again.
Versus, having the idea again, back to the house wholesaler, back to the multifamily, back to the commercial investor, what would they do? If somebody says I'm not interested right now, they would say, "No worries at all. Hey, you know what? I actually have a guide. It's the 16 factors that affect the value of your land in Manila, Arizona. I'd love to email it over to you. I think you'd find some good value in it and we can just stay in touch, see if anything changes." "Sure. Email it over to me."
Grab their email. We put that in your CRM system. And then now put it at their name, their email and the county, the state their properties in to start building this list of property owners that might want to sell in the future so that we can market to them, so that we can drip them some emails.
"Hey, how are you doing? I’m thinking about you. Here's the blog post I wrote, the four documents needed to sell your property. I'd love for you to check it out. I think it could be helpful." And then a follow-up call, like that's next level. And we can talk about that as we talked about Freshsales, that next-level CRM, but as a new land investor, don't let those guys slip through the cracks. If they say they're not interested, ask if you can follow up in a year, because I hope I'm doing this for a long time. People sell their property on average every seven years. So, don't let them follow through the crack.
Seth: So, have you found it's a helpful follow-up technique to program your texting to at about 9:00 PM, 10:00 PM each night. Just send a message that says, "Sweet dreams. Thinking about you." Does that creep people out or does that motivate them to sell when you say stuff?
Callan Faulkner: No. That's a no, that's a hard no, Seth. I love the idea. I love the passion, but that's a no. The best texting times are 10:00 to noon, and then 4:00 to 6:00. I would say kind of over lunch. Because think about it. Most people, the market that we're in, blue collar folks. They're working during the day, some are retired, but most of the time they get time over lunch. They get time after work and then they get time on Saturdays. And we do have a VA that works on Saturdays.
Seth: What is the cost for the initial text you send? You get charged for every additional response that you're sending? What is the cost breakdown for using texting in general?
Callan Faulkner: I recommend everyone just start on the light of Launch Control. It's $297 a month. And with that, you get 18,000 messages per month. You get 600 messages a day. There is not one person that I know that would hit that limit. That would be tremendous.
But the reason why we are on the pro plan, which is $1,000 a month, is that you get more textbooks. We're sending probably 10,000 texts a month right now. We are doing marketing too. We're buying land in Nevada, Florida, and Minnesota. Very different markets. And when you're texting with Launch Control, they give you one area code to send messages from. That's what you get with a light package.
Originally, we were on light and we were using a Minneapolis area code 952 to send texts to Nevada. No go. People are like, “What the heck? What's going on? Why are you sending me messages from Minnesota? You're not local.”
The moment we flip to a local Nevada number, the response rate doubles. So, if you're just testing a market, and I've got buddies, they do Missouri, Kansas. Great, easy, one area code. If you're doing Florida, Tennessee, Georgia, just get the Atlanta area code and you can do the whole Southeast. It's all the same. But if you've got a Minnesota to Nevada, that's a decision that would move you up in the tiers with Launch Control.
Seth: Got you. So, it sounds like compared to direct mail, the cost is just way cheaper for texting. Yeah. You still got the cost of getting the list and then I guess an additional cost for the skip tracing that you wouldn't have to do, but when it comes to the actual sending out of the message, that's way cheaper, like there's just no disputing that.
Callan Faulkner: Let's say you've got a list of 5,000. Let's just say it's 8 cents a lead. So, $400 for the skip tracing and then $297 for the Launch Control. If you're going to do this, I would bake in the cost of at least a part-time VA. And I would say $7 an hour, 20 hours a week, I would say $500 a month for that. Just to have help responded, just asking if they're interested in the offer. So, I would say total, if you're just starting out, I'm looking at about $1,200 a month to get out, obviously up to 18,000 texts, but there's no way, and that'd be way too many.
Seth: So, it sounds like this VA thing is a pretty critical part of this working sustainably. I had also heard you say, I think it was in one of our Facebook group conversations, you talked about knowing how to comp a property in five minutes makes everything a lot easier. And I would agree with that.
And I'm curious what is your process for composing a property in five minutes and how do you get a VA to not only understand that, but just think critically and be smart with these conversations? Because you don't want to just have any idiot doing this. They really have to get the essence of what's going on. How difficult is it to find those people and train them up?
Jaren: I think the answer to that question is probably going to lead to buy her course because that's a lot to unpack on a podcast, right?
Jaren: That's a good question, but good luck.
Callan Faulkner: I will unpack you through my origin story with people working for us because I think it's helpful to know what the first step was. Because most people probably listening to this are doing this on their own. The first hire that we made was a US-based employee for $15 an hour plus 2.5% of all net profit that she brought into the business. We did have a Filipino VA helping with everything. The moment we hired our first acquisitions manager, Kim, it was such a light bulb moment for me because I was able to invest 100 hours into her. And then the moment we hired the next person, guess who trained the next person? Kim trained the next person and the next person.
So, if you're going to do this, it is a time commitment and it took about six weeks for her to get to the place where she could think critically about a property and the only way that she was able to do that is us sitting together. She would share her screen and we would go through dates and we would say, "Okay, open that up and then let's look at MapRight? What do you see? Tell me what you see."
Every market, especially as you get into infill lots in Kansas City versus infill lots in Vegas versus infill lots in Orlando versus rural land in Montana, every area has unique factors and unique things that you don't know about until you really get to know that area. For us, that's been leaning on realtors. We can get about 80% there on the price, on the idea, but a lot of times for our properties, our average margin now is about 25,000.
We have text threads with three of our realtors. I'm going to dinner on Thursday with one of our realtors. We're looking at properties all day Friday together. He has a Google sheet that he fills out with the current value of the property and the expected value after improvement. We lean on them a lot.
So, that is a huge win for us because what's happening now is that we have two acquisitions managers. I call them kind of the negotiators, compers. They're the ones that are finding the finalized price. They are building the offers. They're negotiating their closing.
The VAs that are working in Launch Control, they're responsible for identifying whether or not we want to buy the property and the three comps that are nearby. And they're getting better. My whole thing is they will go as far as you take them to go. If you have this idea that your VA that's doing Launch Control will never be able to comp property, they definitely will never be able to comp property. But if you sit with them or somebody sits with them, looks at MapRight, looks at your comp map and you start to create these relationships and you do it 50 times, they're going to learn how to comp property.
With all that being said, you need to learn. You need to know how to comp property. And I would highly recommend sitting down with a realtor, doing a Zoom session, having 10 leads up and saying, "Look, I need 20 minutes. I want to comp these properties together." Have your entire team on the call, record it on Zoom and get that knowledge from them. Oh, that property has a view of the water. We're going to bump that value up 30%. Oh, look at the drainage on that. That is a steep slope. That is going to be a wetland city. No way, you don't want that.
Every area is different. It's up to you as a leader to help them understand what the factors are, but once they can learn the patterns and MapRight is an amazing, some sort of great mapping tool. They'll get it.
Seth: Yeah. Maybe I'm hearing a couple of different angles of this, but it sounds like realtors are a critical part of this comping process. I had also heard you say comping a property in five minutes. So, is there a way for you to just do it internally with MapRight? Or what does that five-minute process look like?
Callan Faulkner: It's a great question. We did not get to the five-minute mark until we comped properties about 25 times with our realtor. Even in our area of Nevada, we have to look at this water rights map, this link that she sent us, it's super secretive. Does it have water rights or not? All these different rules, all these different things.
Now, we can get to the place where we can do it in five minutes. Every single lead that comes into Launch Control, where they say they do want to sell the property, gets a MapRight map. The basic things. Clint Turner. He created this FACs (floodplain access, either contour lines or comps). I'm kind of on the contour lines, FAC, t-axes and slope.
So, you can do comps if you want, but pull it up in MapRight. Look at the road access, does it have it? Is it in a flood plain? Is it in a wetland? Just the basic stuff. What's the shape? Does it look like you could do whatever you want to do on the property? Is it flat? I would say that's the decision of whether you want to buy it.
And then it depends on how well you know that area. If this is a brand-new area, no chance I'm going to be able to comp this in five minutes. I have no idea. I've never done work here before. But I've been in this area for two years, now I've done this 25 times with our realtor, 30 times we've bought and sold 20 properties there. 100%, we can get in there, look at MapRight, look around it. And then I have a heat map built. I use all the price comps and I just plot them on Google My Maps. And then we just take the lot long from MapRight. Copy it, paste it, put it in Google My Maps. Zoom in, just look at the comps nearby. And we can get about 90% to what our realtor would say.
Seth: Just to clarify. Am I hearing that the realtor is involved in this five-minute comp process? Is that a critical part of this?
Callan Faulkner: I would say she may. In the area in Nevada, she's not a part of the five-minute comp process. In our new area in Florida, 100%. We would text the APN and the address in our little text thread and then she would respond.
Seth: Okay. It's kind of like waiting for them then. I guess there's a certain amount that you or your VA can do internally to figure out what the situation is. And then you're just trying to get verification from the realtor whenever they respond.
Callan Faulkner: And I would only get verification if we are A, we've had a great conversation with the seller on the phone and they have definitely said they want to sell and they definitely want to sell in the next 30 days, we've identified the decision makers, who's on the deed. Like this is clean. Because you don't want to bring it to your realtor and then be like, “What happened? Oh, they actually didn't want to sell.” That's embarrassing.
So, you really got to make sure that this person really wants to sell and you've maybe floated a range to that person. “Hey, I think we'd probably be able to offer somewhere between blank and blank. Is that in your wheelhouse? Is that in your ballpark? Yes, or no?” Yes. Okay. Now our final text is just confirming with the realtor, making sure we're aligned.
Seth: Okay. Got you.
Jaren: I'll just add in case it's helpful because we have a similar process in our land business and even just this morning, we were just fine-tuning it. For us, we break down due diligence or running comps into two different phases. We have what we call our initial or phase one due diligence, which would be the equivalence of the five-minute offer. But before we actually seal the deal and take the title, we're doing a second phase of due diligence, confirming all of our original assumptions. And then I bring in the agent typically at that time.
However, the reason why there's a discrepancy between markets that you brought up, I run into the same thing. In Florida, which is my primary market, it's easy and comps are plentiful and all of that, but take a state like Virginia or North Carolina or Tennessee where things are more diverse in terms of topography and all of that. Sometimes you literally look up there and you're like, “There are no comps. I could sell this property for $5,000 or $15,000 or $20,000 or whatever.” And then you have to bring in an agent in that initial due diligence phase in order to even bring in an offer. Now, I know a lot of people are doing blind offers and range offers. So, it's a little bit different. I do neutral letters, but that's how we tackle it.
Callan Faulkner: I love it, Jaren. And I think it depends too. Are you doing rural land two hours outside of a major city where there's a lot of consistency across land? Great, use the comps. Everything's pretty much the same. We could not use the comps in the area of Nevada that we're in. It would not work because you look two blocks south and it'd be worth $15,000 less than the property two blocks north because there are so many unique factors in that area. So, if you're seeing this crazy discrepancy between pricing and you can't figure it out, there is a reason for it.
Jaren: I agree.
Callan Faulkner: Maybe it's not the best part of town, is there a busy road. Most people listening to this are probably doing that, that more of a rural acreage to start. But just be careful if you're seeing big discrepancies, reach out to a realtor and try to dig in on that before you start doing major comping and major texting in that area.
Jaren: One of the questions I want to circle back to something that sprung up in my mind while you guys were talking a bit earlier. I really like this idea of text message blasting, but I also am aware of the fact that a large portion of our target audience doesn't text and doesn't do emails and doesn't do a lot of 21st-century type of stuff.
So, I feel like if you were to take this on as your primary strategy, there would be a lot of opportunity left on the table, that nobody would respond to your text message blast. Obviously, the quick answer is, well, do other stuff besides text, which I understand, but we start talking about PaperClick and even, I think, ringless voicemail drops could work because our demographic listens to voicemails at least.
But I've bought property from people who literally live on a property that runs on a generator. And so, I could only call them on certain hours of the day and that kind of thing. And so, half the time… I won't say half, I'd probably say 20% of the time, I don't end up even getting the signed purchase agreement on properties that I buy because it's just logistically too much of a nightmare. We just move on to the title company and run the risk. So, what do you do with that?
Callan Faulkner: You have this idea, Jaren. You have this idea that you're telling me, the older folks won't respond to text?
Jaren: Oh no, they might respond to text. But I guess my question is better suited, not in a text message blast because a lot of people are accustomed to texting. But when we talk more PaperClick or we talk about email blast or sending out a newsletter, that kind of stuff. Because you were talking about long-term nurturing of the leads. Those things, a lot of the demographic aren't tech-savvy. That's just not a part of their world. So, what do you do with those people that fit that demographic?
Callan Faulkner: Yes. I will say that we have bought property from many folks over the age of 90. And the first time it happened, his name is Melvin, he's based in Hawaii. He was 92. We pulled the age. It comes out of DirectSkip. In Launch Control, we always add the age as a field because our rule is if they're over the age of 80, you got to call them right away. But he responded by just saying, "Call me." We called him and said “Melvin, we're so impressed.” He's like, if I wanted any chance of talking to my grandkids during COVID I had to figure out this phone. So, I will say that I think things have changed quite dramatically over the last two years of using the phone for older folks, but obviously not all of them are.
I think the handwritten letter is for sure number one, the best way to get in touch with somebody who is not using technology.
Of course, PaperClick on Facebook I think is great, targeted PaperClick. With land, we can't be like, “We buy land in Las Vegas.” We don't know where these people live, but if you do collect another reason why I want you to collect email addresses, because if you have an email address and they've opted in to something and they said, “Yes, please send me that PDF. Please send me that resource.” Now you can take that email list and you can upload it into Facebook and you can directly market to that person. So that's called targeted campaigns.
We can go down a whole rabbit hole with that, but that's one way. This sounds a little crazy, but right now we're doing a really hyper-targeted campaign with another land investor we're partnering up on in Texas for property that's sub-dividable. There are only 250 properties that show up that are available on DataTree. For every single one of those people, we're going to start with a text. Whoever doesn't respond, I've got a skip tracer that's going to go through and they're going to add all of their social profiles to that list and we're going to DM them on Facebook. So, think about where people are.
And then, obviously, the mail is what we've been using, but I think trying a different type of mail only to people, maybe the age, maybe use the age filter. If you use an age filter, then of course, try other marketing and then your list is going to be whittled way down. And maybe it's only 500 people.
Jaren: What would you suggest for an age finder? Would you use DirectSkip?
Callan Faulkner: DirectSkip, yes. When you export that list, it gives you the age of the person.
Jaren: Well, that's a huge thing. That just literally solved years of, not heavy research, but years of me wanting to figure that out. So, thank you very much.
Callan Faulkner: You're very welcome. Yeah.
Seth: We might be handling this conversation a little bit backwards. Maybe a better question to ask maybe 10 minutes ago is what are all the different ways that you market to people? I hear direct mail. I hear texting, I hear ringless voicemail, email, online ads. Like, whoa, whoa, whoa. Okay. So, what do we start with first? What leads into the next thing? How do you decide when or what to do the next thing?
And the email address thing, for example, like I know, the skip tracer I've used, the email address has come along with the phone numbers, but a lot of times they're not good anymore, that kind of thing. But it sounds like what you're talking about is maybe you get them to respond to something first and then you collect a relevant email address. I don't know. You go ahead and talk. I'm not going to put words in your mouth.
Callan Faulkner: So, this is not a sign first and foremost. I don't have, like, “This is the exact formula to do this.” You have to test different forms of marketing in different markets. If you are going after people that have owned property for 25 years in rural Arizona, probably it’s going to be an older demographic. Maybe some inheritance. So, you're going to have to test these things out.
I'll tell you what I'm doing. We are taking our list. Let's just call our honey hole Nevada. So, we're taking our list of about 6,000 properties on that. What we've been doing the last three months, we've been sending a series of text messages. That list is whittled down to about 4,200 people that did not respond at all to the text campaign. I can go into Launch Control. I can export those people out and I'm using Freshsales as my CRM.
You don't need a CRM like that until you've got at least two or three people working for you. And then that's when you need to measure KPIs and do way more on the process side. I update Freshsales. Then I export out of Freshsales. I would say it depends on the level of risk that you're willing to take on in your business, but a ringless voicemail drop or a cold calling campaign to do the next.
Now, if you have, this is a solidified business, you've got some capital, you've got some money. I would recommend making your cold calling campaign. “Hey, this is so and so. I'm working for a local real estate investor. Hey, we're reaching out, making contact with local property owners. And we actually have a guide. It's the 16 factors that affect land in this area. I'd love to email it over and introduce ourselves. I think you might like it. I think it might be valuable for you.” That's a super slow play, right?
Callan Faulkner: That's being like, “Okay, I'm not asking for an offer.” If you do that, they will tell you if they want an offer. You're saying you are buying properties in the area and you're giving them. Now, if you exchange the guide for the email, you send them a quick email. Now you get them in your system and now you can do more marketing to them down the line. You do get emails out of Direct Skip, but like you said, they're not great, Seth. So maybe you're using a tool like DeBounce to filter out some of those emails, but they're still not as great as asking. So, my recommendation is kind of the ringless voicemails with the cold calling. That's kind of the second cheapest form of marketing besides texting.
The next step I would say would be mail. Depending on how well you know the area, and maybe at this point, you've decided this area sucks. Like I can't sell property, I'm having trouble comping. I haven't found a great realtor. The title company is so slow. You don't have to keep going down this path. I think it's really important to test an area and see if you feel, get your groove. Because if you don't, move on and start the texting over again somewhere else, or start the mail again over somewhere else.
If you're really jiving and you're getting good deals and you're feeling good about it, the next step is to do some mail or do some cold emailing, depending on how you're feeling things are going. But I would say mail is next.
And then after that, depending on how deep you want to go, I would say in this area of Nevada, after we get through our mail, we're going to take all those emails that we got from Direct Skip. We're going to upload them to a tool called DeBounce. That will identify any emails they're going to bounce. If you're going to do cold email campaigns, you cannot just blast out a thousand emails out of your CR system. Your primary domain will be absolutely flagged for spam.
My recommendation is that list of 250, like I said, that could make a million dollars on one deal. Maybe we're dripping out 15 a day, 20 a day, 30 a day. This is getting really technical, but just bear with me. Or you get a secondary domain like johnsonlandgroup.com instead of Johnson Land. So that you're sending stuff from another domain that's not going to be killed by a potential scam.
And then if you're really making enough margin, that's where you'd go through and have somebody go through and find all their social profiles and maybe DM them on social, which is totally next level. And you'd only do that if the margins are there, you're making money in this area, it's hot for you.
Seth: Yeah. It sounds, clearly, follow-up is a really big deal for you and your philosophy and how this all works which actually it's worth mentioning because for a long time, a lot of land investors are just like, "Nope, no follow-up. I'm just going to send this one piece of mail and that's it. If you don't want to do it, then we're done." That's like a foreign concept to most marketers.
I'm just curious how much follow-up is typically required before it's like, “Okay, now we're seeing results. We've followed up for six months, now it's starting to happen.” At what point can you tell if this is truly a dead lead? Nothing's going to happen here. Let's stop following up with them. Is there a way to even measure that?
Callan Faulkner: So, here's my pitch. And I have my company REI Optimize over the past couple of weeks. I've been working with my friend, Jason. He is a conversion content specialist. I had coffee with him a couple of times, he’s like, "You need to really write some converting content.” I'm like, “I don't even know what that means. What's converting content?” We're creating a company called REI Boost. And so, what we're doing now is this exact thing. Now this is for land investors that have a team, they're executing marketing. They're bringing in a significant amount of leads. They don't know what to do with all the leads that said they're not interested right now.
Most real estate investors know how to attract leads. Some know how to manage them, but very few know how to follow up over time. On average for us, it's taken us about six months to see them come back around. This area in Nevada, we ran out of texts, not ran out, but we texted everyone two or three times about a month ago. And we've been living off of the people coming back around from the automated sequences of, “You know what? Actually, yeah, let's have a conversation about that.”
We're in a huge time of uncertainty with our market, with our economy. Day to day, things can change for people. We had a guy that said absolutely not in September. He came back around in February. We're seeing that all the time. So, I think six months is a healthy amount of time for a situation to change, a financial situation to change. But if you're really going to be there, I would say a year, two years.
And in terms of content, educational, entertaining. Don't be, “These are the four steps of selling your land.” Be a person, invest in a copywriter, be a little funny, make some quirks, like be yourself. And if that's not your vibe, if you're a very professional buttoned-up all around your website, then sure, you can make your content like that.
But I think in this world, we have to differentiate ourselves because, again, we're competitive, it's overgrown. If you're the guy that's sending one mailer, that might work. I'm going to be touching them seven times from every different angle and following up with them twice a month for three years. Who might they call back a year later when they are considering selling? The gal that's kind of following up or the guy that sent them the one letter?
Now, again, I got bigger margins. I've got a team, I've got a marketing budget, and I've got time to build this content out, but we've seen a significant return built in the follow-up sequences.
Seth: Yeah. And when we're talking about content, this might be kind of a foreign concept to a lot of land investors who are used to just sending out a letter and that's their content. Like, that's it. So, what you're talking about is every single time you follow up with somebody, you have to have something new and interesting to say, instead of just like, "Hey, are you ready to sell yet?" It's more than that. You got to develop a relationship. And that can be kind of a huge job to just have the creativity. How does that work?
Callan Faulkner: Well, that's why, this is hilarious. This is exactly what happened with Solterra. About four months ago, I was like, I had some content put together of the process of working with us, the four documents needed to sell your property, factors that affected land value. It was okay. We redid everything. And Jason even kept saying like, “You write this, you write this, and then we'll come back.” I just wasn't doing it because it goes to the back of my to-do list every time. He wanted a case study. He wanted a vendor profile on the title company that we worked with. He wanted an interview with the attorney that we called. He wanted all these things and I'm like, “I'm literally never going to do this.” So that's why we're creating services around it with professional copywriters and we literally will just interview.
But let's talk about what a sequence is, what a follow-up sequence is. A follow-up sequence is a series of messages or touches over a period of time. That's why I love Freshsales. They have those automated sequences. What you can do is you can say typically the sequence starts when you ask somebody permission to send them something. And that's why I like to have some pillar content.
If you have an area that you own, let's say you own Costilla County. You should have a PDF of the 14 factors that affect land in Costilla County, Colorado it is. Do this deep dive into Costilla County. You ask them, "Hey, let me follow up with this with you. Let me send it to you." The first email sends them that. 14 days later, maybe it's a little, "Hey, hi, hello. Did you read the PDF? I hope all is well."
14 days later, they get a case study of the last deal that you did in Costilla. No numbers. You're not talking price. You're not talking anything. You're talking how you solved somebody's problem. They needed to close. They were moving. You close in 30 days. Use a title company. It was a great experience. 14 days later, quick touch base. Maybe it's a call. 14 days later, they get an article on the ways to minimize capital gains taxes on the sale of your property. That's a blog on your website. Maybe it's an unlisted YouTube video that you're sending, but it's also the body of the email. And then, of course, we keep going. These are all pieces of information.
Think about what questions are your sellers asking you? How do I go through probate? What do I do with inherited property? How do I sell my land quickly? What are the four hidden costs of selling land? What are these things that your sellers are thinking about that you can proactively educate them on so that they view you as a thought leader and they view you as a trustworthy resource?
Seth: Got you.
Jaren: I named my land business, and my land coaching business, rather, excuse me there. My throat went all weird. I named it 80/20 Land Investing because the 80/20 principle is probably my North Star. I probably should get it tattooed, but there's no universal symbol for 80/20. So that's why I don't have it tattooed yet. But I wanted to.
Seth: In light of 80/20, and from an efficiency standpoint, you mentioned that you stopped mailing for six months and just exclusively text blasted. What do you feel is the most bang for your buck? Do you feel like it's texting? Do you feel like it's a lot of mail? Do you think it's a combination? If you had to choose, hey, I can only do these two things or three things, what would be those things and why? In terms of a marketing perspective.
Callan Faulkner: Yeah, texting because literally the same place where this person's mom is asking them how they're doing, you are right underneath asking if they want to sell their property. That is ridiculous. I have no idea how long this is going to last. I'm sure Apple's going to come out with something so that unknown numbers go on a separate inbox, like Facebook or something. So, I would say taking advantage of the texting opportunity that we have right now by far is the most bang for your buck. Knowing that you have to have a VA, but if you do have one that you're willing to train, 100%.
The second to that would probably be RVMs or calls, just asking if somebody's interested. And then, in my last sequence, I didn't really go into the PPC thing because honestly, we probably should just do a part two because that's just a whole another kit and caboodle of PaperClick ads.
Jaren: Great minds think alike. I just texted Seth on Slack, "We should probably do a part two. This is a lot."
Callan Faulkner: It's a lot. It's a lot. And I don't want to get so weird that people are like, “I have no idea what she's even saying.” But I think if you've found your market, if you've done a texting campaign, maybe a calling campaign, and then I would say some handwritten letters to the older individuals, and then maybe just a regular batch of mailers. You're going to know by then is this the area that I want to continue with? But 100%.
And I have had people disagree with me. They love their mail. That's amazing. If mail works for you and you don't have time to sift through people, mail is an amazing way to start in this business. To learn it, to take leads in, to comp, to build your process, to close on deals. Once you've done 10 deals, that's when I think it's time. That's when I think you can do the texting. You just are going to have to qualify a lot more.
Seth: Yeah. I get people who don't want to give up direct mail, because we get it, we've all done it. We've seen it work. That kind of thing. And it's kind of a lot to start learning all these new systems. For a lot of us, it took a lot of work just to get our arms around direct mail and to now figure out these new systems and stuff. But at the same time, the world is always changing. And there is this issue where a lot of people are hitting the same counties with the exact same thing. And it's just like, it needs to spread out a little bit.
Callan Faulkner: That's the biggest thing, right? For some people listening, this is a hobby for them on the side. If this is a hobby for you and you don't have much time, yeah, you're just going to use the prebaked template that was a part of your training. You're going to whip them out and try to get something to land so you can get your confidence up. You don't have the time to train someone and do this and spend the money on a VA. Like I get it. It is an amazing way to get in.
But once you're in, let's start thinking about even the content of that mailer. If you're mailing to Jacksonville, Florida, and you're trying to get land there, your mailer should talk about Jacksonville and it should talk about the factors that affect land in Jacksonville. Like we're lazy. We're using the same words in every county. We're not doing any work on our website. Every single person's checking you out online if your website's on there. Who is this? Is this a scam? Is this real? What's going on here? Do they even know my area?
My whole thing now is, yeah, I don't give you a price because I actually want to look at your property before I price it. Every other person that you've gotten an offer from in the mail, you think they looked at your property before they sent you that letter? And sorry for everyone that's doing that. That's just how I'm using it to my advantage when they ask me why I just don't have an offer ready. Because I don't know if your property has utilities or not. I didn't do that research before I reached out to you. That's why I'm calling to ask you.
Jaren: I've noticed a pretty substantial competitive advantage to sticking to neutral letters. I think a lot of people, for whatever reason, have this idea that you're just going to get inundated with, overwhelmed with tire kickers for some reason, but that's just not true. You're going to have much more tire kickers I would imagine with a text message blast and be much more bottlenecked with that if you're processing those.
But I just stick to neutral letters. I say in my neutral letter that I am a real estate investor. And so, therefore, I can't pay full market value for any property that I buy. And that kind of accomplishes the same aim as a blind offer or a range letter. And I'm getting better deals because people actually call me and they're like, “You're the first one of these land investors types that actually gave me a real offer. So, let's do the deal.”
Callan Faulkner: Seth and I, where we met was at REWBCON in Phoenix and there was a guy there, Tom Sylvester, he has a company called Lifestyle Builders. He was in the wholesaling space for a long time and he gave me some really good advice. He was saying when he was negotiating with seller leads, he would make it really hard for them to sell to him. He would say, “Why don't you just list it with a realtor? Why don't you just wait 12 months and list it with a realtor and get the top price? Like what's the deal?” And they're like, "Well, I don't know. I kind of need to move a little quicker than that." And he's like, "Why?" Make it hard for them. If you come off just like in a dating relationship, if you're coming off like, “When can we meet? Can we talk? Are you available? You want to do a date? Let's meet tomorrow.”
Jaren: It's too intense. Yeah.
Callan Faulkner: Yeah. Let them chase you. Make it feel like I don't have to do this deal. You can do this if you want, but I don't really understand why you're doing this. It doesn't really make sense to me. Do you want to get top dollar? I've got a preferred realtor. It might take 12 months. It might take 24, but you're going to get top dollar with her, she's great. And I'm more than happy to introduce you. We say that all the time and they'll come back around and be like, “No, I need to move faster,” because that's the truth. We are in a world where we need people to have pain. We need people to have a problem. If they don't have a problem, they're not going to sell to you below market value.
Jaren: I don't think we as land investors are even by and large as just general real estate investors, we understand that just as much as we're trying to generate leads, we're also trying to disqualify leads. We're trying to have this fine balance of qualifying and disqualifying people within our funnel because we don't want just anybody calling us because we don't want to talk to people who want market value. We want to disqualify people who want market value.
Callan Faulkner: Absolutely.
Jaren: Super important for us to do that.
Callan Faulkner: Yes. Train your people. It's so funny how I often say my acquisitions people are sales people and they're like, “Oh, so they're also selling your properties.” I'm like, no, the acquisitions people are selling to the property owners.
This is a sales cycle. You have to make sure, and I've been in B2B sales for 10 years, but it's called BANT - Budget, Authority, Needs, Timeline. What kind of price point are they looking for? Authority - Who's on the deed? Are they actually wanting to sell? Have you communicated with them? Have you gotten offers in the past? What'd they say about it?
N is needs - What do they need? Do they need to move quickly? Do they need your help find tracking down the deed? Do they need help because they have no idea where the paperwork is on that easement that they know is on the property? Like you can solve that problem.
And then T is timeline. Well, you can ask them, "Hey, look, if we come to an offer that makes sense for both of us, are you comfortable closing in the next 30 days?" We may have gotten to the point where they're comfortable with the price. We know who's on the deed. We know they want to move fast or that we don't know that yet. And they might be like, "Ah, no, it's probably more of like a year thing for me. - Okay, great. No worries. We're going to follow up in six months."
You cannot let your team put those people in the pipeline because that's just going to cloud everything up. And that's not a real opportunity, right now at least.
Seth: Got you. Yeah. So, switching gears a little bit. I know one of the wild moments I had when I was just overhearing what you were saying at REWBCON was when you were talking about your process for finding a land-specialized agent. I don't even remember what you said, but I was just like, "Oh, that's a really smart way to do it." Can you recap that? What is your process?
Callan Faulkner: Absolutely. Before I go into it, the OG land specialist finder is Jaren. So, I am a second generation. This is not the starting point. So, Jaren has an awesome guide that he created. I literally think it's called finding a land broker.
Seth: Yeah. I'll put a link to it in the show notes for this episode, by the way, as well as Callan's website. It's retipster.com/132.
Jaren: And just for the record, because we have to set it straight, as much as I would love to take credit for it, it really goes to my wife who came up with the idea.
Callan Faulkner: Heck yeah, the true OG. I love it.
Jaren: It's really her.
Callan Faulkner: She's letting you take credit for it. So, I took that as a foundation to finding an agent and I put it on steroids. The thing that we need to know for sure, and Jaren has a little bit of this is that this person actually does land sales because if they know how to sell a house that is 90 million times different than selling a piece of land.
My process, I typically start by going to Zillow. I look at the last six months of land sales and I go through the listings and put it at that price point that you're considering selling. So, if you're considering selling land from $50,000 to $100,000, put it at $50,000 to $200,000, make it kind of a wide-angle. And straight-up look at the listings. Did they take nice pictures? Did they write a nice description or did they write one sentence with a blurry iPhone photo like so many realtors do, which is totally fun.
Jaren: Or the same picture across multiple listings?
Callan Faulkner: 100%.
Jaren: It's only one picture. Yeah.
Callan Faulkner: Yep. Same picture. I get it, I totally understand. That's why I’m coaching here. So, did they put some effort into it? Did they do a drone photo? Did they put parcel lines? Is it nice? Is it good to look at? Okay, cool. So, we've identified maybe the top ones or the repeats that we've seen.
You do that same exercise on realtor.com. You could do the same exercise on Lands of America. Just make sure they're actually an agent. If they are on Lands of America, that's a great sign. They actually care about land. They're going to this land-specific place and they're posting there.
Okay. So, we've identified the top. Now that we have that, now it is the tough part. We defined our land agent in Florida. We've got two, one on the East, one on the West Coast and it took us 10 conversations. We almost gave up and we finally found one, that is, they have to be hungry. That's straight-up. No matter who you work with, they have to be motivated by money.
When you're talking to a land realtor, it is so important that you sell yourself to them because you're coming in here and you're making a weird pitch, a little bit of a weird pitch, but here's exactly how I do it. "Hey Blake, my name's Callan. I'm with Solterra. I'm actually a land investor and we're picking up a bunch of properties in your area. I've noticed you've sold some land in this area. We are looking for someone to help with the disposition side, the sales side. So, once we get our property purchased, we're looking for someone to help take it to market. And I wondered if that's something that you'd be interested in."
50% of people at that point are going to say, “No, I don't want to work with an investor. I only want to work with an owner.” Expect 50% to say no. I think a lot of people are like, “Oh my God, she's saying no to me right away.” A lot of times they're like, “Yeah, tell me more.” Because some of them haven't heard of it. And then others, the top 20% work with land investors all the time and they totally get it and they understand, but that's rare.
Then we're making sure we're aligned. They understand that we're not the property and we are kind of, but you get the idea, we're investors. Then I go into how great we are at marketing and how many leads we're generating. And a lot of those leads want market value. So, I need somebody to send leads to.
My pitch now is awesome. A little bit about us, obviously we're buying and selling property. Sometimes we're doing improvements to it, clearing it. We're doing some subdivide entitlement work to some, but my background is marketing, technology, and we're actually doing a wide variety of marketing. We're doing texting, we're doing calling, we're doing mail, email. And we're really, really good at getting in touch with property owners.
Typically, about 10% of people that respond to us are deals that we actually end up doing. We have a significant amount of leads that want market value and that's really someone I want to feel really comfortable partnering with too. So that's actually what I'm looking for as well. Someone I can hand these leads off to, I know they're going to get taken care of. And then, of course, someone that can come in and help us get the drone pictures done and just help us manage the entire buyer pipeline and wanted to see if that's something that's kind of in your wheelhouse.
Seth: Got you. How often is it that you just flat out can't find the right person?
Callan Faulkner: It happens. It happened to us in North Carolina.
Jaren: If you ever needed a North Carolina agent call me. I got you.
Callan Faulkner: Phenomenal, Jaren, thank you.
Seth: The power of networking right there.
Callan Faulkner: There you go. Yeah. And that's the other thing. If you do have a good agent somewhere, they actually get referral fees if they refer you to an agent in another market. So, if you're with Remax, if your agent is with Remax, say, "Hey, Andrea, I'm looking to do deals on the coast of Florida. I know that's so random, but I'm wondering if you know who the land agent is for Remax." And we did that in Florida and that was a huge introduction. They wanted a one-pager on our company and they wanted to see access to capital and some weird stuff, but that's fine. I gave them all that.
Jaren: It's interesting that you get so much pushback. You mentioned 50% reject working with investors and then you have to give, like you said, proof of funds. I never have had that. I would probably say my number is probably closer to 10% to 20% of agents who don't want to work with investors. What I do to tell them to be comfortable, I'm like, "Hey, I know we need to protect your interest. So, I'm happy to sign some preliminary listing agreement contingent upon the deal coming through," or something to make them at ease. But I've had only one agent ever ask me to actually do that.
Callan Faulkner: And part of it too is maybe not even necessarily the pushback on us being an investor. But like I said, the agent truly is a part of our team in the markets that we have, in the three major markets. The agent that we have in Minnesota, like I said, I'm going to his house for dinner. He's in our slack. I'm giving him an email address for us.
Jaren: That's a lot different.
Callan Faulkner: That's next level. Next level. And he's calling properties. He's meeting sellers at properties. That's a next-level engagement. And so, we just probably are a little bit more picky, and that's where he has to be really hungry to want to do that with us.
Jaren: I will say though, them going to the property I think, is one of the most important things to have your agents do. If they're not willing to go, even before a listing agreement, to go and take pictures and walk the property, it’s like, what's the point?
Callan Faulkner: 100%. We had a guy in Florida, it was a pretty big buy. It was like a buy for $200,000, sell for like $400,000. And I was like, "Have you gone there? Have you seen it?" And he's like, "Fine. I'll just go look at it right now." I'm like, “Dude, you're…”
Jaren: That's terrible.
Callan Faulkner: Oh my God. And we're giving him a percentage of profits on the deal, so crazy. That's the type of attitude. And if you're feeling that from your realtor, cut them. Just move to the next person that is going to be willing to get out there, take pictures. But you know what? We give 10% of net profit a lot of times on top of what they already get on their brokerage fees to our realtors too. That's important to know. The ones that are on our team. And sometimes even more on big deals. So, they are getting compensated for doing this work for sure.
Jaren: That's awesome. That's a really good idea.
Seth: Yeah. Totally. I've heard you say a few times now that you're in three major markets. Are you saying three counties, or do you mean like three metropolitan areas or three states? What does that mean?
Callan Faulkner: Minnesota is where I'm from. I'm in Minneapolis, born and raised. So, we're doing basically hunting and recreational property all over Minnesota, I would say right now. I've got the whole state.
Seth: So, a market is a state really?
Callan Faulkner: Yeah, yeah, Minnesota now. Nevada is a one city, dialled into one city. Florida, we're on the east coast, three counties and then the west coast four counties.
Seth: Okay. Got you. The reason I'm asking that is because I know a lot of land investors have this habit of jumping from one area to another, but it sounds like your success has been from just sticking to these core areas that you know of. And maybe that's one of the benefits of being willing to follow up so much is you can really squeeze a lot more business out of every place that you target. I was wondering do you ever feel like you're missing out on other markets because you're just sticking to these areas or not? It sounds like you've got more businesses than you can handle with the way you're doing it, right?
Callan Faulkner: I wish that we had talked about this because most people may not be listening anymore, but if you're still listening, thank you. Because this is probably the biggest nugget of what I've learned from studying other land investors outside of land investing. The really successful empires have been built by understanding an area and its streets. And what's good and what's bad, and building a team and having that dispo-side.
It's really easy to generate leads anywhere. If you told me tomorrow, you need leads in Sacramento for land, I could do that. Do I know how to sell land in Sacramento, comp land? Do I know the title company I'm going to work with, the documents that I need?
Jaren: Even the due diligence. The fact is, if you are in Sarasota, Florida, you have to check for scrub jays. That's a very specific Florida-specific thing. And every market has some version of that. So, I can't echo what you're saying more. I think it's spot on.
Callan Faulkner: And if you can commit to an area, when we're on the phone with people in our Nevada market, it's game over. We know so much more than them about every intricacy. It's like, “Ah, you know what? You're on Johnson St. That road is busy. Loud.” We know that in that area, and that sets us apart because every other person has no idea. When they're talking about an offer, we're going into the intricacies of that area. And it's like, “Oh wow, like they're experts.” In our marketing, you better believe the sales sequences in that area are much different. The content that they're getting versus the sales sequence that our Florida market is getting. It's about Florida.
That takes time and energy. Again, I've been doing this for two years and I'm a psycho. So, I've been working extremely hard to get to that place, but I cannot reiterate enough, put blindfolds on. If you find an area, every company that's ever been successful, finds their thing and repeats it. In the beginning, we've got to hustle, grind, find an area, and try a bunch of different things. And then you have to zone in.
Jaren: It's also really helpful from a tax perspective if you focus on a handful of markets, instead of just doing anywhere where there's deals. I feel like across the board, there are a lot of advantages and a lot of best practices focusing on a particular area.
Callan Faulkner: Totally.
Seth: Yeah. In terms of finding this area that's great, how do you know when you've found it? Especially if somebody's sort of newer to the business and they don't know, “Oh, is this a honey hole or not?” What would you say are the signs that are like, “Yep, you've made it, stick to this place?”
Callan Faulkner: The first thing that we're looking for is that response on the text. And when we ask them the number that they're looking for. There are areas in Florida that we texted and they all came back. We did quarter-acre lots, and every single one of them said $100,000, $100,000, $100,000, $100,000. And they're worth $100,000. They're like, “We've got 10 builders lined up to buy this property.” Okay. So, they totally oversaturated our offers. They're getting hit from every direction. That's a no.
So, if they're all coming with the same kind of offer price, you know they've probably been hit up by multiple people and companies. It's just like anything. You get in a couple lots, you're like, “Oh, this feels like a good lot.” You talk to your realtor. They're like, “That's worth $100,000. They're saying they want $40,000. Okay, we get that a couple times through and we just get our confidence up. It's just a normal flow. Like we just start feeling like, “Okay, I feel comfortable with the sale price.”
I honestly think when you sell one property in your market, your confidence, it’s a mental thing, it's like, through the roof. You're like, “Okay, I did it. I know how to do it. That worked. Realtor was spot on. Great. Okay. Now we're going to do it again.” I would say three is kind of that feeling of like, “Yeah, this works.”
But was your question about when the feeling is, or how did you actually find it to start?
Seth: Yeah, it was basically how a person knows when it's time to double down on one area versus continuing to search elsewhere. And I know the answer, at least for me. When you've worked in 10 or 20 or 30 counties, it's pretty easy to stare at figuring out okay, which ones were working well, which ones weren't? And that's your answer, but I didn't know if you had a more objective way of measuring it and saying, “This many responses or this many dollars made, now I'm okay to keep working in this county.” If you had any thoughts on that.
Callan Faulkner: I think the 2,000 texts to one deal rule, that's kind of our big general. If we go through a list of 4,000 and we haven't done two solid deals in those two months, there's a problem in this area. But I also think that also comes back to tracking your data. You've got to track that master list somewhere and then identify, “Okay, we went from 6,200 down to 5,200 in this area that we've communicated with, or they've told us that they're not interested or whatever. And we did three deals.” Okay. So, a thousand touches, three deals. That feels like a pretty good response, depending on your margin. If you're making $500, it’s not a really good response.
So, it depends on your margins there. That's why I'm a big fan of upping the margins a little bit on that and tracking as many KPIs as you possibly can because if you're not tracking them, you can't spot the trends.
Seth: I cannot tell you how many times over the years I've had people seen forum comments or emails where people are like, “I've sent out this many mailers and I don't have this many deals, tell me what's wrong.” And it's like, “Well, how many thousands of things could be going wrong here?” And it could be that the market's saturated, so to speak, but could be that your offers are bad or your copy is terrible or you sent it to the wrong people. I don't know the answer. Maybe there isn't an easy one, but it just bothers me that I can't give people a solid answer. Like, yes, this is a bad market because dot, dot, dot. It's like, I don't know, even if there is competition, maybe there's something you could do differently or maybe it's worth half or more. You could just go on and on and on with this. I guess I'm looking for an easy button from you, Callen, just to tell us what to do.
Callan Faulkner: I don't have an easy button, but I do have like, “Hey, test markets.”
Callan Faulkner: Test three or four different counties. I think we all expect, “Okay, I sent 5,000 mailers, here it comes.” That's just not how it works. You might send 5,000 mailers to Sarasota, get a significant response at 5,000 mailers to Albany, New York, 10 plus acres and get no responses. That is 100% possible. That's the hard part about this industry. We have to spend money on marketing. That is our product. And all these claims that you can just get in with no cash and get the $10,000 a month passive income. There is nothing passive. This is not a passive play. This is the most active it could possibly be. So, I just think not sugarcoating it. You're going to have a failed mailer. You're going to spend $2,500, $3,000 and it's going to fail. If your margins are there, if you can just land one deal that makes $8,000, it erases all of it. You're back in the game.
Jaren: This prompts this story. I was not going to share it. I'm going to do my best to keep it brief because we're near the end of the conversation. But I had a person who was interested in coaching with me or doing the land investing masterclass. And this was probably about two years ago when I was still as a part of a W2 employee of REtipster.
And in the conversation, he said, “Okay, I'm going to start off with the land investing masterclass, see how far I get. And then I'll circle back with you if I need extra coaching.” And I say, “Sure, sounds good.” A few months later, the guy reaches out to me, and he's actually a pastor. And he started the conversation like this. “I want to know whether or not you're a fraud.” I was like, “Oh, really?” It was very aggressive, but it wasn't like he was angry. He was just a matter of fact about it.
And he said, “I did this, I did this.” He's like, “When you break down the numbers and you do mail and the cost, I'm a numbers guy. I bought a few deals and I sold them. But what I sold them for the numbers were so thin that I didn't even cover the cost of direct mail. So, something is fundamentally wrong with your system.” And the solution was, I was like, “Yeah, I agree with you. I don't buy properties for $500 or $1,500. I buy properties anywhere from $15,000 to $250,000.” Because if I get a deal and the spread is $10,000, that's very different than if the spread is $1,000. Even if the ROI on that $1,000 is like 400% or whatever it is, it doesn't matter. It's still $1,000 at the end of the day.
Callan Faulkner: Exactly. And then after closing costs and taxes and whatever, you're just not there. And it's really hard to do that business. And there are people that have figured that business out, but they're acquiring properties in other ways than just mail. That's just the fact of the matter. There are ways to get properties that don't require sending 10,000, 20,000 mailers a month. It's a significant amount of transactions and it's very labor-intensive. So, I think get those margins up a little bit. Yeah. Because there's going to be a failed mailer, and it stings. It really does. But that's normal. That is normal for all of us.
Seth: Yeah, for sure. I'm sort of going back a little bit. I know we talked about this earlier in terms of the process of sending out text and how you respond and what comes next. But just to summarize it, in case you said it and I just missed it or just to help our audience visualize it. So, if somebody is going to go down this route of sending out texts instead of direct mail, what is this step one, step two, step three. So, step one being, I send out these text blasts. People receive them and they respond in some way that's positive and keeps the process going. What is step two? Is step two then, “Okay, now we're going to…?”
Callan Faulkner: Ask some questions about their property.
Seth: Yeah. If they go into the follow-up sequence, you don't close it now, but maybe you hope to in the future. Is the next step, “Okay, give us your email address?” I'm trying to visualize a mind map, if that makes sense.
Callan Faulkner: Just in total transparency, I do this consulting with land investors. If you're like, I don't want to do this myself, there are definitely hustlers listening to this that are brand new that are like, “I have no money. I cannot do this. I need to figure this out.” So, I'm going to give you enough. It's not going to be the whole thing because I want to show you my layered diagram, but very high level.
The first most important thing that we're trying to identify in Launch Control is if that person wants to sell their property. And then the second thing is, do we want to buy it? If we have not identified if this person for sure wants to buy their property and maybe they kind of ghosted us and we tried to text them, they didn't follow up, there is a set of follow-up sequences, drip campaigns that automatically send texts inside of Launch Control.
Those texts are very high level. "Hey, I wonder if you're still interested. I would love to communicate with you." We've got texts that go over three years. Now, those are people that have not fully expressed interest in selling their property. And maybe we have or haven't looked at MapRight. It depends on where we are. So, there are these campaigns. These are unqualified marketing leads.
Now, the moment that a person expresses interest in selling their property, they've given you a little bit of information about it. They've answered a couple of questions. Maybe they've given you a number. We've asked about the budget. We've asked about the timeline. Really quick text. It's not long. It's super quick and trying to get them to be on the hook. Now we have a phone call with them. Now our Filipino VAs get on a call.
They warm them up. It's a warm call. It's asking questions about BANT - Budget, Authority, Needs, Timeline. And asking about the property. Prepping the lead for our acquisitions manager. At that point, we might realize they're not interested. And that's our dropdown to the guide, get their email, put them on a follow-up sequence in Freshsales. That's where they're going to get more of the contents. And we've got somewhat of a relationship with them.
Then let's say this person's interested. We've had a great call. We've added the notes in Launch Control. We then will add this person to a pre-screen bucket inside of Freshsales. In Freshsales, we have four different pipelines. We're talking about the acquisitions pipeline here. It goes into pre-screen. We've got a MapRight map. If it's not a non-disclosure state, I'll have them look up what they paid for it, when they purchased it, what do they want for it and then any of the notes from the call. That's all in the pre-screen. That gets assigned to our acquisitions manager.
Then they take it from there and they're going to push it through. And then they're going to sign. Maybe later it goes on to a long-term nurture within that process. Or maybe they get moved to dead potentially because we find out something about the property. So, does that make sense? Kind of keeping it in Launch Control until that's fully qualified and then we move it into our CRM system to move it through the process.
Seth: Is there ever an issue where you're getting like multiple points of contact? Like you might have the person who handled the text conversation, that's person one. Then you have this Filipino VA who I'm wondering, did they have an American accent or not? It seems like they wouldn't, but I don't know.
Callan Faulkner: The same person that answers the text conversation is taking the first call.
Seth: Okay. Got you. And then once they get it prepped for the acquisitions manager, that's a separate person, who then jumps in and reviews notes and goes from there?
Callan Faulkner: Yes. They literally say they'll call them and they'll take a look at the property first and just make sure that everything looks good. We truly do want to buy it. Yes, it looks great. Look at a couple other comps and then they're calling, they say, "Hey, I know you chatted with my associate, Jen, catch me up. I know she kind of mentioned you're interested and obviously you've gotten a couple of offers in the past, but we would love to. Catch me up on what you guys chatted about."
And Jen is introducing the acquisitions manager as the numbers guy or the numbers gal. And they're the one that sharpens their pencils and does offers. I'm just a total question asker and I'm the messenger. Because they might ask on the call like, “Well, just give me an offer,” and we have to say, “Well, we actually like to look at all the properties that we give offers to. And we actually like to meet as a team and discuss, and we look at the market and we look at your zip code and it's really personalized.
So, if this is taking a little bit too long, I totally understand, but this is just kind of our process. So, the next step is you're going to communicate with Kim or with EJ. They're the numbers folks.” And then Kim and EJ take it to the end and close it.
Seth: So, it sounds like there's a number of people involved with this. If somebody is just getting started and they can only afford one person, who is the first person they should start with? Who is the most important component of this process, would you say?
Callan Faulkner: It depends on the amount of capital you have to invest in the business. If you've been working for 30 years and this is kind of moving into a retirement thing and you have the 25,000, I would hire a US-based person that can text. Kim lived in Launch Control for six months before we had anyone else. She was texting, she was calling, she was closing. She was doing it all.
If you're new in the business, you don't have a lot of capital to start, I would hire the Filipino VA that can text, warm up the lead, prep the lead, grab the comps and put it into the CRM for you to review as the owner. And then you are doing the negotiating and the closing. So, it just depends on what your budget is.
Seth: Yeah, it makes perfect sense. And getting into that whole thing and this may be just a totally different conversation we have another day, but with the time we have left here. If you were going to try to hire that VA from the Philippines, where do you go for that? What is your process for posting something for the right person, finding the right person, interviewing them, training them up? How difficult is that? We got 30 seconds to go.
Callan Faulkner: So much to say. Okay.
Jaren: Seth has these questions today that are like, literally here's 12 hours of content to answer that one question.
Callan Faulkner: Yeah. This is another 90-minute conversation.
Seth: I was a little overwhelmed just asking that question. So good luck.
Callan Faulkner: I know. Seth's like running out of breath asking the question. Okay. So, if you want my 30-second overview, there are three major regions where VAs are typically acquired from. There's the Philippines, there's Latin America, and there's India. That's kind of the traditional virtual assistance. Filipinos are really great for data entry tasks. They follow processes, they follow a script. They're so good at getting dialled in on your process, your way of doing things. So really good for Launch Control. We've got little templates. This is what I want you to say over and over again. A little bit of critical thinking here and there, but very dialled in on something that you've built out. onlinejobs.ph is the site that we'd go to.
The second place would be kind of an Indian VA. That's really great for technology. So, if you're getting into that next step of maybe you want to start automating some things, how do you recommend having somebody on a tech level for you.
And then the third is kind of that sales and of course, HireMyMom is where we found Kim. I would recommend just posting a job on LinkedIn. Floating it to folks that you may know, that have friends. I would not recommend hiring a family member for this position as you could absolutely have turnover very quickly.
When you're hiring someone from the Philippines, I could go into this way more. It’s so important to test, obviously, you make a disc profile and make sure that they're matched up with the task that you're looking for them to do. And then I have actually a test that I've been putting them through that tests their written English. It has questions like what word does not match these other words? It's like a table, chair, and then it's a balloon. And it's like, you pick the word that doesn't match the others. Some of those things.
And then asking them some questions, if you didn't know how to do a task and you forgot how to do a task, what would you do? Call your boss, rewatch the video that you were given, not do the task, or send an email to the team. And you'll get people that say just skip the task. It's like, okay, all right.
I would say it depends on what you're hiring for. But if you're hiring for Launch Control, written English is extremely important because a lot of times they can kind of speak it, but we've got to make sure that they can type it and you got to work on them. You've got to work it because they'll say, "Hey, I'm looking at your property in 123 Jones Road.” It's actually on 123 Jones Road. So, if you're getting someone a little less expensive, you've got to be prepared to put time and energy into making sure that they understand those quirks. And they want to know, they want to learn, trust me, but you have to be not afraid to just tell them like, “No, it's not in. It's on.” But have them write something to you.
Jaren: I think we should do a part two all about hiring VAs because there's a ton of people who ask me about all that. And I fly by the seat of my pants, so I don't know how to answer them. So, I think that would be really nice too.
Callan Faulkner: I love it. They're a part of our team. We're getting them travel visas to come to the US. They all get a percentage of profits. You can build an incredible organization built on VAs, but you have to be committed to putting time and energy.
Jaren: Training. Yeah. I do love what you said earlier. For your first hire you put in a hundred hours and then you never touched training ever again. I got my first hire about two months ago and it's been an absolute game-changer, but you have to make sure you got the right fit. And I think even in past episodes, Seth has mentioned that one of his biggest issues as a business owner is figuring out good staffing. Like it's really, really hard to find somebody that you can trust, who is actually going to execute.
My acquisition manager, who I hired. He treats my business as though it's his, just like I used to when I was an employee. That's a trait that's hard to find. So, if there's a way you can figure out how to quantify it or learn how to train VAs that have that kind of like, “I actually take personal responsibility for the work, the tasks at hand, the mission at hand.” That's huge, but it's really, really hard to do. That's my suggestion, we do a second one.
Seth: Yeah. I agree. Well, in the interest of time, we're going to wrap this up. Callan, thank you very much for talking with us. I've learned a ton. I can tell you clearly, I have a whole lot of knowledge and experience to share. If people want to find out more about you or work with you in any capacity, how should they do that?
Callan Faulkner: Yeah. reioptimize.com is my website. I will be doing 15-minute free discovery sessions. I think I'm going to do a Launch Control training, a group course. I've been doing one-on-one coaching, which is really powerful because I have the client share the screen and they do the clicking, but I'm just getting a tremendous amount of response and I have to run my own land business. So, I’m trying to automate my consulting business as much as possible.
So, take a look at there and I do have affiliate links with some of these people. I try to give as much information as I possibly can, but if you do sign up, join my Launch Control community because I am going to be doing a monthly education for all the land investors in that community just for free, just if you're signed up with me. So do that and then reach out.
And then I have REI Boost coming soon. So, if you are a more seasoned real estate investor and you're looking to up your content game and your drips and get your blog going, reach out, I'm going to have a separate website for that. But for right now, just reach out to me. Reioptimize.com. It says, “Book a 15-minute discovery call,” and I'd love to meet you.
Jaren: Where does this say that?
Callan Faulkner: If you scroll down, I know I tried to make it a little hard to find because I was getting a little busy there. It says “Automate your land business” and then scroll down, where it says “Start texting your leads” it's green. And then on the right, it says, “Book a 15-minute discovery call.”
And then I do have, up at the right, a consulting session. That's actually with my lead consultant. I have a full-time consultant, Ashley. She's a CRM consultant. She's been doing CRM for 15 years. So that's paid. If you're like, “I just need to dive right in,” she can spend an hour with you just figuring out what CRM to use, Follow Up Boss, Pebble, Freshsales, which direction to go, I need help with a Zap, she's your gal.
Seth: Yeah. The CRM question, I've gotten that question for so many years now and I don't know. I don't know what people want me to tell them because there are so many different options out there and I don't even really understand them all that well myself, to be honest.
Jaren: And they change. Every six months they change.
Callan Faulkner: Yeah.
Seth: Yeah. Just having somebody who's like, here's the CRM problem. Please help me fix it. And somebody who can objectively point you to different things, depending on what you need. That's a huge deal to know somebody like that.
Callan Faulkner: That's kind of what I'm creating. I'm doing one to one consulting pretty much. We've done five Freshsales implementations this year for season land investors. They have a team. They don't want to do it. So let us do it. We will do it. Start to finish. We'll build out that lucid chart. Here's your flow. Here's your pipeline. Train your team. Full DIY. Start to finish on that. So, Follow Up Boss, Pebble and Freshsales are our favorites. And OpenPhone, of course. I love OpenPhone. That's a great calling tool.
Jaren: Yeah. I love OpenPhone.
Seth: I have a feeling Callan's schedule is going to fill up pretty quick after this podcast episode goes live.
Callan Faulkner: I might need to change that link to a group call five people. Yeah, it's been amazing. And I'd love to learn from you guys too, everyone that's just saying, “What do you guys need?” Because I want to create offerings for groups.
Seth: Maybe you can implement some of those tricks to disqualify leads through this process. Like, do you really want to figure this out?
Callan Faulkner: It does have a little like, form, and then it drives people to the right link depending on how they answer it. So, we're working on it, Seth. A little automation on the REI Optimize is the idea. We'll get there.
Seth: Awesome. Again, reioptimize.com. I'm going to have a link to that and several other things that we talked about in this conversation at retipster.com/132. That's where the show notes are for this episode, because this is episode 132.
Callan, thanks again. We'll have to have you on again soon and I appreciate your time.
Callan Faulkner: Can't wait. Thanks, guys.
Seth: All right, folks. So, there you go. That was our conversation with Callan. I hope you got a lot of value out of that and just new ideas and insights. I know I learned a ton.
A lot of people might be hearing this and they're almost kind of overwhelmed with just the new ideas that they hadn't thought of or didn't really understand how it even worked. I kind of felt that as I was hearing all this stuff about texting. I've known about texting for a long time. I just haven't known of anybody who's really done it sustainably well and been able to very clearly articulate, “This is how you do it. And this is the response you can expect. And this is how it compares to direct mail and the pros and cons of it.”
I think one thing to take away from this is just that when we use words like “saturation” or it's too competitive, I don't know if we even said that, but just things like that or even the idea that like “Is direct mail dead?”
I think the thing that I want people to take away is that it's really good to know about other options on the table and different ways you can do things, different ways you can look at it. Even when you are sticking to direct mail, you can rethink that too. There are many different ways to go forward with that.
I think the big takeaway is just, “Don't be afraid to be different and to try new things, especially when there's some kind of a framework for how to actually do it.” When somebody like Callan has this kind of experience, it's not really guesswork anymore because somebody has sort of laid the foundation and figured out at least one way to proceed and how to handle this kind of thing. But it doesn't mean direct mail is dead.
And on the contrary, I know it's still working well for a lot of people. And even within direct mail, there are all kinds of new ways to approach that too. Not only the coming up with a different template, like we touched on, but also there's stuff I know of right now that's in development in terms of how to get much smarter about sorting your list so that your response rates end up being a lot higher on the back end, because you're only contacting very specific people filtered through many different filters, even beyond what DataTree can do.
So, it doesn't mean direct mail is dead, but I think sort of the old standby way that most of us have learned, whether it's 10 years ago or five years ago, it's becoming a little bit less effective than it used to be. It used to be very easy to just not think too hard about it. It just takes a much bigger push in terms of direct mail, unless you start getting creative about this kind of stuff.
Jaren: I like to think of it kind of like how things used to be in direct mail. You could get away with doing, let's say, 500 units of mail and get plenty of deals. Now I think we're seeing at a bare minimum somewhere between like the 1,500 to 4,000 units of mail range in order to get a deal, depending on what market you're in.
In terms of the impact that we're seeing, like what Seth just said, where direct mail is not as effective, I think it's still very effective. It's just not what it used to be five years ago when there was nobody else doing land. So, just to be aware of that as we approach this conversation and all of that.
I also will say, I would make a very strong case that blind offers might be the culprit. And I think that if you test with neutral letters, you might see a better result. At least that's how it was in my business anecdotally. Since last July, I've exclusively been doing neutral letters and it's working just like it always has. I am doing more mail. So, I am, on average, seeing one deal for every 2,000 units of mail that I send, which is different than how things used to be.
But outside of that one thing, actually we're recording this outro the next day after the conversation we had with Callan and I actually called a mutual friend who's been trained by her to get the bottom scoop, because I was like, “How much is direct mail not working or working less compared to dollar-for-dollar other strategies like text message blast, cold calling so on and so forth?”
The response that I got from him was that direct mail is still 100% his best source of deals. He just uses these other types of stuff in more of a supportive role. So, if you had a particular county or you had a particular city, even, that you wanted to hyper-focus on, there's this concept called “farming” where essentially you do your best to constantly mail over and over again that same area and be top of mind and build a long-term relationship from a marketing perspective. And so, when somebody is ready to sell, you're the first person they reach out to.
I think that text messaging and ringless voicemail drops and all of the other stuff out there are great in that type of situation. And I think that's Callan's model. That's kind of what my biggest takeaway was from the conversation. It was that she said that she has a very specific place in Nevada, for example, that she hyper-targets and hits over and over again.
And so, I think step one, do our normal direct mail stuff. But if you want to get more sophisticated, then on the people who do not respond to your direct mail efforts, then do a text message blast on the remaining people on that list or do a cold calling or PPC or whatever.
I definitely want to, in the same vein as Seth, reiterate that direct mail is not dead and you're going to probably shoot yourself in the foot if you stop doing direct mail. These other things are nice and they're good supplements, but they're not replacements. So, that's my two cents on the thing.
Seth: No, that's super helpful insight, Jaren. Thanks for sharing that. I think we're going to wrap this one up without going any further, because this is already a pretty long episode.
Jaren: That was pretty long.
Seth: Yeah, totally. But lots of good stuff. Good enough that we could probably have a whole another conversation about even more. She's got a whole lot of knowledge about how this stuff works. But again, thanks to everybody.
Jaren: I was highly impressed by her, I'll say
Seth: Yeah, she seems super sharp. Thanks again, everybody, for listening in. I hope you guys got a lot of value out of this. If you want to follow along with what's going on with REtipster, you can go ahead and text the word “FREE” to the number 33777.
And be sure to check out the forum. There's a lot of good stuff happening there too, retipster.com/forum. If you have any thoughts on today's episode, feel free to share them there. And again, if you want to see the show notes for this conversation, go to retipster.com/132. Thanks again, and we'll talk to you next time.
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