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Leveraging Time – Going from Lone Wolf to Wolf Pack

A healthy, growing business requires help. If you’re a lone wolf real estate investor, accepting you need help is hard. Finding the right help can be even harder.

To make the transition from lone wolf to wolf pack easier for you, we’ve invited guest Robert Nickell to tell us about the process of finding the right folks to help grow his own business.

He’ll explain how to identify needs and set up processes to hire the right people so you can increase efficiency and offload busywork.

In this episode of The Real Estate Guys™ show you’ll hear from:

  • Your running-with-the-wolves host, Robert Helms
  • His wolfish co-host, Russell Gray
  • Real estate broker, investor, and consultant Robert Nickell



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Recruiting help: Rob’s story of trial and error

How can busy real estate professionals get the help they need? Robert Nickell has faced this problem … and conquered it.

Rob got his start in real estate working with a general contractor in high school. But his fire for real estate didn’t really get lit until one of his older siblings brought home a copy of Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Richard Kiyosaki.

The idea of passive income and cash flow became a passion … but Rob didn’t have any starter cash. So in 2008, he started rehabbing and flipping houses with a friend.

“The market was primed for us to get in and get into it,” he says. The problem? Business was booming so much that he was running out of time.

Alongside managing contractors, projects, and materials for his rehabbing business, Rob started wholesaling. This required managing buyer lists and staying in touch with sellers.

But he didn’t want to hire someone. “To be honest, I didn’t want the responsibility of providing for someone else,” Rob says. But he knew he needed help. So, he started looking for part-time folks to fill in.

His first attempt didn’t go well. “I spent all of my time training and recruiting people. I was waking up miserable every day,” Rob says. “It was hard enough to run my own task list, much less give someone else a task list.”

Rob decided to visit his broker, who was crushing it with a small office but didn’t seem very stressed out. Rob, on the other hand, was working 60-70 hours a week and starting to hate his work. The broker’s secret? Virtual assistants.

The broker was leveraging low-cost trained labor from the Philippines to do the majority of the day-to-day work for his office … virtually anything that required a phone or a computer.

Rob decided to give it a shot. But his second attempt at offloading some of his work didn’t go well either.

His first hires were low-quality and required more work to train and oversee than it would take to just do the task himself. Rob had to learn how to develop a good process for hiring people from overseas.

From virtual pain to legitimate virtual assistant

The process for hiring virtual assistants isn’t much different than the process for hiring an in-office employee. For new hires, Rob now requires background checks, resumes, personality and job-specific tests, and sometimes, evidence of related experience. For example, anyone doing phone work has to do a phone analysis.

This process cuts down on time training people … and makes sure hires end up in places where they fit best and will be happiest.

Still, Rob says many people have misperceptions about virtual assistants. They think because overseas virtual assistants are inexpensive, they don’t require extensive training.

Rob takes a completely different tack by training his hire extensively to do what real estate investors do. “I’m looking for a rock star to complete specific jobs that will provide efficiencies for me,” he says.

Rob has some advice for real estate investors going through the same thing he did. “We’re all in different stages of stuck,” he says. Every business has inefficiencies they can eliminate.

The first step forward is to understand where you want to go with your business. Next, entrepreneurs need to create a structure based on their business plan for specific jobs that need to be created and filled.

For Rob, the formula for success looks like a combination of the right skill set, in the right seat, working under smart systems, with some accountability and structure in place.

Where can investors start? “The great thing about real estate is we can structure our businesses however we see fit,” Rob says. Every person does things a bit differently, but there are some basics that leaders can easily offload, like phone work to speak to marketing leads and property analysis.

Should the same person be doing both phone work and property analysis? Probably not. Personality tests and other evaluation can help you evaluate which job position a prospective hire will fit best.

Training and real-world experience are also key indicators. “When you couple experience with personality you can understand where people will really be successful,” Rob notes.

Helping other businesses succeed

Rob figured out the process of recruiting help for his own business. But he didn’t stop there. He now helps other real estate investors implement similar processes so they can run at maximum efficiency.

He starts by mapping out each business he works with, asking a few essential questions:

  1. What are you doing right now?
  2. What does your current team look like?
  3. What tasks do they complete?
  4. What are your business goals?

From there, he crafts a success map alongside his clients that details a structure for recruiting, hiring, training, and placing assistants throughout the business. This provides leaders with carefully crafted job descriptions and gives them some accountability throughout the process.

If the thought of delegation feels overwhelming to you … like it did at first for Rob … figure out the easiest things to delegate. Letting go of the tasks YOU don’t need to do can be the key to building a bigger and better business.

There is some art to this process, but it’s mostly a science, says Rob. When there’s not enough time, what projects fall by the wayside? Start there.

“Anyone can do this on their own,” Rob says, but working with a consultant may be the quickest solution. (Why figure something out on your own when there’s already a good solution out there?)

If you want to give hiring a virtual assistant a shot on your own, start with these steps:

  1. Map out your business goals and current structure.
  2. Develop a plan for specific tasks you need filled.
  3. Start recruiting. Look for a rock star who will fit the role perfectly.
  4. Get that person set up with a schedule, onboarding process, and any necessary training. Treat them like an employee, even though you will probably hire them as an independent contractor.

Try to create win-wins … for yourself and those you hire. Virtual assistants allow you to hire help at a low cost to fill certain needs … so you can spend your time doing the $1,000/hour tasks. And they receive benefits from steady pay and the opportunity to do work they’re good at and enjoy.

Reaching the next level

If you want to get to the next level, you’ve got to find a way to get help. Rob’s pioneered one solution. There are many others out there.

It’s easy to find a solution. It may not be so easy to recognize there’s a problem in the first place. But it’s essential. Because whether you want to grow your business or just be more efficient, you can’t do it alone.

More From The Real Estate Guys™…

The Real Estate Guys™ radio show and podcast provides real estate investing news, education, training and resources to help real estate investors succeed.


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