Even if you are doing sales, closing business, and adding doors, your life and business can still be a disaster – if you don’t know what it means and how to optimize for profit.
Today, I am talking with Jordan Muela of LeadSimple and ProfitCoach, which provides third-party fractional CFO advising. They help you take the guesswork out of property management business growth.
[05:10] NARPM Accounting Standard: ProfitCoach provided first set of financial benchmarks for the industry.
[06:59] Numbers are not everything, and it’s not just about doors; there’s a lot that numbers can tell you that we don’t know because people don’t track their data.
[08:36] Lifestyle is a factor when growing companies; make sure you have a business that serves your needs and meets your goals in life.
[10:00] Unique ability involves networking and research to develop opportunities and build new businesses around needs; cost and penalty you pay for being a visionary.
[12:12] Nobody can validate that your heart’s desire is for your business or life; start making decisions and seek clarity.
[16:25] Separate work from playtime and sense of isolation/lack of connection; create a life that supports you and gives you what you need – it’s not just about making money.
[19:09] Growth – a good idea or distraction; greatest determiner of your ability to grow is not the quality of your service offering, but your ability to execute.
[25:25] Business and sales happen at the speed of trust; people don’t buy what you do, they want to find someone they can trust.
[27:45] Businesses establish themselves as leaders and capture more business by expressing and expanding their vision, values, mission, and purpose.
[30:48] Content Marketing: Find the most efficient mediums/processes to spread value to target market; people consume content in different ways (i.e videos, conversations).
[33:50] Difference between content for the sake of building authority and helping people vs. content for the sake of SEO and SEO-driven context.
[41:57] Biggest growth opportunity for business owners who focus on everything outward is to change themselves; business is just a means to an end.
[54:00] Growth doesn’t have to be painful; a healthier way of growing and scaling a business is by giving employees meaningful work.
TweetablesFuture of Business: Giving employees meaningful work. Click To Tweet
Jason: Welcome, DoorGrow Hackers, to the DoorGrowShow. If you are a property management entrepreneur that wants to add doors, make a difference, increase revenue, help others, impact lives, and you are interested in growing your business and life, and you are open to doing things a bit differently, then you are a DoorGrow Hacker. DoorGrow Hackers love the opportunities, daily variety, unique challenges and freedom that property management brings.
Many in real estate think you’re crazy for doing it. You think they’re crazy for not because you realize that property management is the ultimate high-trust gateway to real estate deals, relationships and residual income. At DoorGrow, we are on a mission to transform property management businesses and their owners. We want to transform the industry, eliminate the BS, build awareness, change perception, expand the market and help the best property management entrepreneurs win.
I’m your host, property management growth hacker and expert, Jason Hull, the founder of OpenPotion, GatherKudos, ThunderLocal and, of course, DoorGrow. Now, let’s get into the show. Today’s guest is Jordan Muela, which I said very white boy-ish. Sorry. Welcome to the show, Jordan.
Jordan: Hey, thanks for having me here. By the way, I love that intro, man. That’s something I can get behind.
Jason: Awesome. That’s our manifesto–I call it–for what our cause is and our purpose here at DoorGrow and for the show. Jordan, I’m really excited having you on the show. It’s been a long time coming. You’ve got a lot of different things that you’re involved in, in the property management industry. I’m sure everybody listens to the show, is familiar with you or should be. Welcome to the show. Grateful to have you here. Where do you think we should start? Let’s start with how you got into all of this property management stuff. Let’s go back.
Jordan: Rewinding. Way back in the day, I worked for a venture-backed HoA company called Real Manage. I got mentored by the CEO at that company, and he was really generous with his time, just took a ton of time investing in me and my now co-founder. At the end of that time, he kicked us out and said, “Hey, you’ve got to go start your own thing. It doesn’t matter what. It’s probably not going to work out. You’re just going to start.”
From that, we started a company called Manage My Property that does lead gen. It’s like a smaller version of all property management, basically. I did that for a couple of years. It was a real grind. Eventually, we realized that we were selling leads to folks that didn’t have any kind of a sales process, which was really challenging because the default response was that the leads were terrible. We decided to pivot into software.
We built LeadSimple to help people manage and close leads, and that company’s done well. There was still a lot of educating the market around, “Now, we’re selling a sales CRM to people without a sales department.” It’s still kind of challenging. We started an event called PM Grow to help do some professional education around that, started a podcast, eventually got to the point where I realized that even if you are doing the sales, you’re closing business, you’re adding doors, your life and your business can still be a disaster if you don’t know what it means and how to actually go about optimizing for profit. We started ProfitCoach to help provide that third-party fractional CFO kind of advising, and then it just got on from there, man.
Jason: Yeah, it’s interesting because you’ve taken a lot of different routes. You pivoted, which is very entrepreneurial–it’s something that we do–and recognizing different problems, and that’s very similar in how we’ve built our business, starting out as largely a website design firm and then shifting more into the consulting space and recognizing the similar problems that we’ve identified. We did ads for property managers doing ad words and started managing that for a little while, and we recognized the same thing.
They would say the leads are terrible, and that’s what cold leads are. They’re pretty terrible, generally, and they just did not know how to deal with them or use them properly, and so that was a challenge. Then, we also recognized that people need a sales process. They weren’t even answering their phones, and so we started coaching them on sales and how to move through that. Then, you’ve got your PM growth conference. You guys beat me to it, man. I was really wanting to get a conference out. It was my dream of mine, and we were a couple of years behind.
Jordan: You still did it, man. Better late than never.
Jason: We did it, and it was painful. It was like giving birth, I would imagine. No offense to the ladies. I’m sure it’s much harder than running a conference, but running a conference was hard for me. It was difficult and I’m a little bit nervous about doing it again just because of all that, but we learned a lot and it should be a lot easier the second time around so we’ll see. We’ll see how it goes. What is your main focus, then, right now?
Jordan: At this very moment, I’d say my main focus is pushing out the NARPM accounting standard. That’s something that’s taken a ton of time, and we’ll hopefully be launching it in NARPM Broker/Owner, but we were retained by NARPM to develop that accounting standard. We released some benchmarking data coming up on almost a year ago now. We had a bunch of companies submit their financial and operational data, and we provided the first set of financial benchmarks for the industry and out of that in order to make that go from just an intellectual exercise to actually something that can really help the industry as a whole.
Brad Larsen specifically asked us to work with NARPM to develop an accounting standard, and we’ve gone ahead and we’ve been doing that. That’s been sucking up a lot of my time lately, and I’m pretty excited about it.
Jason: Yeah, we had a really great episode, for those watching or listening, with Brad Larsen, talking all about that. I recommend everybody check that out because I thought it was really fascinating, and it looks like something’s very well-needed in the industry that could help. Just standardizing things can make communication among companies a lot easier, and I see a lot of benefits to that. It’s really part of the property management industry growing up and needs to happen.
Jordan: Apples to apples, yeah, for sure. I will just say the context would be, Jason, if a company came to you and instead of saying, “On that such-and-such doors, my head count is such and such,” if instead it was like, “Here’s a fax sheet. Here are five numbers that indicate the financial health of my business,” it just clarifies what the starting point of having a meaningful conversation is, not that numbers are everything, but there’s a lot that the numbers that can tell you that we don’t know simply because a lot of people don’t track their data. You have to try and make inferences with all these other secondary abstractions as opposed to what’s the bottom-line financial reality right now.
Jason: Yeah. I get to see inside a lot of companies, and one of the things I’ve noticed is it’s not just about doors. You’ll see companies that have a large number of doors and they’re making peanuts lifetime value per client, and it’s really ridiculous. Some of them aren’t even profitable. I had a client that came to us with 600 doors and his property management business wasn’t even making a dollar. It wasn’t profitable at all, and it was because it was this cancerous tumor sitting inside of a really healthy real estate company.
He was able to artificially get past those typical hurdles that most property management companies get stuck at by supplementing and pulling in resources from his real estate company so he never had to make the changes that should have been necessary. Once he made those changes, he now has a profitable company and half the staff, and he had fired 200 doors.
Jordan: The warped inverse of that is the person who is at 200 doors not making any money, thinking that the solution is getting to 600 doors. Historically, they’ve grown by 20% per year but some […] triple in size within the next 12 months that would solve the problem. There’s a lot of nuance there. It’s a rich conversation.
Jason: Lifestyle’s certainly a factor when growing companies. You’ve mentioned a little bit about that when you were leading into talking about ProfitCoach, but it’s about making sure that you have a business that serves your needs and meets your goals in life. I’ve got a client that is frustrated because she hasn’t broken the 100-door barrier but she deals with high-end properties, she gets a really good profit margin per door but when she first came to me, she hated her business.
She hated her company, thought it was, like you said, “I want to get out. I just want to spend some time with my family and everybody listening going, ‘Give me your info. I’ll buy it. I want that company.'” It wasn’t the business and her role in it. She wasn’t aligned towards what her strengths her and what made her feel alive, and she was spending her time doing things that really drained her or that she found frustrating.
Just getting clarity on herself allowed her to completely change how she operates inside of her business, and now she loves it. She’s like, “I get to do what I love, and I love my business, and I’m not doing all the things that I didn’t enjoy doing.” It’s not just about doors. Really, it can be just about profitability and it can be about if you have the life that you want to live because life’s not that long. We want to have businesses that we enjoy doing.
Jordan, tell everybody about you as an entrepreneur. What stuff do you feel like is your area of genius? What do you love doing versus what drains you?
Jordan: Right. I would say that unique ability is the phrase that I would use. That’s a Dan Sullivan concept. For me, unique ability looks like a couple of different things. Number one is networking, going out into the market, having as many rich conversations as I can with the end-user in order to absorb contacts as well as doing research from outside of the industry, gathering ideas, synthesizing them, representing to them to the market in a way that is accessible and useful, and then doing biz-dev opportunities and building new businesses around those needs.
Jason: Yeah, and that sounds very in alignment with how I view the world and do things. My wife calls it my bible of the week, whatever I’m into that week. I always get into some weird random topic and I go down these little rabbit holes of figuring stuff out, and they could have almost nothing to do with the stuff I’m actually working on. Eventually, I pull it together and I’m able to extrapolate some ideas, piece things together, find the principles and come up with something unique. Have you ever done a Myers-Briggs test on yourself?
Jason: INTJ? Okay, interesting.
Jordan: I will say that what you just described is really the cost and the penalty that you pay for being a visionary. You don’t even actually see it. You sense that there is a completion state that can really meaningfully synthesize the disparate concepts and ideas, and you lean it into based on gut. Other people are like, “What are you doing? You’re clowning around. Describe it. Draw it for me,” and I can’t even do that, but I can sense it.
Eventually, it emerges and it’s like, “That was really smart. You must have had this plan.” It’s like, “No, I didn’t have a plan. I just followed my intuition in it,” but being somewhere in the middle of that process, it takes a lot of faith to keep going. The thing you mentioned a second ago about people being unhappy with their business, many of us are not willing to just say what we want. We’re very driven by what we think we should want or what others want for us.
Learning that nobody can give you permission to want something, nobody can validate whatever your heart’s desire is for your business or your life, accepting that really frees you up to just lean into it. Once you lean into that, you start making the types of decisions about, “Am I going to take this next door where it’s low fee and this person is disrespectful to me on the phone?” If I think that I should be at 100 doors and that’s what I should be doing, then maybe. If I know that I really just want to have a great life and enjoy my work, then I won’t. Clarity, man.
Jason: Yeah, it’s really huge. One thing I see entrepreneurs fall into is this trap of opportunity. That’s a trap, but opportunity, I think, is what kills us entrepreneurs because we see it everywhere. If you’re entrepreneurial, you can see a problem and you can say to yourself, “I can make money solving that problem.” That’s everywhere. Everywhere, the world has flaws and is broken. As entrepreneurs, we can see that that’s a solvable problem.
“It seems maybe apparent to me,” or, “I can make money solving this problem,” or, “I could help people solving this problem.” It seems like a lot of people have this problem. What we end up doing is we create the business we can in exchange for the business that we really want or need. We don’t create the business that we can because we’re versatile human beings as entrepreneurs. We can push through. We’ll take risks. We’ll do the things necessary. We can tactically and strategically figure things out, and it’s very easy to fall into the trap of, “Well, I can’t.”
How many times do people come to you with opportunities, with a new idea? Pretty often?
Jason: I’m thinking about this. I’m thinking about buying this new portfolio. I’m thinking about starting a vacation rental business. It goes on and on. Property management is at the center of so many business opportunities that if you don’t have focus or you don’t know what the big-picture outcome is, you’re right; you’re surrounded by distraction.
Jordan: That’s where I think a lot of entrepreneurs lose sight, is if we’re not clear on what we want, in order to get clear on what we want, I think, first, we have to get clear on who we are. For example, you knowing that you’re an INTJ, you would probably enjoy being involved in planning stuff and you love planning. You like to make sure things are planned out whereas I hate planning and I have an operator in my business that loves that stuff.
He runs team meetings. He makes sure everything’s scheduled on the calendars, all that stuff, and I don’t even manage. I just live according to what my calendar says, and my teams plan and tell me what I’m supposed to be doing. I didn’t even schedule this interview.
Jason: For sure. I would say I like planning at the highest level possible. I like thinking about meta-work. I like thinking about learning how you learn, planning how you plan. That stuff at the highest level is really of interest to me, and I have so many inputs in my life and in my business that I feel compelled to get a lot more introspective about how I manage my time. Otherwise, I’m constantly just feeding on this trough of endless work but there’s a very low probability that’s going to result in the outcomes that I want. It’s a really sand trap to fall into as a business owner, is to end up doing all the stuff that you can do instead of the stuff that you should be doing in your business, and that’s very easy to fall into.
Jordan: You know it. I think we all know it. Let me just give you an example of work I really enjoy doing that is not value-adding: graphic design. I enjoy it. It’s fun. It’s really gratifying. I can convince myself that there is demonstrable value in that work; it’s just not enough value to justify me doing it really at all. If I’m doing it in said indulgence, then I might as well be doing that as a hobby on my off-time rather than using that cathartic outlet within work hours.
The ability to separate work from playtime really cleanly was a big epiphany moment for me because when you don’t do that, it all just bleeds together. Those of you who work at home, you know what I’m talking about. You really have to do some mental gymnastics to turn it off. The low point in my career, Jason, was when I was working out of my bedroom. That was really the low point in my career because I’m spending 16 hours or probably 20 hours in the same room. It was horrible.
Jason: It’s something that entrepreneurs that work from home can fall into. I remember some really busy periods suddenly waking up mentally and realizing, “I hadn’t left the house in two weeks. I haven’t gone outside.” I don’t have to. I’ve got such a huge support structure and system in place that I’m not even doing grocery shopping anymore and I could just not leave the house so I consciously make an effort to go for walks and get outside. It’s interesting.
Because there’s so many entrepreneurs now that the ability to work from home or work from a space, it’s created this sense of isolation. I think social media has perpetuated that even stronger because we’ve given up social networks and relationships for social media so we’re just consuming content instead of having friends. Last night, I actually did something out of my comfort zone and went to my first Toastmasters meeting ever just because I wanted to be around some other human beings and see what that was all about. We need to make sure that we create a life that supports us and gives us what we need, and it’s not just about making dollars.
Jordan: Connection, man. I think meaning is really defined by human connection at the end of the day. I think, societally, there are a whole host of maladies and diseases and problems that are purely the byproduct of a sense of loneliness and a lack of connection. That sounds squishy for some people, but that’s just where I’m at.
Jason: I think there’s evidence of that because we’ve seen so many co-working spaces to pop up. Co-working is now a thing. What is it? It’s an office where all these people that work from home can come together and feel like they’re around other human beings, just to connect with others. I think it’ll be interesting to see. I think there’ll be a shift away from social media. Let’s get into the topic of growth, how property managers can grow.
I think we’ve touched on a few things that are probably holding them back, but what have you found as maybe the number one challenge that property managers run into with growing their businesses?
Jordan: I would say that you’ve got to back up and really ask yourself–before you get into the growth, there’s the assumption that growth is a good idea and it’s the right time for you. If we grant that assumption, we can have one conversation, but the conversation before that is just figuring out if growth should be your priority. That’s a revenue-per-unit, a cost-per-unit kind of conversation to figure out. Do you have something that is worth scaling or does growth for you look like getting rid of 10% or 20% of your portfolio?
There’s a whole subset of the industry where growth is distraction. That’s what it is; it is a distraction. I’ve got these problems I don’t understand I don’t feel qualified to lean into, but I’m an […] I’m just going to get more doors. That applies to the bulk of the industry in my personal opinion. If we assume that those issues were resolved, taken off the table, you fixed your pricing structure, you fixed your cost structure and we’re just talking about how to add doors, now there’s a new meta-conversation that enters. What are your internal capabilities, giftings and abilities where people want to jump to? Jason, you know this just as well as I do, but where people want to jump to is, “Is it APM? Is it Google? Where do I swipe the credit card?”
Jason: “What is the secret answer?” Yeah.
Jordan: “Where do I swipe the credit card and get the leads?” Way upstream of that is what does your sales process look like? Do you have a sales process? Whose role is that? Are you sending leads to your poor PMs, expecting them to do sales? It’s a horrible idea. I’m happy to get into why. Do you have any interest and any chops in understanding growth? What’s best for me is operationalizing sales marketing. The level of awareness goes from, “It’s important enough to pay for it,” and then a small subset of folks actually graduate to being willing to manage it.
Everybody manages. Everybody understands leasing is a process. It needs systems. It’s the same thing with maintenance. All of ops, we understand that, but somehow with sales marketing, it’s like this necessary evil. I don’t want to put any programs or processes in place and I really don’t even want to do it. I just want the doors. I don’t want to know about it. I’m uncomfortable having a meta-level conversation about brand, strategy and positioning. That doesn’t work. That doesn’t cut it.
At the end of the day, the single greatest determiner of your ability to grow is not the quality of your service offering. I wish it wasn’t so. I wish it was purely predicated upon how great a property manager is, but it’s not true. If you build it and they will come, it’s a lie. It’s predicated upon your ability to execute in the area of your sales marketing until you step up, until you take ownership, until you operationalize a lot of the low-level conversation about, “Where do I get more leads?” It’s just a waste of breath.
Jason: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense, this myth that if I just have good enough service, the business will magically make money on its own. If you look at the major functions of a business and the pipeline of a business, fulfillment and delivery is at the tail end. You’ve got lead gen, nurture, converting and all that that comes before it. I usually use the analogy of just turning on the spigot to the host of leads.
I just want marketing. I’m going to turn on this cold lead pipeline of leads. I just want leads flowing in, but you’ve got this hose that has all these major leaks and, at the other end, you try to water your business that’s the starving, struggling brown plant that’s trying to get some water. It’s not very much going to make it there. That’s where you’re getting contracts, and the very end of the hose. That’s where you’re getting deals. That’s where you’re getting growth.
Those leaks need to be shored up that come far earlier in the pipeline, but a lot of people reach out to us and they’re like, “Hey, I just want leads. Just give me leads.” Then, I get the converse and I get people that are like, “I’m not ready to grow. I just need to keep focusing on my inter-operations and systems and if I make it all better first. I’ve got to get everything perfect first before so I’m ready to grow.”
There’s some truth to that, but sometimes you get a certain subset of property management business owners that are more on the operational tech side. Maybe they’re high SIC and they think, “I just need to build the perfect system, and watch a ton of YouTube videos, and spend all this time trying to figure out on my own, and I can build this ultimate machine, and somehow business will start to be attracted to that magically.”
Jordan: Again, it’s that disconnect, like, “I need to build all these systems except in the areas of sales marketing.” Somehow, ops needs to be really delved in, but sales marketing is, “Oy vey, what can I do? Where do I swipe the credit card?” You’ve got to choose where you’re going to step up, and you’ve got to choose what you, as the owner, need to manage. Somewhere in the NARPM accounting standard, there’s some documentation on the difference between what you need to do i.e. what needs to be executed against, and that’s something you can delegate versus what you need to know.
Regardless of how much you delegate, there are always essential things that the business owner has to do. In my mind, growth, at least as it relates to positioning, branding, values–a lot of people want to bifurcate this conversation and view the things I just described as kind of these low-level tools or mechanisms. I think about more in terms of attraction-based marketing. If you have deep conviction, which people can sell, sense and see, the market will reward that. If you skipped over that stuff because it was just a means to an end and you just really wanted the growth, there’s something dysfunctional in that.
Jason: It reminds me of Simon Sinek’s famous TED Talk video in which he was talking about people don’t buy what you do. A lot of times, that’s how we sell. We try to focus on, “Here’s what we do.” He says people why you do it. There’s lots of different property management companies that do or claim to do all the same stuff. If that’s your only differentiator, they might as well just find the cheapest one out there. People don’t really buy what you do; they want to find somebody they feel like they can trust.
Business and sales happens at the speed of trust. The people they trust are the people that they resonate with that share their values and that they feel like they’re in alignment with. It doesn’t matter if you say you do all the right stuff logically if, emotionally or purpose-wise, they feel like there’s a disconnect between their values and yours, like, “Maybe they don’t have my best interests at heart even though they’re doing all this,” or, “Maybe I can’t trust them so they’re going to push back on every maintenance request.”
As soon as you get in alignment with somebody and they’re like, “Hey, I trust this person,” they let down their guard. They sign up and sign the contract. There’s a huge difference between somebody resonating with why you’re in business, and I think that’s something everybody skips. I have to take business owners back to that when I connect with them to, “Let’s get clarity on your avatar. Let’s get clarity on who you want. Let’s get clarity on who you are as an entrepreneur and how your brand connects to that, and let’s make those congruent so that you don’t have a brand on the surface that is different than what’s inside the tin,” because when people smell that disconnect, instantly, trust goes away.
They feel like there’s a lack of values. A lot of times, I’ll use the analogy of it’d be like having a company called Black Tie Property Management and you show up to your first meeting with this company, and you see Jebediah on the front porch with straw hanging out of his month in a rocking chair out in front of the company saying, “I’m the business owner.”
Jordan: Nothing else matters at that point. At that point, if it was clear that this person’s the master property manager, the disconnect is so shocking. “Congruency” was a great word. I loved how you put that. The question to ask yourself is, “What would be the evidence of a person being trustworthy?” What would be the behaviors or things that you would expect to see from someone who’s trustworthy?
Here’s one for me. You talk about vision, values, mission, purpose. I don’t buy that anybody cares about property management functionally so much that that’s enough to do a great job. There always is a bigger why. The why is an extension of me and who I am. It’s not about who you are as the person I’m serving; it’s about my values, my values being that I’m service-oriented. I want to help others. I want to facilitate financial freedom.
Talk about an underserved, neglected message. We either have property management as basically making sure something bad won’t happened, a glorified gopher or we have wealth creation through real estate. Which of those is a more interesting and inspiring proposition? Instead, people want to just say, “Of all of the gophers that are can prevent something bad from happening, I’m the best one. 30 years in business. Number one,” blah, blah, blah. It’s like you can try and scrap over that small pond or you can jump into the bigger one.
Jason: I think a really simple way that any business in any industry can establish themselves as a leader, and be more attractive, and capture more business is to just take what everybody else talks about and expand your vision. Just have a bigger vision. We’re not just trying to change the property management industry; we believe that property management can have an impact on the world at large, and it can have changed the world. It can impact tens of thousands and millions of families’ lives, for example.
I think when you give people a bigger vision to buy into so you can say with your company, “We’re not just focused on managing property; we’re focused on impacting families’ lives,” or, “We’re focused on helping our clientele become financially-astute investors,” it’s a bigger vision than just, “We’re going to deal with toilets, tenants and termites so you don’t have to.”
Jordan: Haven’t you, I and all of the listeners chosen a higher-priced option knowingly because you just felt like the brand values are just more in alignment with what you were getting? I’ll do that all day long. Most of these people that we’re dealing with are not flat broke. Most investors are not flat broke. There’s some room for preference bias towards an attraction-based brand, but if you’re not offering that, you’re forcing me, as the consumer, to go tit for tat, bullet point for bullet point, dollar for dollar and to commodify you. Help me as the consumer to help you by setting the buying criteria beyond just functional, literal property management maintenance et cetera.
Jason: All right. Let’s say a company’s got their values figured out. They’re clear on why they’re in business. The business owner understands what their role should be and what tactically should they start doing next if they want to grow their business.
Jordan: I’m a big fan of content marketing. I’m a big fan of taking those ideas, that mindset, those thoughts and spreading it as wide and as far as possible. For me, content marketing looks like two things. It looks like the micron of one-by-one, door-by-door conversations, shaking hands, interact with people, building a real, living and breathing network as well as the one-to-many of making videos, starting a podcast, things like that.
I happen to have a radical preference for video and audio simply because we’re going to write tens of thousands of words in the course of this podcast simply by talking. The efficiency of that compared to the written medium, there’s just no comparison. Really, philosophically, finding the most efficient mediums and processes to spread value to your target market would definitely be my starting point. I don’t know if that is tactical enough for you, but that would be my starting point.
Jason: No, it makes a lot of sense. I think most really effective growth strategies where people are focusing right now on that blue ocean or capturing people long before they’re searching really focuses and it’s connected to one-to-many sales. It’s connected to authority in your marketplace. The way to establish yourself and authority in the marketplace especially among investors is you have to have some content out there that establishes you or creates that perception of being an authority.
We both have podcasts and do podcast episodes. I might go on other people’s podcasts. Certainly, this episode, we transcribe, but you’re right. Very few people will probably read the transcription. They will watch the video or they’ll listen to the audio version in iTunes. People consume content in different ways, and I think the one great thing about content is it’s high leverage. We’re recording this episode. We’re doing it live. It’s being broadcast live to three different channels on Facebook right now and then, later, this can easily be exported and uploaded to YouTube.
Then, later, that’s going to be transcribed into text, and it’s going to be released as an audio episode on a podcast. Then, it lives on forever on all these channels. If an episode is pretty decent, the guest that I have on may also share it with their audience and they may put it onto their website. Content can be leveraged in a lot of ways, and video allows you the opportunity to not just create textual content through transcription but also gives you the benefit of stripping out the audio and having just audio. You’ve got video, audio, text and, really, we spend maybe 30 minutes or an hour doing this, and the rest of it can be systemized.
Jordan: Could we talk a little bit about the difference between content for the sake of building authority and helping people versus content for the sake of, basically, SEO and SEO-driven context? I’ll confess, man, at the beginning of my era when I started that management property business, I didn’t care about talking to people. I wanted to have a server in the cloud, make money anonymously. I didn’t want relationships. I’m at the complete other end of the spectrum now.
Back in the day, I was doing word-spitting. It was a different era. The search engines were much easier to game and manipulate, but I was doing things like word-spinning where you write one article and you turn it into 20. You just find all kinds of crap to write about as inexpensively as possible.
Jason: “Property Management in Tucson,” and, “Why You Should Choose This in Tucson,” and, “Choosing a Tucson Property Management Company.” Those kinds of articles, nobody gives a shit about. Let’s be honest. Nobody cares. Here’s the analogy I use with property managers. When they ask me about doing that type of content marketing or using spam-y type of content, writing a blog and just writing all this content to game search engines.
They’ll ask, “Should I start a newsletter and get people to subscribe to my content?” If that’s your strategy content-wise, how many plumbers’ newsletters and podcasts are you subscribed to? They say, “None,” and I say, “Why?” because they want you, they want property managers, they want your business, and you want your client’s business. Why aren’t you subscribing to the plumbers? Why aren’t you interested in plumbing? Because I care about that. I say, “Your clients don’t care about property management. They don’t. That’s why they’re hiring you.”
Jordan: A, I think that you’re right. We’re not talking about a lifestyle brand. This is not Oprah Magazine. That wouldn’t be the content that would be published in that. B, The reason that people wouldn’t subscribe to their plumber is because 99.999% chance, the content is going to be complete crap. What I would say is I’m not even saying that you couldn’t get value from that strategy; I’m just saying that’s like flying a 747 upside-down. Somebody knows how to do that and, to that person, god bless, but I don’t and I know that my clients don’t.
I got pretty close to that kind of game back in the day, but the whole point and thrust of Google is to not provide any kind of award for that kind of behavior. If you’re the 1% and, in another life, you were a search engine optimization expert and you want to milk that, that sounds good. Otherwise, any kind of a game that is an abstraction from just leaning into straightforward value creation for your customers is a really bad idea. That’s what I would generally say.
Jason: Yeah, I would totally say that.
Jordan: It’s not even that it’s not effective.
Jason: I think that’s wholly true. I think the thing to remember is that everybody gets so caught up in trying to please Google. They want to bow down to the god, Google, and worship the god, Google, and they forget that the real god of their business is their customer. What ends up happening is if you focus on pleasing Google without trying to please people, what ends up happening is you end up with this keyword spam-y content, and Google figures that out, and Google’s whole goal is to please people, the same goal that you should have or the business owner should have. It’s to please people.
The best long-term strategy to game the search engine is to focus on pleasing people because that’s Google’s goal, too. People will figure out some currently white-hat tactics but those all eventually become black hat and they all eventually become tactics that Google’s going to penalize as soon as they figure out that, “People figured out how to game us here. Let’s penalize those people.” We’ve all seen the property manager add a ton of keyword spam-y content that got either blacklisted on Google or had a ton of really terrible backlinks because they were hiring companies in India to give them tons of backlinks because that was the game back in the day. Now, backlinks have a relevancy score and now they’re penalized. I think the best long-term strategy is just focus on your customer, which, really, the great companies do that anyway because they care.
Jordan: Exactly. It’s also what’s really fulfilling and rewarding. If you’re a good business owner and you like helping people, it’s really enjoyable. The biggest cost here is not the nuance of Google’s search ranking algorithm; it’s that you have limited time, energy, effort and focus. Do you want to focus on things that are useful and helping other humans and sitting in that magic place of connection, value and relationship or do you want to mess around with clowning on black-hat SEO games?
For me, I don’t want to do it, and I got slapped, man. I’ll just tell you. Back in 2011, Penguin Panda, we with Manage My Property got slapped. I want to say we lost about half our rankings or more, and a lot of people did. It wasn’t necessarily because we were doing something bad.
Jason: APM, same thing. Our property management got penalized. Even Yelp started to go down in a lot of areas and in any directory.
Jordan: They did. That’s what did it for me. I was like, going forward, my career will be focused on value, not search engine games. It will be focused on helping people create as much value with the most core, deep levels possible. That sounds a little more philosophical than tactical, but if you make that a high-level commitment, it’ll manifest itself in the tactics. You might still do APM but you’ll do so knowing that these leads, generally speaking, are crap.
They go out to a bunch of people, you get a call within five minutes. It’s its own game. If you’re going to play the APM game, that’s great. I’m happy for you. If you’re not willing to play the APM game, then don’t even start. It’s a waste of money. You’re going to know your lane and execute against the playbook that is specific to your capabilities. That’s what I’d say.
Jason: I think a lot of the tactics that people try to implement in their business are the equivalent of vitamin pills. They’re like little supplements, but if you’re not eating food, getting water and getting the main staples to survive and oxygen, you’re not going to be very healthy. It’s so easy as business owners to tend to focus on the things that are the furthest away from ourselves personally, but we the biggest gains and success by focusing inwardly on ourselves.
We try to blame our team, or we try to blame the market, or we try to blame our target audience, or we try to focus on marketing and everything furthest away in the whole sales pipeline or in the operations of the business, away from ourselves. The biggest gains I’ve had with clients are where we go as they allow me to go as deeply and as personally into them as possible. What ends up happening, which is magical, is when they get clarity on themselves, and what they should be doing, and what their real values are, and what they really love doing.
They think they know this stuff but when they really get that clarity that they didn’t even see possible at that level, they start changing everything. They’re like the sun at the center of the solar system and, when that sun changes, everything changes. They start changing how they sell. They start changing how they communicate during the sales process. They start changing their team. They start firing people. They start hiring people that have their values. They start changing the way their companies organize. Everything starts to change as a ripple outward.
What’s really frustrating for business owners and entrepreneurs is when they’re focused on everything outward and they feel powerless and like they can’t control it, and all they have to do is change themselves. That’s the one common denominator in the business; they’re the person on the throne. They’re the center of that solar system, and they’re trying to change everything the furthest out and not focusing on themselves.
That’s not what people want to hear. They come to you and they’re like, “I want leads. I want to focus on it. Let’s do this thing. Let’s do marketing,” far away from everything, and they don’t want to work on sales, or their marketing, or their website, or their principles, or their values as a company, or how they sell, or their team, or themselves. They don’t even have culture in their own company, and they think, “Well, culture’s this fluffy, silly stuff that doesn’t even really matter,” yet it creates customer service. It creates sales. It creates the value. It creates everything your clients want to get from you.
Jordan: Ask yourself. When you walk into Chick-fil-A and you see those smiling young people there that are kind and polite, ask yourself, “Are they hypnotizing those people? Is there a manual to make a human being emote happiness?”
Jason: The chemicals in the kitchen, maybe. Some magic stuff in that chicken.
Jordan: Maybe, or maybe there’s actually a cultural difference between how McDonald’s and Chick-fil-A manages and hires. It’s probably more likely to be the latter. You’re still right, man. How many times have you had somebody come to you and say, “Hey, everything’s great. Everything in here and in here, it’s all great. The business is going great. I really just need leads,” and you poke, and there’s this resistance, and resistance, and resistance? At some point, you start to realize that having that conversation risks self-indictment.
Having that conversation risks affirming my worst fears that I might not be good enough; I might not have the chops. Those are some heavy conversations, but I know that, in my life, it’s been the exact same experience. That’s where the biggest growth and the biggest opportunity has come from and the meaning because, at the end of the day, the business is just a means to an end. I’m with you. I’m deep in the finance. I’m deep in the numbers. I’m deep in the money.
That’s more where my conversation is happening whereas yours is happening more on that level, but I just want to completely affirm that message. The money and the numbers are a way to identify and uncover. It’s a forcing function to have bigger conversations. That’s really what’s happening. The fourth or the fifth time where we’ve identified there’s a problem, mathematically, this is what needs to happen, we have mutual agreement. Now we’re having the third conversation about the same thing, that’s no longer an accounting and a finance conversation. Do you know what I mean?
Jason: Yes. Your whole approach and your world-view is very INTJ-based. I can see that. You love the numbers. You love the logic. You love seeing that. I’m an ENTP. What that means is I love just pulling in ideas from a variety of sources and piecing things together. Everything in my universe is big-picture, theoretical and how it all flows and comes together. I’m very focused on the principles that drive and will create the numbers so I approach it from that opposite standpoint.
My business coach, Alex Sharfin, has this great sentence that he says. I think if somebody is listening to this and going, “I think maybe what they’re saying is true and maybe I need to change myself,” or, “Maybe I need coaching,” or, “Maybe I need to bring somebody in to help me in the business. Maybe it’s about me. Maybe,” here’s the phrase that really hit me hard that I heard from him. He says if you don’t have the business that you want right now–and I think most business owners would hear that and go, “Yeah, my business needs to be different. I want it to be different. I want my team to be different. I want this to be different.”
If you don’t have the business that you want right now, you are not yet the person that can run it yet. You’re not that person yet. If you don’t have a business that you want, you’re not the leader, the entrepreneur, CEO, salesperson or whatever you feel like your role is. You’re not that person that you need to be yet in order to have that. That’s kind of a hard thing to hear.
Jordan: I couldn’t agree more, man. At the end of the day, we’re in America. This is the freest country on earth. You can do whatever you want. Your actions are being fed by your thoughts. If your thoughts were in line with the outcomes, you would have what you want. I think similar to that, something my coach told me that also had a big impact was just meditating on the fact that there is a reward for dysfunction. If there wasn’t a reward from it, we would stop doing it.
I can’t keep saying, “There’s this painful area of my life or this circumstance and it keeps happening, and I hate it.” You don’t really hate it. You actually like it because you facilitate it. You’re the one that’s choosing it in the first place. Getting clear on what that reward is actually opens up a ton of possibility like the one we were just talking about. “I can’t find any good people.” What I actually mean is, “I need to be the smartest person in the room so I can’t hire anybody that is more competent than me.” The reward is I get to maintain a sense of superiority because I’m not big enough to grow beyond that.
Jason: Totally. Yeah, I call those payoffs. Everybody finds this payoff because the payoff is a crappy, cheap version of what you really want. You’re settling for this payoff, and there has to be a payoff or we wouldn’t live with that dysfunction. We wouldn’t tolerate it.
Jordan: Prices and payoffs.
Jason: Yeah, there’s always a cost. I love that distinction. That makes a lot of sense. That’s something that we fall into as business owners. A lot of times, we’re focused on wanting to be the smartest guy in the room. You’ll also hear it phrased this way, where they say, “Nobody else can do it as good as me.” What an egotistical, crappy belief system to have, ‘Nobody else can do this as good as me.’ Maybe that’s true about one little role in the business, and maybe that’s the one little role you should be doing, but it certainly isn’t true for 90% of the functions in the business where you’ll see somebody still operating as a solo-preneur or trying to micromanage every single person on their team, operating with transactional leadership, trying to force and micromanage everybody to follow some sort of process instead of giving them the ability to actually win and create outcomes.
Jordan: What if it is true? Let’s say it’s objectively true. What does that mean? Where are you taking that conclusion? In my business, I can do anything. I don’t want to do any of the work. I want to sit, I want to think, I want to encourage, I want to lead, I want to synthesize information and see possibility in the future. In terms of actually getting in the weeds and doing the work, my aspiration is to have as little involvement as possible because I’m going to be a bottleneck.
You asked me at the outset what my unique ability was. The inverse of that is the vast majority of things that could be done, I’m terrible at. I’m not trying to burden the world with me doing a crap job of things that I am capable of but not truly gifted at. That is a massive glass ceiling on the business. I’m all about the concept of a self-managing company, which basically just means that everybody in the organization acts within the context of their unique ability.
Jason: Yeah. I think that makes a lot of sense. Really, what you’re talking about is strategic work versus tactical work. I think, as entrepreneurs, the number one thing we can do to help grow our company is to figure out how to shift away from doing tactical work to offload tactical work and shift our time percentage-wise towards greater amounts of strategic work or, as some people say, working on the business instead of in the business.
If you are your best employee, you are holding back the company’s ability to grow. I think, fundamentally, that’s probably the biggest thing that holds people back in growing their own business, is that they are too attached to them having to do something tactically, and they’re not willing to give that up because as long as they are always doing some major pieces in the business that are tactical, they’re forever holding the business hostage through a bottleneck that’s them
Jordan: Can we make some caveats there? Can we just talk about the guy that is at 100 doors and has no idea how to get to 300 doors and is really disinterested and not suited? If that’s where you’re going to stay, if you’re committed to staying at 100 doors, I personally don’t have any real judgments against that other than if you’re at 100 doors and you’re not making any money. That’s dysfunctional. If you’re at 100 doors, you’re going to stay at 100 doors and there’s no profit to show for, that, I’m happy to quibble over.
If you’re at 100 doors and you want to tell me you’ve got the badge of working a thousand hours a week, whatever it is, if you want to stay small, that’s great, but you just optimize for profit and get all the leverage that you can. There are different playbooks. That’s one, and you’ve just got to optimize for it.
Jason: I agree that people can have the business that they want, but one weird belief I run into–and maybe you’ll agree with this–is I’ve run into a lot of people that they’ll talk to me, they’ll call me up and they’ll say, “Hey, I want to grow my business but I don’t want to get beyond 200 doors,” or, “I don’t want to get behind 400 doors.” It’s usually 400 doors. They put this limit on growth. Usually always behind any sort of cap on growth or any desire to stay small is this false belief that it will be painful or difficult.
My belief is that that’s true if they believe it’s true and they run their company the wrong way. I believe that most companies, they grow their team, grow their business and set it up in a transactional leadership way, and it’s the wrong way. They get to 400 doors or so, it gets incredibly painful then maybe get to 600 to 800 doors and, by then, they are capped out. They want out of the business, they’re going to put somebody else in place to run it for them, and they want to escape.
That’s only if they do it the wrong way. I believe that any sort of limitation on future growth stops their growth now. If they’re like, “I don’t want to get to 400 doors,” in their subconscious or in the back of their mind, they’re always preventing growth because they see that, in the future, they’re going to get to a place that hurts. They usually say, “I’ve been there. I was at 400 doors and it was painful so I don’t want to get that big. I want to stay at this level because that’s my comfort level.”
I think they just need to learn some new things so that they can now expand their ability to offload and get into that space. I think our ability to offload is directly proportional to our ability to scale our business because the way I run my business and the way I believe people should run their business is that the more clients that they have, the more revenue that they have and the more team members that they have, your role as an entrepreneur, if you’re doing it right, should get easier. It should get quieter.
My role is really quiet. I do very few things now, but I do a lot of those few things. Every new person I bring onto my executive team or under my team is taking these off my plates, and my life gets easier and easier. I want to just throw that out there for those listening that if you think, “Man, growth is painful,” or it has to be painful, I don’t believe that’s true; I believe you’re just doing it wrong. Those companies are the ones that can’t retain millennials.
They’re the entrepreneurs and business owners that keep millennials because millennials don’t want to do meaningless work that’s redundant where they’re micromanaged and told. They want to be given out comes, have autonomy and be able to win and have some freedom. I believe that there’s a healthier way of growing and scaling a business by creating that situation. I believe that’s more of the future of business.
Jordan: Totally, man. This is about disconnecting effort from outcomes. For most of us, those things are linked together. You’ve got to decouple those. As soon as you do so, a bigger possibility opens up. You’ve got to get off of the guilt trip of the puritan work ethic, my value comes from my effort. I’m working 80 hours a week. So many here is just what you described, Jason. They’re like, “Jason, let’s be honest. What do you really do? What do you really contribute to the organization? You’re just up having all these ideas. We’re down here doing all the weeds.”
You just got to get off that. Reality check, Richard Branson is not working a thousand times harder than you. He’s a thousand times more successful, presumably working a lot less and enjoying himself a whole lot more. How is that possible? It’s about decoupling effort from output, and that’s the mental paradigm shift that people have to get through. When you do that, you get focused on what you want, not what you don’t want. 400 doors becomes meaningless. That’s like 400-4000 same difference.
Yes, it’s a different type of problem, but you just get to the point where you can see that you are not going to be the bottleneck. Leadership is either about hiring people to just extend your ability to still control and micromanage the business or it’s about allowing other people to actually contribute and flourish in unique ways that you couldn’t.
Jason: Yeah, and take ownership of those things so that they are driving the outcomes instead of you driving every outcome in the business. One thing to keep in mind for growth that I’ll point out is I look at this mindset that you are the person that has to drive every outcome as you being the only engine in the company and everything else is a cog. That means every single other person is a cog. That’s a lot of stress on an engine the bigger the company gets.
It feeds the ego because everybody comes to you. Every question comes to you. Nobody wants to make choices on their own because they’re then on the hook, but that also means they never get to win. They never get to succeed. If they can’t fail, they can’t win. If somebody on my team does what I tell them to do and it doesn’t work, it’s my fault. If I give them the outcome and I say, “Figure out how to do it,” and it doesn’t work, they feel that failure and they want to do better, and they’ll figure it out. I don’t penalize or punish them; they’ll punish themselves. They want to do that.
I talked with a lady yesterday who’s very savvy in the property management industry. She’d been doing it a long time and she’s been struggling to grow her company. After a short conversation, it became really apparent that she was trying to do all this operational stuff that was completely outside of her strengths and skillsets. I said, “If it’s been on your to-do list for more than two weeks, you’re not the person that should be doing it.”
It’s really simple. I said, “Tell me about the different people on your team.” It was so obvious that her front desk person was the ideal profile for an operator. I’m like, “I’ll bet this person, if you imagine, their whole closet is color-organized and their sock drawer is probably all taken care of,” and she’s like, “Yeah, totally, and this person probably loves technology.” I’m like, “This person should be running your meetings and should be building your operations manual and your procedures, not you.”
She kept saying, “I need to build my procedures manual but something’s holding me back. I need to do this, but I’m not doing it.” I’m like, “You should not be doing it.” It’s obvious. You would have done it by now because it would have been fun for you.
Jordan: The indicator is just what you said, a guilt trip. If you feel a massive guilt trip about something, that should tell you something. That’s useful information. Act on it. I’m not trying to be in the weeds with those things; I’m trying to create a big-enough vision that people can get hired and feel like that there’s a future. If your vision isn’t very large, it’s like a three-rung ladder. People get onto the bottom like, “Hey, there’s only two more rungs. I can work hard,” but who wants to go sideways for the rest of their career?
Jason: Yeah, no one. Jordan, I think that we’ve been talking quite a while. This is really fun. It’s always fun to jam with another entrepreneur and talk about growth. I think we threw out a lot of principles and concepts that are useful to people. Let’s wrap this up. How can people get in touch with Jordan, and is there a website you want to throw out to people to check out?
Jordan: Yeah, man. I would say go to profitablepropertymanagement.com. That’s the podcast where we have weekly conversations, and that’s also the best place to get in touch with me.
Jason: Awesome, Jordan. Thanks for coming on the show. I appreciate it.
Jordan: Thanks for having me on, man. This was a blast as always.
Jason: Great. Awesome to have Jordan come on the show and share. I would recommend that you check out their CRM, LeadSimple. We’ll probably have him on for another episode to talk about that. If you are a new listener and you’re listening on iTunes, make sure to subscribe. We would really appreciate your feedback or review on there. If you are watching this on YouTube, make sure to subscribe to our channel. If you are in the property management industry and you are not yet a member of our awesome Facebook group, this free Facebook group that we have called the DoorGrow Club, there is a lot of powerful conversations going on in there, a lot of positive, helpful, momentum-based property managers that believe in collaboration over competition to help this industry grow.
It’s super-helpful. It’s probably the leading resource out there for property managers. If you need support, you’ve got questions, you’re dealing with weird issues that have come up that you’re not familiar how to handle, this is a great resource. Make sure that, if you are an entrepreneur, you apply to get into our group and answer all the questions, and then we’ll get you approved so you can join in on all the fun and the conversation and feel that support.
I’m Jason Hull of the DoorGrow Show, and thanks for tuning in, everybody. Until next time.
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