Toilets, tenants, and termites: Property management can be a tough business. Have you ever felt like giving up, only to find joy again?
Today, I am talking to Annemarie Sunde of Legacy Property Management. She paints a realistic and transparent turned pretty picture of property management.
[03:00] Discovering Development Areas: Annemarie never wanted to be a realtor, but now has a real estate license.
[04:04] Dealing with the Scum of the Earth? Given an opportunity to get into property management, only to learn most property managers and tenants lack integrity.
[04:50] Origins of Legacy Property Management: Treating others with respect that leads to legacy with tenants, owners, and co-workers.
[06:10] DoorGrow’s Time Study: Doing things that cause you stress and headaches. [06:30] Strategic and Futuristic Strengths: Started having fun thinking 20 years ahead about being on a beach and the business naturally growing.
[06:55] Cycle of Suck: Vicious circle of not-great properties, tenants, and owners.
[08:40] Business Model and Breaking 100 Doors: Fewer but healthier and fun properties that pay bigger yield.
[09:45] Seeking Clarity: Biggest problem growing and scaling business is blaming everyone and everything else.
[10:47] Tactical vs. Strategic: Entrepreneurs are visionaries; why do the tactical crap?
[14:26] Accidental Perfect Landlords: Owners who take pride in their property.
[15:16] Prospecting Channels/Methods: Lead gen from realtor referrals via classes, podcast, and online reputation.
[16:30] Some clients don’t listen, follow the protocols, or get results. Do what you’re told!
[17:48] Door Envy: It’s not about doors, but whether you love your business and life.
[19:25] How do you turn your phone off at night? Do Not Disturb.
[20:35] Biggest Benefits of Seed Program: How to design a user-friendly Website, find clarity, ask for reviews, and create an online reputation.
[22:35] If you were to sell your business, what makes you valuable?
[25:07] Magical Mindshift: If you want people to invest in and spend money on you, be willing to do that for yourself.
[28:34] Memoirs of a Property Manager: What we go through managing owners.
Jason: Welcome, DoorGrow hackers to the DoorGrow Show. 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 expert, Jason Hull, the founder and CEO of DoorGrow. Now, let’s get into the show.
Today, I’m hanging out with the fantastic Annemarie Sunde of Legacy Property Management. Annemarie, welcome to the show.
Jason: It’s been a while since we’ve chatted.
Annemarie: I’m having Jason withdrawals.
Jason: Yeah, you’ve mentioned that on the pre-show and I’m like, “You just show up. Show it to our weekly cult review, internally for our clients.” The topic for this episode is how I almost quit and then found joy in property management. Property management can be a tough business. It can be a tough industry. “Toilets, tenants, and termites,” as some of you say.
As business owners, we’re often in this promotion-sales mode. We’re just telling everyone how great our business is all the time. We start to almost believe it superficially, but then on the inside, sometimes it’s just not really how it is and there’s this disconnect. I would love to just give people just a taste of some reality and some transparency because business is not always great. Sometimes it’s just really not great.
I remember, way back, waking up when I was running my company as OpenPotion and realizing I hated my business. I didn’t like the clients that I was working with at the time. My team were out of alignment with my values. Everything was just off and I just want to stream Netflix today. That’s it.
Let’s go back to one of those early conversations you and I had. Give people a little bit of background, you and your business. You can give the pretty picture first. Tell everybody about you. Let’s qualify you.
Annemarie: I’m actually a degreed engineer by trade, worked 15 years in Oil and Gas in Denver. When I got married for the second time, I married a realtor, and I consulted to his business, actually growing his business. After a year of doing that, I said I never want to be a realtor. I never want a real estate license in my life, and now I have a real estate license. But I don’t do any of the buy-sell transactional selling, whatsoever. I’m not interested in that, I don’t have the patience for it, and you should know, I lack incredible patience. That’s part of my development that I’ve learned coaching with you.
Let’s fast forward a little. Just got into the opportunity to get into property management was offered to me, and I have always done flips, I’ve always had rentals my entire life with my father. I’m like, “Well now, I can be the boss of a tenant. This sounds fun. I can do this.” I did when we started our own business, I worked for a couple of property management companies. I felt they lacked integrity, a lot of what you talk about in DoorGrow. They’re just scummy, dealing with scummy owners, scummy tenants.
Jason: I talk about that?
Annemarie. Yeah, the Cycle of Suck.
Jason: Oh, the Cycle of Suck. Yes.
Annemarie: We had our own rentals and I was like, “You know, there’s got to be owners out there that actually want to be treated like something.” We created Legacy Property Management really to lead legacy with our tenants, with our owners, and with the people that we work with, that work for us. That’s where it was born. My husband stumbled across DoorGrow, and I was one of the first Seed Hackers 1.0.
Jason: Jeff, right?
Annemarie: Yes. I got into the Seed Hacker Program and then I got into coaching, but when I got into coaching with you, I was cooked. I hated my business. I was looking for anybody that wanted to offer me a good sum of money to buy my business. I did not want to be in it anymore. So, that’s where I was.
Jason: I remember this conversation. You were describing your business, you’re like “I want out,” and what did you want?
Annemarie: I wanted to be with my kids and I wanted to go sit on a beach.
Jason: You’re right. I want to spend time with my kids. I don’t want to do this anymore. I don’t want to deal with all these headaches and stress, and I’ve seen this. I’ve seen this a lot. And it doesn’t the business or the industry, it’s not even about the business or the industry. What did you realize it was about? I’ll ask you.
Annemarie: I was doing things that completely stressed me out. It started with a lot of the exercises you had us do on the coaching call, but one of the big things was the time study. The very first time I did a time study. I am not a tactical person, whatsoever. I am highly strategic. I’m the 50,000 foot. I actually did a Tom Rath StrenghtsFinders and I have strategic and futuristic in my strengths. I’m 20 years ahead of everybody, thinking about how I’m going to get myself onto a beach.
When I learned that, your comment to me was, “When you’re doing the tactical crap in your business, this is when you are grumpy. This is when you can’t handle it. This is when you’re stressed. This is when your kids are driving you crazy. This is when your phone’s going in the toilet. All of those things.” The minute I took that out of my job description and I was doing strategy, I started having so much fun, and the business was naturally growing because I was having fun.
Jason:We’ve thrown out a couple of terms that are insider terms here, right? So some people who are hearing this for the first time are like, “What are they talking about? They’re speaking some language only they know.” Let’s explain what the Cycle of Suck is. What is your perception of what the Cycle of Suck is?
Annemarie: It’s this vicious circle of not a great property, not a great owner yields crappy tenants, and it just keeps going round and round and round. You can’t get out of the circle.
Jason: The bad reputation and then you attract more bad owners, more bad properties. That’s where the whole industry sits in general, as a whole and aggregate in the industry has a negative reputation, and most businesses are taking on any owner. That’s something that the whole industry needs to shift.
Annemarie: I did that. When I first met you guys, that’s where I was. You’re hungry, you’re starting a business, you just take in anything you can take, and you’re realizing that the low-end people are sucking you dry, costing me more money because I’m using attorneys. It just wasn’t a fun thing.
So, I elevated our business model. We do know multi-family, for example. That’s our choice. We have fewer properties that pay a bigger yield so I’m sitting at about 110 doors, and I love it.
Jason: Amazing. You broke 100. I love it.
Annemarie: I did. Finally!
Jason: Did you throw a party? You should’ve throw a party.
Annemarie: We are going to throw a party. I think my senior property manager and I are going somewhere.
Jason: You deserve to throw a party. That’s awesome. They’re healthier properties than where you were.
Annemarie. Yes. They’re fun properties and we love representing them.
Jason: I remember that first conversation. You just want to spend time with your kids. You wanted out of the business, and I remember what I said to you. I said, “You’re just doing it wrong. We can bring this business into alignment around you,” but at that time you were serving the business. You were a slave to the business instead of the business fulfilling you and your needs, specifically. […] an alignment with you.
Every business is different. What would work for you and fulfill you is different for me. We had a hard time even getting into this software, but I love the nerdy stuff. I would do technical stuff and I’d put that as part of my role in the business. You will hire someone up.
Everybody’s team looks different. If we build the right team around us, but the only way we can do that is if we’re clear on ourselves and that’s the biggest problem people have with growing and scaling companies or teams because they have no clarity on themselves. So, they’re externalizing everything and blaming the business, they’re blaming their team, they’re blaming their clients, and the problem is them. Once you get clear on you and we have clarity on what really fulfills you and energizes you and drains you.
You mentioned tactical versus strategic, right? Entrepreneurs, generally, we are strategic people. We’re the visionaries. That’s generally who all of us are as entrepreneurs. Some of us enjoy some of the tactical stuff. There are tactical things that I do enjoy, and you can hold onto those if you want to. But, in general, all the tactical things that we hold onto are the things that are holding us back. They’re holding an entire business back. The tactical things that drain us are the things that are keeping the entire company from growing and it makes us the biggest bottleneck in the company.
Annemarie: I figured everybody was like me. Why would they want to do the tactical crap? I actually have people that work for me and they can’t even see beyond their nose, and they’re fine doing the tactical day in, day out, day stuff. I can’t stand it.
Jason: That’s a big mistake we make as entrepreneurs. We assume everyone else are like us. Nobody’s like us. We’re weird. Raise the chair. My team members, they love doing the things that they love doing. I don’t love doing the things that they love doing.
Annemarie: Me neither.
Jason: That’s great. There’s seven billion people or whatever in the planet. There’s always people that love doing the stuff that you don’t love doing and that’s such an interesting mindset shift—to realize somebody would love doing this stuff. […] that gift by giving it up,
Annmarie: You even taught me how to screen somebody if I’m going to hire them. They go through this whole process now that we have, including a DISC profile to see because I am High D and I am the bull in the China shop. If I’m always going to have to massage your feelings because I just let it fly, then you’re probably not the person to work for me.
Jason: You mentioned a few things that you did to go through this transition. As you shifted your business away from doing all the things that you felt like were draining you, that put you in a position where you wanted out, like you wanted to get rid of the business, what did you realize pretty quickly as you started to make these changes? You’ve already thrown out the word “fun” a few times, I’ve noticed.
Annemarie: If I have a week where I am doing tactical things, I put my mind into, “Okay, this is a week,” and I warn my family, “This is what I got on my plate. I could be nasty this week because I’m not having fun this week.” That happens a lot when I’m bringing on a new person and I’m training them on having to do the day-to-day again.
What I found to be the most exciting for me is I love to strategize on how we’re going to get properties. The way we get properties is hugely through realtor referrals because we don’t sell or buy any properties, so we’re a safeplace for them, and through my class that I teach. I’m teaching probably 2–3 a quarter now. I just did two and I have four properties from those two classes.
It’s people that I want to work with. It’s owners that take pride or we call them the accidental landlords that they bought in this market. We had so many people going in and out of the state right now, it’s crazy. They don’t want to lose the foothold in the Denver market. They’re petrified someone’s going to trash their house. That’s the perfect landlord for me. We talk a lot about that to realtors that have owners that they just sold a house to and now that’s where they go back to. What do I do with my house?
Jason: That was a significant piece. If you go back in your transition is getting clarity on what you really wanted.
Annemarie: And what I enjoyed doing.
Jason: Declare on your avatar in getting clear on what type of client you really were wanting to work with. I remember we had several conversations about that. Also, we talked quite a bit about different channels for prospecting and you found different methods that really worked for you. You were doing everything from podcasts.
Annemarie: I still do the podcasts. That’s on Thursday this week, and it’s with the investor. I get more leads out of that. The three places I get my leads are realtor referrals probably coming from my classes, my podcast, and my online reputation which is what people should not even be asking if they do the Seed Hacker Program because that blew my business right out of the water. I just got another house this week from a Yelp review.
Jason: So, those three channels, you didn’t really have a system or a process, you weren’t even really focused on those three channels before you had gone through the program.
Annemarie: I had no idea what to do.
Jason: Those were just three that worked for you. Somebody else could do three different things that might work for them. Help people understand. Some people are like, “I don’t know about Jason,” or they may be on the fence about working with me and they’re like, “I don’t know because I hear mixed reviews,” because I have clients that they don’t do stuff. They don’t listen to me. They don’t follow the protocols. They don’t get the results. You just did what I told you to do. You just did it.
Annemarie: And sometimes, I have the tendency to compare myself to somebody else. We just talked about, I broke 100 doors. I’m now entering my fourth year of business and I hit 100 doors. So, four years and I hit 100 doors. I have to say that if you don’t know the Denver market, for the last two years, houses have been selling and there’s no inventory. I probably bumped into 100 several times, but I’ve lost 12–20 out of my portfolio from sales that owners decided to sell.
That’s attrition in the business, but I got to say that I was constantly comparing myself. I’d passed two years and I can’t get to 100. Then I stopped focusing on it and I started focusing on getting rid of my crappy owners because those were crappy properties, and bringing on good owners that I wanted to work with and properties I wanted to. I marketed in those areas.
Jason: I remember. I remember this conversation. I remember you were having door envy. You were like, “I haven’t broken that 100-door barrier. I want to break 100 doors,” like it was this thing. Do you remember what I said to you?
Annemarie: Calm down.
Jason: Yeah. Don’t worry about it. It’s not about doors. It’s about, do you love your business? Are you enjoying yourself? Are you getting the life that you want to have? Are you getting to spend time with your kids? Do you enjoy your team members? Do you like the people that you work with. This is your life. Don’t get me wrong, I like when people go after a goal, but once you let go of it having to look a certain way and you focused on aligning the business with you, it just started to happen naturally for you.
Annemarie: What made me let go was setting critical numbers, another secret word in the secret club. I set critical numbers, and yes, one of my critical numbers was number of doors, but one of my top critical numbers was revenue coming in. What I found was, for the last two years, I’m making my critical revenue number despite being under 100 doors. That’s what proved to me, “Who cares?”
I can still go on vacation and literally shut it off. I don’t know a lot of property managers. I have to tell you, the funniest post was one in the Facebook group when someone posted, “How do you turn off your phone at night?” After I laughed for literally 10 minutes, I went in on probably a paragraph of crap on, “First of all,” and then ended with, “and you should call Jason,” because seriously, on my phone that was the most liberating thing. I shut my phone off at [8:15] every night and it’s silent, just Do Not Disturb until [7:15] the next morning. I don’t care what’s happening. There are professionals out there that can help them, not me.
Jason: All right. Great. No, I love this. Let’s go to the Seed Program, going through that portion which the coaching stuff that I took you through, we folded into our new version of the seed program, like majority of that stuff. So, it’s all one program now. Going through all of it, what do you feel were the biggest benefits and the biggest takeaways for you?
Annemarie: I had a website because I used that folio. That folio gives you this website. It’s just learning what things to draw people. I had no clue and quite frankly I really didn’t want to, and I love that there’s a whole team of your people that will make a website change in literally three seconds of my time. There’s that component of really designing a website that’s user-friendly, and I tweak it all the time based on what I see other people’s websites.
Why keep recreating the wheel? That was a big thing. Understanding what you wanted to focus on because when you get into property management, if you’re going to focus on multi-family like we do know multi-family, and from our owners, they love that we do know multi-family. That’s a different management than single-family luxury homes. That’s our niche. That’s where we focus.
The other thing, I had no clue. I just thought we had to be SEO be the first, blah, blah, blah. I had no clue what online reputation was. The first I remember two or three clients that came on because, “Wow, you have a great Yelp review. You have five stars on whatever,” and I’m like, “Wow. This stuff works!” So, I learned that this was important and to go and ask for the review. That is part of our workflow process. If from a tenant, contractor, realtor that’s referred us, or owner, we ask for referrals endlessly online and it has really helped us.
Jason: With that, we taught you how to build a process around that and how to leverage the law of reciprocity psychologically and all that.
Annemarie: I just learned really quickly at a recent NARPM chapter lunch, they had a really great speaker on, “If you were to sell your business, what makes you valuable?” Outside of number of doors, income or profit, the third thing is, “How involved are you in your business?” Because that means that it’s not translatable. If they’re going to buy it, they’re going to have to buy you to keep it going and some people don’t want to do that. I looked at my husband because he always think I got to be involved and I’m like, “I told you. I could be this much money if I would just go somewhere.” So, now he’s on board because he heard that.
I can easily go on vacation with my business. It’s much harder as a realtor to go on vacation, if you’ve got a buyer you got to be carting around. That’s how I look at it. I want to be able to come in and out of my business as I need to. That’s the part that I love.
Jason: Shameless plug. For those that are on the fence, there’s like, “Maybe I show up at DoorGrow, maybe not.” What would you tell them?
Annemarie: Don’t even think about it. Seriously. I realized that I was in the guinea pig stages of Seed Hacker, and I thought, “Oh, my gosh. How am I going to spend this money as a young company?” It’s paid for itself long ago, so it’s totally worth it.
Jason, you have an amazing staff that people will email you, you don’t even know who these people are and they got it. I love it. It’s great. Obviously, I was at the DoorGrowLive last year and we thought it was fantastic.
In terms of the resources that you have, with your coach and parlaying those or after listening to him speak, I looked at my husband and I’m like, “Guess what? I don’t have to pay that much because I paid Jason and he gives that to me!” I mean I learned so much.
Jason: I invest a lot in the coaches. I just signed up with another coach. I’ve got three coaches right now. If I mentioned how much money I spend on coaching annually, they would lose it because it’s probably more than most property managers’ annual salary. It’s pretty ridiculous, but that’s how I have value to offer to others and that’s the one thing I would tell everybody listening. If you want people to invest in you, you want people to spend money with you, you have to be willing to do that to yourself.
You have to be willing to invest in yourself and there’s a magical mindset shift that happened for me the second I decided to pay to invest in myself. Not just pay for a team member, not just pay for some marketing […], when I paid to invest in myself and in my business, it changed my perception of my value and it changed how I sold. It changed my own confidence level in being able to pull in business. There’s an energetic shift that happens that when you invest in yourself, other people will invest in you, too.
Annemarie: I’m sitting here thinking about, I definitely have an entrepreneurial spirit, this isn’t the first business I’ve run. One could come in and say, “Okay, I did a few rentals here and there.” Now, when I hear people say, “I’m going to get into property management,” I just think, “Oh, my gosh. The guy just did a nine minute video on the four new Colorado laws impacting landlords and property management,” and I sent it to my owners. I spent two months on Capitol Hill trying to fight these bills and it’s just crazy. People are going to get themselves in so much trouble.
What I found is when I started coaching and going with DoorGrow is one could approach it, 10–20 properties, you could probably manage it. But when you start to get such a portfolio and you really don’t have processes, you really don’t know what you’re doing to be honest with you. I agree with you. Once you know where you’re really good at, and that’s why I said doing what you’re created to do and hiring people to do the other stuff. I still do listing appointments. I don’t do them all anymore. Remember you told me, “You need to give that up.” And I’m like, “You’re crazy. I’m the only one that could do a listing appointment.”
Jason: I’m like, “Let go of your ego,” right?
Annemarie: Right. It was like, “They can’t do it. They can’t do it. We can’t lose this,” and now, I don’t even want to go, but sometimes, I do. Sometimes it just keeps me in touch with this is what life is about and this is what they’re facing. I do them, but I have no problems handing that kind of stuff off. I like to be in teaching and doing the videos and doing the podcast. That’s my gig. That’s what I like.
Jason: And you’re enjoying it.
Annemarie: I am. I love that part.
Jason: It’s such a transition. This is one of the things that’s amazing for me as a coach, that I get to see the contrast. I remember that conversation. I remember you wanting out and not liking it, and you’re a passionate person when you talk. I felt it. Now, you can feel this, too. You’re like, “love” and “fun.” These are adjectives that you’re associating with your business which most property managers are like, “She’s high on something right now. I don’t know what Jason gave her, but this sounds like crazy talk.”
Annemarie: Having the right people, honestly, makes the job a lot more fun. My property manager’s been with me the longest. We literally wrote a coffee table book for our owners for Christmas. It’s Memoirs of a Property Manager. We can’t make this up. We were sitting in Starbucks, laughing to the point of how retarted are these people, and we manage them! She said, “We should put this in a book and give them to our owners just to remind them what we deal with.” So, we did and they are asking when’s the next volume coming. You got to have time for that.
Jason: You don’t want to anymore.
Annemarie: I tell them a lot of times, “If we can’t laugh about it, then certainly we will be in the fetal position crying about it.”
Jason: Laughter is the stage before fear. Annemarie, it’s so good to catch up with you. I really appreciate you. I appreciate your husband, Jeff. It’s been phenomenal watching you guys progress and feeling all the love back from you guys. I really appreciate that. I just get to work with the most awesome clients. This is the type of things that I love doing. This is my jam. I enjoy it. It’s been great being able to work with you and I appreciate you coming and hanging out here on the DoorGrow Show with me.
Annemarie: Yup. And I will say, if I have one piece of advice, if they do hire DoorGrow, the Seed Hacker, do what they say to do. It’s not take a pill and hope for the best. It’s you having to do the work. I was all in. If I was going to spend the money, I was all in. I was going to do what I was told to do and that’s my biggest advice. Don’t spend it if you’re not going to do it.
Jason: Right. And to be honest, those are the only clients that get great results. It’s that last 10% of doing the stuff that I tell people to do, that not everybody really wants to do. It’s that last little dialing and that last little 10% that gets you 90% of the results.
Annemarie: Yup. We appreciate you guys, for sure.
Jason: All right, Annemarie. Thanks so much. I will let you go. Bye.
Jason: That’s super rewarding for me as a coach. I don’t know that there’s anything more fulfilling than being able to see a client progress. It’s like watching my children succeed in anything. It doesn’t even matter what it is, it just feels good because you’re seeing this. It’s really awesome to have her come on the show.
If you are property management entrepreneur, you feel like you need somebody in your corner. You want somebody that believes in you, somebody that can challenge you, somebody that can help you see something you can’t see because you’re in it, you’re too close to the fire, I need people to tell me the same stuff that I would tell myself to do because I’m too close to the fire in my own business. I would be honored to take on helping you in your business, being your coach, and helping you grow your company. Reach out to DoorGrow.
We’re really picky about the clients that we take on because I want clients like Annemarie. I want clients that are going to do what I tell them to do. I want clients that going to trust the process. I want clients that are going to go all in. If you feel like you’re that type of person, then reach out to us. You can check us out at doorgrow.com.
That is it for today. Goodbye everybody and until next time to your and our mutual growth. Bye, everyone.
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