The story goes that legendary football coach Vince Lombardi once opened a team meeting by saying, “OK men, we’re going all the way back to the fundamentals.” Holding up a football he began the day’s lesson, “This is a football.”
After a brief pause, one of the players raised his hand. “Coach… you’re moving a little fast for me.”
Whether this tale is true or not, it does illustrate an important point. Even the best need to begin with fundamentals, and nothing is more fundamental to your Real Estate Investing business than building a team of competent professionals you can rely on. With that in mind, let’s outline the steps necessary to put together a quality team.
Take A Personal Inventory
First, you need to decide what skills you possess, or more importantly, what skills you don’t possess. For instance, if you are a licensed Realtor or a CPA, you probably don’t need to find a Realtor or accountant to work with you. Likewise, an experienced General Contractor won’t need to find another GC for his or her team.
Begin by taking inventory of what you are good at, what you can handle in a pinch, and what you know you just can’t or don’t want to do. Write your list down. Now, think about the types of people available to help you with the areas you are weak in. Here’s a list of the various types of professionals I have used over the years.
Realtor, attorney, bookkeeper, accountant, general contractor, specialized sub-contractor (roofer, plumber, electrician, heating and cooling, landscaper, etc.), handyman, engineer or home inspector, banker, mortgage broker or lender, private lender, hard-money lender, bird-dog, wholesaler, insurance agent, and commercial real estate broker.
While this is not meant to be an exhaustive list, and there may be others you need to rely on from time to time, this list should give you a pretty good idea of what types of professionals you need to be searching for. Chances are, you’re not good at all of these things, so it’s safe to say you will need to look for at least a few of these people.
Rely On The Experiences Of Others
Building a team is not something you will do all at once in a week or two. It will take time and perseverance, but it is not as difficult as it may appear. You can accomplish a great deal by asking for referrals from people you already know and trust.
Ask everyone you know about the people they do business with, and keep a written notebook of the referrals you get. I call these “warm contacts”, and they are so much more useful than getting names from business cards or advertisements. Pay special attention to the names you get from other real estate investors. If your city has a Real Estate Investor’s Club, and you’re not already a member, join today! This will be a rich source of contacts, as well as local market information. You can’t afford not to be a member.
Once you have the name of a professional, an accountant for instance, you will want to meet and interview that person. Call them to schedule an appointment, and mention the name of the person who referred you. You may even want to invite them to lunch. Wherever you meet, it’s important to have a plan and know what you want to ask them ahead of time. Get to know them, and give them plenty of opportunity to talk about themselves and their method of doing business.
By all means don’t grill them or give them the third degree. You’ll find out all you need to know by simply having a conversation with them, and creatively weaving your important questions into the natural flow of the discussion. Write down the answers you find interesting, and refer back to them later when you’re deciding whether or not to hire the person. Remember to thank them for their time.
You Are The Judge And Jury
What criteria are you looking for? That depends on a few factors.
First, do you like the person? Life’s too short, and there are just too many other options, to waste time with someone you don’t want to be around.
Second, are they professional? Do they approach their business, and yours, with a serious attitude? Will they safeguard your time and money almost as if it were their own? Do you get the sense they are serious about their profession? Do they treat their business like a business and not a hobby. Incidentally, do you?
Finally, do they possess the experience, skill, and know-how you are looking for? The person who referred them to you can help answer that, but be sure to ask for additional referrals, and contact the referrals they give you. Ask plenty of questions and make sure they are fully capable of fulfilling your expectations.
Hire Them Right, And Enjoy The Journey
When you hire anybody, be it General Contractor or home inspector, make certain that you clearly define the scope of the relationship from the beginning, preferably in writing. Never enter into a business agreement involving the exchange of value (money or time) without a clear written agreement. This will save you all kinds of pain and aggravation later. The question isn’t whether someone will let you down, but when.<BR><BR>Just because you decide to put someone on your team today, doesn’t mean they will stay there forever. My team has evolved over time, and yours will too. As you work with people, you will notice things about them you didn’t see during the search process. Their methods may change over time, and your needs will change also. Don’t be afraid to end a partnership- after all, it’s a business relationship, not a marriage. Just be sure to honor all of your commitments.
Finally, enjoy the search process, and keep your eyes and ears open all the time. This can be the most exciting period in your investing life, and you never know when you are going to meet someone who would make a good fit on your team. I have found some of my most trusted advisors and professionals when I wasn’t looking, and when I least expected to find them. Many of them have subsequently become good friends.<BR><BR>Now, go make more offers!