Our paths are never linear in this life. Sometimes, we had to go through things again and decide whether to do it better or fall back. Danny Johnson, founder and CEO at Freedom Driven LLC, did the former, and now he is the owner of the software company, Flip Pilot, and the investor websites called Lead Propeller. In this episode, Danny sits down with host, Paul Lizell, to talk about his real estate investing journey that started in 2003 and how it has evolved today. Having gone through restarts, he shares how he was able to start his business all over again, offering great insights and inspiration to always move forward. Danny is also the host of the popular podcast and blog, Flipping Junkie. He shares some great advice that could help with building a business, doing flips, making deals, getting leads, and more.
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Starting Over Again With Danny Johnson From “Flipping Junkie” Podcast
With me in this show is a good friend of mine, Danny Johnson. He and I have been in Mobile Masterminds together. We know each other for probably many years. He is a tremendous, great guy, smart as software programs out there have been in real estate for a while. Danny, why don’t you give us a background, how you got into real estate, where you are now, the trials and tribulations, and where you’re headed?
We have an episode with you on Flipping Junkie Podcast, which is my podcast. You had said that the first deal that you did was a HUD home. It’s the same for me. My first one was a HUD home.
A lot of investors’ first home is a HUD home.
I live in it, so I got dibs on it before investors could bid on it. That’s how I able to get it. It was the owner occupant. I got a great deal on that and I fixed it up while I lived in it and then sold it three years later. They waited 2.5 years because it’s 2 out of the 5. I would be skipping, jumping house to house, went from that one to a much nicer. The third one was paid off completely by buying the other two deals before it. It was a nice one too that I ended up being paid off. Getting into the business back in 2003, my father was in the business and I was out of college in 2000. I was working for a defense contractor doing software stuff because I have a Computer Science degree.
I was going to the office every day, working in this room with no windows. I’m not being challenged and wondering, “What did I go through all this for? I don’t know if this is exactly what I want to do.” My dad meanwhile is telling me about this loving life and talking about all these adventures he’s having in buying houses and all these deals he’s doing. He’s driving a brand-new truck and got all that stuff going on. Growing up, we always struggled. This was incredible. It was amazing to see this transition in him and what happened with this industry, what this business did. He did contractor work for an investor here in town while I was growing up. I got to do a lot of the demo stuff and I love how I worded that has got to. It’s like I’m inhaling a lot of dust from a lot of different old materials and going home with my dad with his hair all white because of all the dust.
I learned the value of that and what it takes to take a house from being a complete wreck into something that’s nice. Thinking back, those were good times, like listening to the radio and drinking the 44-ounce soda from the gas station. He got excited. He was doing all that, kicking butt in his business. I said, “I want to do the same thing.” I started looking for that first property. It took me 6 or 9 months. I remember saying, “How are you finding all these deals and I can’t find one?” It was something that a lot of investors go through, this belief that like, “It’s not going to work out for me.”
Unlimited mindset belief, you’re figuring out, “I can’t find a deal. What’s going on here? How come you are finding?” If you are looking at all the other investors and they’re finding deals, how come you can’t be for a start?
They’re beating me to it and you think of reasons, “Why do I got to be at a job all day?” My dad’s telling me, “You’ve got to believe you can.” I get irritated every time I heard that because I felt that it wasn’t actionable, but it’s the truth because after that first deal, the 2nd and 3rd one came much sooner. They started snowballing because it’s the belief. If we can have the belief that we can, it changes everything. It’s one of those things. Maybe people out there are struggling with the same thing. They hear me saying it and like, “It’s easy for you.” Change the mindset. Instead of thinking that way, think, “There are tons of deals out there. In a matter of time, I’m going to get one,” and it’s going to happen. After a couple of years in, I started getting this phone call where I’m not getting a deal for 1 or 2 months, and I’m like, “What’s happened?” It’s amazing how you got to work on that mindset. It starts happening.
You start becoming more creative too, because you’re thinking like that and you start thinking of more creative ways to find deals. Like thinking outside the box, “I’ll look for a year,” “I’ll look this,” “I’ll try this method,” Before you know, you got more deals than you know what to do with.
That’s what it opens up because otherwise, you’re focused on the wrong thing. It’s keeping you from expanding your mind to do other stuff and come up with creative ideas. That’s the same thing that happened to me. It was 6 or 9 months for the first deal. The second one came 3 or 4 months later and then it was one month for the next one. It was probably fifteen or so a year and I was still at my job though because I was scared to lose that consistent paycheck. I felt like that was my safety net, like I could go all day long and do all this stuff because it was all extra. That was hard. I had to get fired. They realized that I wasn’t working as much as I had before because I was analyzing deals.
I was the same deal. I started in 2001 and got fired in 2004 which was perfect because I had saved up eighteen months’ worth of bill-paying ability there. Transition has been fine ever since. You’re right, there’s some security with that paycheck at W-2. That makes it easy to get a mortgage as well. There’s a benefit. Once you were forced out, then what happened?
My manager was even telling me like, “I’m going to fight for you and you’re not going to let this happen.” I told them, “No. This is what I need. You need to do this. Please fire me. I’m losing money by being here.” I went full-time after about three years of being part-time. What I enjoyed about that was it taught me how to focus on the things that produce results. If you jump in and say, “I’m going to quit my job so I can do this without having done it.” You’re going to be finding all crazy stuff to do to keep you feel like you’re doing something, but it’s not necessarily the right thing. You’re designing new business cards. Don’t do that. You need to get in front of people that want to sell their house. I was focused on part-time because that was what produced the results. I had to get the deals. I’m not going to focus on all this other stuff. All I’m going to do is work on trying to get my phone to ring. I’ll figure it out and make it all work.Having the belief that we can changes everything. Click To Tweet
That also forces you to do the scarier things, because if you’re saying, “What needs to happen? What needs to happen is someone needs to call me. What do I have to do to do that? That’s scary.” If I don’t, it’s not going to ring and I’m off doing something else. It’s not, “I’m buying another course. I’m doing something like that. It’s time to move that aside and go for it.” I was in the business full-time, grew it and my ex-wife and I were the only people running that. We were wearing all the hats. The market shifted in 2008 after being super red hot. It was a scary time because in hindsight we all know what happened and where the markets went to.
At the time when it was happening, nobody knew where the bottom was or if cities were going to domino after California, Phoenix, and Florida. Some of these other places were going to experience that after the fact because of different things happening. The people I looked up to, my mentor and different investors, were saying, “There’s no shame in getting a job and sitting this out.” That’s what we’re doing, we’re sitting this out. I remember thinking, “That’s crazy for them to say that. I’m not hirable. I cannot go work a job now that I’ve done this and had this freedom of being able to do this stuff and make things happen. I’m not going to. I’m going to keep going. I’m going to buy lower, buy cheaper. Luckily, San Antonio, Texas was not hit as hard.
Texas in general was well-protected. Dallas might have gotten hit more than anybody else, but San Antonio probably didn’t feel a whole lot.
The appraisals and all that stuff were difficult to get to. Everybody’s being super conservative, but we didn’t see these 50% value drops.
You’re seeing 10% or 20%?
It was scary to pick up a property because we didn’t know what was going to happen. Texas being that and we have higher property taxes kept a lot of the bubble from happening here. Maybe it was my thought then, but we shifted into owner financing. We buy properties at a discount. At the time, we were buying at 60% and because there were fewer investors, there was less competition. Even our mentor’s saying that they weren’t going to be buying. We were buying, fixing them up, owner financing them and then there were people out of New York and different places buying notes at 90% or 93%. We could sell the house, close on it with owner financing and immediately sell the note at 90% of the value. We were making the same money we were making before for the flip. It was an easier self.
It worked out good and we kept some of those for ourselves for owner finance and that was great, picked up some rental properties. Some of those we weren’t able to sell or we decided on long-term stuff. The market improved and things started picking up in around 2011 or 2012. We’re buying more. This is probably about 2013 or so is when we finally brought on some help. “Let’s try to grow this thing a little bit bigger and get out of the day-to-day.” We had a couple of people that we had one at a time come in and try to help with acquisitions and stuff like that. I started the software about that time because I had documented on my blog on Flipping Junkie 34 weeks my business.
I had gone to get flying lessons. It was one of the things on my vision board. I was enraptured by flying that I was like, “I could not do anything else.” I couldn’t focus on the business. The thing I found out was that I was still getting leads and it was one of those things that played out to where I’m still getting leads now because of the things I did a few months ago. If you’re not getting stuff now, you’ve got to look back, “What have I been doing the last few months? That’s going to show me everything.”
It’s important to know because as you’re getting going again, you’re not going to see results probably for at least a few months. I needed a push and motivation. To not be flying all day and pretending like I’m retired, I decided to document in Flipping Junkie every single week. I’m going to start my business all over again. I documented all the marketing I was doing, the bandit signs. I showed pictures of them. I showed my Yellow Pages ad that I had and did all this. People were like, “I love this. You’re showing exactly what you’re doing.”
I even showed every single call that came in, every lead that I got, why they were selling, what the numbers were. I analyzed it whether I want to look at it. What people were telling me after doing that for 34 weeks was, and some of the bigger names in this industry too even told me, “I got my start because of your book, because you showed me that it was truly a numbers game. It wasn’t a deal that you said, ‘Next.’ You didn’t sit there and finagle with it and try to make it in a non-deal into a deal and generated more leads. You showed me that sometimes it can take quite a few leads to have that deal. If you can’t turn ten leads into a deal, that’s not like you’re a horrible investor.”
I did that and had a lot of success with that. The big thing that came from that too was my website was starting to produce a lot of the leads. This was probably back around 2011. It wasn’t hard to see that that’s what was going on because everybody is saying, “You’re showing me every week where you’re getting your leads. At the end of 34 weeks, you had 495 leads. Over 300 and some of those were from your website.” People were like, “How can I get a website?” I was like, “I don’t have time to build you a website. I want to go get more properties.” I didn’t have anywhere to send them. I was talking to Brandon Turner and he said, “Nobody’s providing websites at that time. People are now.”
I had been starting to develop a CRM system for real estate investors because I was already using one in my business. I could probably develop it quickly. If I do it to where they can choose a template and then edit themselves, I don’t have to custom one-off build websites. I can use all my knowledge of what I learned. That became Lead Propeller in real estate investor websites. Those have been around for many years now and still to this day thousands of investors trust me for providing with their website. That came out of that a few years ago.
We started building up the team because I was getting busy with the software with that. We joined a mastermind and that was Justin’s mastermind. That’s where I met you. It showed me that I could build out that team. I could hire somebody to do the acquisitions better than me, which was a doubt that I had. It was something like, “I have a way with getting these things under contract and it’d be hard to find someone else to do it that doesn’t own the company.” It wasn’t true at all. We grew up a team and we even shot to do 100 deals in a year, like growing up a team and doing that.
We didn’t do it. We did 60-something, but still a year. Most of them being fix and flip and wholesale the rest. That was cool and exciting, but I was overwhelmed, even with being a part of the meetings and having my mind in that versus having my mind in the software. At the mastermind, I was talking about that and it was like, “Why don’t you focus on the software? There’s a lot more backend on that then there is doing the house flipping stuff.” I don’t think is true anymore, but at that time I bought into that thinking there can be, but it depends on how you’re doing. If you’re doing long-term stuff the real estate is crazy awesome. We left that meeting and my ex-wife said, “Why don’t I focus on running the flipping business and you can focus on the software?” I said, “Being that you decided that’s what you want to do, that’s great.” It’s like let’s say, “He wants you to do that so I can do that.”
It worked out great. For the past years, I’ve been removed from the business and my ex-wife and I divorced in 2019. I was having coffee with my mentor from early on in the flipping days, which was the one that was hiring my dad’s contractor a long time ago. He became my mentor here as well. I hadn’t thought about this at all, but he looked at me and he goes, “With all this happening, are you going to get back into buying it?” I hadn’t thought about it, but when he asked me that, I felt like, “That sounds like a lot of fun. I haven’t felt this excited in a while.”
It’s something that resonated and something inside of me wants to do it like whenever I got started. I got excited about doing that and about getting back into the business from a place of having done a lot already like going through a big market change, building a team, wearing all the hats like, “How do I want this to look?” That’s important for everybody, starting out or not. How do you want your business and your life to look? If you’re saying, “I want to make a bunch of money and I want to be successful at this,” what does that look like to you? You have to have an idea of what that looks like and it can change, but start with something that’s a little bit more visual that you can imagine what it’s going to be like because it helps you guide what you’re doing to make sure you’re headed that way.
Doing that this time is like, “After having done all that, what do I want to do?” I didn’t fully enjoy having a big team. Some of the fun was a little bit removed when it became this big goal and feeling like we had to hit this big target and it might evolve into that at a lower level. Starting now, I was looking back at my mentor, my father and some other investors that I know had been in a business long time that still love it. Those guys are still doing a lot of the day-to-day because they love buying houses, this whole industry and all this stuff. Sometimes even at some of the masterminds, you’ll see people get up and talk and they’re like, “We’re starting a title company. We’re starting a construction company.”
It’s like, “What is missing? What do you need? What are you doing? That’s not enough.” It doesn’t seem like it’s coming from a place of being overly thrilled. Maybe I was reading and projecting how I was feeling about things myself. There is something to be said about, “Building the business the way you want it to fit what you envision your life looking like for you to be happy.” That doesn’t necessarily mean flipping 100 houses in a year. Most likely it doesn’t if you’re more about the lifestyle. You can have the lifestyle, but you got to build the team and then at that point, you’re more of a true business builder. Maybe more of your gem is business building. If it’s not, don’t pretend like it is because other people are doing and that’s the natural progression for real estate investors.
I took a long time to say that and this time I said, “I want to enjoy the process. I don’t want to get to the point where I feel like I have to hit this goal to be happy. I want to enjoy every single day. I want to enjoy when I get a call and be thrilled that somebody is calling me because they have the house we want to sell.” Back when I was getting a ton of calls and trying to meet crazy numbers, I was getting irritated when I get a call. There is not a place you ever want to be. It does not work.
You wouldn’t enjoy the business when you got that and you don’t feel. It’s not the direction you want to head down for sure. Now, you’re dealing in a whole different way. You’re going to do it to build differently and cater to your lifestyle at this point.
This time it’s more about picking up the long-term investments like around properties doing owner financing because I know that the strategy I’m using is more of one where I’m going to have them pay it off in the quickest amount of time I can. If it runs for this much, I’m going to get short as low as possible to where that rent covers those altruists, everything. Eight years on a lot of these, they’ll be paid and I’m getting all of that cashflow. That’s my thing. That’s what I’m focused on. In doing that, I can’t get super nice properties. I’m not getting war zone. I’m getting working-class, lower working-class stuff and that’s my target.
I’m reverse-engineering what I want it all to look like. Enjoy it. What I did was I decided through 2021 to do eleven properties with an average of about $1,000 a month. I’m not going to see that money. It’s going to be in the future when those loans would pay off. That’s keep it simple and keep it that as I build it up and do the business myself, instead of immediately hiring people because in reverse engineering I didn’t need to do a whole lot because I’m still running my software company. I love doing that too.
In doing eleven deals, I was able to reverse-engineer and say, “Eleven deals by the end of 2021. How many leads is it likely going to take for me to get each deal?” In the beginning, I’m rusty. I’m thinking that it’s probably going to take a little bit more, let me say ten. That’s what 110 leads spread from 2020 to the end of 2021, which is insanely possible. We are talking about motivated sellers saying, “I want to sell my property. Not stuff that I go and find a house that’s for sale.” It is motivated seller leads. That takes a lot of the pressure off in getting in. I foresee myself like blowing that out of the water but to make it to where I’m not doing some crazy stuff. I broke that down and said, “For the next three months I want to get one deal and by the end of the year, having three.” I’m working it that way and then I can focus on what marketing do I want to do that I enjoy, that I can do. A lot of it is still going to come through my website. I still have a website. I still use that.
Already, I’ve got three properties under contract. I closed the one. We’re already working on it. I put another one in the contract and another one that’s in the small town that I got to fly my plane out. This is what you were talking about. As far as buying in the smaller outer lying areas, that one looks like it’s going to work out. I wasn’t sure because what they owed was fluctuating a lot because they got a tax loan heap and all the fees and the interest on there.Build a business the way you want it to fit what you envision your life looking like for you to be happy. Click To Tweet
Maybe putting it out of range. I got word, it looks like it’s going to be right there. One thousand more than what I had thought was going to pay everything off. I could still do that one. I know a part of having that belief because I already know it’s possible. I’ve already done it. Having that belief that it’s all going to work out. It’s cool to be going through this again, because fears do come and the fear still comes up. It’s interesting to see that, “Even after all this time, I still have fear of some of this stuff. It’s healthy.”
We need to have some of that fear because it makes you think a little differently. You don’t want to go into everything overconfident, then you’re going to screw up. You’ve seen guys who start in this business do have a great start. You then get this huge ego and then you get your ass kicked because they had such a big ego. They thought they could do whatever is thrown over them. That’s why fear is a good thing. Always having something driving you, it can drive you in a positive way.
Maybe it’s my age too. It’s midlife crisis time, you start to be a bit more introspective maybe or at least I became that way. It’s big because it’s taking a look at, “How I’m operating? What am I doing? Why am I doing it? In practical terms, like a follow-up, we know how important it is to follow-up. If people don’t typically accept the deal on the first go-round, you got to follow-up and you got to keep following up. There’s a house that I bought. It took me eight years to follow-up and buy. In a wholesale, that’s like $50,000 as-is. I thrilled until I found out who I wholesale that to. I sold it and made $300,000 and I was like, “What?” I didn’t have to do that in a massive renovation. It was a big one. That took eight years to get in the follow-up.
We know the importance of follow-up. Why are people not doing it? Why do we find that we don’t do it? As I’ve transitioned back into this and knowing how important follow-up is, I’ve run into exactly why I don’t want to do ups sometimes. That reason is I make all kinds of assumptions about the seller and their situation. I know surface-level what they’ve told me and I’ve talked to them, maybe I feel like it’s a little bit more than what they’re saying, but I think sometimes that assumption of like, “They were not interested in the least in my offer. There’s no way they’re going to take this.” I’m not even going to follow-up because I don’t want to piss them off or irritating because they clearly don’t want anything. That’s a horrible, stupid assumption.
It comes up because it takes us off the hook of having to do something. We can focus on something else or do something else. Follow-up is not that difficult. It works. Immediately, you are saying, “I know I’m making that assumption that I’m not going to do it because I had no idea what’s going on with them.” I’ve bought a lot in the past where I thought there was no chance in hell that I’d bailed by the house and I did. I know what happens. The big thing with follow-up is if I make that assumption and I agree with that assumption and I don’t do it, there’s no way I’m going to buy it. If I say no, I’m not going to listen to that. I put them in auto follow-up. I’m not having to do anything.
A few months from now, they might have some situation that happened in their life that this makes it to where all of a sudden everything has changed, especially how many people’s lives are being affected in ways that they never thought would happen. It doesn’t mean taking advantage of that, but being there to help out whenever that thing happens. That’s the way it is for everybody. Not because of the pandemic, but situations in everybody’s life change. Looking at follow-up from a place of not letting your mind tell you things that aren’t true, letting you make assumptions about what someone else is thinking or going to do because you don’t know. That also comes up with the competition. A guy called me up in the evening and wants to sell his house two blocks away from where this house was, but he wasn’t there.
I set the appointment for the next thing in the morning and I said, “If I make an offer, are you ready to accept it?” He’s like, “It’s my brother’s house and I’ve got several people coming by to make an offer.” I flip myself. It’s a kind of stuff like, “Is this a waste of time? Do I want to go? I’m going to go and I’m going to analyze the deal like I normally would make the offer. If I get it great, if I don’t, who cares. It’s practice. I’m rusty,” or if you’re new, who cares if I get it or not. I’m going to go and see what it’s like to go in and make an offer that’s lower to a seller to get the experience, take the pressure off yourself. I did. Monday morning, he calls me and says, “I’m going to go with yours.” That wouldn’t have happened. We have no idea what’s going to happen. There are other investors that are going to see this house too and that means that if I get it, I’m paying more than everybody else.
You know what your numbers are. Trust your numbers and that’s the key. For new people, sometimes they don’t know if their numbers are right. They don’t trust their numbers. You can run into that. If you are experienced, you know your number is, what it is and it’s going to work, you can make it work.
Knowing that comes up and especially for new people too, put all that aside and analyze the deal. If you need help from people like Paul there, if you’re a part of his programs and stuff like that to help you out in finding a mentor is key in getting started in this business.
Take massive action. For many people, they overanalyze or thinking about what to do now. Just go. Almost like a bull in a China shop sometimes, smart, do your homework, do due diligence, but you’ve got to go like going to these different markets. There are many investors who come to me and say, “How do you buy a property you never go and see?” I’m like, “It’s not that hard. I can get all the information I need from the agent, from a realtor. They can give me the low down on a property. They’re not going to lie to me. They have to give me the basic information about what they know.” I’ll have a good idea about the property. I had to have a mindset where I’ll go in any market anywhere. Maybe not overseas. I might’ve gone out of the country, but that’s my limiting mindset. A lot of people have that mindset. They are little bubble and their lay area there. Sometimes go out of your comfort zone and see what happens. Sometimes good things happen. As you go out of your comfort zone with doing that, getting an offer, getting a deal.
Having things happen already, it’s a lot of fun. It snowballs because you’re already having fun with it. It takes that you are getting over that initial hurdle. I like getting into this business again from that perspective too to help other people with being there again, being there in the process of being newer to it again and knowing again when it’s like. After a while, even on the podcast like interviewing people, there’s great info. Sometimes if it’s been awhile, since I’ve been in the trenches, I’m going to miss some of the right questions. I’m going to miss some of the things that would be way more beneficial to get out because I wasn’t completely involved in the day-to-day of the business.
To stay involved in the day-to-day to me is huge. For me to the students, I’m like, “I’m not some mentor guy out there who is not doing deals. I’m doing it. I’m seeing it every single day. I can guide you in the right direction. If I’m not doing deals anymore, I lose some of that, ‘What’s going on now? What good software? What good sites to go on?’ I’ve become a little bit more useless.” That’s why I always feel I’ll never be one of those guys like Than Merrill of FortuneBuilders where I’m not doing deals anymore. I’m doing the educational side. I enjoy the educational side, but I enjoy doing deals as well. That’s the key to me. Doing deals is fun. I’ve done as many as 130 deals in a year. I have no interest doing 130 deals anymore.
I found a nice, sweet spot, perfect between 60 and 80, it’s solid. Sixty is a good number to do each year and you get 10 to 20 fix and flip side of that, pick up 5 to 10 rentals out of that and the rest are wholesale or owner finance deals. You can manage, do it and not have a big team of people like we got two virtual assistants and I have a sales guy. That’s it. I like keeping it simple. It’s my real estate lifestyle. I want my business to be going around my life. I got four kids. I got my wife who’s not active in our business. It ends up being, plus doing a show, plus doing an educational side. I wouldn’t be able to enjoy it. I enjoy it. I love it and been doing it for a long time.
I can tell it’s genuine because it comes off here. You’re not weighted down with all the stuff that you’re doing. I’ve interviewed some people that are big in this business and it’s the part of the interview after we’re done recording and we talk a little bit, there’s been a couple of memorable ones where I’m like, “This guy is completely depressed.” It’s a sad thing where you get into his place where you’re trying to do so much and you lose track of why you’re trying to do it.
You can get overworked, overburdened, whatever you do. If even if it’s something you love, if you’re overworked and feel overburdened, you’re not going to enjoy it as much. It’s finding that sweet spot that is, “I don’t want to work 80 hours a week. I only want to do 40 to 60.” You can manage it and reduce your workload, be able to do that and handle that. I enjoy the flips, but I don’t love it when I have a ton going on. If I keep it manageable having say 2 to 4 going on at each time, that’s fine. If I try to go more than that, then I’m like a chicken without a head and I won’t enjoy it as much.
That’s why the guy was selling, his brother was instead of him buying it or whatever. It makes sense and that’s believable because I’ve been there too where you have too many going on. You cannot have another because it’s going to sit and it’s going to be expensive.
It’s going to be expensive and you’re going to be pissed off about it.
One in the market could change a little bit too in over six months. You don’t know what’s going to happen so much. It’s been awesome getting in and doing that. With the software stuff too. Being in the business so long, I can imagine all the along, “Lee comes in, I got to be able to do this. We got to do that. The software’s got to do this stuff.” When you’re getting the call yourself again, not your lead intake person, but you personally are getting some call and then you find, “I need to do this. I need to go log in.” It’s like, “It would be nice if I could get this notification on my phone, click this and have it happen. I don’t need to do anything else.” Those ideas come up and this makes everything much better. It’s super pumped.
In your FlipPilot, we did a little demo. You showed it to me. It incorporates everything like that. There are lots of guys who do software out there but aren’t active in the business like you are. Seeing every little aspect, you can overlook a lot of different things like those little alerts, things like that. That is powerful what you have there. That is awesome. I’m going to be trying that out because that has a lot of stuff I want on there. It’s tremendous. Do you want to talk a little bit about FlipPilot and what it does?
We’ve been building CRM systems. I built my own long time ago was using that saying, “This is awesome. I’d love to make it to where I don’t need to have it on my laptop. I want to make it web-based so I can access it anywhere.” I did that and was like, “Now that it’s that. Why can’t other investors take advantage of this? We’ve gone through a couple of iterations of getting it to where it could scale because you don’t want an unstable platform. We’ve gotten to the point now where we’ve got FlipPilot and this is 2.0. In 1.0, we tried to put everything in the kitchen sink and the thing. It was overkill. It is way too much.
We were able to take that lesson and say, “When you got everything, it becomes a usability issue.” It’s like clicking around everywhere trying to find stuff. We revamped it, we got flipped pilot 2.0, which I’m trying to stop saying 2.0, FlipPilot. The big thing that we did this time around was keeping it simple and making it a joy to use. The way we did that was to not try to look at, “What did we do before? What is everybody else doing?” Let’s come up with our own. Everybody, every investor I know has a whiteboard with property and columns on what’s going on.
You want to be able to look, it’s okay, that you know where everything is at. Why can’t the system be like that where you log in and you see where everything is? Most of us aren’t working that many deals to where you can’t see that at a quick glance. Even your leads can come in and you know all the ones in that column right there need to be worked like, “Why is this one still here? Who’s called that one?” That’s how we built it. We built it like if you’ve ever used Trello or Pipedrive, it’s this column-based system and you can drag the property over as workflow goes, you can adjust your workflow. That’s how we built it. It’s cool. At a glance, you see where everything is and what needs attention.
I like it much better than Podio. We have a basic Podio one and I didn’t like yours flows. The Podio did not flow. I stopped using it. I didn’t need it. Everything I do, I keep on Excel and it’s simply what I have there with each individual property. Yours, that’s awesome. I might utilize that. That’s going to make things a lot simpler for me. I love the column basing where I’m going write across. Part of it is because I’m still using Excel spreadsheets, everything for me is column-based and I’m going across names, have all this different info and details on there. I add more and move it down the line.
For me, that works. That nice and linear workflow, but you’ve got a lot of things in there where you can add notes and people can write notes on what happened and followed up, “I followed up on 8 and 7 on this property,” “Owners thinking about it. They will let us know by Friday or next Friday.” Those are great little things and keeping it simple. That’s one of the things I like about it. That Podio got too complex for me. I’m looking all around for this. I want that. I need something that’s basic, simple, clean workflow. Like my business, I want to keep everything simple that way.It's simple to know where everything's at, but then follow up is also big. Click To Tweet
When I talk about cryptos, a lot of times people get in there, “This crypto.” Like, “Don’t reinvent the wheel. There are eight great cryptos. Why do I need to worry about all this? Unless something comes along. That’s great. Let me focus on ease and what we’re doing and their tried and true. I don’t need to reinvent everything and try to find that next IPO.” There’s a lot of people doing that and I’m like, “Keep it simple in almost everything in life and it’s a lot easier for you.”
It makes you stay open instead of getting focused on trying to figure out. The way that we went about this one, because the last iteration where it’s like, we need all this stuff in here, we’re going to have this huge feature list. This time around we said, “Why are we even using the software? You’re using a spreadsheet. Why would you want a system? What is the real reason beyond the fact that other people have one?” The key is staying organized in a simple way so that you use it, because if it’s complicated, you don’t use it. What’s the point you have?
The other thing is the follow-up. That was the other key there. It’s simple to know where everything’s at, but then follow-up is also big. We have the pipeline and then as soon as you put something in automated follow-up, it goes off of the pipeline and its automated follow-up. It’s happening. If they respond, then you get notified and it comes back onto something you’re actively working. That way I’m able to follow-up on 100 properties without even my brain having to figure anything out.
Most of us in this business or in any business get bogged down by different details. You forget about these things. You give me the auto follow-up. You don’t have to think about it. “I got to follow-up on his property.” Have everything set up nice, clean and easy. I love that of that. FlipPilot is a great little CRM. I liked that a lot. I’ve used some different CRMs, have Podio being the one I use the most, but I ended up going back to using the basic old spreadsheet and keeping track of everything in there. In yours, I’m going to be test piloting that one. You got the website creation there too for people. You got a couple of different things going on with that.
We’ll be working to have those integrated even more nicely and playing nicely together to do things so that you don’t have to do manual stuff like you used to, like creating listings for wholesale deals and working on all that stuff that we’ll be doing in the future. The way that we’re building this out is with the customers in mind. With all these active investors using it, we get on Zoom calls every two weeks and we say, “Here’s what we’re developing. We want your input on it.” Before we get done developing it, we don’t have to go back and change it. “What do you guys think about all this?”
Somebody says, “What about this because I do things this way? That’s an awesome idea.” We build it into it. It’s like, “After we’re done with this, here are the next ideas for the next things. What do you guys need?” We’re not making all the assumptions ourselves and putting all this stuff out there. We’re like, “What do people need?” They’re guiding the development of this whole thing and we’re doing it all together and that’s super exciting.
Do you have any VAs you’re working with? Do you have anybody hired or you planned on keeping it small, keeping yourself, keeping it controllable and staying in the day-to-day stuff?
I’m staying open to whatever happens. I have my goal and then however I get there, I’m open to whatever path that takes me down so that I can stay open to possibilities. If I make it too strict, it’s like I used to plan my week. I told my dad about it. I was like, “I’m time blocking. Mondays, I’m doing this between this,” and he said, “Good luck with that.” It’s not the way I work. It’s like you end up being too, then you’re like, “I didn’t finish it in that time block. Now, I’m thrown off. I didn’t accomplish this and that.” I’m doing the work myself so that I can develop the process and if I feel like, “I can’t maintain doing this. My time is worth more. I’ll bring somebody in to do it.” I’m still improving my processes first and then I’m going to bring somebody in and then show them how to do it.
You can do the slower controlled, incremental growth. It’s better. You see a lot of people in this business and we’ve seen in the masterminds. I remember a collective genius almost there. Somebody goes up there or a newer guy and they did 40 to 50 deals a year. I hear these other people are doing a couple of hundred deals a year and like, “I want to do a couple hundred.” It’s not about that. Don’t worry about how many deals, don’t go up here and thinking you got to show off and you’re the greatest thing since sliced bread. In your business, those 50 deals, how can you make them more profitable? Why don’t you start with that rather than trying to do 200 deals because now you’re going to do 200 deals, all they’re going to be less profitable because you’re spread too thin.
You’re going to be hiring people, you are going to be running it all around like a chicken. I see a lot of people go out of business, in CG especially I saw a lot of people do that. It got too big and boom we’re wiped out. It’s not a good thing to do it. The way you’re doing here, going with the flow of figuring out, “My time is better spent here focusing on this. Let me hire somebody to do that.” You work that, train, then go and then you might have to replace yourself on another side of the business later on. That’s the best way to go in any business in life.
This is another story from my mentor. He told me whenever HomeVestors was getting started up in Dallas, they came to him down in San Antonio and was like, “We’d like for you to be one of the first franchisees.” They pushed all the processes, the McDonald’s binder of all the stuff and everything over to him to look at. He looked at it and pushed it back and was like, “I’m not interested.” They said, “Why not?” He said, “Where’s the creativity in this? I’m doing everything that you’ve outlined for me. Where’s the fun?” That was a big point. It didn’t fit anywhere in our conversation that we had. This is something I need to listen to because it came out and I’m latched onto this whole idea. Getting started following and being working with a mentor such as you, Paul, that knows what you’re doing, can help get going with proven ways to do it. At some point too, you take in, it’s up to you to evolve that stuff.
I fell into this virtual wholesaling thing and I was like, “This is interesting. Traveling and seeing different parts of the country.” I did it from that mindset and that perspective, that became my niche and my thing. There are not many people that do it, but I love it. It’s fun. Some people’s niches are sticking in this neighborhood. I’ll only buy in these four zip codes and there’s plenty of guys out there that do that. Whatever your niche is, whatever floats your boat, go with it. If you’re going to enjoy it and like it, you’re going to be more successful at it anyway.
They’re good being interviewed by you. You usually exude this happiness and it’s genuine and awesome. I’m sure all of your students concern that and it’s probably one of the reasons why they work with you.
That is what I try to portray and it is life. I enjoy it. If I’m not going to have fun in life it’s going to be a miserable life. Whatever you do, try to do it with passion, enjoy it, like it, if you end up painting it, get that part of your life out.
We can remember why we all wanted to get into the business in the first place. It’s to have that freedom and lifestyle.
We were unemployable. We can only work for ourselves. We can’t work for anybody else.
That’s a fact. I’ll find a way no matter what to make that.
I appreciate all your insight and your mindset in how you’ve evolved in the business from beginning to end here and your software. You’ve got two different types of businesses going on here. You got the real estate and you’ve got the software. Is there one you enjoy more than the other?
I like them each for their different aspects. With the software, I even still do some of the development because I’ve been working on the iOS app for FlipPilot myself. What I love about that is the progress that I can see that I’m making and I’m overcoming challenges on a daily basis, even on an hourly basis. That feeds me. I love it. That creativity, thinking through all that kind of stuff. In the house business is the same way because the feeling of getting a house under contract is special. It is awesome. It’s like all the work that led up to it and then getting that like that. That’s a good boost of pleasure.
I love the real estate side of the business and then I also enjoy the coaching side of the business as well. Part of the reason I got into coaching is that I coach my sons in travel baseball. I’ve done that for years. I coached him in basketball and football. We were super successful. We’ve won multiple championships, but I kept it simple and it was always stressing to fundamentals. I studied guys like Vince Lombardi and John Wooden and what they did over again was basic fundamentals. If you feel the ground ball and you know where to go with it every time and you’re fundamentally sound, you’re going to be more successful, more often than you’re not so your team’s going to be more successful.
We are focused on base running, feeling, knowing where to go with a ball, hitting a cutoff man, these basic things which led to an undefeated season and are led to championships, led to a lot of success, led to some failure and growing experiences for us. That naturally went with me that for the real estate side, it’s the same thing. I want all my students to be successful and I want to go above and beyond to help them be successful, but they need to have that want to. Trey Franklin who’s in the San Antonio market is one of our star students. He had it, you knew it from the jump he had the mindset, the attitude, and he loved it. That gives you another high and other pleasure. That’s not a different thing than a real estate side. I totally understand what you’re talking about with the software.
It’s cool that we get to do these things that are the same. They’re all in the same business, the same industry and in different ways, it’s all cohesive. It’s not like a completely separate thing where your mind is got to rapidly enter some different dimensions to be able to handle the situations that are all the same thing. That’s why I do the podcast too because there’s so much learning in talking with the guys like you. It’s awesome and then pick your brains with an incredible thing.
The show is a whole other thing and that’s one of the things I enjoy. Talking to other people, getting their perspective on things, what’s working well for them. What side of the business do they like? It’s a drag for them. It’s another business in and of itself. It’s pleasurable fun. We did home and away here with our podcast. You got a lot of good input. If somebody wants to reach out to you, if they want to find out about FlipPilot, Lead Propeller, or talk to you about your life journey. What’s the best way to reach out to you?
There are websites for all of that. FlipPilot.com and LeadPropeller.com. Flipping Junkie is my blog and podcast. The best way though if you want to communicate with me is to go to Facebook and join the Flipping Junkie group and then you can ask me any questions. Message me through Facebook.
Thank you. I appreciate it.
- Danny Johnson
- Flipping Junkie
- Flipping Junkie Podcast
- Flipping Junkie – Facebook group
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