Episode 45: [Marketing] Direct Mail Subtleties w/ Ben Grise

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Show Notes

Ben Grise.

Husband. Father to His Two Year old Son, Nolan!

He’s a graduate of Ball State University living with my beautiful and super supportive wife in Indianapolis, Indiana. Prior to becoming a real estate professional he worked as Healthcare Technology Education Consultant at Indiana University Health. He’s also a successful poker player with a few TV final tables…which I found super interesting.

He’s spent the past several years learning all that he could about real estate and applying it so that he could provide enough income to support his family.
The education has paid off and he’s now a full-time real estate investor in Indianapolis.

Ben started by following my Flipping Junkie blog and went on to take my wholesaling training course FreedomByFlipping (http://freedombyflipping.com).

He’s grown his business and has staff helping him already. During this episode, Ben shares how he doesn’t focus at all on what his letters say as he simply outsources them to Jerry Puckett who handles the list and mailing them for Ben.

During the conversation we make special note of the importance of credibility when marketing to motivated sellers through direct mail.

Ben mentions how important it is to be a member of the chamber of commerce, better business bureau and have other professional credibility and endorsements.

Testimonials are huge. Ben advises to get and show testimonials whenever possible.
He always has motivated sellers tell him they called him because of the testimonials and reviews they saw.

Links

FreedomByFlipping.com – Course Ben used to get started flipping houses

BenBuysIndyHouses.com – Ben’s house buying website
InvestWithBen.com – Bens investor deals website

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Episode Transcription

Danny Johnson: This is the Flipping Junkie podcast episode 45. [music] Welcome to the Flipping Junkie podcast. My name is Danny Johnson; former software developer turned house flipper, flipping hundreds of houses. Each week, we bring you interviews, strategies, stories, and motivation to help you get started flipping houses and on your way to becoming your own boss and achieving financial freedom. Thanks for spending time with me today. Now, let’s get to it.

Hey, everybody. We got a great show today. We’re going to have Ben Grise on the show. He’s a father of his two-year-old son, Nolan. He graduated at Ball State University and living with his beautiful and super supportive wife in Indianapolis, Indiana. Prior to becoming a real estate professional, he worked as a healthcare technology education consultant at the Indiana University of Health. He’s also a successful poker player with a few TV final tables; World Poker Tour and stuff like that, which I found to be super interesting. It’s a really cool story. You don’t find a lot of people that have made it that far especially in poker. He has spent the past several years learning all that he could about real estate and applying it so that he could provide enough income to support his family. Education has paid off. He’s now a full-time real investor in Indianapolis and he’s doing a lot of great things, growing his business, and I really respect him for that. In the show, he shares a little bit of how when he got started, following Flipping Junkie, the blog and listening to this podcast and all that kind of stuff, it’s good to get that feedback. It’s nice to hear when people take the information and put it to work and grow a business out of it and achieve what we’re trying to help everybody achieve. So it’s very cool. He talks about the Freedom by Flipping Course which is at Freedobyflipping.com. It’s my wholesaling course. I don’t mention it much but he talks a little bit about that in the beginning of the show, so I just want to mention that so you know a little bit of reference for it. Enjoy the show! [music]

Hey, Ben. Are you there?

Ben Grise: Yeah.

Danny Johnson: Hey, man. Thanks. Well, obviously here now and recording video but I haven’t released video yet, but I see you on here so I’m going to have to stop asking if people are there. But anyway, hey, thanks for being on the show. Appreciate it.

Ben Grise: No problem. Thanks for having me.

Danny Johnson: Yeah. Today, I wanted to talk with Ben about how he got into real estate going from part-time to full-time. I’m sure we’ll get into some marketing stuff in there with direct mail. I think he’s got some systems that he’s put into place to help him out with his business and I’m sure we’ll get into talking about all of that kind of stuff. So, we’ll just get right into this and get started with – you want to share with how you got interested in house flipping and how you got into the business?

Ben Grise: Yeah, yeah. Long story short, I discovered Bigger Pockets and devoured all the information I could and I started just reading a lot of the blog articles, forum posts, and devouring all the information I could, listening to all the podcasts on there. And through that, that’s how I discovered you and your website, FlippingJunkie.com. I really enjoyed your podcast episode on there that really helped me, also started reading a lot of your blog posts and your tone just really resonated with me. So I kind of used your model as a guide to get started. I remember I purchased your $497 or your $500 wholesaling course and that just really, really helped me get started. I remember it was awesome because I could email you if I had any questions and you would respond. That course showed me how to get started marketing through direct mail. It showed me how to run comps on the properties I came across, how to make offers. It was like everything I needed and you hear about these people paying 10, 20, 30, 40 thousand dollars to get started and I just got tremendous value simply by paying $500 for that course that you put out there. It helped me a ton. And then also Bigger Pockets as well. So that’s how I got started and I just took action. I started marketing and first batch of letters I sent, I got two deals from that and it just snowballed from there. I was working full-time as an EMR consultant, so that’s training on the electronic medical records (EMR), training nurses and doctors. Also playing poker part-time as well. I’ve had a lot of success with that. I’ve been in the World Series Poker, World Poker Tour, Heartland Poker Tour. But both of those things, I had to travel a lot and I was a newlywed, wanting to start a family and I knew I wanted to be closer to home and work closer to home. So I started wholesaling and since then I’m no longer working as a consultant in an electronic medical record industry, so I’m able to be home with my family. Now, when I play poker, it’s more of as a hobby and more enjoyable whereas in the past it felt more like a job. So yeah, that’s how I got started and now I’m doing wholesaling fulltime.

Danny Johnson: I remember the first time I talked to you and you mentioned being the poker player and being a World Series Poker and all that, that was really cool. There was a time where I got real interested in that, just watching it on TV. I think it’s probably when a lot of people did. So that was pretty neat. I never really took it anywhere…

Ben Grise: Never really ran with–

Danny Johnson: Yeah, I wasn’t very good at it. It was just more of a way to lose money than anything else. But, it’s fun.

Ben Grise: Yeah. You either have it or you don’t. Some people just play it as a hobby but the people that are professional and do really well, you just have to have a mindset for it I guess.

Danny Johnson: Right, right.

Ben Grise: Same thing I guess with flipping and wholesaling. You got to be able to tolerate risks.

Danny Johnson: Oh yeah. I think there’s probably a lot of similarities. You’ve mentioned you did the direct mail, the first batch that you did and you got two deals. That’s pretty awesome. How many letters did you send out in that first or postcards or whatever?

Ben Grise: I sent out letters first class and I sent out a thousand. Roughly a thousand. I know I spent a thousand dollars. So it was costing me about a dollar a letter. I know you can get them cheaper than that but I was at a point where I just needed to take action so I outsourced everything. Because I had some money saved up from my full-time job and from poker winnings and things like that. So I was mostly concerned with just taking action. I didn’t want to dwell on what type of letter, where to buy my letter. I found somebody to outsource my direct mail to and they did all the direct mail for me and the calls started pouring in.

Danny Johnson: Wow. So what was that list for? Was that absentee owner list? Was that a driving for dollars?

Ben Grise: Yeah. That was I want to say going on 3 years ago so that was an absentee owner list with equity. An equity with absentee owner list. Yup. I think he got the list from List Source. He was doing so much direct mail that if you buy a large number of lists from List Source, you can get a discount. So yup, absentee owner with equity.

Danny Johnson: Cool.

Ben Grise: I didn’t focus on – I know a lot of people get hung up on when they’re buying their list, where to buy it. I just picked the county and just sent them all out. I’m in Indianapolis, so the thing about Indianapolis, there’s so many pockets of neighborhoods. You can’t really target by zip code. So I just send out to the entire county. The ones that came in that didn’t work, I just marked them as dead. I wasn’t able to help them.

Danny Johnson: How many times did you mail it to the same list?

Ben Grise: When I first got started, I only sent one batch of letters one time when I first started. Then I started doing, I partnered with a guy locally here who did driving for dollars. He would do all the driving and I always send the mail out and all the mail would come in through the system that I had set up, so we partnered on some driving for dollars. We did multiple mailing through driving for dollars. And then since, I kind of put that outsourcing of the direct mail on hold when I first started and just did a lot of direct mail through driving for dollars. Since starting about 5 months ago, I have started doing a lot more direct mail to absentee owners again consistently and I send them a letter now. I send them a letter every month.

Danny Johnson: Are you sending the same letter over and over or do you have a sequence of letters that you’re doing?

Ben Grise: I wouldn’t have any idea because I just outsource it.

Danny Johnson: Oh wow. So they’re even coming up with a message and everything then when you outsource.

Ben Grise: Yeah. But the first letter I sent out, I told them I wanted ___. After that, I don’t know what letters he has sent out, but I know the phones are ringing. So I recommend people that are getting started, don’t get caught up on what the message is. Just make sure that it’s communicating that you want to buy the seller’s house is what’s important and just get the letters in the mail really. Some people just get so caught up on all the minute details that it prevents them from taking action. So, to answer your question, I don’t know what the message is on the letters he’s sending out, but I know the phones are ringing, so that’s important.

Danny Johnson: So outsourcing, is that like a local person that’s just a guy doing this for you or is it a company that does this for other investors? What’s the situation there?

Ben Grise: It’s somebody that does this for other investors. If you want, I’d be more than happy to share his name. His name is Jerry Puckett.

Danny Johnson: Okay. Yeah, he’s on Bigger Pockets, yeah.

Ben Grise: Yeah. I found him on Bigger Pockets and he’s just always done a good job for me and just for my other direct mail campaigns, I just have him do it. I’m sure I could save maybe 20 cents by doing it on my own or maybe 30 cents per letter. But to me, I just want to get the letters in the mail and take action.

Danny Johnson: So he’s generating the list and everything, so it’s basically auto pilot, right? You just say “Hey, I want stuff to go out. Put it out,” and then that’s it, right?

Ben Grise: Yeah. It’s easy as can be. Autopilot, tell him what I want. And he does so much direct mail for so many investors all over. So, you know, to get the sample size of data that I would need to test what works and what doesn’t, it would take me years and years and a lot of money spent. But he already has all of that data from doing so much direct mail so he knows what works because of all the data that he has because he’s sending out hundreds of thousands of letters every month. Maybe not hundreds but tens of thousands of letters every month. So he has a lot more data than I could ever get on my own. So yeah, I trust him for the list. I tell him what I’m hoping to accomplish and it’s what a lot of his investors are trying to accomplish, so he knows what works.

Danny Johnson: I had a question, lost it. So let me see.

Ben Grise: He’ll buy the list.

Danny Johnson: Yeah. He’ll buy the list and do all of that. Do you know what the sort of the response rate that you’re getting from those?

Ben Grise: I don’t. That’s one of my weaknesses as an entrepreneur owning my business, is measuring those numbers. I do know I did take a look at my direct mail versus some of the other marketing avenues that I take whether it’d be online or pay-per-click or things like that online and I know my direct mail has a much higher return on investment than everything else. I do know that much. My direct mail ROI is substantially higher than per-per-click.

Danny Johnson: You find less competition with the direct mail, I suppose, to other sources?

Ben Grise: I don’t know that it’s really less competition because, I mean, you know as well as I do, everybody knows that direct mail is a key to running a successful flipping or wholesaling business if you’re going to market directly to sellers. So everybody does it. I think the key is being consistent with it and I’m now very consistent with it that month after month, those letters just hit people. So I think it’s not really so much competition. It’s really if you’re sending them consistent marketing, it’s all about timing and so when the timing is right, if you’re in front of them, they’re going to give you a call. So there’s still competition but maybe that competition isn’t as competition as I am.

Danny Johnson: When you say consistent, you said every month. Or you just said you got cranked back up about 5 or 6 months ago. So they probably receive 5 or 6. Are you going to continue sending them all year?

Ben Grise: Yeah, I’ll keep sending them letters until they ask me to take them off their list or if I get their phone number, I take them off the list. There’s no need to mail to them anymore because I have follow-up systems put into place that once I have their phone number and their email address, I can contact them without having to mail to them.

Danny Johnson: Are you doing that yourself or do you have somebody that’s working on that for you going through that list and trying to find contact info for them?

Ben Grise: So when somebody calls in from my letter, I get their contact info that way.

Danny Johnson: I see. But you don’t do active research to find them before they respond to you?

Ben Grise: No, no, no. I use my direct mail to market to them and then once they call, once the seller calls me, then I have them in my CRM. I get their email, I get their phone number and then I text them on follow-up and I email them on follow-up and that’s all automated through my customer care manager, the girl that screens my leads and using my CRM. So yeah, and those people, my assistant, I have her take those. The sellers who call in take them off the mailing list for the next month.

Danny Johnson: Oh cool. So you’re not obviously mailing to somebody that’s already responded to you, it wouldn’t make sense.

Ben Grise: Yeah, exactly.

Danny Johnson: Did you mention how many you’re mailing right now every month?

Ben Grise: I’m sticking with a thousand a month which I know is low compared to a lot of wholesalers who are doing this full-time. I have heard, I listened to one of your podcasts, I don’t know if it’s –

Danny Johnson: Is it Joe McCall maybe?

Ben Grise: No. I think it was like spouses or something.

Danny Johnson: Okay. Doug, yeah.

Ben Grise: Yeah. I listened to Doug and I think he had said he was doing like 20,000 a month which is crazy to me. But I have a lot of money invested into online as well. I want to do more letters. I’ve been thinking about expanding outside of absentee owner and doing some owner occupants because what Doug has said and what other successful flippers and full-time wholesalers have told me is that there’s less competition with owner occupants.

Danny Johnson: Yeah. The response rate is lower but less competition.

Ben Grise: Yeah.

Danny Johnson: I guess it depends a lot on what you experience in your area whether you see a lot of other people doing the direct mail to the absentee owners. I think a lot of times maybe we think that it’s a lot worse than it really is. Because our rental properties, we get letters sometimes but a lot of them we’ve got them in trust, so I think maybe people screen those out of their mailing list a lot of times so that we don’t get letters to those but sometimes we do and it’s usually not more than 5 people in all of San Antonio mailing. It seems like to me, at least.

Ben Grise: Yeah, yeah. It’s all about timing too. There may be 5 people mailing but they may not be mailing consistently or it’s all about answering the phone too. Some sellers have told me that they received the letter and they’ve called a competitor and the competitor just doesn’t answer the phone.

Danny Johnson: Isn’t that crazy?

Ben Grise: Yeah, it’s crazy. So just because a competitor is marketing doesn’t mean they’re answering the phone like they should be or following up like they should be.

Danny Johnson: How do you do yours? Do you have yours going directly to your cellphone?

Ben Grise: I answer the calls live. I don’t answer them personally. I have an assistant who answers the calls live. If it’s not during her work hours then of course they leave a voice mail and she follows up with them next business day.

Danny Johnson: What kind of message do you have her giving people that call? Because I’m assuming your marketing says “hey, call Ben” or something like that, right? Or is it more of company oriented?

Ben Grise: It’s all over the board. It’s company oriented and just like a yellow letter “we buy house” or a professional business letter.

Danny Johnson: So they’re expecting when they call to talk to you or is it not set up that way to where it’s okay for her to call or answer the phone?

Ben Grise: Well, I know the guy that I hired to outsource, do all my direct mail. I’m glad that you bring that point up because that’s something that I should maybe put up in the letters. But they’re calling, expecting to talk to me. But she’s able to explain like who we are, what we do, this is the first step in the process. Just her getting information. She’s the customer care manager. Once she gets all the information that Ben needs to make an offer, Ben will be in touch with an offer or with a phone call to schedule an appointment. So she explains that to all of the sellers. All of her calls, all of my calls are recorded so I can make sure she’s doing her job.

Danny Johnson: Okay, cool. It was not to say that that wasn’t a good idea. I was just curious as to what sort of message. Because I think there’s two sides of it, right? Like they want to talk to you maybe. But the other side of it is showing that you’re an organization, somebody capable of buying houses and that’s somebody that’s sitting in some apartment somewhere far away or whatever and talking to these people and saying that they’ve got cash to buy all these houses. I think it goes a long way for credibility.

Ben Grise: Yeah. I’ve found that out myself like when I first started, it was just me. I didn’t have a website or anything like that. I was just sending letters and since then I’ve built up my brand locally here in Indi. I get testimonials from customers, I get reviews. I run it like a business. My sellers can see that if they visit my website and even on some of the direct mail, they can see, “Oh, Ben is a part of the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce. Ben is in Better Business Bureau. Ben is part of the neighborhood association. Ben has somebody answering the calls for him.” So it looks a little bit more professional and I feel like sellers, they want to work with somebody that’s professional and credible versus somebody they don’t know who they are, just a random person sending them a letter.

Danny Johnson: Right. So yeah, that stuff goes a long way. If people are getting these letters, the thoughts going their minds are what is this really about, is this a scam, who is this saying that they want to buy my house. It’s weird. It’s not something that you get every day. It’s not somebody sending a letter saying that they’re trying to sell you insurance. That would be normal. It’s somebody saying they want to buy your house. So you’ve got to get over that. I think everybody should always be thinking in terms of marketing and showing that they’re credible.

Ben Grise: Yeah, yeah. For sure. Yeah. I forget what I was going to say. But yeah.

Danny Johnson: Do you ever include any pictures of yourself or anything on your marketing?

Ben Grise: Oh yeah. That’s huge. When we were doing driving for dollars, I was doing driving for dollars, I would put a picture of myself on the postcard. They can say “Oh, this is Ben. This is what Ben looks like. Ben’s a real person.” I put my URL to my website on the postcard as well. So I find that I have a lot of the sellers who contact me, they say, “Hey, we really liked your website. We saw the reviews, the customer testimonials, that’s why we called you.” Nobody has said “I called you because you sent me a yellow letter and it just simply said ‘I want to buy your house in red ink.’” But they have called me because they see my website, they see positive testimonials and customer reviews. They see I’m professional and credible and part of the Better Business Bureau. So I definitely think that that goes a long way and I made sure that the guy outsourcing my letters knows that on some of the letters that we send out, I want that professional business feel on the letters. Because you go to think about it this way too if your competition, the majority of your competition doesn’t have the – because I’ve gotten the letters in the mail because, you know, for whatever reason they’ve seen I bought a house for cash, they see okay, you know, Ben is maybe a landlord. So I’ve gotten those letters. The vast majority of our competition probably isn’t branding their letters professionally. So there may be like 2 or 3 in the market but then the rest of the letters that are going out may be another 6 that all look the same.

Danny Johnson: The seller has no idea that that’s from different people, the same person, but they just have no idea. Right. Yeah. It’s so important especially if you’re sending more than one letter and you’re being consistent, like what you’re saying about. Because they’ve got to know every time they open that letter, I’m getting this from this guy. Like, “he is sending me again not just here’s another letter saying they want to buy my house. I don’t remember what the name was of the first one I threw away, but I don’t know, this may be them.” But there’s nothing other than it’s just some weirdo sending a letter because there’s nothing on there except for the fact that they want to buy the house. And maybe not even a last name on the letter even. Just the first name which is crazy to me.

Ben Grise: That’s how I got started and it worked at first, but I have a lot more success now with people think that I’m professional and credible and there’s an actual face behind the name, an actual business behind the name. What I’ve thought about doing with the upcoming football season is sending like a magnet, so find a farm area that I really want to target. Because it’s all about timing like I keep saying, so you have to be consistent but one way to be always in front of the seller, I was thinking about sending out a magnet that says “Ben buys Indy houses” with a picture of me on it, a picture of my logo, our company information and then it has the schedule for the Indianapolis Colts, it has the schedule for Notre Dame, it has the schedule for Purdue and Indiana. So people hang that up on their fridge.

Danny Johnson: I like that.

Ben Grise: And say “hey, when the timing is right, I know who to call. This is on my fridge, I can give Ben a call.”

Danny Johnson: Right. Then they have people over to their house that see it. That’s pretty cool. It’s a lot better idea than the one I had a long time ago where there was a local pizza joint and I said hey, what if I print out their menu for them on a half of piece of paper? The other half will have my ad saying that I buy houses.

Ben Grise: Yeah.

Danny Johnson: I quickly found out that was a horrible idea because the pizza joint was close to downtown and in San Antonio most of downtown is like tourist stuff, you know, tours and everything. Like most of the people ordering were just tourists in hotels. But I would get all the drunk calls like people saying that they wanted to order pizza or something because they see that thing and they’re calling my number thinking it was the pizza place number or that they want to sell their pizza or whatever. So it didn’t work out so hot.

Ben Grise: You opened a pizza joint.

Danny Johnson: Yeah, right. Yeah. I stopped doing that pretty quickly after that. It was nothing but horrible calls.

Ben Grise: Yeah. I ran that magnet thing by the guy who outsourced my mail and he said he is doing for some other investors in the area and they’re having some success with that.

Danny Johnson: With the magnets?

Ben Grise: Because really, they’re not too expensive and it’s a one-time fee because once you send that once, they’re going to hang it up on their fridge, unless they don’t like football. But I mean, we’re in America. Who doesn’t like football?

Danny Johnson: Yeah. Well, you could do the whole thing where you send a nickel. You know, it amazes me how bad I feel about getting one of those letters and not doing anything because they gave me a nickel in the letter? I just sit there and think about and fret over for like 5 minutes, whatever. I don’t know if everybody’s like that or not.

Ben Grise: Yeah.

Danny Johnson: But you don’t want to guilt people into calling you either.

Ben Grise: No. You want motivated sellers calling you.

Danny Johnson: Yeah. They might think that you’re only going to pay in change for the house? “I buy houses change” instead of cash.

Ben Grise: Some people really do think we’re bringing them cash.

Danny Johnson: Yeah. That’s what worries me sometimes if you run into – I don’t know if you’ve run into a situation where you went to a house where you started to wonder if they actually believed that you did have the cash on you. Have you had that happen?

Ben Grise: No, no.

Danny Johnson: Where it’s sort of like a shady situation though.

Ben Grise: I remember when I first started marketing and I was reading your blog post and you had said something about like if you don’t feel a safe lead and you had an incidence or you didn’t feel safe. I’m always on the lookout for that and I’ve had a few incidences where I wouldn’t go inside the house because I didn’t feel safe and the seller is like “Oh, you don’t have to go inside?” Like no, we buy houses all the time. You don’t want to offend them. But yeah, I’ve had those incidences where you wonder if people think you’re bringing the cash.

Danny Johnson: Right. I had one where I went inside and they closed the bar door. Like the whole thing had bars all over the windows and the bar door over the front door. So when I walked in, the lady with the key even, it wasn’t even a deadbolt, so even if I wanted to get out, I couldn’t get out because it was locked with a key from the inside. And right next to the front door leaned up against the wall is a shotgun, and I’m just like, “Oh, this is horrible.” Immediately my brain is going “How can I get out of here?” So I just said, “I want to see the backyard quick. Where’s the backyard?” and just made a B-line out through the backdoor and they didn’t have any fences or nothing, so I was able to walk around the front and I just told her, “I’m not interested” just because it was a creepy situation.

Ben Grise: Yeah, yeah, I’ve had that. The guy is like, “Well, do you want to see the basement?” “No, I’m all right.” And there’s guns everywhere and he’s got like practically no clothes on, just boxers. Like, “No, I don’t want to see the basement. I’m fine.”

Danny Johnson: Yeah. Or if you see the room that has all the locks on the outside of the door, right? It’s locked up and some crazy stuff. So for any other advice on people doing marketing though, it sounds like you had really good experience on that first mailing where you got the two deals kind of got you going on in the business, right? Then you were able to reinvest that money in other things. Where do you see yourself going with direct mail in the future?

Ben Grise: Well, I definitely want to increase the volume that I do. I want to do something different than absentee owners because you do get the most competition from absentee owners. I want to do a little bit more focus on the type of property. I’ve been having trouble, somewhat trouble selling two bedrooms here in Indy, so I want to try and filter out two bedrooms, maybe focus on three bedrooms and do owner occupants, definitely increase the volume of the direct mail. I mean, I know people who are doing a lot more volume than me and they’re doing a lot more deals. So those are the goals moving forward. Just maybe do a little bit more targeting as well especially for the owner occupant leads.

Danny Johnson: Like specific situations on just targeting on –

Ben Grise: Specific geographic areas of Indy because I do get leads that I can’t buy in certain neighborhoods. It’s really wasting some of my customer care manager, my assistant’s time screening those calls. And then the guy that I hired to do inside sales and my property analyst wasting some of his time, to spend all that time analyzing the property when we can’t buy in that neighborhood. When I was getting started at first, it was just my time I had to worry about and I just wanted to get started so I didn’t dwell on certain areas, I just wanted to make sure I got the mail out there.

Danny Johnson: And those areas that you don’t buy, is that just because there aren’t any other buyers to buy your wholesale deals there like warzones or something?

Ben Grise: Yeah, that’s a good question. Your reputation is everything in this business when you’re working with sellers. You want to have a great reputation. That’s why I spend a lot of time getting testimonials and reviews from my sellers and be on the Better Business Bureau. Then on the flip side of things, when you’re selling the house, your reputation is everything with your buyer. So most buyers don’t want to buy houses in warzones. If the house is surrounded by vacant houses, they may be able to get 1 month of rent but it’s going to be hard to keep the property occupied for an entire year lease because the tenants there may not feel safe or you get a different type of tenant class in those neighborhoods if all of the properties are vacant. You’re going to have a hard time finding the tenant that you really want. So, I don’t like selling properties in those neighborhoods or sending those properties out to my buyers because I don’t want my buyers to look and be like “Oh, here’s another property that Ben has sent us in the warzone.” They don’t even look at the deal. They just see the address and so it begins to be a point where I start sending good deals out but they don’t even look at them if I’ve sent properties in these war zones. So, you want to have a reputation of selling good deals. The thing is, though, it’s crazy. There’s an appetite. People have an appetite for those properties. There are some people that have an appetite for those properties in those war zones. The hard part is finding those, for me, has been finding the people that do have an appetite because most of the buyers on my list aren’t looking for those types of properties.

Danny Johnson: Yeah. So maybe that’s a good point in having two different lists. That way, you’re not sending out a bunch of garbage so that people skip over your good stuff and you send out to the people you know are interested in those and not to everybody.

Ben Grise: The thing is, is when I send them, it’s not like I’m overpricing them. I’m talking about a house that’s a three-bedroom, one bath that may rent for 600 which is on the low-end for a three-bedroom in Indy. It may rent for 600 and I’ve bought it for a thousand and I’m sending it out at $5000 or $6000.

Danny Johnson: Oh wow.

Ben Grise: So there are people that have an appetite for those. But on the buyers that I work with, I don’t have those people really on my list.

Danny Johnson: Well, cool. How many deals would you say that you’re doing wholesaling about per month right now?

Ben Grise: I’m buying about 3 or 4 houses a month. It doesn’t mean they’re all closing every month. One month, I may have 5 or 6 closed and the next month I may only have 2 closed. So like July has been a really good month for me. But I’m consistently buying 3 or 4 houses a month, I do know that, looking at the number of deals I’ve done already this year and then, yeah.

Danny Johnson: It’s only been three years, right? I mean, three, that’s pretty good.

Ben Grise: I think it will be, yeah, three years fulltime starting in October. Well, not three years. Three years since I started. This will be my second year fulltime. Last year was my first full year. Yes, last year I was fulltime. Then the year before that, I was part-time. So it only really took me a year to go fulltime. Speaking of volume, you were mentioning like how many deals. One thing I’ve tried to do is focus on not so much volume. I have a volume, a number I want to get to but really focus on from where I began to where I am now, increasing my revenue per deal or my growth profit per deal. So that’s what I focused on and I really did that through finding, increasing my buyers list is the way I did that because at first when I first started, I was selling them to turnkey companies who were then selling them to the end landlord and now I’ve sold a lot of my properties to the end landlord. So being able to sell to the person who’s going hold on to it has helped me a lot versus selling to some of the turnkey companies. They have to make a profit which I understand but they can’t pay as much is what the landlord who’s going to buy it. So I focus a lot of my effort on that.

Danny Johnson: A lot of times the difference is pretty incredible, right? I mean, between selling through the middle person versus the end buyer and spending that time to build that list, to find all those buyers is well worth it because like you said, you could do half the number of deals that you did at half the marketing even and half of everything else and double your profit. It’s not just financially either. It’s half the headaches, half the busy work so yeah, it’s pretty smart to do that and you doing that so early on in your business is pretty smart. It sounds like you’re on your way to a lot of success even more.

Ben Grise: I got to remind myself a lot because I see what you’re doing and I see what other people are doing around the country, people that have been wholesaling or flipping for ten years/a decade and I’m like, “Man, they’re doing seven figures a year” and I’m doing six figures a year which I got to remind myself “hey Ben, that’s good.” But sometimes I get caught up thinking that I have to be doing seven figures and I have to remind myself “you’ve only been doing this full-time for a year. Going on your – this will be your second year. You’re still new in this.”

Danny Johnson: You’re doing awesome. For a lot of people, it’s more even besides getting to that, it’s just more of building it in a way so that they’ve got what they started the business to have, is the freedom, to make sure you keep your eye on that and it can get hard when you’re trying to always do more and more and lose track of that a little bit.

Ben Grise: Yeah. You do more and more, it’s more and more headaches too.

Danny Johnson: Right.

Ben Grise: Managing people or people who work for you managing the system. So, yeah.

Danny Johnson: It’s always like determining what you really want deep down. I guess which way you want to go whether you want to do more and have more or do just enough to make a very comfortable living and have the time to do what you want to do. But hey, I know that you got to get going. We started this a little bit late because I got confused about time zones, believe it or not.

Ben Grise: No problem.

Danny Johnson: Is there a place that people can find you? Anybody listening out there who wants to get in touch with you?

Ben Grise: Yeah, yeah. So if you’re a new wholesaler or something and you’re looking to see, “Oh, how can I go from this part-time to full-time and maybe brand myself as a wholesaler? Or “How does Ben brand himself as a wholesaler?” They can visit Benbuysindyhouses.com. So that’s the website that I use for my business for all of my sellers. So Benbuysindyhouses.com. Then if you’re looking to invest in Indianapolis, buy rental properties or how do you brand yourself to your buyers on the flip side, InvestwithBen.com. That’s where all of my buyers find me is at InvestwithBen.com.

Danny Johnson: I like the name of that one.

Ben Grise: I’ve had a lot of success using like me in the branding. I guess what it does is it feels more personable to everybody they know, that at the end of the day, they’re working with me because every house that I buy, the seller talks to me. Every house that I sell, the buyer talks to me. So I think when you first started, you had one website but I think you maybe switched it to Dannybuyshouses?

Danny Johnson: Yeah. Dannybuyshouses, yeah.

Ben Grise: Have you had success with that?

Danny Johnson: Oh yeah. That’s where we get the majority of our deals, is from the website. In the series we’ll be getting into more of the line. We focused a lot on direct mail because I think that still is the number one way for most people to do a lot of volume and quickly.

Ben Grise: Without a doubt.

Danny Johnson: But we’ll be getting into that. I started looking at all these different things that people do marketing-wise and it’s almost like really, we can just focus on direct mail and online. I mean, there’s other stuff that you get in there like flyers and –

Ben Grise: Bandit signs. I’ve never done bandit signs.

Danny Johnson: Well, consider yourself lucky. I mean, I don’t know. Some people don’t mind putting them out. I always hated putting them out or even have other people do it, I just didn’t like the thought of doing it. And it’s illegal in most places as a disclaimer, we’re not saying to do it. But the return is pretty good on those. But make sure they’re not illegal where you’re at. Or if you have to get permits, get the permits. But yeah, we’ll probably have just like a catch-all show or something where we talk about all those different other things that you couldn’t really spend 45 minutes talking about. I mean, I guess you could but it’d probably be a bunch of random thoughts.

Ben Grise: Yeah. Pretty general.

Danny Johnson: Me telling stories about falling off of ladders and stuff and having Melissa laugh at me because I’m, you know, or running real quickly back to the truck because the police are flying by or something. I don’t know.

Ben Grise: Opening up a pizza joint.

Danny Johnson: It’s the next thing, “Danny sells pizzas” or something. All right, man. Well, thanks very much, Ben.

Ben Grise: No problem. Thanks for having me. I remember when I first got started, I looked up to you and now I’m on –

Danny Johnson: Yeah, you’re on the podcast.

Ben Grise: This podcast.

Danny Johnson: All right, man. Take care.

Ben Grise: All right. Thank you. Take care.

Danny Johnson: Keep in touch.

Ben Grise: Will do. [music]

Danny Johnson: All right. So another great episode. Thanks a lot to Ben for being on the show and sharing his story and direct mail. I think it went a little bit deeper than some of the other websites that we have, not with respect to like saying what sort of criteria for the list, but just an overall sense of how direct mail can work and how you can get some deals, and think about the bigger picture and how you’re coming across and the letters and things without getting into the specifics of exactly what a letter should say in it because it’s more important just to get in front of the right people at the right time and I think that was reiterated here in the show. I had forgotten even that Ben had taken the training course that I created called Freedom by Flipping and if you don’t know about it, obviously because I don’t talk much about it. He really enjoyed the course and got a start with it. It’s Freedombyflipping.com, is where you can find out about that course that he was talking about in the beginning of the show. In the show notes page, I’ll have some links to that and to his sites and the other information that we shared in this episode. Another thing that I wanted to mention real quick was he was talking a lot about how he has some automation for a follow-up setup for any people that call him and that’s exactly what we’re working on right now for REI Mobile to incorporate and Lead Propeller as well, is a follow-up system with automation. So it’s going to be very cool to be able to just at a couple clicks have some automated series and follow-up be set up for somebody. So it’s going to save a lot of time because I know right now we spend a lot of time making calls and doing follow-up all the time with past leads and stuff like that. It gets to be pretty time-consuming playing phone tag and all that kind of stuff with people, so this is going to be a big time saver for us and hopefully get us some more deals, and we’re going to make that available to all the customers out there too. So the people that want to get a hold of that, be able to use that sort of stuff, we’ll have it available. So we’ll be testing that pretty soon and then getting it out there and making it live. So if you’re not a member of LeadPropeller.com, please check that out. Get yourself a real estate investor website and if you don’t have a system for keeping track of your leads and follow-up and working as a team, if you’ve got a team that works with you on your house flipping, definitely check out REImobile.com, that’s a CRM software system. So again, have a great week and we’ll have Tom Krol on the show next week to talk about the best list for direct mail and continue on in this series of learning how to get started flipping houses and how to market and find the deals.

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