Mark Evans DM
No one thought Mark Evans would graduate from high school. Even his teachers thought he should probably just try to pass and then get a minimum wage job.
But Mark had different plans for his life! He did his first two real estate deals before he turned 19… and that changed everything.
Whether he’s sipping an ice cold beer on a Caribbean beach or walking the famous Camino de Santiago or riding on the back of an elephant in India, he’s also doing real estate deals.
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Danny Johnson: This is Flipping Junkie podcast episode 100. [music] Welcome to the Flipping Junkie podcast. The podcast for flip pilots everywhere. Flip pilots are the house flippers that work more on our business instead of in our business by keeping a 30,000-flip view. You’re now part of a small group of house flippers that considers themselves flip pilots that strive to build the life of financial freedom and time freedom so that we can spend more time doing what we love with who we love. In this podcast, I give you a glimpse of the daily life of a flip pilot so let’s gets started.
Hey, everybody. Welcome back to the Flipping Junkie podcast. Today, I’m very excited about this episode because I’ve got a friend, Mark Evans, DM, DN, and I’m going to have him actually explain in this episode what the DM and DN stand for. Actually, it makes me want to create some acronyms for my name.
Mark is a brilliant business person. No one thought that Mark Evans would graduate from high school. Even his teachers thought he should probably just try to pass and then get a minimum wage job, but Mark had different plans for his life. His first two real estate deals at the age 19, actually before he turned 19, and it changed everything. Today, he’s Mark Evans, DM, DN. And again, he’ll explain what that is because he owns a massive real estate empire which he runs while traveling the world so it gives you a little bit of a hint.
I spoke with Mark on the phone for the first time just the other day. Just his insight into being a true business owner was pretty amazing. I was super excited to get him on the podcast to share with you guys a lot of what we talked about on the phone so that you can benefit from that as well. A great conversation. Thank you very much for joining me on this episode.
What we’re going to talk about is going from being an entrepreneur to a business owner. And if you think that they’re one and the same, hopefully this podcast episode will help you make the distinction between the two because there really is a big one.
Before we get started, real quick. If you haven’t joined the Flip Pilot Facebook group, you really should. Head over flippilot.com and request an invitation into the private Facebook group where we as investors are all communicating and working together to work more on our business instead of in our business, being more of a business owner and not just an entrepreneur. So head over to flippilot.com and request that invite. Also if you’re on Facebook, just go to search Flip Pilot. Make sure that you find the group, not the page, and then get an invite. Request an invite into that group and we’ll let you in there. Be looking forward to seeing you guys in the group.
If you’ve been listening to the podcast a while and you’ve been enjoying it, if you could take a make minute, just go to iTunes to leave me a rating and review of Flipping Junkie podcast. I greatly appreciate that. If you’re not sure how to do it, you can go to flippingjunkie.com and I’ll be able to show you some quick directions on how to do that within about a minute. It’s pretty cool. So let’s get started in the episode. I’m super excited about it.
All right, Mark. Thanks so much for being on the Flipping Junkie podcast. We’ve got Mark Evans, DM, DN. How are you doing?
Mark Evans: Awesome, Danny. How are you doing, buddy?
Danny Johnson: Doing great. So the first thing we start with is what people are probably wondering. What is this DM, DN? And you probably get that question more than any other question.
Mark Evans: Well, in marketing, as you know, we’re all marketers at the end of the day. It’s a good conversation starter. So for marketing purposes, it’s worked well for me. I didn’t do that on purpose. I’m not that smart, but the DM stands for dream maker to my mother and deal maker to the world. DN, it actually became something in like 2009. My wife and I, we’re able to travel the world for seven years due to process and DN—my buddies are like, “Dude, you’re like a digital nomad.” I had to go search and see what nomad meant, but when I found out I guess I kind of was.
Danny Johnson: It makes me want to add on some stuff to acronyms to the end of my name.
Mark Evans: Yeah. Absolutely.
Danny Johnson: Quickly I was going to say, “Well, I’ll ask my wife.” But I don’t want to do that because she’ll probably say something that doesn’t mean anything very nice but—
Mark Evans: Exactly.
Danny Johnson: No, I’m just kidding. That’s awesome, man. Your name is a pretty common name, Mark Evans. And I was thinking whenever I was looking for your email, I was typing in Mark Evans, I was like, “I wonder if that’s why he did it.” Because if it’s Mark Evans, DM, we’re going to find you and not a million other people.
Mark Evans: Well, the truth is my parents lied to me. They said I was the only one, but I always say I’m not the only Mark Evans out there. I’m a junior actually. My son’s the third. There was a guy in Columbus. His name was Mark Evans. And when I was closing real estate deals at the title—you have to sign all those disclosures, and I met this guy. He’s 60 years old. I’m 20 or whatever. So it became like a big deal and then the guy unfortunately was a crook. So you get the association with the same name as you know it’s a common name, so that’s when it really started. I think I was like 19 or 20. I forgot what I did yesterday, but I’m just going off with memory—19 or 20 when we added the DM.
Danny Johnson: Wow. I didn’t think about that. That really stinks when people are looking you up and finding other people that—that reminds me of a story when I was sending out a bunch of direct mail. I was noticing my website was getting all this traffic from a bass guitar form on the Internet and I was like, “What the heck is this all about? Why are all these bass guitarists coming to my Danny Buys Houses website?” And so I went to the forum and I was doing searches for it, and the guy was saying, “I got this letter. I’m going to find out what this is all about.” And he was really upset and all this kind of stuff. They were all getting detective mode and trying to research me and getting on there saying, “He’s an attorney. He’s this and he’s that.” Because they did some research that was completely wrong. And I was thinking, “Man, the guy has got my return address, my phone number. All he was going to do is call me.” Do you know what I mean? But instead, he wanted to get on here and get all these guys. But anyway, I thought that was kind of funny.
Mark Evans: Absolutely. One thing, just a quick tip too if you have kids or anybody watching this if they have kids or whatever. I actually bought allmyniecesnames.com, mysonismarkevansdmjr.com. Could you imagine if my name, let’s say Steve Johnson—I’m just making this name up—but like they’re actually a pedophile, a rapist, a murderer. I mean, anything terrible, right? Could you imagine if that’s your child or grand kid or nephew or brother? So I bought all my nieces and all that stuff. I try to protect that because again about legacy, right? The last thing we want is our name—sometimes we forget because it’s just like our name is kind of whatever, but it’s kind of a big deal escpecially with the dot com world we’re living.
Danny Johnson: I like that and I like the click domain name, so it’s a perfect name for me. I’m already itching to get in there and start doing the search to see if they’re still available.
Mark Evans: I have the same addiction myself.
Danny Johnson: How many do you think you have right now?
Mark Evans: Probably about 4000.
Danny Johnson: Whoah. You’ve got a bigger addiction than I do because I am still under 100 I’m sure.
Mark Evans: Well, I’ll sell you some.
Danny Johnson: For the right price and see what they are, but last thing I need is another distraction, another thing to go after. So I think that would lead perfectly into what we should talk about on this call. I want to start with exactly who you are so that people out there listening—a lot of people know you. Honestly, I hadn’t really known much about you. Our mutual friend, Paul, who I interviewed on episode 99—this is now episode 100. So you got lucky 100 by the way.
Mark Evans: That’s awesome. I love even numbers. That’s great.
Danny Johnson: Paul was talking about you and I said, “I got to meet this guy.” So he introduced us. You called me up. You took time out of your—I don’t know if you’re real busy or not. It sounds like you got it set up to where you’re not real busy.
Mark Evans: Well, I’m always busy. It’s just a matter of what am I busy doing, right?
Danny Johnson: Right. You gave me a call. We talked—I don’t know—like 45 minutes. It seemed like 10 minutes. Great conversation. So it’s awesome to get you on the show. I wanted other people to hear some of the stuff that we talked about. I think that the way you describe things in creating a real business is very clear and very helpful. Hopefully, that comes across this podcast. I’m sure it will. Well, why don’t we start with how you got into real estate investing and just your story real quick?
Mark Evans: Yeah. It’s a great question. I remember back in 1995 or ’96. I grew up in a small town, Ohio. My parents are awesome people, hardworking every day. Go to work, construction. My mom did admin work and all that stuff. I’ve always kind of have the real entrepreneur spirit. Entrepreneur back in those days means you’re lazy, trying to get out of work and make a lot of money and do nothing which I still try to do every day always. So I figured something out in my head. And again, I was never good at school. I was actually really bad, 1.8. Barely graduated. I didn’t even think about going to college. Back then, I didn’t think about going to college or drink or anything. I didn’t care about that stuff. I just wanted to get out and make real money. Back then, real money to me would’ve been 100 grand a year.
And I remember laying in bed truthfully dreaming like plotting and planning. To make 100 grand a year, it’s four times the amount of more money than anybody that I’ve ever known. Twenty-five grand or thirty grand a year in our world where I live was like a pretty decent income. Just hardworking people. We live in a cornfield world or whatever. No cops. No stoplights. Kind of a small town boy. And I always knew I wanted to get out. I always knew I had to go to bigger places to get bigger results, get uncomfortable.
And I started a seamless gutter company. I actually bought. Owner financing Larry is no longer with us but I stopped there. I bought a company because I knew I had to do something. But again, I reverted back to what I knew—construction. I didn’t know real estate existed that. I was like, “Hey, how many hours do I need to trade at $20 an hour to make 100 grand a year?” And I just started thinking about that. I wasn’t afraid of work, and I think a lot of people are more trying not to work than they’re trying to work to get results. So I was there like all out to hustle people, but I don’t want to do it forever.
So what happened is I’m on these jobsites. I’m like 18 years old, and all these guys were pulling up in Porsches and cigars, spending cash and writing checks and this and that or whatever. I’m working on all their houses every week, right? I’m putting gutters on. Gutters is the thing that’s on the fascia for the people that’s maybe in Texas or Florida. Not many gutters. But I was like, “What do you do?” Again, I’m not that smart. And they’re like, “Real estate investor. Real estate investor. Real estate investor.” And a light bulb popped off. I saw a guy in a commercial who’s talking about real estate investing, free event. The model. Go to a free event. Pay money. Go to another event and pay more money, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. But the truth is I didn’t have much money at all. Still living with my parents. I went to an event. I said, “I have to do this for my own self, my future.” I literally spent every dime I had, drove down to Florida, 18 years old. I couldn’t even check in a hotel because I was too young. You had to be 20 or something. So I literally ate Doritos and Cheetos and drive. I drove a little S10 down which is crazy. Sixty-five people in a room. I sit in the front room and I saw Russ making in a phone call and the lady is like, “I’m just done. I want to sell.” I was like, “I can do that.” No more, no less. I didn’t—
Danny Johnson: Russ Whitney was—?
Mark Evans: Yup, Russ Whitney, 1996. I saw these other people still like, “Well, what about this? What about this?” I’m like, “None of that stuff matters if you don’t make the call,” and I figured it early on again. So just because in business people come to me all the time like, “Oh, man. You know….” I’m like, “How many calls did you make?” “Well, none, but I’ve sent emails.” I’m like, “How many calls is it? You have to make calls.” Movement creates momentum, motion. I came out the gate. I started figuring out owner financing deals because again you have to either have resources or your resourcefulness. Growing up small town Ohio boy, I had no money so I had to figure out how to be resourceful. But I knew other people’s problems weren’t necessarily my problems vice and versa.
So a seller doesn’t care if I’m broke. All they care is what’s going to help them with their situation. So I figured out owner financing deals. That’s kind of how I did it. Get the contract, owner financing, buy it and then I started building that up. And then, I got about 65 doors—and I discovered this is like through your process, right? I discovered you have to be manager and I sucked at managing. So I almost went bankrupt actually. When I was 21 or 22, I almost—
Danny Johnson: So you were doing everything yourself at that point?
Mark Evans: A hundred percent. I was doing everything myself up until I was like 26 years old for eight years, right? Again, because the world I come from, if I pay someone, that actually is taken away from me. If I pay someone, that’s taken away from the business or whatever. It’s stinking thinking for sure. But that’s how we’re raised, right? Say preserve or conserve. Be conservative XYZ.
So at the end of the day, what happened is I almost went bankrupt. I still have the paperwork by the way. I wrote the paperwork out to WK. But I sit in my office crying literally saying, “I’m better than this. What can I do to make my situation—? It’s no one’s fault but my own fault.” So point one: accept responsibility for good and bad things, right? So it’s funny. Everyone wants to accept responsibility when things are amazing. When shit hits the fan, they don’t want to talk about it. It’s everyone else’s fault. It’s the stock market. It’s the new president’s fault. It’s like, “No, it’s your fault. You made the decision to be there.”
Danny Johnson: Well, it’s amazing too because sometimes we can be so delusional that we can say that to other people and believe that. If you’re not really aware of what you’re doing every day like how you’re reacting to stuff, when you start doing that, it’s amazing how much you realize that you actually do, do that and we do, do that. So anyway, go ahead.
Mark Evans: So I wrote it out. I was trying. I’d made the decision, and that’s how I learned wholesaling real estate because wholesaling real estate is one of the fastest path to generating cash very quickly. This had to be probably like early 2000-ish. So I had all these doors. I literally was in a courthouse by the way. So I was going back just a couple of steps. I had like 36 bench warrants out from IRS because I had all these properties. And when you don’t take care of the properties—I started becoming a slumlord by accident because I was getting overwhelmed with all the expenses. The city was on my butt 24/7, and they’re creating these warrants for your arrest. And I’m like, “Hey, you need to show up in court and get this resolved.” And literally one day—Judge Pfeifer was his name—I was literally in there and I just stood up one day because this is like a courtroom. There’s 100 people behind you, so it’s kind of embarrassing. And I just had to come to a conclusion. I stood up in front of Judge Pfeifer like, “I have money. I’m going to go bankrupt,” blah, blah, blah. He was like boom, gavel down, “That’s all I needed to hear. Get over to the blah, blah, blah.” I just come to a conclusion like I don’t know everything.
So I just started seeking and this is before the days of the internet at a high level. I didn’t really interest in the Internet until ’05. I went to the library and just started learning. It’s when you had to pull the deck of cards out and go and get a book and actually find the book. And learning. Underlining. Asking questions. Going out there. Failing, failing, failing, failing. And then before you know it, I dug myself out of BK and actually started thinking about, “Holy cow. This can be big.” Residual income is good, but it’s only good when it’s coming in. And I was just losing more money, but I started making more money and making it up over here and spending it over there. And I started liquidating the bad assets, keeping the good ones. Just navigating my way through life really.
Danny Johnson: And this was through wholesaling? You were building back with using the strategy of wholesaling, right?
Mark Evans: Correct. I was just so jaded on owning. It’s cool to just tell your friends, “I have 65 doors, and I’m making residual income.” But the truth is I wasn’t making any residual income at one point. I was losing like 15,000 a month. It was insane.
So wholesaling saved my butt, and I figured it out. And then, I started getting cocky thinking I knew everything so I kind of relaxed again and almost went bankrupt again. I’m kind of hard headed though. I’m like that. My parents always said that anyways. And then, I just figured out one day, “You know, listen. If I’m going to do this, I’m going to do it right. I only live once. I want to turn this into a business.” And probably the best thing I did for myself and my future where I’m at today is I stopped going to real estate events. I never went to anything real estate related. I always want the business building things like how to marketing. Marketing is not real estate. Real estate is a product by the way, right? And the technique and strategies are all irrelevant. It’s all like the numbers of the numbers. It doesn’t matter if it’s wholesaling, retailing, flipping. Numbers don’t lie, people do and emotions do. So that’s my thing, that and not drama.
When I started writing, copying, and learning about marketing and direct marketing and really getting smart with that I realized, “Holy cow. This can be a business. This can be big.” And then, I started building a little team and I failed a lot. I hired a lot of normal people, got ripped off, stolen money, or whatever.
Danny Johnson: So when did you start with that? Where did you start with the process of trying to build that team? Where were you when you said, “This is business, and I need to bring somebody in to do this specific thing.”? Can you talk about that? Transitioning from doing it all to moving in, to finding somebody for something. And how did all that work?
Mark Evans: I can. So I was at a meeting. There’s no one successful that we know at a high level that’s doing it all by themselves. First of all, even if you’re at low level, you’re not doing it by yourself. There’s still other people in that are key somewhere. And I just come to the conclusion that #1: I would bet almost everyone if you’re in sales in any way shape or form, you’re horrendous at paperwork. Horrendous. Everything happens at the 11th hour. You’re screaming. You’re yelling. It’s called the “superman effect.” You literally save the day at the last minute and you pat yourself on the back, and it really creates a problem long term.
I see like a 55-year-old business guy still doing the same things they were doing for 20 years. So I just said, “Hey, I really suck at paperwork.” Good news is it’s the most affordable person to hire out, right? And there are some people out there right now that love paperwork which is crazy. You look at my desk. It’s not organized. I’m cool with that. But those people, their desk is like pristine. You move a document. They know it. So they’re very good and it kept me accountable. And I realized, “Wow. I’m spending $400 a week for this person. What if I hired someone else to do acquisitions?” Anything that’s consistent, I started asking myself how to hire it out because most entrepreneurs suck at consistency. We have so many moving things going on. Even if we want to be consistent, we can’t. And then that double-edged sword happens like, “Well, I want to be consistent, but no one will ever sell it as good as me or be as good as me.” Correct, but they’ll always smoke as being consistent. You’re either consistent or non-existent as a business. Unfortunately in real estate, it’s easy to be bad day-to-day person but still make real money because it’s a big high ticker product and especially in good markets. Everyone is a genius in good markets.
So at the end of the day, I just started looking at this and saying, “How do I like stepping out?” I started just asking different questions to get different answers and again surrounding myself around great mentors. I’ve always understood the value of mentors even at 18 that’s why I went to Russ’ event and paid 2500 bucks. I just started asking how to build this into a business. that’s the real question, not “how do I do another deal?” but “how do I build a business?” How do I have someone do marketing? How do I have someone accept the call and like start that process? Literally today—I’m not even joking—there’s something here. I’m all about processes and procedures, right? This is a process. If we get lots of same questions, why are we processing it out and handing it over. It helps everybody. It helps the client. It helps me. It helps the team. Everyone wins.
Danny Johnson: What was that process for?
Mark Evans: So this is a note process, right? So who’s involved in a note process? Is acquisitions? Deal coordinators? Is it clients? Is it me? Title company? There’s like six people involved. So what does that look like on a visual representation? This is stuff we’re always looking at growing and adding literally daily. It’s what my team does.
Danny Johnson: Nice. So let’s talk about some of the—because you’ve helped a lot of people overcome this habit of wearing all the hats and being everything in their business and not being consistent. So what are some of the common things that you hear from people that you’ve got to convince them that they’re wrong about, that’s keeping them held back?
Mark Evans: First of all, I don’t try to convince anybody they’re wrong at anything, right? But I understand what you’re saying. So I think the biggest thing is you’re stealing from your future. You don’t have to believe me. You have to look at yourself and look at where you really want to go and understand what got you here today isn’t going to get you where you want to go in 10 years from now. So the answer is always no. You just can’t typically, right? Because it’s like, “Hey, I want to grow a business from 400,000 to 10 million.” And I’m like, “Great. But $400,000 typically is not a real business because it’s kind of small. It’s hard to pay people. It’s hard to market and hard to get to 10 million. What’s the path to get to 10 million? Who do we need to become to become the 10 million dollar owner? Not necessarily the $400,000 employee to ourselves.”
So just really like, “Well, I can’t afford an assistant.” “Well, can you not afford an assistant? Why can’t you afford it? How do we afford it?” The results are way different. But if you change the question, “how do I afford an assistant?” Literally, you’re buying back your time. A lot of people don’t understand time value at all. If they’re doing the paperwork, if they’re doing every single call, every single touch—and again, not everyone is going to do it as good as you but that’s why you process it up to help them do it as good as you systemically and automatically through you. There could be human interaction with that too, but it’s just a matter of like just settling down. Stop listening to everybody. That’s the problem. Too many people are listening to too many clowns out there that really have no business experience. The best way tell is everyone is teaching techniques and tactics. I’m teaching business building, business growth, and business structure. It’s a totally different conversation.
Danny Johnson: Principles instead of tactics. Principles that don’t change.
Mark Evans: Correct. I’m just dribbling the ball. We just dribble the ball every day. There’s nothing sexy about what we do. It’s boring. It’s mundane. It’s the same thing over and over. Dribbling. Ninety-nine percent of basketball games is dribbling basketball, right? There might be one or two places where someone dunks or shoots an amazing three point. Everything else is just boom, pass the ball; boom, dribble the ball; boom. That’s like when I watch an NBA game. I really do love sports. When they pass the ball or misdribble, it’s because they took their focus off of the daily actions. We do that in business. But very few people are comparing themselves to that. They’re usually hanging out. I don’t know if I can cuss on this—but it’s not a real cuss word—but king of the dipshits syndrome where they’re hanging out with all their buddies and all their buddies are like, “Dude, you’re doing awesome. I wish I could do what you did,” and blah, blah, blah. And inside, you truly are thinking, “Holy cow. I’m not doing anything. I’m a loser. I could do so much more.” But yet you still hang out with that group and they keep picking you up when you’re down. It’s false stuff. So getting outside of that environment and “how do I grow.” How do I get better at the day to days? How do I get better at managing people? Making a sell and managing people are very, very different activities. And for sales people, it’s pretty hard.
Danny Johnson: Absolutely. And that’s why I think I enjoyed our conversation so much. Was it yesterday or two days ago? I guess it was on the phone because what I’m working on the most right now is the software side of my business. Well, it’s another business but all the principles that you’re talking about fit with what I’m going through on this side. It’s not flipping houses. It’s building software. And we are flipping houses. That’s the other business that’s growing. Realizing that you can use the same principles in both businesses. It’s business.
And what you had mentioned, I don’t want people to miss the importance of some of the things that you have just said regarding making that move that transition into same things that way and doing things that way to bring somebody in because I think we hear those things and we say, “Well, we got to know what the process is.” And so, I know this. This is how I did things for so long. It screwed up for so many years. “I know the process. It’s in my head. I know the process. I’m going to hire somebody and have them come in and follow that process.” Well, guess what? The process is still in my head. And I’m thinking I’m going to train them, but then I get busy. It becomes a little bit annoying sometimes to train the people. And so, just that one thing of you know the process but don’t ignore the part of getting it written down to where somebody else can follow it.
Mark Evans: A good way for people because we all struggle with that. We’re busy being busy. We just do the work. That’s why honestly I don’t teach beginners because it’s like they want you to do the work for them. I’m like, “Just make 100 calls.” “Well, what if it’s like….” “Make 100 calls.” That’s the answer to the question. That will always solve problems, making calls by the way. I swear by it.
But at the end of the day for us, I don’t want to create. It’s very hard for me to sit down and create that. Right, Danny? So what I like to do is I like to document. So we have a beautiful thing called the iPhone. We have a beautiful thing called “Zoom” and video. Just sit there and say, “Okay. I’m getting ready to do, deploy marketing campaign Columbus, Ohio 4328. Here’s what I’m looking at.” And just like record the video of yourself and record the screen that you’re doing it on. Copy it. Send it to whoever. Let them transcribe it and process it out. That’s exactly by the way how this stuff happens. My team sits in front of a screen and just processes documents. And then, we send it to someone and they put it into a formula that makes sense for us. And it’s very precise and simple. I have multiple businesses. I don’t just do real estate. Business is business. It is what it is.
Danny Johnson: Nice. So what is the timeframe? How did you transition and grow your team? How many people are on your team right now in the flipping business? And how many markets are you in?
Mark Evans: It’s very small. I don’t believe in big to be big because it sounds cool when you’re like, “Oh, dude, I have 5000 people.” I’m not that guy. I used to be. When I used to be that guy, I never made much money. But because again the more people you hire, the more communication issues you have. And the more money you’ve got, there’s a lot of issues with it. So I used to be bigger. I keep asking myself how to be smaller but be more productive and more profitable, make a bigger impact with not just my team but the people we’re touching.
So on my side, Danny, we have acquisitions people. We have dispositions people. We have my COO. We have an amazing assistant that kind of works in a couple of different sides of our companies. We’re in four markets: Columbus, Ohio; Cleveland, Ohio; Akron, Ohio; and Kent, Ohio. Very big in Columbus. That’s my original market from ’96. Cleveland, we’re actually bigger in Cleveland but the product and the volume is a little different. It’s just a bigger market truthfully, but we’re very focused in Columbus. It’s my hometown. I’m going to be there forever.
So I’m all about going deep and not wide. It’s not cooler talk when you’re talking to someone and you’re in an event. Again, this is the problem of going to like-minded events. It’s like, “Yeah, man. I’m in 17 markets.” It’s like, “Okay. But how many deals have you done?” “They’re like three.” And I’m like, “Well, you could do three deals in one market. Why be in 17?” And again, people are not valuing their resources and their time because having 17 conversations with title companies, grounds teams, rehabbers, assistants. And I got product changes, right? Markets change. In Columbus, for example, you could be in one street and it could be 40,000. The next street is 80,000. Two streets down is 150,000.
Danny Johnson: You got a million.
Mark Evans: Anybody in real estate knows that, right? So go wide? I think people do it because entrepreneurs get bored. And the more boring my business is, the more money I make. It’s amazing. But the team is very small in the office. I think we have like eight people in the office in town in Florida. We’re in Florida. We do everything remotely from Florida and Ohio. We have ground teams on Ohio. Actually, my father works on the ground forest. Again, management and rehabbers are the backbone of our business because I’m in an eternity space now. Well, it had been for a long time but that’s a space we’re in.
Danny Johnson: So is the move to Florida for obvious reasons, climate and lifestyle?
Mark Evans: Weather. Lifestyle. Like I said, my wife and I started to come down here on December 31st, ’05. Came down for a month and turned into multiple months. And then we started traveling. And then, we’re like, “Well, let’s use this as a home base.” Bounced from Atlanta from the snow. One day, I was like, “I don’t want to be in Atlanta.” Came down to Florida. It never snows. We were at Palm Beach. Now, we’re in Parkland, beautiful community. It’s just like kind of cool. We sell the house in Ohio. We go up to Shaffer Heights. We have a house up there. We stay there for about three to four months a year.
Danny Johnson: So did you build the team in Ohio and then transitioned them down to Florida? Did you build it in Florida? What happened there?
Mark Evans: So when I left the company on December 31st, ’05, my team was all in Ohio and I started transitioning. What happened is kind of cool. The weak people go away. I was a terrible micromanager. I micromanage everything. “Don’t say that. Say this. Do this. Don’t make anything. Just let me close it. Collect the money and let me close it.” I was a psycho. But again, I’m not kidding because I kind of loved it. But for me, leaving it forced me to get better as a person and a business owner.
The weak people left and/or got fired, and the strong people stayed. And unfortunately, I was a very immature business owner at that point. I was still learning about myself—I was 27 years old—and really starting to understand business. So I started becoming more immature because I was listening to people saying, “Pay less. Give them more to do.” The mule factor. If you find the mule in your company, they just keep giving you more work until you either quit or die. That’s really what happens with mules. I may have seen it over and over, and one of my mentors was teaching me that which was stupid looking back. So I drove this person into the ground. She was awesome. I wish she was still here with us because I think I might be 10 times bigger honestly. She really was a great person and a great worker.
Again, all times have its thing. It’s a cycle. I moved down here. I was traveling. I was virtual. I really was doing some cool—when I say virtual, I was becoming a business owner. That’s what that means to me. I can be anywhere in the world sending tax or Skyping with someone buying or selling a deal. Very easy. I just started building a team here in Florida. I said, “Hey, I want to have an office virtually.” My COO actually was my chief technical officer in my real estate company. Peter is his name, now COO. He was like, “Mark, can I have an office?” Because some people like working from an office. So I set him up an office. I actually have an amazing office 45 minutes from here I never go to honestly, Danny. So just building it up, and it just kind of evolves as you grow.
Danny Johnson: Do you think not being in the office and micromanaging has changed the way you look at things and operate things more as a true business owner?
Mark Evans: Well, 1000%. We think we’re in full control, and the truth is micromanagers have zero control. It’s total chaos 24/7. And I’m not saying I didn’t have many panic attacks, anxiety attacks, and multiple dry heaving moments when you’re away and it’s real. It just genuinely is real. Even though I could be hanging it out drinking and having a couple of drinks, thinking I’m being relaxed, but in my mind—this is flip phone days. This isn’t like the Internet is now. We’re really connected at the end of the day with what we are going on in this world at this moment. So this is flip phone. I had a flip phone as of two years ago.
So for me, I was trying to be disconnected to allow them to grow and hire great people, hire A players, pay more money that anybody would ever pay them, actually care about them, help them grow as a person. Because if they grow as a person, the company will grow together, right. So I kind of just started thinking culture. Again, business owner type of culture, management, accountability. But the smartest thing I ever heard is if you want to keep accountability at a high level, hire accountable people, right? I hire A players. Don’t dick around and hire the C player. You think you’re saving money because you’re ultimately going to lose big at the long term.
Danny Johnson: You had mentioned your CTO became the COO. So chief technical officer moved into the role of chief operations officer, right? So how did that happen? They became that person that could manage everything. It wasn’t just something, “I want to do this.” How did that happen?
Mark Evans: Great question. So, Peter, awesome guy. Very young when he came onboard with us in his early 20s. A Penn grad. Smart guy. Technical engineer mindset, so very good at structure, implementation. Everything I suck at he’s really good at. And he was in that side of the business for two years. Again, this didn’t happen on purpose. How this kind of evolved, I was doing a webinar. I did a webinar to a group of people. This is 2008 or 2009. And I sell 212 properties in one day on a webinar. I called Peter. I’m like, “Dude, I’m in trouble.” He was like, “What?” I was like, “We just sold 212 lots.” It was just lots, right? This is a good problem by the way. These are good problems. I was like, “I don’t know how to do it.” He was like, “Oh.” He was like, “In 48 hours, let me jump in there. I’ll show them how to pick the lots, how to create the deeds, how to close the….” He created a formula because he’s technical and understood the whole flow. He’s like, “I got this.” And he’s like, “Mark, by the way, I could help you on your real estate company at a whole another level if you wanted me to.” I was like, “Why haven’t you told me?”
So I think some of the time some of the stuff isn’t—I think the easiest way to hire the next level person is hire within because they understand the language. They understand the culture. They understand your personality. They understand us. And I think a lot of people miss that. By the way, I’ve tried to hire outside guys for 18 to 20 grand a month. High level guys who took companies from 50 million to 500 million but they’re slow. They’re very incompetent at implementation because their corporate mindset—where everything is very slow. And it’s like there’s really no accountability in corporations at a high level. And he was like, “Yeah. I was looking to make a 10% increase.” I’m like, “Dude, I’m paying you 20 grand a month. I better see a massive increase. I hired you to do big things here.” It’s an evolution process to answer you with a story. I’m sorry. That’s how I met Peter.
Danny Johnson: I guess what I was looking for was: Was it intentional in sort of a grooming way? Or was it more of they just kind of like saw that potential within themselves and they just started to have that and said, “Hey, I can do this.”?
Mark Evans: Yeah. I think both of us set out—again, hiring the right people. I think, the cream of the crop would rise to the top. And I didn’t do it on purpose but I always knew hire great people. Pay them right. Treat them right. Good things could happen eventually. It doesn’t always work out that way, but that’s the mindset anyways.
Danny Johnson: So I’m reading a bunch of leadership books right now. Do you have any favorite leadership books that you’re reading?
Mark Evans: Turn the Ship, that’s a good one. That’s a management/leadership style. There’s great books out there: Traction. I really haven’t been reading a whole lot as much lately. I’ve read thousands of books though.
Danny Johnson: I see you’ve got Titan up there. I love that book.
Mark Evans: Yeah, Titan is a great book. There’s so many great books out there. If I read it, I actually got to do something with the knowledge.
Danny Johnson: That’s the key.
Mark Evans: Yeah. So I think the best way to discover a book and how I navigate books is: What’s my issue today that I’m dealing with that I’m looking for a solution? Because if not, I find myself just reading the read which is cool sometimes. But I’m busy. I have a lot of stuff I want to accomplish. Now, that’s really is what I’m trying to do. If I’m trying to figure out how to manage expectations or manage payroll or manage whatever we’re dealing with, I’m looking for that very deep data quickly and just knowledge up as fast as possible.
Danny Johnson: A lot of wisdom in that. That kind of gives away when I’ve been focused on myself because that’s what I need right now. And so, I’m working on reading those books. And you get much more out of them because you’re in that situation where you need that info versus just, “Hey, I want to learn about this other thing.” You’re just going to distract yourself to focus.
You had said something before. I don’t know if that was during this conversation, maybe our other one. But about data not drama. People coming and saying, “How do I do this?” And I think the example you’re talking about was direct mail. I don’t know if you can maybe elaborate a little bit more on that when people come and say, “Hey, it’s not working for me.” What’s the process for you helping them through that?
Mark Evans: So I have a problem. I told you I’m a high-level micromanager. I just want to solve the problem and move forward. I think all people, business owners want to do that. But the truth is that actually it’ll hurt your business long term if you do that constantly. You’re constantly reinforcing incompetence. “Just call Mark. He’ll fix it.” That’s cool when there’s one or two people. But if it starts growing bigger, it’s a massive issue. And not only that, you start getting fatigue. A lot of people don’t understand the power of—you start fatiguing out. I make a lot of decisions very fast quickly all day. So decision fatigue is a real thing as an owner. And as you’re developing a software—you know exactly what I’m talking about—there’s a lot of moving— like there’s question after question you’re answering.
But for me, I’m emotional. I always want to step in and take over. And I had to start figuring out what can I do where I don’t get caught up in their drama. We all have drama. If they come in, “Mark, this direct mail is not working,” what does that mean? The struggle is not always real. Do you know what I mean? Everyone’s got a struggle. But what is a real struggle? And is it a struggle I should even worry about? I’m just like, “Cool. Data not drama.” And there’s just a trigger to have them tell me—I sent a thousand postcards. I got 30 responses. I got seven calls, and I got two contracts in and here’s how much we made. And then, that’s something I can actually fix. I can’t fix drama, but I can fix the data and/or at least understand it and put it into a format that makes sense for all of us to understand. It’s not like, “Sales people are the best at this. All these leads suck.” Data not drama. “Oh my god. I can’t close anything this week.” “Cool. Data not drama. How many calls did you make? How many conversations?”
Calls and conversations by the way are two totally different things. Sometimes we almost like force ourselves to call people we know who’s not going to pick it up. “Please don’t pick up. Please don’t pick up. Cool. Now, they’ll call my box. Please don’t put my…” Sales people do that by the way.
Danny Johnson: Check out the list.
Mark Evans: That’s the real thing. So even in my company, I don’t care how many calls you make. I care how many deals you close. I’m not that guy anymore who’s like, “You need to work 20 hours a day no matter what, blah, blah, blah, blah…” Now it’s more like, “Just get the job done. That’s all I care about. I don’t care if you sit on the. I don’t care if you sit in a coffee shop. I don’t care if you’re in the office. Just get the work done.” But when things start happening, I need to have data to back up the problem. Or even if things are going amazing, I want to see what you’re doing different. Are you texting them more? Are you emailing them more? Are we doing videos? Where’s the data that’s driving us to give us direction?
This is another reason a lot of companies don’t grow too, Danny, is they don’t have data supporting any of their decisions. They’re going off from emotions, and I get it. I’ve been there and it’s easy to grow to a million dollars a year doing that. It’s easy. But once you start packing certain things and hiring people, it starts adding to the dynamics because your profits will dip drastically. The more hires. The more leakage. The more brakes. There’s more expenses. So if the data is going to say, “Hey, you’re making a million. You’re netting 300,000. Just hire two people at 80,000. Now, you’re netting…” there’s things that happen, but now your marketing cost—things go up when you hire, too: marketing cost, admin cost. Just things happen.
So the data if you’re looking at proper P&L’s, if you’re running your business out of your bank account for example, that’s a lagging indicator of what’s happening. P&L’s would give you direction, give you confidence. Because in a business owner like, “I’m not real estate anymore. I’m a money manager.” We’re managing millions in and out every single week. So it’s like, “If I’m just looking at bank account, there’s five million in there today but we’re going to have seven million in closings this week. We’re negative two million.” That’s a false indicator. I’m getting a off topic a little bit, but the data for me, direct mail sales and anything, I just want data. I don’t want the drama.
Danny Johnson: So you want to have hard proof of what’s happening, not just an emotional reaction to some change that might be a lagging indicator and doesn’t really tell you what the story is.
Mark Evans: Yeah, because emotions—honestly, if you catch me on the wrong day, I might change the whole business overnight in my head, in my heart because I’m emotional. I love the business. I love the people. I love what we’re doing. But if I keep hearing problem, problem, problem, problem, problem, I start thinking it’s a real problem. And then I start saying, “Okay. We need to change the business model,” and as opposed to the data saying, “Holy cow. This person is not doing the actions needed.” And it’s really that simple.
Danny Johnson: And that’s a big thing we’re trying to change around here. And this year, the word for the business is “intentional,” having the plan based on numbers and sticking with it. And a big problem that we were facing last year and trying to correct this is just the constant putting out of fires. It’s like people coming in other people’s office real quick out of the blue like, “We need to side on this thing.” They’re not all there to make any smart decision whether they even need to worry about the thing or not. So all this stuff, everybody gets derailed. We end up in a million directions. We don’t accomplish what we should be accomplishing.
Mark Evans: Other people, their problem is more important than your solution, right? So sometimes that happens. Have you ever read like Jason Fried, like 37Signals and all that. That’s a really good book. The stuff you’re saying like that, he has a formula for the way that it should work in tech world. It’s business in general. He and his partner are very good at kind of like how to organize that information in a timely manner so it doesn’t become a distraction.
Danny Johnson: I read Rework, but I wasn’t aware they had any other books.
Mark Evans: He has another one out there. It’s really good. I forgot the name, but it’s online. It’s really good.
Danny Johnson: I’ll definitely going to check that out. I wrote it down.
Mark Evans: And another thing too is just talking out loud so we’re just kind of wrapping on this is figuring out how communication works. So for me, I lead the investing where I lend whatever and picture your—because I like to travel, so I kind of like to create this environment in my head and create a constraint. I only have 10 minutes a day to run my company. What do you do? Who do you talk to? What information do you need to know if things are good or bad? Because there’s a lot of other numbers and KPIs going on internally in the company. But is it information that I need to know today?
So for example, you’re looking at five, six, or seven KPIs. Revenue in, revenue out. Contracts in, contracts out. If you’re having a new staff or new whatever like that’s money in and money out, you’re looking for what matters for you and it’s different for every single entrepreneur or business owner. So what numbers do you need? When you’re sitting on the island and you’re talking, who’s on that phone? Who’s implementing? Who’s deploying once you talk? Who’s relaying the messages to the grounds team?
So every Tuesday—true story—from 9 to 10, I have a call with every 10. That’s with my big team, the main people that runs each division in the real estate company. And then every day from 10 a.m. to 10: 10 a.m., we talk like it’s called a huddle. Everyone’s on a call. Here’s the numbers. We all know what it means internally as language. “Fifteen deals, three contracts, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Boom. Great. Next person.” We just go down the line. Everyone says it. That call actually lasts like five to seven minutes max. So it’s 10 minutes, boom. Who’s on it? Who’s talking? Peter says something positive and actionable at the end. Now, the team is running. Tomorrow, I’m going to have the same information. I’m still working on the business. I’m thinking about reading customer experience, this and that, but that 10 minutes is like the most productive day of my life, that moment.
Danny Johnson: I like how you started with the 10 minutes, who you were going to call, what numbers you were going to look at, and what’s most important at the highest level, what’s the big dominance, what’s the thing there. And those kind of meetings, we started doing the same thing because we had done weekly meetings with the whole company but we got to the point we wouldn’t all fit in the conference room anymore. So it’s like a whole lot of people are sitting through this thing and we’re doing all this talk and some other stuff that doesn’t matter that much to them. And so we just figured out, “Well, what is the biggest?” And it’s the main KPIs that are motivators like showing people how well everything is going and then sharing the wins from everybody’s team, so everybody gets to celebrate all the wins. Five- or ten-minute meetings.
Danny Johnson: Now, it’s off to Cameron Herold. He is great at that. I don’t know if you know him or not, Cameron Herold. He used to run 1-800-GOT-JUNK? He has a good book called Meetings Suck, but he talks about that. The average meeting is people just come in, sit down, and hang out and talk. And our meeting turns into five hours and nothing gets done. It actually frustrates people more than it helps them. So it’s pretty much saying if you’re going to do that, don’t make and have meetings because they don’t work. But what you’re talking about is a perfect way to get people to move forward.
Danny Johnson: It’s nice. All right, man. This has been awesome, Mark. I’ve written down a lot of stuff, a lot of great ideas. For anybody listening, how can people get in touch with you if they want to?
Mark Evans: Honestly, I’m on a big push right now for social media. I’m giving back at a high level. I want to share videos, content, real-life stuff. I think in the world we live in today, it’s so real. It’s so timely. So Mark Evans, DM on any social media from Instagram and Facebook. They are the two biggest ones for me. It’ll be awesome if you follow me there. I have a website as well, markevansdm.com. So that’s kind of what I got going on, Danny.
Danny Johnson: Awesome, Mark. And I’m sure we’re going to be in touch. I like to talk with you further. And thanks a lot for being on the show, taking time to share with everybody.
Mark Evans: Definitely. If I can help anybody, please reach out. Thank you for having me, Danny. I appreciate it.
Danny Johnson: Awesome. Have a good one.
Mark Evans: You, too.
Danny Johnson: All right. I hope you guys enjoyed this episode. I really did. I know I got a lot out of it. I took a lot of notes, probably more than I’ve taken in a while. So hopefully, you did the same. And like I said, if you haven’t joined the Flip Pilot group, go to facebook.com or Facebook and do a search for Flip Pilot or go to flippilot.com to get your invite which would be even quicker.
I’m also doing some training. So if you’re looking to generate some leads online, you want to figure out how to crack the code and figure out how it works or how you can start getting these motivated seller leads online which is where we get the majority of our leads and deals for our business still to this day. For our flipping business, it’s all from online and I’m going to show you guys this webinar what I’ve learned over the years that have helped me be able to have success with that so that you can crack the code yourself as well. Just head over to leadpropeller.com/webinar and save your spot for the webinar on Thursday, leadpropeller.com/webinar. [music] See you on the webinar.