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70: Are You a Flip Pilot

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This this vlog, Danny talks about the idea of being the pilot of your flipping business instead of someone working on the ground.Don’t forget, all of the vlog episodes (and more) are available on the FlippingJunkie YouTube channel at

Are you working in your business or on your business? That might sound like a small difference, but it’s more important than you’d think. If you started your business from the ground up (like most real estate investors have) then you’re the boss. And being the boss means you can’t be spending your time running around within your business. You need to be taking care of things from above – working on your business.

That’s where the idea of being a Flip Pilot comes in. You need to be able to see your business from 30,000 feet up to be able to take it to the places you want to go. So focusing on managing your business means that you’re going to have to give up some of the hands on work to take on the bigger issues.

Let’s break it down. If you’re working in your business, you have to wear a lot of hats. You have to be the marketer, and the hiring manager, and the sales guy, and the foreman, and the legal team, and the boss. It’s too much. If you’re spread too thin then you aren’t replenishing your inventory fat enough to continue to make money.

Take Danny’s example. When he and Melissa were spread too thin, they would focus all of their energy on one property at a time. Which worked, for a little while. But once that property was finished, there was nothing left on deck. So then the marketing had to start all over with nothing generating money in the meantime.

Basically what we’re getting at is, are you switching hats too much in your business or are you taking charge? Be a Flip Pilot, not the ground crew! Let us know what you think in the comments 🙂Stay tuned and be sure to subscribe to the FlippingJunkie Youtube channel:


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Danny Johnson: This is the Flipping Junkie podcast episode 70. [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, welcome back to the Flipping Junkie podcast in the video log. Hey, I wanted to talk about something that I’ve been thinking a lot about. I think I start that with every episode when I say stuff like that. But that’s what’s so cool about this, you can think about this stuff and then share these things that we think about and do in our business because we’ve been doing this business for 14 years now, it’s crazy. Time flies. It’s so insane. But you know, the kind of lessons, looking back and just reflecting on when we were getting started in this business and then as we’ve grown and all the lessons and takeaways from that. So remember, because a lot of times we’ll forget things and we’ll make the same mistake we made 4 years ago again and have to learn that lesson again. So it’s always good to reflect on where you’ve been and what you’ve accomplished and what you’ve done and to always taking notes. That’s why journaling is so great, is because as you learn things, you can write them down in your journal and then go back and review them. And honestly, I haven’t journaled probably 3 or 4 months. I need to get back into it because I did it for close to a year and there’s an app. I think it’s called Day One app and you can even include pictures and stuff like that. So it can be your journal and it includes personal and business and then you have sort of a chronicle of your life and everything. And the way I see it is it’s so cool and why I want to continue to do it is I could pass that down to my kids and help them see. Oh man, it’d be so cool to be able to see that from my dad or my grandfather, you know, like all the things, the daily experiences and what they went through.

But where I was going with this is that so many people get into this for freedom, right? And I think most of us do. There’s money and freedom, time. But I think the freedom is the bigger driving force. It’s a bigger why people get into flipping houses and real estate investing. And they want to be their own boss and not have to be a part of someone else’s plan. They want to make a plan for themselves. I wanted to make a plan for myself. I wanted to live my life and make the rules and decide on when I can go on vacation for how long and all of that stuff.

And we get into it thinking we’ve never really had a business before and so it’s new to a lot of us and we’ve got to learn how to be a business owner and a house flipper and a real estate investor. And there’s a lot of things to learn. Most of us do it just by ourselves, right? So we do everything, we wear all the hats. We have to learn how to market, we have to learn how to do sales, how to do acquisitions basically talking with motivated sellers or working with agents to get deals. And we’ve got to learn how to do transactions, get the deals closed, get the money lined up. All of that stuff. And then we’ve got to be able to wholesale the houses or flip the houses, rehab them, be a contractor and schedule contractors and all of that stuff. There’s so much to learn and we do all of it, it’s crazy.

And Melissa and I, we did that for so many years where it was just us and probably, what, 9 or 10 years at least it was just us. And over the last several years we’ve been focused on growing the business. For a long time I felt like I was the only person that could do the things as well as I could do. Melissa typically has handled a lot of the bookkeeping and then the rehabbing plan, so the design of the houses for rehabs that we’re doing and then selling the properties. And haven’t even sold properties ourselves for the longest time where we were doing FSBO and I’ll tell you what, if something is not draining and time-consuming, it’s doing that like putting signs out, taking all those calls, having no-shows when you go to show the properties and then finding out people who can’t even qualify to buy the house. And what a drain. I think that was probably one of our first people we started to work with other than the title company was a realtor and our realtor, Laura, is awesome. We absolutely love her and she saves us so much time. And, you know, obviously we have to pay out the commission but it’s so worth it. That time, again back to this whole freedom thing that we want when we get into this business, it gives us more of that time. It gives us the ability to reclaim time and have more time to focus on other things like getting in front of sellers and getting more deals a time. And so, as you get into this, I really wish we would have learned this or focused on growing our business and offloading some of the tasks that we do earlier on, and I think we’d be further along if we did that.

And one of the excuses that we gave a lot of times was that we didn’t want to be responsible for other people and to have to feel like we had to keep a certain level of volume going to keep everybody busy. It’s an understandable concern I think a lot of people have. But really, when you have a team, they can keep things going and increase the volume and you can’t bring yourself outside of the business and focus more time working on the business instead of in the business and, what is that, The E-Myth is a good book that talks about that a lot as far as being a business owner and focusing on the business and kind of tweaking it like making it work very efficiently and then having people plugged in to work those things that can be focused on it, and maybe you feel like you can do things better than somebody that you can hire to do it or they wouldn’t care as much as you. But honestly, when we’re doing everything, we’re spread so thin we can’t possibly do as well as somebody that’s focused on only that job. And then they can be learning and getting excited about being the best that they can at that job that eventually they will be better than you could have ever been and they’re focused on it. Then you don’t have to do it and they’re improving the systems and all that kind of stuff.

So I think having a plan early on to not make excuses and not have those wrong beliefs that if you build a team that you’re going to have to keep volume higher to be responsible for those people and you won’t be able to leave for a couple of months on vacation without worrying about things. When you have a team, you can leave and not have to worry about things and you can still make money. We kid about it with our acquisitions manager. When we go out of town, it seems like he ends up getting more deals and it’s so awesome like we’re gone for a week and we get these texts “I got another deal, got another deal” and it just’ awesome. Those things wouldn’t happen if it was just still us and we left town. Like things would stop, right? And even if you’re trying to do it yourself and you’re at a lower level doing marketing and the different tasks get dropped even while you’re still working because the cycle that we went through for a couple of years was we would do marketing, we’d get some leads, we’d get a deal or two and we’d be focused on that rehab. Well, guess what? We did. While we’re focused on that rehab, the marketing stopped or slowed way down and then the leads stopped coming in, the deals stopped coming in. So we get that house done, we get it sold and then we wouldn’t have anything in our pipeline. And getting that consistency is what gets that traction in your business to get it really going.

So it’s a very important message and I think it’s one that everybody should think about. And as I was thinking, I was thinking whenever you do that when you pull yourself out and what I wanted to say was, you know, Melissa really now – she’s actually calling me right now. Let me tell her… I’ll pull her up. [answers phone] Hey.

Melissa Johnson: Hey.

Danny Johnson: Hey, you’re on the podcast. I’m recording right now.

Melissa Johnson: Oh my gosh. I’m sorry.

Danny Johnson: I’ll call you right back, okay? I’ll call you right back.

Melissa Johnson: Okay, bye.

Danny Johnson: All right. So now we got a podcast I’m listening to coming on. All right. But as I was thinking about this and working on the business, and if you’ve been following me at the time, you know that I’m a private pilot and I love aviation. I got a propeller tattoo and that became… well, we started Lead Propeller first so it was kind of a double for that aviation but also Lead Propeller. So Lead Propeller websites and it has to do with aviation.

But as I was thinking about this point of view of working on the business and having this aerial view of your business in a way to where you’re looking at the pieces, you’re looking at acquisitions, lead intake, marketing, all this kind of stuff, it’s really sort of like a 30,000-foot view. So when I’m flying and I look down and I’m several thousand feet up in the air and I look down, I can see a lot more than when you’re just on the ground, you can barely see anything. You only see a maybe a mile if you’re lucky, right? But if you’re up in the air several thousand feet, you can see much more. You can see everything as a whole. And so it’s like a 30,000-foot view of your flipping business. And it got me thinking, so being able to do that is a way to think and that’s what makes me – I’m a flip pilot. And it was like that’s a term for it. We can call it, it’s like I’m a flip pilot, like I’m somebody that is working on focusing on my business instead of in my business all the time. And what I said before, Melissa started calling – it’s one of those things where I was thinking about it and talking about it and then she calls, right? But she’s now running the flipping business and I sit in on meetings and help with direction and stuff like that, but Melissa is running the business. She’s growing this and building the team and doing way more than we did together because she’s got this team that we’re putting in place and that she’s building. And then she’s building in that way too where she’s not needing to be there all the time, she’s got the team built up. I mean she’s just doing an incredible job and I can’t thank her enough because I’m able to focus more time on the software and then these kind of things where I’m helping other investors. And so with the podcast and the Youtube channel and everything. And we can help more, we can help more people with that. That’s what we want to do, is serve more investors and help them through all the hard times and stuff like that.

So my realization is that I’m a flip pilot; I’m somebody that focuses on my business and I’m always trying to have that 30,000-foot view of my business and Melissa as well, she’s a flip pilot. She looks at that. She looks in terms of who’s doing what, the processes they’re following and it’s a well-oiled machine. When something is not producing the right numbers, we know that we need to give attention to that and oil that part of the machine or add on to it or give it more power. You know what I mean? So it’s like improving and making it more efficient, making it more powerful so that the numbers can increase and everything is working that much better.

So my question to you is, are you a flip pilot? Are you somebody that’s trying to do everything yourself? Are you trying to do all the marketing and then have to switch over once you get a deal and start focusing on the rehab and then sell it and then you’re back to square one where your marketing hasn’t compounded and built up and you’ve got to start building up the marketing again? So you’re taking your one marketing hat off, putting your acquisitions hat on then your rehab hat on and your selling hat on and then back to the marketing hat and you’re kind of going into that process and you’re feeling like it’s hard to get traction because you can’t keep your marketing consistent, you can’t keep your deal funnels consistent.

So if you’re not a flip pilot, I encourage you to start thinking like a flip pilot. Start thinking like somebody that’s got that 30,000-foot view at all times and is making a plan. Obviously, it’s not something you can do overnight but as a flip pilot, if you focus on where you want to be and you point yourself in that direction over time you’re going to get there. You’re going to get to that location. So, I encourage you if you’re not currently a flip pilot that you start thinking like a flip pilot and point your plane in that direction to try to accomplish that and I assure you, things get much easier and you get more consistent, more profitable and have a lot more fun so you have a lot more time to spend with your family, you have a lot more freedom in your life. And that’s what we set out to do when we started this business. So if you find yourself working more hours than you did at your job that you quit to get into flipping houses, start thinking of yourself as a flip pilot and I assure you it’s going to help and we’ll be here to help and share stuff on the podcast and the video log that we’re doing. So be sure to subscribe an iTunes. Leave me a rating and review if you’re really enjoying these podcasts, and then also you can check us out, these videos on And I’ve got some exciting news that I want to share coming up soon about some software changes that we’re making that’s going to blow your mind. It’s just crazy. So be sure to subscribe and we’ll share that probably in the upcoming video. And have a great day! Talk to you later.


Comments (2)

  • Cody

    Danny, I just wanted to give you a shout out and let you know how much I appreciate the value you and Melissa bring. I’m not sure if you are fully aware of how much gold you dropped during this episode! Not nuggets, bricks! Hearing about how you guys started and where you are at now in the business is really inspiring to my wife and I as we are starting out. We are wearing all the hats now, but are bound to be Flip Pilots!!!

    • Danny Johnson

      Hey, Cody. Thank you so much for the compliments. I love to hear the feedback because sometimes I worry I am just rambling incoherently. Lol.

      I especially love your comment about being focused on becoming Flip Pilots. That’s awesome. 30,000 ft view at all times.

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