You're listening to the “REI Marketing Nerds” podcast, the leading resource for real estate investors who want to dominate their market online. Dan Barrett is the founder of AdWords Nerds, a high-tech digital agency focusing exclusively on helping real estate investors like you get more leads and deals online, outsmart your competition, and live a freer, more awesome life. And, now, your host, Dan Barrett.
Dan: Hello everybody, and welcome to this week's episode of the REI Marketing Nerds podcast. As always, this is Daniel Barrett here from AdWordsNerds.com. Hope you are doing awesome. Hope you are feeling good as we head into 2020. This week I’ve got a really fun interview with Ryan Substad. [0:01:00]
Now, Ryan and I first met in my coaching program, the “Search. Click. Convert Bootcamp.” Ryan went through there to learn Google Ads for his investing business, had a really successful time, and then came into my long-term coaching program, which is called the REI Marketing Mastery Program—and he’s just a really impressive guy.
He is not only running a successful investing business, but he's balancing that with a full-time job as an engineer and a growing young family. And so, I wanted to talk to Ryan, not only about the kind of marketing that he's doing and the mindset of engineering that he brings to the work that he does, but also just how he balances all of that.
I don't know about you, but, increasingly, for me, not only just getting the most out of my business—that's obviously very important to me—but I also think a lot about how I am balancing that with the other priorities in my life. I just wanted to see how Ryan does that, because he has got a lot going on.
Without any further ado, let's get into my conversation with Ryan Substad. [0:02:00]
I'm here with Ryan Substad. He is a real estate investor in the Seattle and surrounding areas. I would say, if you're familiar with Seattle, which I'm not, but if you are familiar with the Seattle area, that's South King County and Pierce County.
Ryan, welcome to the show, man. Thanks for being here.
Ryan: Yeah, thanks for having me.
Dan: Yeah, it's my pleasure. Let's get started the way I usually like to, which is just tell me how you got started in real estate, in real estate investing. What was your in to this weird world where part of?
Ryan: Yeah. I have a full-time job. I work for Boeing as an engineer. A couple years ago, my wife and I, and our two-month-old went on a business trip to Japan for four months. It was kind of at the beginning of the trip while we were there that I was thinking, I don't know if I really want to do engineering, sit behind a desk for forty more years and then retire. And so, I thought, What can I do that I can work for myself I guess? [0:03:05]
I did some research online, found a couple of different options, but one of the main things that caught my eye was flipping houses, so that was where I got into it. I did a bunch of research. I had a train ride into work every day in Japan, and so I was reading books both ways and took in a lot of information.
Then, we got back to Seattle. Seattle is a pretty expensive market. Houses are pretty expensive around here. I'm originally from Minnesota. My wife and I actually are. We thought, Let’s move back to Minnesota and then we can get started there where things are a little cheaper. But things weren't working out to get back to Minnesota, so I decided to jump in here, and that's how I got started.
Dan: That's interesting. There are a couple of things that jumped out at me about that story, but I'm curious—I don't want to lose the thread before I forget about it. I forget about everything, so I feel like that's pretty inevitable—do you feel like you have taken much from the engineering part of your life into the investing part of your life? [0:04:16]
It strikes me that [between] the two, there's a certain kind of thinking and a certain kind of mindset in engineering, from what I understand, that I think it could be really useful in investing. I'm wondering if you feel or if you have felt the same way?
Ryan: Yeah, I'd say, a little bit. I'd say, definitely on the numbers analyzing side. That’s one of my strengths as far as running numbers. It can also hinder me at times with overanalyzing things. But it's definitely transferred over, I'd say, the analyzing portion of it, mostly.
Dan: You said that you overanalyze things. My immediate response was I've never had that problem, Ryan. I don’t know what he’s talking about. As I painfully overanalyze literally everything in my life. So, yeah, totally get that. [0:05:12]
I'm also curious about your experience in Japan. I lived in Japan for a little while when I was in school. It's a very different kind of world. Was that a first for you or is that the kind of thing you guys had done before?
Ryan: I've traveled for work quite a bit, but it's mostly to Wichita, Kansas. That’s the most exciting thing.
Dan: Exotic Wichita.
Ryan: Yeah, they do have good barbecues, so I will give them that.
Dan: Yeah, for sure. Did you take anything away from that Japan experience? Obviously, it was a formative moment in getting you into real estate. What was your take on that? It seems interesting.
Ryan: Yeah, it's definitely a different culture over there, for sure. I loved the train, the mass transportation there, very unscheduled. [0:06:01]
I didn't know much of the language, really, so it was hard to communicate. We were more in an industrial area, so not so touristy. The people at our hotel knew some English, but pretty much everyone else was speaking Japanese, so it was hard to understand and communicate a lot, but you figured it out with using hand gestures and things like that.
My wife met some other expats that were over there with their husbands working for Toyota, Lockheed Martin and things like that, so she had a good experience over there. I worked a lot, so it was hard to get that full Japanese experience.
Dan: Yeah, it strikes me as almost like, every now and then, when I get to travel with the band or I get to travel for music, it's always like people are like, Did you get to see the city? And I'm like, No, I didn't see it. I went to do the thing and then I did the thing, and then I fell asleep. [0:07:05]
So, that's cool. I want to make sure, you are currently also working or you're still working as an engineer now, right, or did you stop that?
Ryan: I am, yes. I still am.
Dan: Let's talk about your real estate investing business now, because I want to make sure everyone gets the lay of the land about what you're doing now.
Ryan: Your website is NorthwestPropertySolutions.com, right? That's the site. Everyone can go check it out if they want to see what you're doing. Tell us a little bit about that business, kind of how it's structured right now.
Ryan: Yeah, that's my wholesaling business. I send all my marketing through Northwest Property Solutions and deals come in, and then I have a separate company that's my flipping company. I'll keep what I want to flip, and then I'll wholesale what either doesn't work for me or isn't in my area.
I've kind of done more flips over the last year. It's taken quite a bit of time to do that. It’s turned out pretty well overall. I did four flips in the year, and then a few wholesale deals, so still working on it, and this is all part-time, again. I also have a three- and a one-year-old, so they keep me busy as well. [0:08:19]
Ryan: All right, so you have two full time jobs and then your business. I get how it is, yeah. And it's just you right now in the business or do you have anyone that's working with you?
Ryan: It's just me right now.
Dan: This kind of gets into the next thing that I'm always interested in, and I forgot you’ve told me before, because we've kind of worked together in the past and I think you were a part of one of my coaching programs. I know you told me before that you had young kids, but I'd forgotten that when we started this podcast.
It makes this question even more impressive to me, because one of the things that that really blows me away is the fact that you are juggling, not just your real estate investing business, which has been successful and you’ve done a lot of really amazing work—and, like you said, you're not just wholesaling, but you're also doing flips. You're doing that basically on your own—but you also are working a full-time job that's pretty demanding. And you have kind of a home life. [0:09:25]
You're in this phase of your family life, which is pretty intense. I have a five-and a three-year-old, so I just was there, feeling like yesterday. I remember that. It's pretty chaotic.
How do you go about thinking about dividing those things or just balancing your various responsibilities? It strikes me as, and I'm sure, you have the same experience where you meet people who all they have is one job, and they basically work themselves into an early grave or they don't have a relationship with their kids or whatever. They don't balance those things well. [0:09:22]
How do you think about that issue or how have you come through that and made that work for you?
Ryan: I haven't done it perfectly. But, yeah, it's just trying to set aside time for [family.] Family is the most important over any job, and so making sure that I have that time, I get home from my nine-to-five job, which for me is a lot earlier—I'm off by 02:00 or 02:30—so it gets me time with the kids and wife before it’s too late in the evening. Usually, I’d come home and spend some time with the family, and then try to set aside time for real estate-related phone calls or whatever that may be, going on appointments and stuff. [0:11:00]
Weekends tend to be a lot of time spent on real estate, but it's definitely a juggling act to try to spend enough time with the family, but also having time to spend working on real estate-related things. Definitely something I still need to keep working on, as far as getting that balance right.
Dan: In the real estate investing business, do you work out of your house?
Ryan: I do, yeah. Everything is based out of my house, which helps, but it's also hard with kids screaming and yelling in the background.
Dan: When we started this podcast, before I was recording, I was having a completely ridiculous conversation with my three-year-old, trying to tell him to be quiet. He was like, Absolutely, I'll be quiet, and then proceeds to make a ton of noise, so, yeah.
But do you have a space or an office space inside your house or do you just work out amongst the savages there? [0:12:02]
Ryan: For the most part, I have an office space, a bedroom that I use as my office. I'll make most phone calls and things out of here. If I'm just working on my computer on doing research or something, running numbers, I will maybe be down at the kitchen table or something with the family.
Dan: Yeah, I think having that little bit of psychological distance that comes from going into a different room is actually pretty critical. It's funny, it's like you wouldn't think it would be that big a deal, but it really does help a lot. So, I think that's cool.
Let's transition a little bit. Let's talk about marketing. I had a couple of questions about marketing. One of them is I was wondering if, because of your schedule, you find following up to be difficult. Right? It's one of the things we've talked about. With online needs, specifically, speed of follow-up is really crucial and you've had success at that, but you have this kind of natural limitation where it's like, Hey, if you email me at 10:00 a.m., I won't necessarily be able to call you back within two minutes, right? [0:13:07]
Has that been difficult for you or have you found that to be much of a barrier? How do you deal with that?
Ryan: It has definitely been somewhat of a barrier for me. I am able to take a few phone calls at work on breaks and things, but it's still a lot harder to follow up. You get the websites submission and trying to follow up with them right away gets difficult.
So, a lot of the follow-up happens when I get home from work and, at that point, they might have tried calling me or left me a voicemail at 09:00 or 10:00 in the morning and such. Four, five or six hours later, when I'm following up, they've either talked to someone else or they’re not answering.
It’s definitely more difficult having a full-time job. It's also hard trying to figure out the follow-up after the initial call as well, just because everything has got to be squeezed into a couple of hours after work. [0:14:01]
Yeah, it's definitely a juggling act, and sometimes I'll get a submission on my website and I'll shoot a text over to them if I see it quick, just to let them know that I'm there. I’ll follow-up with them later. But that's definitely one of the challenges with the full-time job. It’s follow-up work, getting in contact with sellers at a time that works for them.
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Dan: Let's talk about your marketing stack or whatever you want to do. How are you finding sellers? [0:15:04]
Ryan: I have a few different ways that I find them. I do direct mail, so some of the lists are driving for dollars, finding distressed houses out driving. Then, I also have a couple lists of absentee owners, which is a big one for most people, and so I send direct mail to them, as well as some ringless voicemail and email. Then, on the other online site I have, working on SEO, but I have Google Ads going as well, good leads and some deals.
Dan: That's awesome. Yeah, that's how we met, right? You came through the coaching program. It's interesting, and I'm not trying to hype up the coaching program specifically, but I think it's interesting to talk a little bit about your experience of doing the ads yourself, and coming in and learning that process, and getting it done, mostly because you have significantly less time than most people do. So, that’s even more impressive. [0:16:15]
What was that like? Was that a huge jump for you or did you feel like you had the engineering background, and maybe that kind of makes it a little bit easier for you to jump in and learn a new system? What was the process like of jumping in and going through the program, and learning that stuff to the point where you could apply it and, yeah, get deals from them?
Ryan: Yeah, when I started, it would have been about a year ago. I think I went through your first “Search. Click. Convert Bootcamp.” That's where I got introduced to Google Ads in the whole system, and how to set up ads, how to manage the ads as time goes on.
Then I joined the REI Marketing Mastery class maybe five or six months ago, I think it was, and that's helped jumpstart even or help grow my Google Ads, as well as starting SEO and things like that. [0:17:14]
Google Ads is not super user-friendly, so it was definitely helpful to have you there to walk through it, and what we're looking for as far as conversion rates and click-through rates, and all of that. As you said, it is hard to keep that managed with the time constraint that I have, but you can definitely manage it in small portions of time each month. It doesn't have to be a lot of time put into it, which helps a lot.
Dan: Yeah, I think that's actually a big misconception, especially because I think if you think about hiring an agency, like we have an agency that works with investors, and so when people hire us, they see our team putting in obscene amounts of hours or whatever. [0:18:08]
That's partially because it's like, hey, you're hiring a professional team and you're probably spending a significant amount of money on that, so that's what you expect. But I think for the average investor who's not spending 10k a month or something like that on ads, you can have a system, and that's what the course is based around. You could have just a process, a check-listed out process that says, Hey, here are the most important things you need to do. That’s 90 percent of it and you can get it done in a couple hours a month. I think that's a big misconception.
I love that you did deals from that because I think you're a really good example of someone who came in and really implemented what we taught, so that's awesome.
For your direct mail, are you sending out the same piece multiple times? How do you think of through mailing, and how does your mail process work? [0:19:07]
Ryan: I've kind of changed up my mail process a little bit recently. I've been starting to have more of a systemized approach to it as far as how I split my list and how I mail to it consistently. Prior to it, I'd say, I'd get a list from a title company, and then send out letters every month and switch it up.
I'd maybe get three or four lists and mail it once per quarter or so. Now I've kind of switched it up a little bit to get it more systemized. Here's my list, broken out every couple of weeks, sending a new batch of mail, just so it's kind of spread it out, because I would send it out at the beginning of the month, and I'd get calls the first week and then nothing for three weeks until the next batch went out.
Then, piling on ringless voicemail and email onto that as well, just to keep the touches up—as most of you know, I think it’s seven touches before you get the biggest response—so keeping that consistency up because things change in life for everyone. [0:20:18]
Yeah, so I've kind of changed it up recently and just starting to roll that system out. Getting more systematized in my direct mail, I guess, is what I would say.
Dan: And I think that's actually a really critical insight. It's both that, hey, just like you said, the average sale I think happens after the seventh touch point, and most people barely get beyond three or four. Obviously, just for maximizing the amount deals that you get from anything, that's really critical. That’s actually true of ads. It's true of SEO. The more touch points that you have, the more likely that person is to respond.
I would say, it's one of the reasons, and we teach this in REI Marketing Mastery, but we also do it in the agency where we always say that it's multichannel where the idea is, yeah, they see us in search, but they also see us on Facebook and they might also see us on like weather.com, and, hey, if you're sending mail over and over again, we're just trying to engineer the situation where they see us a bunch of times, so that when they're ready to go, we're who they think of and we're the ones that they come to. [0:21:29]
There's that, but then I think you also hit on something really important, which is spreading out your pipeline of deals, because so many investors go through this boom-and-bust cycle. It's like everyone's fear is “I'm not going to get any leads,” right? And that's obviously bad. But the flip-side of that is you get all your leads at once and you can't respond fast enough, or you drop the ball or it's just too much work. And so, spreading it out in a way I think is really crucial, especially for someone like you, again, juggling the job, your kids and your business. I think that's a really, really valuable insight. [0:22:10]
Dan: As we're recording this, we have just crossed the barrier of 2020 where it’s now a brand new year. I'm curious, man, you're in this really interesting place. You've had a ton of success. You've gotten deals from your ads. You've gotten deals from all the marketing that you're doing. What's the goal for 2020? Where do you want to take this thing? Is the goal to quit the job? Is the goal to scale it to a certain point? What do you want this to look like?
Ryan: The main goal—to quit the full-time job would be great, and that’s kind of the long-term goal. I’m pushing for it this year, to quit the job and go full-time real estate.
Also, I think I mentioned earlier, my wife and I are both from Minnesota and so all our family is back there, so the goal is to move back there and start real estate there, but keeping my pipeline and systems going in Seattle. [0:23:12]
Since I built that up, I don't want to let that go, so trying to figure out how to do that remotely, as well as getting things started in Minnesota, so that if and when we move back there, things are already going as it takes time to build things up in a new market.
Yeah, those are kind of the goals for this year. Still working on specifics as far as how many deals and things like that for goals this year, but those are the overarching, bigger goals that I'm working towards this year.
Dan: That's awesome, man. That’s really exciting, life-changing stuff, so that's pretty neat. That's pretty awesome. And I think I will say, I think you have proven yourself to be someone who really seeks out information and acts on it. Of all the people I've ever talked to, who would say, Hey, this is my big goal, I think you are definitely going to get there. [0:24:08]
And I think being in REI Marketing Mastery is great for you, too, because it's like, hey, then if you want to change things, you want to test the Minnesota market or you want to talk about putting your marketing on autopilot in Seattle, I'll be there to help you do that. The team will be there to help you do that. There's a really nice community of folks in there.
Yeah, man, I just wanted to tell you that I really appreciate having you as a part of that community. You've been great and you've been great at every step of the way.
Dan: I really appreciate you and super excited to see where you take Northwest Property Solutions in 2020 and beyond. I think that's going to be really exciting.
Ryan: Thanks, and I appreciate all the help from your side as well.
Dan: Yeah, man. Cool. Ryan, it's been great having you. Is there anywhere else online that you want people to come and find you if they want to connect or is NorthwestPropertySolutions.com just kind of the best place?
Ryan: Yeah, that's the best place, and there's a phone number and email on there, if you want to reach out. [0:25:05]
Dan: Cool. All right, everybody go check out NorthwestPropertySolutions.com. Say hello to Ryan.
Ryan Substad, thank you so much for having us, man … yeah, thank you so much for having us. And thank you so much for being on the show. I really appreciate it, man. This has been great.
Ryan: Yeah, thanks so much.
Dan: All right, cheers, man.
That's it for this week's episode of the REI Marketing Nerds podcast. Hey, if you are not in our Facebook group, you need to get there. You can go to that's AdWordsNerds.com/group, or just go to Facebook and type in “REI Marketing Nerds” and you’ll find us. I am in there every single day. We’re posting trainings content, answering questions, providing support. We are really trying to make it the absolute most valuable Facebook group for investors anywhere, and I would love for you to be a part of it.
Once again, you can go to AdWordsNerds.com/group, or go on to Facebook and type in “REI Marketing Nerds” and I would love to have you in there. [0:26:04]
I will see you guys next week. Hope you're having an awesome day and I hope you have an awesome rest of your week, and I'll talk to you very soon.
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