Dave Debeau [00:00:08] Hey there, everyone, this is Dave Debeau with another episode of the Property Profits Real Estate podcast today, zooming in all the way from Michigan. We've got Mike Simmons'. How are you doing today, Mike?
Mike Simmons [00:00:20] I'm doing great, Dave. Thank you very much for asking. The weather's getting nice in Michigan, so that's always a good thing. We're in a cold weather state, so we start getting into May and June. The weather starts turning and everyone gets excited.
Dave Debeau [00:00:30] Mike, you get no sympathy for me because I'm Canadian. All right.
Mike Simmons [00:00:35] All right. You know what I'm talking about. Then those those warm days are pretty exciting for us.
Dave Debeau [00:00:40] Exactly. Exactly where the same boat. So Mike's a very accomplished real estate entrepreneur, is also a new author. He's a speaker. He's spoken with the likes of Gary Vaynerchuk and he's also a podcast host. So today we're going to be diving into the secrets to Mike's success and creating a very, very significant portfolio for himself. And correct me if I'm wrong. Mike, you focus on what's your primary focus when it comes to real estate investing? Is it flipping? Is it I know
Mike Simmons [00:01:12] it's a little bit two pronged. I do a lot of wholesaling. I find deals for other investors and I also have a portfolio of my own. So it's a it's kind of a slow drip with my portfolio. It's a long term thing, obviously. And then wholesaling sort of helps me kick up that cash on a consistent basis for the cash flow.
Dave Debeau [00:01:28] Very, very cool. So when you're well, it's kind of the best of both worlds, wouldn't it be because you're looking for deals and will find the real smoking one or the one that fits your criteria perfectly then that one and the rest of them?
Mike Simmons [00:01:41] Yeah, totally. Exactly. I can kind of cherry pick that way. It's funny, though, most of my portfolio and people would, depending on where you're listening and what the price points are, most of my portfolio is the result of having, like, reject properties that I offer to my buyers, because in Michigan, getting a 15 percent return ROIC for your for your rentals is very pedestrian. It's really not exciting for folks. So just to give you a little bit of context, a very common deal in my area for a rental is buy it for thirty, put fifteen into it and rent it for eight hundred and fifty nine hundred dollars a month. Like that's a very, very standard and it doesn't get anyone excited. So you're right. I find deals all the time and I wholesale a lot of them out. But every once in a while I get one where no one wants it and I can't. It's a head scratcher. It's like fourteen, fifteen percent return and I'll go, well then I'll buy it. Like why would you know want to. So I have a portfolio of anywhere between 12 and 18 percent are why that were totally rejected by my market. Because they're spoiled,
Dave Debeau [00:02:40] they are spoiled because a lot of our listeners are up here in Canada and a lot of them are across the lake from you in Ontario, the greater Toronto area. You can't even there's nothing nothing for less than half a million bucks kind of thing. Yeah. So when you start hearing, relatively speaking, so close by. Yeah. We still get properties for 30 grand.
Mike Simmons [00:03:04] Yeah. And for the record, if you're in Ontario and you're saying to yourself, yeah, he's talking about Detroit, these are burned out houses. No, I'm talking about brick ranches in blue collar neighborhoods in the suburbs like nice houses.
Dave Debeau [00:03:15] Nice. Very, very nice. All right. So one thing I'd like to ask you about is because this kind of changes and everybody's got their own flavor because what are some of your best ways of finding these good deals? Because I imagine your you your you've got a machine going. This is your main part of your business. What do you find works best now for finding good deals, finding motivated sellers?
Mike Simmons [00:03:41] Yeah, it's a great question because you prefaced it or you qualified it with what's working now. And that's the key, right? Nothing works the same all the time for years and years and years. There's ebb and flow. It's every market and every market. Yeah, for sure. And every season for that matter. Sometimes it changes. So for me, what's working best right now is Google Edwards. And I think the reason is in Michigan specifically, our quarantine is fairly strict. We were the third hardest hit state in the United States as far as the coronavirus, which is happening as we record this. And so people are not leaving as much in there on the computer more. They just are there on their phone. They're on the on Google and they're looking for four solutions. And people are losing their jobs and they're laid off and they're worried. So pay per click advertisement for us has been phenomenal in the last few months. Most of our deals are coming that way. The other thing what's and I will say this, it's interesting because what's worked in the past, if you just looked at, like all of my deals that I've gotten in the last five years, I would say probably 70 percent of them have come from direct mail, direct mail pieces that we send out. So traditionally, direct mail has been the bread and butter for us. But more recently in the last year and then specifically the last handful of months, Google Edwards has been the thing. And I like I said, I'm guessing it's because people are sitting at home. So to try to add on to that, because Google Edwards, if you're not familiar and I won't go to. This road too far, it's a little bit in the weeds, but essentially when you when you use Google AdWords as an advertisement or a marketing channel, it's an auction based essentially. Right. You have a budget and you say, here's my budget, and then you go after keywords. And when your budget is hit, they stop. You stop bidding on things. Right. So it's not like a lover, like direct mail where you say, I'm sending out ten thousand pieces and I'm getting three deals. If I send out twenty thousand pieces, maybe I'll get six deals that you can't push down on the gas like that. So one thing we've done to try to capitalize on this stay at home movement where people are kind of quarantined is we're doing more text, text blast marketing and ringlet voice voicemail. And if you're not familiar as you're listening this with what wrinklies voicemail is rainless voicemail is essentially if you've ever gotten a call and you pick it up and it's a recording like that's not ringlet voicemail. That's a voice blast. Right. Everyone hangs up immediately when they hear that recorded message. Rainless voicemail essentially is a voicemail that's sent to your phone and it bypasses the ring so your phone doesn't ring, but you get a voicemail message right out of one hundred people usually will play that message like, oh, I didn't hear my phone ring. That's weird. I must have missed it. Right. You assume your phone messed up and you listen to this message and then it's a voice blast on the message, but it gets a better listen rate than than a voice. What we're doing.
Dave Debeau [00:06:23] Who are you voice blasting to?
Mike Simmons [00:06:26] Good question. So we buy lists, targeted lists, and that goes for direct mail, voice, text, all the stuff that we're targeting people specifically. Traditionally, we have targeted people who have equity and who are in a certain age range with a certain house home value. And really counterintuitive. We're looking for something under a certain value. We're not looking for higher value properties. Matter of fact, we're looking for that bread and butter and for Michigan bread and butter retail house. Like if you're going to buy a house in the suburbs that's completely renovated, so forth, it's about one hundred and fifty thousand, maybe maybe two hundred thousand is a nice middle middle class brick. Nice house. Right. So we're targeting equity age and the value of the house primarily.
Dave Debeau [00:07:11] Very cool. All right. So that's that's how it was working pre covid. Now you're focusing a lot more on Google ads. Yep. Google AdWords. How how does that work? How do you how do you pick your target market? There is of the same criteria or
Mike Simmons [00:07:27] so when it comes to Google AdWords, we're picking geographic locations and then you bid on keywords. Right. And I'll be honest, Google Edwards, I've been doing for a long time. It's a bit of a science if you're going to do it well and really pay attention to your ROIC and and the cost per click and all this. So I did hire a company that specializes in that. So I'm not the guru, but essentially you're bidding on words. You're bidding on buy my house fast in Michigan or, you know, sell my house fast or how do I sell my house fast? Like all these like like short keywords like sell my home or long they call long tail where it could be sell my home in Oakland County, you know, I mean, where it's getting real specific. So you're just bidding on all these words. And based on the competition, you know, it costs you a certain amount. So for me, just to give you context, it's a scaled up business. This is not where I started. But for me, we have a budget of twelve thousand dollars per month that we allocate to pay per click. We usually don't ever spend more than ten because we're at the top position by spending that amount. And that's just what it is. If you're doing Google AdWords and especially if you're kind of a scaled up business where, like you said, you're creating this machine that you expect to bring you opportunities every month, the last thing you can have happen is you exceed your budget mid-month and then you stop you stop bidding, right. Then your machine just turns off. So we can't have that. So I could make my budget one hundred thousand a month. It doesn't matter. I'm never going to spend more than what the competition requires me to spend.
Dave Debeau [00:08:54] So very interesting now. So basically for folks that aren't familiar with that and correct me if I'm wrong, they're my people. Everybody Googles, right. That's that's the default. So if people go on Google, they type in that expression, sell my house fast in Michigan. Yep. And the results that pop up the first X number of them are paid results. These are people that are that are paying to get right off to see them first. So that's what you're that's what you're doing. So when they put in any one of those gazillion different keywords that you're probably bidding on, you're going to pop up. There are somewhere on page one. And whatever your your hook is that's going to grab them. They click on the link. It takes them to your website, correct?
Mike Simmons [00:09:41] Yep, exactly. And there's actually a phone number. Right. Went in the Google like what you see when you type in sell my house fast in Michigan, like that ad will have a phone number there. So theoretically, if you're on your phone, you can just click that. You don't even have to go to my website. Right. But that's all a lot of that is just tracking. Did they click that or did they click the link, go to my website and then call it different? No, that's actually on my websites, a different number and all that's done so we can track results and we know where people are finding us now.
Dave Debeau [00:10:06] You have. Live people answering the phone when people called
Mike Simmons [00:10:09] live, people answering, we've done voicemail, we've done a lot of different things, we've done services. We have found that someone answering live who works for my company and is like focused on what we do and kind of dialed in. It's the best. They're the gatekeeper. And I I really have discounted that position in my company in the past to my detriment, where I thought anybody with a voice and a heartbeat can answer my phone. It's not that it's not rocket science, you just getting information. But in fact, that's a sales job and it's the gatekeeper and the person who calls you based on your ad or your mail or whatever. If they don't like the experience they have with that person who answers your phones, your rockstar sales guy will never get an opportunity. Right. So they're they're critical. That position's very critical, very smart.
Dave Debeau [00:10:50] Not just out of personal curiosity. Have you been doing any Facebook advertising? Have you tried that and say, well,
Mike Simmons [00:10:58] we've dabbled in Facebook, we've hired two different companies who specialize in Facebook marketing for real estate? I can't say that our results have been satisfactory. We've we've had to stop doing it both times because we just weren't making enough to warrant the work in the money that we were putting into it. So I can't say we've really cracked that yet. I think it's definitely worth working on. It will probably take another run at it with a different approach at some point, because the fact of the matter is, if you're doing real estate and you're trying to generate leads, direct mail 30 years ago would have been everything would have been it. Right for the most part, maybe like newspaper and things too, but like something physical nowadays, especially as like the generations that have grown up with technology, with computers, they're used to putting search queries. And as they start aging and they get into situations where they need or want to sell their house, maybe there's deferred maintenance or whatever the life situation is. When those folks start getting to a certain age, they're going to be Googling like there's going to be a time when people are going to look at you cross-eyed. If you tell them you're mailing them something right. It's like why you're mailing me something, just email it or shoot me a text. Right. So like my parents still look at the mail and they still it's us. It's a physical world for them. But, you know, my parents are a little older, so when the next generation comes up, it'll be all, you know, digital. And I think it's the digital side of marketing is only going to become more and more successful as time goes on.
Dave Debeau [00:12:22] I would agree with you. However, it's kind of interesting. I found my. That when you do send somebody something in the mail, not necessarily a sales piece, but just. Yeah, something yeah, it blows their minds because they've never or they rarely get anything of any interest in the mail. Yeah. It wasn't very long ago. My, my daughter's twenty one. I had to teach her at age 19 or 20 how to address an envelope because she'd never done it.
Mike Simmons [00:12:54] I know. Yeah. Anybody who has kids that are old enough to address things probably has gone through the I, I've gone through the same thing. I've had a male come right back to my house because the, you know where you put it to, it was reversed. And it's like, come on, seriously. They didn't teach you this in school. Yeah.
Dave Debeau [00:13:09] Why why would they. Well, time flies when we're having fun. So tell us a little bit about your new book.
Mike Simmons [00:13:15] Yeah. So the book is called Level Jumping, and it's essentially how I built my business to over a million dollars of gross profits in less than a year. And people ask me because I did do that. And it's you know, I'm on stages here and there. Like you mentioned at the beginning, I spoke at a Gary Vaynerchuk event. And that's the question I get, especially from real estate investors. How did you do that? What you know, everyone wants a secret like bullet or a silver bullet or some kind of a a tactic. And what the book covers is what it actually took to do that and what it took. And for me, the mental barrier was creating systems. I'm not a detail person. So creating a system that's repeatable, that's documented for your team and then actually bringing in a team, because no matter how great you may be at what you do in your business, if you're a one man band or a one woman band, there is a ceiling on what you can accomplish as a single person in your company. So my big AHA was that I needed to build a team if I wanted to really scale up and be successful and not be a total slave to my business. Because by the way, I did a million dollars in profit in that first year. I wasn't working eighty hours a week like I was working a lot of hours, normal, you know, normal hours. But we were scaling up to nowadays I don't put that much time into my business and it's still making over a million dollars. So I did that through hiring, creating systems and processes and creating a culture inside of my company that was sticky. People wanted to stick around. When I first started hiring people, I was burning them out because I was expecting them to do what I would do and I would expect them to work hours. I would work. And it was all about what did you do? What are the results? Better results. You got to go. And then we'd kind of burn through them and go to the next person. And what I didn't realize was I wasn't creating a culture or the kind of company people wanted to work hard for. You know, I just thought, you're in here at your job. Of course you're going to work getting paid.
Dave Debeau [00:14:59] What, you're getting paid?
Mike Simmons [00:15:00] Yeah. Of course you're going to burn the midnight oil. Of course you're going to kill yourself to try to get it done. But that's not the reality. And there's a new generation coming in and they have they're motivated differently than we are. Right. For better or for worse, they have different priorities and different values than we do. So creating a company that's attractive to the people that you're there for, who when when you have a situation where everyone working for you would run through a brick wall for the company, that's a good thing. But it doesn't come just by dumb luck. You have to create that. I tell people all the time your company, if you have a company, I don't care how big or small it is. If you have a company, that company has a culture and you go, well, no, it doesn't. I've not created a culture. Well, not by not creating a culture. You've created a culture. Your company has a personality. And I think that's all cultures are is a personality. It has a personality. It's probably just a bad personality, but it has one. Right. So let's be intentional and let's bring people in who are good at what they do. Let's bring people in who have the same values as you and your company have, and then let's create that culture of where they want to stay. And, you know, I made the mistake, like you just said, thinking if I just pay them a little more, they'll work harder. And that's not always the case. People aren't always motivated by money like other people. So that's what it's about. How did I scale that thing? And responsibly hiring systems and processes, creating a culture. And then I also talk a little bit about partnerships. A lot of people think, oh, I need a partner with someone and they can take half the load. Yeah, it's like a marriage, though, right? Like you have to be careful before you go into a partnership. There's a lot at stake. And then I also touch on masterminds and mentors. I'm a huge fan of surrounding yourself with the right people being and masterminds of groups of people who are maybe some of them are beyond where you are. Some of them are right where you are, maybe some of them a little behind where you are. But you're all kind of rolling in that same direction and encouraging people. And most people are not surrounded with entrepreneurial, positive, you know, energy. It's a lot of family who are like, it's a big risk. You sure you should be doing that? And that bogs people down. So I think mentorships and masterminds are huge.
Dave Debeau [00:16:56] Fantastic. So if people want to get a copy of your book, once you're there,
Mike Simmons [00:17:00] you can go to Amazon and just look for level jumping by Mike Simmons. I don't think there's any other level jumping title books. It's pretty unusual. I just call it that because I really feel like by being in a mastermind and having mentors, I jumped multiple levels. I didn't have to go one step at a time. I was able to kind of stand on the shoulders of people who had done it before me. So you can go to Amazon to get the book is called Level Jumping. And if you want to reach out to me for anything, you can go to my podcast. It just our real estate on iTunes or SICHER, wherever you listen or. Or email me at Mike at just our real estate dotcom,
Dave Debeau [00:17:29] awesome stuff, Mike. Well, thank you very much and thank you all the best with the launch of the book. I think it sounds fantastic. I'm looking forward to getting it myself.
Mike Simmons [00:17:39] Awesome. I appreciate it. Thanks so time. I appreciate that.
Dave Debeau [00:17:41] All right, everybody, take care and we will see you on the next episode. Awesome. Thanks very much for checking out the property profits podcast. And you like what we're doing here. Please head on over to iTunes, subscribe read us and leave us the review. He very much appreciated. And if you're looking to create a regular flow of inbound investor inquiries about your real estate deals, then I invite you to attend one of my upcoming live online demonstrations. And you can check that out at Investor Attraction Demo Dotcom Ticker.