Are You the Cheapest Hire in Your Business?

Are You the Cheapest Hire in Your Business?

3 min read
Dave Van Horn

Dave Van Horn is a veteran real estate investor and CEO of PPR Note Co., a $150MM+ company managing funds that buy, sell, and hold residential mortgages nationwide. Dave’s expertise is derived from over 30 years of residential and commercial real estate experience as a licensed Realtor, real estate investor, and private lender.

Beginning his career in construction and as a Realtor, Dave bought his first investment property in 1989. After years of managing his own construction business, Dave became a full-time real estate investor, specializing in fix and flips, buy and holds, and eventually commercial projects, before moving into note investing in 2007.

Over the past decade, Dave has also invested his time into becoming a connector and educator, who helps others achieve success. He focuses jointly on helping accredited investors build and preserve wealth with his group Strategic Investor Alliance and with general audiences through the annual MidAtlantic Real Estate Investor Summit.

Dave has also shared his strategies and experiences with real estate and note investing via hundreds of articles published on the BiggerPockets Blog and with his acclaimed book Real Estate Note Investing.

Dave has been featured on the BiggerPockets Podcast twice (shows 28 and 273), as well as episodes of familiar podcasts, including Joe Fairless’ Best Ever Show, Invest Like a Boss, Cashflow Ninja, and many others. He also has been a guest of Herb Cohen’s on Executive Leaders Radio, which airs nationwide.

Dave is a licensed Realtor with eXp Realty with CRS and GRI designations.

Dave’s LinkedIn
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For close to the first 20 years of being a real estate agent, I never had an administrative assistant, or admin.

Was I just a control freak?

Was I afraid that no one could do the job as good as me?

It wasn’t until I became a super busy RE/MAX agent, who was doing property management at the same time, when I decided to share an admin to assist with the property management piece. And to be quite honest, I made a lot more money, and I was able to focus more on what I do best, selling real estate.

Usually, we get the cheapest person to do the job…ourselves. As Seth Godin said in an interview with Darren Hardy,” Entrepreneurs will always hire the cheapest freelancer in the room”…themselves. They always end up working in the business and not on it. So, how do you have more time to work on it?

Hiring an Admin

I have a real good buddy, who runs a small real estate investing business outside of Philadelphia, and he’s a very successful, one-man band.

But, do you know what he does? He outsources a lot of tasks to freelancers in the Philippines through the online platform, Odesk.

Related: VA’s Aren’t Just for Spreadsheets (Here’s How I Use Them To Bring Me Leads)

He has them do a whole litany of tasks that used to bog him down, everything from searching for comps and searching online records like courthouses, to doing all his marketing, and even tracking his accounting in QuickBooks. They even   answer his phone and schedule his appointments.

He says that when you find the right assistant, it’s really up to you how well you train them. Another strategy he employs is that once he gets the right one, he gives them a big raise (for example, a dollar an hour). This isn’t much money in his world, but it’s huge in theirs, and it keeps them dedicated.

He said there’s nothing like getting your admin a list of to-dos at 4:30 PM and having all the work done by the time you come in the next morning.

As you can see, hiring the right assistant(s) can certainly help you build out a system for operations, enabling the business to run with or without you (See recent article, “Working ‘On’ Your Real Estate Business vs. ‘In’ Your Real Estate Business”).

So, When is it Time to Hire an Admin?

A couple years ago, I remember calling my HVAC guy, who was in a 200° attic, and he started yelling at me for bothering him, but I was actually calling him about a new job.

Related: How and When to Start Hiring Employees for Your Real Estate Business

When I caught up with him later on, I asked him, why are you answering the phone to begin with?

When the daily administrative duties become difficult to keep up with and your efforts are really needed on other projects, it may be a good time to hire an admin.

I decided to ask my lead Asset Manager at PPR, who uses an admin, how he knew it was time to hire one. Keep in mind that only two out of our seven asset managers uses an admin, and the typical asset manager is working 200-300 delinquent loans.

He proceeded to tell me that he’s working approximately 400 loans and that without his admin (who only works part-time, three days a week) he doesn’t know how he would be able to do it.

He quickly realized that the business involves many detail oriented tasks, and you have to be very organized. He went on to say that these were things he wasn’t particularly good at or were things he didn’t like to do.

He was talented at work outs, building rapport with borrowers, and negotiating a fair solution to the homeowner’s situations. His admin, on the other hand, had a lot of legal experience (as a paralegal at a law firm), which was a great asset when dealing with bankruptcy and foreclosure attorneys.

She’s very organized, and not only does she constantly review his portfolio, but she’s detail oriented and used to following-up.

He went on to say that he’s so happy with his admin that he has no problem sharing some of his bonuses with her when he’s able to hit his goals and targets. He quickly realized that by having the right admin, he was able to dramatically increase revenue. And, it has actually made his life easier and a lot less stressful in the process.

The first admin I hired came about because I knew I couldn’t grow my business without some more help. It was one of the best decisions I ever made.

Today, I have three assistants, two of which act as gatekeepers, or receptionists, who assist with students, note buyers, and investors. The other one is an editor. And, all of them can outsource tasks to Odesk as well.

So, when’s it going to be time for you to hire an administrative assistant?

Be sure to leave your comments below!

For close to the first 20 years of being a real estate agent, I never had an administrative assistant, or admin. Was I just a control freak? Was I afraid […]