How to Find Maximum Business Productivity Between Control & Chaos

How to Find Maximum Business Productivity Between Control & Chaos

5 min read
Chris Clothier

Chris Clothier began building his rental portfolio in 2003 as a successful entrepreneur looking to diversify his investments. He quickly gravitated toward passive investing, establishing a portfolio of over 50 single family homes in Memphis, Tenn. As an original client of his family’s firm Memphis Invest (now REI Nation), Chris experienced firsthand what a passive investor endures when purchasing out of state. In 2007, Chris moved his company and family back to Tennessee, wound down his brokering company, and joined REI Nation as a partner and director of sales and marketing.

Since joining REI Nation, the business has grown into the premier turnkey investment company in the country and a standard bearer for best practices in the industry, managing over 6,000 investment properties for 2,000 passive clients. In addition to managing the development and implementation of sales and marketing processes, Chris serves as an ambassador for the company, working with the team to help potential investors define their purpose for investing in real estate and educating peer companies on best practices.

REI Nation clients’ portfolios hold a value of close to $800 million in single family assets in seven cities. The company has been featured as a six-straight year honoree in Inc. magazine’s list of the 500/5,000 “Fastest Growing Companies in America.”

In 2019, Chris’ team assisted 600 investors with purchasing just under 1,000 fully-renovated and occupied turnkey homes. Chris led the re-brand of his family’s company on January 1, 2020, from Memphis Invest to REI Nation.

Chris is also an experienced real estate speaker and addresses small and large audiences of real estate investors and business professionals nationwide several times each year, including IMN single family conferences, the PM Grow property management conference, and the Ignite conference in Las Vegas each December.

Chris continues to hold a sizable single-family rental portfolio in both Tennessee and Texas. Along with his family, he owns several commercial buildings in the greater Memphis area.

When not working with the team at REI Nation, Chris is busy raising five kids, operating a racing company in Memphis, and serving as CEO for The Cancer Kickers Soccer Club, a Memphis-based 501c3 providing comfort and care for kids battling childhood cancers.

Founded in 2017 by Chris and Michelle Clothier, the non-profit organization focuses on providing a team environment for kids to find encouragement and strength in their battle. The company worked with over 500 children from six countries in 2019.

Chris has been featured in stories published in Money Magazine, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and DN News, as well as the Memphis Business Journal. In 2018, McGraw-Hill Publishing purchased Chris’ manuscript, The Turnkey Revolution, and worked with Chris to publish his first book in May 2018.

Chris also publishes two weekly blogs at and Chris has also published articles on the BiggerPockets Blog since 2009.


Read More

Join BiggerPockets (for free!) and get access to real estate investing tips, market updates, and exclusive email content.

Sign in Already a member?

As an entrepreneur, focus and discipline are two very important factors when it comes to success. Add in the words “real estate,” and an entrepreneur’s world can get crazy quickly!

“Taking risks” and “building a business” are two phrases that go hand in hand and require entrepreneurs to have ice water in their veins. Real estate investing adds a whole new level of thinking when it comes to risk and the need for a fine balance between control and chaos.

Why Chaos Can Be a Good Thing

I am quite sure you are wondering how in the world chaos can be a good thing. However, for an entrepreneur, chaos for a new project can actually help bring clarity. In my world, chaos occurs when brainstorming for new projects or ways to improve existing projects. There are often short periods of what I call “controlled chaos.” There is some lack of clarity, maybe a little confusion and lots of movement in all different directions.

Out of the chaos, slowly but surely, an entrepreneur brings the team together and starts providing some focus in the middle of all of the activity. This chaos, in my business, is often limited to a certain department or confined to just the leadership team, and while it can raise stress levels for those dealing with it, the amount of creative thinking and problem solving goes through the roof. Everyone is brainstorming and hyper-focused on improvement.

What usually comes from a period of chaos are new ideas and direction. We are often told that change is good, but change for the sake of simply changing makes no sense. Anytime you make changes in your real estate business, and especially if they come out of a period of chaos, those changes need to move your company, your team and even your processes in a positive direction. The changes need to be all about improvement!

Related: Sign of the Times: Bankruptcies, Foreclosures, Chaos

As an entrepreneur, I never want to introduce chaos into my real estate company simply for the sake of keeping people on the edges of their seats or to remind them who is in charge. You may (or may not) be surprised by the number of entrepreneurs who think those are both good ideas. I learned from my dad that chaos is all about new ideas and new ways of viewing what you have been doing — and that alone will keep your team a bit on edge, so they never quite relax into a comfortable routine. That is when laziness sets in, and mistakes slip through the cracks. So introducing a little chaos is not a bad thing and can be very productive for improving a company.

Once you have introduced a little chaos, if you have the right team in your real estate business, ideas will start to flow to the top, along with ways to maximize your team’s talents and force improvement in your company. It could be processes that you use to buy properties or processes you use to sell properties. It could be how you budget your marketing plans or track your success. Change could be in how you operate a property management company, install a customer service program, or create a new department within your company to help you streamline borrowing and deploying capital.

Out of chaos come the ideas that propel our companies forward!

Control Can Be Dangerous for a Real Estate Company, Too

So, as chaos subsides and the right ideas and paths to improvement rise to the top, most real estate entrepreneurs will find their companies entering a period of control. They have their teams in place and leadership running the company. Everything hums along in an orderly fashion.

There are two major mistakes or warning signs for an entrepreneur when a company enters this period.


This is an issue for many first-time business owners and entrepreneurs (and some very experienced entrepreneurs, as well!) who think that without their efforts or if they are not asking questions, then nothing gets done. Micro-managing can be very stifling to a team and can zap energy and creativity. It can also lead to turnover and obviously, less productivity.

It comes from a false sense of control when an entrepreneur thinks that being heavily involved in numbers, meetings and decisions makes a company run better. Maybe it comes from a need for everyone to know who is in control or from insecurity and fear of failure. Whatever it is that creates a need to micro-managing, get it under control!

Micro-managing as an entrepreneur is a killer. If you have hired the right leaders and surrounded yourself with a quality team, then give up some of the need to be “in on everything,” and let them work. You might be surprised at how well people perform when they have a little breathing room.


For me, this is the real danger, especially with a real estate company. The real estate market changes so rapidly, and many entrepreneurs tend to specialize in one niche or another with real estate. Many also tend to focus on one market. Those two tendencies are what make a complacent entrepreneur a tremendous danger to his or her company. Since many of our teams are a reflection of us, when an entrepreneur gets complacent, so does the team.

Complacency leads to those little mistakes that end up costing us the most in the end: missed items on a renovation, failure to sign the right documents at closing, missed permits on a renovation job, failure to list a property on time in the MLS or listing at the wrong price. All of these are small items that lead to much bigger headaches.

For my company, some of the small things would be letting a renovation crew park on a driveway or not holding them accountable to cleaning a job site daily. Possibly a property was not put into the MLS for rent, or rental signs were delayed in being put up. Maybe an owner was not called this month, or a tenant was not given a welcome gift when they closed their rental agreement.

Related: The 5 “Better” Questions to Ask In Order Achieve Your Goals In Real Estate!

Every example I just listed is small. Some might even say minor. But they are details that complacent companies overlook. Someone forgets to do something small over here, and it leads to a big problem over there. What is worse, if team members start seeing each other slip up even a little with no accountability, then everyone begins to slip up a little.

You know what needs to happen at this point, right? It is time to introduce a little chaos! It is time to shake things up a bit and get your team back focused on your core competency.

Achieving Balance Between Chaos and Control

I have been an entrepreneur all of my life. I was raised in a family of entrepreneurs and have had the benefit of being able to learn by watching others. Balance is what we really want as entrepreneurs, and my experience in real estate so far has shown me the need is really amped up in real estate compared to other industries.

There are so many different ways to make money in real estate and take those niches and form companies around the opportunities. It is easy to get pulled in different directions and allow yourself to get sucked into trying to control everything or to be lost in chaos. Finding a balance between these two forces is vital to a company and more importantly, to the ability for an entrepreneur to grow!

Finding a way to balance your company between chaos and control and allowing your team to grow is the most important thing an entrepreneur can do. How do you manage your company? What is your experience balancing chaos and control?

Leave me a comment with your tips and experiences below!