The Ultimate Practice to Improve All Facets of Your Real Estate Business in 2015

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Kaizen. According to, there are two definitions of this word:

  1. A business philosophy or system that is based on making positive changes on a regular basis, as to improve productivity.
  2. An approach to one’s personal or social life that focuses on continuous improvement.

Kaizen originated in Japan and the word translates to mean change (kai) for the good (zen).

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Kaizen is based on the philosophical belief that everything can be improved. Kaizen was first implemented in several Japanese businesses after the 2nd World War. By improving standardized activities and processes, kaizen intends to eliminate waste.

Hi all, Liz is back this week! Happy New Year! I was first introduced to the concept of “Kaizen” from one of my favorite teachers, Anthony Robbins. I’ve honestly forgetten the book or program where I heard him talk about this concept; however, I remember him talking about the importance of “continuous improvement.” You can’t stay stagnant — something is either growing or dying. It can’t remain in the middle!

This idea of “kaizen” and continuous improvement is probably one of the most important concepts I apply to my life, both professionally and personally. Yes, it can be applied to manufacturing companies to ensure processes are running as efficiently as possible. However, I love the idea of “kaizen” to help me in my own life. I have spent a lot of time setting my intentions for 2015, and one important question I continue to ask myself is: “In the critical areas of our business, how can we improve?”

In other words how can we ensure “good change” happens in our business in 2015? I thought I would share how we answered this question in four critical areas of our business. I hope this inspires you to do the same!

4 Areas of Your Business to Improve in 2015

1. Improvement of Financials

Like most investors and business owners, improving the financial health of any asset or business is critical for success. Managing your finances is probably the single most important task of a real estate investor. This can “make” or “break” you as an investor. I love this quote about measurement.

Measurement is the first step that leads to control and eventually to improvement. If you can’t measure something, you can’t understand it. If you can’t understand it, you can’t control it. If you can’t control it, you can’t improve it.” — H. James Harrington

So what does this look like for us? Well, we have always kept an eye on how our properties were doing financially. However, this year we are making it a practice to go a bit deeper in reviewing our financial statements by company and by property. We have a goal to reduce our company’s (as well as our properties) expenses by 10%. We have a goal to pay off some loans through cash generating activity. We also have a goal to sell 50% of our properties in one of our portfolios. We have always set goals to improve our financial side of our business.

Related: One Easy Change of Perspective Could Vastly Improve Your Real Estate Business

However, this year, we have set more specific goals and also discussed “how” we are going to set ourselves up for success to achieve these goals. I can’t stress how important it is to review the financial health of your business and your properties on a monthly basis. We are instituting a financial meeting once a month to discuss our progress and actions needed to achieve our financial goals and to review the financial statements of each and every part of our business (by property and overall).

2. Improvement of Team

Real estate investing is a “team” sport — not an “individual” sport. A successful real estate investor should always be improving the relationships they have with others, as well as determining the gaps in their team to achieve their goals. My husband shared some goals he and his partner have for their fix and flip business. My first question after learning about the goals was, what processes and people are you going to need to achieve these goals?

We have a small construction team to handle some of the work but we do not have enough of the staff internally to achieve the goals they have set out to achieve. I know most people say, “Find the deal and the money (and resources) will follow.” I would disagree. I would say “Before you find the deal, begin the process of lining up the money, resources and team that will be needed for the types of deals you are going after.”

For example, we know to achieve our goals, we are going to need more GCs (general contractors) to partner with and more sub-contractors. We have not had the best luck with GCs. However, that just means we have not found the right ones! There are great people out there; we just need to find them and partner with them!

Where are the “gaps” on your team to achieve your 2015 goals?

3. Improvement of Property Management

Over the past year, I have been leading a project to better organize our systems and processes for the property management side of our business. While I have made some progress, I have a lot more to do. I not only have to finish creating the process and forms for each step of property management, but also train our staff on the process; that way, everyone is on the same page and follows it – no matter what!

I have allowed other projects to distract me and take me off course unfortunately. Well, one of my intentions for 2015 is to be “gentle” with myself — so I can’t beat myself up too much! My new intention is to be complete with creating the process and forms by January 31st. And then my follow up goal is to have everyone trained and familiar with the process and forms by February 15th. This is ambitious, but realistic.

What areas of property management do you need to improve?

4. Improvement of Knowledge, Skills & Talent

This is a personal one. I am always asking the questions, in order to achieve the goals I have set out – who do I need to become? What new knowledge and/or skills will help us achieve our goals?

Related: 6 Questions to Ask Yourself at the Year’s End for a Better Business in 2015

One of the areas that I am committed to learning more about and becoming more educated in is online marketing. We have a lot of projects we are working on where it is going to become important to be more familiar with best practices when it comes to online marketing. I am not intending to be the “be all and end all” guru in this area. I just want to become more educated in this area. Whenever fear or procrastination begins to creep into my mind, I say something like, if other people can learn this information, so can I!

Additionally, I want to utilize more of my talent this year in both my personal and professional life. We all have talents and strengths. However, if we are not using them, then they have become dormant and do not help anyone or anything. I am committed to constantly finding the opportunities in my life to utilize and unleash my talent to help and inspire others.

What knowledge and skills will you need to learn to achieve your goals? What talents do you have that you can unleash more this year?

In closing, Matt and I wish you nothing but the absolute best for an amazing 2015. Would love to hear feedback and comments – as always!

What areas of your real estate business are you committed to applying Kaizen to?

Don’t forget to leave a comment below!

About Author

Matt Faircloth

Matt Faircloth, Co-founder & President of the DeRosa Group, is a seasoned real estate investor. The DeRosa Group, based in historic Trenton, New Jersey, is a developer and owner of commercial and residential property with a mission to “transform lives through real estate." Matt, along with his wife Liz, started investing in real estate in 2004 with the purchase of a duplex outside of Philadelphia with a $30,000 private loan. They founded DeRosa Group in 2005 and have since grown the company to owning and managing over 370 units of residential and commercial assets throughout the east coast. DeRosa has completed over $30 million in real estate transactions involving private capital including fix and flips, single family home rentals, mixed use buildings, apartment buildings, office buildings, and tax lien investments. Matt Faircloth is the author of Raising Private Capital, has been featured on the BiggerPockets Podcast, and regularly contributes to BiggerPockets’s Facebook Live sessions and educational webinars.


  1. Great article and timely. I liked that you had property managment in there. How about systems improvement? I am always looking for systems improvement and it slows me up sometimes. Any suggestions I would appriciate. Thanks again for the article I will refer to it often.

  2. Joseph Barbaretta

    Hi Liz,
    This is a great article. My day job has an embedded kaizan process. It really helps to focus the leadership on things that need to happen to improve our performance. Improvement shouldn’t be assumed. Even worse, the status quo should never be acceptable. By looking at what is going well and what needs improvement, it becomes possible to see where change needs to occur.

    You have to change your habits to change yourself. This applies equally to business and our personal lives. To me, this is a core piece of Kaizan. Changing our habits, business and personal, that hold us back from being the best version of ourselves allows us to improve. Doing this iteratively, over time, allows us to make much greater changes than would have been possible in a more haphazard approach.

    Happy New Year!

    • Elizabeth Faircloth

      Hi Joseph,
      So great to hear that your company has an embedded kaizen process. I can’t agree with you more about having to change habits in order to change yourself. I am reading the “One Thing by Gary Keller” (one of the books Brandon Turner suggested in a recent blog post), and the author shares that it actually takes 66 days to create a new habit vs what most of us think which is 21 days. I can see how it actually does take longer than 21 days! I am keeping this in mind as I begin to create some new habits in 2015!!
      Thanks for your comments.
      Wishing you a wonderful New Year as well!!

  3. Brooks Rembert

    Great article. We are currently in the process of finishing up a light rehab of our second rental property. For 2015, my goal is to do one flip and buy one more buy and hold property. Additionally, we are aiming to grow our net worth by 15% this year through a combination of debt paydown, and forced appreciation in our two rentals.

    • Elizabeth Faircloth

      Thanks Brooks! Thanks too for sharing your goals for 2015! I hope the article will help you make a list of the areas that you can improve on in order to achieve these goals. If I can offer any support, please do not hesitate to ask!
      All the best to you for a wonderful 2015!!

  4. Dan Shaker

    This article is a very helpful one. Thank you, Liz for sharing this wonderful article about Kaizen method. This one can help a lot of people with their business but of course we can still add up our own personal touch to achieve the success we have always wanted.

    • Elizabeth Faircloth

      Thanks so much Dan! Some of the best personal advice is so useful for business and vice versa! I find myself constantly asking “how can I improve X area of my life.” I don’t always listen to the advice I give, but I do most of the time!!
      Good luck to you!!

  5. Micki M.

    Thanks for the gentle reminders, I actually love this time of year as it promotes reflection and planning. The idea of constant improvement puts less pressure on me to do everything perfect the first time (ie guaranteed failure) and reminds me that everything is a process. One step at a time!

    • Elizabeth Faircloth

      You are so welcome! I love this time of year as well! And you are absolutely right. I also put pressure on myself to do things “perfect” the first time. This idea of continuous improvement helps reduce the need for perfection! I also heard it said “focus on progress not perfection.” That idea should help too!
      All the best to you as 2015 begins!

  6. Matt Aspen

    Really great article; thanks!
    I especially like this quote “if other people can learn this information, so can I!”
    As a beginner RE investor, the amount of learning can seem daunting at times. BUT, like you remind us, the business is filled with “mortals” (like myself). I’m learning how to be kind/patient with myself as I’m growing and your quote will help me “get there”.
    Best wishes in 2015!

    • Elizabeth Faircloth

      Glad you enjoyed the article! You are very welcome! I am embarking on some new entrepreneurial projects. Since some of these areas are new to me, it can seem overwhelming at times. I just keep telling myself – take one step at a time. I also have been reading the book Brandon Turner recommended “the one thing by Gary Keller” which has been helping me tremendously. I keep asking myself – what is the one thing I can do this week to move me towards my goals. The book shares some great ideas on focusing our energies with the goal of attaining big results.
      Good luck to you in 2015!
      My best,

  7. Richard G.

    Hi Liz,
    Great article to start off the new year! It really breaks down the concept of someone’s approach to there personal or social life and as a result focuses on continuous improvement – Kaizen. I like how you bring up other topics during the BP blogs and other ways of thinking besides just the numbers. Couple of comments I would like to make if you don’t mind:
    1. Improvement of Financials – this is always good and sometimes the more the better i.e.. once a quarter. I consider myself my own audit four times out of the year when I review my portfolio and adjust my allocations accordingly – be it stocks or real estate. The earlier you identify a financial problem during the year the better for tax season.
    2. Improvement of Team – lining up the money before the deal is imperative, as you know time is of the essence and sometimes identifying capital or at least transferring it will be time consuming and cause delay. To add to this bullet in regards to Team, you are only as strong as your weakest link. Identify your team’s weakness, train, and then reassess in a timely manner to make sure that weakness is eliminated – key!
    3. Improvement of Property Management – I appreciate your candor and honesty in this subject. I feel future creations of apps and technology in this particular subject may hinder or help us in this area. Depending on how savvy we are we can adapt to change. I still tend to keep journals on work orders, particular messages, or rent due dates – I need to automate all this, computer friendly software and properly training subordinates is key again.
    4. Improvement of knowledge, skills and talent – very important if you want to grow both personally and professionally. I admire your thirst for knowledge in the marketing field. My personal marketing goal is improving my LinkedIn profile and that is 90% done, this time last year I HAD NONE. Read a new book each month in the investing, real estate, business field can improve on knowledge, increaser skill and grow your talent. Always improving yourself as a person, investor, entrepreneur and business will be the result of successful improvement in this subject.

    • Elizabeth Faircloth

      Thank you for your thoughtful reply! I love all of your feedback and comments. I can’t agree more about finding apps and technology to help streamline property management. This is something I am constantly looking for! Good for you on improving your LinkedIn profile. I also need to improve my social media profiles! The good news – there will always be something to continuously improve as long as we are alive! There is no race to get it all done!
      All the best to you Richard in this new year. Hope we continue to stay in touch!!

  8. Shawn Lepley

    Happy New Year! Thanks again Liz, for a great post. Your quote by H. James Harrington, “Measurement is the first step that leads to control and eventually to improvement. If you can’t measure something, you can’t understand it. If you can’t understand it, you can’t control it. If you can’t control it, you can’t improve it.”, holds true to to any goal in life. And very true in real estate, which is why I like real estate. It is a tangible asset in which there is control to be successful.

    May 2015 be a great year for all! Good LUCK (Laboring Under Correct Knowledge, Liz and Matt’s posts are a great place to start)!

    • Elizabeth Faircloth

      Hello Shawn,
      So nice to hear from you!! Happy New Year to you as well! Thanks for commenting on my blog post. Measurement is so critical to all areas of life. I agree – that is why I love real estate as well. I wish you a phenomenal 2015 as well! Please stay in touch with Matt and I. We look forward to hearing all of your wonderful successes with raising private money! Please do not hesitate to reach out if you need any support!!!

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