I was wondering is it common practice to use a PO box and a "virtual" phone number (such as Grasshopper) for the privacy of my personal address and phone number. I don't mind paying for these services, just wondering if this is something that other investors typically do. Thanks!
Hi there @James Harris . Sounds like you are on the right track! Yes, we actually use a P.O. Box for our direct mail as we do not want to use our personal home as a return address. We also do use google voice (which is free by the way!) but I want to encourage you to always answer your calls!
Every other investor in my market does this type of thing or they outsource this to someone who is not a real estate expert (generally a VA) and sellers are getting frustrated. I can tell you what separates those who I see are successful and those who are just doing a deal here and there- all falls into whether they actually answer the phone calls or not.
Think about it like this...When you have a problem with your printer do you like it when you need some help with an issue and all you can do is just leave a message? I cannot stand that when it happens. Sure, out of necessity you may elect using something automated but I see what successful real estate investors do- they actually answer the incoming calls.
I also feel that this is something a new investor really needs to get a handle on so they know what works and what does not for their market. If you do not know how to do a job then how could you effectively show someone else how to do that job-you couldn't! At least for a while you should use your money and spend it in the right places. You want to develop a personal relationship with sellers. I get more deals from referrals now then I could have ever imagined. Why? Because people want to work with someone who is honest, trustworthy, and does what they say they will do. An answering service will not be able to really learn your market. Only you will hear from sellers what is working or what is not.
I hear stuff like: "Yeah we got this yellow letter in the mail the other day, and it looked like it was handwritten by an 8 year old-plus we could tell it was typed". People are not stupid, and they know when something looks cheap. If they do not have confidence in your presentation (beginning to end) and the way you field those phone calls, then they will go somewhere else. I hope this will help you. I just experienced things the hard way and want to help you learn a better way than what I started out doing.
Thank you for the GREAT information and advise. You not only answered my question but addressed one that I didn't even realize that I had. Its refreshing to come in contact with someone who genuinely wants to help someone else. Thanks so much!!
We have an office, so we just use our office address. But if you're working from your home, I would recommend going with PO Box. It's unlikely you'll have any problems if you use your home address, but you might as well not compromise your privacy.
I would absolutely suggest you use a PO Box over your home address. Often times you are able to use a street address for your box.
I'm not familiar with grasshopper but I would sign up for a phone service that allows you to use multiple numbers. The only way to truly track your direct mail response rates is to use a different phone number for each mail piece. We use Ring Central.
Good question @JamesHarris. We use a virtual office space for mailings which is similiar to a PO Box. We also have a virtual phone number. Additionally we employ the services of an after hours receptionist that will gather information and forward it to us if someone decides to give us a call at 3am. That way someone is always answering our phones 24 hours a day.
Thank you so much to everyone for the help. It is greatly appreciated! I am going to go forward and apply for a PO Box. Thank you!
@Benjamin Blackburn I have a campaign targeted at absentee owners and I'm getting calls but no solid leads yet.
@Benjamin I've gotten about 100 mailed so far out of a list of about 250 addresses. Thats a good question that you posed, I have a feeling Im going to have a fair bit of trial and error in my business...which is good as long as I learn from it, so its hard for me to say which is better. Interested in hearing from other investors on this question.
Honestly, it takes a while to get things up and running. Sure you can just throw things together but I highly recommend to have a good system in place @Benjamin Blackburn. Such as a CRM or a way to keep track of your leads. I started off with a spreadsheet but I highly recommend using Zoho or Podio which is free to get it started.
Benjamin do NOT go "all out" on your first campaign. Yeah, I know what it is like to really have a strong desire to rock out and mail out a million pieces of mail. In reality, you will never be able to field more than about 500 letters a week. I do not care if you are Superman or something. You really need to focus on the quality of your calls when you take them and how you talk to prospective sellers. Do not just rush through them like they are another number. Most, if not all of my deals come from taking the time to ask: "How is your day going" or just relate to them somehow. The people in this business who are getting the deals are the ones who really establish some rapport with sellers.
I would suggest just starting off with about 100 to 200 tops (a week) if you have never ran a direct mail campaign before. The biggest thing about taking leads is also in the follow up. I get a lot of deals because I can quickly look at the numbers and make my offer on the spot- site unseen. You may not have this ability just yet but you will. The important thing is- TO FOLLOW UP! You will get more deals because you follow up with sellers and you will show them that you are organized and fully capable of handling their situation or property. Just be very detailed in your notes and for your sake do not try to use a spreadsheet. Stuff gets lost and you cannot really keep track of leads this way unless you convert it to a Database in which case you might as well just use a CRM or customer relationship manager.