Automation: Pre-Made or Custom-Tailored?

14 Replies

My plan is to come into the new year with a good base on an automated CRM, marketing, and follow up system. I've looked at Zoho, Podio, Freedomsoft, Joe Crump, and some other less popular ones. I've contemplated hiring an expert on Zoho to create a CRM system for me. However, I really would love some input on which paths you've taken or little tricks you use to make things easier.

Currently Implementing...

  • IFTTT scrapes craigslist for my search criteria daily. They're sent to my email.
  • Virtual Assistant Updates website, does a little bit of calling, and helps out here and there.
  • Realtor has me on zip code searches within my criteria.
  • I use to blast voicemails out to prospects.
  • Mail is pretty much completely manual, other than the fact I learned how to use mail merge.
  • Blog posts are outsourced and shared on social media outlets.
  • Bandit signs are manually put out
  • Hiring photographer to take pics and vids of properties for sale
  • Created an Offer calculator for my VA to determine what cash, sub-to, or owner finance offers to make.
  • Analysis calculator is pre-set, and takes 3 minutes to analyze a property.

Budget: not counting my chickens before they hatch, but once this current deal goes to closing, I'll have roughly $10K to put towards marketing and automation for the next 6 months.

What I'd LIKE to Do...

  • Automatic mail outs from lists I've chosen
  • Answering service to screen leads (actual humans).. I heard of a good one on the BP podcast and am going to try them out.
  • Analyze deals that come in via marketing sources to further screen them.
  • Create reports from every house I flip (to show investors)
    • Automatically send business updates to investors/lenders I've spoken to.
    • Automatically post stories to website and social media (virtual assistant)
  • Get hot keywords from my area to base marketing around...make videos personally...THEN, have them transcribed and changed into a blog post for original content.
  • Automatic follow up via text, call service, email, direct mail. (CallLoop, mailchimp, idk...)
  • Have houses for sale FULLY marketed, including pics, video, listings, and SHOWINGS
There's a lot more I'd like to do, but this is more than enough to start a conversation about automation. Thanks.
Originally posted by @Austin Hughes :


I had a thought this morning- why am I asking real estate investors? If I want a LEGIT system, I need to seek out Internet marketers and coders. 

Total newbie to the industry but I might have to agree. Would you mind letting us know what you discover? I'm all about automating processes at my job and would love to transition that to my eager new interest in REI. :) Thanks

Originally posted by @Austin Hughes :
Originally posted by @Ryan Donohue:
Originally posted by @Austin Hughes:

 Ryan, I saw you on another forum. I love the activity! Stay hungry. 

What have you done as far as automation at your business? 

 Well its totally unrelated to real estate but mostly Excel macros and a little VBA to cut down on amount of typing and ease of access for info.  A few years back I made this sweet template which uses raw data and generates a full report through searching, matching, and adding various columns.  I think of myself as an excel nerd, I never knew how much potential the program had until my first internship.  Could go on for days...

Anyways, thanks for the support! I met with someone who is probably the biggest in my section of NJ that deals with real estate and they seem very flexible with other wholesalers and working together(i.e. mentoring, buying/selling relationships). Unfortunately, they're expanding and their new office is dealing exclusively with wholesaling so I'm a little afraid of the big guy expanding and more competition. I'll try to keep everyone updated with how my relationship with them goes. I plan on using them for my FIRST deal(still researching and getting my REI foundation though). I'm very excited and love the support on this site.

@Ryan Donohue

That template could be great for utilizing tax records and the appraisal district's website.

I'd like to explore what excel can do for me with databases as well. I'm not seasoned like you.

Ahh, don't worry about competition. My advice-and what I personally do-is find out what they focus on and A) pick a different niche B) if I get deals with their criteria, use them for help/partnership.

There's no shortage of deals if you market to the right people. Who knows, someone may prefer a personable independent guy than a big company. Of course, that doesn't stop me for one second from trying to expand bigger haha.

Hi Austin and Ryan - I've been following this topic for a few days...glad to hear other ideas for automation! 

I'm new to the business...I just started a lease option wholesaling business.  I'm planning to use Podio to Lob automation via Zapier for getting postcards/mailings out to new potential sellers.  Also working on getting some boots on the ground (that I plan to hire via for ease of tax purposes) and will have them take all photos, do all marketing, etc for each house for a set cut of the profit.

I'd love to hear from others about using Facebook to market properties.  Since I run a business in a very specific niche market, I think this would be a good tool for me.  Have you guys ever used FB for this?

Best of luck to you both!


@Ryan Donohue Excel is incredibly powerful! It's built on Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) and all the macros are generated in that language.  You can connect Excel to external databases, write your own macros to do complex things that the Macro Generator (Recorder) can't do as well. There really are no limits to what Excel can do for you. 

I've got an simple excel lead manager and direct mail manager templates that can be downloaded on my blog.  Just are examples of what you can do with excel.  

Even with how powerful excel is, I still chose to use Podio because having good interface and a database back end for my data is a huge being in the cloud doesn't hurt.

Originally posted by @Karen Morgan :

I'd love to hear from others about using Facebook to market properties.  Since I run a business in a very specific niche market, I think this would be a good tool for me.  Have you guys ever used FB for this?

Best of luck to you both!


Facebook works VERY well for marketing properties (via boosted posts).  It does not work at all for finding motivated sellers (via display ads).

Check out what our guy in Las Vegas is doing on his Facebook page - THAT is working.  They find almost all their owner finance and lease to own buyers via Facebook.  People love to see the finished projects

@Karen Morgan

Lease Options in Texas...I've dabbled in a couple. You have a good lawyer? Or good contracts? Haha.

Yes, I've gotten decent facebook exposure. Ran a $5 day ad on my fixer upper for sale and I targeted anyone in my town with a construction/labor job and/or interests in construction and remodeling. The results were- I got a lot of new likes for my facebook page, and some people considered the house and interacted with my website. However, my main source of leads were craigslist, Trulia, and the signs in the front yard.

For your business, this could be a great way to get tenant buyers to your site. I would stick to marketing for them on facebook, and keep mailing to sellers. That's just my opinion. You can build a great buyers list, and actually custom tailor the houses you go after based on the pre-qualified tenant buyers you have.

thanks...I do have great contracts.  And a good lawyer that I hope to not need anytime soon.  :)

Dev and Austin - Good to hear how you've used Facebook! It seems like a great way to target certain audiences. You've hit exactly how I'd like to use Facebook. MORE BUYER EXPOSURE.

@Dev Horn  My rent to own (double wides on their own land) aways get a reservation fee BEFORE its finished.  If I put pictures on FB they'd be all during rehab no carpet or paint.  LOL

A highly desirable product does not last into being finished and empty in my business model.

Set your goals much higher!!!!   I'm telling the truth re getting $875 cash reservation fees.  I am sort of pulling folks leg because I know we have a very unique business model but we worked hard at being "anti-competitive" re other investors, so buyers have no one else to come to.

Just offering:  think out side the standard box.  Or think "what box".   Why follow the herd?

Automation?  I don;t have to.  My product does not need to be put infront of 100's of eyes.  CL and put up the day of closing, update the pictures over time, it's gone before being finished.  Showing an unfinished product?  I'm VERY happy to have weak folks walk away saying my unfinished product looks like a wreck.

Google REhab vs Prehab.  Buyers will be no problem if you are selling cheaper than anyone else.

Curt, I'm the VP of marketing at a national REI company with a pretty large "box" that I routinely think outside of. ;-)

I'm a flipper not a buy and hold investor, so I don't market properties to renters.  But I will say, I have personally found it a really bad idea to show unfinished projects - at least to retail buyers.  They say they can "see" the finished product but NO, they cannot.  Complete waste of energy to show unfinished properties and worse, it could cause you to lose someone who may have actually bought the finished product.

Perhaps with the demand you have there and the reputation you've built, you have a better opportunity to use that strategy to find renters.

@Dev Horn @Curt Smith

Interesting perspectives from you both. I'm selling one house as a "handyman special", so I'm advertising it with all of its flaws. Another one, I'm fully rehabbing and selling to an end buyer. I'm not showing that one until it is finished with professional pictures.


I completely agree re retail buyers!  I'm so glad I don't do flips to the granite counter crowd! OMG!

To be clear I sell via rent to own and then I finance after 12 mo to bounce backs move up from renting folks.  I have to filter for : resilient, smart, adaptable and willing to work through any problem. You can't give applicants a Briggs-Meyers personality test. So I do the same by creating a situation were the problem tenant / buyers out themselves by dissappearing. 

I should have said I have a very very special business model. 

The weak prospects trained me.  I was at first frustrated that a wife asked me what color I was going to stain the deck. They also never came back.  I then learned to be thankful they never cane back and I added to my list of deal killer phrases a prospect might say. LOL. If they ask about the color if anything Im 99% sure they won't work out for my rent to iwn seller financing model! 

BP here's some terms to consider for your business model: competition avoiding, selects for hardy customers who stick it out, tolerant for varying quality in the finished house. A few more but I feel these atributes are not common in the REI businesses described here or by REIAs or gurus. But I feel they make it much easier to run a business.