One Easy 30 Second Tip To Save You $100s a Month as a Real Estate Investor

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I decided to try something new – and it saved me over $150 just this month.

I’m not the first to use this technique, and I definitely won’t be the last.

And the cool thing is – It will probably save me hundreds per month for the foreseeable future.

Curious of what it is?

Before I tell you, I want to ask you one question…

How much do you spend on maintenance, cleaning, lawn work, etc each month?

If you don’t spend very much, then this tip may not save you that much each month (yet) BUT I still believe this is an important tip to use anyways… and will make “scaling your business” much easier.

Alright, without further suspense…

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The One Tip to Save You Hundreds

Last month I had a tenant move out without cleaning. The house was a disaster and needed at least 10 hours of work to get it looking better. My usual cleaner charges $30 an hour and I was about to give her a call when I decided to try a new strategy.

I proactively sought out a new cleaner on Craigslist.

It took less than a minute to log on to Craigslist.org, navigate to the appropriate location, and place a simple 3 paragraph advertisement that simply said:

Title: Looking for Dependable House Cleaner

Text: Looking for a responsible, dependable person to clean an occasional house or apartment for local rental company. Must have own cleaning supplies and transportation. Requires travel to (town) (town) and (town.)

Current pay: $15 per hour.

Call (Phone Number) and leave a message.

Within a few days we received numerous calls, including two that sounded promising. We ended testing out both cleaners on different properties – and it was clear who won.

  • Cleaner #1 showed up 4 hours late, lied about it how many hours she worked, and had a bad attitude.
  • Cleaner #2 showed up on time, with his truck and supplies, worked hard, and did the best cleaning job I’ve ever seen.

Clearly, cleaner #2 was the victor. Not only was he a great cleaner, but he also does lawn care and small maintenance jobs.  And – he’s a great guy just looking for side income.  I estimate that I’ll save between $150-$400 per month, every month, from this simple Craigslist ad.

Awesome.

How Will You Use This Tip?

Had I not taken the thirty seconds to post the Craigslist ad, I would have continued to use my $30 cleaner and on this one property would have spent an extra $150 – maybe even more because the new cleaner also mowed the lawn while he was there.

Sometimes it’s just small, simple tips like this that can save a person hundreds of dollars per month.  As I mentioned earlier – even if you don’t spend a whole lot of maintenance and lawn care, finding dependable people right now that you can trust will help you scale your business as you grow.

I am a big believer in “systems” – running your business like a machine that works without you, the owner, clogging up the system.  This tip of proactively seeking out people to make your machine work is crucial in running and scaling your business. This is the key concept from the book, The E-Myth by Michael Gerber (Which, if you haven’t read, I highly recommend you pick up a copy) and a trait that comes up over and over and over with the guests on the BiggerPockets Podcast.

So whether it’s a cleaner, a contractor, a landscaper, a maintenance guy, or someone to show units when you can’t – go out and start proactively seeking those people out now. It may take you a few attempts to find the right person – but once you do – your life will never be the same!

Have you tried using Craigslist to proactively seek out people to work for you?  How did it turn out for you?

Let me know in the comments below! 

About Author

Brandon Turner

Brandon Turner (G+ | Twitter) spends a lot of time on BiggerPockets.com. Like... seriously... a lot. Oh, and he is also an active real estate investor, entrepreneur, traveler, third-person speaker, husband, and author of "The Book on Investing in Real Estate with No (and Low) Money Down", and "The Book on Rental Property Investing" which you should probably read if you want to do more deals.

24 Comments

  1. Good idea. Haven’t found a cleaning company I like that isn’t super-expensive. Another option I may also try is Taskrabbit; those people have been screened to make sure they are not deadbeats/criminals and you can read reviews for people and write a review for them after they are done.

  2. Well done Big B! Congratulations on innovating!!

    Nothing like intentionally setting a goal to save money and reaching the goal. It just shows you how much complacency costs.

    My take away lesson for 2013: if you want to really turbo charge your cash flow – take a fresh look at assumptions and cut expenses.

  3. Brandon,

    Not only do I like the fact that you used Craigslist to find the house cleaner, but that you compared the results of your two best candidates.

    This past weekend I posted an add on Craigslist looking for a handyman for some apartments I am closing on this week (4 of the units in the building need rehab). Within 24 hours I received 7 contacts that range anywhere between $15-$35 per hour. Since I have multiple units that need work, I am going to use your tip and hire the best two and then see which one I like better for the 3rd and 4th unit.

    Great Job!

  4. You know, I’ve never posted an ad like this on CraigsList. The site is a must for finding renters for the property – probably 2 out of every 3 renters I get come from there. But I’ve never thought to use the site for any other part of my rental investment business, so thanks for the idea!

  5. I did this for a handyman, $10/hr for cleanouts, yard maintenance on vacant units (SFH;s) and other minor tasks. I had to take the add down after 24 hrs because the phone was ringing off the hook. After phone interviews, narrowed down to 4 in person interviews and picked top 2.

    Guy #1 lied about having own transportation and took forever to do tasks he said he could do.

    Guy #2 not only did everything I wanted done, he said he could replace the windows in a house we were working on. Come to find out he used to work for a sub-contractor for Window World and installed windows for over a year AND he used to have his own painting business.

    So now I have a professional painter, professional window installer and someone who is not afraid to do clean outs and yard work, all for $10/hr. I think January will go to $12 and then normal increases from there.

    You have to love Craigslist and always look for ways to save $$$

  6. Brandon,

    This is a great tip, and I may use it–for my house. For my units, there is language in the rental agreement that specifies the unit is to be left in the same condition as when they took up occupancy (they can eat off the floors at move in). There is language that makes it clear if a cleaning service is called in, the cost is deducted from the security deposit. In addition to the general language, there are some specific fees listed for specific cleaning services (mainly, cleaning appliances, windows, and carpets). This is language above and beyond that which addresses deductions for damage in excess of normal wear and tear. Would I ding them for a few dust bunnies? No. But Am I missing something? Do you include anything like this in your agreements? And if you don’t, do you not do so because you think it may alienate potential tenants?

    Nancy

    • Brandon Turner

      Hey Nancy,

      Nope- you are correct, and I do have that also. However, my lease says that I will charge them $25 per hour for any time spent cleaning. So, before – I was paying $30 and losing money on the deal. Now I’m getting compensated for my time! And either way, it seems at least once a month I have some problem that I have to pay someone to do that wasn’t covered by the security deposit – usually cause they trash it enough that they get nothing back, and I have to spend even more getting it rent ready again. Ah, the joys of low income tenants!

  7. Excellent article. As it has been said by others many times on this site, I’ve developed a network of handymen, etc. that I can trust, charge a fair price, and do good work. And if it costs you just a bit more for the trust part, pay up…headaches are more expensive.

    • Brandon Turner

      Hey Ryan, Hmmm – I put mine in the Job section, but my area doesn’t charge for listings (I know some of the major cities do now.) A few thoughts: 1.) $25 might be worth it to save you hundreds 2.) Perhaps there is another section, like where contractors might advertise? I’m not too sure, but if you find out, let us know!

  8. Brandon Turner:
    Thanks for the advice. Besides handipersons and rentals from craigslist, I also have used it to buy materials and appliances for rentals: water heaters, stoves, refrigerators. It’s nice to get an $800 refrigerator for $150.

    Ron Starr***

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