|Letter from Dan
When I first started in real estate a few years ago, I thought I had the Midas touch. Everything I
touched turned to gold. I remember being so unsure about some of the offers I made, but I
pushed on and made the deal. That worked out well on quite a few deals. That was back in 2006
and the game was different back then.
About 3 years into my career, the market changed and I went completely broke. I resorted to
contracting work for other investors to keep my bills paid. My partners and I all lost money on
deals and it seemed like everyone was afraid to buy another house because the values dropped
so quickly. Had I been more experienced I might have adapted to the changing market.
3 years after that, in 2012, I began to flip houses again and put together my team. It was during
this time that my skills had matured and I really started making serious money. The only
contracting work I was managing after this point was on my own rehabs.
Looking back, I can see now that my initial success was mostly beginner’s luck. A lot of people
were experiencing the same beginners luck during that time. In the words of Warren Buffet,
“When the tide goes out, you can see who’s swimming naked!”
Even if the market hadn’t changed, I believe that I would have experienced “the dip”. The dip,
according to Seth Godin, is “the long slog between starting and mastery… the long stretch
between beginner’s luck and real accomplishment.” It is the dip that weeds out the average
participants as the highest performing, hardest working people rise to the top of the game. The
dip is the period where the quitters quit.
I’ve watched countless individuals “wanna get into real estate”. I’ve watched people give it an
attempt for a few months or even a few years and then quit before it started working for them.
Everybody “wishes” they were in real estate, but there are only a few that commit 100 percent.
That sacrifice other interests and invest the time & money educating themselves and building
their real estate business.
My overnight success took more than 7 years. I had a lot of trial and error before things really
started to rock and roll. I still work hard to keep improving my own business. I constantly read
books to keep sharpening my business mind. You’re probably wondering what type of books I
read these days. Real Estate books? Not as much as I did in the beginning. These days I read
business, marketing, leadership, & management books. I’ll keep you posted on recommendations.
"Attention to Detail"
What is the Cause of Business Success?
When most people as a question like this, they are looking for a “one secret strategy” type
answer. As if the success of a business can be summed up in one simple strategy. The reality is
that business success is created through a complex combination of elements-like Canon in D by
Johann Pachelbel. It is not one simple note, but a combination of notes and instruments brought
together to produce a classic composition.
That said, here's one of the first things I figured out myself in business. Attention to detail is
critical to above average success.
I sold cars for a brief time right after my college years. As I prepared a car for a test drive, I’d
make sure every detail was perfect as I pulled the car around for my prospect. If winter, I’d have
the heat set. If summer, the air conditioning. I’d gauge the height of my prospect and set the
seat and mirrors as close as I could get them. Many of my prospects never adjusted the mirrors
or seat-my pre-emptive adjustment was close enough for comfort. I’d make sure the clock on the
radio or dash was correct and then take a guess at which radio station they liked. I’d leave the
volume low in case I got it wrong. I paid attention to every detail and sold a lot of cars as a result.
When I started flipping houses, I paid attention to details there also. I’m a pain in the rear when it
comes to the details. A real ball buster. I expect tight caulk lines, sharp paint & tile lines, and a
clean job site during construction. I’m sure the guys on the job complain to each other when I
leave the site, but I don’t care. My mission is to create a home that a family will love when they
move in. They’ll usually make 360 monthly payments after they buy-they expect a quality product
and if you’re flipping houses, it’s your duty to give it to them.
Paying attention to detail is mastering the mundane. There’s nothing sexy about picking up trash
off the ground in front of your property, but it’s details like that which add up to create value in a
One particularly difficult to sell flip was on the market for 9 months through the winter. When the
Spring selling season started, I determined that I’d do whatever I could to make sure the house
sold. When I received the showing notifications from my agent that we had a scheduled showing,
I'd drive over to the house an hour before and slightly open the windows to allow the fresh air to
waft into the house. I’d adjust all of the blinds perfectly so that the sun spilled in at just the perfect
angle to accent the hardwood floors we installed.
I turned on every light in the house and set the ceiling fans on low. The motion of the ceiling fans
give the illusion of a larger and livelier house. Then about 2 hours later I’d go past and shut it
down. I did that twice and that stubborn house sold and settled. I’ve done this on quite a few
houses I flipped over the years.
I even opt for the GE Reveal lightbulbs. That little detail helps highlight the forty, fifty, sixty
thousand dollar rehab (or more) that I just complete. It cost me about 5 dollars more for the whole
house. Some say it’s a waste of money, I believe it is an investment.
The funny thing about paying attention to details in a business is that it is hard to determine the
return on investment. Sometimes you have to make little investments of time and money in a
business to do things a little better than the next company, with no concrete evidence of
additional profit. Just look at the additional expense that Apple incurs in their product packaging.
Does it produce more profit? Probably. But it is difficult to know how much.
A lot of details go overlooked in business, but it has been my experience that the more attention I
pay to the details, the more income I receive. Just sayin’!!
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