The Real Estate Investing Club

Checklist Your Way to Real Estate Success with Brenda Cuoco | The Real Estate Investing Club #30

Transcript For “Checklist Your Way to Real Estate Success with Brenda Cuoco | The Real Estate Investing Club #30”

Gabriel Petersen 0:02
Hello and welcome to another episode of The Real Estate Investing club. Place investors go to learn tips, tricks and stories from other investors in the field. If you feel we provide value to you go ahead and hit that thumbs up share whatever it may be. And if you’d like for us to cover a specific topic, let us know in the comments or reach out to us on our website. Today we have a very special guest so buckle up grab your pen and paper and enjoy the ride.

All right, we are live Brenda thank you for joining us today How you doing?

Unknown Speaker 0:39
Great How are you today?

Gabriel Petersen 0:41
I’m doing fantastic. I got started Why don’t you tell everybody you know who you are, where you’re from and how you got started in real estate in the first place.

Brenda Cuoco 0:49
Perfect so my name is Brenda cute co with Brenda coupon associates real estate brokerage. I’ve been in this business 16 years. I started back in 2004 and although I feel older I say that now. But I worked for Coldwell Banker and real living realty professionals for quite some time. And I actually just made a change in November of 2019 to become my own broker owner of my own real estate firm, which was a big leap of faith. And, and other than that, how I got into the business, I came from the corporate world, I worked for savage shops, supermarkets, McDonald’s Corporation and got a lot of good leadership qualities. They did a lot of teaching, polishing us as individuals and leaders in the field and decided you know, what I’m done with the corporate world I’m done being just a number I want to be you know, treated, you know, as a person and flexibility with two young kids and so after that, I decided to just become a real estate agent and my first six months I sold nothing, I quit. I lived off my 401k wasn’t much at the time and put my kids in a little red wagon male you Did with mailbox to mailbox called for sale by owners expired and my last six months I sold 32 houses at $6 million back in 2006.

Gabriel Petersen 2:11
I love it. I love it. Yeah rags to riches after having the glory of corporate.

Unknown Speaker 2:17
Oh, you have no idea.

Unknown Speaker 2:19
It’s feels great.

Gabriel Petersen 2:21
That’s perfect. So yeah, I’m excited to dive into that I actually I got started in corporate myself and so I totally understand wanting to get out start your own thing. So congratulations for making they

Unknown Speaker 2:31
own you.

Gabriel Petersen 2:34
So you got started in 2004. And so that was pre crash. So you went through the crash, you went through the whole thing. I took you a couple years It sounded like 2006 when you really started to get your feet under you. You really started the momentum. And since then, it’s been smooth sailing, right? No, no hiccups.

Unknown Speaker 2:51
Well, there’s a lot of hiccups. But we definitely increased our sales every single year and I keep track every year. single year what we’ve done for business. And I love to look back all the way back to 2006 2004. But more or less, we took a little bit of a turn for the worse in 2008 2009, we were down about two or $3 million because of the recession, but we made it through. And in 2015, I decided to become a team. I had one full time assistant and myself and I was selling about 13,000,050 transactions and hired one assistant and a part time buyer agent. And we ended 2015 at 16 million. And then we added one other buyer agent, and we ended up increasing our sales to about 26 million. And then we added a couple more so we really only had three full time agents, including myself, and we came up to 26 million so we you know, almost doubled doubled our business with just two additional agents and a full time staff member. That’s awesome. I love it.

Gabriel Petersen 4:00
Yeah, a lot of the people watching the show, you know, this is an investing show. So most people watching it are investors. But the the perennial question that most investors have in their mind is should I become an agent Should I become? Or should I continue down the path of being just an investor? So kind of take us so what are the advantages of becoming a broker? becoming an agent? And kind of how do you see that play out?

Unknown Speaker 4:25
I love this question. So, I feel like this is perfect for me, because, as you know, listening to my bio, in my introduction, is I was an agent for 15 years, and I ran a heavy team where I was producing $26 million for another broker, and I was spending 50 to $60,000 a year advertising for this other broker. And I thought, Oh, my goodness, you know, this is I was happy culture change there and I decided, you know what, I think it’s time I go out on my own. I went out on My own in November and I can’t tell you, I am so happy I went out on my own, I absolutely love it, I can create my own culture, I can be my own boss, I can create my own boundaries, I can create my own commission splits, you know, especially with investing that’s important too because a lot of investors, you know, they like to, you know, okay buy this property for me, and then you can list it, and sometimes a lot of them want a little bit lower commission. So with a with a brokerage firm, sometimes you don’t have that capability to offer a lower commission, but if you own your own firm, you can make all those decisions and have a little bit more of a free rein in terms of that portion. But I absolutely love being a broker. If you’re systematize. If you’re structured, and you’re organized and efficient, it’s a homerun, but you’ve got to have all those systems in place and, most importantly, the right people,

Gabriel Petersen 5:55
system systems and people that really does sum up business So I love that. So let’s let’s stay on those two topics for just a little bit longer. Yeah, you’re absolutely right systems. It’s what makes a business. So kind of tell us what are the the most important systems in your business and kind of how you set them up?

Unknown Speaker 6:15
Yeah, so we, we have a lot of systems. We have a lot of checklists. The joke around here is that Brenda has a checklist for a checklist. I will tell you that I still am on track myself as an agent to sell 85 to 100 homes. I’m a broker owner, I’m a mom, I’m a wife. I’m active in playing golf, I get my weekends off pretty much. And the systems is what allows me to live a really good personal life but run a very successful business. And those systems make the people happy because the job is easy. productivity is fierce here. I mean, we have we concentrate On insane productivity, if you’re not attention to insane productivity, you might as well forget it because I really think that’s one of the biggest tools and resources that have created our success. But we have, you know, four systems, we have, you know, a listing transaction sheet where when a listing comes in, it’s a full checklist. Here’s the marketing portion, we have a marketing person who does all the marketing. We have an admin person who takes care of all the admin and then each of our agents and we don’t have a ton of agents here for this brokerage firm. I mean, we’re on track I think now we’re at as of the, with what our pendings are for July were up 153% and we ended may up 202%. And we only have four full time agents, including myself. So this isn’t a big brokerage firm but we compete with the larger firms in our area. So we have those systems and then you can hire a transaction coordinator. If you’d like to Do all of those sales. So they’ll do all of your marketing. They’ll do all your admin. And then when the buyer comes in, we have a buyer transaction sheet. And then we have a pending transaction sheet where when something goes pending, look, you just follow the checklist. It’s a three page checklist. And you’re it’s going to be flawless. It’s it’s fail proof. So we have what is very amazing for buyer leads. And even working with investors, I think is huge. I don’t know if you guys have that over there in Washington K, but we work with real geeks and real geeks. This is a website they’re pretty amazing. And the investors that we work with, they love real geeks because they’re getting all the properties. We can see when a buyer favorites a property we can see when a buyer is liking a property so you know that buyer comes in. Now we can see that their favorite link and now we can make that instant connection. We could text them on the computer so it’s there are so many systems We have it’s it’s next to amazing.

Gabriel Petersen 9:03
I love it. I love it. So it sounds like for every step of the process, you have a checklist. As as a new lead comes in you you take down that checklist you go through the first step, take it to the next one, go into the marketing section, go down the checklist for marketing, etc, etc. Does that sound right?

Unknown Speaker 9:19
You’re on again. It’s It’s It’s It’s fail proof. It’s amazing. The girls love it. Our job here is that any agents that walks through the door, we want it to be easy for them we want them to sell. We don’t want them to sit here at this desk wasting time we want them to be on the road, concentrating on 100% customer satisfaction giving the wow service you we don’t want to give this minimal service we want to give above and beyond and everything that we do and then we have a staff of 1234 staff members full time and there we treat it like a concierge service for the agents. So when our agents come in here, we serve them The goal is to serve our agents, and then our agents will serve our clients. Same thing for me. My goal is to serve my employees and make them feel as though they’re important. Well, they are important, but to serve them, we don’t tell them. Nobody tells anybody what to do here. There’s no one in this in this building, that’s a boss. We all are each other’s cheerleaders in support system. And I think that’s the key to a successful business and culture.

Gabriel Petersen 10:25
I like it. So kind of on that topic. I mean, you mentioned it first at the very beginning of the show systems, people that that really is what it boils down to. You’re talking about a bit about systems so kind of go on to the people side, I mean, building a team. I know I’ve spoken to a bunch of investors who, you know, who’ve been investing on their own and they’re ready to take the next step to actually building a team. Investing and being a broker is a little bit different, but the steps of actually creating a team and building you know, team building is similar across the board. So kind of tell us well, first, who was the First, what was the first roll you brought onto the? onto your, your team? Yes. And then how, how did you go about making the leap into, you know, individual producer to actual leader?

Unknown Speaker 11:13
Yeah. So, um, I brought in a, a well first was a part time assistant, and and then it just wasn’t enough hours. I was working literally. I kid you not at 85 hours a week. My kids were little and it wasn’t until my kids said mommy’s always on the phone. Always on the phone and I thought I have to do something because my kids honestly grew up without a mom. I mean, they’re wonderful kids. They’re teenagers now, but I really didn’t have a place in their life. And thankfully, my husband was really like the stay at home dad. So it worked out nice. But, um, so I then I bought a full time, Assistant. That was a huge leap of faith, right? Because you’re thinking oh my god, can I afford this? person you know I’m really not making a lot of money and I’m very very conservative with numbers I’m very into my finances I watch every number on a staff person. So, I brought her on then I brought a part time assistant on to do marketing because marketing is important. And then after that I bought on a part time agent. And then after that I brought on another part time agent, so it was me full time and two part time agents. And then I built to another full time agent than a part time marketing. And now here I am today broker owner and I have three full time admins. I have a part time marketing person and a part time admin and a part time financial administrator as well as for licensed agents and on top of my myself. So that’s where we’re at. So concept I agree game concept is the same with building a team, but it just is its strategy. And it’s having a plan. So everything that I built, I consistently had a plan. We even had a training manual. So when a new staff person walks in today and I hire them, they’re not lost in the mud. They actually have a training manual. If they’re sitting here in front of the computer, trying to figure out how to pull a deed or a plot plan. They have every step and how to do that. So no one everyone there’s no one here that’s going to be lost. Again, why? Because I focus on productivity and people. That’s the key, right? So when you’re hiring someone new, you really want to make sure they have the best experience. So we just brought on a seasoned agent who’s been in the business 21 years on and she wanted to be part of a team a team structure family boutique style company. Her first week, she said my experience has nothing but nothing yet, but less than amazing. And that was to me, that meant a lot. Because, you know, we want to take care of our people. We’re not just out here recruiting hiring any agent. We’re really particular because the grass is really green. And the last thing we want to do is let any weeds come in and check us out.

Gabriel Petersen 14:25
I like it. First thing you need to do is take care of your people.

Unknown Speaker 14:30
Yes, yes. That is everything.

Unknown Speaker 14:37
Would I be without people, my people right there the foundation there are pillars.

Gabriel Petersen 14:43
Exactly. Exactly. So it sounds like it was a couple years ago when you actually started you know, you decided that you’re going to make the leap. You’re gonna start building a team. I’m the first person you took on was an assistant. And then you went into marketing and I agree, especially with people who aren’t familiar with digital marketing. Any other channel and marketing it can be a daunting task. So, that might be one of the first things you want to take on. And then you brought on an agent and I suppose suppose from the investor’s standpoint that would be either seller Investor Relations, somebody to help you bring in capital or bring in off market leads. And then you went on and you essentially got a CPA, somebody that to manage your books.

Unknown Speaker 15:24
Yes, yes.

Gabriel Petersen 15:26
I love it. So, and one other thing that I took from what, you know, everything that you just said was a training manual. And I think that is I love that you said that because I’ve been, you know, I back when I was in corporate, I got a lot of teams who didn’t have any, you know, any semblance something. And so you kind of start, you’re floundering. You don’t know what you’re doing. Having a training manual for people who are on your team are you bringing on it takes away the stress and it makes it that much easier to transition onto the team. So I love that you’re doing that. I’m going to shift gears just a little bit. We do try to After around 20 to 25 minutes, and so we are nearing the end of the show. But before we do that, I want to talk a bit more about your experiences. We all know real estate, it’s a roller coaster, you got your ups, you got your downs, both financially and emotionally, kind of take us to one of the lower periods in your real estate career. And you know what happened and what was the main lesson that you’ve learned from that experience?

Unknown Speaker 16:23
Ah, that’s an easy one. So, um, it was making a decision to become my own girl. That was I started eight months thinking about it, it wasn’t a dream you would think based on my experience working in upper management in corporate world that you know, I opened close doors for McDonald’s corporations that you know, I should be here, but I was happy my I was happy where I was and I was getting a very good split at the company I was at and it was good but eight months prior prior to making the decision culture had changed over the last year there different types of management and I thought, you know what, this isn’t for me anymore. This isn’t, this isn’t where I belong I belong somewhere else and where that somewhere else is on not sure. So after thinking about it, I call it a leap of faith. I decided to go out on my own and the transition from going to, from from one brokerage to opening up my own for me being a checklist person. I was all over the board in terms of, you know, state compliance, local compliance, what to do, where to go because our board and I’m sure it’s like this everywhere, and they were great. They were they were really good at helping me I call them a million times but they have they don’t have a checklist right. So if you want to open your own brokerage firm, I think what the board of realtors needs to have is an opening your brokerage checklist. The steps that need to happen and opening your brokerage firm because that’s going to make it easy for every realtor that wants to go out on their own. So for me, it was a lot of aimless calls into the state into the board on this that so it was complicated. And then on top of it, you’re running a business. It was my busiest last quarter of the year. And the good news was out of that is I had to have my systems. They changed over my entire brokerage firm. I wasn’t even involved. We met every Monday, we had a meeting, we had a checklist. We had a goal at the end of every week and we did this we started in September 1. We knew we were going to open up somewhere around mid November and we changed over flawlessly. Without any hiccups. It almost went too smooth. But the good news is I didn’t do it. I have to Milan I’m 21 years old and 25 years old that changed over my whole for. I love it. That’s pretty amazing. You know, so I give them a lot of credit. So, um, I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them.

Gabriel Petersen 19:15
Awesome. So it sounds the lesson learned is surround yourself by good people.

Unknown Speaker 19:18
Yes. You know what you’re right. That’s a great way to sum it up and take care of them. Right? Yeah, take care of them.

Gabriel Petersen 19:28
All right. So I mean, you’ve gone through the wringer. You’ve been up you’ve been down, you’re you’re back on the top now. So it sounds like you’re doing the right things. So you know, if you were to give, give yourself just starting out one piece of advice. What would that one piece of advice be going forward?

Unknown Speaker 19:45
If I was a brand new agent today, get on a team, get on a team right away and learn from the best. And if I had what I give my agents today, I would have probably been where I am now? 10 years ago. Oh, but back when I started 16 years ago, there was no we watched Howard Britton. I don’t know if you remember him, but I’m dating myself a little bit by Howard Britton was the star top producers. He had conventions. I went to all of his conventions. I listened to CDs. Every time I drove, I popped to see dm and everything that I learned today, and who I am today, is partially because of Howard Britton because he constantly just drilled things and he interviewed like you’re doing today, which is why I did this. Because this is what I listened to podcasts in my car, telling me what to do scripting what top producers do, and I think a show like this is amazing, because it helps people get to a better place.

Gabriel Petersen 20:47
I love it. Well, thank you. That was a that was a bit of a plug for my show as well. That

Unknown Speaker 20:52
Well no, I think this is important. Trust me. I don’t have a lot of time in my schedule. And I thought, Well, you know what?

Gabriel Petersen 20:58
I’d like to help others out and And let me let me contact this guy. Perfect. Well, thank you for being on. And on that note we are, we’re nearing the end here. But you know, we all need to receive things. You’ve given us a lot of wisdom during this period. So what if someone were to bring you something? What would you want to receive?

Unknown Speaker 21:18
Um, I would like to receive more information about recruiting agents. Because, look, I’m a new broker owner, who taught me how to recruit right, so I feel like I’m the baby starting here thinking okay, well, how do I recruit because I don’t want to sit here cold calling agents like I want to. I want to like I find that maybe if I have a great Cobra, I might go have a coffee, but what’s the real way to

Unknown Speaker 21:47
the best way to recruit? I don’t know.

Gabriel Petersen 21:51
Perfect, I love it. And so if somebody did want to get in contact with you, what would be the best way to do that?

Unknown Speaker 21:56
Um, contact me on my cell to 145365 error codes 413.

Gabriel Petersen 22:02
All right, there you go. Well for everybody listening and watching. Well, Brenda First, we appreciate you being on the show. We appreciate you sharing all the knowledge that you’ve shared so far. And for everybody listening and watching, if you want to get in contact with Brenda, she just dropped her phone number, give her a text, give her a call, or I will put her link in URL in the show notes so you can click there as well. Again, Brenda, thank you for being on. We appreciate you being here. And for everybody else. We’ll see you on the next episode.

Unknown Speaker 22:33
Thanks. Take care.

Gabriel Petersen 22:39
Thanks for joining us on The Real Estate Investing club. If you feel we provided value, we would appreciate it if you hit that thumbs up share with your friends online, whatever it may be. If you’d like to share or partner with us on an investment deal, we are always looking for quality projects. Go To www dot FBI real estate investing to get in contact with one of our parks. Otherwise, I hope you guys have an absolutely fantastic day and I look forward to seeing you on the next episode.

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Topics you’ll learn more about throughout our episodes:

– Using the BRRR strategy to buy income properties

– Flipping houses the right way, building quality housing and taking home a large payday

– Using hard money and bridge loans for real estate investments

– How to bounce back from bankruptcy and build a thriving empire in the wake of failure

– How to use property management companies to help scale your real estate business

– The best online and offline tools out there to take your real estate investing business to the next level

– How to do out of state investing without risking your shirt in the process

– Going from broke to 300+ deals in a month (really!)

– Investing in commercial real estate

– Stories about brand-new investors and the lesson’s they’re learning as they take on their very first flips and rentals

– How to use Google Ads and Facebook Ads to crush it in off market real estate marketing

– How to fill your pipeline with off market deals using direct mail, voiceless mail drops, and text blasting

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