RG 257 – Eliminate, Automate, Then Delegate: Simplifying Your Business – w/ David Dawkins
This week, we have David Dawkins with us to share his valuable insights into business development and all the nitty-gritty of it. In this episode, learn how you can achieve wealth through real estate, simplify your business as much as possible, and get into the right mindset to fast-track success.
David Dawkins is the founder and owner of Seven Bridges Realty Group LLC, a brokerage and proper management assistance firm that helps buyers and sellers make the most out of their investments. He is also the co-host of the podcast The Professional Investor, where he teaches others how to become full-time real estate investors and take control of their lives by mastering personal finances.
Through his own experience of working in the corporate world before going into real estate, David offers us invaluable advice on how to start investing when you have zero experience and are working a 9-5 job. By creating a business that supports other businesses, he has achieved a higher level of financial gain despite being a former executive-level employee in his old company—and more importantly, has created a means to build financial wealth on his own terms. Today, he is on a mission to share his experience-based advice with everybody.
Listen as we talk about the intricacies of building a business from scratch, including what kind of mindset that you should start with, how to make your business processes as simple as possible, and how you can downsize operational expenses as you grow. Furthermore, we delve into the importance of continuous learning in business development, and why you should learn to do things on your own first instead of taking shortcuts.
- Eliminate, automate, then delegate.
- Simplify your business as much as possible.
- Leverage technology to make your business processes easier.
- Don’t be afraid to do things yourself when building your business.
- As your business grows, your expenses should be decreasing as you take in more costs in-house.
Be Bold, Be Brave and Go Give Life a Crack!
Listen to Podcast
David Dawkins (00:00):
First eliminate, then automate then delegate. And so, and that’s the, uh, you know, kind of the way I started looking at everything. So first off, just because when you start, you’re always like, oh, this is a new process. Let me create a checklist for this. But then you’re, I was like, this is so random. Like now I credit his checklist. It’s in this folder that no one ever uses. So, you know, eliminate some, simplify your business just as absolutely as much as possible. And then, you know, automate it and utilize as much technology as you can out there. [inaudible]
Reed Goossens (00:40):
Welcome to investing in the U S a podcast for real estate investors, business owners, and aspiring entrepreneurs looking to break into the U S market join Reed, as he interviews go getters risk takers and the best in the business about their journey towards financial freedom and the sheer joy of creating something from nothing.
Reed Goossens (01:00):
G’day ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to another cracking edition of investing in the U S podcast from Los Angeles. I’m your host Reed. Goossens good as always every with us on the show. Now, I’m glad that you’ve all tuned into learn from my incredible guests and each and every one of them are the cream of the crop here in the United States. When it comes to real estate, investing, business, investing, and entrepreneurship, each show, I try and tease out their incredible stories of how they have successfully created the businesses here in the U S how they’ve created financial freedom, massive amounts of cashflow, and ultimately create extraordinary lives for themselves and their families life by design. As I like to say, hopefully these guests will inspire all of my cracking listeners, which are you guys to get off the couch and go and take massive amounts of action.
Reed Goossens (01:46):
If these guys can do it. So can you now, as you know, I’m all about sharing the knowledge with my loyal listeners, which is you guys, and there’s absolutely no BS on this show, just straight into the nuts and bolts. Now, if you do like to show the easiest way to give back is to give us a review on iTunes, and you can follow me on Facebook and Twitter by searching at Reed Goossens. You can find the show wherever you podcast on iTunes, SoundCloud, Stitcher, and Google play, but can also find these episodes up on my YouTube channel. So head over to Reed goossens.com, click on the video link, and it will take you to the video recordings of these podcasts, or you can see my ugly mug, but the beautiful face. This is all my guests each and every week. All right, enough of me let’s get cracking and into today’s show
Reed Goossens (02:33):
To end the show. I have the pleasure of speaking with David Dawkins. Now, David is the founder and owner of seven bridges Realty group a multi-family real estate firm based in Jacksonville, Florida. His firm is focused on small to medium-sized multi-family properties, offering both brokerage services and property management assistance. Uh, David is passionate about helping others learn the benefits of mastering personal finances in order to take control of one’s life. And he done just that in the last five years, I’m pretty pumped and excited to have him on the show today. Share his incredible knowledge with us, but enough of me let’s get him out here. Good. I, David, welcome to the show handled today, mate. Hey, good Ray. Thank you for having me, my pleasure now, before we’ll talk in the green room, I actually forgot to mention you guys have a podcast, right? Can you just give us a little, I forgot to even mention in the introduction what’s the podcast called? Yeah.
David Dawkins (03:21):
The podcast is the person national investor. Um, you can just search professional investor on most podcast platforms that’ll pop up. Um, yeah, we obviously would, uh, would certainly enjoy anyone going over there to check that out as well. We had you on, you know, not too long ago. It was the first time we got to speak. So, um, yeah, it’s a similar, you know, interview show. We cover other real estate topics as well, but, um, certainly, yeah. Be glad for anyone to check this out.
Reed Goossens (03:44):
Awesome. Well, that being said, mate, let’s dive into it. Uh, the first question I ask all my guests when they jump on this show is, uh, rewind the clock and tell me how you made your first ever dollar as a kid.
David Dawkins (03:54):
Yeah. Um, you know, the first dollar was probably, or I know, I mean, it was just from, from Moe and lawns, you know, you know, we’re doing some work, uh, for, you know, friends and family. Uh, but then I really, which kind of led to, um, to kind of the, I guess the third dollar cause then the second dollar was going to work for a carwash. I remember where for a carwash, I was in high school and yeah, it was fine. Like, you know, I had a couple of buddies that worked there and they, uh, um, you know, we got the dry granted, it was 10 feet at a time, but we did get to drive a bunch of cars, which, you know, when you’re 16 seems like a good idea. So that was, uh, that was the first like real job where actually, you know, have to show up on time or for a certain time get a paycheck, you know, et cetera.
David Dawkins (04:39):
But then I re at the time, just cause back then, at least here in Florida, like the minimum wage was 4 85. I remember it crossed $5. Like when, you know, after I’d been there for like a month or so we were all like, oh, this is sweet. Awesome. But, but I just went, I started doing some quick math and I was just like, man, I can make more. And I had been doing pressure washing and some painting and stuff on the side as well. So I actually went to work for my buddies. Uh, uh, my buddy’s brother do it, had a painting company. I did that for a little bit, but then realized I could start my own. I was like, well, wait a second. He’s, you know, he’s paying me seven bucks an hour. That’s why I left the carwash to go work for him.
David Dawkins (05:17):
But then I was like, I can drum up enough business, you know, at, in charge safe, you know, roughly 15 bucks an hour. And I would still be cheaper than all the other, you know, painting and pressure washing companies. So, so that was, uh, yeah, those are, you know, I guess my first few dollars, but that’s just kinda how I got started, you know, into the business world. I guess you could say, even though it was on a much, much smaller scale on that to what it was a lot different to, at that point in my life. I didn’t know any, any real entrepreneurs, uh, I didn’t know anyone who, who owned a, you know, like in a, like a real business, like in, in Kiyosaki’s cashflow quadrants, you know, everyone most familiar with rich dad, poor dad. And he talks about that, you know, employee, small business, big business investor.
David Dawkins (06:02):
And I basically, I didn’t know any big, anybody who owned a big business, a business, that was a true process. Like everyone I knew of was a small business owner. Like I had a couple friends that like same thing in my buddy’s brother owned a painting company, my friend’s dad on the landscaping company. And that’s kind of where we, um, you know, where we learned how to work, but, but then, and at that time, that’s what I felt like business was okay. If you’re a business, I thought that’s what it was. You know, you were just the one driving the truck and you had to go out the guys in the back. You weren’t always working as much. Um, and then obviously things have changed, have changed a lot since then, but that’s, you know, because of that experience, I knew, I learned, you know, at that point I was like, I’m not going to do this the rest of my life.
David Dawkins (06:46):
You know, I’m not going to be out here. Pressure washing paint houses. And the summer in Florida, you know, for 50 bucks an hour, even which at the time was good money. I just knew I was like, this isn’t the angle and where can I go from here? And so that’s where, you know, I didn’t know. All I knew was, you know, you were told, go to college. I was like, okay. So I’m just going to do this, make some money and then I’ll go to college. So I did, and I continue to work through college as well, but it was all for, you know, to, to get the people. What I deemed as successful was the white collar professional jobs that you saw, you know, around town just drove nicer cars and they just seemed, everyone seemed happy. You know, they say, I just assumed they’re all happy making good money.
David Dawkins (07:28):
And then, so I just was told like, go that route. It’s a route I, when went to college, got a degree. And then, uh, but then, then once I got into that world, I realized like, okay, well this isn’t that great either. Um, and then, you know, we can, you can kind of go from there. I’m kind of taking it on beyond that first dollar, but that’s, it’s everything started shifting, you know, throughout, that’s what I actually recently a guy told me it was actually a guy I bought a property off of and we were talking he’s like 30 years, you know, I had amaze wrapping things up and he said, he goes, uh, I told her, I was kind of telling my story a little bit. And he’s like, yeah, you, you know, you figure it out in your twenties, you make your move and your thirties, you make your money in your forties.
David Dawkins (08:10):
I was like, I was like, ah, and it was just funny because that’s kinda what I would say, you know, similar to me, like I started working as a teenager, but then I just kinda just kept working and figured everything out more much twenties. And then as I kind of, it was right around when I was turning 30, I was like, all right. Um, yeah, that’s things started to click and I was like, all right, I need to make a move and, and, uh, do my own thing where I can still achieve my financial goals, but have more control of my life. Right. And
Reed Goossens (08:37):
I think so, I completely agree with all the sentiments you just said, but I want to just quickly touch on the fact that you, you said you didn’t know anyone who had big businesses, but the fact is every business, when you boil it down to, is, are there trade of services, which what you were doing, which was painting and power washing. But it really, I always loved cause I grew up as well, uh, on the tools as I like to say, working on the tools and then the Australian summer. So probably very similar to, to Florida and in sweltering heat. But that, I still remember to this day telling my dad, oh, call my boss, tell him I’ve broken my leg or something. I can’t go back to work. I was building pools in the Australian summer, but it was just, it really valued. What, two things, one education, like, you know, you go to school because I didn’t want to do manual labor for the rest of my life at 15 bucks an hour, which I think is what essentially you opened your eyes to pretty quickly, but to also valuing that dollar and not being afraid to roll up the sleeves and get it done yourself because so many people, and I’m not saying kids these days, but you know, so many people don’t have that experience of coming through the tools, knowing how to graft, knowing how to get your fingers dirty and, and just getting it done.
Reed Goossens (09:45):
You know what I mean? And that’s such a powerful lesson to learn as a young age in order to value that dollar to then go and apply those knowledge and experience in those hard hours, working in the, in the sun to something that, you know, don’t, don’t work harder, work smarter. And I think that’s what you’ve ultimately discovered. So,
Reed Goossens (10:03):
So with the, when leaving
Reed Goossens (10:05):
College, how’d you go down the real estate path, like w when was that? Along this journey of growth. Yeah. Funny.
David Dawkins (10:11):
Uh, so yeah, that was still a few years later, because again, I’m thinking, you know, Hey, I got his four year degree, like, we’re good. Right. Don’t we just, you graduate, you start making six figures. Like that’s good. And then obviously as most people know, I mean, depending on it, your degree, of course, but typically that four year degree, you’re not coming out making six figures. So, um, so that, that I, uh, basically, yeah, I was even telling my wife you’re tallest. So I moved over to Jacksonville. I was from Tallahassee. And then to me, like it was, you know, Jackson was a smaller market in the grand scheme, you know, you’re in, you’re in LA. And, um, even I know you best in Austin, these other, but still to me, it was a big city. And I was like, oh man, I’m graduating. I’m moving to the big city.
David Dawkins (10:51):
It’s kinda, you know, like you’re an adult now. You’re really like, yeah, she’d been an over 18 for awhile, but traction, no, you’re leaving college. So, but I get over there and I remember I was making, well, that first job, it was $36,000. I mean, that’s where, you know, again, I graduated 2008 two, which I didn’t even realize how bad of a time that was to be graduating. Cause I just, you don’t know what you don’t know. And so I moved over here. I was living by myself and making yet 36 grand. I’m like, okay, this really isn’t, isn’t great. Like this isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. And I’ve now actually took, I left that job, took a couple other jobs in that finally realized in, and again, you just you’d learn this all through experience, like, but I was like, okay, there is no shortcut.
David Dawkins (11:33):
So let me just find a company again. Cause I didn’t know, still didn’t know anyone, you know, entrepreneurial, um, or any, any anybody that had gone off on their own like that. So I’m looking at it and still like an art. I got to go down the corporate route. Let me just find another company. That’s got a little more mobility inside. And so that’s what I did. And pretty much one thing led to another, I received a few promotions, actually got promoted out to Dallas and then it was a coincidence that I got promoted back to Jacksonville and was doing really well. I was with them for almost 10 years, but, and I got to a position. I was a, essentially a regional executive and the youngest of my position in the company. So I was, you know, quote unquote, you know, on that fast track.
David Dawkins (12:14):
But the problem was, well, there was a number of problems I realized. No. And then at this point though, I did, which that’s where I think it’s important kind of what you talk about, like too, for people not wanting to get their hands dirty, like in, uh, you know, say manual labor, work more in like real estate and kind of the industry we’re in, but even in the corporate world, a lot, everyone just wants to take the shortcut. And unfortunately, sometimes you just got to build it up and that’s what it did. Um, and so I just, but each year I kept making, I had, you know, good annual reviews and percentage increases and kept getting promotions. And finally got to, like I said, that executive level, I was paid off the bottom line and from really there, which that’s what everyone, you know, what needs to understand too.
David Dawkins (12:55):
Like you want to have a position, especially if you’re going to try to, you know, invest, obviously you need money, so you need to eat, unless you do have a certain, you know, a certificate like you’re a doctor or, you know, engineer architect, something in those lines where you can, you have a certification, all the other jobs you’re going to just have to work your way up, you know, and you need to get into something that’s either in sales, in my, in my opinion and sales or that, um, you can get paid off of the bottle. You’re in some sort of managerial role where you get paid off the bottom line. So then your income can increase at a much greater clip than that say two or 3% annual increase. And so that’s what I did. And so I was like, that’s it I’m I was just on the prize.
David Dawkins (13:35):
It was all about, you know, everybody, I think their initial goal is make six figures. You know, you want to get to that, that number. And then I got in, uh, I was in that position for, and then once I got to that level, it was only a couple of years. We, we performed really well or at the time I was there to increase the profits by 150%. And so wow. It, uh, yeah, and it was obviously, it wasn’t just me too. It was a lot of other people, but, um, but it’s still, we, uh, but my pay, you know, basically went with that essentially. And so I was making the money and that’s when everything, so I’m like, okay, I’m essentially here. Like everything at this point, I’m probably, I’m 28. I’ve been with the companies, you know, five or six years. I was, yeah.
David Dawkins (14:14):
I was roughly like late twenties. And I’m like, okay, everything that I’ve had my eye on the last five years, like I’m here and I got it. And, but I’m like, why am I not happy? I was like, why, why do I not enjoy going to work? You know? And it was just one of those. And then I looked back, there were times that I probably, if I really, if I wasn’t so dead set on just making more money, I probably would have realized some stuff earlier. But basically I just kind of assumed the guys that were in the position that I was now that was trying to get to, I just assumed everything was good. You know? Like they’re happy. They enjoyed working. And in reality you get there and yeah, everyone, they all make good money, but they all are not happy at their job, you know?
David Dawkins (14:55):
And there’s a lot of factors that they don’t like, and that’s what I kind of learned everything. And I’m like, okay. And then, because it was, you know, I was younger. I’m like, okay, I’m not even 30. So am I going to do this for the next 30 years? Like 20 or 30 years? I was like, I really, and I was at a position. They also wanted me to keep moving. And so basically my role wouldn’t have really changed. I was at that, cause I didn’t have any desire to be at their corporate office. So, but I was just going to go from one market to the next, like, so basically go from our position in Jacksonville to, in Atlanta, to an Austin, to LA and to make it, I could, yeah, as we performed, it was going to make more money, but to really make more money can, so that’s what I was going to have to do.
David Dawkins (15:34):
And I realized, I just, you know, and there was a lot of day to day, they were taking the, the autonomy of the regional offices. Like they were making, they were taking, they were moving, centralizing more corporate office. And that’s just to me, I wanted more control, you know, especially like, yeah, if you want me to pay me out the bottom line, you want me to act like a business owner, then you need to allow me, we need to act like a business owner. And there was a, there was some issues with that. And then the fact, my, my wife now wife at the time too, she’s from Florida. Didn’t want to move again. And basically I realized like, okay, I can keep making more money, but I’m just not, I don’t see myself really being happy going down this road. And so what can I do to, to, to basically achieve both?
David Dawkins (16:18):
How can I achieve the financial success and then live life more on my terms? And that’s what, so I started looking at everything and it took me a while. I looked through as to where I researched every franchise out there, you know, I’ve been on, I mean, mostly of yelling for it. Have you ever know, is buy, sell the website five businesses. I’ve booked. If it’s a, if it’s been on the market last fall, I stopped, but you know, a year, a few years ago, but there was a stretch there where, I mean, I was calling business brokers. I was looking at buying a business or just leaving, starting my own and everything that I kept coming back to was in. And I started to learn about real estate investing, but it was like, okay, well I need some, some income today. And so, but everything I kept coming back to it’s like, basically it’s, I mean, this is still a job.
David Dawkins (17:01):
Like you’re running a business, it’s very, it’s, uh, you know, labor intensive and you need to be, you’re very involved with the day to day, like everything I was, I was looking into. And so I finally realized like, okay, well, real estate seems, you know, at this point I had a, and we, I kind of skipped over, but two items really in the personal finance, you know, that was, that was huge for me. And I paid off all my student loan debt got my, you know, my credit score is high. And so it was easier for me to lend or to, I was very, Linda bull is easier for me to borrow and that’s kind of how I had, I high-income, you know, no debt, it was easy for me to start getting into real estate from that perspective, those first few properties. And then I kinda realized that, Hey, I’m going to have to, you know, at some point I need to leave, but right now I’m not going to be, to replace this income that I have today.
David Dawkins (17:51):
So I basically made the decision to kind of, I was going to ride it out. I probably knew before I left my job, I knew I was going to leave probably two to three years before that. Um, and then I basically was setting myself up, you know, as far as like stacking cash away, um, you know, continuing to, to be, you know, live within my means. And basically as my income kept moving up, I just had that cushion that Delta just continued to grow and I had more money to invest. And that’s when the, you know, I picked up, I just started getting rent one rental property after another, after another. Um, and then, you know, it was a year ago that I little over a year ago now that I just pulled the plug left, my job entirely went full-time into real estate. And I had a decent portfolio at that point too.
David Dawkins (18:34):
And then I knew with all of the, and that’s, that’s, you know, kind of another topic we can talk, but as far as, you know, being a pure investor or running a business in real estate, that’s where I started realizing that most of the people like, yes, they invest in real estate, but a lot of people that you hear on different podcasts or anything, et cetera, like they’re also running businesses in real estate. And so that’s, that’s basically where I, I decided I kind of started realizing that and I’m like, well, wait a second. Why am I going to go start a business in some other industry, even if it can make money, because it’s going to take a bunch of my time just to make money and then invest it in real estate. And so I was like, let me just stick a hundred percent in real estate. And then over the past year, it’s actually the, the, the business side has continued to grow even more so than I originally originally planned. Originally, I was going to be more just, uh, essentially, you know, almost do, you know, running deals from a JV standpoint and possibly some syndication of usually most of them, most of our deals on smaller ones versus JVs. But, but we’ve actually, there’s been some other businesses that have kind of spun off of, of the original vision, you know, over a year ago.
Reed Goossens (19:38):
Yeah. Awesome content just there, in terms of everything that you’ve, you’ve spilled out to us and the audience, but I think what you’re really getting at, if I can pick it apart, is that the fact that you realize real estate? Yes, it does produce cashflow, but it’s a little bit more slow and steady wins the race and building businesses that compliment the real estate portfolio means that you could have a business revenue coming in from those businesses that support the, the, the ultimate goal of continuing to grow the portfolio. And that in itself means it’s a business ecosystem because one business supports the other supports the other, it supports the investments. And that is the most in my mind, the most powerful way to build wealth. And you look at all the different businesses out there, you know, um, look at apple and how they started with the computer.
Reed Goossens (20:22):
And now all the different widgets. They have the iPod, the iPhone, the tablet, and it’s all around the apple brand, right? It’s the same thing with what you’re doing with your real estate business. You’ve got the brokerage services, you’re the property management game. You’ve got the actual investing and one supports the other, and one can’t be successful without the other. Um, and I think that’s, that’s the most powerful thing that I’ve talked to so many entrepreneurs on this show that they come to realization that yes, they want to be a real estate investor, but they need to have the continual revenue coming through and, and real estate will produce some of that. But you, you, you can also maximize that revenue by bringing property management in-house by doing brokerage services yourself and keeping the profits for yourself rather than paying it to someone else. And for me, that was the biggest thing that took when the blinkers came off as like, oh, I get it. Now you can do so much more with it than just owning the real estate.
David Dawkins (21:17):
Same with me. That’s so true. And that’s what I’ve learned. Like I’m actually, uh, reading and there’s been a few books, but the one I’m reading now is on Rockefeller. But if you study a lot of the great business leaders in the past, I mean, that’s what they did. He wanted to control every aspect of the, of the oil industry. There was a, another book I read, it’s a good book called the fish that ate the whale about a guy that took over the banana industry is kind of random, but it’s actually a very interesting story. And, and, but same thing. I mean, they controlled from growing the crops in central America all the way to selling it on the street, you know, here in the U S so again, that, just that vertical integration, and that’s kind of, to your point at all, it kind of did the light bulb went off at some point over the last year.
David Dawkins (22:01):
And it started, it really started organically because I was like, okay, I had some money coming in off the portfolio, like I said, so I kind of, and I had a lot of a large cash reserve. I kind of took that leap of faith. I was like, Hey, if I can pick up these doors, I got based on my runway’s X long. So if I can get this many doors in this time, like, I’ll be good. And so that was my strategy. And then, but as I did, when I started moving up from the single-family to small multi-families into the commercial, still small multi-families, but commercially, you know, five and up like in first property, it was a 10 unit. And it was, I was, I, I couldn’t, I was amazed at how like the property management, because I was using product at the time was outsource property manager for some of our properties.
David Dawkins (22:42):
And they were doing fine from on the single families. But for some, they just didn’t understand how to, how to operate a 10 unit, you know, which isn’t that big of a gap, but it was just tough. And then I realized there was no one in town that really special. You had a few companies that handled the hundred plus, you know, that model. And then you had a bunch of companies doing single families. So it was almost out of necessity because I had another property under contract. And I’m like, man, if I bring on, and at this point I’m starting to get partners. Uh, so I’m like, man, if I, you know, I got some money now I’m finding the deals, but if they don’t start operating, this is going to be a real short, short run. I got here in real estate. And so it was basically out of necessity that I started the property management just for my own properties and then realized, yeah, I mean, well, if I have everything set up, you know, that’s not the main focus, but we, we will take on other owner’s properties as well.
David Dawkins (23:32):
And then to do that, you have to be a broker, you know, you’re at least in Florida, you have to manage anyone else’s property after your broker. So, and I was already in age, I been an agent for a few years, so I’m like, well, I guess I get my brokers license. And then kinda again, back it’s just like, and then the light bulb started going off. I’m like, well, wait a second. Cause there’s a lot of, like, for example here, there’s still a lot of say, like TriFlex and quadplexes at all, that’ll come across my desk. And, but to me, what I’m not interested in them anymore in to the numbers is don’t work like here there’s people, they’re either doing house hack in or they’re Airbnb in. And so I know in my mind, I’m like, yes, I know that’s going to sell for, yeah, call it half a million, but I wouldn’t pay more than three 50.
David Dawkins (24:09):
So where instead of just letting those go across my desk now, and as you build up a network of other investors and brokers here in Jacksonville, it’s like, okay, now I can help you. I can find a buyer for you. Like I’m not interested, but I know someone. So it had just all kind of organically happened. And now we even offer a call segregation services, as well as it just, again, it was just like, oh, because, and that was just something I was doing and does on all my properties. And then, you know, it works, contacted the company, worked through them and I was like, Hey, I can solve a sales associate for them as well. Um, but it just helps again, it’s kind of that full service of, and if you, you know, it’s like, yes, there’s a few, a number of things going on, but they’re all focused around small to mid-size multifamily, you know, in Jacksonville. And so it’s basically, like you said, it’s kind of a little ecosystem. I was trying to crave
Reed Goossens (24:57):
And you are creating it. Right. It’s easy. It’s everything from cost segregation. I guess the question is, at what point do you stop controlling every piece of it because you just don’t have so many hours in the day, right? There’s, there’s some things that you can leave the profits on the table. Like I’m thinking of, you don’t need to be picking up the paintbrush, or even if it costs a duration, you don’t need to be actually doing the walk around the property right. Or doing the crunching the numbers, but maybe you have someone in house who can do it. So talk to me about how that team has expanded. So you’re not personally doing it. Maybe you haven’t gotten to that stage yet, but you know, that’s where you’re going. Absolutely.
David Dawkins (25:33):
And that’s, and I’m kind of add in that in the beginning of that stage, we’re starting to, um, you know, outsource and hire on you have one employee now, and then basically. Yeah. I think the key for that question, what I did was I knew, you know, what I wanted the business to look like in five years. And I heard one, someone said, uh, Pam, or whether this was a, basically any business, you start plan, start it, start it and run it. Like you’re planning to sell it in five years. And whether you do or not, that doesn’t matter. But having that. But when you have that mindset, it forces you to create systems and processes to where, you know, you’re not doing everything you can plug people in. And I even, I’m actually behind me here on the wall, I have an organizational chart.
David Dawkins (26:17):
And so I created it. I don’t know how long ago, but I put in all the positions for under each, you know, just any sort of basic sales, operations, finance, like any company. And I plugged in all these quote unquote different departments in my company. Even though when I, when I drew, I typed it out. When I typed it out, like literally every under each position, the name was David, I did everything, but I knew. And then I, and then I had a list of like, okay, well, when I get to this many doors, I’ll fill this role. When I get to here, I’ll fill that role. Um, and so, uh, but to kind of answer your question on what I’ve done so far, I mean, first off, I think there’s, this is what’s great nowadays. I mean, just with technology, I mean, it’s so, so much is great with technology, but, um, there’s, you can, you can automate, you know, so it’s something else.
David Dawkins (27:05):
I always forget where I hear this stuff too. I wish I could give people more credit for their clothes with, so someone set up, you know, everyone here’s delegate, right? Everyone’s like delegate stuff. But the, I heard someone said, they’re like, no, you first eliminate then automate then delegate. And so, and that’s the, uh, you know, kinda the way I started looking at everything. So first off, just cause when you start, you’re always like, oh, this is a new process. Let me create a checklist for this. But then I was like, this is so random. Like now I credit this checklist, it’s in this folder that no one ever uses. So, you know, eliminate some, simplify your business just as absolutely as much as possible. And then, you know, automate it and utilize as much technology as you can out there. And one, like for an example of that is just with, with property management, if you invest in a quality property management software, um, and I use building, I’m not, I don’t get any perk for that, but just to let everybody know, app folio is one out the big one, everyone uses a law or a Yardi.
David Dawkins (28:02):
I mean, um, there’s, there’s a few others that are great, but, um, but basically that will handle a lot of it for you. I mean, those, those, the software and the functions that they provide will just like communications back and forth to tenants. You know, it’s so easy to just automate, send a mass email to a hundred, like through the system. Everything’s everything is, uh, you know, how’s there as well. I actually just went through that with my employer. She was, she was just keeping like every email when I logged into the property manager email, I’m like, I just clicked one day. I just went on a deleting spree and just fell up. Cause there was duplicates everywhere. I was like, we really don’t, we don’t need all of this. Um, but then we utilize a tenant Turner too, which is another company that helps on the lead, you know, for vacant vacant units.
David Dawkins (28:43):
So I’m trying to think there’s if there’s any other companies like that, that we’ve, um, we’ve outsourced, but basically I would just recommend use as many functions like that as possible. And then yeah, just bring people on. And I have, and it’s funny in my, she started out just originally for marketing because when I got into started the podcast a year ago, this was all new to me. Like that’s what my background is more finance and sales and I didn’t have any thing, you know, when it came to marketing. And then, uh, she just, as we grew, like kind of organically was willing to take on, you know, she was the had neat, the part-time that was opened as part-time job, but then the way she wanted to leave this other one. So she was like, okay, yeah, I’ll take on more work. So it kind of organically happened to where she now handles the day-to-day from the property management standpoint, as far as, you know, fielding the calls.
David Dawkins (29:32):
I’m still very involved the way I do it. And it took a little while and I don’t, again, don’t plan to do this forever. Um, but where I actually do run property management one, one day a week. So like one day a week, I actually am operating that inbox and the phone and you know, if anything comes up and the reason why I like, cause it just keeps me dialed in on everything. And then because, and really when, when, when I made that shift the change from like, it didn’t really even take up that much more of my time because it eliminated all of this communication that we were having on a daily basis. I was basically like, Hey, just hold, I’ll handle that Wednesday, everything just turned into I’ll handle it Wednesday. I’ll get to it. You know, assuming it wasn’t an urgent. So, um, so that’s kind of how and how we arrived on it, you know, gone about it.
David Dawkins (30:17):
And then the plan is moving forward because, and then everything we outsource for, you mentioned like, you know, picking up the hammer and all like that’s we outsource that to all our contractors. Um, so, and that’s just a network of vendors that I’ve created over the years, just from the different times that I needed. And the next step with that though, again, kind of like a light bulb went off to me and telling me, well, this is easy because all I got to do at the end of the year is once that I realized that I’ve paid certain vendors, you know, call it say, so once you realize you paid the handyman service 50 grand, well, then you can just go hire your own handyman. And that’s kinda, that’s kinda the route that basically where we’re at now is just as the, as the, as the, um, units grow. Oh, it’s basically just, you know, as the, as the expenses grow, start bringing that stuff in house so we can then control, you know, the expenses that much better.
Reed Goossens (31:11):
Hello. I think the, the, the beauty of doing that is to your point, you’ve got to the end of the year financial, you can see how much you’ve spent on, on certain vendors. Uh, and I know for ourselves at Walton, we, we spend a lot of money on accounting and bookkeeping and there’s comes a point like when do I need to hire a CFO? Like when do I bring that in-house and, and that gives it a title, give them a title, um, because I’m spending maybe it’s $10,000 a month, uh, across, you know, the 2000 units to, to manage this. So there does come a point and, and we’ve had conversations about that, but it’s only once you’ve got to a certain stage and it feels good once you come to that stage because you then know, well, I can save a bit of money, um, but also can bring it in house and they work directly for me.
Reed Goossens (31:48):
Right. And that’s, that’s something that is, it feels pretty good when you building, building something from nothing and you’re building a little baby. Um, but I guess what’s the sort of, what’s the, does 2020 look like for you growing, going forward. And I guess the other question is, you know, key performance index indicators, do you know, if you bring on X amount of units from property management service point of view, that you’re going to earn Y amount of dollars for in terms of revenue. So you can, you can be, can you continue to be profitable and pay those employees and keep growing the staff and keep growing the business on that end? Yeah.
David Dawkins (32:20):
Yeah, absolutely. Um, and so, well, first I’ll just answer that part first. That’s a good thing about, or what a good thing. I know there’s other industries like this too, but with property manager and really your personnel is your main expense. And so like right now, like the, it basically, it’s slightly very, it wasn’t say of your other expenses are variable. It’s, that’s the thing. Once you get it off the ground, once you pay for the software subscription, you know, tenant Turner, you’re paying X a month, you’re know marketing. Once you have, you have all these initial expenses, you know, that, that are essentially are fixed. Like I know building will, once you get, as you increase your units, it starts going up marginally, but it’s basically as your, every dollar of revenue doesn’t increase, you know, the dollar of expenses on most of them with the exception of personnel.
David Dawkins (33:08):
And so that’s another, the way I look because obviously individuals, which, again, though, if you take a number of things off their plate, you know, as much as possible being like having tenant Turner, for example, help with, with leasing the units and fielding a lot of those inbound communication, then that one person that maybe historically could handle 50 units can now handle 75 or more, um, because of because you, you have taken so much off their plate. And so basically then you’re looking at it as a, and that’s why I pay, I run everything off of percentages though, too. So if that personnel expense, obviously really an account goes up, it doesn’t vary, but pretty much in that 35 to 50% of revenue is really going to end up going to, uh, to personnel. And that doesn’t even include my time. But then the good thing is the overhead though is, is going to be a very small over time as you continue to grow, uh, will be a smaller and smaller percentage.
David Dawkins (34:08):
And so, yeah, as far as, uh, making sure your opera you’re profitable still basically. Yeah, you, you know, that every dollar coming in, essentially quote, you know, roughly I don’t want to unite, it varies, but basically half of that, you know, is, is going to be, you know, close to half of that is going to be more to your profit or, but, and that’s why even that too, again, because you, the quote unquote profit, but as, as I said, like, I’m not accounting in my time too. So if I really, if you broke it down to your owner wage, you know, then the actual profit dividends at the bottom would be much less than that. But from a, um, from your expenses, they’re pretty minimal, you know, you have your personnel, then you have your overhead expenses. Like I said, as you grow, becomes smaller and smaller. So the
Reed Goossens (34:48):
Question I have for you is what’s been the biggest, uh, lesson learned through this whole process. And you know, you now starting to figure it out, you’re starting to crawl and every, probably you’re walking soon, sooner, rather than later, you’d probably be running and even sprinting. So what’s been the biggest lesson out of all of this, I
David Dawkins (35:09):
Would say, um, that, you know, kinda, and kind of goes back to what you mentioned earlier, but just don’t be like, you can’t be afraid to roll your hands up and just do things yourself, you know, and that’s one thing I’ve learned is just that most of this stuff, cause again, for me, I mean, I’m not really technologically, you know, that, I mean, I’m, you know, I’m not, I mean, I’m in my mid I’m 34, so it’s like, I understand technology. I’m not that old, but I never, I would not, uh, like even today, for example, I it’s amazing again, back to technology it’s out there. I was updating my podcast website, like with the, on the back end, like with the WordPress site, which I know some people are like, well, yeah, what’s a big deal, but I’m telling you that it was four.
David Dawkins (35:55):
And like, when I logged into it, they gave me, they built it. They gave me the, the, the information. And then I was just like, man, but all I did was Google. I Googled a couple of YouTube videos and made the few adjustments I need that I didn’t even have to contact the developer again. Um, and so that’s what, over this past year, I think I’ve learned my, my confidence in myself has just continued to grow. And basically that, that you’ll figure it out. Like, you know, again, depending on the industry you’re going into, but most of the listeners are probably are, it’s probably real estate related, um, or, or just, you know, business on, you know, again, uh, you know, not, not too high level where it’s, it’s pretty easy and like, and you know, at the end of the day, it’s just, it’s a, well, actually I should say it’s simple, but it’s not easy.
David Dawkins (36:35):
You know, it really, and it’s tough to do, but it’s not that complicated. So if you sit down and actually focus, you can figure a lot of things out. And that’s where, you know, and it’s just all like property management, you know, for example, it’s just all, it’s just a lot of work and that’s what real estate I feel like in general, it’s a lot of work upfront, you know, at least for the buy and hold investors like, like myself. I mean, you put a ton of work in upfront, but once you get everything set up, it’s not passive. You do have to manage it, but it’s, it starts to become much more smoother. And it’s the same thing. I would say the same thing has happened on, on the business side. Just everything it’s a lot of, we’re getting stuff set up. I mean, you know, you got to create LLCs and, you know, open the bank accounts and just et cetera, et cetera, this just seems like all this monotonous stuff. But, um, but once you get through that, then, you know, like, okay, now you can get back to the fun, fun part of just getting the business going. So I would just say, I mean, just the fact that, uh, that, yeah, I mean, it’s, stuff’s not that complicated, you know what I learned? Yeah, no, it
Reed Goossens (37:40):
Is not complicated. It’s not rocket science and it’s something that, but you, again, to the point of what we’re been the underlying theme for the show is, is like learning to roll up the sleeves and just be willing to figure it out. Because what you said earlier, even in your corporate world, people stood as trying to take the shortcut and it’s it’s, you got to stop that BS and then swerve that and just roll up the sleeves. And it’s not hard. It just takes some time focus, turn the bloody fine off and go use YouTube. If you need to do everything from tiling, a floor to updating your WordPress site, um, to starting a podcast, like all those things help. And I think that’s, that’s the, that’s the beauty of building businesses that you continuing to learn new things because, you know, I can’t remember.
Reed Goossens (38:19):
You talk about quotes before, like someone said to me the other day, like I just know that I know very little and I’ve got still so much more to learn, right. And that’s, that’s, that’s what business is. You’re just constantly learning about new ways to do it better, to do it more efficiently, um, to, to, to, to build teams. All that stuff is just it’s learning. And you just coming from one lesson to the next to the other, and you keep putting your, stocking it away in the, in the back of the mind, and then you keep building Fort and then look for, to build other businesses, other things within the ecosystem that can help propel you towards your goals. So that’s awesome stuff. Yeah.
David Dawkins (38:51):
That’s one thing, I mean, I have Adam notice if you most successful people, it’s a common theme is they’re lifelong learners and they just always are. And that was the thing too. That was a big mindset shift. And I don’t know when that kind of started probably, you know, kind of the start of all this real estate stuff. But yeah, when I left college, I was one like, all right, I’m never done not going back. And then, uh, and then I ended up of course going back, get my MBA because, you know, again, it just furthered me in my corporate career at the time. But, um, but yeah, and in, but now I enjoy learning. I’m always reading books, listening to podcasts and, and that’s something, you know, too, you mentioned, you’re a one, I think two people, one, I will say it’s, it’s a lot more enjoyable. It’s a lot easier to roll your hands up and get dirty when it’s your business, you know, as opposed to someone else, it’s your baby. Like, so you’re like, Hey, I don’t care if I got to do it, it’s getting done. This is my name it’s representing, like, we’re getting this thing going. And, uh, so, so yeah, I think that’s just, um, something that makes it easier once you do you know what you do, jump out on your own. Awesome. Well,
Reed Goossens (39:55):
We’re coming to the end of the show, but before we dive into the top five investing tips, one last question for you, what does a 2020 have in store for you and beyond? Yeah.
David Dawkins (40:02):
Yeah. So hopefully, um, you know, hopefully this other property does, you know, continue to stay on track and close by the end of the month, which would be, um, one of the, you know, the biggest for us, you know, as far as me and my personal portfolio. So that’ll be huge. And just looking to continue to grow everything, like, like we’ve, uh, kind of touched on all this as all, everything we’re mentioned is really like, I like how you put, you know, it’s like you’re crawling and walking and that’s where I would say on that, going from that, like crawl to walk stay. So I’m just excited about everything that had that I’ve been able to start and like lay the foundation for, you know, the last 12 months to now just continue to build on love it
Reed Goossens (40:38):
Or am I, well, look, let’s get into the top five investing tips, ready to do it. Let’s do it, mate. What’s the daily habit you practice to keep on track towards your goals.
David Dawkins (40:46):
So there’s, uh, I kinda got, I’m a big, I’m big on habits and processes. So, but I, uh, you know, I had my morning routine, but I would say that the biggest thing that I do is at the end of each day, I’m map out my next day. And so when I wake up, um, I I’m just, I there’s no thinking, I’m not like I have to wake up every once. Oh, what do I got to do today? I just, I have my morning routine, you know, I go work out, uh, you know, get ready, I’ll read. And then, um, I do, I do a couple of little journaling things and then basically come into my office and it’s just right there on my desk of what I gotta do. And then just throughout the day, cross everything off. If something doesn’t get done, it just obviously gets added to the next day. So then you make sure everything gets done and it too, I feel like it’s really the end of the day. I’m not worrying. I’m not at eight at night. I’m not sitting there going, oh man, did I forget something because I’ve, I’ve kind of wrapped up mine that day. Right, right, right. Love it.
Reed Goossens (41:40):
Question number two is what is the, who’s been the most influential person in your career to date?
David Dawkins (41:47):
I, you know, I haven’t, that’s what, uh, I don’t think I can even mention, you know, one specific person and I like to actually point this out because you know, in, in, especially in real estate, you hear so much about mentors and how important it is to have a mentor. And that’s so true. I would, I would agree with that. And there’s a lot of benefits, but you don’t have to have one particular person. And that’s where, you know, 10 years ago there, I didn’t know about podcasts, but from, I would consider all of the, you know, someone like yourself, you know, the people that you listened to on these podcasts and authors of these books that I’ve read. I mean, I would say they’re all, you know, be hard to pick one, but those are the most influential people, you know, it doesn’t, you don’t have to have someone in your immediate circle, who’s a successful real estate investor and you don’t have to go if you find, well, we don’t have to bug the guy to death either. You know, you can obviously try to create relationships where you can, but so many people, you know, like yourself are putting out content that you can pick up on. It’s free, it’s out there. Like just go get it. And then you can have all the mentors in the world. If you just, you know, go take in everything they’re putting out. No, I love
Reed Goossens (42:52):
It. No, it’s so true. And there is so much, there’s no ignorance as an excuse anymore. This everything’s at our fingertips and we can go and get the information we need. So yeah, definitely love it. Question number three. What is the most influential tool in your business? And when I say tool, it could be a physical tool, like a journal or a phone, or it could be a piece of software that you use on a daily basis. What is the most influential tool?
David Dawkins (43:10):
Yeah, I would say, you know, now at this point it’d have to be, um, the property management software. I mean, that’s just, yeah. Again, I mean, not that you have to use, you know, building, you can use whichever one, but if you don’t have some sort of tool like that, then it’s, it would just be really tough to, to, I mean, you, yeah, it was really tough to scale beyond a few units, you know, and really keep track of everything a
Reed Goossens (43:32):
Hundred percent. No, that, yeah. Having, having software so important, particularly in a business like property management, um, question four in one sentence, what’s been the biggest failure in your career. What’d you learn from that failure? Um, the, uh, trying to think the
David Dawkins (43:47):
Biggest failures, cause I’ve, you know, everyone’s had to add quite a few, but that’s how I, uh, I would say the biggest one. It’s funny. It was really that experience of, uh, cause I’ve had a lot of other, you know, issues. I bought houses that then, you know, it still had a knob and tube wiring and both ACS went out like in the first two months. So I’ve had those experiences, but I think the experience of, of the property management, you know, and knowing like, Hey, that didn’t work this failed. Like, so then I had to find a solution on my own, you know, which was ended up being me, create my own company. But, uh, but yeah, I would say that that was the biggest failure was, you know, not, uh, was yeah. You know, put outsourcing property management onto a certain company that you wasn’t able to handle it.
David Dawkins (44:31):
So then, you know, what I learned from that was, Hey, sometimes you just gotta do it yourself, you know, but I think, and then I will just add on that too. Cause people always there’s the, it kind of goes back to our conversation. Cause if you do everything yourself, you obviously, it can hurt you from the scaling perspective. It’s hard to keep scaling for you if you’re doing everything. So when you, when you, you can bring stuff in house, so I’m like, you know, we’ve talked about like you, where you then hired out. It’s like, yes, it’s your company. You control it. But even if you can do stuff in the beginning on your own, but have a plan to, to hire someone to handle that on a day to day. Love it. My, my
Reed Goossens (45:04):
Final question, where can people reach you to continue the conversation they want to be in your sphere?
David Dawkins (45:08):
Yeah, they, uh, would, uh, the best way to get ahold of me is just by email. Um, so you can just email me directly. It’s David at seven bridges, rei.com and that’s spelled out so seven bridges, rei.com. Love
Reed Goossens (45:22):
It. Love it, mate. Well, look, I want to thank you so much for dropping by. I just wanna reflect some of the things that I took away from today’s show. I think the, the, the thing I said earlier that the, or lessons learned with the, even in the corporate world that anyone wants to try and take the shortcut, but, but really the, the, the ability to roll up the sleeves and get it, the work done through experiences of grafting for your dollar in the beginning of your life, as a young kid has helped, you know, that cut, making sure there are no shortcuts, right? Building businesses. It’s not complicated, but it is tough and it takes time. And that’s really what I think you, it sounds like you’ve learned along the way in order to build business ecosystems, to then really realize the power of having a business, to support the individual businesses within the bigger scheme to help you buy more and more real estate. And I think for me, that was probably the biggest thing that I took away from today. Uh, and also looking at like simplifying your business, always continuing to look to simplify, always continuing to look, to learn and grow and figure out different systems. And it goes back to just rolling up the sleeves and getting it done because it is your baby. You love it. It’s yours. And you’re trying to build something from nothing. Did I leave anything
David Dawkins (46:27):
Out? Absolutely. Now that sounds good, man. Awesome,
Reed Goossens (46:30):
Man. Well, look again, thank you so much for dropping by enjoy the rest of your week and we’ll catch up very, very soon.
Speaker 6 (46:35):
Absolutely. I appreciate it. Well, they haven’t
Reed Goossens (46:37):
Another cracking episode jam pack with some incredible advice from David. Please do go check him out. And David at seven bridges, rei.com. Uh, the email will be up on our show notes after the show. So please get over to Reed goossens.com and check those out. I want to thank you all again for taking some time out of your day to tune in, to continue to grow your financial IQ, because that’s what we’re all about here on the show. And if you love this show, the easiest way to give back is to go on iTunes and give us our show. A five star review. It’s pretty easy to exit two minutes again. We’re going to do this all again next week. Remember be bold, be brave and go give life a crack.