Hey everybody, welcome back to the show! I’m excited to have my buddy Don Ross here today! It’s the new year and it’s that time of the year where a lot of us are talking about setting goals and how to perform better in the year ahead. That’s exactly what we are going to talk about today with Don who is an expert on automation, something that we all need more off in our lives. 

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[00:00:00] Mike: Hey, everybody. Welcome back to the show. Excited to have my buddy Don Ross here. We’re talking about, it’s obviously the new year here and we’re talking about, you know, a lot of us are talking about setting goals and how to perform better in the year ahead. And that’s exactly what we’re going to talk about today with Don, who really is an expert on automation.

Something that we all need more of in our lives.

professional real estate investors know that it’s not really about the real estate. That real estate is just a vehicle of freedom. A group of over a hundred of a nation’s leading real estate investors from across the country. Meet several times a year at the investor fuel real estate mastermind to share ideas on how to strengthen each other’s businesses, but also to come together as friends.

And built more fulfilling lives or all of those around us on today’s show. We’re going to continue our conversation of fueling our businesses and our lives. I’m glad you’re here.

[00:01:00] Hey, Don. Welcome to the show.

Don: Nice to be in a show with you Mike. Thank

Mike: you.Good to see you, buddy. Good to see you. It’s been a little while here. Like it’s been a weird. Year behind us and hopefully we’re moving forward. I think a lot of us are ready to move forward one way or another.

Don: Yeah. Get to hang out in the Wisconsin, snow rather than Southern California sun.

But it’s been a good move and loved the young show with you.

Mike: Yeah. I’m glad you you’ve been talking about that for years. I’m glad you finally made that happen and were able to make the move that you wanted to make.

Don: Yeah, family’s definitely enjoying the, uh, remoteness. I know that’s crazy to somebody, some people out there, but, uh, we’re both retired military and the kids love just hanging out and being on the go curtains, that stuff out here.

36 acres of beautiful nature.

Mike: Yeah. You know, you’re, you’re obviously you’re a service provider. I’m a service provider. We, we all wear a lot of hats, right. If me, a lot of the folks that watched the show or real estate investors, um, And have all sorts of other businesses, right? I mean, that’s why [00:02:00] we do all this is to be able to kind of ideally live where we want to live, do what we want to do, get more of our time back.

And so that’s, that’s pretty amazing. Um, yeah.

Don: Yeah. It’s been huge for me to be able to, um, kind of set myself up to get out here where as long as I can get internet and that’s been a little difficult with living out in the remote. Um, but if, as long as I have internet, uh, has gotten to a point now where we’re getting the income that we need to do, and we can kind of have the time to do what we want and pick up the kids, take the kids to school, be at the practices, kind of the things that a lot of us strive to be a part of and be around with a family.


Mike: that’s awesome. And you know, one of the things that we’re going to talk about, the main thing we’re gonna talk about today is kind of setting goals, planning, using automation and, um, and really kind of holding ourselves accountable. And I think that at the end of the day, we all aspire to, I think most people that get into real estate investing ultimately get in with the goal of.

Financial freedom and time freedom. Right. But then, you know, and some of this is because of social media, you get [00:03:00] in and people start to fall in love with the hustle of just being busy all the time and hectic. And the truth is, is like, if you’re busy, if your life is hectic, some people think that feels productive.

But the truth is, is there’s no way that that is efficient. I mean by, by definition. Right? And so that’s what we’re gonna talk about today. I want more people and this is what we do and everything we do now, that’s what you do in your business is try to help customers be more efficient. So they have a business that’s on some level running without them having to do.

Push buttons all day long and do stuff, right?

Don: Yeah. You know, part of the military is structure and discipline, but also unfortunately part of that is the grind and the hustle. So I had to lose that when I got out and it’s taken me a little bit, but we’re getting there. We’re finally getting to that point.


Mike: Yeah. There’s not, I mean, there’s nothing wrong. I mean, Look, everybody has to grind and hustle. At some point, I know you’ve worked really hard to get where you are. I’ve worked really hard and there’s no way that anybody starting out isn’t going to work hard for a while. Right. But that the goal is not to hustle.

The goal is to hustle hard enough to [00:04:00] get you to a point where you don’t have to hustle as hard anymore. So,

Don: yeah. Yeah. I mean, I, to be honest, one of our companies is called I’ll call it easy button REI, and it was a joke. In the sense that we said everybody wants the easy button and the reality is upfront for the first probably year or two, maybe three, you’re going to have to do the work and be the hustle and maybe wear a bunch of hats.

And so, yeah, you’ve gotta be willing to do the work, but at some point you’ve gotta be able to pull back and say, Hey, this is something that I don’t like doing, and I can hire somebody to do it. And maybe they do 80% of it, but at least it’s getting done and I can do something that’s better use of my time at that point.

Mike: Yeah. Yeah. So I know we’re going to talk a little bit about kind of goals. Start off with talking about goal planning. And I think that, um, you know, there’s a lot of real estate investors and maybe some people that are listening, this will resonate with this where they’re like, my plan is to do X deals this year.

Well, my plan is, let’s just say it’s 50. I’m going to do 50 deals this year. Well, the truth is, is. Saying that, and then having a plan to execute that are two different things. Right. And so [00:05:00] you kind of have to back in, and people that are at the top of their game are saying, okay, well to get 50 deals, just make it up.

I need 30, I need 30 leads per deal. Maybe it’s 20, maybe it’s 10 for you. If you’re doing creative, finance, whatever it might be, but you know, kind of backing into what, like we’ll 50 per month, uh, per month. That’s basically, let’s just say for a month and to get four deals, I need 30 leads. So I need 120 leads a month.

And you kind of back into where am I going to get those? I expect that on average, I’m going to get 50 from direct mail. I’m going to get 50 from. Cold calling, like, whatever it might be for you, you kind of have to back into those stepping stones to help you hit your monthly and ultimately your annual.

Right? Right.

Don: Yeah. We, you know, we run off of, kind of the U S traction model that a lot of people now kind of talk and that’s the buzzword now, but, um, For us, we kind of put together just a simple spreadsheet. We don’t complicate it. We don’t have some big, robust, crazy software. Um, we use a Google sheet, we put it in and what we wanted to do on a yearly basis, we broke it down to [00:06:00] quarterly, monthly, and then weekly.

And we do a level 10 meeting in general. We just kind of talk over, um, you know, good news. And then we jump into kind of the KPIs and say our goal was 20. Did we get 20 or more? Or did we get 15? If we did 15? Um, Hey, did something go wrong and do we need to adjust? And can we quickly adjust that? Or is it something.

Worse off that we’ve got to look and dig into. Um, but if it’s we’re meeting it and exceeding it well, great. Can we do more of that? And what does that look like? And so you never know that without kind of having a pulse on it. And with those weekly meetings that helps kind of keep that pulse on it. Um, I am add ADHD, like no other, if you let me go for a month and then tell me, let’s talk about the numbers, it’s way too long to then readjust them and quickly make that happen.

And you’ve probably spent a bunch of money. You didn’t need to. Had you adjusted it in a week. So that’s worked really well for us to have those weekly meetings and just kind of talk through the numbers and make sure that we’re all on the same day page, uh, [00:07:00] for those that are in the real estate kind of niche, uh, and buying and selling and houses, I would say you’ve typically got things like your leads manager that’ll have, uh, how many calls are they making per week?

How many times are they actually talking to a seller and how many appointments are they setting those types of KPIs?

Mike: Yeah. Yeah. And those, and those things are all, if you’re using a CRM like beast mode, or honestly any CRM that’s worth its salt at all is tracking kind of base funnel KPIs. Like you said, number of leads.

Did you set an appointment? Did you attend an appointment that you make an offer? Did you get a contract that you close? I mean, those are like as fundamental kind of metrics as you can get for the most part for our business. And any, any, any software that you use, any CRM is tracking that right?

Don: Yeah, on a, on a basic level, they should be able to track those high level KPIs.

Um, for us, it’s just the button clicks. They’ve got a status and they’re clicking it and we track the date and time. Most CRM should be able to do that. Um, beast mode does it, but I’m sure there’s others out there that do it as well. Um, and so then take that stuff and be able [00:08:00] to, uh, put it on a sheet and weekly track it, and then you’ll be able to start to see trends of you’re making it.

You’re not making it. Where do you need to adjust fire, uh, to meet those goals on a monthly, quarterly, annual basis?

Mike: Yeah, I think of it like a roadmap. Like if you were to, you know, not none of us use roadmaps anymore, we use like GPS. Right. But, uh, I’m old enough to know. I used to have the big, like random McNally Atlas in the back of my car.

The guys like us are getting old. I don’t like dinosaurs now, but I saw you shaking your head. Yes there. So, but you know, you kind of like used to plot out like point to point, like I’m going to drive from here to den from Dallas to Denver and it’s like, okay, well I got to get to Amarillo and then I want to go to the next point.

And it’s just, you kind of. Thought about it in terms of like, you know, stepping stones ultimately, right. I’m just like bites of like, once I get here, as long as I get there by this time, then I can get there by this time. And it’s, it’s ultimately just, it’s the same thing in our business. Like if you’re not hitting the small stepping stones, you’re not going to hit the bigger goal, those small stepping stones and tracking them are symptoms of whether you’re healthy or not based on, you know, what [00:09:00] your goals are.


Don: Yeah, and for us, that’s a simple on track off track and that’s, again, us traction type talk, but you either met it or you didn’t meek make it. And there’s no in-between and uh, sometimes our meetings can be a little bit harsh in that regard, as they say on track off track. And I don’t want to hear the story, why it’s off track just yet.

We’ll talk later. Um, but we simply go through and if it’s green, we made the goal. If it’s red, I didn’t make the goal. And that’s just a simple thing in our Excel. Um, and it’s basically saying the number is there or it’s not. And on a quick look for me, I can be on the go. We do it in Google sheets. As an owner, I can jump in on a Google drive, quickly open it, and I can see where we’re at and kind of know exactly the pulse for that week.

And if we need to make any adjustments. Yeah. And we

Mike: do the same thing we use, we use traction or a loose variant of that. Everybody probably adjust that a little bit, but we use a Google tracking sheet. Most of my team is virtual. We pull it, we have a level 10 meeting and we pull it up, you know, and we just kind of go through our metrics.

And so I think, you know, you’re doing the same thing. [00:10:00] We are, you know, structurally I tell everybody that. Everybody has Excel. Everybody has Google sheets. You don’t have to have necessarily any fancy software. Ultimately those numbers are coming from a lot of different systems, probably. So we’ve just kind of found the same thing.

It’s like, you just got to get it in a spreadsheet. But I think, um, you know, one of the challenges that a lot of people have as real estate investors as business owners is they’re the boss. And sometimes it’s easy to kind of Dodge accountability, right?

Don: Yeah. I mean, when you’re wearing five, 10 hats and you’re saying I’m acquisition, I’m disposition and I’m taking the phone calls, but I need to get the marketing out.

It’s easy to kind of Dodge those, you know, and say, well, I was busy and I didn’t have time to do this. There’s something that’s got to hold you accountable. And, and, you know, there’s obviously tools out there like a investment machine that could do some of that stuff for you. Um, but at the same time, if you’re wearing all those hats and trying to figure out, uh, you know, did I get this stuff done and hold yourself accountable?

I personally [00:11:00] use an app. It’s both on iOS and Android and it’s free. And it’s called goals, wizard, and it’s goals with an S wizard. Um, and that allows you to then set up your goals and you can set milestones with dates. So think of it as you’re setting, maybe a quarterly than monthly dates and weekly milestones where you set it up and then it tells you if you’re.

Meet meeting those goals or not meeting those goals. Um, and as an owner, I go in and it has a morning routine that I go through every morning. I say, what’s important to me. What are my top three things that I want to get done for today? And then once I’ve gone through the day and hopefully checked off most, if not all, and Hey, I’m not going to lie to you.

There’s some days where I don’t check any of it off, I get derailed and something pops up. It happens. But at the end of the night, it’s got an evening routine where it literally says, all right, how did today go. What worked, what can you do differently for the stuff that didn’t work and how can you just fire?

And it asks you that on a daily basis. And then at the end of the week, it recaps and says, Hey, what did, what went well this week? What didn’t go well for this week? [00:12:00] And you have kind of that coming to Jesus. And if you’re the one doing a lot of that stuff, it can be kind of a punch to the gut, but it’s, it’s a good one to have.

Um, and, and for me personally, last year I used it, um, for 2020 for the whole year, the year before I only used it for about half the year. Um, but on a personal level, I do the big, uh, white board with pictures and photos of what my goals are, uh, and write it out and write some little things on it. Last year on a personal level, I wanted to buy a house in Wisconsin, done.

I wanted to give one of my cars to my dad. That’s kind of a hot rod, cause he’s not had one in 30 years. Did that, um, spend more time with the family and take some vacations. Did that on a business level, there were some goals I had with beast mode and there’s one that we didn’t meet, but there’s two that we did.

So I track that throughout and you know, you heard me say I didn’t make all of them, but I made two out of three. Yeah, pretty dang good. Yeah, no

Mike: doubt. I mean, if you’re not that’s, one of the problems is as real estate and really entrepreneurs is if you don’t have a goal, [00:13:00] You know, if the goal is a moving target, like you’re surely not going to hit it.

Right. And if it doesn’t goal should be aspirational, like they should be, you know, sometimes we we’ve got, I’m good at over-complicating things through. So as long as we have a goal, then we have a stretch goal. However you want to do it, just keep it simple. But I think the important thing is, is just to make sure that your activities line up to what the outcome you want.

I mean, at the end of the day, it’s just like a, it’s like losing weight. Like I’ve kind of been on a yo-yo the past couple of years, but when I did it, when I, when I, you know, A couple of years ago, I lost a bunch of weight, but I didn’t really work out at all, but I just was eating like way better and measuring exactly what was doing.

I was using the, um, my fitness pal app and I just tracked everything I ate. And then ultimately that kind of forces you to say, well, I’m about to like eat this thing. Like, man, I’m going to be over my calories today. So I’m not going to do it kind of forces you to start to be. Uh, accountable and responsible for those things.

And you start to make better choices. And at the end of the day, weight is just a matter of, you’re either consuming less calories or you’re burning than through exercise. I mean, that’s how you manage your weight, right? [00:14:00] And it’s the same thing with lead generation, for example, um, it’s like if you need to cold call a hundred people to get one lead, then if you’re not cold calling a hundred people every day, you’re not getting one lead a day.

If you need one lead a day to get 30 in a month to get one deal. And you’re not doing the a hundred calls. You’re not going to get one deal a month. Like it’s just literally a summation of the smaller activities.

Don: Yeah. I mean, habits and consistency is everything right? I mean, we talk about it when we say follow-up and everything else, we say that the consistency and follow up is what brings stuff back in through the door.

And that is one thing I will say has been huge for obviously the military and me coming out of the Marine Corps, that those habits, those consistencies, and doing the same repetitions over and over and over. Train like you plan on fighting and you know, when you go out and you plan on buying houses, you’ve got to continually have a process and follow that process.

And when you do it, stuff will line up. This is going to work every single time. No, it’s not, but it’s going to consistently work more often than not.

Mike: Yeah. Yeah. W w when we talked about accountability there, how do [00:15:00] you, it took, so one time we, we went, this is going back a couple of years ago, we actually went through a formal kind of EOS implementation.

Process. And, and I kind of gave my team at the time. Like, I, I, there’s really two things that I did. And, and I’m kind of telling you guys what I did cause I want Don’s feedback for one and two, um, to have you hopefully get a little direction on, this is one is I kind of anointed somebody on my team. Who’s Hannah, you know, to say, basically, wait, like, look, you, you host the meetings every week because if I’m responsible for it, Planning for the meeting and preparing for what we call level 10 meeting, which is basically a weekly check in is if I’m responsible for preparing for that, then I know I’m going to come on prepared every week.

I’m just, that’s just how I roll. Um, and so one was like making it somebody else’s responsibility to put the numbers together, to get the meeting planned out and to kind of. Track time during the meeting and make sure that I’m not taking us down a bunch of rabbit holes. Like we talked about this for five minutes and we do this for 10 minutes, whatever it might be.

And two was giving my team. [00:16:00] The authority to hold me accountable and make sure that if I come up with a bunch of harebrained ideas, which I do often, uh, cause I’m a visionary type guy. That’s like, Oh, what if we do this? You know, to reign me back in and say, that is not our goal. That sounds like a great idea.

Let’s put it on the list where ideas for next time, but that is not part of our goal for this year or this quarter. Right. And so any other thoughts on, on how, cause I, I know at the end of the day, like if I say, look guys, I’m out of town next week. We’re not going to have our meeting. Like I just sabotage the whole like accountability process because it doesn’t fit my day or my agenda my week, or whatever.

Any thoughts on how, you know, a lot people that are listening to this are small teams and wearing a lot of hats and really easy to kind of hide from accountability. Any thoughts on how they can do better?

Don: Yeah. I mean, if you have a VA or an assistant, um, the way that I handled it initially was simply doing a screen test.

You know, you could use loom or whatever else. Um, but I [00:17:00] walked through kind of the numbers that were important and where I would pull the numbers from. Did a video on it once. And then I was done, uh, from that point forward, the assistant now grabs them on a weekly basis. I come in and open up the Google sheet, uh, in the meeting and we’ll run through the meeting.

We’re running through kind of the typical us model. Um, and the numbers are already there because much like you, if it was dependent on me to go find the numbers and put them in the data sheet and everything else, it’s not going to happen. That’s just not what I find fun or want to do. And I’ll find excuses of something else to do.

Um, so she does that on a weekly basis. Um, if the team, uh, brings up anything, we’ve got basically our goals, I’ll tell them kind of, Hey, these are the top priorities that I have. And I, I try to keep it to three per quarter, no more than three. Um, and those are the things that I’m kind of going to be working on outside of that, I try to keep the distractions as possible, little as possible.

Um, but we do have a tab where we kind of say, Hey, [00:18:00] these are some of the, uh, topics or things that we want to look at. Almost a roadmap of the year. Uh, they’re important. We’re hearing from our members or from whatever that this is something important we need to look at. Okay. Let’s put it on there and normally I’ll share it for at least 30 days.

Make sure it’s still important. 30 days later. And then let’s talk about it at that point, because I’m much like you and I’m squirrel out shiny. Oh, let’s talk about that. Uh, and so it helps if you shelf it for 30 days and say, okay, is this. Still important. Are we still hearing about this? Um, there’s regular occasions where we’ll do it faster than that, but most of the times 30 day shelf time and then go from there.

Um, and like, you’ve got to have somebody else that kind of runs that meeting and brings in the KPIs or just bump it done. Yep.

Mike: Yep. Um, yeah, one of the one thing that’s interesting, we, you know, we have our next investor fuel meeting coming up here, so we’ll see in Scottsdale for that, but is that a, when people join, we, we have them present on their KPIs as you know, and almost without fail, new members are like, [00:19:00] Oh, what is this?

Like, I don’t really know what I don’t, I don’t really know how to do this. How do I do this? And then they go through the process for a quarter. And they come back and they’re like, wow. I started tracking things and the business basically just got healthier. Right. I mean, and so, um, we’ve had a bunch of success stories of people that started tracking it because they.

You know, it’s not like people have bad intentions to sabotage themselves. They just do it through lack of accountability. But when you start to track your, how you’re performing or even tracking, like, what is my acquisition, what is my kind of marketing cost per acquisition for different lead sources?

And you’re like, wow, why do I, why have I been spending so much effort on this? Like, it costs twice as much for me to get a deal from that and I hate doing it. Right. And so once you start to track that your business just gets healthier. And that’s what we’re talking about here is, is. Kind of putting some, it’s not, you know, nobody wants to do this stuff, but we want the result from doing it, right?

Don: Yeah. Yeah. It’s, you know, one of the big things that we try to help them with is, you know, We track your cycle time is what we kind [00:20:00] of call it. Um, if it takes either 45 days or six months for you to market and then have it come back through as revenue, what does that look like? If one is 45 days and one is six months and you like doing the 45 day thing, why don’t you do more of it?

If you can to bring back revenue quicker. Um, if the six months one is bringing in higher dollar items, maybe it’s a good long-term thing, but in between obviously you gotta have something that fills those deals, but you’ll never know that if you’re not tracking and looking at that stuff. And is it, you know, is it two X on your dollar?

You spend a dollar, you get two back. Is it 10 X? You know, there was some times four or five years ago where we saw 10 X on some of the direct mail and some other stuff we were doing. Um, can you repeat that? Can you go into another smaller market and, and do the same thing? Um, and that’s some of the stuff that allows you to kind of, you know, track your number and know exactly what you can either repeat or not.

And then for us, there was some marketing campaigns where once we started actually tracking it, we’re like, we’re losing money on this. Why are we even doing this? And you never knew it [00:21:00] because you did track the numbers. You just thought, well, we got a deal like three months ago from that. I’m pretty sure we’re still in the, in the green, on that.

But without tracking it, you’d never know it.

Mike: Yeah. Or sometimes people just like, look at everything. Well, I, in total I spent this and we made, got this many deals, but you don’t realize that there’s something in there that is a weak link that you could do without. Right. So a hundred percent. Yeah. Yeah. So Don.

You’ve been an investor fuel for, uh, at least a couple of years now. I can’t even remember, uh, this is, I lost track of like most time during 2020, it was like, it’s like the longest year ever. Right. So it’s like, is this like six months or has it been six years? I don’t know. Um, but uh, you’ve been in the group for awhile.

Now. Would you mind just kinda sharing your thoughts on just a little testimonial on being a

Don: part of the group? Yeah, it’s, it’s a group that I’d say is a close knit family. And I know you hear that from people often, but you know, that’s no, no bull crap, um, in the group while you’re there, while you’re online and Facebook, uh, you ask a question and there’s immediately typically, you know, four or five people answering [00:22:00] and they’re giving great answers and not just shooting from the cuff of, I think, and I thought it’s actual stuff that they’ve used and it’s worked for them.

So you can actually implement it. Um, the, the members themselves, when we’re actually in person, it’s great to be at the meeting, but honestly the, uh, the night dinners and things of that nature, just that networking side of it, it’s been huge, not for just us, but many others where, you know, we’re able to kind of talk and meet and I’m like, okay, you’re talking about doing some, uh, sub two, or you’re talking about flipping over here.

And I know this other member, especially cause we’ve got so many members on the CRM. I know this other member that does the same thing and maybe they could help you. And it’s worked really well to kind of connect people back and forth as well. Um, and it’s just been a great experience to be a part of and look forward to seeing y’all and

Mike: awesome.

Awesome. Well, thanks for that. Appreciate it. So Don and folks want to learn more about beast mode or about you about any, any of the stuff you’re working on? Like what, what’s a good place for them to go, like learn more or connect

Don: with you. Yeah, so we have, uh, easy button, [00:23:00] rei.com. If you go over there, um, free tools over there, we’ve got an area where you can get the free CRM.

Doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of beast mode, but if you’re just getting started, that’s a great spot. Um, that’s got the CRM that’s based on Podio to start with, uh, if you are, you know, already closing deals and you’re looking more for the KPI tracking and the automation and follow-up, um, head over to REI automation, squad.com, and you can get more information there and we can talk and see if it’s fit for you.

Mike: Awesome. Awesome. Sounds good. Well, appreciate you. Appreciate you. And all you do for the investor community done. Absolutely. Thank you. Yeah. And everybody, Hey, hope you got some good value here at the beginning of the year, you know, just, just make sure you get those goals set. And more importantly, everybody’s good about saying here’s what I want to accomplish.

Right? Nobody like a more common scenario is people will set a bunch of new year’s resolutions or goals and, and in the back of their mind, they know they have. You know, a very slim chance of hitting that. That really is not how you should be goal planning. You should be doing it methodically and making sure you’re studying stepping stones and small goals to kind of hit those goals.

So this is the time to do it. If you haven’t done it [00:24:00] already. Appreciate you guys a bunch. We’ll see you on the next step. So

are you an active real estate investor? If so, and you want to latch onto the power of surrounding yourself with over a hundred of the nation’s leading real estate investor. All committed to building stronger businesses and living richer fuller lives. You should jump on a call with us to learn more about investor fuel.

Simply visit investor fuel.com to get started. [00:25:00] .