Hey everybody, welcome back to the show! I’m excited to have my buddy, Austin Hughes, with us today. He’s an investor out of Lubbock, TX and an Investor Fuel Member. Austin is an amazing young guy that has a strong team, a lot of automation, system and processes in place to build the business. The type of things that many of us should be doing more of and I’m excited to talk about that today!

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[00:00:00] Mike: Hey everybody. Welcome back to the show. I’m excited to have my buddy Austin Hughes with me here today as an investor fuel member. He’s an investor out of Lubbock, Texas. So in the same state as me long ways from here, Texas is a big state, but a wise beyond his years, as a young guy, having some amazing experience and really has a strong team in place and a lot of automation in place to build a business, the types of things that we much of us, many of us should be doing more of.

So excited to talk about that today.

professional real estate investors know that it’s not really about the real estate. That real estate is just a vehicle to 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 builds more fulfilling lives for all of those around us on today’s show, we’re [00:01:00] going to continue our conversation of fueling our businesses and our lives. I’m glad you’re here.

Hey, Austin, welcome to the show.

Austin: Thanks Mike. Appreciate

Mike: it. Yeah. Yeah. I’m excited to talk about this today. Cause I, this comes up all the time. You know, I’m surrounded by real estate investors and entrepreneurs and uh, people, we talked a little about this a little bit upfront. Some people have amazing businesses, but a lot of it is just through.

Uh, just relentless hustle sometimes and not as buttoned up as they should be. And so I think, uh, this is going to be a good episode for those that are not quite as automated or systematized or have the right people in place that they should. And I think, you know, We were going to kind of steal our thunder from the end of the show here a little bit, but it’s not really a destination that you get to.

And it’s just like the land of milk and honey forever. Right. It’s this constant iteration of improving all the time. So, [00:02:00] yeah. So, Hey, before we jump into this, why don’t you tell everybody a little bit about your background, how you got into real?

Austin: Yeah. Well, I got into real estate back at the end of 2015.

When I was just a senior at Texas tech university. So I started in college. I had done a bunch of research before then, so it’s not like I just, I was like, yeah, let’s try this, uh, before regret graduate. But, um, I didn’t have any money at the time. I had a thousand bucks, which that was a lot of money to me.

Then I thought I was on my way. So I had to do a lot of creative deals and just kind of bootstrap in every sense of the word, which has been super valuable. But, um, from that time I’ve always thought systems building a business, building a team, not just myself. So I got started then been doing it for a little over five years.

Now I’ve got a great team, uh, we’re growing in the Lubbock market and looking forward to, you know, what the future has.

Mike: Yeah. Awesome. That’s [00:03:00] awesome. So let’s talk a little bit about kind of the case for automation. I know you’ve got a lot of, kind of buttoned up systems and processes, and we’re always looking to improve, but you know, why should real estate investors even pay attention to this?

Why should they be focused on it?

Austin: Well, people get drawn to real estate because of passive income. They hear your passive income that, oh, I could be on a beach somewhere. My rentals are making me money. Right. So a lot of people get into it for that. So if that’s the type of person and that’s the type of reasoning they’re getting into real estate, then you want to build it in a way that you can actually have that passive income.

So, um, it’s just pretty straightforward. If everything has to run through you. Or if everything’s up here in your head, you’re never going to have that passive income,

Mike: uh, your, your child, it’s your, it’s a job. And it requires you you’re you’re you, you’re the guy that has to run the machine and that’s not good.

Austin: Yeah. So that’s one group of people. The other group of people, I kind of fall in this [00:04:00] category. They just want to scale to infinity and beyond, and the same way, if it’s all appearing in your head and you’re not systematizing, and you’re not building a team and building out processes, you’ll never be able to scale.

So, you know, the case for automating and systematizing your business. Is that really whatever of these two directions you want to go, it’s going to help you get there so much faster. Um, something else just for me personally, I hate having people come to me for every little thing. Cause I’m not a detail guy.

And if you’re lazy out there, I’m not lazy, but in some ways I am lazy. So I was just so motivated to build out the systems and build the business in a way. That I could hire myself out of these jobs, to where I didn’t have to keep doing these tasks over and over and over. So, you know, for the lazy motivators out there, I mean, put in your effort for a short amount of time, [00:05:00] however long it takes.

And then, you know, you can go be lazy. Um, what are you doing?

Mike: But what do you do to kind of document your processes and systems so that you can hand it off to somebody else to, to kind of, uh, take on those tasks? We

Austin: use, uh, a couple of different methods. So you’ve got visual learners. You’ve got people that like to actually do it with their hands hands-on learners.

And then you’ve got people that like to read about it. Uh, I’m sure there are other types of learners, but we’ll have a video and we’ll have a written out process. And so we put the process that’s written out on Google docs. We have it all organized in there. And then once that document is completed, we’ll record a video, explaining it or showing it or going through it and upload that to YouTube and link it together.

So in there, they’re all in one place together. Yeah. And do you build,

Mike: what kind of role does your team have helping maintain those? Cause we changed [00:06:00] processes. We changed the way we do things. That’s that’s another challenge is that sometimes we build out how to do it and then you, you want to hand it to somebody?

You’re like, ah, we started doing it a different way, like last year and we just haven’t updated it. Yeah. Yeah. You know

Austin: that this might scare some people off from systematizing. Disclaimer, I did not take the easy road. I should have focused maybe on just one niche, like wholesaling. But instead, um, I did owner financing, all sailing, uh, flips rentals, mobile homes, which you take those and multiply times two because they have a totally different set of rules.

So to answer your question, I have about 700 YouTube videos. So I don’t want to scare people off. The reason I have that is because I didn’t focus on one niche. I went, I went broad. So there’s one reason why it’s taken so long. Um, but don’t be afraid because, um, a lot of those videos are just reiterating what was done before.

So we have actually a [00:07:00] process of how to build a process within our company. So they don’t just learn by seeing, okay, that’s what they all look like. This is how I’ll build it. We actually have step-by-step, here’s how you build a process. So if our team members responsible for something, a new project and a new thing we’re doing, they’ll build the process for it.

And then, um, we have these things called issues meetings every single week with a small group, and then every single quarter with the whole team and anything that’s not working or could be improved, it gets brought up in these issues meetings, and then someone goes and, and, uh, updates the process. So that’s a continual thing as well.

Mike: That’s amazing. That’s great. So let’s talk a little bit about, um, the team, the people come on, we talked to them about different members on your team. And I think this is where a lot of small entrepreneurs, real estate investors, for sure struggle with finding the right people. And, uh, you know, sometimes they find the right people and then they just don’t do a good job of training them.

Or, and then it’s hard to. [00:08:00] Keep somebody retained. If they don’t feel like they’re adding value and they’re not doing their job as well as they could, because you kind of set them up for failure, honestly. Right. So let’s talk a little bit about kind of finding the right people and then maybe kind of training them and some of the other important components of the team.

Austin: Yeah, finding the right people here recently. We’ve, it’s been a little bit tougher to be honest. So we have been looking to hire on a couple of spots on our team to keep it growing. We’ve got all the infrastructure and systems in place there. Uh, we use wise hire for that for screening. We do get a good number of applicants.

So I would say that’s something we’re still improving on, but as far as once you get somebody. I have realized over the five and a half years, just how valuable people are. We’re always trying to find deals and we see those, those are our assets. They build up our balance sheet, but people are the assets that keep producing.

They keep running your [00:09:00] business and getting you deals and taking care of your properties and doing all of that. And so when you have someone good. I feel like you have to give them the best environment possible for their success. So that comes down to training them when they get on, they have to know exactly what they’re supposed to be doing, how this company does it versus how they may have done it in the past.

And just super clear expectations. Because again, if you want that passive lifestyle, if you want the time freedom, you’ve got to get the communication out somewhere. Right. So for example, if you just let them get going and they’re, they’re working and they say, I wonder how you do this. They call you up.

Here’s how you do it. They’re going to keep coming to you. If you over communicate and train them just really well at the beginning. That’s going to pay off in the future because then they’re going to be up and running with their job and all their questions are going to be answered and they’re [00:10:00] not going to keep calling it.

So I like to over communicate and just really, really get them some good training at the beginning.

Mike: And do you and I, I w I w I expect, I know the answer to this. You haven’t told me the answer, but if you have 700 training videos and you’re constantly creating, you probably have them categorized into like, Hey, this is an acquisitions person, and you have a list almost like a training program for that role of what to do.

Right. I suspect. So is that the first thing you do when they come in? It’s like, you’re going to, we’re going to put you in effectively our boot camp here, and you’re going to learn how to do everything. Yeah.

Austin: Yeah, absolutely. So, and it starts off simple. It’s like phase one, what is real estate investing? So they just need to know what is this industry that we’re in phase two, how does thunder, sun homes and best?

So what are our exit strategies? What’s our outlook on everything. And then they get into phase three, four, five, six, just gets more advanced and more specific. With their position. And then, um, yeah, we have that for every single position within the company. And then [00:11:00] they also have a corresponding quiz that goes with it.

So there’s from, from every training item. There’s one question on the quiz that we ask them. And they just keep retaking the quiz until they’ve got it all mastered. And we just do that. We’ve been doing that for a long time, just cause I think I saw some study that said that that was the most effective way to learn.

If you took a test, got your feedback and then were given the opportunity to retest. So I said, all right, that’s what we’ll do. Yeah,

Mike: that’s cool. Yeah. I think at the end of the day, I think there’s a lot, it’s hard to find good people, but when you find them, they want to add value. They want to be a part of the team.

They need to know what to do. Right. And what the expectations are. And I think a lot of us are like, Hey, you know, I’m busy. So let me know if you need anything or, you know, go talk to this person and go talk to that person. And it’s kind of baptism by fire a little bit, but I think the more you can train folks, like you said, I.

I probably was in that position for a long time, where everybody came to me [00:12:00] for everything. And I got to a point to where, and some of it is, I was a control freak too. Maybe eventually I just had to say like, look, you can’t bring me questions anymore. You have to bring me solutions. Like, what do you think we should do?

And if you, you know, I’ll give you the,

Austin: I’ll give you enough

Mike: rope to like, go do that. Um, and if you really don’t know, then come to me and say, Hey, here’s a couple things I think we should do. Like, what are you thinking? But rather than just like every time anybody needs anything, what do you think we should be?

What should we do? You just never know. Yeah. And you’re also training them that that is how we do things is you asked me, I tell you. And so they can’t, they start to not think for themselves, right? Yup.

Austin: Yeah, absolutely. That’s that’s uh, that was my game at the last investor. Fuel was our communication system, which there again, you’ve got processes and systems for everything, even communication, which you, you wouldn’t think of that, but yeah, it just shows them.

Here’s how you communicate to get the info you need. Here’s how you bring a solution and not [00:13:00] just throw a problem. All that kind of stuff. So, yeah. Super important to also just have for yourself to know what you ex, what you expect of everyone for their communication. How much

Mike: can you give me any insights on how much latitude you give people to like how much you can empower them to make decisions without you?

Um, talk a little bit about how you empower your team, I guess, to be able to make decisions, even if we’re not sure exactly what to do. So they don’t necessarily come to you.

Austin: So beyond the initial training, that’ll be enough to kind of just get it all in their head and get them launched. But we also have continuing education.

So for our acquisitions, it’s roughly 12 weeks and they focus very intensely on one or two areas every week. And so they might do in the field stuff, they may do. Role-playing um, just reviewing training and different exercises we have in place. But. Once they hit these certain phases there, we have, uh, [00:14:00] another growth path that goes along with it and says, okay, once they’ve mastered this phase, they can handle 75% of all their responsibilities for the job.

Once they’ve mastered this, they can do 85% of all the responsibilities for the job. So it’s not smart just to say, Hey, go do everything. Tell me what you did later. Yeah, but like your experience, you also don’t want to never give it away. And so having that balance of some kind of expectations and some kind of growth path where when they hit a certain point, they can take on more responsibilities because you’ve got faith in them, you know, they’ve been trained well, you know, they know what they’re doing.

And that’s always the goal is to get them to that point where you’ve got confidence. Um, there may be a small, small list of things that they have to come to you for usually financial related things. But other than that, if you’ve got someone good and they should be able to do [00:15:00] just about everything that the job requires without too much questioning.


Mike: Yeah. That’s awesome. And I think that it really helps with retention too. If people feel like they have. Decision-making ability, right? I mean, um, and so it’s important, everybody, everybody is motivated differently, but I think, yeah, most people that you would want on your team are inspired by the ability to know what to do without having to ask and to be able to make decisions without having to ask and get approval every time.


Austin: Yeah, it’s exciting. And it’s not what you get out there in most jobs. Right,

Mike: right, right. Yeah. So let’s kind of hand-in-hand with all that, is your team really understanding what your goals are for the business, having a scorecard and you know, some of us, like we follow, we’ve kind of gotten away from it a little bit here lately, but kind of U EOS model of, uh, any goals, longer term goals in the real and man, and ultimately backing them into like what some, what the activities are every week to kind of hit those.

But I think a lot of business owners end up. Say the [00:16:00] goal is just do more. It’s always like do more and the team is not necessarily real clear on what their, what the activities are to do to do more. And so talk a little bit about how you work with your team on kind of them understanding the mission.

Like what are the goals and what are the things that they have to do to meet those goals?

Austin: Yeah. So I’ve also been using the EOS system for pretty much since I just had one VA, I said, this is how I’m going to build this company out. And then we’ll fill in the seats. So for the past, I’d say going on four years now, we’ve done.

We set our long-term target, which is 10 years away. And then we set our three-year picture, which is basically, if you let’s say you shoot an arrow, if you’re on track to hit that 10 year target, where would that arrow be in three years? So you kind of work your goals backwards and the target. You don’t really know too many specifics because so much can happen so much has happened, [00:17:00] even since I made my ten-year target, but I made it in such a way that it still hasn’t changed.

It’s a hundred million in real estate owned and be the number one home buyers in love it. So those two things, even though my business has done all of these taken all these different avenues. That’s still in place, so it shouldn’t change. So you go back to the three-year picture. What does it look like?

So we kind of build out what does our team look like? How many rental units, where we have, how many flips would we have done? That kind of thing. And then from there you build out your one-year goals one year to me as a short term amount of time. So something that you can achieve pretty quickly within the next year and same thing.

What does your team look like? How many rentals, how many flips? What’s the portfolio value? What’s the equity and my team goes through that process with me every year. Now they didn’t at the beginning cause it’s, um, it’s just me and a VA when I sent the 10 year target. [00:18:00] But, um, and then, so every quarter we set our quarterly goals.

So to hit our one-year goal, what do we need to do this quarter in terms of just all those same metrics? And then each team member will have one or two most important things. We call them they’re rocks. If you’ve ever seen the illustration of putting rocks and then pebbles, and then sand into a container, you got to put in the big rocks first, so best that’s kind of the process we’ve always followed.

And then. Everyone on the team is involved in setting the whole company’s goals every quarter. So that’s pretty cool for them as well, because they kind of feel like they get to set the course and determine where the whole company is going. Not just their job. Yeah,

Mike: that’s awesome. That’s fantastic. And so a lot of folks struggle with trying, let’s say the build to build processes, right.

Or to build their team or things that are along that goal line that you just talked about. And we, a lot of us as entrepreneurs and we’re [00:19:00] smarter than this typically, but sometimes we do dumb stuff. Like we assume that I build it and it’s done. Right. But this stuff just lives on forever. Right? This is really, as they say, this is a journey, not a destination, right?

Okay. Can you talk about kind of building a culture, part of it’s in your mind, a part of it with your team of just constant improvement, uh, towards those goals, because it’s not a destination, it’s, it’s something that’s just going to evolve forever.

Austin: Yeah. Well, for us for understand homes, our first two core values are personal growth and efficient results.

And so when you combine those two, it’s kind of like a wheel that just keeps on turning one leads into the other. So, if we don’t get the efficient results, then we immediately go back to, how can we grow? How can we improve? How can we improve our processes? Right? Because if someone’s just bad at their job, okay, that’s a different issue.

But if you’re on the team and you’re inactive, Participant in [00:20:00] everything, then you’re not bad at your job. It’s just, how can we improve our processes and systems? So it’s kind of baked into our core, our first two core values. Really?

Mike: Yeah. Yeah. That’s all. And I think, uh, you know, you said you guys review your processes.

I know, I don’t know if this was inside of EOS or something. I picked up from like our buddy Gary Harper, somewhere along the way, uh, for a while. And we’ve kind of gotten away from this a little bit. Uh, some, I know people that have like, basically like fix it Friday, or they have some time set aside to just work on either rebuilding or building a new process where the right people come together and like, and it’s just dedicated time to constant improvement.


Austin: Yeah. So for us, if I find myself doing something for the third time, that means the first time I’d try to figure out how the heck do you do this the second time? Okay. We’re improving. And I kind of know how to do this. Well, now third time I’m building a process. So as I’m doing it, I’m writing down my steps or I’m even [00:21:00] recording myself.

It doesn’t have to be perfect. I mean, this is just for your team. You’re not publishing this for the whole world. Right. So if I mess up on the video, I say, don’t do that and do this instead. You know, it’s kind of informal. Um, so yeah, that’s, that’s the easiest way to get it going. And then we’ve always made a push.

We want the training to just the phenomenal when people come in. And so if we know we’re hiring faculty positions right before we make that hire, we’re going through all of our processes, just to make sure that everything’s up to speed and get anything in there that wasn’t in there before. So kind of.

One way, the first way is how we consistently do it for new processes. And then the second thing is sometimes we just make some crazy pushes and, you know, work on 10 processes just to get them in place for a new hire. Yeah.

Mike: That’s awesome. So good stuff. Also, I think people have gotten a lot of value from this.

I mean, I have to, so I think, uh, you know, one of the things that I. I truly believe a lot of, and a lot of [00:22:00] people in this industry are like, they talk about coaches or, or whatever. And th you know, gurus there’s, uh, we’ll, we’ll go off on a tangent on that. I really do believe. And if you coach something, you get better at it yourself.

Like if you have to think about how to explain it to somebody, it makes you stronger. And a lot of times in your mind, you’re like, I need to improve on this too. Right. And sometimes it’s like do, as I say, not as I do necessarily, but it just makes you stronger that you have to keep rethinking of how you do something.

And let me say this in a way that it’s a little bit easier than the way we actually do it right now, but we need to fix it too, right? Yes.

Austin: Yeah. Constantly improving and simplifying as big too. Like you said, maybe we could do this a little, say it a little bit different. You know, transfer it a little bit different to where it makes more sense

Mike: to them.

Yeah. You say stuff out loud. Sometimes you’re like, wait a minute. Why did we do it that way that doesn’t do it like this? It’s just like, it’s almost like reviewing your standard operating procedures. Right. Probably explaining that to somebody. Then when sometimes when you vocalize it, you’re like, Hmm. We could make this [00:23:00] better with that.

You know?

Austin: Yeah, you’ve re rerecord the video or something. I’ve done that countless times. I’m recording. And I’m like, that is the stupidest way to do this. We need to let me, let me re record this later after I figured it out again. So yeah, that

Mike: happens. Well, Austin, you’re a fairly new member of investor fuel.

We were at our last meeting here. Would you mind just sharing a quick testimonial on your experience with investor fuel so far?

Austin: Yeah. Well, I’ve only been to one meeting I signed up right before the may meeting. So I always been a super lone ranger type. I didn’t follow any kind of gurus or anyone’s courses to get started in real estate.

I just figured it out. And I haven’t really taken pride in that, but I’ve just found it that I can move at my speed, which is really fast if I do it that way. So it was a big deal for me to join investor fuel because I’m not one of those people that needs [00:24:00] anyone to kind of boost my morale or anything, but getting around high-level people, it’s like the race horses, you get one race, horse going, and they can, they can pull however many pounds.

But if you get to know them side by side polling, then it multiplies what they can do. That’s kind of how I feel. You see everyone else’s. Numbers and what they’re doing and how they’re running their businesses. I don’t know about everyone else there, but for me, I, it gives a competitive juices flowing in a healthy way.

It’s not like, it’s not like people are trying to one up each other. Everyone is so humble there, but you see them doing well. And you’re like, yeah, I can do, I can level up. And. In my local market, at least. And I’m sure this is true for a lot of people. That’s just not there. You know, I would tell someone, this is the issue I’m struggling with, or this is the problem I’m trying to solve in my business, the response isn’t okay.

Yeah. Let’s see how [00:25:00] we can work through that. It’s like, oh wow. You have a business. That’s cool. Or, oh, you’re doing so many deals. I wish I had that problem. And so having these people here that they’re not impressed, they’re just like, okay. Yeah, I’ve dealt with that issue too. Let’s let’s see how we can fix it.

Um, it’s invaluable. So that’s just out of the first meeting and the people I’ve met, that’s been my big takeaway and really what it’s done for me.

Mike: Awesome, man. I appreciate that. Yeah. I think, uh, you know, like you said, it’s a pretty humble group for the most part in our culture is really giving and sharing and.

Even if people are, sometimes people are like, their business is smaller than you, that you still have things to learn from them. If they’re larger than you, they probably have enough war wounds in their, you know, arrow wounds in their back, that they can kind of share stories. Here’s how we overcame that.

Right. And so that’s a cool thing to do to have this process where back back to the same part we’re just talking about in the show, I’m just iterating and learning and rehashing the processes [00:26:00] over and over again. Uh, you can learn from other people’s mistakes and other people’s successes as well. Right.


Austin: yeah, definitely.

Mike: Yeah. Awesome, man. Well, definitely glad to have you in the group. Um, so if folks want to learn more about you or want to connect in any way, where’s a good place for them to go.

Austin: Um, they can get with me on LinkedIn, just type in my name. I probably my profile picture probably doesn’t look like I do right now in the video.

Got shorter hair there, but, um, it’s Austin Hughes on LinkedIn. And we’re pretty active on Facebook. So thunder sun homes on Facebook, or you could go to thunder, sun homes.com. So if you can’t find me through any of those ways and just try again.

Mike: Awesome. Really good insight today. I think this is great. I mean, at the end of the day, we all got into this.

For varying levels of freedom, financial freedom, time, freedom, and the only way to truly get all that is to build up a team [00:27:00] and build a business. It was the processes in place that allow you to do things over and over again, without you necessarily having to do it. Otherwise we just have a job, right. So that’s right.

Amazing insights today. And hopefully some folks that are listening to get some good value. I know I did so appreciate you, my friend.

Austin: Thanks, Mike. Appreciate you too. And

Mike: everybody, thanks for joining us for this episode. If you haven’t yet checked out investor fuel, you can go to investor people.com to learn a little bit more about us.

Uh, we meet, uh, several times a year and have another meeting right around the corner. So go to investor people.com. Learn a little bit more. Till then we’ll see you on the next episode.

Austin: Take care.

Mike: 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 investors. 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 investorfuel.com to get started.