Soliciting friends and the ABC's of lead gen
The early days of Auben homes…
After we sold the Willowood home, I set out to find other homes to flip. Once you start the flipping machine, there’s a pressure to feed the machine a pipeline of properties. And I had hardworking people committed to my fledgling real estate vision and wanted to keep the train rolling.
High off a profit of 20k-ish, I hit the streets to find more homes to flip. I limited my search to the greater CSRA (Central Savannah River Area) but there really was very little I would not look at within an hour drive of Augusta. While it continued to be difficult to come face to face with distress, I enjoyed the challenge of coming up with a solution for the home-sellers I met. If that solution was not me, no problem. There were thousands of houses to buy and sell. And I began to understand the many variables of conditional and situational distress, always creating market opportunities—if you are always looking.
Looking for leads anywhere, one of my early mentors, Bernard, told me to go through my phone starting with letter A, and call every contact to tell them I was looking for a home. He used this method of contact cold-calling with frequent success. His approach was definitely aided by Bernard being extremely gregarious and friendly.
We also spread “We buy Houses Cash” bandit signs around town on Friday afternoons, hoping we could get through the weekend without municipalities asking us to take them down. We had “We Buy Houses Cash” magnets made and gave them to our contractors with the proposition of $500 if they got a lead on a home we purchased and closed.
I needed a name for my business and knew Schuetze Homes was not an option. Around this time, many companies like Zillow and Google were making up/modifying words for their brand. I wanted to be trendy but I still wanted to be at the front of the phone book. We named the company Auben Homes, not realizing people would always refer to it as “Auburn” or assume I went to Auburn University. It would not be the last time I realized that Georgia south was different from Kentucky south.
My brother’s college friends created a logo and we ordered free business cards from VistaPrint. Different versions of the logo were blue and black and brown and beige. Auben was born.
I went on the road to real estate seminars to gain more education. This was a practice I did consistently to try and make up for the sharp learning curve I was experiencing daily. The seminars were good for inspiration, even when I took the inspiration too far.
A year after starting Auben Homes, I announced my goals to my team, including the creation of an international office. My partner, Natalie, pointed out that we could barely make payroll. I was not deterred with details. I had more debt than when I began and a ballooning team of people who hoped I could provide a clear path to a job and a career.
Even though there were many daily struggles and small failures, I relished the challenge. I credit my parents and their experience as small business owners for instilling in me a strong sense of independence balanced with a desire to create and provide opportunities for myself and others. I wasn’t going to always get it right but I was going to get up again.
Daily, I made up the habit of calling my friend, Andy, early in the morning to remind him: “It’s a great day to be in real estate!” I told him this was motivation for him but I think it was really affirmation for me to keep going. We found a beautiful bones home on a street off Highway 1 outside northern Augusta, South Carolina. The home was a 1940s built Cape Cod- style cottage on a street called Bleachery in an area locals called “The Valley.” We also purchased a 3 bedroom/2.5 bathroom brick ranch home on Indian Trail in an established neighborhood called Montclair. Looking at names drawn in the cement sidewalks, we later confirmed this to be the childhood home of a good friend’s wife.
Bleachery and Indian Trail began with the same intensity as Willowood, but our small operation struggled to keep up with 2 flips. My mentor, Justin, came with tools to help bail me out of a floor joist issue on Indian Trail. Daily, I looked for instructions everywhere, taking mental notes of everything and everyone. I was learning the basics of investing, unaware that 6 years later I would oversee a team completing 125 renovations a month from Jackson, MS to Kansas City, MO.
If you like to learn more about investing, come to one of Auben’s upcoming events, open to everyone!