Sam Craven started Senna House Buyers with a mission to build a business that impacts the lives of its clients and team members in a positive way. He fell in love with real estate after graduating from Texas A&M University with a degree in Engineering.
In 2012, Senna House Buyers was started by Sam and Robert Craven to deliver an exceptional experience for their clients. Sam has been featured in internationally syndicated podcasts, radio shows, infomercials, and news articles for their unique people-centered approach to building a real estate investment business.
Insight of the Week:
How he trains individuals and his team
Tools Simplewholesaling uses
How to train someone who’s going to take your place
1 Timothy 6:6-8
“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.”
In this show, you’ll learn:
- Sam’s origin story
- What their niche is
- Why his margin increased from $5,000 to $19,000
- The first step when developing a system, process, or training
- How he was able to create the selling and buying process for his team
- How he learned to be a good leader
- Good leadership strategies that gets his team motivated
- How big his team is
- The primary purpose of a construction company
- The form of marketing he uses
- The secret sauce of marketing
- His goal when it comes to wholesaling
- What legitimizing industry means
“You may not able to change the world but you could for one person change their world.”
Profile: Sam Craven
Thanks for Listening!
Brett: Peanut, peanut butter.
Brian: And jelly.
Brett: Peanut, peanut butter.
Brian: And Jelly.
Brett: First you take the peanuts and you crack them, you crack them, you
crack them, crack them, crack them. Peanut, peanut butter.
Brian: And jelly.
Brett: Peanut, peanut butter.
Brian: And jelly.
Brett: This is the Simple Wholesaling podcast episode 108.
Brett: I like it whenever you sing into the microphone on here. You always close your eyes. I think it looks hilarious.
Brett: I am getting into it, man. I am getting into it.
Brian: I like it.
Welcome to Simple Wholesaling. A Christian podcast that supplies simple, yet effective content for real estate investors and business entrepreneurs. Get advice, tips, and tricks so that you can stay true to your values and achieve your dreams with real estate investing you can trust. Now, introducing your host, Brett Snodgrass.
Brett: What is going on all you Simple Wholesalers out there. Thank you again for joining us on another episode of the Simple Wholesaling podcast. I am your host, Brett Snodgrass, and I am with my lovely co-host, Brian Snider in the hizzy. What is up, B?
Brian: How is it going?
Brett: It is going fantastic. How are you doing on this Indiana snowy day on April?
Brian: Yes. I love the fact that winter has just extended into April. It is not even like beginning of April, it is mid-April right here that we are recording this and yes it is snowing outside.
Brett: Yes. I love extensions on anything. I love extension on the winter, I love extension purchase agreements, extensions on closings, extensions on my feet. I love any type of extension, so yes. It has nothing to do with anything just like our peanut butter song at the beginning.
Brian: Right, just because. Let us talk about this a little bit though. There is now a new addition to the Snodgrass household. How are you doing man and how is Olivia?
Brett: She is good. Yes, my wife and I, we just had a new baby girl. That makes four for our…
Brian: Which is another extension.
Brett: That is true, we extended our family. We have for now which means that we got to buy a 2014 Toyota Sienna van. I would really recommend. It has the rear view camera so we can see the camera when we are backing up, it has Bluetooth, super excited. Olivia Jane is fantastic. My wife, super. She is a champ. She has decided about six months ago that she was going to go all natural birth. I have been through three other births and I know how difficult it can be and how painful it can be and she did it with flying colors and it has been an absolute miracle. Everything is superman. Olivia, she is sleeping, she is eating and it is going really well. I think that she has brought a different dynamic into our home. The boys I think have grown up. I think they have like raised their game a little bit on maturity level.
Brian: They need to. They need to be the big brothers to look after their little sister now.
Brett: That is right. Instead of throwing a train across the room, maybe they might throw a nerf ball. It is like more mature because there is a baby in the house. Nah, but it has been good. It has been really good, thanks for asking. Anything new with you?
Brian: Not really.
Brett: No? You are getting ready to go on a trip.
Brian: We are getting ready to go on a trip. We are going out to New England, experience that a little bit so I am excited. Really envious on all your trips because you guys just take up and go and just do these really cool stuff and you plan it all out and you got all your Airbnb stops and this is really cool man.
Brian: Yes. My wife and I travel really well together. At least I think we do. She might have a different opinion on that but yes we travel really well together. We are heading up to Massachusetts where her parents live and I am going to work from home from there for a week and then the next we go out and explore up into Maine and Vermont, New Hampshire which I have never been up there before. I am excited about that.
Brett: That sounds super cool. I am going to get there one of these days. Sounds good. We got a great show for you guys today. We have a great interview with a gentleman out of Houston, Texas named Sam Craven. He is really going to dive into how he scaled his business, how he built systems and processes and how he built initially with his dad and that is just a really cool story. You guys are going to want to stay tuned about how his dad tried to talk him out of going into real estate at all and then in a few months later joined him.
Now, they have a very very successful business that they are doing a lot of wholesaling in Houston, Texas. He also talks about how he wants to legitimize the wholesaling industry. As a whole how, he feels like wholesaling has gotten a bad name, a bad reputation, and he wants to take that and how can he train other wholesalers to bring value. A really great show for you guys so stay tuned for that. Before we do that, we have a got some more reviews and we have got a lot of people leaving, subscribing, to the podcast and they have left us five stars. If you guys are interested in leaving us a review or subscribe to the podcast, please go to iTunes right now and we would love that. Thank you.
Brett’s Insight of the Week
Now, simple tips and tricks that make real estate investing easier, faster, and better. Brett’s Insight of the Week.
Brett: Today’s Brett’s Insight of the Week, we are going to talk about something that Sam talks about how he trains his individuals in his team. If you are just getting started, you are wondering how can I scale the business, how can I train someone and how can I build a team? I am going to give you a couple of tools that we use in our business at simple wholesaling that helps us train individuals and they do not have to be in the same office and I use these tools and apps to train Roxanne who is across the world at the Philippines by using a couple of these tools.
Brian: Who might be the best VA ever.
Brett: Yes, that is true. If they had a nomination for best VA, she would probably be in the top five I would say. Not biased or anything, Roxanne, if you are listening, we love you. But a couple of apps that we use is the Icecream Screen recorder app. I have been using this for a couple of years. You can find this at Icecreamapps.com/screen-recorder. Just a quick screen recorder that you can actually tape yourself doing activities.
Maybe you do not need these right now but if you are looking to scale or build a team at all, if you are doing any activity at all, whether it is analyzing a deal, finding comps, writing a purchase agreement, looking over a HUD statement at the closing or whatever it is that you do not want to be doing anymore, building a list that you are scraping and you are going through, getting rid of duplicates on the list that you are going to be mailing to, whatever it is tape that. Tape it and save it into a folder for when you do need it.
This is how you build training programs. You are not always sitting next to someone as you do hire someone and you have to sit next to them all the time to train them because first, before we do anything, why don’t you watch this video that I created six months ago. I use the Icecream screen recorder. Another one is cloud HQ. You can find this on cloudhq.net. This has various tools that sinks with your Gmail account. Some of the same things, you can actually do a screen cast so let us say I want to send Roxanne a quick screen cast on how to do something but I do not want to take the time on the Icecream recorder and have to save it, put it into a folder and send it to her.
This, I can actually click a button on my Gmail and it will send the screencast to her right embedded in the Gmail. This is great for like just one minute videos just saying hey I like how you did this but here is a quick change I want you to do. You can do a screencast doing that. You can also do video messages using the CloudHQ.net. You can do a lot of different things on Cloud HQ. These are a couple of apps and tools that we use. You can find those on our website, in the show notes, at simplewholesaling.com/episode108. But the biggest thing is I want you guys to really start thinking about how are you going to train someone else to take your place.
Our goal as entrepreneurs is to not to be in the grind every single day but has to be able to bring someone in to be able to do the jobs that you are doing right now, especially the jobs you do not like. I know that is quite a few so start making training programs for these. I suggest doing a video with one of the apps I have just mentioned and then also just creating an outline of instructions on how to do it. One cool thing is that if you do create a video and you bring someone in, you can have them go ahead and write the instructions on how to train someone. Some cool things for you guys, hope this helps you out.
Do you dream of a life that is purpose-driven and makes a difference? Spiritual Foundation.Spiritual Foundation.
Brett: In the Spiritual Foundation, I want to talk about something that I have kind of gone through and I have really been reflecting on a lot lately. As we talked earlier in the show, me and my wife Karen just had our fourth child, baby Olivia Jane. I was able to turn things off for a whole week and really just stay at home and my goal was to take care of my other three children. Which a lot of that was my four year old and my two year old boys, Ethan and Gavin. I really got to learn about what it was like to just be a stay at home dad for a week and really just enjoy the simplicity of life. As I reflect and I look at my journey of the last 10 or 11 years of building this business and being content and come into Christ and getting married and having children and all of that, I have created a lot of other things in my life including a lot of wealth and sometimes I just try to reflect on what is just truly important in life and what really makes me happy, right?
I was listening to a show the other day and one of the questions that really got brought to my attention was, I want you guys to do this too, is think about when was the last time that you were so filled with joy that you started crying. Not talking about sadness, I am talking about so amazingly filled with joy that you welled up with tears in your eyes. When I think about those moments, I think it helps me put my priorities in check to what is the most important things in my life. I can really count those moments.
One moment was when I was on my knees in my bedroom, giving my life to Christ. That Jesus had revealed Himself to me in such a way that I knew that it was for real that is just was not some fairy tale that he showed to me that he was real and that he really was the Son of God. I was crying and I was so filled with joy that I was crying out to him, giving my life to Christ. But a lot of times it is not those big moments, a lot of times it is the simple things.
There was many moments just last week when my sons were just doing silly things and they just say off the wall things and how they love playing this game called Monster. They would like to do it all the time and they cannot get enough, they never want to stop. Literally what it is I am the monster and I am chasing them. I basically put a blanket over my head so they cannot see me and I am chasing them and I am always different types of monsters. Sometimes I am the Cookie Monster and that is rararara and I am eating cookies a lot.
Sometimes I am the snuggle monster and I just want to snuggle with them, sometimes I am the kissy monster and I just run around and I am trying to give little kissy. It is just a lot of fun and when I really think about those moments, maybe right now it does not bring tears of joy but I know there is going to be a point in my life when my children, they are not going to be playing monster anymore, I know maybe at that moment I am going to look back and like man those were such good moments that brings me so much joy that I can well up with tears.
I really want you guys to really think about that. I know this is a real estate podcast but in this section it is just a reflection time of where are your priorities and what is the most important things to you in life? I have really gotten that. The most important things are just the free things. God gives us that gift of grace, he gives us his son, that salvation, it is all free. That the children, those moments, it is all free. I cannot think of a time where I got this huge deal and made so much money that I was so filled with joy that I am most cried. I think that is what the Bible really talks about. If you guys go to 1 Timothy 6: 6-8, it says, ”But godliness with contentment is great gain for we brought nothing into this world and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.’
For me, I really just want to recreate those moments as much as I can. When I am stressed out, when I am at work grinding out 50 or 60 or 70 hours a week sometimes and then my mind is consumed with my work or whatever else, my selfishness that I have going on, I miss. I miss these things. I want to create more space in my life, more margin in my life to be able to enjoy these moments. You never know when they are going to happen so you have to have more space and that is what I think is super important and God wants us to see those moments and a lot of times we miss those miracles that God is raining upon us, we miss them because we got our blinders on. We are just too consumed with whatever we have going on in our life. I hope this finds you guys well today.
This is just some things that I have been thinking about. I know it is real, I know it is raw, and even though we have a very successful business and I love most days what I do but it does not… My priorities really are glorifying my Father in heaven and then it is my family second. Those are some things I have got going on but we have a great show interview for you guys. If you have not heard of Sam Craven, you have to listen to this interview. He is building an amazing business out of Houston Texas. He is just such a great down to earth guy and he talks about him and his wife doing overlanding. If you do not know what that is, you are going to hear in this show exactly what overlanding is. But Sam, he started Senna House Buyers and basically his mission was to build a business that impacts the lives of its clients and team members in a positive way. He fell in love with real estate after graduating from Texas A & M University with a degree in engineering.
In 2012, Senna House Buyers was started by Sam and Robert Craven, his father, to deliver an exceptional experience for their clients. Sam has been featured in internationally syndicated podcast, radio shows, infomercials and news articles for their unique people-centered approach to building a real estate investment business. He has done something in the wholesale space that I have never heard of. You guys you want to hear what he does? He gives a money back guarantee he on his deals. If you want to hear a legit wholesaler, stay tuned. Here is right now our interview with Sam Craven.
Brett: Hey, Sam. How are you doing? We are super excited to have you on the show today.
Sam: Man, I am excited to be here. I know it took a little bit of time to get our schedules together but I am really looking forward to this.
Brett: Yes, definitely. Just love our little chat before the show to just talking about everything that we are going to really dig into and just love all the content you are going to bring to our listeners today. But before we get into that, give us a little taste of who you are, where you are from and how you got into real estate.
Sam: Alright, well, let us get that origin story out. I am from Houston, Texas. Pretty much born and raised in Texas, okay? My origin story started off with me as a mechanic, turning wrenches. I love working on cars and I thought that my future was going to be working for professional race teams. I actually got the opportunity to do that, travel around the country and work as a mechanic on professional race teams while I was in college. But I learned pretty quickly that if I was really honest with myself, I did not want to work on race cars, I wanted to be a race car driver. I know a lot of young kids say they want to grow up and be a race car driver but I never really grew out of that. I just kind of stayed that same little child.
I get this job in racing and I am enjoying myself, I am traveling a whole lot, I am away from my wife I met in high school and it is just not the life that I wanted. I said okay, I need to go find a way to make some money. I need to find a way to change my life, I need to find a way to be home. When I graduated college, I got a degree in engineering. I moved into sales, I did that for a few years and then it was about in, I graduated in 10, it is about 2012 that is when I started my real estate investment company with my dad. I actually had a pretty good job, I was managing five state sales territory for a big manufacturing outfit, making six figures, and then I my dad I was telling him about hey I think I am going to quit my job. He said, ‘What do you mean you want to quit your job?’ Because he did not get his college degree and he worked really hard to get where he was and for me to kind of land where I did so young, it was kind of living the dream.
I told him I said look I am just not happy with what I am making, I am not happy with who I work with and I want more out of my life for me and my family. Really kind of fast forward a little bit, then we decided to do the business together. We started the business in June of 2012 so we are coming up on our six year anniversary here. It is kind of like that was kind of like that flex moment, that moment that really changed our life when we started this company and we got that first deal. We made $2500 in the wholesale and we got that second deal and we made $25000 wholetale deal and then our third deal we made $25000 on our like a true flip. We knew we wanted to build something big so we took all the profits from all those different deals that we did and just roll them back into marketing and we have been just growing our company at a fast rate ever since.
Brett: Love that, love that. I love that you started the business with your dad because that really takes me back. My dad was a teacher for 33 years, he was the high school basketball coach and he wanted to retire early and then we started our business together as well.
Brett: Yes, we have very similar stories. I love those memories of some of my best times were with my dad going and looking at houses or whatever we are doing. Fixing up house a little bit, cleaning our houses and just marketing and all that. That is just… It is really cool but the story you are talking about. You go to your dad and you said, ‘I am going to quit my job,’ and he says, ‘What?’ He is astonished by it but then he decides to right away just kind of join you, is that kind of what happened in that moment?
Sam: No, it was not a right away thing. I remember telling him, it must have been December of 2011 that I wanted to quit and it took him a few months to come to grips that I was actually going to do this thing. When it got to the point where I was like I am ready to quit, he is like whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa, let us talk about this. Then it was at that point we decided to start a business together. It was good.
Kind of fast forward for a little bit, my dad is a minority partner in the company now. We are still office at the same office. We have a couple of the partnerships that we work on, we have fund and things like that we are working together on together. Now, I actually have a friend of mine from high school who stepped in and has equity in the company as well who is actually our very first hire. Then he and I run the business, the wholesaling business day to day. His name Mat Trenchard.
Brian: Very cool, very cool. Let us talk a little about your business. You said you are wholesaling and then you also have done some wholetales and some flips and stuff like that, what is kind of your niche? Like what do you guys kind of think is your specialty of what you guys like kind of focus on?
Sam: Well, you know it has taken us a long time to find out exactly what our niche is, exactly what we are good at. Some of it has been just from mistakes that we have made but what we are incredibly good at is finding inventory for people who want to buy and hold properties or people who want to flip properties. We are incredibly good at that. In the very beginning, we were just going to wholesale a little bit and our focus was going to be flip but then over time our focus has gotten more and more to the wholesaling side as we watched our margins. Our first wholesale we did was $2500, our first year in business our average wholesale view is under $5000 but then we watched that margin just grow and grow and grow as our deal flow on wholesale grew which is kind of counter intuitive, counter intuitive to what I thought.
I thought as our as our business grew in volume, that our wholesale margin would shrink and that is just not been the case. Even as we have hire people and brought them on a train them how to buy and sell properties, our margin continues to increase year over year to where right now I think it is just shy of $19000 per deal is our average. We are literally closing a deal today where we are going to make $67000 on and we had one last month that we made $130000 on.
Sam: We realized what we are good at is wholesaling properties. We have built our business up, we built our system up, we have trained our people to be excellent problem solvers. We solve the problems of our sellers, we solve problems of or buyers and I realized that as a team when we are able to solve everyone else’s problems, margin takes care of itself.
Brett: Yes, definitely. Let us talk about those margins a little bit because you are from… Is this market mostly in Houston?
Sam: Yes, this is all in Houston. We are looking to expand. We have been attempting to acquire people in other markets, other wholesaling companies in other markets and then we are currently eyeballing Dallas as one to just open up another office in.
Brett: Great. I know when I first got started, my first check was $3000. I think the total check was about six, me and my dad had split that check. That was a huge amount of money. I have never seen that kind of amount of money in one swoop check before. I was a substitute schoolteacher so most of my checks were like $500.
Brett: Now you are talking big numbers. What do you think that is about? Do you think it is because you are getting so good at what you do or do you think it is because of the market? What do you think is kind of going on? Why is your margins increasing so much from $5000 to $19000 because that is really big?
Sam: In my opinion, it comes down to training. Training your people and getting good people on board because I am not buying houses anymore, I got a team of people to do that now. It is a matter of when we first came into business, we are doing $5000 deals, it is now I can hire someone and within two or three months they are doing $20000 deals. I think that is a testament to our systems, the processes and the training that our team has put in place to help us reach that level.
Now, not only it sounds like a big number but frankly it is our standard. If we have a month rule, with also profit drops below $18000, I get worried. Then I am like okay we need to train a little bit more in order to put our margin back to where it belongs. I think it came about just expecting more, having higher standards for ourselves, and then the right kind of training. I mean our market, our average property that we wholesale is probably a $150000 to $200000, somewhere around in there. That is pretty average for most markets, lower end properties like that. I know some markets like San Diego and things like that, or California even, I know some people who are in sizable companies and their margins are much bigger than that but I also know all my competitors in Houston their average wholesale market margins is between $7000 and $12000.
Sam: I attribute that to training. Training your sales people on how to talk to a homeowner and then also our systems and processes that comes to liquidating and how we can give more of our buyers confidence in our numbers so that we can sell properties faster and for more money.
Brett: Definitely. You talk about Houston, that is a low end market, a $150000 to $200000. We are actually from Indianapolis and our typical deals are under a $100000, even less than that. That is pretty neat but I really want to dive into training because I think one of your specialties, Sam, is training and systems and processes. A lot of times, especially new people, they do not really understand or comprehend what that is all about. What I want you to do is I want you to take yourself back to just you and your dad and then you just hired your first hire, you said, who now has equity into your company.
What was the first step in trying to develop a system or a process or training? What do you educate people on, where do they start? Because I see like somebody look at your business and you have a team of people, a mass system, a mass process, you probably got all this automation going on and that is really cool but what is the first piece because you can do one thing at a time, right? Take us into that a little bit.
Sam: That is a pretty excellent question, very insightful question. I feel like for me, the first thing you have to do is screw it up.
Brian: Yes, we got that down.
Brett: Good. I am an expert on screwing things up.
Sam: Because I had to. It is like time and again, I did not learn to work on cars by going to class, I learned to work on cars by blowing engines up. Like I do not know why I cannot learn easy way, I have to learn by screwing it up. That is what we did a whole lot. It was a lot of shot in the dark, a lot of not really sure what is going on, a lot of hey maybe we should hire this person. I got a person who works for me now, he is our first sales person we hired outside of Mat. He is now our sales manager. It is funny because we are hiring a lot of people right now, we are trying to hire three more sales people.
We are talking about all this systems and process we have in place to help them get up to speed and how they do now even get the phones for the first like 45 to 60 days before they get here. They are not even able to take in leads until then and then looking over to Alex who is our sales manager now and like man, he actually came in the door and within a week he was taking leads and we had him buying houses. He had no training, no anything about real estate, it was just like hey we will toss you in the deep end, we are going to see what you can do and that man I really hope you come up for air.
Brett: I hope you make it.
Sam: Yes. It is like I really hope you make it man. There was just no support around it at all. I think a lot of trial and error has got us to where we are now and we are still not even close to perfect. I do not think that mindset is ever going to go away because I am afraid we will stop learning. But if I can kind of dig deeper in your question, like if one of your listeners is listening to this, and they are saying you know what I want to build a wholesaling business. I think the first thing you have to do is just get the mind set right if that is exactly what you want to do and you will start approaching your business a little bit differently or start looking at it a little bit differently.
One of the first things that we automated was teaching people how to pull comps. We put together three hours of video and documents to teach people how to pull comps on properties and to be able to have someone sit down and watch three hours of videos and have them come out almost ready to start pulling comps on their own, I mean typically speaking once they watched a three hour video we are telling them to pull about comps on ten properties, by the tenth property they are a 100%. They are ready to go.
Brett: Where did you kind of get from? I mean so it took you a lot of time to kind of figure that out, right? I think one of the things that you are talking about is you create trainings for your sales people. I think people forget that. They just kind of do what they do, they know how to do it and they just kind of always go off the seat of their pants and just kind of fly through it and they never really take the time because it takes a lot of time to create three hours of videos. It is not probably just three hours, you got t to think about it, you got to create the outline, you got think about how you want to do it, how you want to put it together. How long did it take you to kind of put that together you think?
Sam: Well, it took me no time at all because Mat is the one that recorded the videos.
Brett: Okay. Nice, nice. How long do you think it took him?
Sam: Honestly, he sat down and like he did it about three hours. He literally just sat down and talk through what his mindset is and how he pulls comps and then we probably have another hour in writing out the documentation for it that goes along with it.
Brett: Do you think that everybody that kind of comes out of it, they watch the video, they look at the documents, then now you trust them to pull the comps and that is it and then they will go out and make an offer? Do you have somebody kind of overseeing them for a while?
Sam: Yes. Of course we are going have oversight on a lot of deals but we have had this process in place for a little while and now we have even more robust on-boarding processes. Actually, just wrapped up, we hired a business consultant to come in and document all the processes in our entire company so we have even more robust processes now. We just on-boarded a guy three months ago. Brand new, he is a good salesperson, he is a good person. He is a smart person but he had no real estate experience before coming in. We put him through our regular training process and our on-boarding process that is even more robust than it was before. Within 45 days he was on the phone, his first 30 days on the phone he bought seven houses.
It is an absolute testament to how good the team has become at building processes and now that we have had them for a little while, improving processes. As your business grows, as you guys get a little bit more money, it is one of those time and dollar investments that if your goal is to grow you absolutely want to make that investment. If your goal is to stay doing two or three houses a month or two or three houses a year, whatever the case is, you may not have to invest in that because you are always going to be the one buying the houses. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, you just got to be able to build the business that want. As soon as you make the decision that hey I want to be big. I want to be doing 15 or 20 or 50 a month, whatever the case is, that you have got to take that extra time and dollar investment and put it back into the systems and processes of your business.
Brian: Yes, that is completely true. Let us dive into a little bit more. Let us talk about your team a little bit. You had these systems in place, these processes in place, the on-boarding in place, it seems like it is working very well. Now how do you get the buy in from your team members? Once you bring them on, you on-board them, they are starting to see a little bit of success, how do you kind of keep that rolling and get that buy in from them?
Sam: That is kind of one of the more difficult things and especially as our team has grown. It has been one of my biggest areas for growth. That is just leadership. It comes down to being a good leader and being able to motivate your people through the goals of your company, the impact that your company has on the world, and making sure that you as a company are running a company that is making an impact on those people personally. Buy in, it is kind of an ambiguous thing and it is kind of like it happens because you are a good leader, it happens because you have a good vision. The buy in thing comes.
We went through some tough times last year as you can imagine. I shared with you guys some of the losses that we suffered last year and it literally came a point where I had to sit the team down and said look guys this is exactly what we are facing. What do we need to do to be successful? We came together as a team and we got the deal done. We came together as a team. Not only did we get it done, but we just want to thrive even more. I had one person on my team who was struggling as a sales person and he is just a good person and a smart person and we were at the point where it was not the right thing for him to continue to be in sales but I loved him. I said, ‘Look, I do not even have a job for you right now. I cannot have you on the phones doing and taking anymore sales leads but I really want you to stick around and have a little bit of faith. I am going to find the right thing for you.’ He said, ‘You got it. I am here.’ Literally, 30 days after that, we put him in charge of our construction company. He has been managing our construction company for nine months and he has been doing it a 100 times better than I ever did.
Brett: Don’t you love that?
Sam: That it is absolutely beautiful. I mean we found what he is good at. I mean he is actually even happier…
Brett: You found out what he is good at, what you suck at. No, I am just kidding.
Sam: No, no, no. You got it 100% right. I sucked at it. Now we have a construction company which is adding even more value to our clients and creating good cash flow and he is basically, Kyle, is basically running that thing kind of solo.
Brett: Wow. Do you have any great resources of leadership? It is a huge word, it is a huge vague word and there is so many different things that you can do but how did you learn to be a good leader, number one, and then what are some good leadership strategies that you are using to get your team motivated, to bring them in? Are you doing like weekly meetings, are you following a program, what does all that look like?
Sam: Oh, man. To me it looked like a big investment in time and money because no one ever taught me how to be a leader and like you guys said it is kind of vague. It is kind of like how do you become better at that? What I wound up doing is reading a lot of books and surrounding myself with a lot of good people. I also have a coach, I have multiple coaches actually that as a company will spend over six figures just on coaching for our leadership and our team. Just to help us get better.
We have a general manager in our office, as well as a sales manager and as a team we are all reading this book called Multipliers. Talk about an eye opening book, that is a phenomenal book. If any of your listeners want to read a book and kind of like get their feet wet on leadership, this book called Multipliers is a phenomenal book for that. Otherwise I have had to surround myself with some coaches and things like that to help me be a better leader. People I can call up on the phone and be like hey I am really struggling with this and they are able to kind of talk me through it, push me through it, and help me become help me become better.
Brett: Yes, that is so great. Yes, if you are not reading books right now, you need to figure that out. I do not like sitting down or reading a book, I do a lot of audible and I have a subscription to audible.com. I get a free book each week and I listen to when I am driving or running or whatever I am doing. That is what I want to definitely put on here is multipliers. If you guys want to check out that, go to our show notes right now at simplewholesaling.com/episode108 and check out that book. Thanks for sharing that. Reading is great and then also surrounding yourself with peers.
I had kind of… It is tax time right now and I was talking to my bookkeeper and my accountant yesterday and I am going to be owing some taxes. I called up a couple of people that I trusted like hey this is what is going on, what do I do? Because I am a pretty decent leader, decent running the team, but I am not that good at numbers and taxes and trying to figure all that out and shelter stuff so I need a lot of help. I am calling a bunch of peers to try to figure all that out. Surround yourself with people who have been through it already and they will lead you in the right direction that you can trust.
Brett: So cool. Your team sounds awesome. How big is your team by the way?
Sam: We have got 11 people on the house buying side right now, we are probably going to extended an offer number 12 today, number 13 tomorrow, and try to find number 14 here within the next couple weeks. Then the construction company, we are at nine or ten on the construction company side there.
Brian: That construction company, are they actually doing or are you guys doing a complete flips with them or they just kind of doing like kind of little things here and there that kind of wholetale those deals or what are they doing?
Sam: They are not actually… They do work for the team and the owners of the company on like our rental properties and things like that underlying but its primary purpose is to serve our wholesale clients. When our clients come in and say hey I want to buy this house from you and we say the repair budget is $30000, that means that they can hire our construction company to come in and do repairs for $30000.
Brett: You just added kind of another resource to selling properties in your wholesale business, right?
Sam: Exactly right because I mean what is the number one thing people complain about when you are buying a house from a wholesaler? Is that their numbers are wrong because they do not know what they are doing.
Sam: What we did is we are like okay well no one trusts our numbers so we have got these good crews that we have had, finally had, since we scaled back our flipping business so let us have this construction company. That is exactly what we have done and so now someone comes in and buys a house from us, or they get our e-mail blast or they get a phone call from one of our salespeople that we say the house can be renovated for $30000, they know we can actually execute all that.
Brian: Nice, I like that.
Brian: That is good. Adding that other little niche to that is…
Brett: I have never seen a wholesaler actually like stick to their numbers in construction costs when they put that on their e-mail blast.
Sam: Well, yes. Most everyone want them putting in their e-mail blast like do your own due diligence, these numbers are not real. Like basically shy away, like basically saying like hey we are lying about this, check your numbers.
Sam: We went another way it. We actually have a guarantee in place that says if we miss our ARV or we miss our temp comp by 10% that we will write you a check. We will write you a check for $1000.
Brett: That is cool. Yes.
Brian: You are wholesaling all these properties and you have some pretty good margins here, what are you guys doing on your marketing end? What kind of form of marketing that is working for you right now? Maybe your like top 3.
Sam: Well, that is pretty easy because I only do like three or four forms of marketing. This is always kind of a funny question to get or a fun question to get because my answer is always so dang boring because I do not do anything ridiculous. I do not have anything that is like someone has not read about before. I do web marketing, we do SEO and pay per click, I do direct mail, we send 50000 or 80000 letters a month and then some of the mail that comes back will skip trace people and give them a call and see if they want to sell their house. I have got a team of two, hopefully three if the person accepts my offer tomorrow, where they go out and they network with real estate agents and buy properties from real estate agents. None of it is groundbreaking.
Brett: No, it is not sexy at all. It is terrible.
Sam: Sorry guys. I wish I have something better.
Brett: I was expecting, yes, the secret sauce man, 2018.
Sam: The secret sauce of marketing seems to be spend a lot of money on marketing.
Brett: That is true.
Sam: Of which we will spend our marketing budget this year is right at million.
Brett: Yes. I mean that is obviously a lot. If you are new out there, do not let that scare you.
Sam: Do not get scared because I started with a marketing budget of $200 a month.
Brett: There you go, there you go.
Brian: It is just yes, stick into the system and let that work. It might not happen overnight but just allow to stick with that system. It is going to work. These are, I mean, the three of them that he just mentioned. There are ones that we use, that everybody around the nation uses, and there is nothing too crazy with it. It is what is working and just keep going to the systems.
Brett: It depends on exactly what you want. It sounds like Sam, obviously you guys want to grow, you are hiring a lot of people, you want to be big and that might not be for everybody. Like you said, they might just want to do a couple of deals a month which would change their life specially with you guy’s margins. I mean that is awesome and you do not have to do a million dollars in marketing to achieve that. I want to really go into one last question that we talked about before the show and kind of fill us in on what your goal is with wholesaling? You talked about legitimizing this industry, what does that mean?
Sam: It feels like sometimes a personal crusade of mine. I do not like being thought of as the used car salesman of the world and I think that is what a lot of people when they think of wholesalers or wholesaling and that is what we are. The reason people think of us that way is because most wholesalers do not add value to anyone. They do not add value to their sellers, they do not add value to the buyers and that is what our goal is, that is what our purpose is. To legitimize this industry to the point where we are just adding value to everyone and everyone is happy and people love who we are.
Our sales people, we talked about training or we train once a week. We have meetings once a day and it is about adding value to our clients. How are we going to enrich the person who we are sitting across the table from? Whether that is someone who is looking to sell their house because they are in a tough spot, someone looking to sell their house because they just want to get rid of the thing quick or someone who wants to buy the house because they are trying to change their life through investing in real estate. Everything that we do is focused around that. That is why we have our guarantee in place that says if we our ARV we will pay a $1000. That is why we have the construction company because I want you to know that our numbers are legitimate and it is why we work so hard in solving all of our seller’s problems because we know that is our only job. Our only job is to make sure that they walk out from this thing happy and if we can make them happy and make money, man, that is perfect.
Brett: Yes, so true. In any business, that is really what it is all about. It is about adding value to your clients. I think that really goes back. You guys are really putting your money where your mouth is. You are not just saying oh the ARV is $250000 and the rehab is $50000 when it might be the rehab is $100000, the ARV.
Sam: Right. We all got those e-mails.
Brett: Yes, yes, yes. You guys really are sticking to your word and you are backing it up. I think that is amazing, I think you guys are doing a great job. Love having you on the show. We are going to enter into the section of the show that Brian and I like to call Going Deep.
Brian: Going Deep.
Brett: Yes. This is a good one. In this section, we just like to talk a little bit about your life, we talk about faith questions, things like that. I really want to go back to you and your dad. I think the father and son relationship is super important. I have a wonderful dad who has taught me so many different things and hard work and just in my life. I have two sons now, two young sons, four and two that I am trying to teach as well. What is the experience been like working with your dad? I do not know if you guys… You said he is a minority partner in your company, obviously he has some say in where your business is going and I do not know if he is still working the day to day grind but just kind of talk to us about that. What has been your experience with it? Would you recommend other people working with their family and talk to us about the hick ups as well.
Sam: Sure. I think there is a lot of people who hear the advice as you grew up never go into business with family. Never go into business with family, never borrow money from family, all that kind of stuff. I disagree with that. I think maybe there is some families you should not go into business with but use your best judgment. Not all families are created equal but the experience of starting a business together. When I started the company, I had to mortgage my house, I sold the car, I went all in and he also went all in. The experience of starting the business together has been incredible and it has been incredibly difficult too.
Both my dad and I are incredibly hard headed people, we are both very smart people, and it has had its challenges. It has it challenges when we are trying to make a decision to grow, we run into an issue or whatever the case is, and we both kind of butt heads on a little bit. But I will tell you, the growth, it has come personally. He and I starting this business together and growing this business together has been monumental. I can tell you that our relationship has not been perfect every step of the way but I can tell you our relationship now is stronger than it was before we started the company. That has come through the crucible of running a business together.
Brett: Yes, yes. Because you got to go over those obstacles together and yes it is just same experience here. It was not always the easiest drive with my dad and there came a point that he… There always comes a point in any partnership where you Sam, I want to grow a $100M company or whatever and then they might want to not do that, right? They might be happy staying the same. A few years ago, my dad and I, we just decided he is doing something else and I decided to grow because I wanted to grow bigger like you Sam and that is just the nature of the bee. But again, the memories that I have with him just kind of… I just remember just crazy stories that we still talk about over thanksgiving dinner about cleaning out human feces out of houses when we first got started or this house that burned down like in two days after we bought it or something like that. Just great stories, great memories.
Brian: Great bonding, times like that.
Brett: There is a lot of good stories too. I just named the nightmares.
Sam: Some people like to bond over fishing, you guys like to bond over poop.
Brett: There you go, there you go.
Brian: We got one more question for you here in the going deep section. Houston has had kind of a rough year with the hurricane and all the devastation from that, let us talk a little bit about how maybe you and your company are able to use real estate to kind of give back to the Houston community?
Sam: Man, this is a great question because one of the things that we did right after the hurricane, we had one property that was our last. One of our actually was our last property that we owned that was one of our problems properties that took on five and a half feet of water two weeks before it was supposed to close. But what happened, as soon as the hurricane hit, it hit over a weekend, and for that entire week afterward we did not open the doors. We said go out, serve the community, do what you need to do. I had people who are volunteering at the George R. Brown, I had people that were going out in the boats pulling people from their homes.
I spent multiple days going out driving my Land Cruiser with a snorkel through high water, people out of neighborhoods. I mean that was kind of like the first way that we started to get back. The second way that we started to give back was through information. We understood intimately what happens after a flood because we had gone through it one year before on that same property I just told you that we took on five and a half feet of water. That property floated twice in 12 months. What this did is it has armed us with everything we needed to make sure homeowners got what they needed and were successful in fighting insurance companies and fighting the city and things like that.
We hosted informational sessions, we went on a lot of appointments that we know we were going to buy their home just to advise them on how to push through this process on exactly what is going to happen next. We reviewed proof of loss statements for any clearing issues. Again, at like with no obligations. We worked so hard those first probably four or five months after Harvey and we bought a lot of houses from it but at the same time we served a lot of people and just helped them get to the next point. I love seeing my sales people whose time is incredibly valuable saying, ‘Yes, I will go out there and I will meet you at the house,’ knowing full well they were going to be buying that person’s home.
That kind of servant leadership has pushed us through and we continue to do things like that, we continue to help. We have pushed through a lot of our flood inventory at this point but even still, like today, a couple of girls in my office they are going off and they are buying a bunch of patio furniture and some interior furniture and some woodworking material because on Saturday there is four or five of us are going to go out and help a family that was flooded and we are going to help them rebuild their life and their home. We give back as much as we can and we just do it. It seems like the best way that we get back is the normal course of business. Because we counter a lot of people who need help. Sometimes the best way for us to help is to buy their house, sometimes the best way for us to help is just to get them a moving truck and tell them yes, go move your family and do not worry about paying for it even though we are not buying the house.
Brett: Yes, I love that. In a lot of times, it is not the big things, it is the small things. The more I live, the older I get, the more I realize that is the case. I always stick by a quote. I believe that Mother Theresa had said, actually or maybe, I do not know if it is Mother Theresa. Anyways, it was a quote that said, ‘You might not be able to change the world but you could, for one person, change their world.’ I know I just butchered that but you get the concept on that. It sounds like that is what you guys are doing.
Just one person, one family, one relationship at a time. If you can help them, the opportunity arises in the natural course of business, you guys are there. You guys help and you have that right leadership, you have that right heart. That is awesome man. I just wish you guys so much success with everything that you guys are doing.
Touch of Randomness
It is time for a touch of Randomness.
Brett: Before we end the show, we always like to end on a touch of randomness. We have two questions for you, Sam.
Brett: On the Touch of Randomness part. We know that you are a car guy. You mentioned you sold your car to start your business but it sounds like you are interested in cars. What is your dream car?
Sam: Man, this is always a tough question for me because I feel like I have some of my dream cars right now but like if I had to pick the one that I do not have yet, it would probably be the McLaren F1. The old like early 90’s first McLaren street car that they built.
Brian: Good choice, good choice, I like that.
Sam: Yes. That is one of my bucket list cars I am going to own. The price keeps going up on it. They are like $2M or $3M right now but it is okay. I just got to keep making money.
Brett: Yes. Mine, it would be, if you were to ask me that question, mine is a 2014 Toyota Sienna which I just got because I have four kids.
Brett: Thank you.
Brian: Alright, we got one more question here for you, Sam. I was reading on your profile on you guy’s website that you and your wife enjoy over landing. What in the world is that?
Sam: Well, it is a good question. Overlanding came about when we started the company and we were broke as the joke. We wanted to continue to travel but we did not have any money. My wife has a PhD in counseling psychology and she was still going to school and I sold one of my cars. We went off and we bought this ’98 Land Cruiser with 200000 miles on it for $7000. That was going to be the car that I would be driving every day because that is all I could afford. We used to, when we were younger, travel all over Europe, fly different places in the US. She is from South America so we go to Peru but we did not have any money so we could not do that anymore. We bought this old Land Cruiser and basically overlanding it is like camping out in your vehicle. Even when we first started the company, we wanted a way to get out and so we would go camp out.
We go drive out to Colorado, California, Canada, things like that and basically camp in a new spot every night and then outside of a camping area so we drive up. We take the land cruiser, we drive up into the mountains where there is no one around us, set up camp and enjoy ourselves. This thing that we did because we were broke has turned into something that we do every year, will take two to four weeks off in one stretch and we live out of our land cruiser for that time period. We just head out west in the middle of summer usually in July. That is what overlanding is for us. It is our escape, it is a way to get off into the woods.
Brett: It is so funny, I am kind of getting interested in some of these kind of just different things. In my area, my parent’s area, kind of the same thing. You went camping, you pitched the tent or you had your camper or whatever. But now I am watching TV shows that people living in their vans and all these different like these tiny houses, it is crazy people just making these decisions and I think is really cool.
Brian: I actually just asked that question because I wanted my wife to hear this part of the show because I am all about this.
Sam: Oh man, you got a little something you are picking up over there? Maybe a little bit. Yes.
Brett: No, that is awesome. That sounds good. If you want to talk after the podcast, as far as like places to go and the type of stuff to buy for your rig. Just let me know man. I caught that stuff all day long.
Brian: Cool, cool. I appreciate it.
Brett: Sounds good. That is the wrap for the show, Sam. We appreciate you so much just being here and sharing your heart and sharing your business and you guys are doing an amazing job in Houston giving. We wish you so much success in the future but if one of our listeners wants to reach out to you, where is the best place for them to go?
Sam: Alright. Here is what I want to do, okay? I am a big fan of giving back, I do not have any coaching programs or anything like that, I have nothing to sell but I know there is a lot of people out there who are getting started maybe could benefit from sitting down with me for an hour. If your listeners will do this, it is pretty simple. Get on Facebook, like our Facebook page, share our Facebook page and send proof that you shared our Facebook page to sw, that is initials for Simple Wholesaling, at sennahousebuyers.com. Send a to that and we will enter you into a drawing for one hour free coaching with me. I promise there is not going to be a pitch after that, I literally have nothing to sell but I know that it is a great way to give back because I know how much something like that would have meant to me when I was starting off.
Sam: You guys can get in contact with me. You will get my attention if you do that and then my team, I think about three weeks afterward, is when they will do the drawing to pick the one person to get that. If we have a whole lot of people that apply like last time, I just did a podcast for someone else and we had a whole bunch of people, I ended doing it with five people.
Brett: That is awesome. I am going to be…
Sam: With that done, that is a best way to get contact with me. Check out our website, sennahousebuyers.com. You will be able to see the whole team, how we operate, things like that on there as well.
Brett: I am going to be the first one because I really want to sit down with you because I actually need a lot of help in the business.
Sam: The kind of help I can help with or like…
Brett: I do not know. Maybe, maybe. I think we have a lot of similarities you know? Worked with your dad and look forward to that. Hey, thank you so much, Sam. That is all going to be in the show notes guys. Go to right now simplewholesaling.com/episode108. This is a wrap with Sam Craven from Houston, Texas.
Brian: Thanks, Sam.
Sam: Thanks so much guys. It was awesome.
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