51: Bob Lachance
You don’t really know when you transition in any industry. You gotta work your butt off. It’s not a get rich quick game at all. It takes time to build our sphere of influence.
About This Episode
Bob left hockey to become a real estate agent, graduating from door knocking to short sales and education. From his mentors and coaches, he learned every aspect of the industry and found an opportunity: virtual assistants.
He founded REVA Global in the hopes of helping other agents streamline their business so they can focus on the human aspects of finding leads. You can find out more about REVA Global at REVAGlobal.com. Bob’s podcast can be found at FridayCoffeeBreak.com.
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JON: Hello and welcome to Shop Talk: The Real Estate Show. I’m Jon Forisha, and joining me on this episode is Bob Lachance, founder of REVA Global, a virtual assistant company aiming to streamline your real estate business.
JON: So, Bob, thank you for joining me.
BOB: Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.
JON: Absolutely. so let's start with your background.
BOB: Sounds good. I got a long background, but I'll keep it short and sweet. I got into real estate in 2004. Prior to that, I played professional hockey for eight years, four years here, four years in Europe. So it was a good ride until the ride had to end, got a little old. I was on my third knee surgery, so I figured I have to hang it up. My wife was at home and I had my first kid, so I was living in Europe. They were living at home. So I figured, you know, what, now's the best time to to hang up my skates and retire. So I jumped into real estate right away. I decided actually to look at a couple of different industries and, and the, the one that had the least amount or the least barrier of entry was real estate.
BOB: So I'm like, you know what? I started reading some books, you know, probably like many of us on this podcast. I got interested in real estate. I first jumped into real estate investing. So I was investor first. My first property was a flip, a rehab flip and ended up doing pretty well. I mean, $32,000. And then I looked in the mirror and I said, I had no idea what systems were. I had no idea what a team was. I had no idea about anything in that, anything like that. So I decided to, you know, learn more and more about it, especially the lead generation I know in the agent world and investor world, we're all we all need. We need leads. We're not in business unless we have leads. Right. So I learned a lot about that. And I ended up jumping in the short sale world back in the day, as I did over seven, seven, 800 short sale transactions, which are not the most fun I do have to do have to tell ya.
BOB: I know short sales will be coming back. So I just want to, I want to highlight that for sure. Probably in the next three, four or five months is my guess, when they're coming back a great way to learn the industry, whether they're an agent investor, doesn't matter because you'll learn a lot about the process. But through that time I helped start a couple education programs. I got my real estate license as well. But I did let that lapse a little bit. I'm getting it again today because we, yeah, cause we are driving a ton of leads and I've missed opportunities for listings. I'm looking to buy them as investors, but list listings are a huge opportunity for us right now. But through the years I realized there was a big need, not only in my business, but within a lot of the students we were coaching.
BOB: And that way was time. I know agents as well and, or you have a lot of new agents on this podcast and a lot of them struggle with time management and what to do first. And you know, they're looking at their calendar and they're, they're getting really nervous. So I noticed that back probably about 10 years ago. And then 2013, I got introduced to what virtual assistants were. And I got my first virtual assistant, 2013 and then 2014, a light bulb went off because all my friends, all my agent buddies, all my investor buddies were saying, Hey, what are you doing? Virtual assistant? What is that? Explain it to me. I'm like, so right away, light bulb went off. So I launched my first company in 2014 that offered virtual assistant services and all my virtual assistants are out of the Philippines. So I offer virtual assistant services to agents, investors, property managers. We also launched a, a medical division side, which is pretty cool. Yeah. And then so fast forward today I have a very successful real estate trained virtual assistant company along with obviously my investment side as well. So as long as shorts, RFI, that was long winded.
JON: Oh no, that was great. Wow. From hockey to invest into starting your own business.
BOB: Let's see. Yeah. Yeah. I'll tell you what, you don't learn a lot when you're sitting in a hockey locker room though. I promise you that. So there's a lot of trial and error at the beginning.
JON: Of course. Yeah. Wow. That's crazy. So you started in 2014, REVA Global.
BOB: I started actually 2018. My first virtual assistant company. I had an old partner back in 2014. We went our separate ways. I launched this company in 2018.
JON: Gotcha. Okay. Yep. How have you, how have you seen things change in that time?
BOB: Through that time, you know what technology's taken off since 2004, it's really, really taken off for the better, you know, now you can go online on different sites and pull what we look at as motivated seller lists, right? Whether it's a pre foreclosure list, whether they're tax liens, probates, right. For sale by owners are very easy to pull. Expireds are very easy to pull because there's a lot of data sites that I'm seeing that we use in our business that we use to pull any types of potentially motivated seller lists.
JON: Hmm. So how does a virtual assistant differ from say installing a chat bot on a website?
BOB: A virtual assistant, depending on what you want with the virtual assistant. That's a funny question. I don't think I've ever been asked that question. A virtual assistant is alive human being, right. We have our virtual kind interesting. So virtual assistants are four year, have four year college degrees. Obviously out of the Philippines very, very, very high proficiency in English neutral accent their culture's incredible. So a lot different than a bot because a bot is computerized in a virtual assistance. There's no difference in this way. I best, best explain it a virtual assistant, whether they're, they're living, sitting in your office or they're in another state or another country we're finding, especially what we're going through right now. We have to, as business owners, agents, we have to learn, how to interact with individuals that aren't sitting in our office, if we don't and we can't do that, we're going to be, we're going to be struggling for a long time since business has changed.
JON: Yeah, for sure. I think it's fair to say that the bigger, more successful agents probably already had to get used to that kind of stuff, you know, say if they sell in multiple states, multiple countries even, but how do you think COVID-19 has changed everything possibly forever?
BOB: You know, on the, especially if we're just talk the real estate side real estate showings are going to be changing. Think about this, when you look at what is, what it takes to get a listing, right? You have pre-listing tasks, you have listing tasks, you have sale pending tasks and you have post-closing tasks, all of those tasks that have to get done. So what happened prior to COVID, you had to do a lot of that stuff face to face, but now you have DocuSign, you have a lot of different online tools now that you could get the seller to sign everything online. Right. And that's changing a lot, and you know, it's making a lot of us be more efficient, right. And it's allowing us to scale. And in the end it will get our time back because those are the three things that we're all fighting for. Efficiency, scale, and time freedom.
JON: Yeah, definitely. So what are some key benefits of a virtual assistant? Obviously the time, but what can they actually do?
BOB: So there's when I started looking at when I put my real estate agent hat on, you know, you look at different things that real estate agents need to number one, launch a business, and number two, stay in business and number three, be efficient long-term, you know, you could break it up into lead generation which would be one of them. Right. And I could, I could go over some tasks as well, if you want, but another one is lead follow up. Cause it's, that's really, really important. We could generate a crap ton of leads, but if we don't have time to follow up on any of those leads, we just threw money in the garbage. Right. And then you have transaction coordinating type tasks. You have listing management tasks, marketing, branding, social media type tasks, and then administrative assistant kind of inbound call management tasks.
JON: Hmm. So how would you advise an agent on when they should consider getting an assistant?
BOB: I would say, you know, if they're brand new, wait six, seven, eight months, I would say average, at least a closing a month to be able to do that because, you know, adding a virtual assistant on your team could give you an extra one to three closings by handing off some of the tasks for you. But I would definitely say one closing depending on where you are per month, that would be the start.
JON: Hmm. And so when you started your business, how did you go about building out your team?
BOB: A lot of trial and error. For me personally, I, and I live in Connecticut. So if I am going to hire someone and pay them in Connecticut, they're expensive. Right? If you look at the national average, someone coming out of college with a four year degree, they're making anywhere between 45 to $50,000. Now, if you're a small business owner, you're an agent to pay someone that much money, you're going to struggle because at the beginning you may not even be making that much money. Right, right. But when you look at virtual assistants, virtual assistants are a quarter of that price, you know, where you're paying a, when you're paying a US-based four year college graduate $50,000, you could pay a full time someone working for my company $19,000 as an example. So you could, you could leverage someone else's time - again, that is still a 40 hour a week position.
JON: So how do you vet the quality of these assistants?
BOB: You know what? We have a recruiting department and a sourcing department in the Philippines also have a training department cause we put them in a one month training platform. And then we have a placements department and then our operations department. So when we vet them first on our recruiting department, we source, we probably go through around four to 500 applications every month. Right? So we're screening through all those applications. We're looking for different things like four year college degree, if they have any call center experience. And there's some other stuff that we look at as well. And then we, then they go through what's called an initial interview where we look at their, you know, the accent, their English proficiency. And then they go through a final interview and finally a systems check to see what kind of computers they have, see what kind of speed tests on their computers, what kind of backup, et cetera. So they go through a very, very strict kind of checklist if you will, before they even get into the training program.
JON: So say I'm an agent who just got a virtual assistant and now all of the time consuming kind of menial tasks are being out-sourced. What should I spend my time doing?
BOB: So after you outsource it, you're saying personally, as an agent where she'd spend the time doing once a lead generation, you should be spending time with buyers and sellers. I mean, I always say that all the time because that's where our money's made. You know, locking up listings, locking up buyers. The time consuming part comes where agents start pulling their hair out is when they, you know, they'll get one lesson, two lesson, three listings, then they have to go home and upload it to every single site, upload to the MLS, upload it to Zillow, uploaded here, upload it, there, start marketing the property. That's before they even had to leave their house during their house. You know, at night we know this business is very time consuming. There's a lot of admin work and a lot of paperwork in this business. So that's, that's the first thing I would say, definitely outsource that because you will get a lot of your time back because as an agent, you're only, you are making money when you're meeting with people. When you're talking to people, when you're you're networking, I saw your I listened to your, I gotta get the name right. I listened to your, one of the podcasts, very good. Jim Remley out of Oregon. Very, very, very good podcast. That guy's a, that guy's a beast.
JON: Yeah. Jim is impressive.
BOB: Yeah. And he talked a lot about consistency work and follow through and he's he nails it 100%, correct. Because you're not making any money unless you're meeting people. And he, he had a pretty cool system on, I promise I'm probably butchering this, but you know, meeting one extra person a day and then, you know, using that one person and expanding it, knocking on five doors in that neighborhood says really cool. That's what you should be doing. That's, that's how you make money.
JON: Yeah. I love that approach where it's just, it's, it becomes a numbers game. You know, if, if you are always professional about it and always personable and you just touch that many new people each day, then the business should grow.
BOB: So you won't be able to do that if you're sitting down in your office doing all the paperwork, that's, that's where the challenges come from.
JON: Right. That's totally right. With COVID-19 and all this pandemic making everyone stay inside. Do you have any tips on how to work better when you're remote?
BOB: Absolutely. so I would look at the lead generation side, right? So if we start looking at different tasks, our agents of working remote number one, you have to work on obviously your phone skills, right. Phone skills and, and building rapport, whether it's with sellers. Virtual assistants do a great job of, of setting appointments for you and that's our job then to close them. Right. So it's kind of like you and I talking, building rapport with each other, getting to know each other and then having the confidence to work together. Right. So I think the first thing I would do is you know, start working on our communication. Cause I think that's really, really important. That'd be, that'd be the first thing I would say
JON: Communication. Yup, absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. So how do you work on those phones skills? I mean, would you just record yourself?
BOB: It's yeah. It's kind of funny. There's so much training on YouTube. Yeah. You know, there's, there's a ton of training. You put out a lot of content, you know, there's a ton of content. I'm sure Jim puts out a lot of content as well. Just go online and Google it, Google phone skills. There's another on the real estate investing side, a guy by the name of John Martinez as well, has some very good content on phone skills. And he puts everything up online and a lot of us as well, put some great content online. And not only that you made a great point record ourselves as well. It is painful. I'm going to be honest, it's painful to listen to ourselves, but it's something that will 100% get us better at our jobs and communication.
JON: After the break, Bob talks about the importance of finding a good mentor.
JON: Bob couldn’t have made the transition from hockey to real estate without a great education, but an education is only worthwhile if it works to your individual needs. That’s why you should go with the convenient option, the one that works around your schedule instead of forcing you to cross town three times a week in rush hour traffic. Save 25% on your online real estate education with The CE Shop using promo code SHOPTALK.
JON: Yeah, for sure. So when you were coming off of hockey, what was the, what was the hardest thing about transitioning into real estate?
BOB: You know, it's funny, it's, it's trying to find your way. You don't really know when you're transitioning in any industry. It's tough, it's hard. You gotta work your butt off and do know it's a long game. It's not a get rich quick game at all. It takes time to build out your sphere of influence. It takes time to build your team. It takes time to, to, to set up consistent marketing campaigns that will get our phone ringing, right. Both on the fire side and the listing side. So here's what I would do. I would definitely look at what type of training you have within your brokerage and follow that model and also look online as well and get educated. Cause there are a lot of coaching program. I'm huge on coaching. I've spent a, I can't say spent, I've invested a ton of money in education and I'm a firm believer that, you know, if you spend $10,000 and you get one thing, that $10,000 can turn into a hundred, 200, 300 plus thousand dollars throughout the course of your life. So I would, I would recommend education is huge. It's kind of funny when I wasn't, when I was in college, I never said that I never went to school. I was there playing hockey and I actually, I went to Boston University and I probably went to half my classes, but now that school's over I understand the power of education because what I'm investing in now is going to help me in what I do.
JON: Yeah. So when you're looking for education to invest in or mentors, I mean, how do you figure out who's right for you? Because especially in real estate, there are so many coaches out there.
BOB: Yup. Here's what I do. I interview and I say in the first thing I look at, if they're, if I'm interested in something that they're selling, I want to make sure that they're currently doing it. This is what, this is what I do again. I want to make sure they're currently in the business. Either they're a broker or they're an agent or they're an investor or whatever it is. If I'm getting a, you know, someone who's a business coach, right. I want to make sure that they have a successful business and I want, I want them to show me a little bit of it. But that's, that's one, one way that I vet them.
JON: Yeah. Did you have any mentors when you were first starting out or maybe still?
BOB: I did. Yeah. I still do. And I did my first mentor who actually, I just started a new podcast with him called Friday Coffee Break again. Here's my first, when I did my first flip and I realized that I had zero systems, I went to my local real estate investment association. And I asked every single person in that association who the top investor in Connecticut was, and they pointed the same guy. I walked up to him, shook his hand. I said, his name was Pat Precort. I said, Pat, you don't know me, but I'm looking to do anything in real estate. And he goes, you know what, I'm looking for a doorknocker. And I'm like, I'm like, all right. So I literally door knocked from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM every single Friday or Monday through Friday for a full year. Oh my gosh. And it wasn't fun. I'll tell you that. But it was the best thing that I ever did because my whole mindset was, I need to learn from ground up because if I'm going to replace myself and someone asked me a question, a question, I want to make sure I'm able to answer them. And not just from something I read, but something through the eyes of someone who experienced that.
JON: Yeah. Something you've actually done. Right?
JON: So those systems that you, that you put in place, what are some of the most effective ones? What do you see as like the most transformative system?
BOB: Yup. Lead generation systems for us. So I have a virtual assistant pole pre-foreclosure lists, tax lien list, probate evictions. And what they do is they pull those leads with the idea that they should, there might be some sort of motivation. Also I live in Connecticut. We do a lot of out of state owner campaigns because especially what's going on right now, I'm looking for properties that are rented and maybe the tenant stopped paying. Right. So now the pain now you're, now you're looking for tired landlords and we skip trace those phone numbers, which means we are, we skip trace those records to get a phone number. And then my virtual assistants, outbound dial to gauge seller motivation. It's kind of like the setter closing model. If somebody raised their hand and say, you know what? Yeah, I may be interested then that's when our acquisition team myself get involved.
BOB: Yep. So I'd say on the acquisition of lead generation part, because in any business, we don't have a business unless we have leads.
JON: Yeah. You gotta have people coming in.
BOB: Yep. That's very, very important. The other, another one on top of that, especially for agents lead followup is huge. Cause I know a lot of agents buy leads from sources that are expensive, whether it's Zillow or wherever they are. And what happens is you'll buy all those leads. This let's say you consistently buy leads, you buy a hundred leads this month buy a hundred leads next month, a hundred, let's say you're buying a hundred leads every month. What you'll find is maybe you'll dial the first 50, right. And then, you know, maybe one person will answer and then, you know, your rinse and repeat, maybe two people answer, you get a listing, you get busy, you stop following up. Before you know it, you have 400 leads sitting there that you've never touched, or you never actually spoken to, even though you bought those leads. Right. So virtual assistants will hammer through those leads on a daily basis and call, call, call, and try to create a cold lead into a warm lead and then into a listing.
JON: Nice. Yeah. So on the technology side given things that have happened in the last few months did you foresee, you know, once quarantines were being put in place all over the country, did you foresee the rise of Zoom? Did you think that this would happen?
BOB: Know what's funny. I actually, so I also managed a real estate coaching program nationwide. So I, this to me, this is second nature and I've owned a virtual assistant company for, I don't know, six years right now. And this has always been the norm for me. So, you know, for my parents, yeah, that's a little different now. They Zoom with me and they don't even, they don't even know. They have no idea what Zoom was. I had a zoom call with my coach. I coach ice hockey and my kids for my kids. And all of us coaches got together and two of the individuals on the call never used Zoom and these are adults and I'm like, you know, they're in their forties. And I was very surprised because this is just second nature for something I've always done. But I think it's very good to be honest with you because you know, we are in, we, we have been before this, obviously this stuff are going through we were on the path of going virtual anyway. Right. You start looking at how stuff is done. You know, we're buying houses right now, virtually without even seeing the houses. Right. Which is pretty interesting. And that has to do with you know, the advent of Zooms and, and, you know, I know Google's coming out with a, I can't remember what it's called. They used to be a Hangouts, but they're changing. I think it's Google Meet or something Meet. Microsoft has one too. Everyone's got some sort of platform on it. And I think it's a positive thing because we have to learn how to do business you know, over the phone or through Zoom or through some sort of technology like that.
JON: Yeah, of course. Yep. So how do you think outsourcing technology will progress in the next few years?
BOB: Outsourcing technology? I mean, we're in a pretty good outsourcing technology space right now with bots, right? There's a lot of AI out there. And that's only getting, I could say scarier and scarier, meaning better and better, but you know. It's just, it's interesting, you know, you look at what's going on right now and they could tap into your phone to see how close you got to someone else who actually has an Android platform. Right. I'm hoping, you know, that stuff doesn't get too far in. Cause it gets scary. That's a privacy thing. Right. but technology is, is going fast, man. It's it is going fast. It's pretty interesting.
JON: Do you think real estate agents will ever be replaced by technology?
BOB: I do not. There's a human aspect of, I'll tell you what, for me personally, I will, I will not sell my house unless I talk to a human being. You see this, you see these bigger companies come in, come in the game and they have a pretty interesting business model. Right. you know, you read some, you read some statistics where they're not even profitable right now. Right, right. But they're in the game and they're taking out market share for real estate agents. But me personally, I would not sell my house unless I was working with a human being. And that's just the way I am. And I think especially nowadays people want the human touch, they want to talk to somebody local. They want to work with somebody local because, you know, especially when, you know, the economy takes a hit they'll back in.
BOB: If you look back in '08, '09, 2010 you know, they, there was a bad market, but guess what happened? People wanted to help local people. Right. It's kind of like when you, when you go to the grocery store, guess what I'm buying local produce. Right. Rather than a national brand. Right. And it's the same thing with real estate agents, individuals. And this is just through my lens and through, you know, through the individuals I talked to on a daily basis, and the friends that I have is they would rather help somebody local than a big national brand.
JON: Yeah. And I've also heard the argument that if iBuying was ever going to take off, it would have been right now and it kind of hasn't.
BOB: It's a new, it's a new model. Right. Let's call it what it is. It is a new model. We don't know exactly. And I'm, I don't really think I don't have a lot of confidence in it. I know a lot of, you know, you read different stories, hear different stories there. Real estate agents are going to be around forever. Right. I'm getting my license again. Like I said, I have a, I have a really strong feeling again, I've been in business since 2004, so for a pretty long time. And there's some really, really incredible companies out there. You just have to change with the times though, you have to tweak your process, tweak your systems, tweak your technology. You know, it's just part of it. So the brokerages that are on the cutting edge will always be in business. You just got to stay ahead of the curve.
JON: Absolutely. All right. Well, my last question is when I ask of all of my guests and it is, if you could go back to the beginning of your career and change one thing, what would it be?
BOB: If you change one thing? That's a very, very good question. I, what, what is the question? Is it going back in college or is it when you first started real estate? Cause I could go, I could go anywhere with this.
JON: Let's say real estate. Let's let's simplify it. Okay.
BOB: I probably would have right away, got educated quicker. I would have jumped into probably, I probably would've signed up for a coaching program right away. I was very lucky to be honest with it. And I found a mentor. Yeah. I was a doorknocker for that mentor for a year. But he taught me a ton in business, but I would have actually got involved in your coaching program because what that does, it gives you a foundation and it gives you a structure and a launching pad for that. So that's what I would have done personally. And that's what I recommend. I'll tell my kids that right now, I have three kids. I will tell them exactly that when they, when they graduate from college, whatever industry they go in, look for a coaching program and look for a mentor. That's what that is, what my advice would be.
JON: Like after that year of knocking on doors with your mentor, that you knew what the next step should be for you?
BOB: I did. Yes. Cause we were doing short sales. So we were doing a lot of short sales and my next step, we actually created a short sale course through that first door knocking. And then I started negotiating with banks on the phone and then I replaced myself with another door knocker. Actually we had two other door knockers going door to door that I managed them. And I also negotiated short sales. So that was kind of the natural progression. And we did, you know, we did a lot back in the day and it was really good. And then we started on the education side while we, while I listed properties, flipped properties, et cetera. So it's kind of the natural progression of, of a lot of stuff, kind of commercial, some commercial deals, et cetera. But mostly what I'm doing now on the investment side is residential.
JON: That's cool though. It gives you a feel for all different flavors of real estate.
BOB: Yeah. And you know, it's the evolution. If you look at it over real estate, whether, you know, cause I have a lot of friends that are real estate agents that started out as a realtor that now are interested. I saw you had Nick and Chris Prefontaine on your, on your podcast as well. They're actually, I'm in Connecticut, they're in, they're in Rhode Island. They've got a really cool shop there as well what they do and some really cool strategy. But what you realize is you have like I said, a lot of my friends start off as residential agents and then now started tipping their toes into the other side of it and the investing side. So yeah, pretty interesting.
JON: Well, Bob is someone wants to learn more about you or REVA Global, where can they go?
BOB: You can email me directly go to our website REVAGlobal.com. That's R E V a global.com. My email address as well as email@example.com. We also have a podcast series every Friday. It's at 10:00 AM Eastern standard time called the Friday Coffee Break.com. So that's Friday coffee break.com.
JON: Awesome. Well thank you so much, Bob.
BOB: Awesome. Appreciate it. Appreciate you having me. Thank you.
JON: That’s it for this episode, thanks for listening! If you enjoyed the talk, you can subscribe to us and leave us a review on your podcast player of choice. Shop Talk is a production of The CE Shop.