Gary Stouffer, the CEO of Stouffer Realty in Ohio, has been in business for 45 years. With this kind of longevity in the business, he’s been able to see every kind of market cycle, and he knows how to build a business with an eye on long-term growth.
Even after 45 years, Gary is still an active salesman. Gary has a brokerage of over 180 agents, and he spends a lot of time training real estate agents how to create their own footprint in the market. He teaches them the principles of the real estate market that remain the same, whether the market is going up or down.
It definitely feels like it’s a competitive market for real estate investors, so today he’s going to share how to build an everlasting business that outlasts all of your competition.
Become an Expert at One Thing
Gary didn’t set out to become an expert in land, but he found out that it opened a lot of doors for him. He bought the land with partners intending to sell it to developers, but first it had the wrong zoning on. And then it was in a wetland. And then it needed a turning lane. When he finally found a developer, he could only build condos, and he needed Gary to buy a condo before he could start developing.
By the time he’d sold it, five years had passed and Gary had become an expert in land. Once you’re an expert in one thing, the public perceives you as an expert in everything. Selling land became the engine in his real estate business, and he sold 200 pieces of land a year. If anybody anywhere near his part of Ohio wanted to sell a piece of land, every real estate broker recommended Gary because he knew the land business.
You might specialize in land like Gary, or you might choose condos or storage units. Either way, your reputation can carry over into multi-family or single family residential units too. You can use that expertise to pivot into other lucrative deals in real estate.
Hire Out Your Weaknesses
In real estate, you have the purchase and then you have the management of the property. Gary loves the front end; he likes talking to people and buying and selling. But he’s not a numbers guy, and he knows it. He suggests you hire out your weaknesses and build a team around the things you’re not any good at.
When you know your limitations, then you can focus on other real estate principles like knowing your numbers. Gary suggests that you stop moving money around from property to property. You’ll get confused quickly, and then you won’t be able to tell which property is losing money. Because numbers aren’t his thing, Gary’s partners keep an eye on those so that he can keep an eye on the front end of the business.
Bring in a Business Advisor
An outside perspective lets you remove the emotion from your business decisions. Gary sees himself as a salesperson first, and he just happens to own a real estate company. So he brings in a business advisor who doesn’t even work in the company to tell him what he’s doing right and what he needs to change.
This outside business advisor has owned a variety of businesses, so he knows what to look for. He asks Gary questions, listens to his work problems, looks over his books, and sees the projects they’re working on. He just helps Gary make better decisions because he’s not invested emotionally in decisions, so he can steer Gary away from purchasing a house that doesn’t have the numbers to justify a purchase.
Diversify Into Multiple Streams of Income
Investing conservatively without carrying a lot of debt has helped Gary weather over four decades of real estate ups and downs. And in addition to real estate, he’s also made money from the title relationship that he has, plus he owns a brokerage that’s doing over 2,000 transactions a year. By spreading out where his money comes from, Gary makes it easier to handle the inevitable downturn.
Create a Business Model That Doesn’t Consume You
If you truly want real estate to be your key to long term wealth, then you need to build a business model that isn’t too consuming. Gary says that longevity is created by doing something over and over and over again. He sees a lot of agents get in the business and they absolutely love it. So they devote every minute of every day working at it.
But you have to have a family and a life outside your business life. For Gary, this meant setting up firm boundaries between when he worked so that his family knew when to expect him home for supper. In the end, he feels like that gave him a well-rounded life and the kids knew he could be with them.
The idea that you’re going to work really, really hard and then some day retire to sip mai tais on the beach, it might work. But eventually, that beach life is going to get boring. So why not focus on loving the life you have today like Gary did?
Building a sustainable real estate career that doesn’t leave you burned out means you’ll to carefully strategize your business plan. Find a specialty, hire out your weaknesses, and admit when it’s time to get a coach or a mentor to keep you on the straight and narrow. And most importantly, make time for your family by creating a business model that doesn’t consume every waking moment of your day. Real estate investing can help you build the long term wealth you’ve always wanted, so make long-term plans that outlast the market cycles.