JF2215: Rockstar Capital With Robert Martinez

Robert Martinez is a full-time real estate investor, syndicator, and manager at Rockstar Capital. He has 13 years of real estate investing experience and shares how he got started. He survived the recession and believes it is because at the beginning of his career he was in sales and learned to negotiate and make deals which helped him later in his real estate life especially in outperforming others during the recession.

Robert Martinez Real Estate Background:

  • Full-time real estate investor, syndicator, and manager at Rockstar Capital
  • Has 13 years of real estate investing experience
  • Rockstar’s Capital portfolio consists of 21 communities and 3,762 units
  • Based in Houston, TX
  • Say hi to him at: https://www.rockstar-capital.com/ 
  • Best Ever Book: Gary V podcast

 

Best Ever Tweet:

“Find out what will put you out of business and then develop a plan to defend against it” – Robert Martinez


TRANSCRIPTION

Theo Hicks: Hello, Best Ever listeners, and welcome to the best real estate investing advice ever show. I’m Theo Hicks and today, we’ll be speaking with Robert Martinez.

Robert, how are you doing today?

Robert Martinez: Hey, how are you, Theo? Thanks for having me on the show.

Theo Hicks: Absolutely. Thanks for joining us. I’m doing well and looking forward to our conversation. Before we get to that conversation, let’s go over Robert’s background. He’s a full-time real estate investor, syndicator, and manager at Rockstar Capital. He has 13 years of real estate investing experience. Rockstar Capital’s portfolio currently consists of 21 communities across 3,762 units. He is based in Houston, Texas, and you can say hi to him at https://www.rockstar-capital.com/.

Robert, do you mind telling us a little bit more about your background and what you’re focused on today?

Robert Martinez: Yeah, so I got started in real estate in 2007, but prior to that, I had no real estate background whatsoever. I grew up in Deep South Texas, like a border town close to Mexico, United States. I went to school at Texas A&M University and I thought I was going to be an engineer when I got out of school. What happened was I got a sales role within a company that makes engineer products. So I started going out to the Ship Channel and to the engineering houses and setting my company’s products.

And what happened to me is a lot like what happens to a lot of people in corporate America; they monkey with your commission plan, they monkey with your territory, they bleed you when you’re working really hard; you’re trying to plant roots and seeds today so that you can harvest them tomorrow and for years to come. That’s not how corporate America works, right? You want to make here, instead corporate America wants you to make down here somewhere, plus or minus $10,000.

I got very disgruntled, I guess, by that, and I wasn’t motivated. When I should have been out there looking for  new business for my company, I was out there trying to educate myself. I stumbled upon a real estate radio show; I listened to it for the better part of two years before I actually went to that real estate club to learn.

Once I went to that club, it literally was like that matrix moment with Morpheus and Neo, where you see the red pill, blue pill. You take the red pill, and you’re going to go back to reality. You take the blue pill, and you’re like, “Wow.” It’s like you see this whole other world that you never knew existed, and you didn’t know it existed because mom and dad didn’t teach you, right? Donald Trump’s kids knew about this stuff, right? Our people that are in the real estate market; but the everyday Joe, he didn’t know that, because if his mom or dad didn’t teach it to him, they didn’t learn it.

Thankfully, I believed in mentorship, I believed in educating myself, I went through the process, I went through the program, and I got to understand the basics of what it was to run an apartment complex.

With a partner, I got started in 2007. Together, we ran 2,000 units. I was the COO of the company, and after 2011, we separated. I started Rockstar Capital in 2011. Since then, we’ve gone on to purchase 22 communities; we own 21 today, just under 1300 units, asset value of under $400 million. I’m a two-time city owner of the year, I’m a two-time national owner of the year, and our claim to fame is that we pulled a tremendous amount of equity out of our communities. We’ve been able to pull out 12 100% cash-out refinance events since 2011, and we’ve won 17 city, state, and national Apartment Association Awards in that time.

Theo Hicks: Well, thanks for sharing that. There’s all these things in your background I’d like to focus on… I definitely talk about the 12 100% cash refi events. Before we get to that, it’d be nice to kind of go back in time a little bit, because I know a lot of people love the origin story.

You kind of mentioned up to the point where you took the red pill, you were all in on real estate, you decided to pursue apartments with a business partner. Maybe kind of walk us through — you don’t have to get super detailed, but maybe walk us through why you selected that partner, why you selected apartments, and then maybe a little bit of information on the first syndication deal. Where that money came from, how the duties were split, things like that.

Robert Martinez: Sure. I chose a partner because I didn’t know any better. I was scared. I believed in fear, and in fear, it was False Evidence Appearing Real. I didn’t think I could do it alone. I wish then I know now what I know, is that I could have done it alone. Financing was available and I would have done a lot better for myself. You talked about fees – he was the syndicator in those first three years and I was the operating arm, so I didn’t get any additional fees. I got the return on my equity. That’s what I got. I worked for it. He was a syndicator. He put the deals together, so he got those deals. And then we ran 2,000 units. I ran deals through the recession. Because of my sales background, I was able to get us to survive the recession. I was able to teach my staff how to sell and ask the basic questions, and how to compete against every day other people.

When we got started, we were dealing with C-class deals, right? Because that’s why everybody gets started typically when you first get certain apartment deals, so it was me against them. It was my sales team versus their sales team, and we won. During that time, we did three 100% refinance events. I don’t take credit for them, but I was the operating arm. I was leading the Salesforce.

And we had a falling out… Because what happens in this world, if you don’t have it clearly defined, and I thought we had an agreement—if you don’t have it clearly defined on what everybody’s roles are going to be, then it start to go bad.

We had an agreement, an agreement that he broke, and when I realized that I couldn’t trust that guy, I don’t want to be in business with you. So we had a parting of ways. And when I started Rockstar, I didn’t have a business partner, I did it by myself. I took the lessons and the experiences that I was able to gain during that time to begin the company.

Theo Hicks: Okay. How many deals had you done up to that point with that business partner before that falling out?

Robert Martinez: He and I did 10 deals right around 2,000 units, all C-Class, B-class deals. At that point, you’re talking 2008-2011. I think we were looking at deals that were in the $30,000 to $40,000 range per unit.

Theo Hicks: Then once that happened, what happened to those 10 deals?

Robert Martinez: My understanding is some of them still exist. Many of them were sold already, and he is not as large as we are today. They’re still around. I don’t have ownership in any of those deals. The deals that I had ownership in have sold already.

Theo Hicks: Okay, so then let’s transition to Rockstar. You had, obviously, a lot of experience from the 10 deals you had done. Let’s just start with the money-raising aspect. How did you get the money for these deals, starting with Rockstar?

Robert Martinez: Well, within that real estate club, I really had developed a name. I was co-owner of that previous company, so people knew who I was through the different events that they would have. For me and my very first deal, I already had a track record. I’m at a little bit different advantage, because I wasn’t a syndicator in those first three deals, but I was the guy running the show. So when we’d have presentations, I am there answering questions. I am there shaking hands and kissing babies.

So when I finally did my first syndication deal, that money came in pretty quickly. It was only about $1.5 million equity raise. We bought it in 2010 and paid $24,000 a door for it. It’s crazy. A 1984 deal; raised $1.5 million. We refinanced it twice since then; we’ve returned 400% back to the investors. It’s probably worth another 300% to 400% in terms of unrealized equity, but we’re in a CMBS loan, so I need a few more years for it to end and then we can pull the cash out again.

Theo Hicks: Okay, let’s focus on that, because I’m sure most people want to hear about it. The best way to go about doing this is to give us an example deal that you were able to do the refinance on. Let’s just pick a deal you’ve done it on – the first deal, the last deal, whichever you choose, and walk us through the numbers, and how did the whole process work, like how you were able to do it?

Robert Martinez: Sure. As you know, if you do this long enough, your model changes, your fee structure changes. Early on, I had a 10% promote. So of that $1.5 million, I would take a 10% override is what I call it; an override on the profits of that. I didn’t charge any acquisition fees, there were no additional other fees. It was a 5% management fee; that was 3% on the property management, and 2% on the asset management. Then we would go in, we would raise the capital, and then we would do a renovation.

I’m very big on replacing all the air conditioners, day one. That’s a lesson that I learned from those first three years in the business. Because the key to successful real estate investing is heads and beds, and you want people to renew. You make your money when people renew, not when they move in. Because as you know, when you have people move in, you’re spending a lot of money; you have vacancy loss, you have to make-ready expenses, you have marketing expenses, you have a wide variety of expenses for that unit. But if they stay, typically they will absorb a rent bump, a nuisance bump as we like to call it, and they stick around, which means that you don’t have any expenses against it.

My whole goal is what can I do to keep them to renew again and again with us?

The number one thing was air conditioners. The number one maintenance headache that any apartment has is the air conditioning, and the number one reason why people move out is maintenance. If you replace the air conditioner — as you hear in Houston, Texas today it’s like 97 degrees; it’s hot, and it’s going to be like that all summer long, probably through November. So if you can replace that one issue and you create a basic service and focus on the basic services, then people are going to stick around longer. So air conditioning was a big deal.

Then we go do our other renovations; we improve the exterior, we add HardiePlank patios so that it has a fresh clean look. We’ll repaint, we’ll update the interiors, we’ll put forward planking down. It’s the same business model everybody has, but what we also like to do is focus on reviews. We didn’t do that then. This was an evolution thing. As times go on, people find you online, so it’s really important to make sure that you’re controlling the narrative and the right story is out there. We don’t want the story to be written by somebody who’s been evicted because they can’t pay rent or somebody who’s not following community policies. We want it to be written by people who are moving in because typically, they’re happy, right? We focus a lot on reviews and then we focus on making sure that all of our basic services are right there in line and they’re consistent.

Theo Hicks: I appreciate that. Let’s talk a bit more about the reviews. What specifically are you doing to get those people who are renewing to do reviews? I guess, is it just happening naturally or is there some sort of productive effort on the part of you and your team?

Robert Martinez: Well, for sure, because first, you need someone to lead. You’ve got to execute. Everybody had the idea for Uber, but nobody executed on it, right? It’s the same thing. If you have the best idea, but if you have no plan to make it happen, then you’re going to have issues.

Reviews were very scary for us in the beginning. Like a lot of people, I would go to https://www.apartmentratings.com/, I’d go to Google, and I always see negative reviews, and everybody was scared. I literally would feel like an ostrich with my head in the sand. I didn’t want to see it, I ignored it. I got a chance to visit with Gary Vaynerchuk a couple times and he kind of said a couple of things that made me focus on brand, focus on reputation, and helped me understand that, “Man, I’m letting somebody control my narrative.”

So what we do is we told the staff not to be afraid of reviews; to go out there and solicit reviews. Every time that somebody is there and they’re moving in, ask them for their review. If you just ask for it, people are probably going to want to give it to you. That’s what we did and we started to build our reputation.

Today, per https://www.apartmentratings.com/, 16 of our 21 sites are ranked in the top 250 in the country. There’s 130,000 communities. I’ve got 16 sites in the top 250. In the top 10, I’ve got six sites, because this has been part of our business model. It’s something that’s a part of our foundational success. We spend a lot of money on the websites, we spend a lot of money on video, but they’re still going to go back and read the reviews because that’s what people do. They don’t want to make a decision on their own. They want to feel safe. It’s a little bit of a herd mentality. When you go to Best Buy and you want to buy a TV or a camera or something, you probably don’t know which one to pick. So you ask the sales guy, he’ll tell you everybody’s buying this one or buying that model. You’ll go to Amazon, you’ll plug in the model, you’ll then see other reviews there and then that’s how you make your choice. It’s no different for apartments. We’ve just got to make sure that we control the narrative and the best story is out there.

Theo Hicks: I appreciate you sharing that. Of all of the 12 cash out refinances you’ve done, on average, how soon after you’ve acquired the property, are you doing these?

Robert Martinez: Well, it’s definitely changed, because in the early years and back in 2008 and 2011 and 2013, we could do those in a 24 to 36 months cycle. It was that good. But as everything gets more expensive, and the cap rates get a little tighter, and there’s more competition, it’s now pushing out to three years or four years. We’re able to get the cash-out, but it just takes a little bit longer now, starting out with COVID-19 that happened and everybody’s budget can be in a little bit off and the investor sentiment is off, the economic outlook is off, it may take a little bit longer. But if you just follow the model, it’s going to be fine. But today we’re looking at probably between 36 and 48 months.

Theo Hicks: Okay, Robert, what is your best real estate investing advice ever?

Robert Martinez: Man, you’ve got to go big or go home. I bought a deal that was 51 units. We were dipping our toe into the class-A market. I bought it in midtown, which is just outside of downtown Houston, a very hot area, a very trendy area. I thought, “It’s just 51 units, I can control that. I’ll be okay.” But what I didn’t understand is that any blip, my occupancy moves. So as they’re building a lot of new properties in the area, we were getting dwarfed out; these properties are coming up, they’re leasing up, they have every amenity in the world. I’ve got 51 units, I got a small pool, and I have an executive style fitness center.

When I did underwriting on that deal, it was $100 a barrel here in Houston for oil. When we closed the deal, it was $60 a barrel in oil. And Christmas that year after we bought the deal, it was $30 a barrel in oil. We really went into a gunfight with a knife. We had to get better. If I had had marketing dollars, if I had a bigger budget, I could have done better on that deal. But what I did learn – I learned websites, because you have to fight against it. We didn’t have any websites. I learned websites. I learned reviews are very important. That was one of the first properties that we got that was ranked really high. That probably was ranked in the top 1% in the country for resident satisfaction every year that we owned it, but it was one of those ‘necessity is the mother of invention’. We had to survive. But what if I would have had 300 units, 400 units? I would have had more marketing dollars. I would have been able to have more budget to pay for a better manager in the chair because that person sitting in the chair is running a multi, multi-million dollar deal. You’ve got to make sure you have the right person in that chair. And if I’m paying $40,000 a year or I’m paying $80,000 a year for the manager, you’re going to get a different performance, and I realized that. So as we move forward, we’re focusing on larger deals, because more units give you more ammo, it gives you more options.

Theo Hicks: Do you mind, before we go on to the lightning round, just elaborating a little bit on the website?

Robert Martinez: We had a website. It’s funny, right, because I had no websites. My marketing budget consisted of pretty flags, banners, and color on the outside of the property. We did a lot of resident referrals. We did a lot of advertising in different periodicals. But we had no social media presence whatsoever. We had no website presence whatsoever. We had to learn that and I learned it on the fly. That’s how I discovered Gary Vaynerchuk, was trying to learn from mentors like that, and going to visit Gary a couple of times, and understanding what I needed to do to separate from the pack. Our website had no teeth to them. They were just basically a shell. It was a pretty picture, a couple of links, and that was it. I didn’t understand SEO. I had to educate myself. I self-educating myself, but I also brought in people into my company that were where I wanted to be.

I brought in somebody that was working at another company and they [unintelligible [00:18:19].11] running 10,000 units, and I had to pay for that person. That came out of my pocket. But I had to learn that. I had to go through the process of understanding where we were weak. Together, we learned social media, we learned Facebook ads, we learned Instagram. Today, we have a guy that focuses on nothing but Google ads; like the SEO, the keyword placement. It’s just things that we didn’t even look at before. We’ve got a complete team, where three years ago I had nobody on the marketing team. Today, I’ve got seven people on the marketing team, because I realize how important leads are, I recognize how important follow-up is… We have a 24/7 call center now, so we never miss a call. It’s not just like an answering service that you pay 90 bucks for a month. It’s a live, breathing person that has access to your property management software that can schedule the appointments for you. It’s just been an evolution for us.

Theo Hicks: What would be the one thing you’d recommend someone do to improve their branding, when they obviously don’t have as big of a budget as you to hire a full team and 24/7 ads and one guy who’s doing Google ads and things like that? The one thing they should do today.

Robert Martinez: If you don’t understand that it’s all about the phone, then you’re dead in the water. You deserve to go out of business. You’ve got to immerse yourself. You can go to YouTube, you can go to Google, and you can educate yourself. Before I brought anybody in, before I started to take money out of my pocket and do that, I spent money on myself. I invested in myself first, before I invested in anybody. When they brought them in, they didn’t have social media experience. I had the social media experience. I learned how to do a Facebook ad. I learned that by watching Gary. I learned it by self-teaching yourself.

You’ve got to be a little innovative, right? Because every day, somebody’s trying to put you out of business.

One of the key takeaways from meeting Gary was he said, “Come up with a way to put yourself out of business,” and remember when he said that to me, and I’m like, “What do you mean?” He goes, “Find a way to put yourself out of business before somebody else does it to you first,” and that makes sense; because if you don’t try to find your weakness, someone’s going to exploit it. And you don’t have a chance to develop a defense against it. And that’s what I did; I realized that we had no brand, we had no reputation, our properties were unknown. During that pandemic, you survived during COVID-19 if you were still online 24/7.

Right now, during COVID-19, a lot of people saw occupancies go down. Our occupancies went up. Last year, 7% of our total leases were through our website only, meaning that they didn’t come into the office whatsoever. They did the employment screening online, they did the resident verification online, they took the tour online. We spent a lot of money for virtual reality tours where they can go room to room to room, click different buttons, it’ll send to different parts of the property, they can see the amenities.

Today, that’s over 30%. We actually have more completed applications today year to date than we did last year, yet our lead count is down. How did that happen? Because we were online. We were live 24/7. When the rest of the world was shutting down, our offices were still open virtually. That’s what I’m talking about; being able to plan ahead and think about when times are not going to be so good.

That’s being a wartime general. A lot of peacetime generals out there that thought that the world was going to continue to keep going and the harbor was going to stay full and all boats are going to float. But the wartime generals had been through the recession and they’re thinking about when times are tough, “What can I do to prepare for it?” That’s some of the things that we did.

Theo Hicks: I really appreciate those. That was really solid advice. One more time – find a way to put yourself out of business, and then—

Robert Martinez: Yeah, find a way to put yourself out of business, and then develop a defense against it. What is your weakness? And he is very big on doubling down on your strengths and hiring your weakness… As you’re getting started — I mean, I have 4000 units today, but I started with a 118 unit property, all by myself. It was me, the property manager, and two maintenance guys outside, and today I’ve got 4,000 units. That means I wore every single hat. I wore the underwriting hat, I wore the operator hat, I wore the owner hat, I wore the investor hat; I wore them all. And today, I now have people there.

What we’ve done is, I’ve focused on what I’m good at, doubled down on that… And systematically start to hire your weaknesses. Marketing was a weakness for us; when I realized that we weren’t able to stay alive and fight against better competition because they have a social media presence, because they’re buying your keywords up… You have to understand, “Hey, I don’t understand this. I need to bring somebody in here that does, so we don’t die.” Again, find a way to put yourself out of business, and then develop a defense against it.

Theo Hicks: Perfect. Okay, are you ready for the best ever lightning round?

Robert Martinez: Yes.

Theo Hicks: Perfect.

Break: [00:22:31] to [00:23:45]

Theo Hicks: Okay, what is the best ever book you’ve recently read?

Robert Martinez: I’m embarrassed to say, right? I think I told you, I just got the Jaws book. I’m not a big reader. I’m more of a guy that likes to sit in the car or sit at my computer with my air pods in. I listen to a ton of podcasts. I listen to everything Gary spits out, because he gives out some amazing information for free. And if you’re a good business guy, you understand how your business works, you can identify, you can take those lessons from him. I love the Gary Vaynerchuk podcast. I love Grant Cardone’s podcast. When I need a little jolt of energy, I need to feel like I can run through that wall, I’m going to go listen to Grant. But if I need some real stage business advice on how I can implement and make my company better, I go and I follow those guys. That’s all I need right now.

Theo Hicks: If your business were to collapse today, what would you do next?

Robert Martinez: I’d do it over again, because I believe there are some things that will never go away; your need for food, your need for water and air, and you’ve got to have a roof over your head. I think if you focus on a business that services one of those items, you’re going to be okay. I would do multifamily all over again, and I just would probably do it differently.

Theo Hicks: Do you mind telling us about a deal that you’ve lost the most money on? How much did you lose? What lesson did you learn?

Robert Martinez: I’m very fortunate; I’ve never lost money on a real estate deal. For those of you that are struggling right now, I’ve been in deals that were struggling during the recession that looked like, “Man, we’re never going to get out of this.” But you never lose money till the day you sell. So just find out a way to keep it going, because when it’s bad, it’s bad, but when you’re running through hell, you don’t stop. You keep going. You want to get out on the other side. I’ve been very fortunate. I’ve gone through my ups and downs of deals, but I’ve never lost a deal. I’ve never lost money in a deal.

Now, did I make less money on a deal? Sure. That 51 unit deal. I had delusions of grandeur, I was going to pull another 100% equity out, and it didn’t happen. In the end, we wound up with 27%, which was around 8.5% annualized return; not the best return. By far, the lowest return. But the lessons I learned from that deal, were amazing.

I learned social media because of that deal. I had to go see Gary Vaynerchuk because of that deal. I learned resident reviews because of that deal. That deal created our whole marketing team later on, because I realized I’d bought a deal and I didn’t understand how to stand out above the noise. That deal forced me to learn how to do it, and I learned through the 51 units, “Man, you need to be looking at 351 units, 451 units, you need more size. More doors is better for you.”

Theo Hicks: What is the best ever way you like to give back?

Robert Martinez: I think there’s two ways I want to make sure that I give back and I’m remembered for; what I’ve done for my team and what I’ve done for the community.

Internally, I’m very big on trying to help my team out. I’m in a position where I can help and I know that. I’m in a position where they’ll take advice, they’ll listen to me, and its mentorship. I try to give everybody 51% of the relationship. I say, how can I help you? What is it you’re trying to do? Where are you struggling at right now? Let me see what I can do—because really all it is, is just a little bit of knowledge. Somebody wants to buy their first car, but they don’t know how to do it. They don’t know where to go, they need some help on their credit. You give them some advice. You tell them where to go. They want to buy their first house, you help them get out of debt, you help them save money, you give them advice, and they start to listen to you. I don’t do it for them, but I give them advice.

Here in the company, I told everybody that I want to see you get your real estate career started while you’re working with me. If you put $5,000 in any of my deals, I will match you $5,000. That is better than any 401k. That’s better than anything, because they will learn what real estate advantages are. They’ll learn cash flow, they’ll learn appreciation, they’ll learn the tax benefits, and I want to be that guy that teaches them. That’s a standing offer I have within my company.

For the community, I try to do as much as I can. There’s little stuff like the back to school events and working with the local Apartment Association. But my mom got hit by breast cancer back in 2016 and it was a very scary thing for me. I didn’t know what it meant. I had to educate myself on it. I realized how easy and preventable it is with just raising awareness. One in seven women will get breast cancer in their lifetime, but it’s like 90% are curable and preventable if you get it early, and you get the proper treatment.

We started a breast cancer walk back in 2016. We’ve done four years now of that, and I’m really proud of how much money we raised for Susan G. Komen, and have raised for Breast Cancer Awareness. And what we’ve done for families of our residents here where we help sponsor screenings, we’ve done financial assistance… But I just always go back, “What do I want to be remembered for?” I don’t want to live in regret. I want to make sure that I’ve done everything I needed  to do business-wise, everything I needed to do for my children to become the best mentor and the best father I can be for them. And for my team, to let them know that they had someone that cared about them and that I gave them a head start somewhere, where maybe if they hadn’t met me, they would be in a different position.

Theo Hicks: Wow. And then lastly, what’s the best ever place to reach you?

Robert Martinez: That’s a great question. I’m really focused on social media right now. You can find me on LinkedIn at Robert Martinez, I produce a lot of free content. On Instagram, I’m out there @apartmentrockstar, and I have a personal brand page, the https://www.theapartmentrockstar.com/ You can find out all of our live events, you can find out our coaching, you can see a lot of free videos. I even have a comic book on there. There’s a lot of free content to learn from me, but you can go to https://www.theapartmentrockstar.com/ and you can find me there.

Theo Hicks: Awesome. Robert, I really enjoyed this conversation. You have a lot of knowledge and you gave us a lot of knowledge in this episode. Definitely worth relistening for sure. There’s a couple of—again, a lot of takeaways here, but a couple of the biggest ones, at least for me personally, was, first of all, when you talked about making the money when you renew. I think that was really powerful, and it’s so obvious, right? But I don’t think a lot of people think about it that way.

You talked about obviously, if you’ve got people staying, resigning their lease, you’re automatically knocking down your vacancy loss, you’re make-ready expenses, your marketing costs, and you’re still getting that rent bump, right? When you look at a T12, you’ll see there’s a pretty big make-ready expense. There’s a pretty big vacancy expense. There’s a pretty big marketing expense. So being able to knock that down is huge. Every dollar saved increases the value of the property at even greater amounts. I really liked that you said that. You gave us examples of things that you do in order to promote that.

The biggest one you said was replacing all the A/C units from day one. I’m sure anyone who’s ever lived in a hot climate can understand how annoying it is when your A/C goes out for sure, so I bet that helps a ton.

You gave us a few other examples. Another huge takeaway was your focus on reviews. I hope I wrote this down right, but you said 16 of your 21 sites are in the top of 250 in the country for reviews and then six on the top 50, right?

Robert Martinez: That’s correct, on https://www.apartmentratings.com/.

Theo Hicks: On https://www.apartmentratings.com/. Obviously, getting people to renew is huge here, but you’ve said that really all you’ve done is just whenever staff are interacting with residents, so whenever someone is signing a lease or if someone is going to renew a lease, you simply ask them to sign a review. And you mentioned the reason why reviews are so powerful is because of that kind of herd mentality, and people are going to make their choices based off of what other people have already decided, right? So if they hate your apartment, then they’re not going to go there. If they love your apartment, then they’re more likely to go there. I appreciated that.

You also went over your best ever advice, which was to go big or go home.

Robert Martinez: Yeah.

Theo Hicks: I’ve talked about this before in Syndication School, but when you’re doing these apartment deals in that medium-range, and in your case is 51-unit deal which ended up working out, and you’ve got these bigger communities around you that have all the amenities on site, you are going to have a hard time attracting residents. Plus you’d have less money to spend on things, like you mentioned, marketing and a manager. When you’re dealing with apartments, the bigger the better, because you have more economies of scale.

Lastly, you talked about the Gary V. quote on find a way to put yourself out of business and then develop a defense against that. That was very, very powerful advice. I’m sure you could do a whole book on talking about different tips and steps for doing that.

But those are some of the biggest things I took away. A lot more really solid advice this episode. I really appreciate you coming on the show.  Best Ever listeners, as always, thank you for listening. Have a best ever day and we’ll talk to you tomorrow.

Robert Martinez: Thanks so much for having me on the show.

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