Welcome to The Accelerated Investor Podcast with Josh Cantwell, if you love entrepreneurship and investing in real estate then you are in the right place. Josh is the CEO of Freeland Ventures Real Estate Private Equity and has personally invested in well over 500 properties all across the country. He’s also made hundreds of private lender loans and owns over 1,000 units of apartments. Josh is an expert at raising private money for deals and he prides himself on never having had a boss in his entire adult life. Josh and his team also mentor investors and entrepreneurs from all over the world. He doesn’t dream about doing deals, he actually does them and so do his listeners and students. Now sit back, listen, learn, and accelerate your business, your life, and your investing with The Accelerated Investor Podcast.
Josh: So, hey, welcome back to Accelerated Investor. I am so excited to be with you again on your entrepreneurial journey, whether it’s in real estate, whether you’re building another business and investing in real estate passively, whether you’re a real estate agent, mortgage broker, investor. I’m just honored and privileged to be with you along on your journey. We’re so excited for all the people that have been sharing this on social media platforms and leaving us amazing comments and reviews. So if you’ve done that, thank you so much. If you haven’t yet, left us a review or rating, let us know how we’re doing. Let us know what topics you’d like to hear people you’d like to hear from. Let us know your favorite episodes. Today I have on with me a new guest. His name is Gary Stouffer. He is the founder and CEO of Stouffer Realty.
Josh: He has been in real estate as an investor for over 45 years. He’s been a real estate agent for 41 years and today manages Stouffer Realty, which is based in the greater Cleveland, Akron, Canton markets, managing his business of over 180 to 190 agents plus 20 staff. And today we’re going to talk with Gary a little bit about some of his thoughts about his longevity in the business. He’s been in the business over 45 years, done hundreds if not thousands of transactions. He’s seen every kind of market cycle from, you know, interest rates in the middle to high teens. The ramp up of 2007 and eight, the good times we’ve had over the last eight to 10 years. And Gary’s a wealth of knowledge. In addition, I also sold my brokerage to Gary about four years ago. I had a small boutique brokerage a bunch of my agents moved over to Stouffer Realty. And so Gary and I have had a personal relationship for about three or four years and we continue to work together on special projects. So Gary Stouffer, welcome to Accelerated Investor. Thanks for joining me.
Josh: Great. Great. Thanks for being on. Listen, Gary, for people that don’t know that, don’t know you, don’t understand where you’re coming from. Let’s talk a little bit about the past. We’ll get there, but tell me about what you’re working on right now. One of my favorite questions to ask is what are you excited about? What are you working on, whether it’s residential and commercial properties, investing or listings? And what are some of your excitement things about the current market that you’re excited about or things about the current market that scare you? Tell me about what’s on your mind and your business as we sit here today in 2020.
Gary: Well, this is a pretty exciting market right now that we’re dealing with. Obviously, interest rates are very low, inventory’s low. So when it comes to selling real estate, it’s a great time to sell it. It’s multiple offers on properties, that type of thing. As far as investing, that type of thing it’s always real estate is, I have to look at real estate like you would look at any investment. If we’re at the high end of the market right now, it’s you start looking at what’s the product you’re buying, what’s the future values, those types of things. Now you always do that, but when the market’s lower, of course it’s pretty easy when because you know, if the market’s down, most everything’s going to probably start going up. So today’s market’s very exciting because of, it’s easier to make money is the best way I could put it. When you know that your properties are going to rent, your rents are going to be higher tomorrow, those kinds of things. So it’s an exciting time as an investor or a real estate agent. This is as good as time as this is a great time to be in the market for sure.
Josh: No doubt. So as you’re building your sales organization or you know, listing more properties, you’re a salesperson within your own organization when we were talking and getting prepared for this. You said you’re an active salesperson, you do a lot of land listings, commercial listings, apartment listings. What are some of the things that you do and some of the things that you’re teaching some of your agents and your staff to kind of create your own footprint in today’s market? Because it is more competitive, whether you’re going after a property to buy and you’re fighting against multiple listing or multiple offers, whether you’re an agent looking to go get a listing and you’re fighting against other listing agents because there’s a low inventory. How are you setting yourself and how are you teaching your agents to set themselves apart? Create that brand, create a footprint, be different, can differentiating yourself to really stand out and get more business?
Gary: Well, one of the things that I’ve done, and I would say this holds true now, but also held true over the past years, most principals work, whether the market’s down or the market’s up, I think we would all agree to that. There’s certain truths or principles that work. And one of the things that’s helped me in sustainability is I’ve tried in at least I’m talking about this. Well, I’ll talk about the sales end of the business first of all. I’ve always tried to, and I’ve always recommended agents to find what I would call their specialty. What are they going to be known for? You know they the, as an example, we have a fellow who started probably 15 years ago here and I told him, what do you want to work? Where do you naturally fall? Well he was living in condos, a condo at the time, he was a president of an association and he made a decision to be an known as an expert in the, I would call a condominium or cluster type housing living.
Gary: And that’s what he did. And he built his business on that. So when anybody had, wanted to sell that product, he was the person they thought of, you know, even within the industry. So he became known for that. But that doesn’t mean that’s all he did. So he sold houses or other products in the business, but he became known for that product. So when, in our industry, if you can be known for something and it’s your specialty, you’ll start, that’ll be the, I would call the engine that’s running the company or your company or your business, because you can be pretty confident that that business will be con consistent. So in his case he was selling condos or clusters. So that was a consistent flow of income for him. Years ago, for myself, the way that played out was in the mid eighties I bought a piece of land with a couple partners and we bought this piece of land and it ended up being, I had it for sale for about five years.
Gary: And we ended up selling the piece of land and from owning it and reselling it we sold it to a developer. We, I learned, I knew a lot about land that I knew other people didn’t by all these developers, everyone from Cleveland to Canton and Akron looking at it, they were all telling me what was wrong with it, correct. Because that’s what they do and they don’t want it. So they tell you what’s wrong with it. And it was, we had the wrong zoning. It had a house on it that need burned out. It had a flood plain, a wetland, it needed a turn lane, you know, and it had all, it was a commercial piece and it had all these things that I was dealing with. Well, I took five years and went through that process.
Gary: And then when I finally found a guy to buy it, he couldn’t buy it unless he was, he did a condo project. It was an office condo project and he couldn’t buy my land unless he had some of his condos, office condo sold. So I had to buy a condo just for him to buy, just for him to buy my land. So I ended up buying two of his office condos, but I became an expert in vacant land. And so I made a decision after buying that I felt I could spin off on that and go get other pieces of land that somebody needed to sell. And I would have an edge or on these other agents that were, you know, I was competing against because I had more knowledge. Well, unbeknownst to me, that became the engine that ran my business. That was the consistency, the consistent sales. We started selling 200 lots, farms a year or two.
Gary: I’d sell it from the farmer to the developer, from the developer to the builder, from the builder to the public. And then I’d sell the public’s house. Well, I had all this going on and then I would get some build jobs on it. So it was the engine that ran this. And so I recommend to people, you know, they don’t have to do what I did. They had to find what number one, what’s interesting to them. As an example, if it’s investment property and it’s going to be under, you know, medium size investments, say six units or less, then they need to become, they need to make the effort there and become the expert. So that when somebody is doing business, because in our area we have 5,000 realtors and I want all 5,000 of those realtors to say, well if you’re going to sell this piece of land…
Josh: You want to go work with Gary. He’s the guy.
Gary: He’s the guy. So you need to find your expertise. It could be a high profile edge. It could come in a variety of ways. But if you do that, the rest of it comes, the rest of it falls into place. You need that, what I would call that, what would you call it? Salary. It’s not a salary, but it’s like a salary when you, it’s coming in on a consistent basis.
Josh: When you’re working on commission, right? Like realtors, title companies, real estate investors, mortgage brokers, we’re almost all essentially working for commission transactional type of work unless you own the asset and it’s a rental property. And to that point, you know, I see some of the people today, like my friend Darren, he’s a luxury home builder. He’s so niche he only builds in Lakewood and Rocky River. And he was so niche in what he was doing in renovating, rehabbing and building, he had the same type of luxury finishes, did a lot of white bright kitchens, dark hardwoods that he was so niche that he actually landed a pilot with HGTV and will actually be coming out with this HGTV show this summer.
Josh: And that’s another example of basically niche is rich. It’s the example of getting so good at doing one thing that it’s again, it’s the salary, it’s the engine that drives you into other opportunities. And for you Gary, it was that longevity for you. You got into land and that became your thing that you really enjoyed. You still list and sell a ton of land today and a lot of apartments and a lot of commercial real estate to go along with that.
Gary: Sure. Well what, the other thing that it does is when you become an expert in anything, there is a tendency for the public to believe you are an expert in everything, particularly. So you start to be known and I was very fortunate that even though I was known as being an expert in this one part of the industry, by virtue of me doing a lot of other things, like I always bought real estate so, and I started buying real estate in the mid seventies so.
Gary: So my entire career, I’ve always believed in my product, which is real estate. So whether it’s apartments or if it’s land or if it’s a commercial, I always tried to push myself to do something a little bit different than I was accustomed to doing and what the good part because of the fear factor, I really investigated things and I would only being in the industry, I only bought what I would call the best values that I could find in reality that I missed out on a lot of opportunity because I wasn’t a little more aggressive. But it turned out okay too, if you know what I mean?
Josh: Right. Well if we’re talking about longevity, right? One of the best ways to have a 45 year career and make it through all these market cycles that you’ve been through is to only buy the best deals because those deals will make it through all the cycles. Obviously they look better when you buy at the bottom and then they appreciate over time. But if you buy a good deal, like even today, even though the market is hot, there’s lots of competition, there’s still deals out there, there’s deals to buy at wholesale prices. I tell my audience, you’ve got to expand your market or you’ve got to expand your marketing to find the best deals. There’s still wholesale deals out there happening right now and people are saying, oh my God, I can’t believe they found that deal. How do they find that deal? You know, it’s because they did some more digging.
Josh: They expanded their market, they went off market, you know, not necessarily to the MLS or maybe LoopNet or CoStar or one of those kind of places. And so that’s really leads to maybe a second characteristic of making it and having longevity. You mentioned, you know, having sort of a niche and being an expert. I love your comment about being an expert in one thing. The public perceives you to be an expert at everything. I don’t think many people understand that, that only comes with experience and the second thing of buying the best deals. So help me understand. You know, you maybe look back and regret some of the deals you didn’t buy, but since you bought the best deals, now those have appreciated over time. They’ve paid you over and over and over again.
Josh: Talk a little bit more about that. How in today’s market are you keeping the emotion? A lot of people are buying on emotion because real estate’s hot. How do you keep the emotion out of it? Because you’ve been so successful at keeping the emotion out to only buy the best deals. Even when maybe you thought, oh my God, I got to buy this property. It’s so good, but maybe it was maybe a little bit more of a higher price and you wanted to pay. You took the emotion out, didn’t buy it. When many other people are getting sucked into over paying.
Gary: Well you know it’s funny you say that to get the emotion out, you’ll never get the emotion totally out because if you see something that’s good, everybody reacts to the same way in value. But I think as you become more experienced and educated in the business, you start to see things that other people don’t see. Some of the best values or things that have been up for sale for a long time. So it’s not always the property that’s, it’s looking under seeing something that other people don’t see. I mean there is a variety of things that I’ve done that have worked very well. When we moved our office, we moved our office over onto Miller Avenue and there were a lot of people that said, well you, if you’re not on Market Street, that’s a problem. There’s more traffic on Market.
Gary: Well I had been on Market Street and this did give me a picture of understanding the market is what I’m saying. When I was on Market Street, nobody could find me because it was five lanes and there was too much going on. But when I moved over to Miller Avenue, it was a cut through. So what happened was, is a lot of the people that were trying to avoid the traffic came through Miller and we’re going slow and it was only two lane and everybody knows I’m here. So it’s more of just understanding the market, what’s going on. And there are things that I had seen in the past that had clued me into that possibility exists. Other things would be things that you can change about a property, like the zoning of a property. A friend of mine who does big multi-family projects always creates value in the land by virtue of changing.
Gary: He gets it for, he buys it as, let’s use an example as a single-family property where he could only put single-family homes. He changes it into multi-family and he quadruples the value of the thing because of his, the efforts he made to change it. When it comes to apartments and that type of thing. I think there’s this, the improvements, I know that you talk about a lot in your podcast that time, anybody improving the property. Hey, there’s, and I’m sure you’ve talked about this many times, but there are two pieces of a good investment and there’s always two pieces. And this is the part that people forget. It’s the purchase and the management. I’ve seen guys get a good value and manage it poorly and not do well, I’ve seen it. The guys that didn’t get it what we would call a steal or a wholesale price, but they manage it well and they make a lot of money.
Gary: You know, those are two pieces that need to be in place. And you do both of those, whether it’s a real estate company or a piece of real estate. Those we talk started out at the beginning. There’s principles that hold true for everything for and that’s a principle I would call for longevity. Not starting to believe that it’s only the purchase not only that it’s all the management. The money’s made on the purchase and the management brings the longterm longevity.
Josh: The management has to, when you buy a building or single-family or even start a business and get it going based on a proforma on projections like we’re going to turn it into this or we’re going to add more sales people and as we add more sales people, the profit margin is going to get bigger. Our fixed overhead is this, and as we add sales people, the spread gets larger because our fixed overhead stays the same. But like you said, those proformas or projections only become profits through management. It’s the boots on the ground, man.
Josh: So I tell my people who invest passively with us or even if they don’t invest with us, you’re really investing, when you invest in a piece of real estate, you’re investing in the boots on the ground operator, the manager, the management of that building and the guy or the gal who’s actually at the multifamily property, let’s say it’s 150 units, who’s there working with the leasing agents and the commercial contractor and lease ops and making sure that the people are getting their rent statements and paying on time. That operator makes profits from proforma performa become profits. So I’m really happy to hear you say, you know, everyone says, oh, you make money when you buy real estate and you realize the profits when you sell. Well you actually, you’re realizing the profits every day as you’re managing it, right. And that’s a key to longevity.
Gary: Yeah, I would, you know, I would also suggest to anybody that’s listening to this would be to work on your weaknesses. We know there’s, in any business you have a variety of pieces of a business, right? You have or in real estate as an example, you have the purchase or, and then you have the management, you have the bookkeeping and the numbers. I’ve not, I haven’t always been, I’m not a great numbers guy and I admire the numbers guys because somehow some way they always come out on top, right. But what I do have is the ability to recognize where my weaknesses are. So even when I started and I didn’t have really any money to hardly pay anyone, I always, I think I’ve been in 40 some years. So probably within the two years, two to three years after I got the business, I started paying someone to take care of my books.
Gary: I knew what money was, every penny was all the time. And it was because I had, hey, I hired someone to help me on my weakness. So in that regard I was able to do what I was best at and I was taught and that was finding the real estate and then managing it. So the numbers person always let me know where I was. And then you can start to see where your weaknesses are. And the other thing I would suggest, I really feel strongly in this when it comes to the numbers, is you keep the right numbers. Don’t move numbers from property to another, those types of things.
Gary: Because what it does when you’re keeping your numbers right, you know where you’re losing money and you know what you’re making. When you start moving them around, you start to get confused. You start to forget where are you really your real problems? And you get rid of this property over here that that’s losing money instead of taking that loss and put it in as somewhere else, you know? And the next thing you know, you think you’re making it and you’re not. So there’s pieces of it. Get help in the parts that you’re, if you’re not a good manager, then don’t manage.
Josh: Yeah right. Go sell. Go sell real estate. That’s great. Yeah, you need really both. Most of those successful real estate businesses that I’ve seen that have made it a long time, that have had a lot of longevity. They kind of have somebody at the front of the business who’s maybe selling the company, who’s a good recruiter, who is, you know, looking for deals kind of out of house if you will. And then have maybe a partner or an executive who’s kind of in house who’s taken care of the back office if you will. So somebody at the front of the office someone at the back, someone who’s responsible for sales, somebody else who’s responsible for management.
Josh: You know, I’ve met Jim Vox who’s your kind of right hand man. He’s your first executive that you hired. Maybe speak to that for a minute. Because again, I think that’s a key to longevity in this business is doing what you’re good at. Like you talked about hiring or working on your weaknesses and oftentimes it is hiring somebody to do the things that you’re not. And those two people, whether it’s an owner and an executive or a partnership, two owners, there’s often have very different skillsets and that provides longevity for each person to do what they’re good at.
Gary: Josh, absolutely. Absolutely. You would be, some people are shocked at somewhat how I function because there’s a tendency to think that I’m a good operator. I’ve had real estate companies that looked at us, and said that they think we’re the best real estate company they’ve ever seen. But what’s, there’s a beauty of knowing your limitations. I don’t know who said that, Clint Eastwood who said…
Josh: Yeah, that’s a great, I’ve never heard that one, but that sounds great. I’m going to have to use that.
Gary: The beauty is, is that if you know what they are, then you get help to fill those gaps. I hardly use a computer. I’m not, I know what I’m good at. I’m good at selling real estate. I’m a salesperson who happened to own a real estate company. I’m not a businessman who opened real estate company. I’m a salesman who did. So because of that, I have a vice president runs the operations. I have everything done for me effectively. And I stick with what I’m good at, which is the sales portion of it. So, you know, it’s very inexpensive to get help because if you can, your portion that you’re good at helps you make money. That’s where you stay. I, as an example, I have, I pay a fella who gets paid very well, who doesn’t work in the company, who is nothing but a business advisor.
Gary: And he looks at my books, he asks me questions, he tells me, whenever I probably talk to him every other day and I tell him what’s going on, what my problems are, what we’re working on. And he’s older than me. He has owned a variety of businesses and he’s retired now and he just gets, he has his job at Stouffer Realty effectively, even though he didn’t come in here, is to help me make better decisions. Small things are huge. Small things are huge. I mean, we do about 2,000 sales a year, okay. Now imagine if I just make a one more dollar on every one of the sales, multiplication is incredible. And the same thing holds true whether you’re, if you own a lot of real estate, if you own a hundred, 2,000 units, you make $1 a month on each of those. It’s $2,000 a month.
Josh: Especially when you use leverage and cap rates and you can, you know, multiples of your net earnings. Like those multiples is what people pay, whether it’s a bank, whether it’s a private equity fund or just a cap rate on your net operating income, it’s a multiple. So every dollar, every $10, every $100, every $1,000, you make times X, right? It’s worth so much more in a purchase than just the cashflow that you’re getting
Gary: And the business and all business runs the same. You know, when you don’t pay attention and paying attention can be, to something is paying attention can mean you just have a person that’s paying attention, attention to it doesn’t mean you have to do it. If you know the person that you’ve got is paying attention to something, you quit worrying about it and you let them do their job and report to. Right now if you have somebody that’s managing your, that’s why, if I was something I might’ve been good at and if you always wonder what you, what you’re good or not good at is that I feel that I’m pretty good at putting people in places that they but one enjoy doing but also are good at doing. So I’ve made some mistakes, which is I put managers in positions that were, they really didn’t want to do the job, but they did it for me.
Gary: I would say, hey, would you manage this office? I really don’t want to do that, Gary. Well I need somebody. Would you do it for me? Both of them quit, it’s not what they want to do. So you putting people in the right spots. And in our organization we have a lot going on. I’m able to, I get reports of what’s going on and then I’m always looking for the property or the land and I bought, I’ve owned things from everything from single-family houses to small plazas and office buildings and stuff. I mean there’s guys that have done a lot better than me that have different philosophies, but I have pretty low debt, you know? And so that helps.
Gary: And when you talk about longevity, I’ve, because I’m somewhat conservative, I’m able to handle those downturns. I’ve got a variety of things going on. So I’m making money from the real estate that I own. I am making money from a title relationship I have made, you know, so all of these different pieces and it’s interesting. Some things are going real well at times and the other things are going poorly. I’ve always said, you know, if you got enough going on, there’s always something that’s needs fixed and something that you need to change.
Josh: Oh yeah. Kevin O’Leary from Shark Tank. When he was on the podcast, he said the same thing and he’s like, if you’re an entrepreneur and you’re building a business, something is always on fire, always on fire. That’s why you really can’t be in the business necessarily. So you build a business where you’re really outside and above the business looking down and looking at blind spots, working with your business advisor and overseeing it, but you can go do what you want to do, which is sell real estate. That’s what you’ve said many times in this interview that you’re best at, but you have people that help you run it and then if there’s a fire, you’re outside of the business and you have the time and the capacity to see the numbers, to see where the fire’s at and jump in and extinguish the fire or create an opportunity or fix it, you know, optimize it. Whatever word you want to use.
Josh: That also if you’re building a company is, I think, again, one of Gary’s here, sort of keys here to longevity is that he’s not necessarily in the business as the vice president of operations because if he was, if he was in the business all day, he wouldn’t be able to see the blind spots, wouldn’t be able to see around the corners. We’d be able to find the next great piece of real estate. So, and again that goes back to the partnership that I talked about or having like the owner executive relationship or the partner relationship. Somebody has got to be slightly outside of the business and then it becomes, in my world, Gary, we talk about mutual respect. It’s a mutual respect that even though somebody’s an owner or there’s a partnership or somebody’s in an executive relationship or you have team and staff that kind of works underneath, it’s about mutual respect because without each person, the whole thing breaks down, right?
Josh: So you got to have mutual respect for everybody in the business and us as the CEO, we have the privilege of running the whole thing, but we have the privilege of also the most amount of risk, the most of amount of potential downturn, downside, all those kinds of things. And really it’s about helping other people be the best version that they can be. And then the company as a whole becomes profitable and the best version that it can be. So it’s great to see you as being outside of your business and slightly above it and be able to look down on it and say, these are some things that I need to do to create longevity. The next building I need to buy, the next person we need to hire, the next office we need to open. Those are all things that you would never see if you were in the business all day, every day.
Josh: That’s fantastic. So Gary, this has been a ton of nuggets here. I took a ton of notes and so I want to repeat some of these back. I don’t even know if you’ve realized all the stuff that you’ve mentioned here, which is great. Talking about building an everlasting business and longevity. The first thing you mentioned was becoming an expert at one thing. Kind of standing out, whether it was the condo example, whether it was vacant land or commercial buildings, that example kind of being an expert. Oh, that was great. And again you mentioned, which I love the, you know, becoming an expert at one thing, the public perceives you to be an expert at everything. That was phenomenal. Second thing you mentioned was making sure that you’re doing something that’s interesting to you, whether it’s land, whether it’s being a salesperson, whether it’s being a realtor, but being in a specific niche as a realtor.
Josh: Maybe it’s a luxury homes or again, vacant land, but doing something that’s interesting to you. The third thing you mentioned, which I wrote down was really only buying the very best deals. Longevity comes with buying value add buying at wholesale prices, buying it and holding onto it, right? For the longterm, you know, values go up, properties improve, those kinds of things. You talked about, you know, the one guy that changes land, the zoning to multiply the value that was his niche. I also love the nugget that you dropped about the two pieces of a real estate. It’s not all about the purchase. You don’t make your money when you buy, you make your money when you buy and manage properly. That’s another kind of key to longevity. The next thing was working on your weaknesses or hiring your weaknesses, bringing in a guy like Jim Vox or an executive or a partner or a business advisor that can help you.
Josh: The next piece was again, bringing in a business partner. And I compare this to maybe if you don’t have a business advisor, is maybe paying for mentorship or a coach or having somebody to hold you accountable that you can talk to that’s again, outside of the business. Somebody that can look at your business from an outside perspective, kind of see the forest through the trees and say, this is what’s right, this is what’s wrong. You also mentioned putting people in places where they belong, where they want to be successful and that they have excitement for so that people get in and they do the job because they love to do the job. They get actually get paid a great salary or get paid properly to do it. But, you know, really is doing something that they really enjoy and it just like you, I’ve made many mistakes hiring people, putting them in, you know, getting them on the bus, but putting them in the wrong seat if you will.
Josh: And the other thing you mentioned, which was multiple streams of income, right? So real estate properties that you own that pay you affiliate relationships, multiple agents doing deals over 2,000 transactions a year. You know, having your own income from the deals that you list and broker and sell. All those are multiple streams of income. So as we round kind of 30 and head for home here and kind of wrap up the interview, is there anything else that stands out in your mind, Gary, that I might’ve missed? Things, keys, habits, traits that you think of, can contribute to the longevity and having success over the long haul.
Gary: Yeah, I would say there’s one more piece when it comes to longevity. And that is, I think you have to create a business model that is not too consuming. Meaning this, longevity is created by doing something you can do over and over and over again. And an example would be, I see real estate agents get in the business and they work 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can’t do that forever. They may love it at the moment, but you can’t do it forever. And it creates, you start to think wrong. As an example, you start to get mad at the business and it’s not the business, it’s that’s the problem it’s you, so I would say to create a working model that works for you. And for me and I’ll say one real quickly and that was my work week was I worked Monday, Tuesday all day.
Gary: I only worked evenings if I had appointments, I worked half a day on Wednesday, I worked all day Thursday and only Thursday evening if I had appointments, I’d never worked Friday night, Saturday night. But I worked all day Sunday or all day Saturday and never worked Sunday. I did that for 19 years. My kids knew me and respected me, my wife loved me, I had a real life. When you, I create a long term work plan and, and I’ve done it ever since. And you know, and I’m not saying everyone should be mine, I’m just saying, but you can’t work all the time because you’ll start thinking wrong. You need to, you need this well-rounded life where you’re enjoying your friends and you’re talking to your friends about something other than real estate.
Josh: It’s an easy conversation to bring up coffee or having a cocktail. Everybody likes to talk about it. Let’s talk about something else.
Gary: Well what I just described there. And so that you do all these pieces and in the long run, you know, God gave me a very well rounded life, which I, you know, it just worked. It worked for me, but it didn’t come because I worked for the first 20 years, 24 hours a day. And then I had a friend, this is my last thing I had a friend one time. He said, he says, Gary, you know, I just want to get to a point where I can play tennis all day. And I said, Bob, why don’t you just pay tennis a little bit every day? That’s the difference, you know, don’t work to someday you don’t have to work ever again. Just take a little time off every day. And that was, that’s called longevity. You can live with that.
Gary: You can’t do some of these things that people do all the time. And so that’s my, when it comes to longevity, you create your business, you create your life and make sure it’s a good one and stick with it and do it. I mean, I don’t have to work as much as I do now, but you know what? I get up, I go to work, I go, oh my gosh, yeah, everybody’s fine with it. I can take time off if I need to. That’s, you know, so it created a longevity that I, and this is me could work forever and everyone would say Gary had a good life and the kids knew he could be with them. And that’s, that’s longevity to me, not work in 30 years and then stopping.
Josh: Yeah. It’s interesting the guys that I know that really are in the business longterm or whatever business they’re in. There’s not this like, I’m going to sell my business and retire or I’m going to walk away from my business and retire and just sit on the beach all day and drink mai ties and lay out in the sun because all of that gets boring eventually, right. Whether it’s working, right, you get sick of it. Whether it’s playing cards all day with your buddies, whether it’s drinking beers, whatever it is, playing tennis, you’re advise you gave your friend Bob is amazing because if you said he wanted to play tennis all day, that’s only because he wasn’t doing enough of it now and he wanted so bad to play all day. Because trust me, you can’t play tennis all day. You can’t play golf all day. You get sick of it. So…
Gary: You can’t even find the guys to play with you.
Josh: Playing by yourself, hitting against the machine. That’s fantastic. Well Gary, listen, this has been absolute pleasure for me to spend some time with you today again. And build on our relationship and catch all of this in this interview format. I know there’s going to be a lot of people that listen to this that might want to learn more about you, your businesses maybe parking their license at Stouffer Realty and doing transactions with you. Maybe if they’re an investor that’s looking for an agent, many things that they can do with your company, what’s a good place for them to connect with you? Connect with your company and just learn more about you.
Gary: Yeah. And if they, you know, people can call me if they just have a question, you know, my email address is GStouffer@StoufferRealty.com. They can reach me on, you know, through that and I’ll call him back in any way that, I help anybody. I love, I enjoy the business. I almost say I love the business because I enjoy it so much, but I love my family enough that I can’t compare it. I truly enjoy the business it’s been a wonderful career for me and I think that people that want to get into it, it’s an admirable career and it’s profitable but they’re going to have to be a professional if they do that, they can make it work.
Josh: There you go. Oh, I love that. Love your family, enjoy the business. Gary Stouffer, thanks so much for joining us today on Accelerated Investor.
Gary: Thank you. Thanks for having me.
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After over 40 years in real estate, Gary Stouffer from Stouffer Realty in Ohio, still has a joy for the business that keeps him young. He manages over 200 agents and has seen every kind of market cycle, so he knows how to build an everlasting business that weathers anything.
Right now, there’s a low inventory, so there’s a lot of excitement over every listing. But for Gary, he’s already worked hard to set himself and his agents apart from other brokerages. He discusses the principles that work whether the market is up or down.
Accidentally, Gary became an expert in land deals, and he used that as a springboard into other deals. He says that when you become an expert in one thing, you become an expert in everything in the public’s eyes.
A lot of people are buying on emotion right now because the market is hot, so Gary talks about how he takes the emotion (mostly) out of a deal. He talks about strategies for changing the value of a property or improving it.
One of his key principles for longevity is realizing that there are two pieces to an investment: the purchase and the management. Maybe you get an okay deal on the purchase price, but you can make up for that okay deal in a killer management of the property. He shares some examples of that.
One of Gary’s keys to building a business is that he’s not the vice president of operations. He built a business so that he is outside and above the business. He can see the weak spots and how he needs to maneuver the business so that he can create longevity in the business. His business, from the beginning, has worked for him, and not the other way around.
- Find your area of expertise, and the rest of it will fall into place.
- How Gary structures his business.
- Make sure you do something that’s interesting to you.
- Longevity comes with buying the very best deals.
- Why you should create a business model that works for you.