Profile of Land Academy Members with Sr Manager Erin Spence (LA 1071)
Steven: Steve, here. Welcome to the Land Academy show, entertaining land investment talk. I’m Steven Jack Butala broadcasting from sunny Southern California [inaudible 00:00:07]. Today, I talk with our senior manager of Land Academy, Erin Spence. Hi, Erin.
Erin: Hi, how are you?
Steven: Good. We just talked about writing the pre-show. You’re such an interesting guest on the show because we have members all the time, probably once a week. God knows Joe’s opinion on everything.
Steven: But you have a very unique perspective in that you’re the top person at Land Academy, and you’re kind of on the front lines day-to-day dealing with customers, brand new Land Academy customers, people who are buying, selling land. And then people who … like, some of the senior advanced members of our group.
Steven: You probably don’t hear from them too much, but when you do it really counts.
Steven: Maybe you can share with us the maybe top two, or three, or five concerns of new people. And then if and when you ever do really hear from our advanced group people, what do they have to say?
Erin: Yeah. As far as new concerns go, I’d say the biggest thing … our members are so brainy. And you know that. They’re so smart, they think about everything, they analyze everything, and that’s also their downfall. We call it analysis paralysis.
Erin: But the biggest thing is people will just come to us and say, “I don’t know if I’m ready.” It’s really just them standing in their own way. And they’re rethinking it, redoing pricing, going over every little piece of it. That’s definitely the number one thing we get. Like, we have people calling all the time about that. Once people get over that hump, that’s really the big thing.
Steven: The number one thing is: am I ready yet?
Erin: Yeah. 100%. And then- [crosstalk 00:01:47]
Steven: … play itself out. I mean, you don’t sit and convince them, right? From a sales standpoint, you just say, “Let us know when you’re ready.” [crosstalk 00:01:53]
Erin: Yeah. We kind of just say, “You are ready. You’ve been through all of the programs, you’ve done everything. I promise you don’t need to test your phone lines more. Like, just send out mail.” And usually people are okay at that point.
Steven: You know, the show tomorrow is called ‘how to get over your fear of making an acquisition decision.’ It’s really [inaudible 00:02:16].
Erin: You didn’t even look that one up.
Steven: Right? It’s a very natural concern. I had it. When I started way back in the ’90s, I probably spent six months staring at my computer screen wondering if this was going to work at all. And I didn’t have any working examples.
Erin: Yeah. 100%.
Steven: What about the senior people?
Erin: You know, when I hear from the senior people it’s usually they want to talk to you about partnering. That’s what I’m hearing right now. Yeah. The senior people have gone … all the things. I usually don’t hear from them for months, and months, and months. Then they come back and say, “Hey, I just had a million dollar year and I want to know how I can work with you guys.”
Erin: And that’s been happening a lot more lately, especially now that we have the advanced call going. So, people see that going on. We have all the deal funding and everything. Now that we’re working with people more, all of these older members really want to come back and circle back around to that.
Steven: Are those members … You know this. I’m just saying it for the benefit of our listener. At Land Academy itself, we have the regular Land Academy and then we have a very small advanced group that we kind of look at … because we operate on offers2owners.com. We can see how much data they’re pulling and how much to mail they’re sending out. Invariably, it’s without … I can’t think of an exception. When people pull a lot of data and send a lot of mail out, they’re automatically successful. I can’t think of an exception.
Erin: I agree.
Steven: Are there other people that are calling you that are in a regular group that probably shouldn’t need to … that need to be moved up?
Erin: There are definitely a few. But they’re also kind of the people who maybe don’t necessarily need the community as much or like it as much. They’re kind of more of a take the backseat, and don’t talk to anyone, and keep their head down for a couple months kind of people. We definitely probably should invite some more of them.
Steven: All right, good. We have a few sleeper people in our group. I can think of [inaudible 00:04:15], or they’ve just chosen … they’re probably introverts or whatever. I mean, whatever works for them. I don’t care.
Steven: Like, they’re invited to these calls but they just don’t show up. They listen or watch later.
Erin: Yeah. And sometimes we don’t even hear from them at all later. I’ll just be researching, and find a website of someone, and realize that someone who signed up three years ago … and now they have so many properties on their sites. It’s crazy.
Steven: Yeah. All right. So tell us about the new people that sign up. Aside from struggling to get … I think you mean they struggle just to get that first mailer out, right?
Erin: Definitely, yeah.
Steven: Okay. [crosstalk 00:04:54] I’m sorry, go ahead.
Erin: Well, the second thing I would say people struggle with is just the call intake and kind of … we have talked about it on the show a lot too. But the hate and getting past that.
Steven: How do you help them? If they say, “How do I get past the hate,” do you guys have answers? I mean, I know what I did and do. But what do you say?
Erin: Now that I’ve been in the business and I’ve gotten the [crosstalk 00:05:16] hate calls … I’ve taken our calls, and been yelled at, and told all kinds of awful things. I understand it a lot more than I used to when I started. I used to kind of just be like … that this is normal. It’s the first way it that it happens, which it is. But now that I have been on the other side, I definitely empathize more.
Erin: Usually, I’ll talk to those kinds of people and really just … and try to connect them to the community. If you go to Land investors, there are 20 posts on the exact same thing of people all going through it. I’m just kind of, like, reassure them about the process and let them know that we’ve all been through it. That Land Academy is currently getting hate calls on our mailers. Our whole staff gets it.
Steven: It’s so funny that people receive these offers in the mail. Sellers, potential sellers, and it’s … I never can get used to it. I’ve been doing this forever, right? The wide variances of responses just shock me.
Erin: Yeah, absolutely.
Steven: We’ll get three people that are real upset with their valuation of their property. We’ll get one person that calls right after that that says, “Thanks. [inaudible 00:06:18] was perfect. I’d love to sell you my property.” And then two weeks later, you get a bunch of signed purchased agreements. Some of them good, some of them not so good. But it’s just like you can set your watch by it.
Erin: Absolutely. Yep. It’s very interesting.
Erin: Yeah, I accidentally got a call to my extension from someone the other day who was very angry. He told me to jump off a cliff from our mailer, but just could not believe that we are getting responses that are positive … and then is now turning into one of our buyers potentially.
Steven: That’s textbook stuff.
Erin: Yeah. 100%.
Steven: What else are the Land Academy … some of the newer people’s concerns that … I guess my big question is maybe it’s more of a personality type. Is there something that they just can’t get over that’s consistent that we could improve on somehow? That I can improve on as an instructor, or a colleague?
Erin: I would say as far as the program and everything goes, pricing is the big thing that people get hung up on. I know that we readdressed it even more in 1.0, which has been very helpful to direct people back there. I love our members, but they kind of want to watch our program one time and then not repeat it. You know, you do have to. Like with any kind of learning, you might have to go back and rewatch a section. That’s a big thing. People watch pricing once, and then come to us and say they have no idea how to do pricing. Usually if we direct them back to it, and help them a little bit, they can get it. But I would say pricing is the big kind of education part that people get stuck on.
Steven: So, you think we need some type of improvement upon already what we have that I can put together on a pricing? Because I’ll tell you what. I’ve seen houses … like [House Academy 00:08:01], it’s scientific. Pricing land, it’s just there’s a little bit more experience required and finesse required. You’ve got to get a bunch of mailers out there. It’s not like there’s an easy button for … I think there really is House Academy.
Steven: I mean, is that what they’re looking for?
Erin: Yeah, 100%. Everybody wants a formula. All of the … I take all of the sales calls for Land Academy, and that’s one of our number one questions is, “So is there a formula?” I kind of have to tell them that there isn’t really.
Steven: Do you think there’s a formula?
Erin: No. No. Not for land.
Steven: Neither do I.
Erin: Yeah, no. I understand that it’s definitely an art in the business.
Steven: So you have a couple of choices when you price land, I think. I mean, you can price it … you can go in really hot. I mean, really low. As low as you can imagine, and then you’re going to get three or four properties, probably an acquisition. Three or four completed acquisitions have about maybe a 2,000 net yard and really do well in those. Or you can weigh it the other way and kind of go a little bit less hot, or the price a little bit higher, and do a bunch of deals. But I’ll tell you, it all has to be well below the sales price.
Erin: Well, yeah. Definitely. [crosstalk 00:09:25]
Steven: I’ve been doing it so long pricing doesn’t confuse me at all anymore. I understand when you’re brand new, it completely does. But you can’t simplify it. It just has to be … you got to do a lot of research about how much property is selling for, or what it’s listed for, and just make sure you come in and around 25% of that. [crosstalk 00:09:47] I’m really wondering, Erin … you probably have the answer to this. How much of it is just a personality thing? Like, I just can’t get myself to take a chance versus … because I want to screw it up? Versus really needing just some kind of formula? [inaudible 00:10:03]
Erin: Yeah. No. I definitely think it is more of a personality type. Like, going back to the kind of people that usually get involved with our program, and how smart they are, so they need that.
Steven: Yeah, I think so. I agree with you. After doing a bunch of live events … like, we have a live event coming up in October. After really seeing and talking with these people for two or three days straight, I really think that it takes a certain personality type to really just kind of say, “You know what? I’m going to send a freaking mailer out. I might get it right. I might get it wrong. There’s always a second mailer.”
Erin: Yeah. Well, and the good thing about pricing that we’ve all seen is that even if you totally mess up pricing, you’ll still do deals. If he does come back with a different number, or you talk to them … you might get more hate calls or more love calls, but you’ll still do deals. And that’ll be fine.
Steven: Love calls, I’ve never heard that. That’s good. Always focus on the negative. You know that.
Erin: We had a member who sent out a mailer a couple of weeks ago … we’re still kind of talking to him. And he accidentally used the wrong column when he did his merge, and sent way overpriced [inaudible 00:00:11:06]. So he had plenty of acceptances, and people loved him, and then he had to kind of go back and tell them what happened. Yeah. So, he didn’t get any hate.
Steven: Do you know the end of the story? Because this is fascinating. This could be a business model. Like, could he go back and negotiate and say, “I made a mistake and I really want to buy your property for X?”
Erin: He did. Yeah. I know he was overwhelmed with calls for a while. He has an acquisition manager, which definitely helped him handle all the calls. But yeah. No. He went back. He negotiated. He’s doing deals. He was very stressed about it for a little while, but he’s doing great now.
Steven: All right. So that’s the positive. Every customer service sales operation has a small group of people, or at least one or two people, who just have some serious trouble grasping the basic stuff. So, tell us about that.
Erin: You know, what’s really kind of good about that as if it isn’t going to work for people, they kind of figure it out really early on. You know? Within a couple of days of going through the program. They kind of decide to know that that’s not for their personality. They don’t think they can handle it. But it is a technical thing. I think some people sign up and assume we’re going to basically hand a business to them, and that’s not the case. We teach you how to create your business and everything. I think that’s the biggest type of person that kind of decides that it isn’t for them. Yeah.
Steven: I’ve been saying it for years. I’ll say it again. There is definitely kind of a recipe on my end for people who … if I look at all the ultra successful people of our group, they’re very similar. They had some version … they were successful at whatever they were doing before they found us.
Steven: And then to take it a step further, they already maybe had some type of business on their own that was some type of online business … The consistency, like a eCommerce business. We got one guy who’s just killing it right now. He has an online driven home improvement, home renovation company. He doesn’t renovate his own homes, but goes home and changes out your kitchen and bathrooms. Remodels your house. It’s the trials and tribulations of owning a company. It’s staffing, and handling, all that stuff that seems to trip people up more. More than the actual buying and selling real estate.
Erin: Absolutely. Even just trying to staff up. I know we get calls every … or questions every week on our member calls about people trying to staff up and how to handle that.
Steven: That’s been my biggest personal challenge with Land Academy and House Academy itself. Not so much how our land acquisition operation, but is staffing for people, and trying to understand, the train them. I don’t think it’s specific to me. I just think it’s a universal thing. Training people, I think, is a universal thing.
Erin: Yeah, absolutely.
Steven: I sort of alluded to it earlier. If you think there’s some type of improvement for any of this, you really just think it’s pricing. Is there anything else you think that I can improve on or maybe [inaudible 00:14:21]?
Erin: You know, I really think that readdressing kind of all the things that have changed, and the new tools that you’ve discovered, and things like that in 1.0 really fixed kind of everything that I saw as flaws.
Steven: Okay, good. [crosstalk 00:14:35] This is the whole point. These Thursday member calls, which we’re going to do tomorrow … that’s why we started those way back in 2015 so that we can on the fly address these things. Everybody’s in a call. We can all collaborate. Everybody’s at a different point, you know? Hopefully those [inaudible 00:15:00] … I think we’re posting those on Land Investors, right? For members to go back even if they can’t make the call.
Erin: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. I think those are by and far the most valuable part of our program. Like, the community in general. But those calls help people. We have people who join just to be able to have access to those calls and get the extra support. A lot of people have already kind of been doing this in some way, or maybe were a part of another program that were missing pieces. The Thursday calls 100% fill in those gaps.
Steven: All right, good. I mean, I personally get a ton out of those calls. It’s kind of like … every time you hear somebody … like, an actor or musician that gets on stage, and if you’ve done it for a few years like I have, it’s that audience feedback that they thrive on. They play to that audience that night. I really believe that. For me, I get so much out of the questions or the feedback on those Thursday calls. It really makes me make different decisions about the content that we provide the next week.
Erin: Yeah, absolutely.
Steven: I get out a lot out of it I think just as much as our members.
Erin: Totally. Yeah. And our staff learns so much that we can turn around and help members with, and we always are taking notes on things we can do better, and things like that. The calls are incredible.
Steven: That’s how we decide to release new tools, too. ParcelFact is a great example of that. I mean, people were just begging for it. You know, how do you find property? How you find property? You hear that enough times, our reaction is to make tools. You know, this is the more to the benefit of our listeners.
Erin: Yeah. Definitely. I know you’ve been adding data tree for houses. That came from people’s requests on the calls.
Steven: Exactly. What’s the response that you get in general about ParcelFact from current members? I know it’s open to the public for a different price. What’s your response there?
Erin: It’s incredible. All of our members have always loved it. I love our members. They’ll love anything we put out. They’re great. Especially with the newest updates to ParcelFact, people are just are all the time telling us what a game changer it is, how much it helps their business.
Erin: I took a call yesterday from a member who was having some issues with his account, and he was almost in tears because he was like, “I can’t find these properties. I need this tool.” It was a whole big thing, and it’s true. When ParcelFact has been down in the past for me, I don’t know what I did before it basically. [crosstalk 00:17:36] Yeah, 100%. It’s incredible.
Erin: We have new people all the time who are trying it and finding it … especially since we’ve updated it. And they all love it, too. People will try it off for a couple of days, and sign up for monthly, and then oftentimes they even become a member because they just are introduced to the whole world that way.
Steven: That’s great.
Erin: Yeah. We’ve only heard incredibly positive things about ParcelFact.
Steven: As a listener … if you don’t know what ParcelFact is, it’s really easy to go on the internet and type in a physical address, like a USPS post office address, and find property. But for the vast majority of properties out there, tens of millions of properties, they don’t have their vacant lands. They don’t have an address associated with them. There’s only one or two tools out there, ParcelFact being a primary one, where you can type in an assessor’s parcel number, because there’s no address yet, and find the property.
Steven: Then the second version of what Erin’s talking, you can click through anywhere in the country really and find out who owns the surrounding properties. So that if you send a piece of mail out, the property comes back, you buy the property … this is how I’m seeing users use it. This is how we use it. You click around the property itself, find out who owns it, and they’re very typical buyers for that property after you buy it. Mark it up. It kind of just … like, all great tools just came out of necessity.
Erin: Yeah. [crosstalk 00:19:01]. Yeah, no. I’m so excited for the ParcelFact updates coming, too. It’s just the tools growing so much. It’s so incredible.
Steven: Yeah. We’re trying to do … for the original ParcelFact, a flood plain overview. One of the checklists and due diligence just to see properties in a flood plain. If we can make that a layer, I think that’d be really helpful. I would use it that day if we could do that.
Erin: Absolutely. Even the layers we have, which are all new too, are so great. You can go and see all the different topography, you can see street view, you can see everything. It’s so helpful when you go through properties.
Steven: And access, that’s the primary key that can get to it.
Steven: All right. Last question: what’s your advice for people who are on the fence about joining? I guess more specifically really question if this works?
Erin: I would say schedule a call with me first. I personally take all of our sales calls of anyone who is even remotely interested. You can just schedule a call with me. I’ll talk to you. It’ll be four years I’ve been here, and I’ve seen it. I’ve seen people’s lives change. I’ve seen all of our members go from super skeptical. I always talk about Luke Smith. Luke Smith go from not sure he wanted to buy the program to where he is now, and it’s great. I would say really … and look at the community, and reach out to the people, in the community. If you don’t think it works, all of our members will talk to you. 100%. If you send any of them a message on Land Investors, they will tell you their real [inaudible 00:20:43]. It’s really, really awesome.
Steven: Yeah, that’s amazing. I know the advanced groups that call, people share … it’s a pretty small group where people share their actual numbers. So it’s a celebration every Thursday with that.
Erin: Absolutely. Yeah. I’d really just say just do it. I know people are worried about the initial costs, and investment into land. I mean, it is definitely something you need to factor in and think about. We definitely have people who kind of assume you can send mail out for free, which is not the case. But we put out a survey to our members a couple of months ago, and one of the questions we asked was how quickly do they rake up their initial investment. And of every single person who answered or of everyone who answered, every single person recouped it in their first deal.
Steven: Their first deal. Not even their first month.
Erin: Yeah. Their first deal.
Steven: I should read the survey.
Erin: Yeah, it’s incredible. So if you’re worried about the initial investment, I totally understand. But our members … the numbers speak for themselves.
Steven: Do you ever have somebody call in, or thinking about doing the program, or maybe they’ve done a few real estate deals? I guess my real question is: do you ever have somebody call in and you just know that it’s probably just not going to work for them? If so, what’s the profile of that phone call and how does that typically go?
Erin: It does definitely happen. We’re luckily in a very good place with the program. We all know how good this whole tool is and everything. I don’t really have to sell to anyone. When I get sales calls, it’s really just me answering questions. Kind of helping people out.
Erin: But we definitely do get people who call in and I know it isn’t going to work for them. I think they know too, because they’re usually very dilly dolly. They’re like, “I was just kind of looking around,” kind of a thing. I’ll tell them that I really think they should do their research, that it is kind of an intense program. You do have to set up your own business. It isn’t handed to you. And just make sure they’re very aware of what they’re getting themselves into. Usually the people who do that, too, are people who have told me that they have looked at a bunch of other programs. They maybe just switched jobs. That kind of goes along with what you were talking about earlier. It’s not necessarily the super successful people. They seem to kind of jump around between things a lot.
Steven: I’ll tell you a funny story about Jill yesterday. For whatever reason after hours … this is like six or seven o’clock at night. She comes in, I sit where I am, and she says, “I have to share this fabulous, fantastic woman with you.” She said, “For whatever reason, I’ve been taking this YouTube [inaudible 00:23:27], spur of the moment Excel course. And there’s all these functions that you can do in Excel. Like, you can summarize a whole column and you can …”
Erin: That’s awesome.
Steven: And she’s got the smile on her face, because she knows … all of us who are pretty good at this, we come to this whole thing with pretty good knowledge of Excel. We understand databases and the value of data. I think that’s a real good qualifier. If you’re one of these people listening to this, and you understand these things, and you didn’t have to force yourself to learn it … It’s just kind of like that’s how you are. That’s how I am, actually. Then you’re probably going do pretty well at this if you try.
Steven: I’m sitting there going … she just had this funny, really beautiful conversation. She’s like, “Well, and I’m trying to get [inaudible 00:24:17].” I said, “It’s a good thing you have me so I can do all this stuff.” And so that’s how it ended up.
Steven: [inaudible 00:24:25] and you know this. You’re not a data person, but you’re married to somebody who is, or you have business partners, channels, all that stuff for you. You can make this work. You just have to fulfill the other side of it, which is a lot of sales, and a lot of phone work, and a lot of talking on the phone. What I found and I’m sure you have to is that you’re either one or two of those two types of personalities. And in rare cases, you’re in both.
Erin: 100%. Yeah. It’s definitely not impossible to learn the data. But, yeah. People who don’t come into a super strong need to go through that process.
Steven: Or have somebody on your-
Erin: Absolutely. Yeah. Even Jill, the best combo.
Erin: Yeah. I think that kind of goes along with the fact that a lot of our members do come to us from the medical field, or an IT profession, or something like that worth the same kind of thing. They’re definitely the data heads.
Steven: Yeah. It’s almost like it’s an extension of what they’re already … I am a firm believer of these careers change. Choose you. You’re my age. It doesn’t have to be money. You don’t have to be my age. But it’s something more than we want to believe chooses us. We don’t choose it.
Erin: Yeah. I 100% agree. I think that’s why these people find us after they’re already successful in other businesses. That’s just their mentality, and how they are, and going to keep happening.
Steven: Yeah. We’ll wrap it up here, Erin. You mentioned earlier that if somebody is interested they should contact you. How do they do that?
Erin: Yeah. Just go to the front page of our website, landacademy.com. If you scroll down a little bit, it just says schedule a call with us. If you click that, it will automatically take you to a page where you can pick any day or time. It’s about 15 minutes long. It’s completely free. Yeah. If you’re interested at all, I would love to talk to you.
Steven: Awesome. I know your time’s valuable. Thanks for spending some of it, at least today. Join us next time for another interesting episode called ‘I’m the bottleneck in my own business.’ [inaudible 00:26:24] and we answer questions posted on the community, landinvestors.com. It’s great. You already know though. [inaudible 00:26:32].
Steven: Erin, it was a pleasure to talk to you. Thank you so much. Anything you want to add here before we wrap it up?
Erin: I just want to say just do it. If you’re on the find, send out mail. Join the program. You got this.
Steven: How many calls did you get while we were on the phone?
Erin: A couple. [Ashley 00:26:51] has been Skyping me, too.
Steven: Well, let’s get back at it. Erin Spence, the leader of the Land Academy. I’m Steven Butala, information and inspiration to buy undervalued property.
If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to email me directly at steven@BuWit.com.
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