Profile of Land Academy Members with Sr Manager Erin Spence (LA 1096)
Steven Butala: Steven here. Welcome to the Land Academy Show, entertaining land investment talk. I’m Steven Jack Butala, broadcasting from sort of sunny Southern California today. And today I talk with our senior manager once again from Land Academy, Erin Spence, and we catch up on what matters with our current Land Academy members. Hi, Erin.
Erin Spence: Hi.
Steven Butala: I understand that you have survey results from our live event.
Erin Spence: I do.
Steven Butala: I hope there’s some good stuff in there.
Erin Spence: There is some.
Steven Butala: Hopefully some criticism, constructive criticism.
Erin Spence: There’s a bit.
Steven Butala: Maybe some funny stuff, too.
Erin Spence: I tried to pick a few that were good.
Steven Butala: So let’s hear it.
Erin Spence: Yeah.
Steven Butala: This is all new to me, too.
Erin Spence: This first one, it is in my handwriting, but I promise it’s real. It was an online submission. So this is from a member who’s an advanced member who did come last year and again this year. So a lot of his were kind of vague. The first question we asked was if the event was what they expected. He says yes. One thing that we wanted to know for sure was if people received enough hands-on how-to knowledge versus what is possible. And this person did say no, that it was more theory versus actual hands-on how-to knowledge.
Steven Butala: Okay.
Erin Spence: He said he was very able to connect with other members. His favorite part of live event was Joe Martin’s presentation and a topic that he wished we covered at the live event was the best hangover remedies.
Steven Butala: I wish we had covered that, too.
Erin Spence: I’ll tell you after you who that was.
Steven Butala: Can we say their first name or not?
Erin Spence: Aaron.
Steven Butala: Yeah. Excellent.
Erin Spence: Yep. He said that he wishes that we would record events and share videos of presentations. And we actually got that kind of across the board as a result that people wish that we would share it with people who attended, not with whole world, obviously.
Steven Butala: Because the whole thing was cut up into presentations, let’s say about a half hour to an hour, probably an hour long. Are we going to do that?
Erin Spence: It wasn’t the plan because originally we kind of thought of it as like an all or nothing like we share it with the world or make it available or we don’t. We want to keep it special for the people who were there, but now that enough people have said it, I think we’re going to look at some way to make it available for the people who were there.
Steven Butala: Okay.
Erin Spence: We asked, let’s see, what helps people make the leap to first joining Land Academy. And he said, “I could tell that Steven and Jill were legit through thousands of podcasts.” And we got that across the board, too. A lot of people said podcasts.
Steven Butala: Wow.
Erin Spence: Let’s see.
Steven Butala: So this is paying off.
Erin Spence: Definitely. I actually was talking to, we did an interview yesterday, Jill and I. And I was talking to her and told her that I contributed 99% of Land Academy to the podcasts. Absolutely.
Steven Butala: Okay, good.
Erin Spence: Let’s see. We asked what helped, or sorry, what was people’s biggest challenge with land investing and he said getting systems in place, workflow, sales and then kind of to add onto that, that he would like us to touch more on systems and automation in great detail.
Steven Butala: Yeah.
Erin Spence: Across the board. Everyone said ParcelFact is easily what’s their favorite tool and has helped them succeed most.
Steven Butala: Wow.
Erin Spence: Yeah.
Steven Butala: This is interesting.
Erin Spence: I can make, I’ll put these online, too.
Steven Butala: I’m going to ask you at the end of this to ask me these questions.
Erin Spence: Okay.
Steven Butala: I’m going to answer them.
Erin Spence: I’m excited. Let’s see. Are there any other tools or assistance that they wish we offered? We got outsource the sales and marketing side. List and go for pre-vetted land agents and a website where we submit APNs and the marketing machine sells the property.
Steven Butala: Well, that’s what I want, too.
Erin Spence: That’s exactly what I thought. That is a topic right now with Land Academy, so…
Steven Butala: I would like a big red easy button. We all know that you can buy property cheap as heck. That was the first question. I opened the whole live event with that. Do we all understand that we can buy property ridiculously inexpensive? And everybody, there wasn’t a single person in the crowd that said, “Yeah, I don’t really get it.” Not a single person. So hopefully, as a listener, you understand that. The [COG 00:03:54] happens and everybody agreed also in in the advanced group, too, the issues happen on the sell side and they’re not issues. This is a money machine for most people that are involved in it, who take it seriously. It’s just time-consuming and it’s a difficult process.
Erin Spence: Absolutely. So the last question we asked was do you have any other suggestions for us going forward or anything you want us to know? Dream it up. And they said, “A button that I hit and money falls from the sky.” Yeah. We want that, too. He said, “All kidding aside, I know you guys don’t have to teach this stuff and I feel incredibly lucky to have found such awesome people. Thanks again.”
Steven Butala: That’s fantastic.
Erin Spence: Yeah, he was great at the live event and very helpful. So thank you. Okay, so this is from a different person who came for the first time and is pretty new to the group.
Steven Butala: Great.
Erin Spence: So he said that the event was what he expected. It was a great schedule and topics, but he did wish that there was more… It was more theory than hands-on so he could definitely use more hands-on.
Steven Butala: Okay. So is that two people that said we want a little bit more hands-on?
Erin Spence: There were a couple across the board and, I mean, I would say it was 50/50 but I do think it was kind of what we talked about before the event. I think the beginner people thought they wanted more hands-on.
Steven Butala: Yeah. So last year we separated, we had two events. We had here’s exactly how to do a mailer. We called it the beginner event. And then we had what I guess we called the intermediate. And what we learned from that is that the people that really want the hands-on, this is exactly how you do it, which is what we cover in the education anyway, weren’t really set up to do a mailer, at all. So that’s what my take away was. So this year we kind of went with the direction the theme was, I think, we called it What’s Possible. That was really what the theme of, so that’s interesting. That makes me think we should do something online that really walks through the steps in a third grade level.
Erin Spence: I mean, I still think we should do, we were talking about a couple of weeks ago with the more basic things and maybe modules that go over everything.
Steven Butala: Yeah, really simplify it as a way to get get the engine started.
Erin Spence: Yeah, definitely. Especially, I mean, the things like pricing and marketing are two of the biggest things that people, I think that new beginners struggle with.
Steven Butala: Right.
Erin Spence: This one kind of goes on to say that he was very able to connect with new members or connect with other members. His favorite parts of the event were the open discussions, tools, and the number one was networking, which is what we’ve anticipated and the feedback we got. Some other topics that he wished we covered were VAs and expectations.
Steven Butala: Oh.
Erin Spence: And then he said that we had better ways we can improve future live events are a better seating situation, which I wasn’t sure I was going to read on air, but it’s fine.
Steven Butala: Well, here’s, I’ll tell our listening audience. We over, not oversold. We sold out of the seats. We didn’t think we were going to sell this many seats, so it was a little bit crowded. So next year that won’t happen.
Erin Spence: I will say that it was better than last year.
Steven Butala: I didn’t expect to sell that many seats.
Erin Spence: No. Let’s see. His biggest challenge with land investing has been confidence and knowing that he didn’t overlook a fatal flaw on a deal. He would like to see automation tools to plug into our business, Excel macros, more Jira workflows. And then he goes on to talk more about wanting the Excel macro to scrub data.
Steven Butala: Me, too.
Erin Spence: Yep, definitely. Okay. I think this is the last one I’ll read because it’s more exciting. The other one, I just thought it was funny because their biggest complaint was they wanted more breakfast food, which was actually valuable for me to know. Because the two hardest parts of this lot of that for me were the stupid ID name cards and then planning out the catering and that was it.
Steven Butala: Erin ended up being the, what we call her internally, the wedding planner, because basically planning a wedding is what we did. And so you did a great job.
Erin Spence: Thank you.
Steven Butala: But I know it’s always stuff you don’t think of. Like, who thought a bunch of guys, which is what it ended up being, and about six women would talk about, oh, we need more food?
Erin Spence: Yeah. Breakfast food, specifically. Yeah.
Steven Butala: So are you going to actually listen to that and change it next year?
Erin Spence: I am because I went back and forth a lot. I even made Jill help me trying to figure out what was needed. And last year we ended up having way too much food.
Steven Butala: Yeah.
Erin Spence: We had so much leftover. So we really, really cut it back. So it is good feedback. I appreciate that.
Steven Butala: I just think we have to accept that everybody’s got a different opinion.
Erin Spence: Yes, definitely. I mean, there are plenty of people who didn’t eat, which was what we anticipated, too, especially if the hotel has free food. So we kind of took that into account. Okay, so for the last one, this is a woman, she said, “I personally had a pretty good experience. I do wish I could have chatted with more experienced members.” She said, “I learned a lot from Steven and Jill and the successful members. This year felt less hold my hand and more proving steps to get somewhere, which I think was cool.”
Steven Butala: Whoa. That’s a great way to look at this.
Erin Spence: Yeah, no, I really like it. They said that they connected with a few members, but should have talked to more members and collected more info. I want to touch on this. This kind of makes me think that we should send out kind of a reminder email to people who attended, but there’s the Google drive that everybody has access to and in it there’s the contact sheet. So you can put your contact info up there and already like three quarters of the people who attended have already put their contact info. So if you didn’t get anything, just go there and grab it and you can contact anyone.
Steven Butala: Excellent.
Erin Spence: Her favorite part of the live event was the amount of knowledge gained. Hearing each individual story about how they got started and struggles they experienced, which we heard that that Q and A live was really popular, too.
Steven Butala: Okay. You know, I think that next year… Jill’s already talking about doing a midyear one in Dallas. But anyway, the next one, the next live event that we do, I think that would be really valuable for everybody, especially people that are not there, to hear how we all started. Because we live in a very large house on the ocean, but this didn’t happen on accident. We used to live in a tiny little box with no air conditioning.
Erin Spence: Yeah.
Steven Butala: I think everybody that I talk to that’s in the advanced group, without exception, has some kind of extraordinary story like that. [crosstalk 00:10:15] This is what changed my life and I don’t mean to be all salesy about it or I don’t mean to be like infomercial about it. But that’s really the truth.
Erin Spence: It is. It’s kind of crazy. The topics they wish they’d covered the live event were just hearing more about land investing as the beginner. And then they also suggested possibly having just a day for beginner members next time. They found us through the podcasts.
Steven Butala: A day.
Erin Spence: Yeah.
Steven Butala: A whole day.
Erin Spence: I actually think that’s cool.
Steven Butala: So do I.
Erin Spence: Then we don’t we don’t have to do two separate events, fully.
Steven Butala: So what if we did… I’m just thinking here, a whole day for brand new members or just first year members, let’s call them, and they had access to the advanced group.
Erin Spence: I think that’d be awesome.
Steven Butala: And then so because we kind of did a closed advanced group on Friday. That’s a great idea.
Erin Spence: Yeah, I think that’s really cool. Let’s see. Their biggest challenge with land investing has been sitting on small properties and they’re excited to use new strong marketing strategies that they learned from the event. And then they really just kind of go on to talk about how they need more marketing assistance. And they would love to see more hands-on help for newer members, in general.
Steven Butala: Okay. These are all good requests, really valuable information.
Erin Spence: Definitely. Do you want to get all the questions?
Steven Butala: Yeah.
Erin Spence: For you?
Steven Butala: Yeah. You want to interview me? Go ahead.
Erin Spence: I’m very excited.
Steven Butala: Let me fix my hair.
Erin Spence: Okay. Steven, was this event what you expected?
Steven Butala: Yeah, it was actually way more than I expected. Here’s why. Jill and I chose intentionally this year, to have… We asked all of our advanced members. We said, we just opened the question, “Whoever wants to speak or make a presentation about what they’re really good at, you’re welcome to do that.” And we got a landslide of people raising their hands saying, “I’d love to talk about X. I’d love to talk about Y.” And so each little niche of about, I guess, eight or 10 people, probably eight people, they spoke about it. And I ended up walking out of there going, you know what? We need to make some changes in our land business. I, of all people. So yeah, that was a valuable, value there. I’m sorry, go ahead.
Erin Spence: This year specifically, did you receive enough hands-on, how-to knowledge versus what is possible theory?
Steven Butala: Yeah, I mean that doesn’t apply to me. Next question.
Erin Spence: Were you able to connect with other members?
Steven Butala: Yes. Yes, I was.
Erin Spence: What was your favorite part of the live event and what did you find most beneficial?
Steven Butala: That what I just said earlier, looking and seeing how some of the other advanced members have conquered little bottlenecks that go on in any given transaction.
Erin Spence: I will say even like our staff right now has ideas that you don’t even know about that they learned from the live events.
Steven Butala: That’s awesome.
Erin Spence: Everybody got so much out of it.
Steven Butala: That’s great.
Erin Spence: Are there any topics that you wish we covered at the live event?
Steven Butala: No. I mean, I think that we covered very, in great detail… I could have stood to hear more sales tactics on the sell side of the property. We got some great information. There’s one group of people, they actually use real estate agents to their benefit. Really handpicked, cherry picked land-driven real estate agents to handle their sell side. I’ll tell you what happened. Just I don’t want to veer too far from the question here, but what ended up happening is that a couple of people in the advanced group came to Jill and I and said, “Listen, man, we don’t have any issues with sales at all. None. We’ve got this licked. In fact, our average sale time is less than 30 days. And we start the marketing process during the acquisition process.” So they figured it out. So what had ended up happening, which is exactly what this live event is for. We are now partners with these people. Jill and I are sending them our deals like today. We’re actually sending several properties to these people that have the sales machine. Kind of what the first person was saying that I wish there was a place where I could dump an APN and then walk away and get some money.
Erin Spence: Perfect.
Steven Butala: So that’s what I got out of this.
Erin Spence: Do you have any ways that we can improve future live events?
Steven Butala: Yeah, lots.
Erin Spence: Yeah.
Steven Butala: I will turn to you on that. You know what, I’ll ask you that question. What do you think we should… How should we improve?
Erin Spence: I think most of my ways are like kind of more technical about rooms and things and dividing up maybe. As much as I don’t want to do two live events back to back, I think that that might be a better option. Or like adding a beginner day or something like that. We definitely need to figure that out because we’re at the point where we do have kind of a big separation in where people are at. And I feel like we need to address that a little bit more.
Steven Butala: In their careers?
Erin Spence: Yeah.
Steven Butala: Okay. That’s great. Close that gap.
Erin Spence: Yeah. 100%. that, too. How did you find Land Academy?
Steven Butala: I am Land Academy.
Erin Spence: Let’s see. What has been your biggest challenge with investing?
Steven Butala: The biggest challenge I’ve had lifelong investing, and we’ve conquered this. Recently conquered this in the last eight months, is lack of capital. And it’s not so much with land because if we had $25 million, we’d spend it today. And then if we had $45 million after that, we’d spend it next week. And so there were some people there, some hedge fund people and some people kind of coming out of the woodwork saying, “You know what, I can get you that $180 million if you need it.” So that’s been my… Jill and I spend the money that we have allocated toward land acquisitions every single month. And I have, since I started, since before Jill. So that’s been my biggest challenge, which I think is resolved.
Erin Spence: That’s awesome. What kind of content would you like to see more from Land Academy?
Steven Butala: Kind of contact?
Erin Spence: Content.
Steven Butala: Oh, content. I’ve said this on a show before. I’ll say it again. As an instructor, if that’s what you want to call me, I have a choice to instruct to the top, the middle, or the bottom. And I think everybody wins if I instruct to the top. And I asked the people that presented to do the same. And so I think there needs to be a little bit more content that we provide for the bottom.
Erin Spence: I agree. I hope that we can do that, too, with some of the things we were talking about with the advanced members.
Steven Butala: Yeah.
Erin Spence: What tool has helped you succeed the most?
Steven Butala: It’s got to be ParcelFact. I mean, ParcelFact, if you don’t know what ParcelFact is, as a listener or viewer here, until we started ParcelFact, there was no efficient way to input an APN, an assessor parcel number and find a property. We literally had the books that your parents carried around in their car, the map books. We just kind of guessed and we would still buy property. Now with ParcelFact, the vast majority of the property, the 150 million properties in this country, don’t have a physical address. They just have an assessor’s parcel number because nobody lives there. The post office is the one who assigns an address. So ParcelFact allows you to do that. Plus we’re building several modules out. I just beta tested yesterday on ParcelFact, drawing a polygon anywhere in the country, hitting a button, downloading a dataset, getting all the assessor data that you can imagine. Way more than you’ll ever need to buy and sell real estate. And we just added their phone numbers and whether or not they’re deceased, so believe it or not, and that’s just amazing. And we’re actually moving. Did you just see that car go by?
Erin Spence: I did. Yeah. That was interesting.
Steven Butala: That car was just driving down the sidewalk on the ocean.
Erin Spence: Yeah. Yeah.
Steven Butala: So we’re building these features out of current pricing. When we get done, it’ll never be done, but it’s amazing. It’s an amazing tool as it is right now. But we’re having a lot of fun building out more features and more features all the time. So it’s got to be ParcelFact, I guess.
Erin Spence: I have to say that I am, one of the counties that we’re working with. We’re working with some properties that aren’t in ParcelFact. And they’re technically in TitlePro, but they’re missing all of the information in TitlePro. There’s no county GIS and, I mean, I know how to do it, but I’m really missing ParcelFact right now.
Steven Butala: Sorry. Yeah. What Erin means is that ParcelFact is a data aggregator, just like RealQuest, just like TitlePro, or just like DataTree, which we’re all licensed providers of. And that data, we’re only as good as what the county assessor provides. And there’s a handful of counties, there’s what, 3,144 county or county type parish entities in the country. And I think there’s about 40 in the country that either are not computerized yet or they are so small. There’s a few in Texas that are so small that the sheriff is the assessor. It’s very, very small. So for whatever reason, I think you guys mailed one of those counties.
Erin Spence: Yep. We found one.
Steven Butala: So here’s the good news on that. We’re going way over in time today. The good news is that no one’s ever received any mail in those counties, ever. So you’ve got it. I’m sure you got a great response. Did you?
Erin Spence: Yeah. Definitely.
Steven Butala: Okay. We’ll figure that out. I’ll help you.
Erin Spence: Thank you.
Steven Butala: I like challenges. We can go back to the map books.
Erin Spence: Yeah, that’s what’s going to have to happen. Okay. Our last question is do you have any other suggestions for us going forward or anything you want us to know? Dream it up.
Steven Butala: Where would I like to see Land Academy in five years? I wish we could do like some of the other people said, I wish that we could have a more efficient… Right now we kind of buy and sell property, like Erin buys and sells property on her own. At some point, I would like to remove the duplication of this stuff and kind of set up partnerships where we’re not duplicating. Luke Smith does it this way with Jira. We do it with Airtable this way and then we do it with like SQL. So I would like to remove that duplication and become more efficient and maybe in modules. I don’t see us all in one big partnership, but six of us over here because we like Atlanta or whatever.
Erin Spence: Love it.
Steven Butala: That’s that’s what I’d like to see.
Erin Spence: That’s awesome.
Steven Butala: All right. We’re way over on time. Join us next time for another interesting episode and we answer your questions posted on our online community, landinvestors.com. It’s free. You are not alone in your real estate ambition. That went well.
Erin Spence: Thank you. I think it did, too.
Steven Butala: Thanks, Erin. Talk to you next week. The Land Academy daily show remains commercial free for you, our loyal listener. Wherever you’re watching or listening, please subscribe and rate us there. I’m Steve Butala, just information without any inspiration today at all. Thanks.
If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to email me directly at steven@BuWit.com.
The BuWit Family of Companies include:
I would like to think it’s entertaining and informative and in the end profitable.
And finally, don’t forget to subscribe to the show on Apple Podcasts.