Title: “Achieving $20 Million in Real Estate Volume: Tony Clark’s 12-Month Success”
Telling about his Profit First journey, we have Tony Clark in this episode of the Profit First for REI podcast.
Tony is a real estate agent/investor who did many things in real estate, including wholesaling and helping other agents become successful.
Listen as he shares some money mindsets many people have gone through and how he was able to break through them and come out better on the other side.
Enjoy the show!
[00:56] Introducing Tony Clark
[01:51] Why Real Estate?
[04:50] About his team and finding the right niche
[12:03] Life before and after Profit First
[16:54] Being stuck in a start-up mindset
[21:52] One habit that contributed a lot to Tony’s success
[26:14] Connect with Tony Clark
[02:17] “Real estate is just a really tangible option for running a business, and I can see it, I can feel it.”
[12:13] “Implementing Profit First made my wife much happier… before, I was just always chasing the next deal and didn’t have a system in place.”
[17:12] “Things that can be healthy for a period of time aren’t always healthy forever.”
Connect with Tony:
Tired of living deal to deal?
If you are a real estate investor or business owner who is tired of living deal to deal and want to double your profits, head over here to book your no-obligation discovery call with me. Either myself or someone from my team will hop on a short call with you to get clear on your business goals, remove any obstacles holding you back, and map out a game plan to help you finally start keeping more of the money you work so hard to make. – David
Speaker 1 (00:00):
For me, even mentally, I didn’t give myself the freedom to put money into marketing dollars because I viewed everything as here’s what I made this month and what I made and it’s in our account. And once I started implementing the Profit First system, I said, okay, what do we need to live? Okay, great, let’s pay ourselves that. And then everything else I can reinvest and allocate it according to the different accounts and how I can take care of the other thing.
Speaker 2 (00:29):
If you’re a real estate investor who’s sick and tired of living deal to deal, then welcome home. Hear from everyday real estate investors just like you, and discover how they’ve completely transformed their business by taking a Profit First approach. This is the profit first for r e I podcast, where we believe revenue is vanity. Profit is sanity. It’s time to start making profit a habit in your business. So here’s your host, David Richter.
Speaker 3 (00:56):
We have real estate agent slash investor, Tony Clark on the podcast today telling about his profit First Journey, but also just some money mindsets that I believe a lot of people have and how he was able to break through them and come out better on the other side. And honestly, it helped his personal relationships with his spouse, with a lot of the people in his life, just of some of the things he was able to work through. And he tells about that on this podcast. I know that this can help you. Thank you so much for being a listener and enjoy this next episode with Tony. Welcome back to the Profit First r i podcast. Excited. We have Tony Clark here. He is not only a real estate agent who’s done a lot of things. He’s also done wholesaling. He’s run a successful team. He now helps other agents become successful too. But most importantly, especially for this podcast is that he’s run Profit First and it’s helped him on his journey. So Tony, thanks for being a guest today.
Speaker 1 (01:49):
Absolutely, David. Thanks for having me.
Speaker 3 (01:51):
So why real estate? Why did you get into it? Is there any light bulb moment or was it always in your blood?
Speaker 1 (02:00):
Growing up, I was that kid who was selling baseball cards to his friends and just slowly traded up from baseball clubs. I flipped golf clubs in high school and then got into, it’s just the toys get bigger and bigger as you get older, but I love the deal making process. And then real estate is just a really tangible option for running a business and I can see it. I can feel it to me is a safer option than trying to trade stocks that I don’t understand or get into all of that. And so really for me, that’s all it is. It was like I’m not smart enough to figure out some of these advanced strategies, but real estate is something that’s tangible to me.
Speaker 3 (02:46):
How long did it take you? I read your bio, which I know usually people read the bios. I hate reading the bios from a page and stuff, but 20 million a year you got to in the volume in the real estate. How long did it take you to get there as an agent?
Speaker 1 (03:00):
So it was right about 12 months, 12 to 15 months. So I had a little bit of an unfair start where I started in the private equity space. And so I had a bit of a real estate investing background, but then jumping in as an agent, things started pretty quickly. I was in Nashville, Tennessee, which is a market that everybody was looking at. This was 20 21, 20 22, and so just was able to start pretty quickly there.
Speaker 3 (03:32):
Okay. So what does 20 million in volume equate to revenue for your company?
Speaker 1 (03:41):
Yeah, yeah, so 20 million in volume. Most commissions are, I was averaging about 2.7% commission, and so that would be 20, it’s 500 ish per year in gross revenue, and I was running at about an 85% margin. I didn’t have much overhead. So taking home right around 400 grand,
Speaker 3 (04:04):
Most people don’t know those numbers, first of all, like their profit margins or those things. But that’s pretty impressive in the first 12 to 15 months getting to there because I think most agents do not. You don’t know the statistic of the first 12 months as a real estate agent, what the average agent earns it’s got to be out there. I probably could just Google it and I would think it would be in the maybe 10,000 or less. I feel like for the average agent,
Speaker 1 (04:29):
Those stats are so tough because there’s so many people who get their license and then they’re like 90% of agents quit in the first year. It’s like, well, yeah, because everybody and their mom gets their real estate license. Exactly. But yeah, yeah, it’s been a fun time.
Speaker 3 (04:45):
Okay, so talk about that you had really high margins. What was the team size when you did that?
Speaker 1 (04:50):
So that was just solo agent. I got to that 12, 15 month mark and then started bringing on a couple of team members where more just at a default than anything. Both of them were past clients of mine who then wanted to get their license and work with investors. And I said, Hey, sure, I’ll figure out this team thing. And so started a little bit of a team with ’em and just kind of organically, I didn’t really grow the team much. I had the peak three agents that were working with me and it was lean team with not a whole lot of overhead.
Speaker 3 (05:28):
That’s pretty cool. So then would you attribute your background as the consummate salesperson from even it sounds like a young boy into growing up and then going into this, this was a good fit for you because it was sales and you already had that edge almost?
Speaker 1 (05:48):
I think it was a good fit. Everything that when I think about real estate is it’s so much, it’s a sales role, but even more than that, it’s an advisory role. And I think taking that approach where in trying to give people options for investing, there were plenty of times where I would say, Hey, you’re looking at these four markets to buy property in Nashville is not the best fit for you, but here’s people that I can connect you with in these other markets. And then they came back to me and said, Hey, no, we actually just really trust you and want to work with you and we can find a good deal here because you didn’t try to hard sell us. And I think that overall approach where not having the commission breadth or not being so focused on what can I make from this transaction and just helping people, I think it’s overlooked, but that’s something that I really attribute a lot of the growth to.
Speaker 3 (06:41):
Okay, well that’s very cool. Then a lot of agents usually shy away from the investing market. What made you embrace it?
Speaker 1 (06:52):
Yeah, for me it was just when I started out there, I think there were more real estate agents than there were listings in Nashville. And I said, well, what’s everybody doing and what’s a niche that I can get into that everybody else doesn’t like? I very much am just a believer in if you find something people don’t like to do and do it well, then there’s money in that niche. And for me it was investing. And even within the investing world, I said, well, I flip houses personally. I don’t really like working with house flippers. You write hundreds of offers that are way too low for sellers in hopes that you get one accepted. So I said, well, I don’t want to do that, but there’s a whole subset of investors who are looking to just buy rental property that maybe they can fix up a little bit and rent out or they’re looking for a good deal, but they’re not looking for the screaming deal every single time.
They’d rather have less effort and they need a loan. And so that was really the niche that I started working in was these people who had saved up enough money for a down payment but couldn’t come in all cash and I could just then really narrow in on those usually high income earners who were looking to diversify into real estate. And it made it a lot easier to go after clients and find the people that I wanted to work with because they’re all a lot of medical professionals or high income W2 earners or financial planners. I could find those people instead of just having to shotgun network with everybody.
Speaker 3 (08:21):
And would you say that was a big part of that first year was finding that niche and then going to them?
Speaker 1 (08:26):
Yeah, I spent the first three, four months just piddling around trying to figure it out and then from there it started to take off pretty quickly.
Speaker 3 (08:36):
Okay, that’s cool. So then we were talking before we started recording that you got into wholesaling. So how did you wholesale some of the houses or even know about that exit strategy?
Speaker 1 (08:46):
Yeah, so wholesaling was something that I learned back when I was working at the real estate investment fund before becoming an agent. And the wholesaling piece was something I brought in kind of after that first year where I said, well, I’m starting to do more direct to seller marketing to try to get listings, but I want to be able to offer these sellers a solution that fits well for ’em because some of ’em didn’t want to list their houses or they did just want out early. And so I’d always go in and say, Hey, I’m a blank slate right now. I don’t represent you, I don’t represent anyone else. Here’s some options for you. I can give you the CarMax option where here’s the trade-in value essentially for your home, but I’ll buy it for cash. I can list it for you and help you get top dollar. Here’s what I think you could get on market with comps and everything else. Or if you don’t want it on market but you’re open to an offer, I have buyers who are looking, just let me know and I can try to bring them to you and do something off market that probably gets you something in between. So the wholesaling was really kind of an add-on service, so to speak, for those sellers who did just want to get out quickly.
Speaker 3 (09:59):
For those, did you see that most of those took the wholesale option or did they want to invest in make it into get top dollar? What would you say what the percentage was?
Speaker 1 (10:11):
It was super interesting. I would’ve thought that more listings would’ve come out of it, and we can even get into, I’m in California now, so life circumstances just, I wound up moving back to where my wife’s from out here and I’m starting up some of the same marketing, but in Nashville what I saw is a lot more people wanted the wholesale option than I would’ve thought I would’ve. Most of them would want to list their properties, but I think they get solicited so many times by agents that for them to say, oh, here’s someone who actually has an offer on my house that is a licensed agent and isn’t some Yahoo wholesaler off the street who’s just calling me and offering whatever that did have a little bit more weight than I thought it would’ve.
Speaker 3 (10:54):
Yeah, you always hear that too, should an investor get their license? And I’m like, I see hear cases for both sides, but if you’re like in this situation, it’s a great option, then you can give ’em multiple exit strategies. You’re learning the market better, they trust you a little bit more in that situation and you can say, I’ll just buy it from you then if you don’t move forward with the listing.
Speaker 1 (11:17):
Yeah, for sure. And there’s extra disclosures with which I always think are great, whenever someone asks, what do I have to tell people? I’m like, you’re asking the wrong question. Just be upfront with people, say, here’s what I’m doing. And then people, then they’ll trust you. You get to their motivation. Exactly.
Speaker 3 (11:33):
Yeah, and they’ll be more open with you too. It’s like you keep hiding things to the chest and they all start hiding things and it’s like, well, that doesn’t help anyone. And then you get to the closing table and there’s 15 family members that you have to fight off to. They didn’t tell you about it or whatever.
Speaker 1 (11:50):
Speaker 3 (11:51):
Okay. Well then talk about, you say systems have been a big part of your journey and you found Profit First and started implementing that system. So how did that life before Profit First and then Life After Profit first? So tell about that journey a little bit.
Speaker 1 (12:08):
Yeah, so Life Before Profit first, I’ll basically just say implementing Profit First made my wife much happier and helped our good answer more than anything. As in before, I just was always basically chasing the next deal and I didn’t have any sort of system in place. Everything came into our personal account and it was like, oh, we made a ton of money this month and then nothing comes in for three weeks, or it was the highs and the lows and it was fine. I mean, we made enough money that we were never struggling for how are we going to pay rent, but it was just this, for me, even mentally, I didn’t give myself the freedom to put money into marketing dollars because I viewed everything as here’s what I made this month and what I made and it’s in our account. And once I started implementing the Profit First system, I said, okay, what do we need to live?
Okay, great, let’s pay ourselves that and then everything else I can reinvest and allocate it according to the different accounts and how I can take care of the other thing. Taxes was a whole different story where I didn’t put any money aside for taxes and then had a huge bill the end of the first year. And then that was kind of what pointed me toward Profit First as well, but the combination of just saying, Hey, I feel like I’m in control and running a business instead of just being a really highly paid salesperson would be in a nutshell how I felt once I started implementing that.
Speaker 3 (13:38):
That makes sense. So what actually pointed you to it then? Were you at an event or did it just get brought up somewhere or, I’m just wondering where you go from the Leap I’m living deal to deal, but there is a solution and someone introduces it.
Speaker 1 (13:53):
Honestly, I can’t remember where I heard it first. Yeah, I can’t remember where I heard it first. I think I was just looking around saying, talking to there a better way, other investors or realtors. Yeah, I was like, I’m not doing this the right way, but what is the right way? And then just kind of stumbled on
Speaker 3 (14:13):
It. Okay, that makes sense. Because a lot of people could masterminds or meetups or events or friends and it’s, I’m always very curious of how people hear about it because so many people struggle with it. It’s usually brought up in the circles of here, this might help you get to where you want to be. I love what you said though, that this helped the most with your wife and made her happier, and it’s like, well, if you need any other encouragement, there’s a huge one right there. It makes your significant other happier in your life because I’m sure she probably struggled with the ups and downs of real estate too, even though you said you made enough and it was going well, there was never any worry. It was still probably a little bit tolling on her too.
Speaker 1 (14:58):
Absolutely. Well, for my personality, I’m very much a, we’re always broke, we’re always broke. Let’s invest everything that we have. And that freed up, I mean the change in mindset from my end, and then for her, she’s a W two, she’s a nurse, and so she has the stable income that just kind of pays the bills and whatnot, but I think it really freed her up to say, Hey, we now have this profit first system that’s helping me run my business. Then in our personal life, we’ve got this budget where a budget isn’t constricting anymore. It’s saying, no, please go spend money on yourself, because I’m not saying, oh, we need to go buy another rental or a flip or whatever. It’s just, no, this is what’s coming in. You have the freedom to go get your nails done or go do whatever you want to do with it, and I’m not going to be up in arms about whatever.
Speaker 3 (15:51):
Yeah, no, that’s awesome. Okay, so you gave a little glimpse of one of the money scripts you were running in your life we’re always broke. Where do you think that originated from? Was it like your risk taking or when you were growing up, or why do you think that you always lived on that edge of just constantly investing everything?
Speaker 1 (16:14):
I think it was initially, so I wasn’t always very money aware as far as saving. That kind of shifted. I did read the Purple Bible back in 20 18, 20 19, the Rich Dad Poor Dad thing, and that was when it really switched and I went from, okay, here’s what I make. Here’s what I spend to, I want to have the ability to retire my wife by the time she turns 30, I’m 26 right now, she’s 25. We said, okay, let’s get on this aggressive financial freedom journey. And I think that was great to start off with, and it’s kind of the idea that the same things that get you from zero to a hundred thousand or zero to a million are not the things that take you from a million to 10 million. So I think starting off that was really good where we cut a lot of our expenses. We did live really frugally, but then as things grow, it’s like things that can be healthy for a period of time aren’t always healthy forever. And I think it was one of those where we needed to transition out of that, and I was still stuck in the small business owner mindset or the startup mindset.
Speaker 3 (17:25):
That’s really good. I like what you said there, things that are healthy now aren’t healthy forever. So I think there’s a lot of wisdom in that because it’s different stages of life too. It might be frugal to be frugal and when you’re first starting out, but then when you get a little bit bigger and it’s like, okay, you can spend a little bit more and still be at the same percentage that you were and you just have a bigger pie now that you’re working with, so
Speaker 1 (17:53):
Speaker 3 (17:55):
That’s really good. I think there’s a lot of wisdom there that I think a lot of people, do you think this too, a lot of people hold themselves back from what they really can do with their business?
Speaker 1 (18:06):
Absolutely. I think everyone has limiting factors and it’s figuring out what those are for you, where everyone’s are different. I know I have friends who their limiting factors are very different than mine. They’ll go drop six to eight grand on marketing because that’s just, they see the money in money out, but maybe some other operational things are harder for them to figure out. And it’s just, I think for everyone it’s identifying what those weak points are and just saying, all right, how can I overcome those?
Speaker 3 (18:37):
Yeah, which sounds like at one point of your life it was the money and then PR first helps you get from one side to the other. Is that correct?
Speaker 1 (18:47):
Speaker 3 (18:48):
Yeah, I see that a lot, especially on this show and hearing a lot of people’s stories because a lot of people struggle with it. So if you’re listening to this now, we understand we’ve both lived this out before in our lives. Definitely. I think that really resonated with me. Things that are healthy now aren’t always going to be healthy forever, and I feel like that’s where I had a limiting belief of no, I need to be the constant, I was the opposite side. I was always the saver I wanted to save. I never wanted to really spend a lot of the money and the Profit First helped me with, I need to be able to spend and I need to be able to do these things and invest in the business and invest in myself and be able to, like you even said, there’s a budget there now that the wife can’t go out and get her nails done, it’s okay. You don’t have to invest every dollar into real estate. So you got to also make sure your relationships are healthy and that you’re not always broke when you don’t really have to be, but it’s just gave it a system. Like you said, a system like you’ve run a lot of systems, so profit first obviously for the financial side. What other systems have helped you on your journey?
Speaker 1 (19:55):
So I kind of just break the business down into a couple of different sections that helps me kind of think through things better. So Profit First, really for the financial side of the business really operations wise, I’ve got, I call it my five step funnel framework for basically in my business. And then what the businesses I work with now is saying, Hey, here’s the customer journey, essentially, let’s break it down into five sections where you’ve got prospects who don’t know, you’re trying to get ’em to know who you are, leads who know who you are, and might buy from you clients who you’re actively working with, and then you’re fulfilling on a service and then repeat business once it’s done. And so just depending on where I’m at in my business, I try to audit each one of those areas or spend time on one of those at a time to say, alright, where am I lacking in this in my follow-up?
Do I need to go implement a new email campaign or retargeting ads or whatever it is to bring more people in the door or, okay, I don’t have the Google reviews that I need to have. Let’s figure out a way to drive that repeat business and just add one more step in. Because I think what I love about the Profit First system and kind of how I think about business is it’s one step at a time. It’s saying, Hey, here’s the framework. Really, once you get that in place, it’s just maximizing everything. And that’s kind of how I think through my business now is it’s just a series of small steps. Maybe some people can see the whole thing and work on a bunch of things at once. I’m not smart enough to do that. So I said, let’s break it down and just do one thing at a time, and that really helps compound and grow a pretty solid business over time.
Speaker 3 (21:39):
Awesome. I really like that. So then what would you say with all the success you’ve had with real estate, with helping other people with going through these journeys, what’s one habit that you’ve had that has really contributed a lot to the success that you’ve had up to this point in your life?
Speaker 1 (21:58):
That’s a great question. I think
Speaker 3 (22:01):
Speaker 1 (22:03):
The habit. If I were to pick one, I think the habit would be taking calculated risks, and whether that’s financial or time-wise, I’m much more, not generous is the wrong word, but I’m much more of a risk taker with my time where I’ll go invest time into something that may or may not work, and I think that has paid off. I think there’s that bar of knowing enough to get started, but then not knowing too much so that you decide it’s not for you. I think that’s one thing that I’ve tried to jump in where it’s like, Hey, I have a good theory. I have a hypothesis on how I think this business could play out. Let’s go test it knowing that it’s not going to bankrupt me if it doesn’t work, but I’m going to give it a go because I think I see something here. And knowing that, I mean, I forget the staff, but most entrepreneurs, I mean, our batting averages are pretty low, so if you can get a hit every once in a while, that’s a win right there. And so I just try to get up to the plate as many times as possible.
Speaker 3 (23:10):
Awesome. Now that’s a really good one. Take calculated risks. Okay, so couple last questions here. If you were to meet an investor or if you wanted to tell the people here, if you were going to implement Profit First, what would you say is one of the best things to get up and running?
Speaker 1 (23:29):
Yeah, I think the first step is always the hardest. So it’s really, it sounds dumb, but just opening up the different bank accounts. I think once those are open, then you’ve done it, you’ve done the step, then it’s just you can on to the next one. But I think there’s a lot of people that I’ll talk to with anything, and it’s just like, oh, I’m thinking about this or thinking about that. It’s like, alright, just go to the gym, walk in the doors, and then you can turn around and leave. If you want to go open the bank accounts, then you can shut ’em all down if you want to and whatever, but once they’re open, you’re not going to do that.
Speaker 3 (24:04):
Right. That’s really good. Take that first step, put that one foot in front of the other and then you’ll see that it leads you right through that door. But awesome. No, this has been great. I like it. I think one of the biggest things I took away is that things that are healthy now aren’t always healthy forever. And then I did, how you say, implementing Profit First helped your wife and made her happier. I think there’s so much wisdom there of get systems in your life that help your personal life too and help your relationships overall. And then I liked how you say take calculated risks niching down. I thought that was really interesting too. That helped you really scale quicker and get to the people that really had the money that you wanted to be able to deploy into real estate and being able to help them. There’s just a lot of gold here. And then make sure to just go out, open up that first account, open it up, start using the system, get on the right track there. It sounds like it’s helped you a lot on your journey now, just talk about what you’re doing now. You provide a lot of value here. How can people get ahold of you or what do you do for the real estate agents? Or tell us a little bit about that side.
Speaker 1 (25:12):
Yeah, so I’m a systems nerd. Kind of what Profit First is to the financial side of the business. I am an operations nerd on all of that, and so I primarily work with real estate agents. I have an active real estate license in California. I do a few deals a year or whatever on that, but my main gig is I work with real estate agents and some small business owners. I’ve worked with moving companies, lighting companies, whatnot, just saying, Hey, let’s put systems in your business so that you’re not either writing everything down on paper and trying to keep track of all this stuff, or for real estate agents saying, let’s really systematize this because you’re running a business, you’re not just a salesperson. And so that looks different for everybody. I try to take as much of an individualized approach as possible. I’ve got a team that are specialists in different areas, and we just try to do what we can to help people build systems that allow them to find more freedom as a business owner.
Speaker 3 (26:11):
Awesome. So how do they find you? Where do they go?
Speaker 1 (26:14):
Yeah, so a couple places. Instagram is going to be the best place to just directly connect with me, Tony Clark Realestate. You can go to my website, agent OSS io. So either one of those will be a great place to just learn more and get connected.
Speaker 3 (26:30):
There you go. That’s how you could connect with Tony. This has been awesome. I liked hearing about your first journey, but then also just about your journey in real estate and some of the money mindsets that you’re able to get over has been really good. And then if you’re listening to this podcast episode and you’re like, I am running around a chicken with my head cut off, or I feel what Tony was like, I always feel broke. You can reach out to us as well too simple cfo.com, we help you put a financial leader on the team, just like Tony’s a systems nerd on the operation side. We’re definitely systems nerds on the financial side. So if you need help there, go to simple cfo.com, just click schedule a call and we’ll get on a call to see if we can at least point you in the right direction. And no matter what if you work with us or not. Thank you so much for listening. Make sure to make Profit a habit in your business. And Tony, thanks for being a great guest.
Speaker 1 (27:18):
Hey, thanks David.
Speaker 2 (27:21):
This episode of The Profit First for R e I podcast is over, but there are plenty more where that came from. Are you ready to learn how David and his team can help implement the Profit First system in your business? Schedule a discovery firstname.lastname@example.org right now. We’ll see you next time on The Profit First for r e I podcast with David Richter.