“I’m interested in starting a real estate investment club – what should I do?”
That’s a question I’ve been asked many times from realtors and mortgage brokers who want to create more business for themselves, and new real estate investors who want to create a place to network and learn.
Since starting the Durham Real Estate Investing Club in 2008, I have a few tips that will help you to grow your club and help you avoid some of my earlier mistakes. (Note from Julie … this will also give you an idea of what kind of clubs to look for when you want to find one to attend!).
I started the Durham Real Estate Investment Club in a coffee shop in early 2008. I didn’t have any friends or family that invested in real estate and I was looking to create a peer support group for the properties we had. The very first Durham real estate investor club meeting was four people that showed up, drank coffee, talked and shared information about real estate investing.
In December 2014, the Durham REI meeting had two amazing keynote speakers, a panel discussion of five full-time real estate investors that collectively owned hundreds of units, and local infrastructure and economic updates. We had close to 100 members and guests attend that meeting, and the club continues to grow every month.
The very first thing that you need to do is create a vision for your club. By creating a vision, you actually help to identify the key goals of the club. This is easy when you can answer a few questions.
- What is the reason to have the club in the first place?
- What do you want people to get out of coming to a meeting?
- What are you hoping to help them avoid by coming to your meeting?
- What do you want to get from giving many hours of your time each month? Or will it be worth your time?
- Why start a club in the first place? Are there other clubs you can help to grow?
- How big do you want it to grow – be specific?
There are many different components of running a real estate investing club:
- Finding, screening and organizing speakers,
- Booking and organizing the facility,
- Ensuring that the speakers show up and deliver a positive message,
- Facilitating question and answer at meetings,
- Welcoming members when they arrive, ensuring they have name tags and feel comfortable enough to network — the list goes on and on.
There are systems and processes that you can setup that help with all of these components. But, one thing that will change how a person feels when they come to your club is based on your leadership style.
There are two main leadership strategies that I see people use – one is to lead from the front and the other is to lead from the back. Both types of leadership styles offer good opportunities for members to learn but how you feel after going to the meeting will be a little different.
Many real estate investment clubs are places where a person leads from the front. Usually, it is a place where a particular real estate investor, has established themselves as the expert in a particular area within real estate investing. They impart their wisdom to you as someone who is leading the charge. They present themselves as the ultimate expert in real estate investing and they or their associates will help you on your journey. Their goal is to help you to learn and to grow by working within the business model or service they offer.
This approach isn’t ideal for all investors because it doesn’t clearly present the options that they need to achieve in their own personal objectives. It’s also often bias towards the experience and methodology of the speaker. And sometimes, the person leading from the front is speaking about what the members should do without having the experience to back them up, and people can see through this.
My preference is to run and attend clubs where the leader does so from the back.
A club where a person leads from the back is organized a little differently. This is almost like what Stephen Covey would describe as servant leadership position. It is actually a leadership strategy that I learned while taking my principal qualification courses (I spent many years working for a School Board).
5 Tips for Leading a Real Estate Investing Club from the Back
- Focus On Helping Others To Develop Their Real Estate Business – The focus should be on coaching and supporting others, rather than controlling or pushing a sale.
- Listen To What People Want – Pay attention to what people are saying. Really listen to them and find out what they want and need. Then try to offer it to them through sharing some knowledge or inviting a specific speaker.
- Cultivate A Culture of Trust – Invite other experienced investors to share what they are doing by being open and honest about what you are doing.
- Act With Humility – Don’t think that you are better than everyone else, but act in a way that shows that you care for others.
- Develop Leaders In Your Group – Help others to lead in the community that you build within your club.
One important clarifying point needs to be added. Leading from the back does not mean that the people leading the club have limited real estate experiences. In fact, the best clubs are run by someone that understands the most fundamental part of the rental house and apartment business. That person must understand that the business has nothing to do with bricks and mortar – it is about people. And the relationships that we develop over time help us all to succeed a little better.
Many of those who lead from the back have a depth of understanding that supports the others in the club.
The idea behind this leadership strategy is almost to be in the background helping people to grow and as a result you improve the community that you serve. This leader shares the stage with multiple people, and helps others to rise.
One such organization that I think exemplifies this model of leading from the back is Rock Star Real Estate in Oakville. I’m not sure if they would refer to themselves as a real estate club, but Tom and Nick Karadza do a wonderful job running great meetings – helping their team to grow, and their members to flourish. Their events have grown to a massive size as a result (their last one had over 400 people in attendance!). Here is just one simple example of what they do. Most people refer to real estate agents as Realtors, but at Rock Star Real Estate, they are referred to as “Coaches”. In their day to day language they use the word “Coach”. This simple change in title of the real estate agent to a coach, indicates the person is there to help you to grow, not to sell you a property.
In a club where a person leads from the back you will not hear about the hundreds of real estate properties that they have purchased or the myriad of businesses that they own in order to position themselves as an expert. They will often lead by sharing information that will help other people in their real estate investing. The way that you hear about the leader’s expertise is from other people in the group, one on one conversation, and your own interactions with that club’s leader.
I hope to meet you one day at the back of a Durham Real Estate Investor meeting. Or you can start your own club, where I hope you to, will lead from the back.
Quentin D’Souza is the Chief Education Officer of the Durham Real Estate Investor Club, Author of The Property Management Toolbox: A How-To Guide for Ontario Real Estate Investors and Landlords and Co-Author of The Ultimate Wealth Strategy: Your Complete Guide to Buying, Fixing, Refinancing, and Renting Real Estate.
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