There have been times when I had NOTHING—really, nothing. I won’t bore you with the details, but if you’ve been to the Nick Vertucci Real Estate Academy (NVREA), you know my story. At 18 I was living in my van. But I picked myself up, dusted myself off and built myself into a serious entrepreneur and business owner. Everything was great—until it wasn’t. The dotcom bubble burst and I—along with millions of others—lost everything, including my business.
Those were dark days—very dark days. I remember thinking that I would never bounce back and would never be able to get my life and my family’s life on track. But—spoiler alert!—I did. I built a successful real estate investing and education business and have flipped more than $150 million in deals in the last decade. And when I look back, I know now what I didn’t know then. I now see that I did have something, even when I was living in the van, even when I lost it all in when the bubble burst. Because I always had my reputation—and that’s never faltered, not for a minute.
Your reputation is the single most important asset in business and, really, in life. You could build the tallest skyscrapers, have the best properties in your portfolio or be the best rehabber on the block but, if your reputation is busted—people think you’re hard to work with, rude, pushy or not so trustworthy—none of it matters. No one will want to work with you. And that perception? It’s not so easy to change.
And this shouldn’t come as a shock. Just think about yourself and who you’d rather work with. Do you want to work with someone you don’t trust and avoid talking to at all costs? Or the person who makes you feel confident, secure and on the ball? For my money, it’s a pretty easy choice.
Your job, then? Focus on your reputation. Because, again, it’s easier to stay on the straight and narrow then to try and build back a less than stellar reputation. So focus on that—focus on keeping your reputation high and dry no matter what happens. These six tips will keep you on track, even when you hit a snag.
1. Say It and Mean It
Your word is your bond in this industry. Is it cliche? Sure. Is it true? Absolutely. If you say it, mean it. If you don’t know, say you don’t know, then focus on getting the answer. It’s easy and convenient to tell people what they want to hear in the moment but, trust me, that’s always going to catch up with you in the end.
That doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to misspeak or have to backpedal from time to time. Even the best, most trustworthy real estate investors make mistakes. But that should be the exception, NOT the rule. When the balance gets out of whack, people start questioning YOU—and that’s the fastest way to destroy your reputation.
2. Admit When You’re Wrong—And Work To Fix It
And when you are wrong? Apologize. There are three parts of an apology:
Part 1: Say “I’m sorry.”
Part 2: Say, “There’s no excuse for what happened/my behavior.”
Part 3: Tell them what you’re going to do to fix the problem AND ensure it never happens again.
Don’t make excuses. Don’t point fingers. Don’t start tossing blame around. Just apologize and make amends swiftly and succinctly. Everyone messes up. As long as your screw ups don’t become a pattern—and as long as you make amends STAT—you’ll keep your reputation intact.
3. Pay Your Bills
This one probably seems really intuitive but, believe it or not, lots of people seem to forget this basic piece of the business puzzle—and that’s a reputation killer. If you’ve agreed to pay a contractor, wholesaler, marketer, assistant, whoever, THEN YOU NEED TO PAY THEM. If the work isn’t up to par or the person doesn’t deliver, then have a conversation and come to an agreement about next steps. But not paying your bills, short-changing a partner or vendor, or making people wait for months for the money they’re due is no good—and will no doubt catch up with you fast.
And besides your reputation, think about your business. Do you really think people are going to bend over backward for you or help put out those fires if you aren’t current on their invoices? Maybe—but probably not. Just like you, those business owners need to make money, too. If they can’t count on you, they’ll focus on clients who do pay—and pay on time.
4. Be Responsive
If you’re like me, you probably get hundreds of emails each day—not to mention all those calls, voicemails, texts and web leads. It’s overwhelming, I know. But I’m going to give it to you straight: you need to respond quickly and professionally to every single one of those messages. It’s not a nice to have, it’s a need to have. If you don’t, you’re going to seem disengaged—if you aren’t calling that vendor, lender, lead or customer back now, why should they expect you ever will? And why would they want to work with that guy? I know I wouldn’t.
Ignoring calls and emails is the quickest and easiest way to seem like a less than desirable partner—and the quickest way to gain a less than desirable reputation.
5. Focus On YOUR Business—But Don’t Take Advantage
As an entrepreneur, you’re constantly focused on YOUR BUSINESS. I don’t blame you. I am, too. But that doesn’t give you a free pass to take advantage of others…ever.
In this industry, you’re going to come in contact with lots of different buyers, sellers and lenders. Some will be overly cautious—some will even you give a real run for your money. Others, though, will be the exact opposite. They’ll be unsure, rushed and vulnerable—maybe they need to sell their house or really want your latest rehab. While it’s fine to negotiate a good deal, it’s not OK to take advantage of the situation. I know that line can be a bit gray but, in the moment, you’ll know when you are and when you aren’t. This bad behavior will always come back to haunt you. THIS bad behavior will always leave you with terrible reviews, terrible word of mouth and a terrible reputation. Sure, you got a great deal on that last flip, but you’ve now got a Scarlet Letter following you and your business around. Not worth it.
6. Don’t Forget The Golden Rule
Again, this one’s a no-brainer but, all too often, real estate investors seem to forget. I’m talking about the good old Golden Rule. Remember that one? Treat others the way you want to be treated—and, really, why wouldn’t you?
So what am I talking about? Be above board. Don’t be sneaky or intentionally deceptive or waste other people’s time. Be trustworthy. Deliver on your promises. Be friendly, professional and fair. You’d want and expect the same from the people you do business with, right? So give and you’ll get—it’s as simple as that. And, pretty quickly, you’ll start to build a reputation for being a good person to do business with. The value there? ENDLESS.
Again, these are all simple and straightforward. But, still, some real estate investors seem to lose sight of these basic business best practices once they’re up and running. Sure, they may squeak ahead for a little while, but in the end, they’re going to fall behind. Believe me, the bad attitude, bad behaviors and bad business practices always come back to haunt you—and ruin your reputation in the process.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. At NVREA, we’ll talk about the ways to boost your reputation from day one, and how to show the world you mean business. So bring your questions, your thoughts and your insights from the trenches and we’ll unpack it all. See you there.