Trust Your Guru: Three Ways To Vet Real Estate Investing Coaches
Published on Forbes on May 20, 2019. For full article, click here.
Nine years of strong economic growth has led to an explosion of real estate investing “gurus.” They span every niche and asset type: assisted living, land, flipping, syndications of all flavors. The list is epic. When you hear the term “guru," what emotions does it elicit for you?
When I hear it, it evokes feelings of skepticism. My guard goes up, immediately. There’s something about the phrase “real estate guru” in particular that evokes imagery of a shifty, fast-talking, high-priced “expert” — a slick operator who promises big financial outcomes if you follow their proven playbook.
In reality, there are dozens of high-caliber, successful real estate mentors with reputable coaching programs. These professionals are not so-called gurus, in my mind. They are competent professionals who operate with integrity and legitimately arm their students with the skills and knowledge to change their lives.
Full disclosure: I have personally participated in four different real estate coaching programs in recent years. As of this writing, I am actively participating in two paid coaching programs. That may or may not make me an expert on gurus, but there are some insights I can pass along from my experience of finding and vetting the coaching programs that I ultimately chose.
The Landscape Of Coaching Programs For Aspiring Real Estate Investors
Let’s get specific about the group we’re referring to. Gurus, in this context, commonly include:
Thought leaders with paid platforms: They offer some content for free, but to access the “good stuff,” students are often prompted for a one-time payment and/or paid subscription. "Good stuff," in this case, can include video content, white papers, calculators, guides, templates, etc.
Private coaches: Fees range broadly, depending on the experience level of the coach, from $1,000 to $50,000 or more (prices can go much higher for elite coaches), with a possible monthly subscription free for established coaches. Mentees are offered direct access to the expert with a capped amount of time to talk on the phone or ask questions via email.
Small group coaching: Fee ranges here are broad, typically from $500 to $5,000-plus.
Large group coaching: These fees tend to range from $50 to $500-plus. These are typically hosted online. Popular formats are private Facebook groups and website forums.
Meeting organizers: From meetings to masterminds, there is range of format, quality, size and substance in this bucket. Some of the old-school formats out there are still deploying the strategy of “attract attendees and give them the hard pitch by the end of the meeting.” More modern formats provide meaningful value before ever broaching the topic of asking for your money.
There are more formats not included, but this paints a clear picture: There are many options available of varying quality and costs. There are actually so many options that it can leave new investors feeling overwhelmed and frustrated. Two steps can aid you in the program selection process:
Set a coaching budget: Knowing your financial limit for coaching will narrow your search quickly.
Assess your working style: Are you disciplined? Then perhaps you will thrive in large group coaching. A benefit of private coaching is having a one-to-one accountability partner. When you jump on a call with her, she will ask you to explain why you haven't made progress on that project you discussed last month, whereas a large group coaching program will be more self-regulated.
Three Ways To Vet A REI Coach
Once you have identified a coach you are willing to invest in, it's time to vet them. Here are some best practices to use when vetting coaches:
1. Interview them: Approach it like a interview, where you are the interviewer making a hiring decision. They are your hire. You are the hiring manager. You have established the job description, the scope of responsibility and the results you want to see this person produce. You are going to interview them in a friendly, professional conversation that confirms your goals for the engagement are aligned. Once you establish this mindset, your selection strategy will adjust accordingly.
2. Confirm their track record: Don’t skip this step. It’s tempting to blow it off, but it’s arguably the most important. The most meaningful way to confirm the effectiveness of their coaching program is to check referrals. In this case, the referrals are former coaching students. Reach out to the students themselves. Speak with them. Ask them questions about their experience. Of course, there’s a handful of other ways to confirm someone's track record. The simplest way is to Google them and corroborate their career moves. Claims of success on a guru's website are just about as reliable as a pro forma financials on a property marketing brochure. Take the time to “underwrite the deal.”
3. Match for style: You will be listening to this person share their perspective on a regular basis. I think it's important you actually enjoy their company. Reflect on a few guiding questions before making a decision: How naturally did the conversation flow between you? Was it forced and awkward? Was it natural and easy? After you finished the conversation, did you find yourself looking forward to the next chat, or does the thought trigger a fight/flight response? Each of us only has a limited amount of energy each day. If you aim to grow rapidly and achieve success through real estate investing, you need to conserve your energy wherever possible. You can’t spare extra energy emotional energy psyching yourself up to talk to a coach you don’t enjoy.
In the real estate business of 2019, you will encounter values-driven, excellent gurus who share their knowledge freely. They operate from an abundance mindset. They understand that when they pay it forward to up-and-coming real estate professionals, those newbie relationships will eventually reward them tenfold — whether it’s via new relationships, knowledge, deals or cash.
At their best, coaching programs matched with massive action can compress timetables, years at a time. Before taking the plunge and investing in a real estate investing coach, the first step is getting clear on your goals.