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Welcome to Property Management Brainstorm, the ultimate podcast for property managers, PropTech ventures, and real estate investors! Join industry expert Bob Preston as he brings you the latest trends, best practices, and invaluable guidance in the world of property management. Whether you're just starting or thriving in the business, Property Management Brainstorm is your go-to destination for all things property management. Please click the "more" button in our episodes below to view the episode notes, listen through the website audio player or the video link, and follow along with the whole episode transcript.

Episode 75: My Property Management Journey Ft Travis Bohling

A handful of entrepreneurs in the property management industry have helped bootstrap and grow a property management company, sold the company, remained in a senior capacity with the acquisition company, and ultimately moved on to start yet another property management venture. One of those individuals is Travis Bohling of Phoenix, Arizona.

He is the co-founder of the property management company Home Ladder. Tune in as host Bob Preston and Travis delve into the importance of saying no and choosing a specific direction to the challenges of working in a large company where decision-making is hindered.

Topics covered:
(02:45) Travis Bohling’s background and his new venture, Home Ladder
(03:29) When Travis first decided to get into property management
(04:57) His work with RentVest
(07:23) The early stages of Travis’ property management company
(11:33) Expanding to other markets
(14:25) SureVestor Midroll Commercial (60-seconds)
(15:35) The decision to sell RentVest
(19:09) The acquisition process and working for Mynd
(23:28) The integration process of merging with a property management company
(26:42) Integrating at Mynd as an entrepreneur
(28:33) About Home Ladder and its plans
(29:28) What is an ‘investor agent’?
(37:03) Closing thoughts

Connect with Travis Bohling

Episode 75 Sponsor: SureVestor
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At SureVestor, we’re Property Managers, too. That puts us in a unique position to offer innovative insurance solutions you’ve never seen before. Our Protection Plus bundle covers you and your owners when the unexpected happens. For instance, malicious damage, loss of rent and eviction fees, lawsuits, and certain accidental tenant damage.

We're also giving a huge shout-out to all of our fabulous Industry Icon Sponsors for supporting our show:

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Connect with Bob Preston

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Transcript of This Episode

Bob Preston  01:01
Hello, Brainstormers, and welcome to today's episode. To start today, we're giving a huge shout-out to our fabulous Industry Icon Sponsors for supporting our show:

VPM Solutions
APM Help
Upkeep Media
Second Nature

Bob Preston  01:41
Today, we will discuss an entire Property Management journey by an individual I've gotten to know. In my days as a property management consultant, mentor, and coach, there are only a handful of entrepreneurs I’ve met who have first helped Bootstrap and grow a property management company, taking that company to the point where they could sell, and then remained in a senior capacity with the acquisition company and ultimately moved on to start yet another property management venture. One of those individuals is Travis Bohling of Phoenix, Arizona. In today's episode, Travis and I will discuss his journey through the property management industry and how he is doing with his new property management company—Home Ladder. 

Hey, Travis, welcome to the brainstorm. How are you today?

Travis Bohling  02:24
Good morning, Bob. I'm great, glad to be here!

Bob Preston  02:27
Glad you're here. It looks beautiful there in Phoenix, Arizona. In the backdrop. I always like to start the show by learning more about my guests. So, let's go with that if you're cool with that. Introduce yourself. Tell us about your background. I know we'll get into this in more detail during the episode, but perhaps a bit more about your new venture, Home Ladder.

Travis Bohling  02:45
Absolutely. So, I’m Travis Bohling. I'm in Gilbert, Arizona. Phoenix is the metro. I grew up in Nebraska, Tennessee, and Illinois. I moved to Arizona. It would have been five after I graduated college—my experience in the PM world. So, I started with student rentals. I've done multifamily vacation rentals, SFR, turnkey acquisitions, and sales. So, I had a wide breadth of experience trying to figure out exactly what I wanted to focus on. And then, yeah, I launched the Home Ladder in March of this year—so new firm and off to the races.

Bob Preston  03:21
You mentioned where you came from and how you got into property management. Maybe you can expand upon that. When did you first decide to get into property management? And what were you doing, and what was involved in that decision to jump into the industry?

Travis Bohling  03:36
Yeah, definitely. So, unlike most people who answered this question, mine was completely intentional. I was I was at college, studying accounting. And I was like, man, there's no way I can spend the rest of my career doing accounting. This is just too boring. Right, so I took a part-time job leasing student rentals. They're on campus, and I instantly fell in love with it. I was like, this is for me, like showing rentals to my friends and helping them lease the most remarkable properties on campus that I don't know excited me. From there, I read Rich Dad Poor Dad, which I think is its precursor for everybody in this industry, and either house hack to my first home sophomore year and rented it out to some roommates and, I don't know, never looked back property management is in my blood. So that's how I got started.

Bob Preston  04:28
Okay, how did you end up in Arizona? If I can ask?

Travis Bohling  04:30
As a kid, we always traveled out here for vacations, and I loved the climate. I knew I wanted to do real estate, and Phoenix is the epicenter of all Real estate-related things. Like all the new trends, typically, high growth seems to start and end in Phoenix. The climate attracted me. Most people don't say that, but I love the atmosphere here. So yeah, I'll never move. I love Phoenix.

Bob Preston  04:54
So, let's jump into your step in Arizona RentVest. You got into that early, helped bootstrap it from zero, and grew it to about 4,000 doors. How did you get into RentVest? Who were the principals in the venture? And how did you decide to join them?

Travis Bohling  05:16
Yeah, definitely. So RentVest was founded by two guys, Jacob and Spencer, in 2011. They had just been in the foreclosure business, bidding on foreclosures in the Phoenix market for the past two years, like they were cleaning up the mess of the previous boom by bidding on homes at foreclosure. Wow. And they were helping all these investors buy properties at foreclosure and many more buy-and-hold investors. And they're like, why don't we help these buy-and-hold investors with long-term property management? So, they didn't have any experience with property management. And I was friends with one of their brothers-in-law. So, they knew I was in the industry. And I was looking for a move. So I joined them. We launched from zero doors and started a property management business based solely on investors buying foreclosed properties.

Bob Preston  06:05
Wow, that's incredible. That must have been big in Phoenix because any boomtown area with many new buildings suffered during the downturn. I mean, we saw a lot of that in San Diego and some other California communities.

Travis Bohling  06:19
Yeah, the firm I worked for before I made the switch had 2,000 doors under management. Over those two or three years, from 2008 to 2011, they lost half their portfolio to foreclosures; it was crazy how many lost their properties. A lot of them were California investors, honestly, people that had taken out second mortgages on their homes in California, used all that equity, and then bought a bunch of properties out here in Arizona. And when they went upside down, they just returned them to the bank, which was incredible. Phoenix was the epicenter of foreclosures, and I saw it from the frontline. 

Bob Preston  06:55
Well, your company jumped in and took advantage of that to, you know, help investors. So, all right, this is starting to come together for me. And I began to understand a little bit more about your run here. So, I know when I started my management company in the San Diego area. We started at zero doors, right? There were some sleepless nights, gut-wrenching conversations with my spouse, and ugly conversations with the owners of some of the bad properties we picked up. It is not a straight line of growth and success. Now, I don't know how your journey was, but maybe you can tell us about that, like in the early stages up through, you know, getting to 3900 doors, what was that journey? And what was it like during the early stages?

Travis Bohling  07:34
Yeah, you're spot on. I was young and having such a good time; looking back on it now, it was fun. But it was also very stressful. But yeah, it was a lot of hours and learning new skills. We were making turnkey investments before I knew that was a term like, we're always a foreclosure fixing them up and selling them to a long time, buy and hold investors. So, that was a whole new learning process. It was in 2011 that I got exposure to NARPM and all the thought leadership that was going on in the industry. It just, I don't know, was instrumental in scaling the business, as I did, and figuring out the operational mistakes not to make. I still made quite a few, but we all did.

Bob Preston  08:24
We were all learning together that was kind of the launching pad for the property management industry in many ways. You know what's come today?

Travis Bohling  08:35
I look back and think Steve Crossland was the first talk I ever heard from your phone. And I don't know if you've ever heard him talk—one of his lectures about saying no and the power of No. In the early days, I was willing to say yes to quite a few clients and allow quite a few right in the door that probably shouldn't have. And so when I heard that talk, I was like, Man, that is so true. Like I'm wasting my time on these clients that are just a bad fit. And so that was the most important thing I learned in the early days: to say no to things, pick your lane, and stick to it.

Bob Preston  09:10
I think that's a mistake we all made in the early days. When we were starting our company, North County Property Group in San Diego, we took on anything, and I quickly learned that the worst properties would take 80% of your time, and it ended up being a loss leader. So okay, it's great to have Dora in the check column, but okay, it's taking, you know, the team to its knees, you know, with all the overhead and everything that's been required to support it. So, alright, so rapid growth to 3900 doors. How long did it take to get to that point, and where were most of the properties acquired through the process you mentioned, like foreclosures and then investors buying foreclosed properties? Were those going on in batches, like did some investors come in and buy multiple properties and then give them to rent? That's why we started.

Travis Bohling  09:57
In 2011. We built up a portfolio of Probably 600 turnkey properties, so that was where we represented them from foreclosure renovation into management. So, 600 of those doors were fully turnkey. We were lucky in the early days; once we hit 600 entries, we found another company in Phoenix that was looking to exit. Okay. It was 800 doors. So, they were bigger than us. And we were able to acquire them for just; it was a steal of a price like these, these big consolidation firms weren't out there yet. So, we have zero days, and nobody knew what their PM company was worth. And we just got a great deal on that company. So that put us at 1400 doors within; I guess it was four years of launching. So that was, that was incredible, but also very stressful to scale that quickly. It was at that point that we found, I don't know if you know, Benton Cotter in the industry. But he came from one of our competitors here in town and had big ambitions to go nationwide with rent desks. And we brought him on as a partner. And he helped us expand to other markets. He was an early adopter of pay-per-click Google AdWords. So, we got in early on, paid eight cents on the dollar for online ads, and grew our portfolio that way. And then, we also did quite a few acquisitions. So, like, when we went into Atlanta, we bought, I think we bought three different small portfolios to get our foothold in the Atlanta market. So, a little bit of acquisition and some innovative marketing with pay-per-click back then.

Bob Preston  11:32
Wow, that's interesting. So, aside from Arizona, what other markets have you expanded into?

Travis Bohling  11:39
Oh, yeah, I guess the first market we jumped into was Las Vegas just because it's a short plane ride, and it doesn't like going into Las Vegas right now; the next one is Reno. I love Reno. Reno is just a fantastic market. And since we were in Nevada, we already had a brokerage license, like, let's go into Reno. So, we found two significant acquisitions in the Reno market. We were in Atlanta. We were in Tampa; we were in Dallas. We made the mistake of going up to the Pacific Northwest. We were in Portland, which is a tough market. Market, especially coming from Arizona. Yeah. So, there were some learning lessons about which markets to go into.

Bob Preston  12:20
What about California? Did you ever want to venture into California? Or was that too much of a danger zone?

Travis Bohling  12:27
I think our taste of Portland dissuaded us from going into California. So yeah, we stuck to the smile states as our strategy.

Bob Preston  12:37
That's incredible, though, because I know a lot of property management companies. I get to talk to a lot of them. They've tried expanding into other markets and have whiffed because they underestimated how different those markets were from their home base. And so, to do that, they had to go in and invest a lot of money. So, you were successful at that. What was the secret? From your perspective of expanding into these different markets, these disparate states, and then making it work for the company. 

Travis Bohling  13:06
It's nice that you can say that they weren't all successes; we had many failures like we made some bad acquisitions, like we bought some bad companies with bad cultural fit and bad owners. As it was, we experienced high churn because of it, right? We paid for all these doors, and then 50% walked out the door over the next 12 months in terms of churn. So, sir, we certainly did make some bad acquisitions. I think one model we proved that worked well was the organic growth model within these markets. So, I came up with the concept of let's have a market leader, a property manager, but that is also the business development manager. That way, we can expand into a market with low overhead but have an expert on the ground that's incentivized to grow that portfolio. So, we set up Google AdWords where we're driving leads to them, they're closing charges, and then handling the process of onboarding the owners, stabilizing them, finding their first tenant into the system, getting them used to rent best, and that worked great. Like us, we found great people motivated by money and just freedom and autonomy, like they were in Atlanta operating their own little minor or small business, basically is how it was set up. So that worked well. And I liked that model a lot. And I think the people that we recruited like that model a lot.

Bob Preston  14:24
Yeah, it wasn't as risky for them because they had the best of both worlds. It was almost like they had their own company within their market, but they were under the umbrella of RentVest. That's an excellent model. Okay, so ultimately, the decision was made to sell RentVest to Mynd, right? So how did that go down? Were you part of making that decision? What was involved? What was the impetus behind saying okay, let's sell?

Travis Bohling  14:48
Yeah, I was certainly part of the conversation. I had a different opinion from the two owners then and was against selling. I was having such fun running my vision and dream and building it from the ground up. I didn't want to sell like I did; I didn't want to adopt somebody else's vision. Although they did have mine, we sold them mine. So, they had an appealing sales pitch because they had the whole tech thing in the background, like, we can be a tech company.

Bob Preston  15:16
And what year was this? I'm guessing around 2019, somewhere in there?

Travis Bohling  15:23
The conversation started in late 2018. We met them at the NARPM convention and talked with them. And that's where it began. And then we closed the transaction—in April of 2019.

Bob Preston  15:35
Wow. Okay. So, what was that? Like, once you committed to selling the business? I've been through this, too. I sold my business to Pure. What was it like going through the selling process being acquired? And how did the team respond to that?

Travis Bohling  15:55
So, it was a tough time, especially to be the manager of this team of so many people, especially like our independent contractors, and all these new markets, they were like, you’re doing what?

Bob Preston  16:09
What does this mean for me right? 

Travis Bohling  16:11
Exactly, I had my own business. Now you want me to be an employee and get a salary. So, it changed the dynamic we had sold many of our people on. So, it was a shift. And we lost some people during that, for sure. We lost some owners during it. But it was also exciting. It was like the early days of starting rent fest just in terms of the pace of change and everything that was happening, and all the people I was meeting like I was meeting people with such experience, not necessarily from the property management industry that in mind had people from all over the educational background of experience. So, I got to meet some great managers and people that came from Fortune 500 companies. And just so, it helped me up my game. And I learned every single day of that experience. 

Bob Preston  17:02
That's very exciting.  I imagine you were probably one of their more significant acquisitions in the lifecycle of mind. Is that fair to say?

Travis Bohling  17:12
Yeah, it was we were we were of equal size. I think mine was at 3900 doors when they bought us. So we were equally sized. And they were, they were a lot of multifamily. And they were primarily on the west coast. So it was a great fit because we had all the smile states handled. They had the West Coast handle and multifamily experience; we were more SFR. So, it was a good fit at the time.

Bob Preston  17:37
I'm preparing for the podcast today. I returned and found the press release from when they acquired RentVest and described it as a merger, not an acquisition. So, I thought that was interesting.

Travis Bohling  17:46
It was like they were buying us for our management team and our footprint. So, it wasn't a merger.

Bob Preston  17:53
Well, good segue there. You stayed with Mynd for about four years in a management role. Right? Tell us about that. What was it like getting into the corporate side of things? I guess, for lack of a better term. Were you on the corporate side? And what was your role within the company? How was that experience for you working for the Mynd?

Travis Bohling  18:14
So, four years might seem like a short span, but our CEO Doug Brien, who described it as your time at a VC firm, is like dog years.

Bob Preston  18:23
Yes. I know exactly what you mean: I'm a former technology Silicon Valley guy. So, we used to describe it that way, so four years is pretty good.

Travis Bohling  18:32
Right? Yeah, it was a great exposure. Like I said, I would never take that experience back. And I learned so much during those days. So, when we first merged, my initial job was to run the RentVest team like nothing changed. The first few months, we ran our playbook, except mine took over HR. So, they were handling payroll. But we were still in charge of all the ops, so we decided to integrate slowly market by market. So, Phoenix was the first market we combined, and that was just because that's where I was. And I could help personally integrate into the mind ecosystem and move the mind software. I had been through so many acquisitions at that point that I had a pretty good or pretty firm grasp on how to do an investment and how to do a transfer. So, we started with Phoenix, which would have been, so we closed in April 2018. We did the Phoenix integration in August. And then we quickly did our second biggest market, which was Nevada. We integrated that in October. And then, by January of the following year, we combined the rest of the needs into the mind platform.

Bob Preston  19:45
Wow, that's fast. Now, some of our listeners might be considering selling or being acquired. So, this notion of integration is where the rubber hits the road, right? You've, you know, a property management company, you've sold your business, you're giving up the, I guess, the reins, if you will, to accompany that's acquired you. Now, you're going along with being fully integrated into their operation. So, what are the various aspects? I mean, I've been through this, too. So, I know what we went through at North County Property Group with Pure, but what was it like? What had to happen to be fully integrated?

Travis Bohling  20:28
So, RentVest, at that point, had made so many acquisitions we had our sort of acquisition playbook written out of almost trust in Sure. We reviewed all the due diligence questions and everything you needed to know about the operation you were taking over. So, when we partnered with Mind, we shared that with them. And they had been doing acquisitions at that point, too. So, they had their playbook. So, it was great because we combined the two playbooks. I was working directly with Ian Abernathy, my boss then; he had done it, supervising many of my integrations. So, we just collaborated on it and made sure that we checked off all the boxes; we went through every part of the business, starting an HR and going all the way down to your office. How much of your work? Do you want to lease? How much are your utility bills like? Did we do people mapping? That's a that's an important one you do like who is your current staff? What is their current role? How can they fit into the future company? And what can their role look like there? Because not our job descriptions didn't match my job description. So, it's probably the most complicated process and the most challenging part for me because I have personal connections with these people. So, I had to decide on their seat on the bus in the future. So yeah, that was that's the hard part.

Bob Preston  21:41
That's the tricky part. Yeah. Knowing which people will stay involved in the operation side or who might play a role at the corporate level, we had several of our team go; for example, our marketing manager is crucial in helping Pure with their corporate marketing. So that was a good fit. Same with accounting, did the counting team integrate? And was accounting taken over by corporate? That Wasn't

Travis Bohling  22:03
The initial plans, but because initially, they had their whole setup in Oakland. But then they met some of the people on our team and saw how high caliber they were. Sure, Nick quickly found the roles for them within his mind. And they had a remote, first type of management structure. So that watch time where they can work in Phoenix didn't matter. 

Bob Preston  22:28
What about the branding part? At some point, did Ren Fest have to give up the brand? And did it become mind-exclusively? Or was it co-branded? What was that process?

Travis Bohling  22:38
 I think I've seen what Pure has been doing, and it was very similar, like we did, for the first year; it was called RentVest, a Mynd company. That's what all the websites said. And that's what all our communications said. And then, after a year, people were used to the Mynd name at once, then we just wholly switched in mind. So, it was a gradual process to ease people into it.

Bob Preston  23:01
What was the day like when you announced it to your owners? I think that's probably the biggest fear most property management companies have. Okay, will we be in hot water with our owners if I sell? Are they going to be disappointed? How did that go for RentVest?

Travis Bohling  23:17
Yeah, those were the most challenging days when those emails, okay, when those email blasts went out to owners as I remember, I was on the phone, I don't know, at least 12 hours straight for a couple of days in a row just talking to owners talking them through the process explaining why we made the decision defining the value add that mine was going to bring to their portfolio and all of the technology in the background and how bigger is better for them. So yeah, that was a lot of personal handholding and talking to him on the phone. It was important because, in all our acquisitions, we realized that churn was a very high risk during the transition. So, we made sure that that was a top priority for us. And that's why we staggered the integrations. Do we do one market at a time because we knew that was all we could handle, just talking owners through it and ensuring they felt comfortable with the integration?

Bob Preston  24:03
Well, it's an incredible journey. And you've done a fantastic job through all those various stages. So, let's move into 2023. You started a new property management venture, Home Ladder. Okay, you were working with Mynd? Seems like you had a great corporate job. What was the impetus behind saying, hey, I'm ready to jump back in as an owner-operator and get back into the SFR market as an entrepreneur? How did you make that decision? And what finally made you return and do something on your own?

Travis Bohling  24:32
Well, my hand was forced. So, in the VC world, that strategy changes quarter by quarter, right? One of the quarterly strategy changes was to move as the property management ops team reported to me, so all the property managers and all the supporting operations. However, the strategy changed to move the PM team to the sales department, eliminating my role. They found a new function for me. They said, hey, we need your help to get Houston to make Houston run like Phoenix is. Phoenix was humming along, generating cash, and doesn't have churn. It was a well-run company and a well-run market. So, they said, why don't you go to Houston and do the same thing there? And I was like, well, I, I could do that. That does sound interesting. But I decided it was time for me to make a switch. So, the new year, new company, that was the plan, to start Home Ladder.

Bob Preston  25:42
So, this might be a loaded question. But when you were in your role of Mynd, as an entrepreneur at heart, was it challenging sometimes for you? You mentioned the board and stuff coming down from the board. I imagine, at times, you got your marching orders to implement in the field. How was that experience for you? I've had my own experience with that, too, at Pure. And that was a little bit hard for me to swallow at times, right? Taking what the company wanted to do at the corporate level and saying, okay, here you go, Bob, make this happen, versus being the one behind creating those plans. Did you find that to be the case? And was that kind of difficult to swallow at times?

Travis Bohling  26:24
It wasn't easy, for sure. Like, I remember some meetings I'd be in, and I'm sure your experiences and the people meeting where there are 30 plus people in a forum, and everyone has an opinion. And the meeting drags on and on. And then, we have a follow-up meeting about it. And still, no decision has been made. So that was the most challenging part for me because I like to move fast. I want to integrate quickly. I like to experiment often, right? And that's not possible with a company like that, with so many different decision makers in a departmental structure, where everybody has their little fiefdom within the company, and we must get buy-in from 16 department leaders to get even the most minor change made. So, that was the frustrating part for me. 

Bob Preston  27:11
Yes, my experience was similar. There wasn't anything wrong with it; it was just different, right? And the company, Pure, was doing the right things because they had to standardize across the country and put their standards and processes in place. But I couldn't move on a dime anymore. And that became very, very apparent. Okay. Tell us now about the new company. I think you're focused primarily on Phoenix, or do you have plans to go to other markets? Tell us about the company and what's happening with the Home Ladder.

Travis Bohling  27:44
So, Home Ladder was founded in March of this year; we're based in Phoenix. We plan to stay in Phoenix for this. For this time. I spent a lot of time with Southwest Airlines, and we're over the past ten years. So, I planned to travel less for at least the first year or two. Ladder. So yeah, we decided early on to get to 1,000 doors before considering opening a second market. And when we open a second market, that's going to be a place we'd like to visit because we know that we must be on the ground and running that with intention. Right. So yeah, we're a property management firm. We help owners buy, sell, renovate, and manage their properties.

Bob Preston  28:28
Did you pull a page out of the playbook from RentVest because it sounds similar? And then I have a second part of the question; I saw you use the term “investor agent” on your website. So, explain your strategy and what an investor agent is.

Travis Bohling  28:54
So, we don't want to be just rent collectors. With all the technology coming on board, that's not a significant objective you can have as a property manager. 

Bob Preston  29:04
I get it; you need to differentiate yourself. 

Travis Bohling  29:08
We want to be a trusted adviser for our clients to help them grow or shrink their portfolios depending on their needs. So, my focus is to become a trusted investment advisor for our landlord clients and help them make sound strategic decisions. I think of it like I had a lot of exposure to the institutional world in mind. And I feel like home ladders are here to bring institutional-level advice and strategic thinking to the retail mom-and-pop investor who doesn't have access to that curriculum. So that's,

Bob Preston  29:40
I got you, okay? That's interesting because it's positioned yourself a little bit differently. I've never heard of the “investor agent.” I've listened to trusted advisors before, but that's an overused term. And I liked how you've defined it, positioned yourself, and put a stake in the ground for what you want your company to be. And I love it, especially with your depth of experience now that you also have a partner in the business. 

Travis Bohling  30:04
I have two partners. My right-hand man, Brandon Graham, is my operations partner, with whom I’ve worked for eight years. He is just a genius in the property management world. And then we've got a third partner, Spencer Caldwell. He's a silent partner but one of Arizona's top wholesalers and foreclosure experts. 

Bob Preston  30:28
Okay, what does the team look like? And what's the makeup of the team? What does it look like?

Travis Bohling  30:42
The plan was that this was the year we would set the foundation, set everything up, and make our moves to prepare for 2024. So, the team right now is very lean. It's there's four of us. It's myself, Brandon, and Spencer. So, the three power partners and our first hire was Rachel Borden. She's worked with me for ten years as an accounting and back-end whiz. And everybody loves her. So, she's our director of ops to start with. Right now. It's Brandon and I running a portfolio where we know every investor, tenant, and vendor. So that's the foundation we're laying; we're looking for our first property manager hire. So, we'd like to get that person hired by the end of this year and be prepared to take on additional doors in 2024. But we're being patient, we're only going to we're only going to hire exceptional players. And make sure that they're the right cultural fit so that we can scale this correctly.

Bob Preston  31:42
It's very exciting. And, man, I remember those days, you know, the excitement of starting your gig and starting from zero and building it over time. All right, let's get into kind of a speed round here. I will ask you a few questions and love, love the journey. I find the story interesting. What do you know now that you wish you had known when doing RentVest? 

Travis Bohling  32:04
The most important lesson I learned was to build a bench, like a bench of players. So, the resident and owner experience is so important. And the level of communication and organization a person must have to maintain those relationships is so important. It's risky to interview and hire somebody, and it often turns out wrong.

Bob Preston  32:30
Probably 50% of the time, it can turn out poorly. I speak to many property managers, and most tell me they’re wrong with half of their hires, right?

Travis Bohling  32:39
And I learned that lesson the hard way, right? I lost many properties and had many bad experiences because I made a bad hire. That's one lesson: build a bench of Junior associates that you can give them, let them learn slowly, have a few interactions with owners and residents, and see how they do before you hand off a portfolio to them and beat them. Let them be the person in charge of communication. So, one lesson I've learned is to put them through some tests before you hand off a valuable portfolio to them to manage.

Bob Preston  33:11
Sure, build the bench and let them get some experience. Let them show what they can do before you jump in and, you know, give him the reins. I like that approach. Okay, from the reverse side, you've started this new business. What top two or three you learned previously through RentVest or Mynd you're using and implementing now at Home Ladder?

Travis Bohling  33:37
Yeah, so this one was tough for me. But one of the one of the core values for Mynd was remote first, right? They were based out of Oakland from the early days, as they believed in the remote workforce. In the RentVest days, I had very few remote employees. And I was still kind of distrusting of that model. Can I get good quality work out of people if they're working from home? So that's something that I completely changed my opinion on. And I'm completely bought into it now. If you find good quality people, you can trust them to be self-motivated and to work from their home or wherever they choose to work from and produce great results. It's an exceptional recruiting tool. Some people told me we could attract by offering remote first as a selling feature for property managers. 

Bob Preston  34:24
That's interesting. In many ways, in 2019 and 2020, our hands were forced during the pandemic to go with that model. And so many people never went back right. I like you, and the early stages were brick and mortar. Oh, we got to have an office people have to come in have to be able to, you know, drop off wrench is like so old school, compared to how most of us are running our businesses today.

Travis Bohling  34:45
Another one I can think of is just scale, right? Like, yeah, as I'm forming a home ladder, I'm thinking to myself, like even if I don't scale this to the size of mine, or to rent this, let's create systems from day one that would allow wants to scale if necessary. So, I think owner-operators should think about every time they try to change a system or process within their company, thinking to themselves, does this work with 1000 doors? Does this work at 3000? What should I be thinking of right now in terms of scale? That translates to a better experience for your owners and residents and more profit. 

Bob Preston  35:23
I always called that being ahead of the curve; I always want to look out for six to 12 months. It sounds like you're looking at it even further. But what am I going to need? We would always start a cycle of forecasting and budgeting about this time, in the fall for the coming year, and it was okay; what do we need? What are we worried are we going to need, and this is sort of what I spent my time on, to get, make sure we can, you know, facilitate bringing in more properties, bringing the same level of service. But now, with so many more doors, it was also a big forecasting thing. 

Hey, Travis. It was a fantastic conversation, and I love the journey you’ve been on, but in the interest of time, we will need to wrap up. So, what are your closing thoughts? And what else would you like to share with our listeners about your journey, and what would you recommend to people at any stage you've already experienced?

Travis Bohling  36:21
I reflect on the decision leading up to selling to Mynd back in the day, and one of the reasons we decided to go that route was because we feared that if we didn't join the more prominent company, we'd be left behind, right? The big companies would take over all the market share and force us out of business. So, we made that decision based on fear. And I think after seeing it from the inside, my advice to all the owner-operators out there is don't be scared of this consolidation play. Quality personal service will never go out of style; it will always have a market. Also, stay on top of technology, right? There are so many off-the-shelf technologies right now available to property managers; if you don't take advantage of those, you will get left behind, looking back to even 2011 When I started with property where property was brand new. It was so revolutionary to people back then, and think of how far we've gone since 2011. The next decade will vastly differ with all the new technologies with AI and a blockchain. And if you don't stay on top of that, you might as well sell to the consolidators because you will get left behind if you don't stay on top of technology.

Bob Preston  37:42
That's excellent advice. It's worth listening to if you've tuned into the show today. Travis, thank you so much for being on the show today. If someone wants to contact you or learn more about Home Ladder and what you're doing with your company and your services, what would be the best way to do that?

Travis Bohling  38:00
Yes, send me an email at or find me on LinkedIn. I love the conversations on LinkedIn. So please send me a connection request on LinkedIn, either of those works.

Bob Preston  38:10
I like some of your LinkedIn posts. You post provocative things about property management. So, follow him on LinkedIn for sure. You'll learn stuff just from his posts. Travis, thank you so much for being on the show today. I hope I'll see you in Atlanta at the NARPM conference. 

Travis Bohling  38:34
Perfect. Thank you, Bob.