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Successful entrepreneur and real estate investor since 1999 buying and selling residential and commercial properties. Elite Trainer and Elite Mentor for Robert Kiyosaki as an independent contractor, lastly a Consultant and Coach for companies that want to reach new and old clients with a old and new marketing and advertising expertise. If you or your company are looking for the maximum level of effectiveness for your team through personal development and defining of peoples strengths to maximize efficiency at the team and personal level then you have come to the right place.

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Stefan Aarnio: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the show Respect the Grind with Stefan Aarnio. This is a show where we interview people who’ve achieved mastery and freedom through discipline. We interview entrepreneurs, athletes, authors, artists, real estate investors, anyone who’s achieved mastery and examined what it took to get there.
Today on the show, I have my friend Travis Howard. He is a very well-known real estate speaker. He’s a marketer. He’s a good friend of my friend, and Aaron actually put us together. So great to have him on the show today. Travis, welcome to the show Respect the Grind. Thank you for joining me.

Travis Howard: Stefan, thanks for having me, man. Can’t wait to get chit-chatting about real estate and our businesses.

Stefan Aarnio: Now, I love how you talk, man. You’re from the south. Where are you from, North Carolina, South Carolina?

Travis Howard: Yep, in Charlotte. Yep, we’re about … I’m in the middle of the state. That’s where Charlotte’s at. A lot of people don’t know where it is exactly, but I’m about three hours from the nearest beach and about two hours to the nearest mountains.

Stefan Aarnio: Man, I’m jealous. I’m up here in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. I’m representing with my America sweater.

Travis Howard: I like it.

Stefan Aarnio: I wear it everyday as a Canadian, and people like to have hockey fights with me in the streets here.

Travis Howard: That’s great.

Stefan Aarnio: It’s cool, though, so North Carolina. Now, a mutual friend of ours, Aaron Adams, he does some markets. Charlotte is one of his favorites, North Carolina. Tell us a bit about the real estate market in North Carolina. Obviously, it’s one of the better gross markets in the US.

Travis Howard: It is, right? Currently, it’s one of the hottest markets in the country. It’s always between us and, say, Dallas, Texas. It seems to be … We’re a high-appreciating market. We didn’t get hit too bad in ’07, ’08 because of what our industry is.
We’re number two in the banking industry behind Manhattan in New York, so most people don’t even know that, yeah, for headquarters. It’s a great little story too, and we can get into that later. But Charlotte is a phenomenal market.
We’ve got good rent, and they’re turning into great rents. The numbers are going up. Just from three years ago, properties, because I also had a property management company, just like Aaron does. And I’d say my rent have went up a good 25 to 30% just in, say, the last three years. So it was pretty ridiculous on how quickly things were moving.
Re-gentrification throughout the city, the city’s put in a lot of money into the market itself in any and all of the different income levels, which is great. They’re even helping out a lot on the commercial side. For making businesses that look a little bit rundown, they’re putting a lot of cash into those too, so it’s good.
Charlotte’s is rocking. I think your probably looking at, right now, in the neighborhoods because it’s very micro not macro. I’d say in most of the neighborhoods that I work in right now, we’re making about 15 to 18% appreciation, per year, in those alone.

Stefan Aarnio: Boy, it is … That’s hot as a pistol. I was down in Dallas in 2016. I was going to move there actually, and Dallas was stupid hot, man. It went from … I don’t know … average to almost 200. It went to 300. It just-

Travis Howard: Overnight.

Stefan Aarnio: Oh, oh, it was crazy, man. I love it. I love it, so we kind of just jumped into it. For the people at home who don’t know you, Travis, can you tell the people at home a little bit about you and your story so we know a bit about your background?

Travis Howard: Yeah, for sure. I actually started back in ’99, the summer of ’99, and then doing it full-time ever since. I got out of college and got my English degree [crosstalk 00:03:36]-

Stefan Aarnio: Dude, I got an English degree too.

Travis Howard: There you go. We’re pretty much unemployable, when it comes down to it, unless you want to be a teacher or professor, and that’s what I actually wanted to do until I found out what kind of money they didn’t make. And I went, “Well, that’s not necessarily what I want to do now.”
So went and got a college … Went and actually got my licenses to sell stocks, bonds, and insurance, so I did that for about a year. And I was the furthest thing from math, as it sounds like yourself, or that’s what you and I both do all day now is just look at numbers. So did that. I hated it after about a year and then bounced into real estate.
I started getting educated. It took two months to do my first deal ever, and after that, the grind was on. I figured it out. I was like, “I don’t have to have … I don’t have to have a boss. I don’t have to have somebody tell me this or that.” I got to wake up whenever I wanted to, which is even earlier because a job, you get up whenever they want you too.
But now, I get up really early every morning because I choose to do and I can, which is pretty awesome. But I got into the business, and I just started loving it, man. Got into single-family apartments immediately. Starting doing trailer parks, trailers, all kinds of different real estate, and land and [new builds 00:04:48] back in the day.
And then fast forward to about four years later, and I had some folks ask me to start educating. So I started traveling around the country three or four times a month, doing mentoring, one-on-one consulting, and then I started doing classes. So that’s what I still do. And that’s my love. That fills my soul.
Just like you, just like Aaron, it’s something with the teaching, but we really do it. That’s the whole thing. It’s not the, oh, if you can’t do it, you got to teach it. It’s like, no, we actually teach because I love it because I get to give back, so it’s pretty cool.

Stefan Aarnio: That’s awesome. I love this story, man. I got the English degree too. My mother says to me, “Hey, go get an education degree. You’ll be a teacher just like me.” My mom is an English education thing.
And you know what? It’s funny. I’m here in my office. I got a whole curriculum, written five books. I’ve got courses. I’ve made all this stuff, and she looks at me and goes, “Maybe one day, if you’re lucky, you can teach at a college.” I said, “What are you talking about? I make millions of dollars in real estate. Why would I want to go teach in a college? What are you over there?” Oh, my goodness.

Travis Howard: Dude, exactly. It took me several years, and then I hit my … I was always six-figures, and then you hit the seven-figure marker. And everything changes. What I used to do, the schooling stuff, is great. Nobody can ever take it from us, right? That’s the one thing. We can write well. We can read well. We can comprehend well. I think that helps us a lot under the surface is  what do on a daily basis – And what I’ve learned from the marketing perspective is that it makes it so, though, I listen even more to each word that they say because I know what each word can really mean. So I take that, and I use that in my negotiations, explaining contracts, anything that deals with a lot of what you and I went to school for. It’s just not necessarily, exactly what it was.
I love it. I mean, I can’t … I’m glad that I did it. Now, I would’ve have taken a different path. I’m pretty sure, if I would’ve known that I was going to be doing real estate, just to be able to understand numbers a little bit quicker and a little bit better, but I love getting my degree. That’s for sure.

Stefan Aarnio: Well, there’s only two subjects. I figured this out when I was in the university. You guys say college. We say university in Canada. I remember I was trying to figure out what to major in because I kind of got good marks at most things.
And what it came down to was there’s two subjects. There’s math and English. That’s it. It’s not Chinese. It’s not Hungarian. It’s not German. It’s not French. It’s English because they’re ruled the world. The English ruled the world. And it’s mathematics, pure math.
And so I decided it’s either going to be math … I was going to get really good at math or really good at English. Somehow, I had a rock band and decided I wanted to write good lyrics to pick up girls, so I ended with the poetry in English. But you’re right. It does with negotiating, copywriting … It’s huge, man.
So Travis, most people have the rags-to-riches story, or they have, “Oh, my life was so hard before.” Before you reach the point of success in real estate, do you have a story like that where life was hard before, or was it always just pretty easy?

Travis Howard: I grew up in a blue-collar household. My dad worked at IBM. My mom was a entrepreneur, but she didn’t make all that much money. She [inaudible 00:08:04] just kind of kept her busy type of thing.
So growing up, my dad also had a paint contracting company, so that’s what I always did. So he started paying me at eight years old, $2.50 an hour. And that’s what I did. And I started to actually learn how to invest back then because I put it into whatever. Sports cards, memorabilia, things like that.
So going through, getting through college, which I was always … I was a soccer coach. I waited bar, so I was a bartender. I also waited tables. When I did all these things, just to be able to pay for books for school, for things like, and my living expenses, but whenever we got started into the business, in ’99, it was funny.
Our first seven rehabs that we did, I lived in them. Actually, it was the second, started on the second rehab, is wherever we started, I started living in each one of the houses. I’d move into it. We’d work on it. We’d get it done, and I was making no money. And any money that we made, I was paying back out of my education I had paid for or I just had all this debt from the last couple of years I was being in college and doing stocks and all that staff. So I was just tearing it up. I was just working my tail off.
One of the big challenges that I ran into was … It’s like I wasn’t taking any money for myself, at all, just to breathe. I didn’t buy anything. I was peanut butter and jelly. I was all that. I was ramen. That’s what I did for about three years. And we were making killer money by about the first 12 to 18 months. After that, we just started killing it. But before that, we were just getting by.
I mean, we were just trying to pay the bills that we had. I had quit my job after two weeks of getting into the business because I was like, “This is fun. I see how I can make this work,” and then that took us two months. But after everything was said and done, I mean, it wasn’t a true rags-to-riches. It was I had to hustle everyday, though, in order to pay bills. So that’s pretty much my rags-to-riches if you want to call it that.

Stefan Aarnio: I love the peanut butter stories. I love the ramen stories. I love the living in my car stories.

Travis Howard: Yeah.

Stefan Aarnio: It’s crazy, man. Living in your deals, it’s funny. I got this luxury condo I was flipping then, so I moved into it. And now, I’m like, “Screw it. I’m just going to rent it out.” And right now, I floating between four different properties. I’m kind of like you. I’m like, “Hey, well, who cares where I live? All my mail goes to my office.”

Travis Howard: Right.

Stefan Aarnio: “Well, you just got properties. Dude, where are you going to live, man?” I’m like, “I don’t know. We have a whole bunch of units. Who cares?”

Travis Howard: It doesn’t matter. Yeah, a lot of people, they got to have that security blanket or whatever and be like, “Well, this is my home.” I’m like, “Home is wherever I go and lay down.” And it can even be at a hotel. I don’t care. It can be in a car. That would suck. However, it happens with a lot of folks. But yeah, I don’t care. I’m down for whatever. As long as I’ve got something to eat, and I’ve got a roof over my head, bring the damn hat.

Stefan Aarnio: I’ll say this. I don’t want to sound sexist, but that’s a man thing. Men, we’ll live anywhere. Women, “Get me a house. Get me a house. I want to sleep in a bed.” Guys’ like, “I’ll sleep in the car.”

Travis Howard: Dude, totally.

Stefan Aarnio: I’ll do anything. Now, and Travis, out of all the things, I remember when I was younger. I looked at real estate, and I was like, “Man, that’s boring,” and real estate didn’t become interesting to me until my rock band dream kind of fizzled. I wanted to be a rockstar.
I got to the musician life, and I was like, “Man, this sucks,” and then real estate suddenly … When I needed money, real estate became very interesting. Were you always interested in real estate, or was there a moment where the light bulb turned on, and you’re like, “Hey, this is totally different than anything else-.

Travis Howard: Yeah, actually, it’s funny that you say that. The first thing that I learned, I was 18, I graduated from high school, and my girlfriend at the time … Her dad was the big exec at IBM, so he got me a job at IBM for summer, right? I’m 18 years old, I’m there for 30 days, and they moved me into a management position at 18. And I had eight people working under me at 18. I had a 60-year-old gentleman working under me, and I just went, “This isn’t for me. I don’t ever want to be an employee. This sucks.” So that’s whenever I was about to start college, so I got through college.
Then I got into doing the stocks, bonds, and insurance. And I remember, I was sitting in my booger-green cubicle. I was just like, “This is hell,” no windows. I’m in one of the most beautiful areas in Charlotte up by SouthPark Mall, and it’s one of the ritzy areas. And I’m sitting in a room with no windows, no nothing. I’ve got guys sitting around me in the same green cubicles, and all we’re doing is cold calls all day long. I get a phone call, and my mom’s like, “Hey, what are you doing?” I was like, “I’m in hell.” And she said, “Are you serious?” And I’m like, “Do I sound like I’m kidding?” So I hated it so much. And I teach … From my teaching side, I always tell people. I’m like, “If you really, really, really are in pain, you’ll leave whatever it is.” I was in that much pain. Two weeks later, I was out of that job. I just immediately quit. I went into my boss, we went, and we talked to some guys that were doing a lot of real estate stuff. I got snagged like it’s an… I was like, “I’d be a complete idiot if I didn’t start doing this real estate stuff. It doesn’t make sense to me.” It’s not rocket science. It’s that whole thing like it’s five miles long and four inches deep. It’s very simple, but you have to work your butt off in order to make it work. And you’ve got to be in front of people constantly. So instead of me doing it with the stocks, bonds, and insurance, now I’m doing it with real estate. But I’m helping people immediately. Now, doing the stocks, bonds, and insurance help people make money, but this to me was a whole different ball game. And I didn’t have to sit in an office all day long. Right now, if I didn’t want to be in my office, I just go out, and I look at houses. I go knock on doors. I talk to neighbors. Just like you just said, I’ll go and buy my neighbor’s house. I just have to know the relationships. That’s not what I’d ever gotten from anything prior to getting into real estate. And I got to see the returns. I got to see the assets, the tangible asset that I can ensure that if it burns down, I get my money back. It just made sense to me. It’s the simplicity of it altogether. And I already know I can work. I’ll work my tail off as much as I actually have to, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. That’s the easiest part for me, and most people are good with that, as you and I both know. That’s one of the biggest thing is, as the show is, it’s the grind, that grind. If you don’t grind, you don’t get shit. You don’t get nothing. But if you go out, and you’re whooping ass, and you’re working it everyday, but not just working, but working smart because anybody can work, but you got to work smart so that get deals, that you make money, that you’re marketing, and doing all those things. You’re finding money, you’re finding motivated people, and you’re finding buyers. Man, you can’t beat it. It’s the best.

Stefan Aarnio: I love what you said there about disgust, or that moment where you’re just like, “No,” and everybody I talk to like Jim Row and Tony … who’ve all mentored-. He said the first part of change is disgust. You have to be disgusted with yourself. You have to be in pain. That’s when people make a decision to change.
I remember I was loading my band gear at 3:00 in the morning in the back of my old, shitty Station Wagon. I think I got 50 bucks or a punch in the face at the end of the night, and I thought, “No, man. We’re not doing this anymore.”
Now, Travis, it’s all about leverage. I love what you said there, too. It’s not just hard work, it’s working smart. And what you said there about … Anybody can work hard. If it was really just all about hard work, construction workers and waitresses would be the richest evil.

Travis Howard: And killing it, yeah.

Stefan Aarnio: Yeah, now the thing that I thing separates a business owner, someone like yourself or myself and somebody who kind of owns a job, is marketing. Now, I want you to tell me a little bit about the marketing you guys are doing for deals.
Whenever I speak to people about real estate, they’re always like, “Man, how do I find the deals. How do I find the deals at 40, 60 cents on the dollar?” Marketing’s a huge piece of it. Let’s hear about some of the marketing you do because that’s … You referred to me as a master marketer.

Travis Howard: Yeah, for sure, so one of the big things that everybody needs to understand is that if you have no marketing, you don’t make money. That’s what it comes down to. To kind of give you an idea, I do about 15 houses, on average, a month. I buy, I rehab, and I resale them. Or I rent them out. That’s on my average, which is about 15’ish.
One month, I might have 25. One month, I might have 12, but they’re about … The biggest piece that I can ever teach anybody is how to get your [phone to ring 00:17:00]. It’s either you got to get your phone to ring, or you got to out. And like we were just talking about, you got hustle, one way or the other.
So a couple other things. One of the big things I know that you and Aaron had discussed about me was I do a ton of direct mail. So my direct campaigns, I might send out between 10 to 15,000 thousand mail pieces for a month. Now, that may seem like a lot to some and seem like very little to others. For me, what I need to hit is my number. I want to hit 15 to 20 houses a month. And for what I send out, if it’s 10, 15, or even 20,000 pieces, I know what my percentages are going to be.
I know how many things I have to send out in order to get the deals. As of right now, here’s an example. For about every 2,000 to 2,500 pieces of mail that I send out, I’ll get a house, so, right.
So if you look at the math of it, well, then it kind of depends on how many houses you really want to get or that you could afford to get on a monthly basis. So that’s just one piece of the puzzle or the pie that we do a lot of. And Aaron does a lot of the direct mail also.

Stefan Aarnio: Now is that … 2,500 pieces, is that addressed mail with their name and their address on it?

Travis Howard: Yes, it’s very, very specific what I send to and who I send to. I don’t want to do to today’s resident, to-

Stefan Aarnio: Your homeowner.

Travis Howard: Yeah, that does not … And I have tested that in the past. And I already know for a fact I’m not going to do that. In fact, from all of my different testing, one of the biggest things that you have to learn in marketing, which I’m sure you know, is you have to test everything.
And this is what’s really weird, that I felt was weird, about 10 years ago, whenever I really, really started pumping in a lot of direct mail, is you’re in Canada. So let’s say that … I’ve been to Toronto before, a great city, huge city, big population, blah, blah, blah, so how many people are in your town?

Stefan Aarnio: Winnipeg’s about 800,000.

Travis Howard: Okay, so 800,000, so we’ve got about 2.2 here in Charlotte as the example. So I know that if I’m going to hit my numbers, one, I have to have enough numbers. And the reason why I’m bringing this up, it’s important for some of you guys that are listening to this that if … I won’t choose any market, any city, or town unless it’s got at least 50,000 people because that gives me enough to pretty much … You could do that for the reminder of your life and be all right.
Now, if you’re in Winnipeg, and you’ve got 800,000 people, you can build a huge team to be able to market to all of those folks to be able to handle the phones, to go knock on doors, things like that. But what you have to do is you have to get consistency in this marketing. So you need to figure out, one, what your budget is, right? So have a budget. That’s what your first goal is. But you have to ask yourself, “Well, then what’s a postcard cost?” Because all of them are going to be postcards or what’s called yellow letters.
So a postcard, just a figure, is going to cost you 50 cents per postcard. Simple math, right? It really costs me about 43 to 46 cents, but let’s just use 50 cents. So if you’re going to have to send out … You already know for a fact every 2,000 postcards you send, you’re going to get a house. That’s $1,000 that you’re spending on your marketing.
It’s not shabby, considering you’re going to make, probably, 5 to $50,000 on that asset investment. Most people don’t look at it that way. I’ve learned it over and over. Most people are like, “Oh, god, but I’ve got … How do I know it’s going to work?” Well, you don’t, and this is that piece.
You’re in Winnipeg. I’m in Charlotte. I could give you the exact same postcard that I use in Charlotte that I get at least one a half to a 2% return on, right? I could give it to you, Stefan, and you could send it out, and you might get three phone calls out of the 2,000.
Where I’m going to hopefully get, I’m shooting for at least one and a half to 2%, so your return could be absolutely horrid. And what it comes down to is, is your market and my market are completely different things because everything is so minute that you have to figure out what’d going to work. And I learned this from whenever … I’ve been to 49 states.
I’ve done business in 49 states in the United States and working with one-on-one with folks, like I’m doing with you as an example. So if you’re my client, and you hire me on, and I’m going to fly to Winnipeg as the example, I’m going to say, “Hey, look. Here’s 10 postcards. You need to test everyone of these and see which one’s going to get you the best return in your market.”
And I’ve had it, and people go, “Wait, so you’re saying … But I thought you were the expert?” And I’m like, “Yes, I am the expert in this.” And they go, “Well, why can’t you tell me which one’s going to work in Winnipeg because I’ve never sent a mailer to Winnipeg?” “That’s exactly why.” And they’re like, “Oh, okay, well, I guess this makes sense,” and now, I’ve given you 10 postcards that you need to go out and we need to test and see which one’s going to actually get your phone to ring the most out of all the 10.
Then you’re going to take that one that worked the best, and you’re going to take the other nine, and you’re going to start testing it against it, every single week or every three to four weeks, however often your budget allows you to send another set of mailers. Making sense?

Stefan Aarnio: I love it. I love it, man. We got a binder in our office with the piece we sent, the stats. You flip through it, and you see, oh, the blue sticker on it was better than the red sticker [crosstalk 00:22:13].

Travis Howard: Exactly.

Stefan Aarnio: And the red ink is better than the blue ink. And the lines on the paper is better than no lines. What I love about what you’re saying, Travis, is it really concerns something for me. We’re doing some online PPC, paper click, right now.
And a lot of guys are saying it’s about three grand to get a deal. And you’re saying it’s 2,000 mailers [to get a deal 00:22:36]. Up here, mailers costs me about $1.45 a piece at postage and a letter and the print and getting [crosstalk 00:22:42].
In Canada, we have to go to the city and pull every single tax roll manually. So to pay someone to do that and drive the neighborhood and [inaudible 00:22:51] $1.45 a piece. And 2,000 units at $1.45 is 3,000 bucks, which is the same as PPC, which is 3,000 bucks a deal. It’s the same thing, and you’ll make 10, 15 grand a deal.
The numbers, what I love about it is the truth is the truth. And no matter where you go across the line, it’s going to be the same kind of thing to get the same result. I love it, man. It’s-

Travis Howard: Exactly, yeah, because you got to … Yeah, exactly, because you got to know exactly what your costs per lead is and your costs per closing. That’s the whole piece.
It’s hilarious to me that you said that. We don’t have any left now, but just about three years ago, we had city offices that I still would have to go to and do the exact same thing, what you were just talking about, and go hit their old-school computer in their office to be able to get the owner’s name, the owner’s address, and actually speaking off, just so that you can understand how to do it, and I used what’s called Click2Mail. I don’t know what or who you use for your mailers or how you got to do it.

Stefan Aarnio: We do it ghetto, man. Microsoft Excel mail merge, so ghetto.

Travis Howard: Nice.

Stefan Aarnio: Ghetto, man.

Travis Howard: That’s great, so what we have setup is, is Click2Mail. So it’s click, the number two, is what I use. And that’s in the US because it’s United States Postal Service website. And I upload that Excel spreadsheet that you have to go and get, right?
I’ve already gotten my credit or my credit cards in there. Now, I’ve got my mailing list uploaded, and now all I’ve got to go is make my postcard. And after that, all I’ve got to do is hit enter. And that maybe sent out.
It normally takes three to four days, and they start hitting … And the people in my state will receive a postcard from me within, normally, the first three to five days that I’ve sent. And about day number seven, the out-of-state owners in North Carolina will start receiving all of my mail. So I [inaudible 00:24:40] I think is [timed out 00:24:41].

Stefan Aarnio: I was going to say we’ve done direct mail. Now, we’re a little smaller up here. We’re doing 200, 300 pieces a week consistently, and what would happen is everybody would call at Wednesday at 2:00 when the mail guy dropped it off. So then you get 100 calls, all coming in. And then it would have a [half life 00:25:00] over seven days. And we’d be less and less and less. And then after about week, it’d be totally dead. And you get some guy calling you a year later who’s crazy.

Travis Howard: You’re exactly right, 100 .. No, 100%, and I know you really do mailers by what you just said. That’s how I can always tell. And that’s what’s so phenomenal is, yeah, because your first week, you get blown up. Our phone starts ringing at 3:30, normally because we’ll send it Friday or Saturday. Monday, our phone starts pounding. At 3:30 to 4:00, we’ll start getting calls, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, and handing the phone off to everybody, right?
So it will. It’ll last a week. I’m still getting pounded, and it drops through the days. But every mailer, I would tell everybody that you have two weeks. After two weeks, then there’s those outliers, but normally, those are the ones that I’ll even get. But it’ll be six months down the road.
But yeah, it’s two-week timeframe is what I tell everybody. I don’t know how they do it in Winnipeg or how you guys, how mailers and everything will work, but as an example, [depending 00:25:56] on your budget, we send mailers every single week, not to the same house, because we want to hit five to seven mailers per house, whenever we’re sending [inaudible 00:26:05].
I try to get my guys to do it every three to four weeks depending on what the neighborhood is. So if it’s a really hot, hot neighborhood, every three weeks, that same house address will get a mailer from me up to seven times. Then I take six months off, and then I’ll start pounding them again. After the six months, it comes backs in.

Stefan Aarnio: I was going to say, man. Six months is another magic number because for some reason in marketing, and this isn’t just paper marketing or offline, it takes about six months for people to think it’s a new idea again. “Oh, hey,” brand new.
It’s funny. We do four events a year. We do Blue Print to Cash, and then we cool it off for six months. Then six months later, we pull it back in, and do we 100K Challenge. Then six months, we cool it off again, so [inaudible 00:26:47], oh, man, it’s going in the Disney Vault” It’s going away, and then boom, it comes back.
Travis Howard: It goes back out, yeah. It’s great. Here’s something I would highly suggest to all of the folks that are listening is to get a really good marketing calendar. So start a great marketing calendar, and that’s going to be something that’s huge that most people never ever do and-

Stefan Aarnio: Dude, it’s right there.

Travis Howard: Boom, done. I love it.

Stefan Aarnio: [inaudible 00:27:15].

Travis Howard: I was at my office. I’ve got the same thing, so you have … And guys, you have to do it because if you don’t have a marketing calendar, I promise you, you’re going to forget. And your inconsistency is also going to be the same in your bank account.

Stefan Aarnio: Oooh.

Travis Howard: [Your inconsistency 00:27:32] of your market is the inconsistency in your bank account. And to me, it’s big. So you got your marketing calendar. You’ve got your daily marketing, things that you have to do, and make sure you just keep doing it over and over.
And understand, your first … Your first mailer, you’re going to hopefully hit … The average, [inaudible 00:27:51] kind of give just from all the different research and details that I’ve read over the last few months, and I keep track of a lot of different marketing things.
On average, direct mail brings in about half of 1%. Bank of America is an example or Wells Fargo. When they send out mail, they’re looking for what would … Just half of 1% return to contact and back and-

Stefan Aarnio: Wow.

Travis Howard: Yeah, it’s unbelievable, right? So the next piece is for every piece of mailer that you send to a house, again and again, you’re looking at … You should be able to get between 80 to 87% increase of callbacks to you per mailer that you do.
So if you think about the numbers, by the time you hit your fourth mailer, and I’m sure you’ve seen it also, is by the time I hit my third, my calls were definitely better. But by the fourth mailer, I’m taking deals down.
But look how much money I’ve had to spend to get there. I’m on my fourth mailer. I’ve had to continuously follow up. I’ve had to send all those mailers. I love it in the [background 00:29:01]. It’s beautiful.

Stefan Aarnio: Yeah, we got some-

Travis Howard: Another deal?

Stefan Aarnio: He’s doing … This is the overall cash collected of one campaign actually.

Travis Howard: Beautiful. I love it. That’s awesome.

Stefan Aarnio: Yeah, here’s Ian. We’ll get him-

Travis Howard: Hey, what’s up, Ian? How are you, brother?

Stefan Aarnio: Yeah, he’s young, man. He’s 21, but he’s doing business like he’s 41.

Travis Howard: That’s awesome.

Stefan Aarnio: Yes That’s good. Yeah, so let’s come back. And you’re saying an 80% increase on the second, third, fourth, fifth penetration.

Stefan Aarnio: Usually, seven is the magic number of penetrations and it’s interesting, again. Coming back to sales, you got to get seven no’s, usually, before-

Travis Howard: You get a yes.

Stefan Aarnio: You get a yes.

Travis Howard: Yeah.

Stefan Aarnio: So it’s the same numbers, man. People always say to me … They’re like, “Oh, dude, it’s different here.” I’m like, “What are you talking about. It’s human nature. It’s the same-

Travis Howard: It’s not  Exactly.

Stefan Aarnio: -the same Shakespeare play, same Roman empire, same everything over and over again.”

Travis Howard: Well, as I’m sure you love it, I love whenever people tell me what you just said, like, “Oh, it looks different here.” I’m like, “Oh, okay, just like motivated sellers, right? So people die differently in Winnipeg. People divorce differently in Winnipeg than in Charlotte. They don’t lose jobs in Winnipeg. Oh, really? Oh, okay.”
So I just tell them. I’m like, “Oh, I didn’t that you’re so different there,” but, that, it drives me nuts when people say that. And I know you got to hear it all the time. They say it constantly and consistently. It’s like, “Well, it’s so different here, or the people are different.” I’m like, “No, people are people. It’s the same thing. You just got to figure out what words in your content are going to make a difference so that they want to call you, in your area.” That’s it.

Stefan Aarnio: Yeah, one thing that we get in Canada a lot, the average home in Canada is $480,000 for the country. The big centers, it’s a million, million one, million two in the Vancouver and Toronto.
So the dollar volumes are high. I’m in Winnipeg, which is the butt hole of Canada. It’s not a super-nice market. It’s like the Indianapolis, shout out to Aaron, or maybe a Kansas City. It’s a value market.

Travis Howard: Right. Exactly.

Stefan Aarnio: And the average home here is about $320,000. And people always say, “Oh, Stefan, it’s so great. You can do a deal a week in Winnipeg. You can do that in Winnipeg. We can’t do that here in Vancouver.” And I go, “Look, Dude, there’s people in Vancouver wholesale. They would knock on grandma’s door, tie up grandma’s house for $700,000, sale it to a Chinese investor for a million, pocket at $300,000 wholesale fee.
Travis Howard: Everyday.

Stefan Aarnio: And then the government comes in and tries to stop that, but they can’t because there’s always a way to do the paperwork in some way that’s legal. And there’s guys doing that. But I get people in Vancouver saying, “I can’t do it,” or people in Toronto. I’m like, “Dude, are you kidding? You got a million-dollar home. You can get $100,000 wholesale fee out there.” I’m getting $3,000 for a wholesale. I’m getting $5,000 for a wholesale, but they’re getting-

Travis Howard: Right. Exactly. I call it my pissed off test. Who should be more pissed off, me in a not as high-price market or you that’s in the high-price market? I always give examples through direct mail is that, to me, it’s the perfect example.
So I ask. I say, “Well, how many phone calls do you think you … No, how many houses do you need to buy to make $200,000 in San Fran, right?” And everybody’s like, “One.” I go, “Okay, so I might have to buy four, okay, maybe two. But let’s just say it’s four in Charlotte, to make $200,000. So how many closes do I have to deal with? How many attorneys do I have to deal with? How many sellers do I have to deal with?”
So we’re going through all these things. I said, “The real question is this. How many times and how many phone calls did you have to answer in San Francisco market, and do you have to take the 200 phone calls like I did to get the four deals? Did you have to do the same amount of phone calls to make the same amount of money?” And the answer is yes. That’s the thing that people don’t get. And you’re in a high-price market. Yeah, you probably don’t have … One, you don’t have as many houses to work with, right, in most cases.
And then on top of that, people are going to … As you get in a higher-price market, you’re more educated on stuff. They know how to find things. They know numbers differently, and then you’re going to still only … You’re going to have that one person that just inherited a property that they’re just like, “I just want to get rid of this piece of shit. I [don’t really care about anything 00:33:34] else. I just want my $200,000 cash, and I’m walking.”
You have to understand that your marketing stuff still comes back to the same thing is you’ve got to get just as many leads in Winnipeg or in Indy or Kansas City and Charlotte. [All of us 00:33:49] to make the same amount of money, it’s a wash. It’s either you’re putting time or you’re putting the energy and effort into it.

Stefan Aarnio: I love that. I was down in … I was at Tai Lopez’s house about a month ago, and we’re in West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Bel Air. I look up on the telephone pole. We buy houses sign.
I go three blocks south of … What is that? Was it Sunset Boulevard, and there is a We buy ugly houses,” billboard. Homevestors is there. Then they got the telephone pole with 10 [bandit 00:34:26] signs or 7 bandit signs. And I’m going, “Dude, people are hustling here with their bandit signs in Beverly Hills and West Hollywood.” And what’s a house in Beverly Hills, 20 million dollars, 50 million dollars?

Travis Howard: Oh, yeah, it’s-

Stefan Aarnio: And there’s guys doing deals. And there probably is some old grandma there who lost her mind and needs [crosstalk 00:34:45].

Travis Howard: And that’s it.

Stefan Aarnio: Grandma died, and they’re doing one deal. It’s just like I got a guy here in Winnipeg. Winnipeg caps out at two million. Two million, nobody wants to live here for more than two million. It’s like that’s the end of the price point.
And I got a student of mine. He does a million a half dollar deals, so he’s doing the luxury, four or five times the median home. And was saying, “Dude, the whole game is insider, who knows who.” He said the rich people, they don’t trust the mailers anymore, so you got to go direct through the agents and really hush, hush. And I think he buys for 5, $600,000. Sells for a million and a half.

Travis Howard: Right-.

Stefan Aarnio: Same thing, over and over again, the people say it’s different everywhere. Why do you think that is, Travis? Why do people think that they’re different or their market’s different?

Travis Howard: Honestly, I think it’s they just want to have an excuse for something that doesn’t work again. They want to be lazy, and that gives an excuse to not be able to have to go out and hustle.
People don’t know how to hustle. That’s what I keep seeing over and over. Even if you’re a green … I’m a green-light, red-light person. I’m either on, on, on or I’m off.
If I’m sitting there reading a book, that’s my off. If I’m eating dinner, that’s my off remote, but I still answer my phone. But that’s the thing. And I don’t think that people have … People think that the yellow light, the middle light, is okay. And I’m like, “No, you got to … If you’re going to work, work smart, work fast, work with efficiency. Figure out what you’re best at.
And even in the market.” I mean, I’ve got people in my … I’ve got acquisitions managers in my office, and I ask them whenever I come in. And they’re like, “Hey, can I come and work?” And I’m like, “Yeah, come on in my office, and I’ll tell you exactly what you can do.”
I send them out immediately to go knock on doors. One of the most difficult things that everybody thinks is so difficult, it’s like you just go on doors. You talk to people. You build these relationships, but most people will never get off the couch to go get a door knocking just to start it. They just won’t do it because of fear of whatever it is. So they’ll come up with some excuse. “Oh, you can’t door-knock in my area.” I mean, I’ve heard it all. “Oh, you can’t put bandit signs out.”
One of the funniest ones, I’m with a client, was several years ago. We’re in his car, and I can’t remember … It was in LA somewhere, and he says, “Well, I’m not going to put my signs up. Look, everybody’s got their signs up.” I went, “Seriously, dude? That’s what you really think?” I said, “How long have those signs been up?” “Oh, they’ve been up there for years.” I go, “Dude, you’re still not getting this are you?”
He just went, “Well, what am I missing?” I was like, “Everything.” I said, “If they’re still putting signs up, and signs are always consistently here, they probably work.” “Oh, that makes sense,” because I do bandit signs. Literally, I’ve got … Actually, I took them out of my car, but I have them at my office.
I’ve got guys who that put out my bandit signs still. I’ll even put them out. I feel like I’m doing something that I’m not supposed to be doing, so it’s kind of fun sometimes. But I use bandit signs. We go knock on doors. I’ll go out and knock on doors. Most of the time, I’m not the person that’s doing it. I’ve trained all of my people in my office to go out and do that for me. But they know how to do it because I’ve taught them.
It’s not anything difficult, but that’s huge marketing. If you want to make six figures, go learn to knock on doors. But I don’t know how it would work up in Canada or in Winnipeg. But I’m sure you’ve knocked on doors before.

Stefan Aarnio: Dude, I knocked on a door this morning. I walked two houses down, I knocked on the door, and I got a meeting. I got a meeting now, private vendor. “Hey, I heard you wanted to sell. I’d like to buy. I’m your buyer. Tell the other guys to go away. Let’s do it.”

Travis Howard: Yeah.

Stefan Aarnio: That was the script.

Travis Howard: It’s just go, yeah. It’s just going and doing it and getting out of your own damn way so that … You got to have no excuses. It’s no holds bar. You got to go after every single time, no matter what.
Actually, this is what I had to start doing to myself back in the day. I actually told myself that if I say, “Oh, god, I’m scared,” I have to immediately go and do it. There’s not a question. I have to immediately go and do whatever it was that I just got scared shitless of. And it’s not a question. You have do it, but I still hold myself to that.
I hold my employees to that, too, and my business partners in most cases. But that’s what you have to do because you did something that most people will never, ever do and that’s just go up and knock on a door and ask for the business. And say, “Hey, look, I’m here to help. I got to just figure out how can we help one another?”

Stefan Aarnio: Yeah, yeah, that’s money, man, and I even … I knocked at the house at two doors, a duplex. I even ripped a page out of my book, put a handwritten, horrible note in one mailbox. Then I went to other mailbox, and I wrote then a note, too, and knocked on the door because, dude, I want the deal. I want the-

Travis Howard: Yeah, exactly. You’re there. You’re there. I’ve had so many people like, “Well, I went and I drove the neighborhood.” I’m like, “Well, how many doors did you knock on?” “I didn’t really think about it.” “You’re there, and did you find any for sale by owners?” “Well, yeah, there’s a couple.” I said, “Did you call them whenever you were in front of the house?” “No, I didn’t … ” “Why didn’t you call them? You could’ve walked in the house and picked something up on her contract right then and there.” “But I just … ”
This is always one of my questions I say. And this is a question that all of your listeners can ask themselves is, “When do you want to start making money?”

Stefan Aarnio: Yesterday. Yesterday. You could have started 90 days-

Travis Howard: Exactly, so whenever it is that you want to start making money is whenever you need to go start knocking on doors. And you can’t learn your market any better than going and knocking on doors and talking to the neighbors and finding out everything.
And the simplest thing is find a beat up house in a neighborhood, go to the neighbors on the sides and in front of it, just go knock on their door, and say, “Hey, do you know who’s house this is? Do you have their number because this is a really … It’s a nice house that I would like to have. My wife and I buy houses here, but I’m sure it’s an eye sore for you. Do you have any info that I might be able to contact the owner? And by the way, if I could get in touch with them, there’s something in it for you too. I can give you a check, but I need to just get who the person is,” and most of the time, they’ll tell you their exact story.
They’ll be like, “Oh, yeah, they went to jail,” or, “Oh, yeah, that person died, and now the crazy kids are owning the house. And one thinks the house is gold. The other one doesn’t really care.” You just get into the storytelling, so it’s pretty interesting. But guys, it all starts with you just going and knocking on the doors or sending that mailer.
Now, it’s the warm call. “Hey, did you receive my postcard?” And then you get their phone number. “Hey, I was just checking. Did you receive my postcard? I’m looking for a property. My wife and I are looking for properties in that neighborhood, if you have anything. Oh, you don’t want to sell. Okay, do you know anybody else that might want to sell.” Everything is a conversation that leads into another ask because you can never [inaudible 00:41:13] unless you ask every single time.

Stefan Aarnio: I’d find I knock on the door, and a little grandma would come to the door. I’ll say, “Hey, I’m looking to buy a house in the neighborhood. Do you know of anything I can buy?” And she’ll say, “No.” I’ll say, “I’m paying $500 for any houses I buy you refer to me.” And she goes, “Agnes died. Go over there. Her son [crosstalk 00:41:29] right now.”
Oh, $500, that changed the story right there.

Travis Howard: And it does.

Stefan Aarnio: Give me $1,000. I’ll get you a house. Okay, I’ll double it.

Travis Howard: No, most definitely. I love it. But that’s the whole thing, guys. And anybody that’s, again, listening to this, don’t ever be scared. I mean, all you got to do … Everybody knows how to talk to people. Even if you’re socially inept on many things, all you have to do … Remember, you’re going to make money at the end. Look at your end in mind, that goal, and just go knock on the door.
I mean, just be you. Be you. I sold bibles and educational books door to door for my college internship for two years. Taught me a ton.

Stefan Aarnio: That’s hardcore, man. All in the good word.

Travis Howard: Yeah, I was just like, “Oh, my god. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my entire life,” and it kind of gives you guys an idea. It took me two weeks. After two weeks, I was one of the top sales people. I absolutely loved it because I could go out and kill it because I found out who I was in doing what I did.
But I didn’t start that way. I had to go out and do it, so give yourself … Be patient enough with yourself. Don’t procrastinate, but be patient with yourself when you’re doing these marketing things, when you’re going out knocking on doors, when you’re going to these meetings like Meetup groups, RIAs, whatever else is up in Canada. I’m sure you guys have RIA groups up there, right?

Stefan Aarnio: Yeah, I own the Manitoba real estate RIA here.

Travis Howard: Cool.

Stefan Aarnio: We’re 20 years behind America. There’s lots of groups, but, dude, we’re so behind. You go to Texas or Dallas, there’s a million RIAs. You go up to Winnipeg, there’s a couple of little groups. We’re a lot less organized, but there’s Meetup groups. There is people doing it.

Travis Howard: Cool.

Stefan Aarnio: People like making money. They like making money everywhere.

Travis Howard: Exactly, and that’s one of the things, too. Even speaking of the RIAs, when you guys go to these local RIAs wherever you’re at in Canada, and US, or wherever you might be around the world, always know that at least 90% of these people are full of shit. They’re not. I’m being perfectly honest with you right now, guys. I’m telling you, 90% of these people are not doing anything. Find the 10% in that RIA or at that MeetUp that are doing stuff that you can do business with, that you can make money with, make a difference in your life, and your lifestyle. That’s huge. That’s a big deal.

Stefan Aarnio: Yeah, I noticed at the clubs, because I’ve owned a club now for five years and speak at clubs. It’s usually the tops guys. They’re like, “I don’t want to go to it anymore because I’m a player.”
They go to the auction. They’re at the auction hanging out [crosstalk 00:43:58].

Travis Howard: That’s where I’m at everyday.

Stefan Aarnio: Yeah, and then the guys that can’t hack it, they leave and just get flushed out the bottom of the toilet.

Travis Howard: Every three months. Every three months, it’s a rotation.

Stefan Aarnio: Yeah, and then the middle, you got these yellow-light people who are in the middle. They’re not stopping. They’re not going. They’re always talking. I got one buddy. I’m not going to say his name. For eight years, he’s been going to the entry-level seminars. He hasn’t done anything, hasn’t bought anything. He calls me. He’s like, “Hey, man, I want to do something.” I’m like, “Dude, you’re still going to entry-level seminars. I’ve [reached that 00:44:29] hall of fame now, man. We’re not even [inaudible 00:44:33].”

Travis Howard: Different parts of life right now in business. What’s funny because I sit there and exactly what you just said, I don’t … I’ll go to a RIA, very seldom want to go, but I at least … I’ll send one of my employees, and I’ll go. I’ll have them go for me. But I’ve taught them, and I’ve trained them what to do, what to say, how they need to interact. Go for the people that are doing the deals.
One of the big things that I’ve learned over and over again from doing this as long as I’ve been doing it is there’s just so many people that want to tell you about a book and if they’re not doing it. And I’m like, “I don’t care about somebody’s damn theory. Tell me exacts. Tell me numbers for you closed [parts 00:45:11]. Tell me what you’re doing. Tell me what you say,” but they can’t tell me because they’ve never done a deal. But they read a book about it.
And I go, “That’s not realism. That’s not realistic for anybody, and you won’t ever make money.” If you want to make seven figures, guys, you have to go out, and you’ve got to hustle. And you’ve got to know what to say next. But remember, you don’t know in the beginning. Go out and mess up. It’s okay to mess up, especially marketing.
I mess up all the time. I’ve spent thousands of dollars a month on stuff that I don’t know if it’s going to work. I have no clue. I really have no freaking clue. I’m like, “All right, so let’s see. Let’s try a TV ad. Let’s try a radio ad. Let’s try, so PPC. Let’s try … ” Whatever it is, I don’t know either, just like you.
I mean, Stefan. I mean, if you start talking, and you know like, “Hey, I might eat this,” but I know that that’s a possibility. But I also know in the back of mind, “This isn’t going to work. All I need is one deal to get my money back, and I’m going to be all right. It’s not a big deal.”

Stefan Aarnio: Well, dude, it’s everything. I took two of my sales guys to the casino yesterday to play roulette, and I said, “We’re going to learn about the odds and sustaining losses until you hit.”
And it’s crazy because I told them. I said, “Guys, I just spent 150 grand in internet marketing before I made profit.” And that’s terrifying because you got to … I meet people who get to 70 grand, 80 grand, and like, “Oh, I lost 70 grand in GI marketing.” I said, “Dude, you got another 70 left to go, 70, 80 grand to spend,” but then, you hit it. And now, you’ve got a winning hit.
And now, I’m making millions online because I spent the $150,000 to get the winning song. They call it the winning song in marketing. It’s that hit song. When it goes on, the money comes in because you invested in that hit song. But it’s not like $1,000 course, and you’re a millionaire. It doesn’t work like that.
I think that 150 grand … I think that was spent over about four years. Four years, and I remember one year, $63,000 I lost in online marketing. I didn’t make a fucking penny. And I was like, “Oh, my god.” I went to one of those joint venture groups. It was like group therapy. I said, “Guys, I lit a wheelbarrow full of money on fire,” and I kept spending the money on consultants, kept trying, kept buying leads and doing pay per click and all this. And finally, one day, boom, self-liquidating.

Travis Howard: Right, and that’s all it takes. But that’s what everybody has to understand is that all it takes is one thing. That’s it, but stay focused on that one thing really, really strong. And keep pounding the shit out of it because it will pay off sooner or later.
If you’re tweaking it, like you had to do for four years, man, tweak, whether big tweak, small tweak, whatever, it doesn’t matter. You’re tweaking it, and you’re like, “Ooh, we’re getting a big better, getting a bit better,” but you have to pay attention to it. And you have to look at it as being a true investment.
And it’s not a … I mean, that’s the whole thing because that sucks. Been there, done that, and it’s a lot of damn money. But look what it has turned out for you. I mean, that’s phenomenal, man. You can’t beat that.

Stefan Aarnio: Yeah, well, it’s a seven-figure thing. It’s going to be in eight figures in two years. So you look at that. And I’ll spend $150,000 to make to seven, eight figures all day.
But a question for you, Travis, since we’re talking about books and all the pikers at the clubs that … You really don’t want to talk about books. Top three books that changed your life.

Travis Howard: Top three … Oh, well, Rich Dad, Poor Dad, of course. That was back in the day. Let’s see. How to Win Friends and Influence People, humongous for me [inaudible 00:48:34].

Stefan Aarnio: That’s a good door to door one, too.

Travis Howard: And it is. Actually, they made us … The company that I worked for actually made us all read that. After they made us read, I was like, “Oh, my god. This really was worth every bit of the time I spent,” because I read it about every two to three years still.
And then another … Let’s see, one that has made me … Well, I just read Traction, a couple of months ago, and it’s pretty damn good. I’ve learned with what I have because we’ve got a lot of employees. I’m big on reading a lot of management books now where if you talked to me 10 years ago, I definitely, sure as hell wasn’t reading management books.
I had people that worked for me, but now, it’s a whole different world. So management books are a very big piece of what I do, and I always make sure that I read the Harvard Business Review. That’s one of the best magazines ever written in my opinion, just because it always gives you so much management stuff, skillsets, how to speak to different people, how to go in and run meetings, different … So I’ll go around, read it, and then I’ll test it.
But that’s pretty much what I try to do with any book that I read because I want to implement something into my business on a daily or at least on a weekly basis that, “All right. Let’s test this thing, and let’s see how everybody runs it.”
But everything, systems and processes, show as long as you’re doing that, like through Traction … Pick up as many books on marketing, on systems, processes and management. Those are my three things that I think I’m the biggest on .

Stefan Aarnio: Love it, man, I love it. Okay, couple of more questions here, Travis, super quick, before we wrap up. What’s the one thing you think that young people need to succeed these days?

Travis Howard: Work ethic.

Stefan Aarnio: They got to respect the grind, you mean?

Travis Howard: Yeah, they got to respect the grind. That honest to god would be my number one thing. Number two thing is don’t think for a second that you’re going to start to make a million dollars. Be realistic. You can make a great living starting out, don’t get me wrong, and you can make a million dollars. But be realistic. Shoot for hitting six figures on your first 12 to 18 months, and you’ll be in a good spot if you’ve marketed correctly.

Stefan Aarnio: I love it. How can people get in touch with you, Travis, if they want to know more?

Travis Howard: If they want to know more, actually, you can just hit me up. You can go to my website,, also Travis Buys Houses, and or you can email me at

Stefan Aarnio: Awesome. Thanks for being on the show, Travis, Respect the Grind. We’ll catch up to you later.

Travis Howard: Appreciate it, Stefan. Had a great day, man. Appreciate it. Have a good one.

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