From property management to managing remote professionals, Jeremy & Gwenn Aspen have been successful in both. After just recently selling their property management company, they’ve switched their focus to their remote professional company and now are here to join Brad Larsen in discussing the benefits American companies can find by hiring remote professionals to help grow and strengthen property management companies.
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Brad Larsen: Welcome everybody to another edition of the Property Management Mastermind Show. I'm your host, Brad Larsen and today's guests. I have the esteemed Jeremy and Gwenn Aspen, and we got lots to talk about today because there is so much going on with them. We're going to touch on a cool thing, a couple of cool things going on. One is we want to talk more about remote team members because these two are the arguable experts on that. And we now have some of the newest exit people. They have just potentially exited most of it, not all of it, but they did make a really big decision and decided to sell their main management company. They still own a management company, but they decided to sell one of their main ones, so there's lots to talk about. And those two things now before we get into it, I wanted to introduce them. I want to give them a few minutes to talk about who they are, what they do. And then let's dive right into the remote team members stuff, because that's really their specialty. I got lots of fun stuff to talk on that because we've been using and working with Jeremy and Gwenn for five plus years, working with remote team members, and some of the numbers that have changed for us are just jaw dropping and we're going to go through that and how it all works. So without further ado, Jeremy and Gwennn, how are you doing today?
Jeremy Aspen: Really good. Thanks for having us. I'll start off because my introduction is always really easy. My name is Jeremy Aspen. I am her husband.
Gwenn Aspen: So that goes, No. Jeremy and I. So we run Anequim, which helps property management companies with the remote professionals as we call them a remote team members as they're known or virtual assistants, depending on who you are. And we also do some back office services like bookkeeping, and we have a call center for rent manager clients. But Jeremy is the CFO of our company and I'm the CEO. So we really do run it in tandem and we have our own podcast called Bootstrappers for Property Managers. And and yeah, so we're super excited to be here. Thanks for having us, Brad. Some of
Jeremy Aspen: Our best episodes have been with Brad
Gwenn Aspen: On. Yeah, for sure.
Brad Larsen: Well, I have a face for radio, so let's I want to tell some history here because how we all met was kind of interesting. I've sat down with the guys at a Anupam Broker owner conference in Las Vegas. It was a lunchtime thing. Or maybe he was a morning breakfast thing. I just pulled up and said, Hey, what's going on with you guys? So it's a model to the networking idea of, you know, get out of your little comfort zone and go sit next to somebody may not know and just strike up a conversation. Next thing I know we're talking about remote team members and kind of how you guys had a really good line on working with remote team members in Mexico. Because Jeremy, interestingly enough, you got to tell the story about the white boy from Midwest. Nebraska speaks fluent Spanish. So, Jeremy, go into that woman,
Jeremy Aspen: Wait, am I the white guy in this? You're in? So I used to work down. Yeah, I lived and worked in Mexico for about five years. And so, you know, we had an operation at that time. It was a logistics three three PL and we had an airline. And so I had employees down in Mexico. Of course, that worked for me. I moved back to the United States. I did another stint as a director of another logistics company, moved to Omaha, and we started this property management company. And it seemed to me that I was paying a lot more for labor than I had been down in Mexico. And the VoIP phone had just come out at that point, and I sent one down to my boss's old secretary. She quit working where she was, or actually she started working with us and started answering our phones. And then from there, you know, friends of friends and we we kept hiring people and it grew well.
Gwenn Aspen: And I think it's important to know that our company was just a baby company when we started using remote team members and the growth that we saw at what was called CPM Realty. And then with our group, we rebranded as Wister Group, and now it's pure, which we'll get into later. But we we were able to grow at a really fast rate because of the people that we hired in Mexico and because of what they added to our organization. Yeah. And so we would not have been able to grow at that speed without them.
Jeremy Aspen: Yeah. So and maybe that's one of the hang ups that people have. They think that they're too small for remote work. There's no such thing because the, you know, when when are you too small to save money on labor? And it's not even just that, like the rate per hour. It's also that we can anybody you can source people with master's degrees, doctorate degrees or not and bring them into the fold of your company. And really, you save every hour you're saving more money so that especially at the beginning of the company, which is what we did. That money gets to be reinvested back into the company, and it just makes it much easier. The prospects for growth much easier.
Brad Larsen: Let all circles ties into well together, because that showed how we met. But what I didn't get to yet, because I wanted to hear your intro is the way that we work together, and I hired three real remote team members from you guys right away. We started working together right away. I saw the value of it. They're still with us today, which is awesome. Five plus years later and we've grown exponentially. So now we're running. I think we have 16 remote team members and all of them work for us and they're all remotely done in Mexico. So there's there's kind of spread out. There are a lot of times they're in agriculture scientists or other places. And I appreciate what you guys have been able to do with us working with us for these many, many years and helping us with the remote team members. Interestingly enough, let's switch real quick just to a I think it's a dynamic thing we should talk about, but there's so much competition now for what you guys are doing. And so you see all these different players come into the market. There's always been players in the market there representing different countries or representing different nationalities. And now we have more and more people that are doing kind of what you're doing. But you guys are the largest and I need you to I need you to help people understand that because it does show your level of experience and your commitment to what you're doing in our industry.
Gwenn Aspen: Well, I think one of the major benefits that we've been able to derive from our growth. So we were one of the first players. I think we were the first player in Mexico for property management. And because of our size, we're able to get really great benefits and sophisticated benefits for our team members and still maintain a price point that is reasonable for anyone. So if people are looking for more handholding on the recruitment side, they want really sophisticated benefits for maintaining their employees. And also, we're able to recruit the top talent because a lot of the top talent wants to have Social Security. They want to be a legal employee in Mexico. They want, you know, health care, life insurance, other things that we offer. We're doing some grocery. What do you call grocery vouchers? So some other things that we're able to do because of size, if people want that kind of talent that wants those benefits, we're able to find those people. And so that's been able to keep our business growing and we're able to maintain great relationships with our clients and grow their teams effectively.
Jeremy Aspen: But you know, your your viewers and listeners, what they might appreciate is, you know, we only operate in Mexico, of course, but there are instances where you might consider working with a VA company down in the Southeast Pacific, and that's obviously if they don't need to be in your your area code, your ZIP code rather or your time zone on. If you really just need somebody to kind of pick and pick at a keyboard, you know, and so there are some other really decent approaches. It just depends on what you're looking for in having remote labor.
Brad Larsen: Yeah. So I think that's important to understand that a lot of people have this. They just have no conception of what the remote team members can can do. And I try to tell them in a very succinct way they can do anything you and I can do from anywhere in the United States, anywhere in the world.
Jeremy Aspen: That's the best way of explaining it. They really can do anything. I know that we have one remote, at least that actually is now president of a division of of a U.S. company. I mean, they really can do anything as long as they don't need to go to the property, right? That would be impossible to do from another country. But barring that, they really can do anything. You can get marketing, you can get you can get service technicians to that kind of understand for dispatching its.
Gwenn Aspen: And I think one of the ways that everyone's pretty familiar with remote labor after the pandemic at this point, but now the next step of of of elevating. Is really allowing your remote team members to be part of the strategic planning sessions, doing some more strategic projects for your team. That's really where I think we're going in. This next generation of virtual labor is really embracing them as a true sophisticated leader on your team
Jeremy Aspen: And something to take into consideration when you're looking to hire a remote professional wherever they are. I've always had better luck when you hire people for careers. So when you hire somebody as long as you're not looking for someone to just data entry, you know, data entry, get in and out of the like somebody you can retrain in 15 minutes. Ok, that's a different thing. But you can't hire people in another country and just make sure you go into it understanding that this is their career. And as such, they'll just need to be treated as as as if though it's their career. So that means, hey, you want to add stability with some sort of benefits.
Gwenn Aspen: Develop them,
Jeremy Aspen: Develop them, let them develop themselves, let them operate some projects, you know, make it, make sure that they know that they have a career with your company and then do what it takes to make sure they they have a career with your company.
Brad Larsen: Let's talk about what it's like for that, because a lot of folks are very concerned with that. I was very concerned with that. We don't want to treat people like we're taking advantage of them some sort. But this is a really awesome opportunity for them, and they're very thankful to have it because the the remote team that we work with in Mexico, our hours are from eight to five roughly. And they don't have a commute, which is there's a very dangerous situation in some of those places when they commute because they're leaving at 6:00 in the morning to go to work at 7:00 and they're there until 7:00 p.m. because they have longer work hours. Everything is more. They're expected to work longer, then they have a commute home. And so they have all this opportunity for bad things that can happen in Mexico. And it's not, you know, the safest place in the world, but, you know, car accidents and everything else. So one the safety factor to the pay we pay pretty well. You guys offer a very good compensation and people need to understand that it might seem lower to our American eyes because we're, you know, we're dealing with all the we, you know, a can of gasoline. A gallon of gasoline is going to cost you three bucks right now over there.
Brad Larsen: My cost, I don't know what, 50 cents or something I'm trying to equate to people to understand that what we pay them does not actually equate to bottom of the barrel wages. They equate to very, very good wages there because the cost of living is so much different. And so to give you a bottom line example, our turnover has been minimal. And here's another jaw dropping stat. I'm going to throw a couple of things at you and then I want you to jump in. A couple of jaw dropping stat stats for us is our turnover rate. The last five years locally has probably been 80 percent. Our turnover rate internationally, meaning remote team members has been less than 20 percent. They are completely flipped two years ago, when the pandemic was really starting to kick over that middle of 20 20 late 20 20. We had an organizational setup to where we had several property managers in the office. I mean, high level seventy five eighty grand property management professionals who are doing a lot. We had four or five of them. And as the pandemic started to hit, they all started to kind of falter away. A couple of them in particular, were just very difficult to deal with, very DBA, like they were like they thought they were the Odell's of the property management world.
Brad Larsen: Right. And so it was just it was getting to be maddening and we didn't end up firing them. They just kind of went away in their own because we were such jerks. We made them come to the office during the pandemic. You know, if they had kids sick, OK, we deal with it and we help them. But they were just like being very divas one. One was making social media posts about how difficult we were making their lives by making them come to the office. It was just, like, sickening. Ok, I'm going to make a point, so bear with me. So as they started to transition out on their own, we did not rehire that position. We rehired their positions in Mexico. So if it was a property manager and that high level person was making seventy five thousand a year, how many property managers could you hire in Mexico for seventy five grand a year? We didn't need to go that far, but let's say it's called four one four two four five. So we lost somebody here in the U.S. we hired two remote team members in Mexico. Now I'm going to make an absolute. I'm glad you're sitting down. We compared our P&L from twenty twenty to twenty twenty one a few weeks ago.
Brad Larsen: And the expense savings and staffing was over a quarter million dollars. Damn. Wow. Yeah, wow. That was the difference because of that campaign to say, OK, we're not going to rehire this position here in the states because of all the bad things that are going wrong. We're going. You create a pod system of hiring folks in Mexico, answering the phones, doing lease agreements, doing renewals, doing maintenance, customer service, owner facing customer service, you name it, they could do it from Mexico. We built a team, basically a big giant pot, and that has worked out significantly well for us because it tied right in to our number one thing, which was provide exceptional service. If we could provide exceptional service by Hey, answer your phone and to return emails and do what you say you're going to do, those things are going to pay much more dividends than having somebody on the ground in the local office where you are in the states to where they could physically see the property in person. Ok, that's a that's a tangent benefit, but it's not the end all bill of good service. So anyway, that was a long explanation to get to our point of where we made a huge savings
Jeremy Aspen: And all of these other remote professionals, virtual assistants, what they can do is they they help a property manager in the United States be able to handle a much larger portfolio. So we at one point with Wistar Group, had about nine hundred employees, nine hundred properties per property manager. Now they had a team right that was helping them manage their portfolio. But but that one manager here in the United States can go to more properties more often because they don't have to do the data entry. They don't need to do anything with reports. They don't need to answer the phone.
Gwenn Aspen: The emails can be handled by someone else. And I just want to say, like Brad, that's a big leap. Like, you had been using remote labor for five years. You said before you made this huge leap and really trusted that these people could do exceptional work at a high level. And I think people are worried that if their owners know that they're being taken care of by someone that's not in the country, that it's going to negatively impact their image. But I think the worry there is overstated because if people are getting good service, if they are, if their property is being taken care of, well, they do not care where the person is, who is doing that. So people only throw in insults about the language or the desk where people live if the service falters. So it's it goes back to that great adage. There's no is what is it? Excellence is the best deterrent against any ISM, sexism, racism, whatever. If they're getting great service, they don't care.
Brad Larsen: And I was explaining to this, I was explaining this to a lender. I was working with an SBA deal and he wanted to understand our business a bit better, bit better, a bit more. And I explain them, OK, we have local people, we have remote team members. But you know what? We use a lot of remote team members here. Why? Why, why? And then I went into if you call our front line phones today, you would have spoken to someone in Mexico. He's like, Whoa, really? I called somebody in last week and they answered in two rings and I couldn't tell they weren't anywhere but right there in the U.S. they sounded great. The voices were great. The technology of the voice over IP was great. I couldn't tell a single difference, but there you go.
Jeremy Aspen: There are a couple of people every now and again these days where they they push back a little bit because they have a political inclination to not like, you know, sourcing labor for someone from some other country. But the way that I always handle that one is it's not that, you know, we're sourcing from some other country, and that's hurting American companies as a matter of fact or the American economy. What we do as a company and equipment, we make American companies more efficient and more profitable. That is what our business model is designed to do. And it it it makes it does do that every single day. It's and that's a great hedge against that argument because we make American companies more efficient.
Brad Larsen: No doubt we attract that pretty well, too, because you guys have heard of profit coach, but Daniel Craig and I do an annual analysis with them. I love what they do. They do a great job. Our labor efficiency ratio has gone through the roof up in a very good direction, a positive direction. The last 18 months, because of this meaning that we're getting more use out of the dollars we spend to provide the service, which is mostly labor. And so it's been a phenomenal transition for us. To one, there's a trust factor in two different ways. You mentioned it earlier. Us is the business owner has to trust that these this whole remote team member concept can work and to we have to trust that they're going to do a great job to win over the owners, win over the tenants and win over our vendors that we work with on a daily basis. So it goes two different directions.
Jeremy Aspen: Well, if there's one thing that people need to know that watch your show and I know you've gone over before another episodes, but that getting that deeply dialed in is the single most important thing a company can do in profit. Coach does a very good
Gwenn Aspen: Say what it is. The acronym is for people listening the total.
Jeremy Aspen: Direct labor efficiency rate, or I'm sorry, the direct labor efficiency ratio, right, so you want to just make sure that you at least have twice the revenue for the cost of direct labor, and that's that that's a minimum that you have to have that in order to have a non commoditized kind of business.
Gwenn Aspen: And then Brad, I just want to point out here, so what you're doing is really different because you've really elevated the whole remote team member game in the last year. But what that also enforces is great management strategies. So people are always like, Well, how do I manage these people who aren't in the office? Well, it really just enforces the best practices, which is don't micromanage people, micromanage outcomes, manage KPIs, retrain where things aren't going well and have good standard operating procedures. And if you have those things dialed in well, then having remote labors works really seamlessly. Would you agree? I can.
Brad Larsen: I would add spot checking on that because Melanie is our key person in our office and she does a lot of spot checking because she has the time to do it. You understand. That's what I put her in that role now. She's the CEO of the company, and she has the time to say, I'm going to go listen to two phone calls this morning. I'm going to go check 10 emails here this afternoon and find out what's going on, and she'll identify something like, for example, this was done with a prior employee because she did an audit spot check. We found that we were missing. I think it was, I don't know, two or three months worth of a leasing fee that was not getting charged end up being like eight or ten grand that we are not charging the owners that we should have been for two, three or four month period there. And she caught that and went back and fixed it. But you know, it's a little egg on her face because that should have been part of the process. When you lease out a home, you charge the leasing fee, the owners pay it, et cetera. Well, there was a step that was broken, right? She'd not had the time to investigate that. She would not have caught that.
Jeremy Aspen: She was working on the company, not in the camp, but
Gwenn Aspen: That's that's what work. And that is best practices, though. I mean, we have a quality control branch of our business that's always looking at those things, always reviewing processes and processes. It's just like a closet, like you organize your closet. It looks beautiful. And then a year later, it's super messy and you have to go in and reorganize. So I think there's always that element of quality control that every well-run business needs to have, where you're always checking on procedures and making sure people are doing them the way that they're written down, and that there aren't any loose ends or people going renegade over here doing their own thing. And so that's just part of running a good business. But to your point, when you have some people doing the operations who are lower cost, you can have your managers really focusing on that quality part and making sure your business is run effectively, which we all should be doing anyway, regardless of where your labor is.
Brad Larsen: The biggest thing I want to bring up right now is the cultural differences are becoming more and more widened. We're starting to see with the last 18 months, two years with this whole COVID thing, we have unemployment going through the roof where people are incentivized not to work. A lot of them have chosen that path to not work. And so it's causing employers, property managers to have a very difficult find time to find really good people that want to work good labor. Very heartbreaking story. Just the other day off the property manager mastermind Facebook Group is a young lady went on there and was telling her story about how several of her key employees had just up and left for no real reason. They were being paid bonuses. They were given plenty of time off. They were made part of the company culture. Everything she talked about in her post made sense, like she's doing the right things to keep locally based American workers happy and content and motivated to do what they're supposed to be doing. They just up and left. So now all of a sudden, her and her husband are thrown back into doing everything themselves. And so a lot of folks were mentioning, Hey, it might be time to consider a remote team members because as I mentioned, the turnover is one hundred and eighty degree difference, especially in our experience.
Jeremy Aspen: Yeah. And I think your low turnover is a testament to your company and that probably your employees see that there's a future because we also have some clients that go through remote professionals pretty quickly.
Gwenn Aspen: Small number.
Jeremy Aspen: But yeah, well, and what and what we I think can identify with those clients is that they're really not ready for it yet. Like they have the right idea, but they don't have KPIs. They don't have a way of managing anybody. They haven't been very good at, you know, transitioning during this, the pandemic. And so really an indicator of whether or not this is going to work for you is if you can know whether or not you're prepared for remote work. If you have a pretty well-run company and or if you're at least of the mindset that you're going to have a well-run. Company, that's the big one, instead of it just always being like reactionary, if you want to make it so it's not reactionary, that's kind of a secret ingredient to being able to ensure that your turnover is low.
Gwenn Aspen: And I'm sure if she gets remote team members, I mean, and she has all her ducks in order like it sounds like she has, she's going to be very successful. Just I feel badly for losing all your team at one moment, every business owner that knows that, that would be extremely stressful.
Brad Larsen: Yeah, a couple of key points to remember. Just for everybody who's wanting to get into this and all this transition to talk about something different. But a couple of key things is understand what you're paying your provider and what the provider is paying your employees. So you guys have that in mind and you can understand where to go with it in the future. The other part of that is hope. I didn't lose my train of thought, but you're going to hire one, hire two at the same time. And I think we did this very well. Gwenn, when we work with you guys, is you don't just hire one and dabble. We hired two because the cost to hire two was still significantly cheaper than hiring one local team member versus two remote team members. And so I think that's a good piece of advice, especially for that young lady who was discussing her situation. I would, I would say Rhonda to you guys and find a good solution and hire two folks right away and figure out exactly what to do it because you know you're thinking, Well, what am I going to do with two folks? I can barely have enough room for one to be fully occupied. Know you'll find more. There's going to be all and they're going to want more.
Gwenn Aspen: And if your goal is to keep your clients happy, just think of all those things that you've always wanted to do to make your clients happy. And now you have the labor to do it, so go for it.
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Brad Larsen: So let's transition real quick, I want to talk about your your recent sale, and so you guys own a management company in Omaha. I've been there, visited with it. We've had dinner together up there. You get a great organization. You had a few couple of things go really bad for the last couple of years. We don't want to get into all that, but at the end of the day, you decided, OK, it's time to make an exit and you want to focus more on what you're doing with the equipment. So tell me kind of how it went with the exit and tying into pure and getting the management company going. Just talk me through that. I'm very, very intrigued.
Jeremy Aspen: Well, so like so where we are right now is we're picking out private jets. No, I got the ones you want to get because, you know, you get super rich. No, actually. Yeah. So we had we still have a property management company in Lincoln, but the one here in Omaha, I had partners in that company. And so it wasn't exactly fair that I had been dedicating, you know, 97 percent of my time at anarchism, growing this company and still reaping the rewards of that profitable company. So something had to change in terms of the distribution of the profits because I just was making more than I really deserved. And I think it was probably chipping away at my partners. I don't know their ambition a little bit, right? Because they weren't a majority stakeholder. I owned the majority of the company. So something had to change. Gwenn went off to a conference
Gwenn Aspen: And she had found it was your conference,
Jeremy Aspen: Brad conference. Ok?
Gwenn Aspen: All right. It was Brad Scott Brown. All right.
Jeremy Aspen: And then she came back and said, You know, should we at least consider selling it to an outside company as opposed to just doing an internal sale? Well, of course, the answer is yes. Let's not be dumb, and let's look at other offers. I think we got five offers or so five we had.
Gwenn Aspen: I was kind of like, Hype Girl. I don't know if that's like the right term, but I kind of hyped it up. I knew who the players were in the market looking. We kind of hyped up our business for maybe nine companies and then whittled it down to five that were a values match for our organization. I mean, our goal, Jeremy and I had very strong values about how we wanted to sell it and what we wanted it to look like. Number one, our business partners are like family members to us. We've raised our kids together. We've been through the ups and downs. You mentioned that we had a rough go. We had an explosion at a property a few years back that was absolutely horrifying, traumatic for everybody involved. And we really are a close team. And so our relationship and making sure we did right by our team was our number one focus. Of course, everybody wants to make money, so we wanted to do well, but we also wanted the company that we were going to be acquired by to, you know, put clients first and our luggage. We spent 16 years of our life growing that organization, taking care of clients in a specific way, and we wanted that to remain so. So anyway, as we went down, there were like five companies that met that criteria, and then it whittled down to Pure, which was actually our favorite organization.
Gwenn Aspen: We like their values, we like their vision. We thought that they were a good match for our team and we liked how they kind of blended both the tech aspect of property management with the down home people quality. And they never lost sight that people are what make or break property management companies. So overarching Lee, they were the clear winner and then came in with a good bid. So it worked on in both ways. I kind of exited the hype girl part of the sales process and let the team members who are really going to be in the weeds with Pure. They had to have buy in on the sale and otherwise a lot of the times sales can fall apart. If you don't like, get your team. These are part owners involved at the front end. So they worked on the details of the legal aspects and the final parties, the fine points of the the pricing at the end, and then the deal closed, with all of our owners still loving each other, everyone excited about pure and a better deal for our team moving forward with visionaries who really were 100 percent in instead of Jeremy and I who were, you know, totally distracted by Anna Quinn and what Anna Quinn was doing. So it was such a win win
Brad Larsen: Backing up a bit. I want to talk more about, OK, you decided to sell and package the whole company to get ready to sell. Did you start to work with a broker? Because how did you start to get that many good offers in? I mean, you said nine, which is significant to choose from. I'm sure local players, you know, national players kind of talk me through that initial marketing phase
Gwenn Aspen: That was just me going out there and I knew who. Was kind of buying, and I knew some local players also. And so we just kind of and the initial discussion wasn't about money. It really wasn't. It was about don't
Jeremy Aspen: Tell it pure, but I actually had said that I was willing to give away my 53 three percent
Gwenn Aspen: Now. I mean, he said that in jest.
Jeremy Aspen: But if it would have protected the interest of, you know, of our staff,
Gwenn Aspen: But as we were talking, talking to people, we don't want to leave our team members high and dry. So some players that we were talking with just it just wasn't a match from the beginning, and it whittled down to like five. But yeah, so I just hyped it up. I mean, I did my own research and we didn't use a broker at all.
Jeremy Aspen: Although I would say if we could do it again, a broker would have been maybe a little bit easier because we ended up
Gwenn Aspen: Putting a lot of time into it. I know at
Jeremy Aspen: Least one or two of the companies. We weren't quite prepared yet and we didn't send them the entire. All the books, and so that was unfortunate, but it happened, so maybe something like that, maybe centralized, I probably would have considered doing it with a broker.
Brad Larsen: Yeah, I mean, that's a good and bad thing. You know, we do the we run the property manager broker as well, so we have a little bit of a brokerage that we'll work with, just property management companies. And so I'm very intrigued about this because everyone says they would have or should have or could have worked with the broker, but they don't think about that up front. A lot of times, too. You can also start talking about doing these blind bids. You have all these, you get a bid system going. I'm not second guessing what you did. I'm just very curious in how I did, how it worked out, because Glen would have done what most of us would have done to kind of put out some feelers to the big players that we know the local players that would be big enough to dominate and take over the company locally. And so I think that was interesting. The transaction handling of the transaction, how did that go for you guys? Did you each have your own acquisition attorneys working for you? How did it go there?
Jeremy Aspen: Yeah. So we had our own attorney that was operating, working with their lawyer, and that was mostly hands off just because we gave the lawyers basic instructions and said, Let's just go with this. They'd come back on a regular basis and let us know of any updates or changes that might have fallen out of the parameters that we'd originally established. Our lawyer. Bill was pretty high because of the nature of these transactions. They can get pretty complicated. And I'll tell you, Pure has kind of a template, sort of. I mean, they've got this down. So I think it went a lot easier than it otherwise would have.
Gwenn Aspen: But we did fall outside of the normal range because of our our maintenance department is a huge part of Wistar. I mean, we had a lot of assets. We have a huge maintenance department. It's built out very in a sophisticated way. And so that felt fell outside of the realm. And so maybe our lawyer bills were a little bit larger than some other property management outfits that don't have an aggressive, if you will, maintenance portfolio.
Jeremy Aspen: So basically, you're saying that if we would have used you, we could have been picking out a bigger jet?
Brad Larsen: I don't know about that. I mean, there's always a what ifs, but you know that that is our specialty working in that realm. But I'm not trying to get to that point. I'm just trying to talk through the conversation, the whole transaction, because I do think it's fascinating. I do think that a lot of people want to learn from it because that's the hot topics of the day are always going to be one remote team members and two acquisitions. It seems to be. Everybody wants to talk about buying or selling, and nobody thinks about it happening until it happens to you. Meaning that, well, I'm not really looking at buying anybody right now. I'm just I'm just cool with what I'm doing. And all of a sudden you're again, you're at a buffet line or you had an open convention and someone pokes you in the shoulder say, Hey, you know what? I'm thinking of selling next year? You're interested because I know we're in the same market. Like, Whoa, OK, and I guess it's time to get serious.
Gwenn Aspen: It is just another reminder that people really should think about their exit, maybe seven years before they're wanting to exit. We should always be building our businesses to sell, because if you build it to sell, I mean, you never know if you're going to get sick, something bad can happen. You're in a position where you need to sell your business quickly, some giant life transition or whatever. And so I think seven years and that's best practices I've read. You should have your business ready and it shouldn't be super dependent on you as the owner. I mean, you have to build it where your team is doing the majority of the work because it's more valuable, if that's the case. And so it's not selfish for you to exit the business slowly but surely, because you're giving people the ability to grow their careers and you're setting your business up for success at your exit date.
Brad Larsen: Do you still have any involvement in the business with Pure at a higher level?
Jeremy Aspen: No, no, I don't.
Gwenn Aspen: Our our team members do are minority owners definitely are working with Pure specifically because we have a sophisticated maintenance department that maybe could be replicated in other areas. And so, yes, they love working with that leadership team. And Pure is one of those teams that really looks to the companies that acquires for its expertise. And that's going really well.
Jeremy Aspen: Yeah, and they're largely operating in the way that they were before. I mean, because let's face it, that is what they bought, and they don't want to disrupt that and know that they have long term plans to make some changes technology wise or whatever. But right now, things just keep humming the way they did before, except that like going and brought up the visionary piece. Like, now they're part of a larger group they want to be. There's more of an opportunity, maybe maybe for more people. You know, we've got one guy that's kind of been offered a job in Colorado because he wants to go there and there's an opportunity. So, you know, that's a nice thing. It's hard. You have to backfill the position, but you also make these opportunities for your employees to go live the life that they want to lead.
Brad Larsen: Let's talk about the timing and the how you approach your team with this decision.
Jeremy Aspen: So time. Wise hours took a little bit longer because of the size and because of the complexity that the maintenance piece brought on, but you know, from start to finish, I would say it probably took what?
Gwenn Aspen: Well, our process began pretty much right after your conference. So was that may, so may. And then we finally closed with a with pure. When was it the end
Jeremy Aspen: Of November 1st,
Gwenn Aspen: November 1st?
Jeremy Aspen: Yeah, and that was the longest one that had ever taken them. So there are a lot faster than that. Generally speaking, I think we threw up some hurdles and we slowed things down a little bit. But you know, we had it's a larger company and it was it was a big transaction. So they were really gracious and everything worked out. It worked out real nicely, actually. Well, let me take a part to your question.
Brad Larsen: Oh no, the timing of it was like, how did you do that? Did you like, bring everybody into a conference room and say, Hey, guess what? We're out. How did you do all that?
Jeremy Aspen: Yeah. So there was actually because we've been mostly hands off for the recent past. My team, Doug and Emerson, they call a company meeting and the whole company showed up and I only was able to zoom in because I was notified very late and they notified everybody right there. They gave them some swag, answered some questions and let them know about the new benefits package that they were going to be having enjoying. And and I think everybody's still there at the company.
Gwenn Aspen: Yeah, I don't think anybody left due to any changes and because we were really out of the game for the most part, which is why we really needed to move because we were maybe stale vision. And now they're getting like excited vision like owners who are really invested in it. And so I think everybody's more excited than when we were in charge, which is exactly the point.
Brad Larsen: I want to steal a page from John Warlow, so he does the podcast built to sell, and he was a speaker at our very first property management conference, and he's the guy that writes all these different books about how to build and sell a company and stuff like that. A lot of his interviews, he talks to the folks about, OK, what did you buy or what you do after completing the sale? Did you go buy that jet you always wanted, Jeremy, or what did you end up doing? So talk us through.
Gwenn Aspen: My gosh, could I just tell you about how anticlimactic it was? Yeah, like so this is just a testament to maybe how much Jeremy and I are not fun because we're just like a Thursday night and he was on his phone and he's like, OK, I'm signing the final paperwork and he signed it and I was like, This is so exciting. He was like, I need to go work out. And then he went and worked out, and that was like it was literally. I think we both worked out.
Jeremy Aspen: Yeah, it was pretty anticlimactic. Only that we always knew it was coming. And as far as the cash, you know, I mean, you know, you don't live off of it, you know, we're just not the type of people. We have a small house, big life kind of attitude. I didn't get a new car. I didn't. I'm in a different. I didn't do anything with the money. Right now it's sitting in a bank account and I'm like, Well,
Gwenn Aspen: It's it's yeah, doing the and we took dollar cost averaging.
Jeremy Aspen: Yeah. And then we took some of this money and we're investing it into the software for anyone.
Brad Larsen: Ok. Good stuff, so nothing fun. Yeah, I know. That's that's absolutely disgustingly boring. But hey, that's cool. You know, a lot of people would say, Oh, I bought a bought a Lamborghini or something neat like that, or I took a trip around the world or something.
Jeremy Aspen: Have some long term goals. You know, at some point I want to buy a newer, faster airplane for myself because I'm a pilot, general aviation. But that's nothing like a jet.
Gwenn Aspen: So I just think that I mean, the moral of the story to make it not sound so bad is just that we actually like our regular life. Yeah, like we we like the life that we've built with or without the sale of the company, and we're happy living it. So instead of sounding super boring, I think I think it's a story that we're actually happy with, with the day to day.
Brad Larsen: It makes a lot of sense because a lot of times the entrepreneurs that John Wall has talks with, there could be software, folks. They could be just grinding 80 90 hours a week for, you know, five 10 years. And then all of a sudden, boom. Here's nine figures thrown in your lap. Right. And then it's like, you're so 180 in your lifestyle. And so a lot of people will, you know, take a trip around the world for a year or buy these great big items. But it's a testament to our industry to where you have the company basically running itself. You looked at a little bit from a strategic level stuff, but you weren't in there blocking and tackling every day. And so for you to make an exit, it was not like a giant thing. It was just like, OK, it's another chapter that's ended and a new chapter is opening up. Let's go to dinner and work out that type of thing. It wasn't a giant deal for you guys. I mean, it was a great big deal, but it's not. It wasn't such a life changing event that threw you for a loop. So kudos for you guys for building that great company and congratulations on your exit. Thanks.
Gwenn Aspen: And I just want to say one thing we're just still purpose driven with adequate. I mean, that's where our passion lies, and we love creating amazing careers and developing a middle class and emerging market. And that's what gets us up every day. And also helping small businesses in the United States may maintain profitability. I mean, that's enough of a purpose for us, but that's what drives us day to day, and no amount of money really changes the excitement that we share for that.
Jeremy Aspen: In fact, we've kind of been beating ourselves up for not traveling at all because you brought that up about traveling the world. And so this year, we're going to at least go to Europe because we have some really good friends here that we need to go visit. So I'm actually really looking forward to it because this business owners, as you and your listeners know, we don't really take the time to do that stuff. We don't. That's just the nature of the beast. You're too friggin busy. And I think we got caught up in that routine and now we're finally going to break from it and go visit some friends.
Brad Larsen: Yeah, yeah. And it does, especially when you have young kids because your kiddos are, I think, 14 and 12 something like that. Yeah, right? Yeah, exactly. Yeah, yeah. And so they're right close to my kids age, and it's every time you think I want to go do this, I want to go to that. Wait a minute. We got other things going on with the kiddos that got this going on, that going on and that kind of does. What's the anchor on your little bit? But imagine when they finally get them out of the house, kick them off to college, then you guys can go live the big dream. Take that plane and yeah, come see me in San Antonio,
Jeremy Aspen: Which I may be doing sooner than later.
Brad Larsen: Absolutely. Guys, appreciate you coming on today. It's been a fantastic episode. I really enjoyed our conversation, especially about remote team members and of course, your successful exit and your acquisition with pure congratulations again before to see the guys at the Property Manager Mastermind Conference in Twenty Twenty Two in May. Coming up, we're only about four or five months away. Dwayne is going to be one of my facilitators. Remember, Gwenn is going to be
Gwenn Aspen: How could I forget? I love I know your conference.
Brad Larsen: I love your small group atmosphere that you bring because you have a knowledge of what we're talking about with a remote team members and of course, the knowledge of the extreme procedures that you built in your management company and you've come full circle now. So I think you're really bringing something to the table for the small group. Appreciate guys coming on, looking forward to see you at the mastermind conference and until next time you guys stay in touch.
Jeremy Aspen: Hey, thanks, Brad.
Brad Larsen: Hey, everybody wanted to make sure you know about the Property Manager Mastermind conference here in twenty twenty two going on at the Red Rock Resort in Las Vegas, May 16 through 18. Go to PMM.com To learn more and sign up.
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