In this episode, David Dodge together with his good friend Ryan Dossey (the founder of Call Porter) talks about his answering service business called Call Porter and share how it works.
David: Alright guys, welcome back to the Discount Property Investor podcast. I am your host David Dodge, joined by a good friend of mine, I am happy to call Ryan a good friend of mine at this point. We haven't known each other for that long. We met in-- did we meet in Tulum?
David: We met in Tulum Mexico at a mastermind. I have known of Ryan for sometime and I have known of a couple of his businesses for some time. So I am honored to have Ryan on the show, let's welcome Ryan, Ryan how are you my friend?
Ryan: Thanks, man. I'm going to have to up my energy a little bit.
David: I am happy to have you on the show, buddy. Ryan is in a mastermind that I'm in, I just mentioned that. Ryan is-- ten years younger than me, but he inspires the hell out of me. You really do Ryan, you're crushing it, keep it up. I am glad to have you on the show today. I would like to talk to you today about your-- what do you call this? Your answering service?
David: CallPorter.com, right?
David: Is that where you would go?
David: You know what's funny? You had-- I don't know if you still do, but you had some ads running, and the backdrop was Faster Houses [00:01:58.24 - inaudible]. I saw that tent, that's before I knew you. I'm like-- weird, that tent looks so familiar. Who is this guy talking, but long story short, I knew you before I got to meet you. So call us about Call Porter, man. What it is, how does it work? Who uses it? What are some of the reasons that somebody should use it?
Ryan: Yeah good question. So I started it myself to take my own calls. My background was in car warranty sales, like a lot of sales people in St Louis.
David: That's a tough business.
Ryan: It's a horrible business.
David: It's a tough business, man.
Ryan: Guys like snorting coke off their desk next to you. It was a horrible environment.
David: Are they hiring? Just kidding.
Ryan: They are always hiring.
David: Just kidding, I'm good.
Ryan: I had done that, I was pretty good on the phones, but I am not the most detail orientated person.
David: Me neither.
Ryan: Like a lot of investors I was missing calls, calls were going to voice mail. The call that finally broke the camel's back, a lady I called-- I followed up on a voice mail and she told me she hoped I burned in hell and to never call her again.
David: Did you call her right back.
Ryan: I called her right back.
David: Yes! I love it.
Ryan: I was like, okay. I need to do something different here. I knew a girl who was in the industry. She had done customer service, and I brought her on full time salary to take my own calls.
David: I'm going to interrupt you. I am going to do this a lot, I apologize in advance.
Ryan: It's what I'm here for.
David: This was-- you started investing while you were doing that or no?
David: So you were doing that on the side I'm assuming?
Ryan: I was actually investing full time.
David: Okay cool.
Ryan: I tried the VA route, I wasn't happy with the results.
David: We don't have to not use the name, I've used PatLive in the past, so I am very familiar with what they do. So you guys are very similar. I would imagine you're better for multiple reasons and we will get into that. If you haven't heard of Call Porter, it is a very similar type service, guys.
David: I am not here to knock them or anybody.
Ryan: No, absolutely.
David: Any service is better than not answering the phone, and that's what matters. If you are using that other service, that's fine. It's better than not answering those calls, not being able to pick them up in real time, or able to get back to them. We did a podcast yesterday, and it is probably going to publish today. It's called 'speed to lead'. That is exactly what you guys help these investors do, love it.
Ryan: We joke and laugh all the time that investors will spend a fortune on a marketing campaign. They get leads and they are afraid of them.
David: Yes, that's how it was in the beginning for us.
Ryan: If they don't leave a voice mail with the address, they are not motivated.
David: Some of the best ones are the ones that don't leave the voice mails.
Ryan: Some of them are skeptical, those are the seniors that sell you for 50 cents on the dollar.
David: Very cool. So you started out doing the car sales--.
Ryan: Car warranty sales. I started that when I was 17, so didn't graduate high school. Just-- it was kind of this weird thing where I got married young, I got married at 20. When we were dating I was making really good married, like 17, 18, six figures a year. Every year it got harder and harder to hit bonus. So my last year producing the same number at the company I was at pre tax I made 21 grand.
David: Oh wow. So you went from six figures to 21 over three or four years?
Ryan: Kind of like the reverse of what most couples have. Start off broke and build. Early on it was like, do you want to go to Italy? Then it was like, wait, our rent's due? I am not used to this.
David: The tables turned.
Ryan: That was when-- like most people read 'Rich dad poor dad', stumbled on to 'Bigger pockets', learned about wholesaling. I was like, oh I can make money in real estate with no money, I'm interested.
Ryan: Did my first marketing campaign, probably would have been about way back in 2014 or 2015, had a business partner. I put my half of three grand on my credit card I couldn't pay off, didn't tell my wife, yes I am still married.
Ryan: In the first month we did our first deal, made 12 grand.
Ryan: Yeah our net after marketing was about a ten thousand dollar profit.
Ryan: So I am sitting there looking at a ten thousand dollar check, and looking back at my job, I was like, what?
David: You quit?
Ryan: Oh no, I wasn't that ballsy. I was a horrible employee from then on.
David: Very cool. So how did you transition to quitting the job? This is not your only gig obviously, but launching the business and building it to where it's at now, what were the steps that you took?
Ryan: Business partner and I, his name is Ryan Billingsly here in St Louis--.
David: I don't know if I know Ryan that well. I know the name.
Ryan: He does a few deals a year.
David: I feel like I know him for sure.
Ryan: I want to say he has like ten doors or something like that. Real big lifestyle guy, so he will do a couple of deals then just peace out. More vacations than anybody I've met. Work life balance, he has got it dialed in.
David: Hell yeah.
Ryan: Him and I wholesale, got enough cash to do a couple of rentals. My life decided to get her doctorate in Psychology, which moved us in Indianapolis. So I tried working like odd ball, work from home, car warranty sales from home type stuff.
David: Found you had zero motivation?
Ryan: I had none. I think it was for like two or three months. I was making like no money, and finally I was like, okay, I would rather go broke than keep this up. My last job was cold calling businesses trying to sell them merchant processing. That was horrible. I was like, you know what? I am going to give this a shot. My wife's grand parents had a tri plex that was listed that they were not able to sell. I was able to wholesale it to an investor for the dollar amount they had it listed for. Actually made more money, payed no commissions or anything.
David: You made them more money? And made money?
Ryan: Yeah. Tap like five grand on top.
David: Triple win. Very cool.
Ryan: Had five thousand dollars to my name, three thousand a month in bills. I was like, who needs a pair of shoes?
David: I'm with ya man.
Ryan: That was my full time-- that was right in the beginning of 2016. Call Porter came to be tail end of '16 early '17, then really started to treat it like a business in 2018.
David: That's great. So why? Let's start with that. Why? Why did you build the business? Create it and continue to run it?
Ryan: Initially I didn't want to take my own calls, but I also knew that that customer experience was huge. People are going to sell to who they like, and if they can't get you on the phone--.
David: They are moving onto the next guy.
Ryan: They are going to the next guy.
Ryan: Or they get a piece of mail and they call, in theory-- oh I'm going to pick up my calls live, while you're at dinner, a movie, whatever. So I hired one gal, and it just started going really well, my business started to lift off--.
David: Is she local? State side?
Ryan: Good question, yeah. So all of our employees are actually here in St Louis.
David: Very cool.
Ryan: Talk just like you and I, they don't have any particular accent. These are not like expats or any of the typical loop holes, not folks in Tijuana that were deported.
David: Nothing wrong with that per say, however, when I personally get calls from unknown numbers, you probably get twenty a day too, maybe that is a little bit of an exaggeration, but-- not BS, I get three to five a day every single day from a number that I don't know. Because I'm in this business, I answer all of the calls unless I'm in a meeting or podcasting or whatever, right? I try to answer as much as I possibly can. If it's somebody that has a thick foreign accent, I am nine times more likely to hang up or discount. I'm not rude, but it's like, okay what are you selling?
Ryan: You don't work for Microsoft.
David: Right, yes, it's not expiring. So you know, it's not necessarily a bad thing, but it is-- just flip the script; it's better to have the people that are answering the phones sound like the people that are calling, 100%. So the fact you have all the people here locally. The fact they are in St Louis is great, but to me it doesn't matter, they are in the USA.
Ryan: I'm in Indianapolis and they are taking my calls, right?
David: Right, doesn't matter.
Ryan: The big thing that separates us from anybody else is that we only take calls for real estate investors. There is no like-- we joke about that they are not like booking an oil change, confirming a hair cute--.
David: We talked about PatLive earlier, and I am not promoting them, don't get the wrong idea.
David: I know you're not. But that's really the-- I mean there are probably a lot of other companies that do this, but that's the main one that comes to mind.
David: They are not real estate specific.
David: That's where you guys set yourselves apart which is awesome.
Ryan: Correct yeah.
David: Not only the delay from-- that was a problem had, Ryan, whenever I used them. I don't use them anymore.
David: Again I am not bashing. Not my intentions, but when I was using them, there was a delay-- I would call my own number and test it.
Ryan: Oh yeah.
David: And there would be a delay from the time they picked up to the time that they started reading their script, because they didn't know what they script was, they just pop up. Like is this guy selling auto parts, is he buying real estate, is this a doctors office? It definitely-- I didn't like that part of it. So the fact that you guys are all real estate, I am sure they have scripts, but at the end of the day it's the same, right?
David: Hey, thanks for calling, do you have a house that you need to sell? Is this a buying or selling type of a call? Boom, love it. I didn't realize you guys were all real estate focused.
David: That's awesome.
Ryan: So they are trained in probate, pre foreclosure, evictions. They can ask intelligent questions. They will actually book appointments on the initial inbound call for that acquisitions manager based on their availability.
David: Very cool.
Ryan: It's a business I own, but I'm not really involved in the day to day anymore.
Ryan: We have C level employees and all that. My staff haven't had to take an inbound call in four years.
David: How cool is that?
Ryan: If their phone is ringing, it's a seller they made an offer, who si calling them to accept counter declining it. There is none of this, okay I wonder if it's take me off the list. I think one of the fastest ways to ruin a good acquisitions manager is to just drown them in-- take me off the list tire kicking type stuff.
David: Yeah absolutely. So you guys have trained the answering service, which is what it is essentially, right? Do they do outbound too? No?
Ryan: We have experimented with it, it will be coming back. It's a tricky-- so we do outbound-- alright, so another way we're different, right now if somebody calls in and hangs up before they pick up a call, we call that an abandoned call. They will automatically call that person back five times.
David: Love it. That's huge, man.
Ryan: Same thing with an after hours call, if somebody calls in on a Sunday or late at night, they will call that person back five times. We are not really doing like outbound calling as a service--.
David: You shouldn't have to. You shouldn't need to.
Ryan: We have experimented with it, it's just investors don't want to pay what it costs to have American outbound cold callers.
David: I don't think you need it, I was just curious. I think what you guys have is awesome.
Ryan: Thanks, man.
David: So they come in, if they are missed, if it's abandoned-- you will call back of course, because again, you guys as a company are trying to capture leads, help set appointments.
Ryan: -- number of calls and talk time.
Ryan: Incentiveised to get as many people as we possibly can.
David: To keep them on, get as much information as you possibly can.
Ryan: We don't keep them on--.
David: Within reason though. You don't want it to be a two second call. You want to get as much info--.
Ryan: We are not going to kick somebody off of a phone call, but at the same time we are not--.
David: Totally. So you guys are doing appointment setting for these people too then?
David: How does that work? Let's say I'm like, hey Ryan, I am interested, sign me up, let's do some on-boarding, you get me going. Do I give you guy's criteria? Do I say I need to be in this range?
Ryan: Good question.
David: How do you know? Because that is a challenge that I face, and I am sure that most of our listeners and viewers have as well, whenever they are training their acquisition people. Essentially that is what you guys are offering. Not only is it a call service, but it's like a--.
Ryan: Like an ISA.
David: It's like a fractional-- like a fractional acquisition manager, right?
David: So what justifies setting the appointment versus just adding that lead to the CRM and letting them go follow up with it?
Ryan: Good question. So our general rule of thumb is if they have equity and they want to sell we will book an appointment. Very much like-- not even motivation, it's more just like-- there is room and they want an offer. In my opinion in my own business, that is a valid good lead. We have other clients that are like-- we do ask what their asking price is, because their staff are required to ask it twice, and they are also required to ask if it's flexible, right? So some of our clients--.
David: Is that the best you can do?
Ryan: Yeah pretty much.
David: Love that.
Ryan: Yeah absolutely.
David: Absolutely. I use that on everything. Hey I need a quote for my roof, I don't even care what the number is, is that the best you can do? It always comes down.
David: Always, yep, love it.
Ryan: So we have some clients that are like, well you know-- only book an appointment if it's like 80% of the estimate or whatever. They can do some of that, and we do have other clients that are like, hey I don't want you to book appointments. But, most of our guys do, book me everything you can, and if I want to cancel the appointment I will.
David: I will, I love that.
Ryan: That way like-- it's already T'ed up, where they are expecting somebody to show up and make them a cash offer instead of it being this like-- i don't know about you but the reason we had them start booking appointments, I lost count of the number of people that called in, sounded great, and I couldn't get them back on the phone.
David: Yeah. That is a good point.
Ryan: I would rather know if that guy wants me there Tuesday at three--.
David: We were just talking about this on that 'speed to lead' episode.
David: Just talking about this. A lot of times--.
Ryan: This is a good follow up episode.
David: It is, it really is, but a lot of times it is not so much about-- anything else rather than getting them back on the phone.
David: To kind of recap that entire episode, you are 9 times out of-- I would even go as high as saying you are twenty times more likely to work with somebody and do a deal with them if you-- let's say you don't pick up, but you call them back within five minutes, versus an hour or a day. Most of the problem is just getting them on the phone.
David: They may be motivated, they may be so motivated--.
Ryan: They're busy.
David: -- give you the house.
Ryan: Everybody is busy.
David: Not only that but if they call you and you don't answer, the odds of them leaving a voice mail--.
Ryan: They will go to the next guy.
David: Who cares? They are going to go to the next guy and the next guy. Often times they call four or five of those people.
David: It doesn't bother me whenever I am out meeting somebody on an appointment that has called five people. It's just good to know, but if I can get in there first, sometimes I can get it under contract before the other people can even come in the door.
Ryan: Can I woo you a little bit?
David: You can do whatever you want.
Ryan: I'm going to woo you a little bit. So Call Porter is set up with a piece of technology that if you are using Pay Per Click or something, we can web hook into your site, and when a seller fills out a form it will automatically call into my staff, transcribe that info. New seller lead address, 123 main street--.
David: Call them right there.
Ryan: -- to call. The result of that, our average SEO lead, we are on the phone with in less then 30 seconds, automatically.
David: Dude, that is awesome!
Ryan: Something else we offer.
David: That is huge!
Ryan: We actually bought a house-- we don't buy people, we bought a house from a guy that was an SEO digital marketer kind of guy who told us, the only reason he sold to us was that piece of tech. I told him I would only tell him what it was if he sold us his house.
David: No way!
Ryan: He was like, I'm so impressed. Numbers work, we're good to go.
David: Very cool.
Ryan: On closing he's like, how did you do it?
David: How did you do it? How did you know?
Ryan: -- automation, we have it built in.
David: That is phenomenal. Guys, check it out. Ryan Dossey with CallPorter.com. This is an answering service specifically for real estate investors. Do you work with agents at all too?
Ryan: We have a couple.
David: A couple.
Ryan: But it's like 99%-- we average about 10'000 calls a month that we are taking for real estate investors that are all motivated sellers. Our average call is picked up in 12 seconds or less. So none of that 45 second hold music BS.
David: Or you hear them pick up and they don't say anything for 30 seconds because they are reading.
Ryan: My favorites are when the answer and put it on hold.
David: Immediately, yeah.
David: I just heard you answer the phone, man.
Ryan: I know you're there.
David: So specifically real estate investors, but it's the real estate niche. Inbound answering instantly which is huge. Sinking up with multiple CRM's I'm assuming to push those leads.
Ryan: Yep any web form you can send us, so Podio, BeastMode, we simply-- insert your favorite CRM, if you have a web form we can work with it.
David: As well as the quick followup call back. Not followups, but the abandoned or missed calls, it sounds like you guy have an awesome system. I am really interested--.
Ryan: You want it done in your own business. I am a buy and hold investor. Anybody who thinks that running call centers is extremely lucrative-- I have news for ya. It truly is like a labor of love that has allowed us to scale our business. The neat thing to is that most of our clients have day jobs. You have a 9-5, what are you supposed to do during 9-5? It's a good way to get fired.
David: It's a great way to get fired.
Ryan: We literally have clients that work at NASA or the FBI, doctors, attorneys. Down to guys just like me who went full time on a whim, and figured out how to make it work.
David: Or they just don't want to answer their own calls, or all of the above.
Ryan: Afraid of it.
David: You know what, Ryan, that is a great point. I am glad you brought that up.
Ryan: It freaks them out.
David: Man, we have students from time to time, and that is their biggest concern. They know everything they need to do. They know it when they come to me.
Ryan: Absolutely. But that phone rings and they are like--.
David: Phone rings-- yeah they start sweating, they freak out and I'm like, what is the problem?
Ryan: Just talk to them.
David: If you don't have inventory to sell, you can't do wholesale deals. That's what I tell them, because we focus a lot on wholesaling.
David: It's like, go talk to these people answer the phone, just make a friend. Don't be embarrassed, don't be scared, just do it. But if you are-- there is a company out there that can help you with this, guys.
Ryan: Even if you're not and you think you're good at taking your own calls, that's cool. We take 10'000 calls a month. Our staff are more experienced.
David: They are ready and willing, they are happy to take these calls. That's how you guys get payed too is by answering these calls So that's what you guys do. I love it.
Ryan: Thanks, man.
David: Anything else that I missed, or you want to talk about or plug? Let's kind of back up. We talked about the why. You did it because you wanted to outsource this in your own business.
Ryan: Hands down.
David: You have scaled it to bring in obviously other people, that's awesome.
Ryan: The scaling went like-- I ran my mouth, like most real estate investors. I'm onto something that's working. Then friends were like-- can it take my calls? It was like, okay we need more than once person. We got up to three or four people. I got to the point I realized, okay I think we are onto something that is a needed niche here. I don't want to run a call center.
David: As far as I know, but it doesn't even matter, not very many if other companies that are specific to the real estate answering.
Ryan: I don't think there's any. We occasionally will see one like pop up from the Philippines that is gone in 30 days.
David: Of course.
Ryan: But it's a-- I would say it's a difficult business to run, but what makes it worth it, our kind of whole why behind it was to turn solopreneurs, hustler type folks into business owners.
Ryan: We just shot an interview with Ron here who did that. That's what makes all the payroll and taxes and everything all worth it.
David: Absolutely. The fact that you are-- I personally will never hire a coach that doesn't have a coach, and or I will never buy a service from somebody that doesn't use that service them self. I mean it's serious though.
Ryan: Absolutely, I am right there with you.
David: 100%. So the fact own and operate this call center and this answering service, however you want to define it is one thing, but the fact that you use it yourself is huge to me, because that means when you see something break, or not working right, boom you fix it immediately. So I as the customer or whoever else doesn't have to be constantly complaining about it, it gets done.
Ryan: We are auditing our own calls, addressing issues if there are any, making sure things are filled our correctly. I mean we are just literally one of the clients in the business a this point.
David: Right. That's what I think is awesome about it, it's beautiful.
Ryan: I agree with you though. I get a big kick out of vendors who launch to fill a need that they have never had.
David: I think this will be great. Do you need it yourself? Totally agree with that. Ryan, thank you for coming on the show. Much appreciated. Guys, check out CallPorter.com if you are looking to get out of that solopreneur state of mind and or position. A great book to help with this would be the E-Myth. If you haven't read the E-Myth I highly recommend it. In the beginning you are every position, you are the EO, you are the guy answering the phone. You are running the appointments, the admin. You are doing all of these things. It's impossible to scale a business when you are doing all of these roles. You know what, Ryan? The first thing that I outsourced was my inbound calls, and my followup calls. But, my inbound was number one.
David: I hired a virtual assistant four and a half, five years ago when I first started. He still works for me to this day.
Ryan: That's awesome.
David: He is in the Philippines, however he doesn't sound like it. So I have a loophole there. He's a great guy, but if you guys are wanting to scale your own business, check it out, Ryan is a great friend of mine. I only promote and recommend things that I believe in and or use. I don't use this today, but it doesn't mean I'm not going to be using it tomorrow. I pay him $8 an hour, 7.75 I think. So it's not bad. It's like--.
Ryan: So we would be less than that for you. You also have another 14 people there to take your calls in case you have two come in.
David: What hours are you guys operational?
Ryan: 8am till 10pm, central standard time, Monday through Saturday, closed Sundays.
David: I love it, awesome. Ryan thanks again. Check it out, CallPorter.com. He has the coolest thing every, answering service that is specific to real estate investors. These guys know what they are doing. Again, I wouldn't promote or recommend something that I didn't believe in, you guys know that.
Ryan: Thanks, man.
David: We're going to do another episode with Ryan.
David: Stick around, and in the next episode--.
Ryan: But wait there's more!
David: But wait there's more! The next one is about another one of Ryan's businesses. Stay turned, come back, we will see you in a few.