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Commercial Real Estate FAQ With John Manes On Self-Storage Property Investments

What Have Been Three Big Lessons Learned While Building A 100 Million Dollar Plus Investment Firm?

The following Q&A was completed as part of our conversational Commercial Real Estate FAQ Interview Series, we hope you find it helpful.

While building a 100 plus million dollar investment firm there are a few important keys to keep in mind. First, make sure your partnerships are equal, beneficial, and smart. The right partner or the wrong partner can make or break your efforts. Next, if your business is operational, build a team that works together well and is inspired to get things done. Everyone has their own role, but they’re all able to work with one another as well when needed. Lastly, make sure to put significant effort in your marketing machine. Don’t be shy and put yourself out there so you cannot be ignored. 

Richard Wilson: What have been three big lessons learned while building a $100 million plus investment firm that you can share with others that are just getting started? 

John Manes: First lesson is pick the right partners. I, as you know, I’ve got two great partners. I mean the camaraderie, synergy, all the fun that we have, everything like that – we’re allowed to call each other’s kids ugly, I mean, all of that stuff. Picking the best partner is key. And I always say that what dissolves partnerships is when one feels like they’re working harder than the other one. Or one feels like they’re taking more risk than the other one. That’s what dissolves partnerships. I’m a workaholic, and when we started this thing I was concerned that they couldn’t keep up because of how much I work, and those two outwork me all the time. And that’s impressive, right? So, picking the right partners. 

Secondly being an operational business is building the right team. So we have currently now 15 home office people and each of them not only have their own roles but they play in each other’s sandbox all the time, too. Building that right team of people, getting the right people on the bus, getting them in the right seat, all of that I think is something key. 

The other thing is the marketing machine that we’ve created is – If you’re going to bootstrap stuff like we’re doing then you’ve got to have a good marketing machine. And I don’t mean a marketing company, I’m talking about you’ve got to be out there, you’ve got to be front facing, you’ve got to get people to know who you are. And coming to your family office conferences, you know this, is by the time we leave there everybody is talking about us. Because of them damn jackets, right? So, that’s the marketing machine that I’m talking about is getting out there, getting people to know you, having good solid conversations, following up when people call you, posting on LinkedIn – whatever avenues that you utilize blogs, videos, etc., a combination of all of it – get that marketing machine out there and get people to know who you are. The more success you have, other people want to be part of success, right? So they see your success and they go “Oooh Oooh, wait, wait…” and I go “Where were you three years ago when I was busting my ass?” right? And now you want to play with us? Ok! Now I can listen, right? So, that combination of getting the marketing machine out there makes your telephone ring all the time. Like I just, I was just telling you we closed three deals last week, and the two deals that I raised $1.4 million on, I raised $1.4 million in 10 days. 

Richard: Wow. Phone calls? Or an e-mail out to your list? Or what? 

John: I didn’t even e-mail blast it. I had a list of people that I had been talking to, I picked up the phone, called them, sent them the deck, I raised $1.2 million that way. And then I e-mail blasted to about 40 people and the last 200 was gone. Just like that. So, that’s what I mean by that marketing machine. Like right now we’ve got like 13,000 people on our distribution list and believe it or not, I’ve probably physically talked to 7,000 of those people over the last 4 or 5 years. And that’s that marketing machine, right? So the third point I would say is if you’re trying to do it in the way we’ve done it, is get out there. Don’t be shy. For the record, I got 13,000 people on the distribution list, I only have 130 investors, right? So that’s a lot of no’s. That’s a lot of people telling me no. They haven’t told me no, they just haven’t voted with their wallet. But I’ve had a lot of conversations to only get 130 people. But those 130 people generated $132 million worth of equity. There’s the machine. 

Richard: Right. Got it. 

About the author

Richard Wilson