Every business has a unique culture. Some have a traditional culture that relies on hierarchy, while a common purpose drives others. Whatever culture your workplace has is critical to your business’ success.
If you have a culture-based business, you need to protect your culture and keep it positive no matter what. Even if that means letting go of people and nipping the “cancer” in the bud before it spreads further.
Brian Charlesworth joins Jack Lehr, President, and CEO of Tru AdvantageTeam brokered by ΓEA⅃, as they discuss how he ended up in the real estate industry, what a leader’s role should be in promoting a positive culture in the workplace, and why he thinks people should stop watching the news.
(01:39) How did Jack get into real estate?
(08:26) What a culture-based business means
(16:06) The systems you need to have to make your business repeatable and scalable.
(17:40 ) Jack’s tech stack recommendations
(18:41) The importance of tracking and measuring your numbers
(19:32) Sisu’s mastery event
(21:23) Why does Jack think that the news is B.S.?
(24:11) Why now is NOT the time to sit on the sidelines
(25:35) The two people we need to believe in us
(26:54) Jack’s favorite source of learning
Connect with Jack Lehr
Facebook: Jack Lehr
About the guest:
Jack Lehr started a manufacturer’s rep agency almost immediately after graduating from college. Then, after building up some decent cash, he started buying real estate properties. One of which was a 102-acre farm with a 1790 farmhouse.
As he and his wife were renovating the house, they learned how harmful lead-based paint was (which was commonly used in these houses), especially to their newborn child, so they decided to sell it instead. They subdivided the property, and this became their first flip. John fell in love with the process and continued to flip, buy, and hold real estate properties from then on.
Today, Jack Lehr is the President, and CEO of Tru AdvantageTeam, brokered by ΓEA⅃. He is currently running teams in four locations in four different states. He’s also a real estate investor, coach, husband, and father to four sons.
Brian Charlesworth 0:33
Alright. Hello, everyone, and welcome back to the Grit Podcast. I'm Brian Charlesworth. I'm the founder of Sisu and your host of the show. And today we are here with Jack Lehr who I got to meet at Spring and Justin's event in Mexico here not long ago. So, Jack, I'm excited to have you on the show. Just so everyone knows Jack is the president and CEO of Tru Advantage Team, and they are at Real Broker. And Jack has multiple teams across the country. I want to learn more about that today. I think you have teams in four different states if I'm not mistaken. And then you also own an investment group. That sounds like you started after the crash of Oh, eight, and probably a good time to start a company like that. And you, I know are a proud father of four boys. In the short time that I've known you. I've heard you talk about your kids with a lot of pride and excitement. And I love that. So anyway, welcome to the show. Jack
Jack Lehr 1:30
Well. Thank you, Brian. I'm super grateful to be here with you. Again, thank you so much for this invitation.
Brian Charlesworth 1:35
Yeah, great to have you. So let's just start with how did you get into real estate? When did this all happen? Why, you know, start back there.
Jack Lehr 1:44
Yeah. So a number of years ago back in, coming out of college 9293 and went and started a company almost immediately, it was a manufacturer's rep agency. And we sell paper, film, and foil and to people that process also machinery within the paper, film, and foil industry and also the machine tool industry. And a number of years into that was very fortunate to build up some decent cash. And I said You know what, I think I'm gonna start buying some real estate. So started buying some rentals. And I think 98 is where I really got the true bug to maybe really go into it a little bit heavier. My wife and I, we found 102-acre farm. And we were renovating this 1790 farmhouse, super excited about this. And then we got pregnant. And we're renovating this house, we're bringing friends in, we're doing all the work ourselves. And I love the construction aspect of it just didn't have water didn't have a septic, like we put all this into it. And probably about midway through the project, my wife and I went to a birthing class. And they talked about lead-based paint. And I was like, Oh my gosh, just so like just new parents, we were a little bit frightened about bringing our newborn baby into a 1790s farmhouse that might have had or definitely had lead-based paint. So we actually subdivide the property. And like that was our first flip. It wasn't intentional, but it was just something that was a way to get out of it, and actually make a decent amount of money. And I was like, oh my goodness, this is a beautiful process. And that's how I got the bug. So 98 Did our first flip. And then quickly just started, you know, buying additional properties, and then flipping and flipping and, and buying and hold. And yeah, that's how we got started.
Brian Charlesworth 3:26
Okay, so. So you actually started by being a real estate investor, not by being a realtor.
Jack Lehr 3:34
Yes, I'm not licensed, never was. don't plan on ever getting licensed.
Brian Charlesworth 3:39
Okay, so here you are running a team, you have four locations, and you're in four states, and you're not even licensed,
Jack Lehr 3:47
Not licensed. Again, the big thing is, is that, you know, again, realtors, that, that build teams, they get caught up in being a realtor, and they gotta get in their own way. And I think the big thing is that not getting licensed, I treat myself as a true CEO and building companies been fortunate to be able to build several different companies, not just real estate, but that's the big thing. Like we build sales teams that just happen to have licensed agents to facilitate a transaction and help a client either buy or sell a home. And you know, with the sales training in play, we treat ourselves as a sales team that just happens to sell real estate.
Brian Charlesworth 4:23
Okay, so tell us about some of the other companies. You know, I'd love to hear just a little bit about those.
Jack Lehr 4:29
Yeah, so a bunch in the real estate world, a couple of private equity investments that I was introduced to, and one I was fortunate to be able to take public. There's a lot of stuff in play there. It's a beautiful thing. We talked a little bit about down in Mexico together, but it's been around incredible people that really want to take next-level steps in their life. And that was a beautiful part of like the relationship that I had with ocean thermal energy technology. And there's a lot of great stuff that's happening with that company. Again, you're gonna see a penny stock right? Now, but there's stuff in works, that's going to really pay off significantly for all the investors that we did take it public, so heavily involved in that. But I think the big thing is like, title company, you know, we had a joint venture situation with an incredible human in this world. And we parted ways recently. And then we started our own title company. And we do a significant number of transactions. So that's another incredible revenue generator for the businesses. And my wife, Kim, and I, like, it's not about us keeping it all like we heavily invest back in our teams, and grow these different locations. So but renovation companies, we did a, our real estate investment company, over 550, flips, everything from like, small little renovations to complete gut, and some wholesale in there as well. And that 550 Plus, since 2009, like those are some of the companies and just love bringing the right people together. And, you know, putting them in the right seat, and helping them to optimize their talents within the organization.
Brian Charlesworth 6:01
Great. So you are based in New York, Pennsylvania, is that right?
Jack Lehr 6:05
New York, Pennsylvania, South Central PA Yep.
Brian Charlesworth 6:08
Okay, what got you started to go from buying properties to saying I'm going to not going to get licensed, I think you're the first person I've met that runs the team that is not licensed, which I think you don't really need to be and I agree with that. So tell me how you like how did you decide to build a team?
Jack Lehr 6:29
Yeah, it just seemed very natural. So we had a business partner, when we started trusted Property Group in 2009. And we were doing a significant number of short sales, we had a beautiful system, and we still have it in place up till today. And we'll continue with it. And all these short sales, these opportunities were coming into our world where, if it made sense for us to purchase it, we purchased it, and if it didn't, then we had to put out for retail buyer. In roughly 2013, we decided to because one of my business partners at that time was licensed. And we decided that let's go out and let's build a little bit of a sales team, let's start buying some leads from realtor.com. I think Tiger leads at that time. And then let's bring somebody on we brought our first employee on. And really we put them into place to just put his name on all of our listings because we had a significant number of listings in the short sale world. And with that, we started realizing, oh, my gosh, not just the purchase side for us that, you know, to make a significant return on but also, like, there's just created so many opportunities for, like the agents that we started bringing on. And I mean, I hope I answered that question. But that's, that's how we got that. That's how we got in that.
Brian Charlesworth 7:44
How many agents do you guys have in New York now?
Jack Lehr 7:46
Yeah, it fluctuates. You know, we just had a little bit of an exodus based on culture problems. And we, you know, we protect culture at all costs. And certainly, we can have a conversation about that. But I think we have eight licensed right now and a couple showing agents, we lost a few here recently. And we are a culture based company. So if cancer comes in, and we can't quickly correct it, we want to quickly get them out the door. So cancer does not spread. So that's what just happened recently.
Brian Charlesworth 8:16
Okay. So I think culture is everything. Culture is key to any business. But every business has a unique, different culture. So like when you say you're a culture business, tell me what you mean by that. And tell me what you do to, like, make sure you have a positive culture in your company.
Jack Lehr 8:35
Yeah, that's great, Brian. So the one thing that we do is, like, we have this mentality here, we want to protect at all costs. And we have strong upon contracts with all of our team members, whether they're licensed or not, to protect that, and the upfront contract is not a signed contract. And it's a, if you hear somebody grumbling, like, let's help them get their mindset, right. But like, it's a hardcore level of accountability here. So people show up on time. And it's also the integrity, like making sure that words and actions match up, we want to see everybody like before you can even join our team, a grateful heart is critically important. If you don't have a grateful heart, we can't move any further, but having a super level of gratitude, and then the ability to compete and dominate in life. And then you know, finishing starting strong like those are some are key pieces of that culture. And then just everybody being positive and helping each other and it truly becomes a family atmosphere. And this all started with my vision but then my director of operations Sarah Kane, she came in and really reinforced it with our team. And now the team protects it at all costs. And that means when somebody is like acting a fool or foolishness starts to happen, they're going to their teammate and saying, Hey, man, let's let's have a better attitude. And then if it doesn't get corrected, they know to go to Sarah and Sarah has the conversation to correct it. And now the team perfect exit and Jack doesn't have to jack set the pace. Sarah reinforces it along with the team. So it's, I think it's a beautiful thing.
Brian Charlesworth 10:09
Okay, great. I feel like mindset is a part of that culture based on what you just said. So like, how do you get that right mindset? In with everybody? Like, yeah, what do you guys do to drive that forward?
Jack Lehr 10:22
So I think like, you know, as you're a leader in your business, Brian, it gets set by the leader and leadership has to work on their lives to sometimes make a paradigm shift to, again, get out of their own way. So they can help their team and like, so I have my own little mastermind. And none of these people know that they're on my mastermind. So I listened to a lot of Ed, my lead was fortunate to be able to meet him at a tax growth con to Vegas Grant Cardone's event about four years ago. And that was just a game-changer for me for mindset. So Ed, my lead Andy for Sela, you know, obviously thinking Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill, I love what Eric Thomas is about. And then my dad, my dad's up in heaven, but he laid an incredible foundation with a heart of giving. We didn't come from money, but my mom and dad love to live in stink out of my sister and I. And that's where our wealth came from heavy amounts of love and believing in us. So I have this mastermind that I turn to to help me with my mindset, and in turn, help deliver it to our team. And then they reinforce it when they see stuff that matches up with what we're doing. They share podcasts, they share things that, you know, really helped the team grow.
Brian Charlesworth 11:35
Okay, so you guys are sharing podcasts and books and all that kind of stuff together.
Jack Lehr 11:40
We are a lot of books, incredible individuals. And, you know, and obviously getting to know you, Brian, this is beautiful for us, too.
Brian Charlesworth 11:47
Yeah, I'm glad we have that opportunity to meet over in Mexico. So I want to go back to your team and talk about So you started in New York. And now you have a Dallas team. You have a team in Bradenton, Florida, you have a team in Scottsdale, how did this all happen?
Jack Lehr 12:07
Yeah. So I always had this mentality of like helping people achieve levels well beyond what they ever thought was possible. And we get coached within the Tom Ferry world. My coach in particular at that time was somebody that is no longer coaching us. And we ended up getting with Kay Fairchild, which is one of Tom's original coaches just matched up culturally. And she was able to really help me plug holes and understand some things that we weren't doing properly or what we can do way better. And I think we went to a summit and Dallas, okay. And I kind of like I was thinking about this, but I wasn't quite sure. And we happen to sit down on the first day of Summit before it started the night before. And this was down in Dallas, and my former coach was sitting there, and he invited in a young lady and her daughter, and we sat down, we started up a conversation Sarah was with me. And I was like, Oh my gosh, why can't we grow teams, just like we're doing here in Pennsylvania and Maryland. We have the systems and processes in place, the sales training, the lead generation, and maybe it's a plug and play. And, you know, I met Kelly Griffin porter at this event down in Dallas about seven months ago. And we hit it off personally, I love what she was doing business-wise. And you know, she goes really I'm just I'm looking for a business partner. And you know, she was at a point in her life where it just made sense to have that conversation. It was pretty doggone organic, actually. And what the neat thing is that here's where the real drive for me came is when meeting Kelly and her daughter, Dallas, in Dallas, Texas, when on Griffin Street, there might have been some signs involved with this. I don't know if you believe in that stuff. But anyway, we sat there and had this conversation. And then we heavily vetted, we did the ultimate life tool, which is like this on steroids. And to really understand each other dark triad to find out if we can be great business partners and be trusted. And, and we matched up and it just started working on Kelly's mindset on a couple of things. Because in the Arizona market, Scottsdale market, like people were discounting, people were not valuing themselves. They were. I was like, Kelly, you're in an incredible market. My goodness, like you have the ability to do the luxury. And you have the ability to never ever discount. So we change mindset. And now it's standard practice that it's three-plus on each side, and having that mindset get you a pay raise before you even increase your sales volume. And then also just instead of going after 500,000, our house saying you know what? We're going from 70,000 to 10 million, and that mindset and now, you know Kelly's doing two $3 million listings and it's been a game-changer. So we started building this beautiful team in Scottsdale. And here's the interesting thing. Brian, I happen to do that podcast with your wife spring prior to the Mexico event. And these folks were familiar with spring and they joined real broker. And they reached out to me and said, Hey, would you be interested? Or even be Would you consider, you know, joining forces with us and help us bros grow something in the Dallas Fort Worth area. And we met Charles and Terry heavily vetted them as well. And we just started our team there. So it just really gave me that passion to like, start building these teams. And then we met some folks in Bradenton, we have some folks in Miami that were talking to some folks in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina. And it's everybody says, like, why those locations and they are great places to visit. But I had to sit, step back and reevaluate, I go, I think it's more I'm attracted to the individual that has the capability that matches up with what we're looking to do. And then just happens to be in great areas to visit. So yeah,
Brian Charlesworth 16:00
Okay, nice. Best of both worlds. So let's talk about in order to go like have teams in four or five, six, it sounds like you may have seven, here in the near future. So like, what systems do you need to have in place to be able to make your business repeatable and scalable.
Jack Lehr 16:24
So I'm the big picture guy on ADHD, like I love making stuff happen, building stuff. But I am not a detail person, I can certainly do it. But that is the worst lane that I should ever be in. I'm good at putting deals together and bringing people together and building those relationships. And understanding that it takes incredible folks that are working alongside you that you can lean on heavily. Like Sarah, Sarah Kane, our Director of Operations came from outside of the industry. And she was again, Director of Operations for our team here in Pennsylvania, Maryland. And quickly, just became way more than I even thought she could be. So now she's director of operations in US growth. And so when we go into a location, and we match up with someone to be our partner, or we want to put a team in a certain location like now it's handed off to Sarah, and Sarah helps put all of the tech stack the systems, the processes, the VAs, the offices, she's there to make this happen now.
Brian Charlesworth 17:36
Nice. So is there any as far as tech stack goes, any recommendations you would have for the people out there that are working for you?
Jack Lehr 17:45
Number one, again, pick a CRM, and everybody says what's the best CRM like I have my we've used a bunch of different ones over the years. We're big and follow up boss, but it doesn't matter what CRM used. You just got to use it. And most agents don't use it. Like they have it on their computer, they have it on their phone, and just don't use it. So for follow-up boss, we're having why Lobo we're one of top-performing Zillow flex teams, that's only a very small portion of our business. And I only want to make it a small portion of our business. But why Lobo heavy you know, viral marketing, do two to six transactions every two weeks from viral marketing Vyral. That's an incredible lead generation system for us. And it's super, super inexpensive. That is probably the best ROI outside of our sphere. The big thing to understand in our world, Brian is that you can have all these things together. But if you don't track and measure and then report back to somebody that can help you. That is a that's one of the biggest holes that most teams that I get to talk to or agents. They just don't understand how important that is. So obviously, not obviously, but we are using Sisu. We were using Sisu. Well, before we ever met you, Brian. And I think the good news is we're using it. The bad news is we're only using it in probably 25% of its capability. So we're making additional investments to learn it at a much higher level. But that tracking and reporting is is critically important.
Brian Charlesworth 19:24
Yeah, so it sounds like you're using us for the tracking side, but not so much the systems and automation side. So this gives me a chance to maybe plug this event we have coming up here on June 20 Sisu. We do a Sisu mastery event, once a quarter and we have one coming up on June 20. And I would highly recommend that you come to that we spend time with our teams and team leaders personally and then Justin spring spend time really and Sarah diving into how the Utah Life team leverages these suits They're really run their entire business from, how they lead their employees, how they lead their agents to how they lead their admin team. And it's all using the Sisu platform. So anyway, you guys mark your calendars. That event is Sisu Mastery June 20. So I would recommend you come to that.
It sounds like I got to do that Sara. Sara, my director of operations here in the office as well.
So I've had, interestingly enough, I've had about each event we've done, we've had about 50 team owners, and I've had about a dozen team owners come up after both of those two events and say it was the single most impactful event on their business they've ever been to. So anyway, I'd highly recommend it. So getting into that interest rates have risen, this market has been so competitive, there have been multiple offers on all homes for years now. Homes have been going up with the economy going up in price. And now we're at the situation where interest rates have gone from, you know, in the twos to 5%, expected to get to 8% by year-end. How does this impact your business? And how does this impact the real estate business?
Jack Lehr 21:12
Yeah, I think the very interesting thing is that you know, I hear a lot of rumblings about this shift. And I gotta tell you, in the markets that we're in, I don't know what this shift is that they're talking about. I think too many people are watching the news. And getting influenced by the news. The best thing I ever did in my life was turn off the news. Because the news is BS, I’ll keep this PG. It's BS, like, it's foolishness that people are buying into, we always talk about the car wreck, okay, when you're driving down the road and the car wreck and everybody stops to look at the car wreck, and they never ever stopped to look at the successful driver driving past you. Because they want to see the wreck. Get away from the news that is the biggest piece of advice. If you don't take anything away from the day, stop watching the news. Because this suppose that shift and again, maybe it's happening in some markets, the markets that we're in, I'm not seeing it, you know, maybe a little bit more inventory. There are definitely way more serious buyers, because this is weeded out some of the not real buyers that are out there. Like we're seeing way more well-qualified buyers ready to go. On some properties, we're still getting offers at those crazy levels, multiples, like 30 on a house. But some we're seeing less on. I think it's about building the skills and the mindset to be successful in any market. And I think that's the big thing is that I've seen every market, in my short time investing in real estate, and been fortunate to be extremely successful in all markets during COVID. When that lockdown happened, we lost a significant number of real estate professionals. Our team in Pennsylvania was Pennsylvania, New York, and California, and Hawaii were the most lockdown areas in the United States. I mean, nobody else can come into my office except my wife and I, because we own the building. But we did more business than you can imagine during that time doing everything remote. It's just adjusting to whatever markets out there. So that's the thing that's confuses me, Brian, is that everybody's talking about this, and I'm just not seeing it.
Brian Charlesworth 23:36
Yeah, so it sounds like you might be seeing a little bit of a shift. Maybe there's not quite as many offers. But I think you make a really valid point here. And that is you know, if you stay focused and just focus on your business focus on doing what you can do to make a difference for those home buyers and home sellers. Same thing you did during COVID. If you just this is an opportunity for those that watch the news to fail, right and maybe get out of the business, and those who are focused on growing their business and not slowing down to really take market share.
Jack Lehr 24:12
This is a great separator like this is this is sprint season. This is when the rest fit on the sideline, watch the news and get, you know start feeling sorry for themselves. And those that want to dominate life like this is the time to take market share massive if you're building the skills, have the right mindset. This is the opportunity to put a significant number of folks out of business to grow your business.
Brian Charlesworth 24:37
Yeah, great. Well, just in wrapping up here, is there anything as far as business goes? Is there anything that you would like to share just words of advice to any team leaders? What's made the biggest difference to you and your business?
Jack Lehr 24:52
I think like the mindset stuff like the ongoing continuous daily improvement like work on the lid 1% It Every day just working on this thing, that compound pounding effect, where you just keep going at it, improving your mindset, improving your skills, working on your behaviors, your attitudes, and your techniques, like those are things that are really important, especially during these times. But anytime. And I think the one thing that I heard down in Mexico that has just touched my heart massively, it's a great opportunity to, to talk about this is that, and I think spring or Justin made this comment. It was just so beautiful. And I said, you know, we all need two people who believe in us, and one is someone you respect and trust, and the other is yourself. And when you can go to somebody in your life, and be the best hour of their life for that day, and you can put that self-belief in them and your belief in them. That is something that is it's lacking in today's world like we all need to go out and build each other up and help somebody else out. And that being said to me, because that happened to me, that happened to me was Sarah and Kay Fairchild. Like, I'm an introvert. It doesn't seem like it. But I'd rather be watching Netflix with my wife in our hotel room or bed or whatever the heck it is with our kiddos. And I'd rather be there. But when Sarah and Kay had Jack stepped into where you belong, and we believe in you, and now you need to start believing in yourself. That was huge for me to make this transition to build all these teams and help all these additional people. So I say make a difference. That's one of the ways.
Brian Charlesworth 26:45
Awesome. Okay, I'm going to shift gears just really quick. Just in wrapping up, I want to just find out a few things about your personal life. So you mentioned a few books, but what is your favorite book or favorite source of learning?
Jack Lehr 26:58
I mean, I always go back to thinking Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill. I read that when my kiddos I have four sons, ages 14 to 22. And when my first one was born, I read that and it just changed my world. Collins Good to Great, I love that. Like those are two, Justin said to me, he goes, I want you to read rocket fuel. So I just started that. And that really? That's helping this mind a bunch. So yeah,
Brian Charlesworth 27:25
Yeah. So the visionary and the integrator. So for those of you who don't know, Justin, who we're talking about, Jackson mentioned a few times that Justin is springs partner over at the Utah Life team. So what's your favorite thing to do in your personal time?
Jack Lehr 27:43
We live on a farm. I mean, I like going out my Kubota or my John Deere tractor and digging some holes and we have a boatload of guns. We shoot ak 40, sevens, ak 70 fours. A ours, we have free-range chickens. We like, you know, protecting them and getting rid of the foxes and all the environments. We have a lot of fun doing that. So shooting guns with my kids riding dirt bikes on the farm. And then I love traveling. I love going to Europe. I haven't been there in a while because of what's been going on. But I have traveled the US and Mexico sector significantly in the last couple of years here.
Brian Charlesworth 28:22
So what's your favorite place to go?
Jack Lehr 28:26
Well, it's it happens that like in Europe, it's it's like we're big and we love Switzerland. I've been to Oktoberfest three times in Munich. I think that's a bucket list item for everybody. Because we can stand on the table drinking a big beer. And you're with everybody there that doesn't really speak most of them. Don't speak English. But when they can sing a John Denver song alongside you, and know the words probably better than I do. That's just a beautiful thing to experience. But I love Mexico. We, my wife and I, we spend a lot of time down there. And we just we love the people down there and they treat us incredibly well.
Brian Charlesworth 29:04
Great, John, thanks for joining me on the show today. How's the best way for people to get a hold of you?
Jack Lehr 29:09
Yeah, so Jack@truadvantagerealty. T-r-u, leave off the E, Advantage Realty. And then Instagram @coachJackLehr and then my Facebook page. I think it's just looking 18me up the same mug. I might have glasses on. I'd love to connect with you.
Brian Charlesworth 29:32
Awesome. Okay, everybody. Thank you for joining us this week on the Grit podcast. And looking forward to seeing you all next week on the show. We'll catch you then Jack. Thank you again for joining us today, and we'll catch up with you soon.
Jack Lehr 29:49