Mark Ainley: Customer Reviews and Using Your Network with GC Realty Inc.
Are you thinking of renting out or selling your property??
Mark Ainley is the founder of GC Realty Inc, a realtor company that offers coverage across Chicago.
GC Realty maximizes rental potential and offers services that best meet the investor’s needs.
With their free rental analysis, you can find out what your rental investment is worth and how much rent you can offer it for.
You can use their website to view their blog, which is filled with important investment information and tips to make this business endeavor worthwhile.
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Welcome to The Thoughtful Entrepreneur Show. I'm Josh Elledge, founder and CEO of UpMyInfluence.com. We turn entrepreneurs into media celebrities, grow their authority, and help them build partnerships with top influencers. We believe that every person has a unique message that can positively impact the world. stick around to the end of the show, where I'll reveal how you can be our next guest on one of the fastest growing daily inspiration podcasts on the planet in 15 to 20 minutes. Let's go right with us right now we've got Mark Ainley. Mark, you are the founding partner and head of business development for GC Realty and development in Chicago and we've actually had the the pleasure of doing some work together in the past. And and one thing that I'm so excited to talk about, will certainly talk about the work that GC realty does. You guys have built up and didn't ormus book of business, I have a lot of folks that listen to this podcast that are in the real estate space. I think that there's a lot that folks could learn about you and and how you're able to grow in scale into such a kind of a larger operation. But beyond that, you and your partner were actually featured in a reality TV show, and we'll get to that second. So there's just a little teaser. Is that is that you and you and Brian were on a the deed on CNBC. So we're going to talk about that in just a moment. But why don't we start by talking about what GC Realty is what you guys do. Cool, great.
You know, Josh, I'm, I was looking at my schedule over the weekend. And I saw that we had this up on the today and I got excited because we've worked together in the past and work with us always been awesome and a good time and you're good at what you do. And you're awesome. Me too. I love your test. So I've actually been referring it out to people. So, thank you. I was just say thank you first for having me on here. So that's for sure. For sure. You know, GCL to development, we started we've done many different things over the years. You know, we started off as a brokerage, we accidentally became property manager, we've been in a handful of different development over the years, especially with the market crash, and now today, our focus really is to be a property manager for private landlords that are either local and don't want to do it or out of state and physically can't do it.
And so, how did you say accidentally made that migration? What do you mean?
Well, so you know, you plan everything in life as much you out but sometimes life throws you curves, or you start going down another route on accident, but we were our mindset was to do this, this brokerage, you know, it brokering real estate deals, mostly commercial was our kind of Train of Thought from beginning. And we ended up only working with investors buying investment properties. And one by one they'd always asked us, hey, we manage our property we manage. Yeah, we always said, No, no, we're not property managers, you can manage your own stuff will sell you the property will sell you more, but you got to manage it. So, eventually, one day, we were at a closing, we sold an investor property to our attorney. And our attorney said, Mark, we manage this for me. I said, Paul told you this like five times, like I'm not going to manage property for you. He goes, come on, Mark. I'll pay 50 bucks a month and like Paul, it's like Mark Yeah, do it for me. I'm like, Well, I don't even I don't even have a I don't even have a legal document to even have you signed. He's like write something up for you will be fair and, and like that. That's kind of how the management started. And he is still actually here we are. It'd be 12 years later, he's still our client, and we still charge them only $50 a month is like, as I honor
and he is
We still use a modified version of that same manager gave me that he originally drafted for us. And so it's kind of a fun how it got started now here we are today so.
So, Mark, so for folks that don't understand how big of an operation you have, can you talk maybe some, some general numbers in terms of like number of properties you've been involved with? How many you're actively managing?
Yeah, for sure. So we have, we manage about 925 residential doors, we manage just under a couple million square feet of industrial space. So picture small little industrial buildings with couple thousand square foot spaces. And we have made up of that we have about 300 it's like two grand not about but 306 owners when I looked at our day, so they are $306 on all this property, most of them, I think 200 and something of them live out of state out of country and and coast on both coasts for the most part. So
and and you've certainly been involved in a lot of problems. Pretty rehabs and flips and that sort of thing as well, right?
Yeah, no. So I think that's one of our unique competitive advantages to any other property management and property manager here in the Chicago market. Because since we've actually purchased rehabbed and rented, it's just just under 500 units at this point. So as a landlord, you know, we've messed everything up so we can advise landlords that are new and just getting into it. We can also advise landlords that maybe sometimes forget what it is to mess up and keep them on track from making the same mistakes. So that's a huge thing that we're able to bring to the table as far as everything we've messed up on ourselves on the development side, we made some money, don't get me wrong, but we messed up plenty on the way.
So what did you do to scale to that number? I mean, that's that's a lot of activity. I mean, you guys, I, you know, I think it would be very admirable. You know, compared to most people that are kind of dabbling. Real Estate Investments and properties and like, how did you get? I mean, what maybe you just you just stayed the course mean, how did you grow and scale that big? You know,
it wasn't even intentional at first and then our growth kind of got us in a little trouble in the sense of, we weren't growing the right way. So just take a step back because I think it's fairly important for our history, you know, we continue to grow as a property manager, me and my partner, Brian continue to hire what I call nowadays gopher employees where me and Brian were the the hub and every employee had to go through us for every decision. So we had our kind of thing set up in the wrong way but we continue to grow me and Brian have always kept a network of people around us and we do what we say say we do type mentality and people are for us. So that was always kind of our stronghold responsiveness. That's something we really pride ourselves on today. And that was something that's always been in place just never really talked about. So
you know, and I think,
go ahead. No, I was just say, you know, Me and Brian kind of took it to a certain level. And then our third partner, Cliff came into our business, I think about 2015 1415. And me and Brian kind of hit the ceiling of what we're going to build with the company and our third partner, Cliff, he helped us take it to the next level of where we're at today. And yeah, I don't know if you know this, but we just got this past August 1 time we've been on the Inc 5000 list. So we're pretty excited and proud of that. So
hey, are you are you actually going to be in Phoenix?
No, I'm not I'm not you know, I couldn't find anyone that I knew that was going so I didn't I kind of passed on it.
I will be there. I'm not on the Inc 5000 list, but they so we apply for there's a military contingent and if you've not yet earned a spot on the Inc 5000. But you've got potential to get there. So they're what they'll do is they'll actually scholarship, a handful of military veteran owned businesses. And so this is this Second year that are qualified for that. Yeah, yeah. So congratulations on making the Inc 5000. That's incredible.
Nice. Yeah, no, it's a big thing for us here. We celebrated and we got cakes, and we've had a good time. So
nice. Very nice. Okay, so, now, one thing that I think that you guys have done very, very well is that you've, you know, if you're dealing with a lot of contractors, you're dealing with a lot of other players. It's it's really important to surround yourself with good people. And and can you talk a little bit about that?
Well, one of the things we learned, you know, about five, six years into the company was, you know, managing properties one thing and we know how to do that we know how to sell the properties and manage them. It's a managing people that probably both me and Brian are politically correctly managing people. It's a is a certain way we got hung up but you know, having the people around you and people we can talk I mean, that's that's been a, you know, it's been a challenge in trying to learn, you know, every single person is, is different and every single person has their own things are working on outside of whatever they might be working on with us. But over the years we've we've had some pretty good people around us that got us through the earlier days. And then now, we, you know, we've actually adopted I'm not sure if you're familiar with this, but the culture index for having our employees on a team, it's a psychosomatic test that helps kind of score for the randomness and for the right position to kind of prevent long term chart so call it Myer Briggs on steroids, I guess.
Yeah. You know, one thing that I want to point out is before we get into the reality TV series, which I know person's listening to is like,
come on, man. Just tell me how did you get on TV.
This is really incredible for a property management company, to have the number of positive reviews that you guys have online. That's pretty, that's just you guys are way outside the norm. Most property management companies get a lot of negative reviews. And it's just it's kind of nature of what they do. Especially if you you know, run a situation tend to leave it's bad situation. It's it's kind of sucks for everybody. And property management company has kind of be the bad guy and enforce you know, something on behalf of the landlord. I'm sorry, behalf of the property owner. But you guys have managed, like, just in Google alone. 223 Google reviews 4.7 that is off the charts from what I've seen for property management companies. you doing?
So you know, it's so funny that before I got on to this, I was on a podcast that I was listening to as a attendee, both fake reviews and is about reviews in general. So it's funny that we bring this up here today. But you know what? The one thing back to kind of that whole responsive thing you know, property management's a mess. Most property managers really work in the rearview mirror of always continually putting out fires. And I think unless for five years, we built a culture of preventing as much as we can, and learning how to react, react to when things we can't control. So I was always tell owners in our onboarding stage that hey, stuff is going to go wrong, we can't control everything things are going to you know, things are going to break things or explode, things are going to freeze whatever might be. It's not necessarily that those things are going to happen, that's going to be the problem. It's going to be how fast we react to those problems. And it might just be an upset tenant. It might be frozen pipe that turns into an upside tonight later, but it's how fast we respond to things and follow up and again back to do what you say say we do is helped us be able to, you know what, I think there's a certain point where people If they feel they can't vent, or they can't get their point across, they go to the online and say something bad. Yeah, if we could beat them to that, if we have to be there, the counselor for 10 minutes, let him vent and then still fix the problem. That's what we got to do is kind of part of the job.
Wow. Well, you've done it very, very well. So however you manage that internally, you're doing a very, very good job. Like I was just kind of like, going through some of your reviews and it's just, it's army. Are you actively asking people say, Hey, you know, if you're really happy with your service, please help us out. And we are, are you actively soliciting them as well?
Well, I think it's twofold. We do have a campaign that you know, we regularly asked for reviews go to bed, because bad runs, I think, you know, you'll see the handful of bad ones we have on there. And I think it's equally important to how we respond to those react to those and every so often that, you know, we fix it right away and they we won't even ask them, they'll go out there and reverse Said or deleted or whatnot and sometimes, again, that responsiveness just helps take a bad situation and kind of make it back to par at least if anything but the, you know, for my business in the real estate investing side of things, I end up talking to a lot of people and call it donating time or giving free advice along the lines of the things I was saying before about teaching people lessons, you know, if I got a phone, I just donated 20 minutes I'm gonna say Listen, I just saved you 10 grand, you know, help me out here and give me a good review that that I was valuable. So I think Yeah, times exchange of free advice or valuable advice for a good review is a valuable technique that we use.
Fantastic. Alright, so let's talk about the deed. First off, how did you find out about the opportunity? or How did the producers find you? What was the match? Um, I believe thinking back I
believe they found us as investor on a website called bigger pockets. Real Estate
Investment website, familiar with
bigger bikes, as if like when we're recording this So I was actually so bigger pockets now as a business podcast. And so they they interviewed me that matter of fact, that episode just went live this morning. Oh, that's Oh, yeah, no, we're big, bigger pockets, fans. I love Mindy and love all those guys over there.
We did podcast 72 back in the day before it was really much of anything. So Wow, it's been good to me as far as business. But yeah, so I think they found us on there. And they wanted to
put us on a show.
And you know, me and Brian got on the similar video like this. And they're interviewing us as questions and turns out, you know, we were just a little more successful for the show. They're wanting to launch where we weren't much of a value, but they liked me and Brian's chemistry, you've dealt with my partner, Brian, and he's pretty wild. He says what he's thinking
too often. Yes. very outspoken.
He's great. He's great on TV then for that exact reason. So, you know, they like the chemistry between us and they're trying to find something and totally through the conversation, a discovery conversation. We brought the fact that we bought the wrong property at the auction a couple weeks before and they're like, Whoa, tell us more about that, you know. And we went into the story. And
ultimately, they liked the concept that
we were growing too fast. And we bought the wrong property on our development side. And they could definitely make an hour episode of it.
Alright, so then what happens? So you happen to have the kind of the right chemistry and you kind of your first call with them. I mean, it's rather rather break this down. Someone might look at what you just explained, say, Well, lucky you. But you were planting seeds before that opportunity ever came about by getting connected with bigger pockets? How did that happen?
Yeah, you know what I heard? I want your previous podcast to talk about the planting seeds. And what you do today affects six, eight months down the road as far as your networking connections and opportunity and that's just what that is and You know they found us and and the where it went from there was a whole bunch of Hurry up and wait and the good the good part about the story is we got a contract from CNBC which had to be if you put it on a desk had it be three inches deep print it out I'm like I you know I first saw said Is it attorney and I said it's Ernie and I go I think in my email as simple as Paul Check this out, can you let us know if there's anything we should change? Yeah, reply back within like five minutes. He's like, Listen, you're either signing this or you're not doing the show. So it's not going to be worth me nitpicking, and then ultimately, not like any of that. So mean Brian had a moment of, you know, we probably had a moment of like, Man, you know, when you look at this contract, they owned us. Right? They, they, they've clearly say they can take our words they can edit anything, and they can make us look like buffoons and we've all seen reality TV shows where they people look like buffoons maybe legitimately are not legitimate. Me, Brian head ultimate decision we made that day was we would regret if we did it to it. But to control the situation that's just this, you know, that's, that's just make everybody love us on that stage. And that's that so that's walking you know, I mean he will walk in and we would hug everybody every day we donuts we, you know, I think Brian remodel one of the studio people's kitchens and like we said if they're going to screw us over and make us look like buffoons, that's at least make them feel horrible about and be so nice and kind of kill him with kindness. And now please fund the show, I think to to represent us
in a way in a favorable way that I think was fairly realistic. So we've had several clients now appear on reality TV series, and I can tell you without fail, the final product was not at all what they were thinking. And so I happen to watch I watched the episode when it went live because we were doing we're working on some stuff together. And yeah, they certainly played up the characters. You know, they painted the story in a way that certainly made it a lot more dramatic. You know, you guys are successful. And I think, you know, they didn't. The idea is that, you know, again, the the expert would come in and there's a problem. He comes in and saves the day kind of situation. Meanwhile, I mean, you guys are pretty savvy, you know what you're going to do to kind of fix the situation. So, but I was I loved it, and it ended up of and it may be the kind of the results. What I'd like to talk about two things is the outcome of that property. You guys have have all of the other people that were that were profiled on the deed with john conlan. Weren't you guys the only ones that was like it was a successful like the property. You guys ended up making a lot of money on it?
Yeah, well, you
saw the episodes, we all made money, and at the same time, they don't really focus on our construction piece. They focus really on our business and our business growth were all right, for construction focused or contractors that showing up and so that that kind of that helped us to have not, you know, it definitely without saying it painted us as people that at least know what we're doing it comes to construction at least.
I think so. Yeah. One thing that was kind of funny, they said, you know, if you really want to increase the, the, the value, go ahead and do an open floor plan. And you guys been, oh, yeah. And it's like, come on, you know, a little, again, a little bit of theater, but I thought it was great. So you guys were successful. You actually, you know, show that you're very successful with that property. I'm curious what the outcome of of being able to do that was for your business and some of this stuff you'll never know. Like, people see you on CNBC and you don't know. But that's the kind of the straw that broke the camel's back in terms of like deciding who they were going to call Like, well, these guys were on TV, so they must be good.
Well, I think any, like any marketing that we try to put out there today, whether it be a TV show, or you know, a podcast that we're doing right now, people that before they hire us, they watch these things and they they almost get to know you before they even pick up the phone and call you. Yeah, well, I think I think marketing like the TV show or marking like this, or they start googling me up afterwards. A lot of times people don't mention the show until the second phone call like I google jump and actually that's where they find it that point where they like me on the first call, they start googling me up and then they find that out. And then the second cause a lot easier is having a sale anymore. It's more of like Hey, what do we do now? So
it's a warm it's a warm it turns cold leads into warmer leads upon their early process, and then it definitely on the developer side of things in place like bigger pockets. It just gives you credibility.
Yeah, no kidding. Matter of fact, sure you can google marketing for the personal Listen, just go ahead and Google Mark angley, you'll see, you'll see a cmbs CNBC stuff is coming up, you know, and we talked about that a lot, you know, my influences, you know, authority marketing is just, you know, people don't jump on phone calls today without saying, well, who am I going to talk to? Who is this person? You know, if they're deciding who they want to do business with, we're all doing our due diligence. And so I think it's just knowing that in advance, you know, how can you know, how can we create and paint a picture that is authentic to who we really are and our level of expertise, you know, it's like having a really, really great dating profile. Well, Google is your dating profile, your LinkedIn profile is, is your dating profile. And, you know, I love that you've got your Inc 5000 logo on there, because not too many companies make it to that list and, you know, knows those who understand what that is. That's a huge authority indicator, so Once again, congratulations on that. Thank
Well, cool. Well Mark Ainley. Again, GC Realty, you can actually on the web, you go to GC Realty Inc.com. That's GC Realty.com. And you guys have a great website. You got a lot of I love all of these video testimonials that you have on here as well. Clearly you guys are doing really, really great business. And you are the one of the founding partners and in charge of business development there. So, Mark, thank you so much for joining us. Thanks for having me.
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