Build a Nationwide REO Consulting Firm.

When I was an asset manager for a Dallas – based real estate field service firm, I built a substantial network of nationwide contractors of all types and specialties. This task was particularly nourishing in regards to my need for constant change. I liked the idea of connecting with people in other states who were providing services for me – services which differed as greatly as each contractor.

In building relationships of trust with these specialists through time and completed work orders, I was able to get to know their parameters. For instance, most of them I found were interested only in serving a close area surrounding their office. At the most a couple of counties beyond that. The reasoning behind staying close to their office was the contractors didn’t want to spread themselves too thin — wasting time, resources, mostly money.

I could certainly see the value of working your immediate area, and respected the localized vision of these contractors. Staying close over time helps you build a sense of authority. The more recognized you become in your immediate area for the quality of service you provide, your high sense of character, and your expertise the more likely you will become the default choice for the services you specialize in. You become the best choice. Maybe the only choice. It’s harder to become an authority when you consider a nationwide market. There are hundreds or thousands of other REO firms out there who claim to be the best or even the only choice.

Integrity REO Solutions has chosen to establish itself as a nationwide REO consulting firm. We provide services for nationwide customers. We support a network of nationwide contractors. And, we accept nationwide REO assignments.  This has to do much with my own temperament. I personally resist tight spaces, being stationary, setting up shop in one place and staying there forever. There are many who strive to be defined this way. I don’t.

If you would like to build a nationwide REO consulting firm and put me out of business, here’s how to do it (wink, wink):

Start in Metropolitan Areas

If you visit my company site, you will see my list of coverage areas (which I am in the process of updating, BTW). There are a list of several major cities including Dallas and Houston, TX, Phoenix, AZ., Chicago, IL., Las Vegas, NV., New York, NY., Portland, OR., etc. I already had a network of contractors in these areas that I highly trusted. I came to know their value of work, their skills of communication, their general approach to business. And, I found that I resonated with these few entrepreneurial contractors who would accept just about anything because it was me asking. By using these specific contractors, I was taking my trust in them to a different level. I was both asking them to help me grow my new business and offering them a chance to grow their own through my profitability. None of them turned me down. To this day (only seven months later), I am able to give 24 hour turn times in many major metropolitan cities because of these remarkable contractors. The strategy of offering services in these major cities was the concentration of REO activity in these places. When I looked at a market analysis, these were areas that carried a high rate of foreclosures.

Outsource Everything

The contractors I have come to know who prefer to serve only their immediate areas like the idea of doing much of the work themselves. They like getting their hands dirty. Being on the front line. Not only seeing the result but affecting the result. There is a good deal of that in me even as I desire to build a nationwide organism. For example, I carry business from many local customers which I am glad to do all by myself. I live driving on the interstates and country roads to find properties in need of repair. I never wanted to work in a static office — I prefer to be mobile. But then even a good deal of my local work is outsourced. Some people think they can build a company by doing it all themselves. They tend to overwork themselves, isolate those who may be working for them, and then disappear. The major fear in outsourcing work comes with the potential for someone else screwing up your reputation because of sloppy work. We want to be sure the work was completed as requested. We know if we can do it, the turn time will be more consistent. There are factors we are forced to deal with when we “employ” independent contractors to work for us. I like the idea of sitting at my laptop in Dallas and monitoring a drywall repair job in Canton, GA. because of the overwhelming simplicity of it. Because I was able to utilize an experienced contractor, communicate with them effectively what my client needs, efficiently relay project status information, and deliver exactly what was requested I build a nationwide presence. Amazing!

Screen Your Contractors

This is more or less an addendum to my previous suggestion of outsourcing to nationwide contractors. While potential clients may be impressed that you have contractors in other states, it only takes one botched work order to turn them off (and maybe not even use you again locally). Customers like upfront honesty. If you have advertised yourself as someone capable of handling a project in Chicago and your chosen contractor messes it up, then you have been dishonest. The smart thing to do is reduce the amount of risk related to nationwide projects by prescreening your contractors. Is your contractor knowledgeable? The scary truth is many people will claim they can handle a particular project when they have no expertise in that area. Then, halfway through the project you discover that they got in way over their head. You can screen contractors’ knowledge by requesting a resume and references from them. Choose contractors from trusted web portals that show their credentials. Is your contractor insured? This protects someone when a claim is filed, but it also legitimizes a service provider. You don’t want to use a contractor who is’t insured. Other questions to consider: Does your contractor have the technical tools to complete the work? Does the contractor communicate well? The more questions you are able to answer about your nationwide contractors the more you reduce risk.

Tell Your Customers

When I sign up with a new customer, I tell them Integrity REO is a nationwide company. This may not change the fact that the bulk of work I receive from them is local. Some of my customers prefer to use only vendors that are reasonably close to a property where services are needed. But, I have been able to build trust with many of my clients because they were desperate and remembered my claim to nationwide coverage. Their usual contractor might be unavailable, or overloaded with existing orders, or disinterested in completing such an order. Then, they call me and ask if I can handle it. Without hesitation, I accept the work order and provide excellent customer service. After they see that I wasn’t lying, they trust me again. Soon, the amount of times they approach me about nationwide work increases. Then, the amount of orders in a given call increases. It’s a win-win. They win because they have this dumb guy in Dallas, TX who saves them on a work order in Manhattan. I win because I’ve built trust. You may tell your clients that you provide nationwide coverage and they never send you nationwide work. You can still make yourself available to serve as a consultant on nationwide work. I have done this with large, recognized companies. And, because I knew what I was talking about I built business with them.

Know Who to Work For

You’ll never get nationwide business from a local real estate agent. You’ll get some from asset management companies. You can get some from real estate agents in other states if you convince them to try you out. You can also reach out to nationwide asset management companies and investment firms. Hours upon hours can be spent in cold calls, sending emails, communicating with these companies about your ability to offer services in other areas besides your own. In fact, if you can market yourself well and effectively build a relationship of trust with these mediary agencies you can get a substantial amount of work. I also do work for mortgage lending institutions — the source of foreclosure activity. This is where the work flow and the level of pay is greatest. If you are able to market yourself with mortgage lending institutions and secure work from them then your likelihood of building a nationwide presence increases exponentially. I have been able to reach out to people I know in key positions at these institutions. Upon trying me out, and discovering that I am able to provide the service effectively, they started relying on me.

Build Your Contractor Network  

It is always helpful when you can take a preemptive approach rather than a reactionary one. This puts you less on the defensive. And, you are able to spend more time actually completing the work rather than finding someone who will even consider it. In reality, when it comes to building a nationwide contractor network, you will find yourself adopting both approaches given the situation. The idea is to know which areas you want to cover and find qualified contractors to cover those areas.,, Google are my favorite ways of touching base with contractors in a specific area. I listed these sites in order of effectiveness from greatest to least. With Google you find a huge list of contractors in an area. With ServiceMagic you will find contractors who specialize in exactly what you need them to do and you will see their qualifications. You can also talk with local brokers who have an existing contractor network. That is a great way of getting a reference. The contractor may have worked for them before and proven themselves worthy. You wnat to build your network large enough to handle any type of service anywhere. If you can drive contractors to your website this is even better.

I understand that for people who have been in the industry for a while this is overly simplistic and a snoozer of a read. But, there are those who are just breaking into the industry and aren’t satisfied with doing work locally. My hope is that what little I have learned and implemented will help you grow. I’m not worried that you’ll take my business away from me. I’m optimistic that you will help me affect change to the market on a nationwide scale.

I’ve talked with many who are interested in growing a nationwide business but they were afraid it was a much too complicated undertaking. The truth is you can sit at your dining table with your laptop wearing your sweat pants and build a nationwide company. It’s easier than you might think.


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