Chris Burgin is an entrepreneur and real estate investor who owns 650 single and multifamily properties. In 2014, as a way to build a retirement plan, he began flipping properties valued at $800,000 before buying and renting $85,000 properties for the residual income they’d provide. At one point, he had acquired 40 properties, and things just snowballed. Before becoming a real estate investor, Chris owned and franchised a service company.
Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:
- Chris Burgin shares how he transitioned from flipping homes to buying and renting properties
- Advice for purchasing rental properties and overcoming the accompanying challenges
- Chris’ motivation for becoming an entrepreneur at a young age
- How to manage rental properties to boost ROI
- What has Chris learned about real estate investments from acquiring single and multifamily properties?
- Strategies for collaborating with property managers to build a corporate culture
In this episode…
Buying and renting single and multifamily properties can be a lucrative method for growing a portfolio and maximizing your ROI. However, property management can also be arduous and demanding if the quality of your tenants or properties needs improvement. So, what are the most effective methods for managing properties to maximize profits?
Having owned and operated hundreds of single and multifamily properties simultaneously, Chris Burgin has maintained tenacity when handling difficult tenants and property damages that led to value depreciation. He sets clear expectations with tenants and delegates tasks to property managers and maintenance professionals to manage properties effectively and improve his cash flow. To streamline the process, Chris advises fostering transparent communication and strategic collaboration to build relationships with key personnel.
In today’s episode of The Same Day Podcast, Mat Zalk talks with real estate investor Chris Burgin about effective ways to manage multiple properties. Chris shares advice for purchasing rental properties and overcoming the accompanying challenges, how to manage single and multifamily properties to boost ROI, and strategies for collaborating with property managers to build a corporate culture.
Resources mentioned in this episode:
- Mat Zalk on LinkedIn
- Keyrenter Property Management
- Keyrenter Property Management Tulsa
- Keyrenter Property Management Oklahoma City
- Keyrenter Property Management Arkansas
- Keyrenter Property Management email address: [email protected]
- Chris Burgin’s email: [email protected]
- “The Characteristics of Valuable Coaching and Entrepreneurial Success” with Aaron Wigham on The Same Day Podcast
- “Renting to Own: The Advantages of a Contract for Deed” with Brook Reutter on The Same Day Podcast
- “Navigating the Obstacles of Launching Your Big Idea” with Vondell Burns on The Same Day Podcast
- The Distance Manager: A Hands On Guide to Managing Off-Site Employees and Virtual Teams by Kimball and Mareen Fisher
Sponsor for this episode…
This episode is brought to you by Keyrenter Property Management.
Keyrenter Property Management is a full-service property management company who helps their clients buy, renovate, and operate real estate assets.
They help clients build wealth while taking the headache out of property management.
That’s why, no matter what rental you have — single-family homes, condos, townhomes, or apartments — they can give you the management solutions you need.
Welcome to The Same Day Podcast where we discuss driving incremental business growth and other topics related to real estate, property management and entrepreneurship. Now to the show at hand.
Mat Zalk 0:20
Mat Zalk here on the host of The Same Day Podcast where I connect with top business experts and real estate leaders. We’ve had on a bunch of other people that are just in the entrepreneurial space have nothing to do with real estate but Vondell Burns of the Thankless Productions at Aaron Wigham of New U Brook Reutter talking about contract for deed versus lease to own properties. That’s a super interesting podcast we’re getting into the nuances of whether you want to be a landlord or just collecting interest in essence, so check out some of those podcasts. To learn more about some other fun entrepreneurial activities in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Today’s episode is brought to you by Keyrenter Property Management and Keyrenter Property Management. We are a full service property management company helping our clients buy, renovate and operate real estate assets. We help our clients build wealth while taking the headache out of property management. Listen, Chris, you know this actually because Brian, your son is a colleague of ours who works with us. But we do the property management from soup to nuts. Not only do we help our clients with acquisition, but we help them with renovation, leasing, management, maintenance, disposition, and everything in between our clients can be hiking somewhere at Everest base camp, and we can handle everything that goes on with their property and make sure that it runs smoothly. That’s why no matter what rental you might have single family homes, condos, townhomes apartments, we have the management solutions that you need, go to keyrenterpmc.com or email us at [email protected] a huge shout out to Brian Burgin. I actually don’t know how we found Brian, he’s a he’s a little gem. He’s a diamond in the rough, one of our best property managers. By far he possesses a I suspect it’s mostly attributable to you and your real estate portfolio and how how you’ve taught him over the years. But he possesses a sound mind very reasonable logic. And I just enjoy working with them a lot. So thank you to Brian for being a part of our team. But also thank you for introducing for him having introduced us we actually originally met because you were trying to dispose of like 75 houses, we were thinking about buying it we went back and forth. Ultimately it didn’t work. But I was happy to mention the process. And I want to get into a little bit about you Chris Burgin, who is an entrepreneur at heart. He got started with his own paper route as a kid and later franchised the service company. Chris has always had the plan of owning rental properties as part of a retirement plan. But he never put pen to paper as to how that would happen. And after making start flipping homes in 2014, with very little knowledge and self proclaimed very little knowledge, but that’s not quite the truth. We’re gonna talk about that. Chris patrias education with some wins and losses through the process, he shifted from flipping $800,000 properties to buying and renting $85,000 properties for the residual income that those properties provided. And today he owns both single family and multifamily properties totaling 650. Doors. That is impressive. Chris, welcome to the show. Happy to have you on.
Chris Burgin 3:12
Thank you, Mat happy to be here.
Mat Zalk 3:14
The 650 doors doesn’t come overnight. It’s not I mean, he can I guess if you’re if you have a lot of capital, but they say a fool and his money are easily parted. So I suspect if you get $650 overnight, you might not. It might not be the wisest, wisest acquisition, tell us how you got started from from making the transition from flipping into buying what was your first rental and what did you learn from the flipping business that you were able to to put into the the buy and hold business? Well,
Chris Burgin 3:41
my first rental was actually in Chicago, which was probably 25 years ago, back when I was in the service business. And we were franchising and that was something that I had always had, as part of my plan was to own rental properties. I didn’t have a goal of a number of properties, but just rental properties. So you’re never
Mat Zalk 4:01
like I want to have 650 of these things.
Chris Burgin 4:04
No, it didn’t have it. There would be something if you’d asked me 20 years ago would have said never in a million years would that happen. But had the one had good experience with it had bad experience that was part of owning a property and later relocated to California and sold that. And then through just actually a conversation with a friend of mine who was going to embark on his first rental I was flipping homes. And I began to think back to and I had sold my franchise business at that point. But rental went back to franchising for me, which was residual income, right? Flipping is when you do one, that’s great. You gotta go find another one. And it’s continual and versus buying something hanging on to it and getting that. Finally the income stream coming in the mailbox is good. I think so, we started that process and bought one at a time. And four years later, I think we had accumulated 40. And thought we were, you know, we’re killing it. And we were we were worse to me. 40 is a lot. Yeah. And then somebody had 30 and wanted to sell those. And so it just kind of snowballed from there where you have opportunities, instead of one, we got to, you know, a chunk of 30, or a chunk of five, and then bought our first multifamily. Two and a half years ago, how many annual resumes and that was 136 years. And at that point, we had about 110, single family homes, and the light bulb clicked, of in one closing, we more than doubled what we had accumulated over at that point, probably five or six years. And it’s been multifamily ever since.
Mat Zalk 5:58
Wow. I mean, that’s the tried and true story is you start with single family and ultimately learn that multifamily is a better utilization, better use of your time, because you can close months, as you said, you’re going to do one appraisal, you’re going to do one, you know, inspect series of inspections, and whatever else have you found multifamily to be as good of an investment as a single family portfolio?
Chris Burgin 6:20
Personally, I have found it to be better. And that’s everybody’s different. I’m going to stage in my life where I don’t want to be involved every day. So having a property manager between me and a lot of the daily activity is very appealing to me. I don’t know that 10 years ago would have been. But today it is. And then also, I think, in multifamily with us, I believe you have more of a direct impact on the value of that proposition and that value of the building itself, because of raising rents and the ROI. Yeah, the cap rates affect that. So for us, you know, it doesn’t matter what I get for rent on that single family home, it’s compared to the homes adjacent on the street, versus we raise rents on a multifamily building, and you can significantly impact the value of that. I mean, so
Mat Zalk 7:09
if you if you raise rents $100 a month, that’s $1,200 a year on an eight cap, that’s 12 times 12 is 1514 4000 worth of value that you’ve just created in the property, I guess, right. So if you do that across the portfolio, you can, you can have substantial impact, and you’re not being compared to the apartment complex next door unnecessarily. But you’re being you know, compared to the the income and net operating income that you’re generating, tell me about the bad experience in that first property in Chicago, you had a good experience, and you had a bad experience that right,
Chris Burgin 7:39
the bad experience, and that’s what I would, you know, I guess, and I do talk to a lot of friends who are contemplating getting into, I want to buy a rental, my advice to them would be the same to everybody, if you’re gonna buy one, buy 10 Because if you buy one, you’re gonna be the guy getting every phone call. Yeah. And you’re the one that when the faucets leaking, I gotta go out and fix that faucet. At least that’s the way I treated it, I was little younger and more ambitious then. But when you get to that level of 10, and I found that again, for me real estate, everything equates back to my experience in franchising. Yeah. And once we got to 10, we became legitimate and kept going from there. And I step back and plug somebody in to the role that I was playing. And so same with real estate, when we got to one, it wasn’t that much fun. But when we got to 10, and you start plugging some people in to do things, it becomes more enjoyable.
Mat Zalk 8:35
Yeah, so the scale element, I mean, we’ve I’ve always thought that way, in terms of Keyrenter, we take a lot of properties, like deep on the north side, or neighborhoods that are less desirable, and that their rents are lower, and therefore the management fee that you collect on them is lower. And I’ve always said, I just want scale, because with scale, I can hire more people, and then I can do a better job for the management of those properties, high and low end. And then with doing a better job in the management of those things, we’re gonna end up inevitably get more properties to manage, because people see that we’re doing a great job. And I’ve always thought that scales scale is definitely the right way to do it. And you know, the same thing in having 10 properties instead of one, you can then have the scale to hire a maintenance person, you can have the scale, at least a partial property manager, somebody to take phone calls, whatever else which is, which is great. But in your bad experience. I mean, what was the specific bad experience? Was there one defining moment or was there not? I guess the essence of my question is really, how do you separate somebody that has a bad experience and then says, You know what, I’m selling this property, specifically people that like our accident, what we call accidental landlords, so they didn’t really want to be a landlord. They couldn’t sell their house or they moved to a different neighborhood and they moved to different city maybe and they decided, look, I like the asset class enough. My somebody told me real estate’s great so I’ll keep this asset I already have a fixed 30 year conventional mortgage and I’m paying very little so I can probably make it work but then something bad happens whether that’s something egregious like your AC unit being stolen or just a attended that puts a couple holes in the walls and it’s $1,500 to fix and I think you know what, screw this, this is this is just Not for me. That’s a terrible experience. You know, some people rebound from that and go, You know what, that was one bad experience, cost me a little bit money. But in the overall scheme of things, I’m getting depreciation interest expense, I’m also getting, you know, some cash flow every month, I’m gonna persevere through this one bad experience. And you know, the rest of them are great experiences. When you look back in hindsight, some of them go, You know what I’m throwing in the towel? That was a bad experience, and I’m out, I’m gonna sell this asset, what do you think differentiates those, those two people? And what’s your experience with that bad experience?
Chris Burgin 10:28
I think that goes back to tenacity. Everybody, and in life, and I had it explained to me actually just a couple of years ago, which helps me a great deal. I mean, it no matter whether you own a business, you work at a good work for somebody as a staff member, you’re gonna have days that just are awful. And the tendency for human nature, at least for me is to throw in the towel, I don’t want to deal with this. And I had a friend of mine put it to me in the sense of, at some point in life, everybody’s had a bad experience with the oven. But they didn’t stop eating. Yeah, there’s some things that we can and can’t stop doing. And the ones that we can, if we don’t like them, we just want to quit. And so that was really for me, I just applied that to okay, there’s no exit door on anything now. So when we have that bad day, whether that could be with a property manager, which fortunately, we haven’t had yet, but it could be with tenants, it could be with the building itself, but it’s just part of it. It’s not all good. Yeah.
Mat Zalk 11:30
I sometimes feel as an entrepreneur, like, we’ve built this organization, but in essence, it’s just a house of cards and with with one, when one property manager that’s handling a lot of stuff leaves, or one, you know, key employee otherwise quits and barrels, you’re like God, the whole thing is going to collapse, the burden is all on my shoulders, I’ve got to keep this thing together. And that can be, you know, that can be a terrible feeling. And I generally kind of like gritten Barrett, get a good night’s sleep and wake up early the next morning and just get to work doing what has to be done. And now that we’re at five people or so, less of that falls on me. But there were times when we were 15 people that it was like I just inherited 200 properties to manage maybe a significant multifamily portfolio, and it’s like, I just have to get to work. And it was it’s definitely stressful. But knowing that you don’t have there’s not like an eject button, as you say, and knowing that there’s you can’t pass the buck to somebody else. Either you quit folded up and tell all your owners, you know, sorry, I’m not doing this anymore, take back your property or just get to work and do it. You just you have to, you got to get it done at some level. And that’s the grit. I mean, you call it tenacity, we call it historically, I’ve always said it’s just grit, like the grit of entrepreneurship. You just like, you just have to get it done. You’ve got to break down walls, and you’ve got to get things done.
Chris Burgin 12:43
I think so the there’s a ceiling that we break through at every level. Yeah. And usually before you break through that ceiling, there’s some pain points to get through that. Yeah. And that’s even as you mentioned, I mean, having it doesn’t all fall on me. And there’s others in place to solve some of those problems are clear the hurdles, I still go to bed at night wondering did they, and I’m communicating with them. And then it’s the urge to step in and help them. But I’ve got to let them do that on their own. Otherwise, I’m gonna be helping them for life. And I don’t want that.
Mat Zalk 13:14
Yeah, it’s true. How’d you? Why did you get a paper out on as a kid? I mean, what’s what spawned your entrepreneurial desire? At some level? You just need some cash right as a kid.
Chris Burgin 13:24
And that’s that was it? I mean, my parents were We were not rich. But we weren’t poor. But dad was one who said, If you want some money, you need to go around. And he’s in a pot. Yeah. So I’m grateful for that, though. I think that that instilled in me at a young age. My mom was, it was really funny. I remember announcing that I got the paper route. And my mom was furious, because that’s seven days a week. Wow. So when are we going to go visit my grandma and my grandfather, it’s like, you have to work seven days a week now. And I didn’t realize that I think about that I just got to paper and I’m gonna make some money now. But we figured out to figure out how to delegate a couple of buddies in the neighborhood that if I was going to be gone, or play baseball for whatever reason, then I would delegate that to them and pay them to take that day or two, or whatever that turned out to be. But it was about I’ve just always, and I inherited that I believe from my grandfather, he was an entrepreneur. And I think it’s just kind of in the genes stood. I wanted to do something. I remember back in high school, I worked for a guy that had great influence in my life. And I remember talking to him. And this was when I was entering college, and I said, I do not know what I want to do with the rest of my life. But I want to own my own company. And that was all I knew. And so it’s one of those things that I’ve always pursued that and always done that.
Mat Zalk 14:49
Amazing. My dad would say as a kid, if I asked him for money, he’d say, I thought you had a job. And I man, I gotta get a job. And I’ve worked from from a pretty young age and when I had A job he would give me money. Is there any anything I earned, I could save. But if I didn’t have a job, yet I didn’t have a job before they get a job. And the taps would would stop flowing, so to speak, our parents, I guess had the same instincts to
Chris Burgin 15:16
it in the moment, that was no fun. But later on, that was one of those I circled back and said, Thanks, it’s,
Mat Zalk 15:23
it definitely teaches you respect for the dollar. It teaches you you know, grit, grit, and how to push through stuff you don’t have, you don’t want to get up every morning to run that paper out. Sometimes you don’t feel like you know, get through to do it, you don’t wanna lose that job, make sure you have a level of change in your pocket. Exactly, I love it. So in my experience with multifamily, the challenges that they’re like a single family house, the likelihood that you’re going to get a call at midnight, you know, saying the neighbor, the neighboring, you know, kid is flooding my house with his hose on the side of his house is relatively low, but the likelihood that in a multifamily property, you get a call from somebody that says the bath, the kids are taking a bath upstairs, and it’s late, it’s flowing out, and it’s leaking, stripping water down, and now my sheet rocks, you know, soggy and coming down into my kitchen is higher, I mean, the quality tenants generally not as good. Everything you said is true about you make you do one closing one appraisal when there’s one that and you can deploy a lot more capital at once, right? So you doubled from 130 to 260, or whatever your numbers were, you can do that you can scale much quicker. But I just find that the caliber of tenant and the nature of the intensity of the management is so much more. I mean, what’s Why Why has the economics been better for you over
Chris Burgin 16:31
overtime? I think it’s an again, I you know, going back to for us and sitting down with a tenant, I mean, we’re setting expectations, I think that’s one of the things I learned young, you know, you go for a drive, you don’t know where you’re going, that’s a kind of an anxious feeling of I’m trying to get there, but I don’t know where or how. So we I think our property managers do a great job of setting expectations. And we don’t tolerate much of anything really. And I don’t we don’t do that in a condemning way. We don’t do that in a mother father role, with respect from the sense of Let’s just all respect each other. And when we went to college, live in the dorm and have people in the hallway, you gotta respect that. And same thing here, it’s you’re paying rent. And that doesn’t mean you own the place. And you get to do what you want, when you want. So we do have, I mean, it happens. I mean, it happens in anything within this business. But again, that’s the benefit. For me, that goes to the property manager that goes to the maintenance guys, that goes to a lot of different people before I even know about it. And usually I know about it after it was solved.
Mat Zalk 17:37
Yeah. But ultimately, if you can’t charge the tenant for fixing the fixing the sheetrock can eat it below you, and you eat the cost on that. And you might do it. I mean, in classy multifamily specifically, you often see patch after patch after patching and sealing of sheetrock where it’s been, you know, molded over and textured over and might still be a little bit soft and wet. And whatever else. Like that’s just it’s just expense that’s not necessarily incurred in the single family space. And I’ve never figured out from it. I mean, we’ve owned multifamily, I own a 58 unit building on a 28 unit building, we own a lot of smaller boutique multifamily, I just never figured out how to keep operating expenses in line with how we performed with them on the front end.
Chris Burgin 18:14
I guess we for us, it’s been luck, we we would patch your ceiling in that sea level apartment the same as we would in the $800,000 house. So we’re going to make it so that you don’t know it and we die. I’m a big believer, I learned that a little bit the hard way and through experience, people are going to maintain what level they walk into. Yeah, and true. We have experienced that. So when somebody moves into unit, it’s been gone through whatever needed to be done was done. And we’ve had pretty good success and you get the one offs. But that’s that just comes with the territory.
Mat Zalk 18:52
What are some of the key lessons that you learned in that first multifamily acquisition that you applied to future transactions?
Chris Burgin 19:01
The biggest one was, when we started that acquisition, there were a number of vacancies and the investor coming in for us we want to pull, you know, get that thing occupied. Second one was whatever that vacancy rate is, let’s just leave it there. Because what ended up and I don’t begrudge the guy he was just throwing bodies in there. So we were doing some evictions, day one. Sure. Versus it is what it is. And we’ll take that financial burden and move forward because we get to select who’s in there. Sure. And that that was the biggest lesson for us. And through that, I don’t think there’s been any major aha moments for us. It’s just been getting in the key has always been getting the right property manager. And we’ve inherited some great ones. Through some of our acquisitions. We’ve hired a couple, but that’s been the biggest key and supporting them
Mat Zalk 19:58
after you transition into that first multifamily. Have you purchased any other big single family portfolios? Or has it been all multifamily from there
Chris Burgin 20:05
before going on multifamily from that forward?
Mat Zalk 20:07
And you’re working on getting ready, we’re
Chris Burgin 20:09
working on 192 units that will close in a couple of months. But after that, I would think well, that’s those are going to be some single more duplexes and quad plexes. But after that, I think we would be done with anything other than 100 units plus in one geographic location, and
Mat Zalk 20:31
what’s generally What’s your geography for the 650. Plus ATS when I need to, I guess I should say
Chris Burgin 20:38
Southern, down in Durant, Oklahoma, up to St. Louis, Missouri, and then acquisitions recently, we’re in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and areas near that. So it’s geographically we’re spread out. We’re not anywhere in Tulsa, which is a little frustrating, I always kind of think, man, it’d be great to be able to roll out of bed drive over and see one. But that hasn’t happened yet.
Mat Zalk 21:00
And are you? Are you doing video calls with your with your property managers? Are you visiting the property once a month, and what’s your preferred strategy for making sure that you’re getting eyes on on property,
Chris Burgin 21:09
I go, I go visit, I’m a face to face guy. I know video conferencing is in essence that, but I like to be in the room, I like to let them know that we’re behind them 100%. And they are doing a great job. We get all of them together once a week on a video call. And we can talk about what’s working and not working and hopefully collaborate and out of that produce, whether that’s a document on how to do something procedurally, or just to let them know they’re not in that alone. And when you hear another property manager when you’re talking about your bad day, and they say me too, that actually helps, because you’re not in that alone.
Mat Zalk 21:49
So you do the video calls is your entire team on the leadership side, and then all the property managers are all in a room together in a virtual room together.
Chris Burgin 21:56
Right, that’s all the property managers are in the room. And I actually myself backed out of that call recently. Because we do have somebody that we’ve designated to lead that she has a lot of experience in the business. So everybody gravitates to her anyway. So I don’t want to be in the way of that. And I think sometimes as the owner, some of the conversations are curbed a little bit, because they don’t want to be viewed as if they’re not meeting expectations, which is never the case. But again, that’s a natural thing. So it was just something that I elected to opt out of, and then I go spend time visiting the property and the property managers and the maintenance staff.
Mat Zalk 22:33
And so when when you’re not on that call, I guess that that call would naturally facilitate the feeling that they can read pick up the phone and reach out to somebody else that’s on the team, but it’s not in their Jeep in their in their physical location and ask for advice and get help or experience share or whatever else.
Chris Burgin 22:49
Yeah, and that was one of the other intentions was we want them to be able to talk to each other not just myself, we’re not just Rhonda who’s kind of been the point person leading that we’ll have this fall, we’ll have all of them, all of them being again, property managers, maintenance staff, everybody’s going to come to Tulsa, we’ll spend three or four days together and just have some fun. But again, getting everybody in the room. And I think you’ll see people leaving with, you know, adding phone numbers to their phones. And that way they’ve got another point of communication.
Mat Zalk 23:20
So I mean, it sounds like you’re building a corporate culture, disparate in geography but centralized in I guess the philosophy, how do you have you? Have you sat down and actually built that? I mean, that’s a conscientious decision, or is it just kind of this is who we are. And you you kind of bleed that sort of corporate culture that you know, that philosophy,
Chris Burgin 23:40
ah, I coming from the franchise world, it’s been nothing that I put down on paper, it’s been one of those organic things I can kind of see, again, through that growth as a franchise company, I can see what’s coming and what those needs are, because I heard it 1020 years ago. And so now I’m trying to stay in front of that and put the right people in place to head that off before not that it was an issue. But you don’t want to see needs going on Mat. So we’re trying to put these things in. As we acquire new property managers, not everybody can come and get answers from me one because I don’t have them all. And two, I can’t answer everybody’s question at the same time. So opening that up and building that community among them. It has been what I thought was the next step. And it seemed to be well received. They all liked each other. And now they talked to them instead of me, which I feel left out. But that’s okay. They’re getting along.
Mat Zalk 24:34
I mean, I find that to be a hard part. Historically. I was telling you earlier before the podcast and I was in the room, where Brian sits on all the property managers, and I love that because they could come to me and ask questions, and I thought that was a great way to cascade down the vision for how property management should be done to our core team members that are actually on the frontlines doing the work. But as you know, I got more and more questions. It’s more and more distracting. I can’t handle the things that I need to handle whether that’s you know, addressing lawsuits, dealing with bankers and And, you know, expanding acquisition of new businesses, etc. And you have to eventually pull yourself out. But it’s, it’s not only do you not want to be perceived as the person that’s unapproachable, because now you’re in a different room. But you also lose that personal touch. I mean, you, you grow and lose that ability to directly steer the ship, right, and you’re relying now on on a Coxon, or whatever it’s called them rowing to kind of provide guidance and steer the ship. And I don’t know if I like that it’s just kind of unnecessary evil, makes me feel out of the loop a little bit makes me feel, you know, out of control. But it’s it’s essentially necessary if you want to grow a business of any sort.
Chris Burgin 25:35
It is and that I’m a people person in that regard, I played athletics. And so I’m all about the team. And so I want to be a part of that team and be with them, whether it’s battle, or just enjoying the victory, or whatever that case may be. But in order for us as a team to be successful, I’ve got to step out of that every day, and start looking forward into what is next. And how are we going to get there. And so plugging those people in, and then going back to perhaps pitch hit for a day, I went, maybe six months ago, I spent a week in St. Louis, because everybody was on vacation. So we went up to run the office. And, you know, for me, it was hopefully you’re seeing I’m not above anything. I’m a part of this, and I want to be able to help out. So if you’re going on vacation, go enjoy, because I’ll probably mess it up while you’re away. But when he come back, it’ll still be above water, at least Yeah,
Mat Zalk 26:31
yeah. Yeah. Important. I mean, I would say, you know, for any property manager should do everything that that any other person in the organization would do. And I’ll go in and sweep the house before I move in. If somebody if I realize it’s just a little bit dirty, and somebody’s about to move into acid, they’re paying whatever you think is good money, they also think it’s good money, whether it’s $1,000 a month, or 25 or $3,000 a month, they think it’s good money, because that’s what they’ve read it in. Really important to be able to wear all the hats in the organization, if you if you want to, if you want to move up, still know what it was like on the frontlines.
Chris Burgin 27:01
And I want to help out, and that was, I think one of the biggest benefits, you know, my son did work for us for a little while. And I don’t think that any, I guess it would say average team member would come in and just say, hey, why don’t you butt out of this, you’re messing it up. But my son having my son, so when I would think I’m trying to help in the process, I would get a phone call and just say, Well, you just leave that alone, we actually have a system. So I’ve been it really helped me grow as a manager in the sense of just when I come to help I don’t come in and start saying what to do. I come in and say what do you want me to do? Or how do you need me to do it?
Mat Zalk 27:42
It’s funny you say that because I think Brian was on the frontlines of, of kicking me out of the Oval Office at some point, like your office has been moved. And now Brian actually sits in my old desk in my old location. He was like on the frontlines along with Matt Lance, one of our senior property managers also wonderful. They were like, your offices in their phone. No, it took me a while. I think I moved some of my stuff. And then I stayed in that office for a long time. And eventually they were like, Yeah, you’re done. I was like, Okay, I get the hint. You want me to butt out? Because sometimes I was like, you know, let’s, I think this is the right approach. And they’re all you know, Boss, we’ve we’ve figured this part out, aren’t you just
Chris Burgin 28:20
go over there two steps behind Exactly.
Mat Zalk 28:22
My favorite moment was actually there’s a client meeting one of our biggest clients is in the office. And I guess I kind of like stumbled on the meeting that they were having. And I walked in thinking like I could, you know, add value and whatever else and they all kind of looked up, they laughed, and they were like, get out. I was like, this is a bittersweet moment is a bittersweet moment. Right? You guys don’t need that feel. I feel a little bit hurt. But I also feel a little bit proud. You know? Sure.
Chris Burgin 28:45
That’s, that’s the day after your children get married. It’s bittersweet. It’s you did a good job if they’re able to figure it out from there.
Mat Zalk 28:53
Yeah, exactly. Tell me about some of your mentors in the business and some some of the poignant advice that you may have received that helped you get to this point.
Chris Burgin 29:03
You know, for me, it was if I go back to the one that had the biggest influence if you’re in Tulsa, you know, Robertson tire. I grew up working at Robertson tire.
Mat Zalk 29:14
They’re known just so everybody knows, this is the spot you go when you need a tire tire, changing anything fixing your car, but they’re known for being supremely honest. And they say how you got just one small leak in your tire. We’re going to patch it up, send you on your way for free. And it builds this incredible loyalty. I mean, you there’s nobody that you love like Robertson tire. I think it’s a little bit like Nordstrom or other companies that have done similar stuff. Yeah, like they don’t ask any questions. They’re always honest. They’re gonna tell you a straight answer, and then you just love them for it. But sorry, go ahead.
Chris Burgin 29:41
Yeah, no, so I grew up. Ted Robertson was a family friend, and it was one of those again, when I turned 16. I got my own car. And summer came and my dad said, go see Ted Monday morning. And I was like, okay. So Monday morning and showed up for work. Ted wasn’t there, but I was expected and they put me to work. And through the years it was, you know, it was not the most fun that I ever had working in Oklahoma, it’s 100 degrees in the summer, and I’m in a warehouse full of rubber. Yeah, but it was one of those that taught work ethic, but also a tad, you know, he would have conversations with me about life and about entrepreneurship. And about, you know, for him, as he said, you know, at that point, he was pretty successful. And everybody wanted to come be a part of that. And as he was saying, you know, when it was him, stacking the tire and loading the truck, selling it and putting it on, nobody wanted to come be him. So you have to figure out what the end goal is going to be. And there’s going to be a lot of hard work to get there. And that was he was just one that always continued to conversationally pour into my life. And he was he was a great guy, he was It was back in the day, have you just work? And I’m sorry, it’s lunchtime, but we have too much work to do. So let’s keep working. And yes, we close at five o’clock, but there’s customers out there. So when they’re done, we’re done. And, you know, again, in the moment, if there were days when I wanted to go do other things, obviously, but it taught me a work ethic and taught me how to do it the right way. I mean, as as you said, Ted, the guy that if you pulled in and it didn’t need anything, he put your car back out. And so you don’t need anything that was everything with him was going to be done the right way. And done with integrity. And so I’ve always tried to carry that there’s been a lot of days in my life, as I get older that I think about Ted and talk with him now and again, but it’s one of those, you know, where would you be without those people feeding into?
Mat Zalk 31:44
Yeah, so yesterday, I had a conversation. Again, it was about Venture for America. And the the idea was, if you can take fellows, as they call them, train them up in the basics of work, right? I mean, that’s professional emails, that’s doing a little bit of PowerPoint that’s understanding a little bit of financial literacy, and then put them into a business to view firsthand entrepreneurship, they can actually go out and seed new businesses, they can start, they can be entrepreneurs, some of them will just be entrepreneurial within other organizations, which is important. And as your top brass, those are the people that are really taking on new projects and pushing things forward within an existing organization. Some of them will just build new companies. And that just helps generally, like, you know, grow an economy, which is something we need here in Tulsa, we don’t have a ton of new businesses that are developing, we have a couple of large employers, they’re generally they’re Tulsa public schools, and they’re American Airlines, but we need kind of new entrepreneurial blood just so important. And that’s sounds like what he did to you. I mean, he instilled in us this, maybe you already had it, you’re 16, maybe 18, you knew you wanted to be an entrepreneur, maybe before but it was just it was, you know, it’s that it’s that kind of can do attitude. Everything is you know, it’s on you as the founder of the business owner to to get it done. And to to lead with integrity. Does he does does Robertson family does the Robertson family still own that tire shop that his daughters take it over? Yeah, the
Chris Burgin 33:00
sons taken over, I get to have lunch with one of the sons, we were pretty close in age. So we have lunch once a month. And he’s his dad. I mean, I mean that in a very great way. Everything is done, right? Everything’s done with respect to cares about everybody that works for him. And he knows everybody that works for him good or bad. That’s, he knows them all. And it’s just the way he was taught and bred. And that’s the way he doesn’t. So if they’re still as good as they’ve ever been,
Mat Zalk 33:28
I love it. Tell me a little bit about stuff that you’re reading podcasts. Just anything that that inspires you to be better at work Personal life Family.
Chris Burgin 33:40
For me, I’ve read one of the most recent ones Distance Manager. That’s again, something as I’m trying to figure out, and these folks are all two hours plus away are an hour and 30 minutes to Fort Smith, but there are none of them do I get to go sit with every day? Sure. And so trying to figure out how to stay in tune and how to put those systems and processes in place. That those are things that helped me in just I like to read a lot about management books, good or bad. And it doesn’t have to be business management. I as I said it played athletics. So I love to read about baseball or football, whatever that might be. I’m always intrigued by successful organizations, they didn’t get all the best talent that never happens. It’s something at the top. I mean, if I look at Alabama and Nick Saban and the guy wins year in year out whether I like it or not, I’m gonna use him but it’s it starts at the top it changed when Nick Saban arrived, and it’s been at that standard ever since. And so reading about management at whatever level in whatever business or athletic endeavor that’s enjoy reading those things, and podcasts. That’s a new one for me, generationally, that’s not something I grew have a date too. But I like to drive to California to see my daughter. So when I do that, that’s generally because I’m going to do a podcast or listen to one or two of them. So there, I don’t have any one real estate podcast that I listened to, I try to expose myself to whatever’s out there. So I’ve listened to a variety of those, and picked up how people do things and systematize their business, which is, again, what I’m really trying to do is I think we’ll get into maybe some flips, again, not anything at the scale I was doing before, but the one offs, I think, again, as the entrepreneur, when business becomes boring for me when it becomes systematized and I no longer have to do anything. So I’ve got to step out and figure out what to challenge myself with and what to do. And I think flipping will be that just not out of any financial need. But just out of I need to keep myself busy and in the game.
Mat Zalk 35:57
I mean, it’s amazing that you’re still in the flow, it’s like the market has been has been peaked out. Now we’re seeing it come down as interest rate dries a little bit, but you’ve kind of you bought straight through the toughest years to buy, and there’s so much competition to buy multifamily properties. And you’ve seemed to found have found some sort of formula for sourcing deals, when it’s been, you know, as a person that also likes to buy real estate, it’s been really challenging to buy good deals.
Chris Burgin 36:24
I think we’ve been one we’ve just we’ve been blessed. I mean, that’s nothing that we went out and did. And I say we because I’ve got a couple of business partners in that. And I think as I go back to, again to Ted, doing things the right way doing things which you say you’re going to do. So for us, when we say we’re gonna do something, we did it, and we did it on the day that we said we closed. So when you get that reputation when there is something out there in a market that is challenging. We’ve gotten some phone calls out of the blue have some things that were available off market, and we got those because we performed well the first time treated everybody fairly and got the deal done. And that’s, that’s I guess, thing for us. It’s not enough, they’re asking a million, it’s not about trying to get it for 900 and trying to find a reason why it’s if it’s worth a million, a million to be done and move on. And so we’ve taken that approach and so far it’s worked, so we’ll keep doing that.
Mat Zalk 37:24
I love it. Chris Burgin an entrepreneur at heart, we appreciate your perspective on tenacity and growing a business you own 650 multifamily and single family doors. So you’re doing something really, really right. I only know your one son, but you certainly raised raised a great son there too. And where can people find you if they want to reach out? Have a deal for you or maybe want to get a little bit of mentorship or advice?
Chris Burgin 37:48
Yeah, they can reach me an email [email protected] Beautiful, I don’t have a website. I don’t have any of that other fancy stuff. We just do our thing every day. So if somebody’s got a question and I can answer it, I will. But that’s how we do it.
Mat Zalk 38:02
I love it. Chris, thanks for being on the show.
Chris Burgin 38:05
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