Greg Wilkes (00:01):
The construction industry can be a tough business to crack from cashflow problems. Struggling to find skilled labor and not making enough money for your efforts leaves many business owners feeling frustrated and burnt out. But when you get the business strategy right, it’s an industry that can be highly satisfying and financially rewarding. I’m here to give you the resources to be able to create a construction business that gives you more time, more freedom, and more money. This is the Develop Your Construction Business podcast, and I’m your host, Greg Wilkes.
Greg Wilkes (00:38):
Brilliant. So welcome everybody back to the podcast today. Nice to have you here. We got a special guest with me today, Gary Das, who I’ve known for a few years and I’ve been following his business and it’s been great to see what Gary’s achieved over the last few years. So Gary, welcome to the podcast.
Gary Das (00:53):
Thanks for having me on mate. It’s, it’s been a long time in the making, but we got there in the end.
Greg Wilkes (00:57):
We said it. Yeah, you’re a hard man to pin down. I know you’re really busy. So great to have you on.
Gary Das (01:03):
Thank you for having me.
Greg Wilkes (01:04):
Yes, no worries. So just to give a brief introduction into who Gary is. So Gary runs a number of successful businesses, his main one being active, which is a specialist mortgage brokerage, which helps self-employed businesses get mortgages and finance. But he also runs a company called Financial Pro, which is a training and coaching company for financial and service-based businesses. So there’s a number of topics we can talk about. Gary, have I got that introduction right? Is there anything else you want to add to that?
Gary Das (01:33):
No, that’s spot on. The ethos of the brokerage is very much helping self-employed, limited company, business owners to buy and invest in property without being distracted and losing their life to the lenders really. And then as a result of social media and marketing and that kind of side of it, it led to me now coaching more than 500 advisors on marketing, sales business, how to do the job more efficiently. Because in 2023, I’ll be 20 years in this mortgage and insurance industry. So yes, double decade.
Greg Wilkes (02:06):
Lots of experience there mate. That’s, it’s all good for us all. So the reason I wanted to get you on Gary specifically is because I know that my listeners are obviously construction business owners, self-employed, probably got a limited company, and all the time they’re talking about not only do they want to have a successful construction company, but many of them are thinking about the future and getting into property development. It’s obviously really much easier for someone in construction to start doing property development and you hear all the stories of how successful that can be for people, but there’s obviously a bit of a minefield around that, around raising finance, getting mortgages, and whatever else. So I thought that one of the first topics we could talk about potentially are how a builder can do that and how they can build up their portfolio of property and raise that finance. So maybe I could just sort of initially just jump in Gary and get some top tips from you on how a business owner, some of the things they need to think about in raising finance and putting themselves in a good position to be able to borrow as much as they can.
Gary Das (03:06):
So from a residential perspective, do you want to start with or do you want to start with more of a commercial basis?
Greg Wilkes (03:11):
Let’s start with residential. First of all, let’s imagine someone wants to, well when we say residential,
Gary Das (03:16):
Buy a million pound home.
Greg Wilkes (03:17):
Yes, that’s it. Go for it. Let’s start with it.
Gary Das (03:19):
Yes. Okay. So first of all, the buying the million pound home, I believe from a business coaching point of view that anything is particularly possible. You just have to reverse engineer and start with the end in mind. So once you know that you want to buy a 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 million pound home, you then can work out what deposit you’re going to realistically need and factor in any equity you’ve got from the existing home and then you’ll know the mortgage amount that you’re going to want to have. And then it just becomes a numbers game in terms of, okay, in order to achieve a 2 million pound mortgage, I’m going to need 500 grand roughly in terms of profits or salary or dividends. And how you slice that to remain tax efficient is really important. So anything is completely achievable and building your business to support your lifestyle is obviously a really important thing.
So some of the top tips for business owners, and to give a little bit of context, in 2015, having had my most successful year financially when I was building my insurance brokerage, my bank turned around to me and said, no Gary, you can’t move house, you can’t double your mortgage because of having salary and dividends. And because of the credit crunch, I’ve been out of the industry for almost seven years and I’m a bit of a dog with a bone and don’t like hearing a no and don’t like giving a no to my clients either. So effectively I phoned 180 lenders in the space of three days and found just a whole opportunity of lenders that don’t necessarily have a high street presence but can do some cool things for us entrepreneurs and business owners who earn our money in tax-efficient ways and our tax years are different and our year ends are different and we’ve got people buying in and buying out all these things that the high street banks just go, “I can’t deal with this.”
So the key things really, as I mentioned, start with the end in mind, whatever your next move is, whether it’s my ethos has always been plan 12, 24, 36 months in advance and talk to your accountant and we work hugely with accountants and get a lot of referrals from them, but just get a clear idea of what the numbers need to be that you need to earn personally. And then Greg will help you smash a construction business and build it to achieve those numbers. But once you know that point and you say, okay, I need to earn half a million quid, for example, as a mortgage broker and working with your accountant, we can turn around and say, well okay, if you do salary and dividends of half a million quid, my god, how much personal tax are you going to pay?
So there are ways in which I did in my own personal circumstances where you can use your net profit and that can be considered because if your income’s a hundred grand at the moment, you’re not necessarily drawing that income out as dividends, but you have the potential to do so in the future. So that’s why they’ll consider the net profit because they’ll speak to the accountant and this is where positioning is really vital, but just actually saying to the mortgage lender and explaining the circumstances, it was saying, Hey look, they’ve got this pot of money here, they’re not drawing it now because the lifestyle doesn’t substantiate it, but this is where the business is going. This is what the next 12 months look like. This is what their income can be based on salary and dividends. And there are lenders who let’s say, use a logical approach and say, well okay, that all makes sense.
Greg Wilkes (06:40):
That’s really, yeah, I mean you’ve raised some really valuable points there. I mean one of the things I just wanted to touch on was you’re talking about the planning because I think the problem is a lot can leave this to the last minute, decide they want to move, but you’re sort of saying you’re 12 months to maybe three years think in advance before you start tackling this.
Gary Das (06:57):
Definitely the number of people or business owners that will find a house before they then or put the current one on the market, find the new one, and not even having considered their income, their mortgage, and their circumstances. We did 1,500 mortgages last year, we used 67 lenders between me and my team, and no two mortgages are exactly the same and everything is like a puzzle. You could have 99% of the puzzle could be exactly the same, but there’ll be that one piece that means that you can’t go with that lender, you’ve got to go with a different one. So getting your ducks in a row as I like to call it, working out the numbers, making sure that your credit history is all nice and clean. No typical thing for a business owner, buy a car personally, but pay it through the business or don’t worry about your overdraft that you’re paying personally because you’ve got the money in your company account, you just haven’t really withdrawn it, but the bank’s looking at you personally, so alright, it’s nothing to you but to the bank they’re like, well, we can’t see the business bank statement, we can only see the personal bank statement and they’re not substantiating their standard of living.
Greg Wilkes (08:06):
Yes, that’s really good tips there Gary. So just thinking about, just moving on from that, so if obviously buying the ideal home is the dream for everyone and we want to do that, but a lot of business owners want to do the next step, don’t they? So they’re not creating pensions for themselves. A lot in construction aren’t investing in pensions. I know that. And they’re thinking about using property as their pension pot. So transferring that over to thinking about buy-to-lets and developments do the same principles apply there?
Gary Das (08:36):
So the foundational principles of finance, mortgages, development loans, bridging loans, all of these kinds of things, the foundational principles, much like building a house are exactly the same. You just might need deeper trenches if you’re building something a little bit bigger, but your credit history, how you earn your income, all those kinds of things come into play when you start looking at development and bridging loans and development finance and even utilizing company profits to invest in property, then it becomes more around rather than your income. What then becomes part of the assessment is what’s the rental property, the rental value of the property going to be? And that’s more important because that’s technically what’s going to pay the mortgage. Holiday let is a fantastic one that everyone’s been doing as a result of the pandemic and buying homes on the seaside and you get 75 pounds a night rather than 750 pounds in rent per month. It is a huge area.
But then we do a lot on the construction side as well with land developments buying the land, some people just buying pure land, others buying a building, knocking the building down, putting flats or houses on it or putting two houses on it and splitting the title and all these things. And it is just for key from being in the industry. The key thing with development finance or doing a build of that kind is really just looking at have you got experience in the trade which this audience is all going to have? Have you got a decent build schedule as to what’s going to ultimately happen? And then it can be the best way. I may be teaching your audience to suck eggs to a degree, but you can stage the payments out and you don’t have to pay it all upfront because you can break it down into lump sums.
But with anything there, they’re just looking at how are we going to get our money back? How is the mortgage going to be paid? Is it affordable either personally or from the rent? A lot of what we’re doing is obviously people buying in limited company SPVs for the tax benefits. And equally, we’ve got a lot of clients now who are utilizing holding companies so they can move the money and make it all a little bit more tax-efficient. And again, if in the next 12 months your view is “Right, I’m going to take X amount of money out of the business, because it given us a great path and we want to start investing in property.” Just start planning it now because you are in the right position when something comes up rather than something coming up and you’ve got to do everything in reverse. Business is hard enough, marketing’s hard enough, people are hard enough, the team’s hard enough, don’t cause yourself more paperwork stress than you need to and just think in advance.
Greg Wilkes (11:22):
Yes, you’re a hundred percent right. And especially just what you mentioned there about thinking about the tax implications of some of the company holding structures like setting a holding company and maybe an SPV that sits under it, that obviously needs some specialist advice, doesn’t it, in order to do that.
Gary Das (11:36):
Greg Wilkes (11:36):
Is that something your company provides or can put people in the right direction?
Gary Das (11:40):
So we focus on the finance and the insurances and all those areas and we effectively have people that we can recommend who have written books and do podcasts and talk about all the accounting and the tax and the property side. For example, one of my biggest learnings in particularly getting into the property development and investment side is your typical accountant who does business, just doesn’t know all the tax perks and the benefits in the construction area. So you want someone who does property investment as a niche in their accountancy rather than business. So many things you can offset and so much savings can be made.
Greg Wilkes (12:21):
Yes, a hundred percent without a doubt. And just thinking about it, I know this is a piece of string, but obviously, people that are thinking about getting into either property development or buy-to-let often they wonder what sort of pop they need or what they need to start to get going. Is there percentage wise, if someone was buying, let’s say they’re going to buy a flat for 500 grand for example, is there typical percentages that they think you really should have in your back pocket before you start thinking about it?
Gary Das (12:50):
Yes, if you’re doing it for investment purposes, the rule of thumb is generally 25%, most lenders kick in at about a 25% deposit. There are some that will do 20 because you are shrinking the pot of lenders that are available. The interest rates do increase if you’ve got 30, 40, 50%, then you’ll see the interest rates come down once again. But the main consideration is I’m in Essex and the property market here for rentals, you need huge deposits in excess of 25% because the rental figure just doesn’t stack up.
Gary Das (13:23):
So the mortgage amount, whereas if you’re buying in, we’ve got clients who are buying in Hull, Blackburn, Liverpool, and the rental yields are obviously fantastic but they easily fit and you buy small deposits. So again, it’s one of those that you might have the deposit, but the key is making sure that the rental income is enough to cover the actual mortgage amount.
Greg Wilkes (13:46):
Yes, that makes sense. And does the same principle apply if for example, someone found a bit of lands or that they found a development opportunity and it looked like a great deal on paper but they didn’t have any money there themselves, what would you advise in that circumstance? Can you get a hundred percent finance or is it a joint venture? What would you suggest?
Gary Das (14:08):
There’s a bit of both available should we say. So if we get lots of people who buy commercial property and they’ll want to put, maybe they’ll renovate the upstairs and do it in a flat or they’ll split it or something along those kinds of lines. The key thing they’re interested in those types of properties or what percentage is residential and what percentage is commercial and that dictates the loan that you’re going to get. Again, you probably what you’re looking at is about 30% for that kind of commercial resi split for something like a land development or a bigger project. It really depends on the overall project and they’re interested more in the GDV in the future. So you might have to put some finance down initially, which could come from a loan agreement investor giving it to you and putting it in as a director’s loan. But then you may be able to dependent on the GDV raise a hundred percent of the development finance, there are a couple of lenders and caveats at the time of recording that could do a hundred percent of the purchase price up to 85% of the gross development value. So technically you might not have to put any money down if you are adding enough.
But again, it’s available at the moment. It might not be in the future, but if you are buying something that’s below market value that you are going to do a reasonable amount of work on, for argument’s sake, if you are going to increase the value enough and the value currently doesn’t exceed 85% of the gross development value when it’s finished in 3, 6, 9, 12 months, you might not need any deposit at all.
Greg Wilkes (15:47):
So I think that’s a really good point because obviously there’s opportunities out there and sometimes builders can spot those opportunities and they might think, do you know what, I know I can get planning on this or add significant value to it. So I think really that the principle is if you do find an opportunity like that but you haven’t got money, it’s still worth inquiring, isn’t it? Because if you can really add that value by planning that there may be options available to still raise the finance.
Gary Das (16:11):
Definitely. And we do so many mortgages for people as well and finance that technically that don’t use any of their own money.
I’m crap at construction, I can’t hang a curtain pole. I can arrange finance absolutely no problem at all. And we’re in talks at the moment, for example, one of my clients has got a lump sum of cash, he knows nothing about property, he knows nothing about finance, but my brother-in-law knows, he is in construction and I’m in a 20 foot by 12 foot garden room at the end of that. He built during the course of the pandemic and stuff. So it’s like if you can set up a nice little circumstance, you might have somebody who has access to funds and they’re just quite happy to realize that you could give them 10, 12, 15% a year, which some of our clients do. It’s completely hands off and you know what you’re doing. So there’s providing the numbers stack up, there’s people out there that are willing to invest in that because the banks are paying bugger all at the moment.
Greg Wilkes (17:05):
No, exactly. Yes, that’s a really good point. So yes, thanks for that Gary. So just moving on from the mortgage side of things, I know another arm of your business is obviously looking after the insurances side, should the worst what happen, and again, as a business owner we take on a lot of risk and often the families are completely dependent on our income, but at the same time it can feel expensive, it can feel like a burden to have to go out and pay some sort of insurance, especially for a trades person, like an injury sort of policy that can be quite expensive for that. But what sort of things do you think, why should a business owner be seriously considering protecting themselves in that way?
Gary Das (17:45):
Well, I call it all about safeguarding the future of your family. I’m a dad, I’ve got three kids, I’m the main earner in the household, wife’s a hairdresser and does a bit part-time. Kids are nine, seven, and three currently. And for me, it’s all about the “what if.” I’m fit. I rarely drink, I haven’t smoked since I was in my teens. There’s technically there’s no medical history in my family. Most business owners probably think they’re a bit indestructible in the gym six times a week, blah blah blah blah, blah. But “what if” that’s the big thing? You hear so many things that something could happen tomorrow. And the key things for me and the key things I talk to people about are the “what if.” And for example, my best friend six years ago was on a stag do fell over a really small balcony, broke his back and was in a wheelchair. And it has been he now because we put critical illness cover in place that covers disability, he actually was able to repay off his mortgage and because he didn’t have the financial burden, he was actually able to compete in the Olympics at javelin ShotPut and discus. And he’s now just got the UK British rowing time as well. He’s bloody massive, he’s still
Greg Wilkes (19:02):
Gary Das (19:02):
His upper body’s hit immense. But the thing is, some of these things as a business owner can be paid for through your business as well.
Gary Das (19:11):
So income protection, it never happened to me. But my best mate’s a plaster and did his arm and couldn’t raise it above his head. That’s his job for gone for seven months.
So income protection, making sure that should you have an accident or some form of illness that you can receive a monthly income that enables you to maintain your standard of living. If it’s something more serious than being off work or breaking your arm or dropping something on you or falling off a roof, my brother-in-law’s a roofer, cancer, heart attack, stroke disability. Then there’s critical illness cover or serious illness cover for that one in two people get cancer in a marriage, that’s going to happen to at least one person in that relationship. Then you have effectively life cover and there’s many different ways to get life cover. It can either be a lump sum, which my wife would be really good with, because she’s squeaky, but I would need something that probably pays a couple of grand a month or something like that because it’s just easier to budget.
And I like a spreadsheet to balance the book shall we say, but income protection, you can get through your business corporation tax deductible. So therefore it reduces that. Plus you haven’t got to pay the tax personally to then pay out. You can get relevant life insurance, which is effectively life insurance that you take for your significant other that again can be paid through the business. You can get corporate critical illness if you’ve got two people in a business. I had my old business partner years ago, and if there’s two people in a business and one of you dies, then automatically, unless you’ve got share agreements and cross option agreements, the shares go directly to the spouse of the other. But then all of a sudden you are in a business with a wife of your business partner or husband of your business partner that you technically probably has no interest or understanding of the business. So you take life insurance on each other that you review every couple of years that you agree that if one of you dies, the spouse gets that money and you retain a hundred percent ownership of the business and are able to crack on.
Greg Wilkes (21:22):
That’s interesting. I’ve never heard of that one. That’s fascinating. Yes. And is that similar to, well it’s not similar to it, but there’s a key person insurance as well, isn’t there? What’s that, Gary?
Gary Das (21:32):
Yes, so key person is more so shareholder protection is for two owners of a business and to make sure that you keep a hundred percent ownership of your business and you don’t end up with someone in it that you don’t want into it. Key person could be, for example, my top advisor who may be is responsible for X amounts worth of income, if he were to go off or she were to go off, you could technically take out a life cover policy to make sure that if they were to die or if they were to suffer a critical illness that’s going to have a significant impact on the business finances. So you’ve got money there then to replace that sales earnings and therefore the business can continue to trade.
Or it could be, again, it could be on the business partner, you might own a hundred percent of the company, but if they were the business partner who went out touting for business, had all the relationships, knew all the contractors, knew all the people who were in charge of the land developments and everything else, they would have a bit of a fear that, well, hang on a minute, if the finance person’s gone or the person who was in charge of my relationship, they might all of a sudden go and decide to take their business elsewhere. Whereas if you turn around and say, well look, that person’s gone, but I’ve just got 200 grand in the bank, that means financially we’re perfectly fine. I’m going to use 50 grand of that to find a replacement who’s going to be absolutely exceptional. Your creditors, your partners, your introducers, your relationships will just feel more safe in the knowledge that your business is financially sound and good for the next 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 years or whatever finance is allowed to get.
Greg Wilkes (23:10):
And I believe, correct me if I’m wrong, but I took out a key person or I was advised to myself so if I died, my wife could replace me if she needed to carry on the business. So that’s something to consider I guess, isn’t it for business owners?
Gary Das (23:24):
Exactly. I’ve actually taken out key person cover and we’ve got all SOPs in our business and everything else, but the thing that I’ve done is taken it so that yes, my wife can get the money but also so that the team have got someone to technically replace me. So I’ve got a couple of people in the business who understand all the roles and the responsibilities and everything else because if you haven’t read it, obviously built to sell is fantastic and even if you’ve got no views of selling your business, you don’t know what can happen to you tomorrow that you should have that mindset that it can function and run without you.
Greg Wilkes (23:58):
A hundred percent. Yes. And that’s so true. You can spend years and years building a business up, but you don’t want to lose it overnight. There it’s good, especially you’ve got family to pass that onto potentially. So thanks for that Gary. Just shifting focus a little bit now, I know one of the reasons I really wanted to get you on board is because I’ve seen your business growth over the last few years. We went on a business development course a while back, didn’t we? That was similar and I’ve really seen your social media absolutely explode and the principles of marketing, whether it’s for your financial services businesses or for construction, it’s the same. Marketing is the same for any business, that principle, but just why did you, you’ve sort of gone all in on social media, and I just wanted to understand what that shift was in your head, why you went for it, and what sort of impact that’s had on your businesses.
Gary Das (24:48):
Yes, so my first time going self-employed was when Money Supermarket came around and it was 2006, and effectively it was spreadsheets. I knew I could buy a lead for 15 quid. I knew I could sell them a mortgage or a life insurance policy for Y and I knew that I’d make Z amount of profit and we went through the credit crunch and other things. But basically from 2006, right the way up until 2015, that’s how I ran my business. I tried to get agencies who promised to get me to the top of page one on Google. I paid for poor-quality marketing companies and I wasted probably hundreds of thousands on trying to get marketing right because I wanted somebody else to do it for me. And at the end of the day, you can’t measure and manage what you don’t know or understand. So when I found my niche in self-employed mortgages in 2015 through moving into this house, that’s what embarked. I went on Google and started, how do I get this message farther and wider? I knew I didn’t want to continue to buy leads and I saw it as an opportunity. So I downsized my seven-figure insurance brokerage and started again on January, 2016 and just vowed that I would start learning marketing.
So I saw a guy called Jamie Alderton in the fitness space just doing videos and producing content and sharing his story. And I felt like I’d been on this journey with him and I just thought, “I’m going to do the same thing.” I had no social media presence prior to 2016. I just started posting every day. By the June I built the courage to do some horrendous videos, by the November I started doing some Facebook Lives. And fast forward to now we’ve got hundreds of videos on mortgages, business marketing, sales online. I’ve started a Facebook community, which has got two and a half thousand mortgage advisors in it. I’ve got a podcast, that’s number one in my industry. We’re just approaching 200 episodes and it’s just been like building a house just one thing after another, post, do a video, do a live, reshare that video, put it onto YouTube and just building blocks, get one thing working. And this is, I talk about get a process for something, systemize that process and then give it to somebody else to manage the process and the system. And we’ve just continually done that. So my first podcast episode was recorded on my phone with a 10-pound mic just into voice notes. Now they’re all fancy equipment and camera and lighting and all that kind of jazz, but
Greg Wilkes (27:27):
It’s just getting started, isn’t it? I think that’s the key.
Gary Das (27:30):
Just get started.
Greg Wilkes (27:31):
Gary Das (27:31):
What’s the worst that can happen?
Greg Wilkes (27:33):
And it really does build authorities, isn’t it? I mean, I know that just yourself, I’ve obviously seen your growth, but literally, I was at an event yesterday talking to a family member who’s a mortgage broker and I just said, oh actually, have you ever heard of Gary Das from Active? And straightaway went, “Yes, I know Gary. He’s quite big in the industry.” So you, you’ve built authority, haven’t you, by getting yourself out there. So do you think that would still be transferable to construction business owners too?
Gary Das (28:03):
Definitely. So I now teach social media, or I teach marketing, shall we say, from a, there are two halves to marketing. There’s the free and the organic and then there’s the paid, and both can work, but we’ve moved into a creator economy as it’s now called, where faceless businesses don’t do as well as a business with a name attributed to it. So Porsche has been around a long time, but I’d love to know if anyone could actually tell me who the owner or the face of Porsche actually is, but then go and look at Elon Musk and Tesla and look at the valuation of Tesla compared to Porsche.
Greg Wilkes (28:40):
Gary Das (28:41):
So that’s kind of the key thing with that. So if anyone wants to start out real key things to get good at from an organic social media point of view, first thing is clarity. So who is it that you realistically want to speak to and want to work with? What social media are they hanging out on? What age are they? What sex are they? What relationship status? Get into the actual ideal client. And even it can be a problem, it can be a job title. There are multiple different ways to have clarity, but you just need to pick one, follow one course until successful. Once you then understand clarity and who you really want to target, then it becomes about content marketing. And you can do that through video written or audio. We are here today doing video and audio, but Greg could get it transcribed for a dollar a minute and could literally have a blog written off the back of that. You can create social media posts. You could take a one minute excerpt off of the back of this and put it into a reel or a TikTok and that can all be done by somebody else. I outsource all of that. It’s just this bit that only Greg and I can realistically do.
So once you get the content created, they’re basically assets that will work for your business like a lifetime and we’ll pay you in terms of brand relationships, credibility, reach, audience for a lifetime. The key then is sharing them on social media. So you do a podcast that goes onto the podcast channel. Well, how do you get more people to go to your podcast? Well then the third part is about leveraging all the free and organic methods through social media.
Gary Das (30:19):
Once you get those three steps working, clarity, content and social media, you can then start working on marketing and that becomes more ads, emails, because it’s fantastic having an audience of 160,000 people I think I’m at now across all these channels. But if my podcast got shut down or my Facebook group closed, or particularly during the course of the pandemic, if you said the wrong word, you’re banned from posting for a month or whatever it is. You have to use marketing tactics to be able to get them onto your database, your emails where you’ve got a name, number and email address and there’s loads of different ways you can do it. Events, scorecards, eBooks, checklists, guides, whatever it might well be. And as you then start to do that, you work on growth. And that’s the final step after marketing is then growth, which is how you grow your numbers of content, how you grow your reach, how you increase your engagement, how you grow, the number of leads, how you improve individual channels and construction at the moment is doing so fantastically well on TikTok. And it is because it’s so visual.
There are some people who’ve seriously cracked me, I don’t watch it very often, but I look for bits of inspiration. Let’s be honest, mortgages and finance is boring as shit. You can’t really make it particularly entertaining without dancing or anything else. But with construction, you can show the development of something, you can teach somebody how to do something, you can show the before, the beginning, the middle, and the end, and people love it. My wife follows so many bloody home accounts for sofas, for ideas, for all of that kind of stuff. And if you are taking someone through a journey of a build, for example, and every day you shared a TikTok just of what you’re focusing on that build and then over six months you completed that build, someone is going to see that who’s interested, got a pot of cash, whatever it might well be that if you’re talking to the right type of person and know who exactly it is, it builds massive credibility and attracts people to you. It’s like a magnet.
Greg Wilkes (32:32):
Yes, a hundred percent. Yes, it’s interesting. Now obviously I know you mentioned there are all different forms that we can use, whether it’s video or just posting or pictures, but I know that you focus particularly on video as your core strategy and I think that’s the right thing to do. But why do you think, and I think this is just as valuable for construction owners, why do you think video is number one? Why would you say that leads it?
Gary Das (32:55):
For me, it was I hated doing video and I really didn’t want to do it, but I realized very early on from the video you can get the audio and you can get the written.
So it’s the most efficient and time-saving one. And equally for me to grab my phone and do a 32nd video or a one minute video, if I were to write that, it would take me 10, 15, 20 minutes. So it’s a massive time save. But also the attention spans of humans have become so much shorter. Amazon one click and buy, they’re trying to get us to purchase as quickly as we possibly can. Nobody’s got any patience. Everybody wants things now. So this whole short form Instagram reel, TikTok style content is going through the roof and YouTube is the biggest search engine out of all of the search engines that are there. So doing video gives you the capability off the back of this podcast. You can put it onto YouTube and leverage that. You can strip the audio and put it onto the podcast channels. You can create some mini-episodes to promote it. And you only have to look at Steven Bartlett’s come up through the ranks massively. I’ve been following him for a couple of years. I love social media, but his whole brand is built on video as well. And it’s just the way the world is going now in terms of the Metaverse, VR. I’ve seen the ability, I saw something yesterday that there’s a guy who’s already got into VR where you could actually have your kitchen designed and then walk into your kitchen with a VR headset on and see it before they even do the build and everything else.
Viewing homes on your sofa is going to become the new estate agency model.
Greg Wilkes (34:43):
Yes, I’ve got a friend who does similar, actually does AV, so he’ll do home cinema rooms and they’re putting a VR on and looking at the home cinema room, I mean, what a sales tactic. It’s incredible, isn’t it?
Gary Das (34:54):
Greg Wilkes (34:55):
I think just coming back to your videos again and why that’s most powerful. One thing I always say to my clients is that people are buying into people. And the thing is with you being so heavy on video is that people buy into you as a person, they get to understand your personality, which you can’t really get. I mean, you can sort of get it on written posts, but it comes across much more, doesn’t it? So for me, video has always been the number one just for that. So people know who you are and your brand.
Gary Das (35:21):
Correct, yeah. You lose a lot of context in written as well, don’t you? And that often can be a bit of a challenge at time for some people who are a bit keyboard warrior like. But yeah, seeing the whites of somebody’s eyes, hearing the voice, the passion, the emotion, the energy, all of that comes through when you start talking. I’m actually being conscious now and thinking I’ve probably got more passion and energy talking about this than I did for the first half about mortgages and insurance, but it’s just like you don’t get that when you obviously read something. You only get it when you listen or watch.
Greg Wilkes (35:54):
Yes, sure. No, that’s it.
Gary Das (35:55):
People buy people.
Greg Wilkes (35:56):
That’s it, without a doubt. And how has it helped your business growth, Gary? Because I’ve seen your businesses seem to have exploded. I mean, have you tracked once you went for it? Have you tracked what that journey has taken you on, how big you’ve grown?
Gary Das (36:08):
Yes, so from no advertising spends since 2016 across all businesses, we’ve probably done about 2.9 million in various different types of revenue. So, all of my team in the brokerage have come to me because of social media as well. I launched the coaching in 2019 because advisors just started saying, “Hey, can you help me do video? Can you help me market my business? Can you do this? Can you do that? And I’ve now got three programs, one on lead generation, one on doing the job, and one on building a business. And we’ve just restructured that more. So, having worked with 500 advisors, one of my mentees came to me last year and said, oh, I referral all my wills to a couple of people who are fantastic at estate planning and will writing and trusts, but their problem, there’s an opportunity to train more mortgage advisors and financial advisors and advisors on how to be estate planners. So effectively I’m 25% shareholder in that business. I do the marketing and the front end. Paul does the sales, and Steven and Charlotte do the backend, but we’ve got 12 agents now, and that’s growing and going to continue to grow, and that’s all organic. So yes, it’s the beginning of when you build credibility in one particular area or one particular niche or in one particular construction type or one type of development or one type of asset acquiring assets, all of a sudden that gives you so much more opportunity within that ecosystem and within that niche.
Because people like people and people will buy from you because they like you more than anything else
Greg Wilkes (37:56):
Without a doubt.
And just thinking about, just slightly off a different subject, but I know that one area I really talk about with my clients is that one thing we want to create in life is more time, freedom, and money for ourselves as the business owner, they’re the big three, aren’t they? Now, I know you are big around creating a lifestyle business and making that work for you, and people probably look at you and think, how on earth do you do it? You’ve got three kids, you’re married or partner, and you’re running multiple businesses, hitting the gym. How do you manage all of that? How do you keep it all together?
Gary Das (38:31):
Sometimes I ask myself the same question. I think delegation is one key thing, but for me, it comes back to process systems and people is, I’d consider it, I’m kind of the spearhead. So if we’re going to do something new, then I’ll start it, but then I’ll come up with a process for it, I’ll work with somebody to systemize it, and then I’ll get them to take it over. But for me it’s habits and routines. So I’m, let’s just say boring and a bit diligent and routine. So the gym at 6 o’clock every day. I eat at 8 AM, 10:30 AM, 1 o’clock, 3:30 PM and 6 PM with the kids, 8:30 PM again. Now it’s just having, I call it chunking time block chunking. So my sales calls or podcasts, I’d much rather do in the morning, the high energy sort of time where two, three in the afternoon I’m out for the count, but using things like do delegate and delete, who can I give it to? Can I get somebody else to do it? Is it high income-generating activity? Because if you can give a task like chasing an invoice or booking a phone call in or answering the phone or anything else to somebody else that’s 12, 15, 20 pounds an hour, then naturally that just enables you to increase your hourly rates. And as long as you are focused on the things that only you can do, you get the biggest ROI and the biggest bang for your buck.
Greg Wilkes (39:57):
Yes, that’s really good. So I want to remember that one. Do delegate and delete. I like that one. That’s great.
Gary Das (40:01):
Not mine. From a book, I can’t remember who it is. But yes, do delegate or delete or the other way of thinking about it is who can I give it to? Who else can I give it to? Who else can I give it to? Oh @#$%&!, I’ve got to do it.
Greg Wilkes (40:19):
That’s brilliant. Yes, good stuff. And, obviously, you said because time management and productivity is important, so chunking worksheet is it, so that’s just breaking your task down, focusing on specific things, and then moving on. That’s a great tip too. Why do you think? Oh, there you go. Is that
Gary Das (40:37):
I have a little book, I have bullet points down the left hand side of to-dos,
Greg Wilkes (40:40):
Gary Das (40:41):
Then the goal is I’ll pick, I’ll basically pick three of those that are non-negotiable that I must get done every single day, and no matter what else goes on, as long as I do those three things that day, then effectively that day has been a success. And there’s a great book, which is called Traction, which if you haven’t read it, it talks about if you imagine a glass, if you are going to fill a glass, if you were to fill that glass up with water first, you get a lot of water in it. But actually, if you go for the biggest rock and you put rocks in, then you could get pebbles in, then you could get sand in, then you could get water in. So actually going for the biggest things can have a knock-on impact to others. So it’s just looking at what is the biggest impact. If you make a list of 10 things out of those 10 things, there’s probably one that might solve three or four others.
Gary Das (41:27):
So, focus on that, rather than the little bits, which it might be the hardest action. I was told very early on in sales, do the hardest phone call first. Do the hardest task first because everything else after that is so much easier and more enjoyable.
Greg Wilkes (41:43):
That’s it. That’s Brian Tracy, isn’t it? Eat That Frog!
Gary Das (41:45):
Well, there you go. That’s it.
Greg Wilkes (41:46):
Yes. Brilliant. That’s fantastic. And, obviously for you, I think, am I right in saying the first thing for you is health and fitness, and that seems to be your core value. How has that sort of benefited you in life and business?
Gary Das (41:59):
Yes. Well, I shattered my kneecap when I was 13, so I went from nine stones to 13 stones. So, I spent most of my teens being bullied and being the fat kid in the class. And when I went to college and suddenly was around all these girls, it was like, @#$%&!, I better get my act together. And it’s just become, it’s one of those that the fitter you are, the healthier you are. I hate having a hangover now with kids, so I don’t drink that often, but the better food you eat, the more energy you’ve got, the more work you can get done. You can win sports day once a year in dad’s race and all that kind of stuff. But yes, health mindset. There’s a great book as well, which is called, it’s all about mindfulness. I can’t remember what it’s called, but it’s mindfulness.
It’s actually just the thought of for many business owners, and this has been a game changer to me, particularly with some personal circumstances around my mum recently, but just actually sitting down, it’s really hard, but just sitting down for 12 minutes in a quiet room, nothing on no phone, no anything else, and just literally, I won’t say it, but set your Apple watch or whatever it is, or your phone for 12 minutes and just sit and just focus on breathing in and breathing out. And as your mind starts to wander, just let it wander, but bring it back to the breath. And it’s actually one of those that keeps you really present. And I’m a bit woo woo and all that kind of stuff, but in a world where we’re so busy, where there’s so many problems going on where there’s wars and pandemics and team people pulling at your strings every two and a half minutes, and no doubt in construction, there’s someone who’s late, there’s someone who’s not finished, someone else is held up. Actually, just having 12 minutes a day to sit and just be silent and everything else, it just makes you feel so much better.
And yes, my relationship’s better with the kids.
Greg Wilkes (43:45):
Yes, you’re right. You’ve got to take that time. I know I used to live near some woods, and for me it would be going out, walking in the woods, just enjoying it and really focusing on nature, and you just come back transformed. So all the stress levels drop, don’t they? So really useful, Gary.
Greg Wilkes (44:01):
Gary, I’m conscious. I’ve taken up your time, and what you’ve gone through today has been absolutely incredible. Just from the finance and remortgaging to the market into lifestyle, been really useful for my listeners. They may want to reach out and get some more advice on getting mortgages and finance and things like that. I know obviously you run a successful brokerage doing that. How would they get hold of you, Gary?
Gary Das (44:24):
Yes, just on any social media channel I’m at Gary Das. You can reach out to me on any of those if you wanted to grab it. I’ve got a book called The Self-Employed Mortgage Guide, which I’m somebody who hates reading, so I’m also somebody who left school with two GCSEs. I’m massively practical, so apparently, it’s an All right, listen, it’s on order Audible as well. I’ve got a practice what I preach. If I’m not going to read it, I’ve got to be able to produce an audio version of it, but it just takes you through the foundational principles of getting prepared and getting ready and the things you might need to know about. But if you want to go and book a call with a team or me, then there’s Active Financial, which is the brokerage as well.
Greg Wilkes (45:06):
That’s fantastic, Gary. Really appreciate your time. It’s been really eye-opening and some great tips in there, so thanks a lot.
Gary Das (45:12):
Thanks for having me, mate, and I hope it was beneficial to everyone listening.
Greg Wilkes (45:21):
If you’d like to work with me to fast track your construction business growth, then reach out on www.developcoaching.co.uk.