Justin Cooper is a family man, a real estate investor, a senior loan officer with Pine Financial Group, and a coach and consultant.
Today, he joins us to share his strategies on helping people buy their first rental property right. Cooper has been investing in the market since 2007 and has managed to complete several projects in Denver, Colorado successfully. He believes in best serving his clients by understanding their journey.
Furthermore, Cooper explains why education-based marketing is his go-to regarding hard money and how he’s been keeping it running during the pandemic via Facebook.
Justin’s website: https://pinefinancialgroup.com/
Katie Brinkley 0:02
Hey there. This is Katie Brinkley and you’re listening to Rocky Mountain marketing. This podcast is all about helping Colorado based small business owners, entrepreneurs and professionals discover the strategies and systems that take their marketing to all new heights. Let’s dive into today’s episode Welcome back to the podcast. My guest today is Justin Cooper. Justin is a husband father of two a full time real estate investor, senior loan officer with pine Financial Group and a coach and consultant helping folks buy their first rental property Justin has been investing since 2007 and has completed several renovations on residential properties in Denver, Colorado, Justin has completed several fix and flips built new construction bought non performing notes use to self described IRA to invest has spoken nationally on various real estate investing topics to group upwards of 500 people and most importantly helped numerous investors purchase profitable properties. Justin is very passionate about investing and strives to help and teach people he mete out the benefits and know how of real estate investments. Justin, thank you so much for coming on the show today.
Justin Cooper 1:10
Yeah. Thanks, Katie. Glad to be here.
Katie Brinkley 1:12
Well, let’s start at the beginning. Tell everyone a little bit about where you grew up and what life was like growing up for you.
Justin Cooper 1:18
Yeah, so I grew up on Long Island in New York, and had a pretty, pretty good life. I guess both my parents were in education. So my mom was an elementary school librarian. My dad started by teaching special ed went on to get his PhD, became an administrator. And so although you know, very, very early before I remembered, I think there were teachers and there were teacher strikes in New York. And so, you know, there were some issues back when I was super young, but as far as I can remember, we had a great life. You know, Dad was always there trying to be the coach of the different sports teams. And yeah, it was awesome. But I think my dad kind of had a bigger picture for me, he was a hippie. He had been to Woodstock and you know, traveled cross country. And so when it came time for me to look for colleges, we did the whole up and down the East Coast, looking at the different schools on this net. At the time, I wanted to be a veterinarian. And so he was like, Well, you know, there’s some schools in Colorado that are pretty good and have good vet programs. And why don’t why don’t you just apply? Just see what happens. That’s yeah, so I got in early admission at CSU Colorado State. So my dad’s like, well, you know, we got this February break, why don’t we go out and visit and February can be a rougher time here. Well, everything’s Brown and windy and cold. But compared to Long Island, you know, with the mountains right there. It was like a revelation. I had never really been to the Rocky Mountains. And so basically signed up right then and there. And that’s what got me to Colorado. And part of Dad’s master plan. I think I’ve never confirmed it with him, but I’m pretty sure it was. Let’s get Justin to Colorado. And then when we retire, we’ll go to Colorado. And then hopefully, my brother Chris, when he graduates from college, he’ll come out here and that is exactly how it played out. So I don’t know if that was his plan or not. But that is what happened. And so all of us are out here now. And yeah, I’ve been here. I’ve been out in Colorado since 1996.
Katie Brinkley 3:07
Take us through your career journey because you came to Colorado for veterinary school. And here you are doing all this real estate investing take us through your career journey and how you ended up to where you are today.
Justin Cooper 3:18
Yeah, well, it turns out that school is incredibly competitive, almost more so than medical school, although it was Honor Society and almost perfect attendance in high school, all these things. I blossomed in other ways in college. And so the GPA started dropping, and I still graduated in four years, I changed majors a couple times, eventually graduated with a degree in psychology. And so as I was getting ready to graduate, and you had one of those conversations with the career counselors, and what can I do there said, Well, you could go into psychology, you could obviously go for the higher education, you could just enter the workforce with psychology and do something in that regard. Or you can make probably twice as much and go into the business world or go into something else. And so I was kind of done with the schooling and needed a break and more money sounded better. So I went into this was like the management training program. And that’s what I was looking at it interviewing with, and I signed up with a company called Ferguson enterprises and so they are a plumbing wholesaler. So they take like the Kohler toilets, and the Delta faucets and the PVC pipes, right, bring it all into one warehouse, and then they sell directly to the plumbers and stuff. And so that’s who I started working for. They started working in the warehouse, and eventually worked my way up over several years, I was running my own branch and part of working at Ferguson, they had this at the time, this work hard play hard mentality, and they would recruit really heavily out of colleges. So you know, when I started, I was starting with a group of college graduates all had a very similar mentality. Everybody else there had gone through a similar process or just about everybody. So we all had very similar mentalities, how to work long hours, I think was like 55 hour weeks. It was kind of mandatory at the beginning there, that we all kind of progressed and so you work hard all day. Great. And then we played hard. And so we went out and we were playing and other stuff. And it was great time. But part of that working hard was I worked my way up to an account where there would be days, I would get in at 630 in the morning, and I wouldn’t leave until 11 o’clock at night, and you get a good client, and they’re busy, and they’re growing. And there’s only so many of us serving them, and they’ve got lots of orders, they got to go out. And so you’re writing orders all day, and then you miss the cut off in the warehouse isn’t going to help you get it on the truck. And so I go to the warehouse, and I pull the material and get it on the truck. And after a couple of those, I would be just exhausted, right from a superline day, but I can’t just get home and pass out. So I needed to unwind a little bit. And so that led me to watching TV. And at 1112 o’clock at night. There’s late night infomercials. So at the time, late night Infowars I’m sure there are still a big thing. But we didn’t have the internet like we do now. And so that started learning about funnels and marketing and turned out infomercials are kind of like the top of the funnel. And that’s there. They were right, the the real estate gurus sitting on the beach with the boats and the beautiful women and I made all this money through real estate, I’m like, that looks way better than me dealing with toilets, and plumbers and all this stuff. And so I got interested and I went to the next level of a funnel, which is the live infomercial, I call it right the two hour informational session at the hotels, and it just started soaking it in. And of course that is the next step after that is the three day boot camp for X 1000s of dollars. And I didn’t have 1000s of dollars. And so I just kept going to these two hour sessions, I found myself staying up late to watch when the next infomercial would come on, because it would tell me when the next hotel session would be. And I was just soaking up all this information. And then it got to a point where one of these gurus was coming to town and they were going to do a bus tour at their three day weekend. And so not just sitting in the classroom, so to say learning, we’re gonna go out and actually look at the properties. And so that really sucked me in and I did as they teach using OPM other people’s money. And I called up my dad and said, Dad, this is the way this is why, you know, I gotta go learn this stuff. This is where I need to be going. And so I put half of it on a credit card, and I borrowed the other half from him. And I went to that three day weekend, and I got on the bus. And I realized I was just in way over my head. Because whole new kitchen, holy bathroom, you know, as we’re looking at these potential fixer flips, and I had to borrow money just to get on that bus. There’s no way I could afford all these work to be done. So it’s a little frustrating, but how can I learn? How can I make this work. And so back to learning and studying more. And so then 2007 comes and I had just met my now wife, and we’re both competitive people, and she wanted to buy a house and fix it up, she lived there, and I wanted to buy a house, fix it up and sell it. And so I think there was this friendly competition that kind of ensued. And we both went out bought houses within three months of each other both fixer uppers. And it turned out, we’re also at that stage in our relationship where we moved in together. And so I bought this house to fix and flip. But at the same time I moved in with my girlfriend who wanted to fix up her house. And so did I want to be in a cold, lonely empty house all by myself working on it or didn’t want to be with my sweetheart doing things together. And so lots of lessons learned on that I put together a whole talk that could easily be expanded into a week long training of all the things that screwed up back in 2007. None of which for the market, although the market certainly had an effect on me, but I did lose money on that. But two things, I guess came out of it one, I married my wife. And so that obviously worked well. And then to everything I had thought and hoped and dreamed that real estate investing could do for me became a reality. Right? I lived it. I breathed it, I fell in love with it. Other than the making money, right? I lost that $10,000 But everything else was just awesome. And so Okay, pretty big setback. But this is the direction I’m going to go. And so it still took a couple of years I was gun shy after that, right. But really, that was that was now the focus. And so what could I do, I went through another career change and wasn’t selling Plumbing Supplies, I started selling heating and air conditioning supplies. And but real estate was going to be the path. And so what else can I do? How can I get there? And eventually I did. And so an opportunity came up with pine Financial Group who was a hard money lender in 2011. And so I jumped at that. And I’ve basically been full time in real estate ever since.
Katie Brinkley 9:10
That’s awesome. And I know that you went way off the psychology and veterinary and look at you now with your with your real estate and awesome. And when you said 2007 You guys both dove into humans some fix and flips. I was like, Oh 2007 We all remember that time especially you know, throughout the country of just trying to buy and sell real estate if you want to stay there. That’s fine but trying to fix and flip it that’s this I’m sure a very big learning experience. So if you could go back and do anything different in your journey to where you are now what would you change if anything?
Justin Cooper 9:47
Great question. I don’t I honestly don’t know if I would change much. I guess I’m a big believer in like whatever has happened in the past is led you to where you are now right and put you on this path. So I don’t know if I would really change anything In high school, even though Honor Society, perfect attendance, I was also incredibly shy. Yeah, I was I was a wallflower. You know, nobody really knew. I mean, there’s a small class that graduated with, like, 105 people. So everybody knew me, but nobody knew me, right? Because I didn’t have many friends. I just kind of stuck to myself. But then I think in college, moving across the country being around all these different people, I started blossoming, you know, and coming out of my shell that regard. So that was great. I never wanted to be in sales, right, I’ve started to come out and come into my personality as well. But I never wanted to be in sales, I wanted to be in this training program, and then work my way up, and then boom, HR, or something like that. That’s probably the direction for me. But then here I am with pine financial I am 100% commission. So I am all sales, the shaping what we do for business development, what we do to get in front of in and educate people on what hard money is and how to invest in all these things is we teach classes and we educate, we put on full day events, where we bring in investors and the folks who support investors like real estate agents and lenders for an all day event. And I speak at the event, I’ve emceed the event. So I’ve spoken to 500 people, very different from who I was the beginning. But each one of these steps, you know, has helped get me to that level, if I just walked out of high school and got on stage with 500 people, I mean, I probably couldn’t even stand on that stage, my legs would literally crumbled. So I don’t know if I would change much. I mean, they’re, you know, a few things, try to learn a little bit better here, there. But as much as I am big on education, and educating other people in reading, and always trying to do the personal development for myself, a lot of times, I need to actually go through the steps myself, and make those mistakes to learn better. So I don’t know if I would really change a whole lot from the whole thing.
Katie Brinkley 11:41
What do you think that some of the biggest mistakes that business owners make when they’re trying to grow and sustain a successful business?
Justin Cooper 11:48
I think a lot of times people get away from thinking about their clients and understanding what is the client want? What is the client journey? And then how can we best serve them? Because we have a product and this product is great for XY and Z. But is that really what our market or clients want to need here and today? So getting away from that just focusing on the growth, focusing on the sales, focusing on all these other things, not focusing on what the client actually wants or needs and how it benefits them, I think could be a huge distraction from books.
Katie Brinkley 12:16
Well, let’s talk a little bit more about your business. What is your model look like these days for finding and engaging and selling to your ideal clients and customers? What type of marketing Have you found works best for your business?
Justin Cooper 12:28
Yeah, so very, very heavily education based. So we don’t have like the sales funnels. infomercials, we’re not that like those, the bigger training gurus are. But training and education has been huge. It’s free for folks to attend, it’s relatively cheap for us to be putting on and hosting depending on what the events are. A lot of it has to do with how can we build an email list? And then how can we add value to that email list? Just something we do as lenders, we interact with other service professionals in the real estate industry. So real estate agents, title companies, insurance agents, property managers, all these other folks who support real estate investors. And so what we would do is, we still do is partner with these folks, if there’s an established real estate brokerage, you know, full of real estate agents who have clients looking to invest in real estate, we may say, hey, look, we want to teach a class and educate your agents and your clients and investors on what hard money is and how it can benefit them. And so now, if I had zero list, I now have a list of 500,000 10,000, right? However big their list is, but I offer this class for free, and it’s only an hour or two hours, maybe even the locations free. Maybe they have training spots in their office. And so I can get in front of three people, five people, 50 people and educate them. And of course, there’s a sign in sheet. And so now I have a list of 50 people I can market to. And so I can do this with a real estate agent, a title company, multiple title companies, multiple real estate, brokerages, all these things and get in front of folks build my list. And now I can deliver new classes and education to them, as well as reminding them, oh, hey, I’ve got money. Do you want it. And so that’s been kind of the hallmark of it, we got to a certain point, we partnered with some other folks. And we put together that real estate investor success on it, which is that all day educational events, and so where folks will charge potentially 1000s of dollars for an all day event, I think we charge now maybe $29, maybe, you know, 50 bucks, and for a while there was it was even free. And so really, we’re just covering the costs of the facility. And we weren’t bringing in any outside speakers. It’s all local folks, local professionals, but we’re the ones organizing the event and speaking at the event, and so that further establishes us as the local experts, the thought leaders, if you will. And so when people think hard money, they’re thinking pine Financial Group, right when they’re thinking Who do I need to talk to you to get more info on rentals? Will Justin’s the guy because I’ve seen him talking about rentals for the past three years right now I’m ready. And so by constantly putting out this content, staying top of mind to the tongue, that’s who they’re going to call first. And so that’s what we’ve always tried to do this. That’s how we got started. That’s how I probably The Start again, to a certain extent is doing that free education stuff. And so as I’m diving more into the coaching and the consulting with folks trying to buy rentals, which is outside of what I do is a hard money lender with pine Financial Group, similar things. So right now I started, especially right now with COVID and Coronavirus, and we can’t do the live in person classes, I started a Facebook group, which is a way to leverage the relationships I already have on Facebook, right, I have a personal Facebook and now I started a Facebook group and say, Hey, everybody, you know me, I’ve been around, somehow we’re connected. Come join my group. And let me add value to you. Just earlier today, an hour before we started recording this, we did a zoom luncheon. And so that is not with any other partners. But pine Financial has a pretty substantial email list. And we lend in multiple markets across the country. And so now through technology, I’m not trying to organize a library event and hopefully 10 People come and join from the very local market here, I can touch all of our people across the whole country. And again, top of mine, once a week we’re doing these things to stay in touch with our folks and say this is what you should be doing or how it works. Or come just ask questions. Let’s get together in a group format and ask questions. And so similar things in getting in and reach out to folks just educated
Katie Brinkley 16:15
now. Have you found that with your Facebook? Is your Facebook group free or paid? First of all, do a membership for like $29 to get access to the Facebook group? Or do you offer this for free for any potential client or someone from your email list?
Justin Cooper 16:31
Yeah, no, totally free, totally free, anybody can join, the more the merrier. We’re just getting started, I’ve been trying to put together some content to figure out how we can, at least at the beginning, walk folks through a certain path. Obviously, once we’ve been up and running, and new folks are joining, you’re kind of in the middle of the conversation. So just kind of keep the momentum. But yeah, at the beginning, I’m still kind of building it out. We’ve got just under 100 members right now. But it’s only been around for like a week. And so I’m pretty happy with the growth. And now I need to actually step up some content. It’s totally free.
Katie Brinkley 17:00
That is my next question for you. Because I think that a lot of people might sometimes forget about Facebook groups. And they’re so important because you can really go in and speak directly to your potential clients, current clients, whatever. And Facebook Business for business pages are the lowest spot on the algorithm, which stinks, because there’s so many businesses out there. But Facebook realized, like main reason people are on Facebook is to see the cute cat photos and talk to their aunt and everything like that, where Facebook groups ever since they created that that’s like number two in the algorithm. And creating that fresh content every day every week is how you’re going to grow. And you’re going to rank higher in the Facebook algorithm so you can get more content in front of your audience. So how besides doing these, you know, lunch and learns what other type of content have you found to be successful for your Facebook group.
Justin Cooper 17:54
So like I said, it’s brand new, so we’re figuring it out. So I’m putting the finishing touches on a PDF and ebook, whatever we want to call them these days, kind of a welcome to the group, you join the group, here’s kind of the the five Quickstart steps to buying a first your first rental. And then so through that just 10 pages long or something that but I’m outlining the five big steps. And then in the group, we’ll be talking about each one of those five steps. And diving deeper into the each of the five steps, you know,
Katie Brinkley 18:22
purchasing content is is great. And you can like he said, each week, there you go, you have five steps, there’s five weeks of content right there where every day, you can talk about one of the steps that a little bit more in detail. That is fantastic to repurpose an ebook, like you said, you can use that on your website to get more people on your email list right there, like download our free ebook. And then in your group, you can go in and talk about it each week on one of the points from it. So that is fantastic that you’re repurposing content, because it’s a great way to engage people and keep stuff fresh and keep the eyes on your page.
Justin Cooper 18:57
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, that’s, and that’s what Facebook wants, right. That’s why it plays in well to their algorithm, because Facebook wants eyes on Facebook, so they can then make more money through their ads. And so we are delivering more content through the groups or whatever else. We’re keeping eyes on Facebook longer. And that makes facebook happy, which then of course will drive more traffic to our group, because we’re making more money for Facebook. So yeah, absolutely. The more content we’re delivering, the more engagement we get on Facebook, the happier Facebook is with us. And so yeah, it’s it is interesting, because I get pinged every day, multiple times a day with people wanting me to like their page. But in reality, if they had started a group with almost probably the exact same stuff, they could probably be getting a lot more eyes and potentially business through Facebook.
Katie Brinkley 19:39
That is a very, very strong point. And I think that it’s great that you brought it up because business pages, you post content and you create it and then people are like, oh I only seven people saw it and that’s where you’re like, Well, it’s because no one else is really talking social media is made to be social. And if you’re in a group, there’s more conversations happening, you’re more engaged with it, where if someone were to post on a business page or commenting on a photo or something, who knows if the business is even actually monitoring it? Right. So I mean, and that’s just where Facebook groups, I feel like there’s always conversations happening. And it’s a great way to really hear the questions that your audience has. I mean, someone’s says a question in the group, and then you’re like, Okay, well, there’s my next blog post, because I know exactly what my audience wants to know more about. Yeah,
Justin Cooper 20:30
exactly. And, and when we’re creating content, you know, a lot of folks get lost in the, I have to create this content for everybody, you know, I’m trying to appeal to 1000 people. But in reality, if you just take like exactly what you said, this one question this one person had, there’s a chance that 510 100 Other people have that same question. But if you read it directly to that one person, that one person is going to feel like I’m actually having a conversation with them. And then of course, that will parlay into all these other people that are reading the content. And so instead of trying to be as generic, Be as specific to that audience, and that will have a better effect.
Katie Brinkley 21:03
Now, are you promoting your group through email campaigns? Or how are you getting in touch with your clients and customers to let them even know about this this group?
Justin Cooper 21:13
Yeah, so what I did was part of this whole being an introvert in faking the extrovert for the past, you know, 10 to 15 years, I’ve had a Facebook account for who knows how long, but I don’t really post, you know, I’m more of the stalker kind of just sit back and watch everybody else to do and I have a few minutes. And so I’ve been forcing myself to post more and just share more about what I’m doing. And so it’s not as much as maybe I would like to have like the family stuff, and the kids and all this stuff on there. But it is very much on my personal profile, the classes and the teaching. And right now with everything be online, you know, hey, I’m teaching this lunch and learn on Tuesday, you know, let me know if you want to get the link. And then of course, that way, they’re engaging with me. So they’re going to comment, and then through the comment, awesome, I’ll send you a direct message, private message, right? Get them into the Facebook Messenger. And then from there, great, here’s the link. Oh, by the way, are you investing in real estate? Are you interested in it, if you want even more stuff, if you’d like this lunch in there, this class is whatever, you know, I just started this Facebook group love it, if you joined. And so that’s kind of very organic, very high touch on my side. And I haven’t tracked exactly how many people are invited, I started to and then I just, I’m just blowing people up that I’ve been having these conversations with because I was having these conversations. I then started the group and I went back to him said, Hey, I just started this group. I know we chatted about this, we’d love it if you joined. And I just almost copy and pasted, right? A little bit, a personal touch if I could, and people were just joining left and right. So it’s been awesome. But that’s how I started getting it in there. I haven’t had any ads. I haven’t done email marketing, something great about Facebook groups, as you can ask three questions. And so one of them could be what is your email address? Now, of course, you want to try and add value. Like for me, that PDF that I put together is adding value in exchange for that email address, but you can collect their email addresses through Facebook groups. And then of course, now, what if Facebook shuts you down? What is the algorithm changes something like that, right, you have, hopefully your content is saved, not just directly in Facebook, you know, someplace else, you can repurpose it, like you were saying, you also have this email list that you can, you know, do other things with. And so Facebook groups, it seems like it’s going to be has been, I’m just kind of getting into it more and more, but lots of ways to really take advantage of it through of course delivering massive value and content.
Katie Brinkley 23:22
Well, Justin, before we finish up, is there anything that I didn’t ask about during today’s discussion that you think is important to share?
Justin Cooper 23:28
Oh, my gosh, you know, I love to hear the sound of my own voice. So I could keep going forever. But which of course is weird for an introvert? No, I mean, you know, if anybody’s interested in investing in real estate, you know, I’d love to chat with you to talk to you more. If you’re just looking to diversify outside of the stock market. Depending on when you’re listening to this, we’ve had quite a riot in 2020, at least. And so if you just want to diversify, not necessarily dump the stock market, but do something different love to chat with you. Obviously, if you have no idea what hard money is and want to learn about that. Let’s chat about that. And how that can help people you know, leverage higher and invest with less cash in a pocket, that you want to be just slow and steady and just pick up a rental property or two. I would love to talk to folks about that. But I’d love talking about real estate. It’s what I do all day every day. And I absolutely love it. So anybody wants to talk about that. Please reach out. Happy to talk.
Katie Brinkley 24:16
Awesome. Well, where can we find out more about you and your businesses online and find this Facebook group? Where should we send out listeners? Yeah, so
Justin Cooper 24:23
the Facebook group is my first rental property. So facebook.com forward slash groups forward slash my first rental property. If you just want to dive right in and start having a conversation with me you go to call with coop calm, and we can just book a time and go from there. If you want to start seeing more about hard money and what that is and how it works. Pine Financial Group has a great YouTube channel. We spent a lot of time putting in every Friday we’re putting out videos and content, somewhat short bursts to focus on respecting people’s time. And so that’s you can find us at Pine financial. Yes, it’s got a pine tree in the logo. So you definitely You find it that way but pine financial on YouTube, if you just want to go straight to our website, pine Financial Group calm tons of different ways. You probably just look up Justin Cooper somewhere on the Google. If you do though, there’s a child actor from the movie Liar Liar. His name was Justin Cooper. Oh, yeah,
Katie Brinkley 25:19
that’s not the same. Not the same. Justin Cooper. Oh,
Justin Cooper 25:21
no, no. And then there’s like, if you go to Justin Cooper, calm. That’s not me. That’s like an artist in Europe. So you may have to dig a little deeper, but I’m sure you can find me.
Katie Brinkley 25:32
Awesome. Well, thank you again, so much for coming on to the show today.
Justin Cooper 25:37
Yeah, absolutely. Katie, thank you so much. It’s great chat with you. And if you’re ready
Katie Brinkley 25:40
to take your social media to the next level for your small business, head over to my website and check out my free video training the three biggest mistakes small businesses make with social media and how to avoid them. Discover how to make your social media marketing stand out from the crowd online. Thanks so much for listening to this episode of Rocky Mountain marketing. As always, I’d love to hear from you. You can visit my website at www.nextstepsocialcommunications.com or connect with me on LinkedIn. Just look for Katie Brinkley. Let’s keep taking your marketing to new heights.