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Learning Curves

Greg and Kim Slaughter on keeping success simple

Before he even finished high school, Greg Slaughter knew he would have a career in real estate. What he didn’t know then, is that he would achieve success as a real estate investor alongside his future wife.

Greg and Kim Slaughter have been operating a real estate investing business almost as long as they have been married. They have been working together for 18 years, married for 23.

“We are literally together 24/7,” Kim said.

All the togetherness is working well for the Slaughters. The couple renewed their wedding vows two years ago and have built a real estate investing business that has not only helped them live well, but now they are shifting gears and touching thousands of lives by offering real estate investing education to aspiring investors.

“I was never a teacher, but I am good at taking complicated information and making it very simple,” Greg said.

His goal is to reach one million people and help them get started in real estate investing. While Greg still invests in single-family rentals, his focus has shifted to mentoring and educating.

“I have transitioned toward helping individuals. That’s my passion, my desire, my legacy,” he said.

The term “legacy” has different meaning to Slaughter than what it might have for others. In 2000, the Slaughters experienced a devastating loss when their daughter was stillborn. Their passion for helping others is rooted in her honor.

“I don’t want to just leave a bunch of rentals behind. I want to honor my daughter Narissa by helping other people,” Greg said.

One way he is doing that is through his online education program for entry-level real estate investors. The ups and downs that the Slaughters have experienced and learned from is what has fueled his know-how to design this program. That—and the gift of knowing how to keep things simple.

Learning Curves

Before one can teach others a craft, skill, or business, the teacher himself typically has overcome obstacles to get him in the position to instruct others. That is true for Greg, who has overcome multiple obstacles in his life, from which he hopes others can learn.

“We’ve started over a couple times,” he said. “We bought our first property in 1999, and I left corporate America in 2002. I knew I wanted to be a millionaire when I was 17 years old. But I didn’t realize I had the wrong goal.”

From 2002-2006 the Slaughters did very well in real estate investing, and they were in fact millionaires. But was their mission accomplished? Not even close.

“We thought we could retire because I had hit my goal. We traveled Europe for a month. But the market crashed when we got back, and we lost everything. We had to start over completely. We filed bankruptcy and borrowed money from parents. What I learned from that is I had the wrong goal. My entire focus was to be a millionaire. That’s nothing. That’s paper money. It means nothing. The name of the game is cashflow,” Greg said.

April 12, 2011, is a date that holds a meaning of fresh starts for the Slaughters. That was the day their bankruptcy was discharged.

“We could begin again,” Greg said. “The quote from Tony Robbins, ‘What you focus on is what you get’—I firmly believe that. Now, I am focused on the right goal. We don’t do anything unless it directly increases our cashflow.”

Another downfall that the Slaughters overcame happened a few years after they recovered from the bankruptcy. It was another devastating event, but they persevered and rose above it.

“We had a business partner steal nearly a million dollars from us in 2016. That was my 50th birthday present,” Greg recalled. “He took $800,000 that was supposed to go into a project. We had to overcome that huge obstacle as well and ended up raising money instead to do that project. He was a friend who basically Ponzi schemed the money.”

That kick in the gut spurred the Slaughters to keep going. They remained a strong team with a stronger focus for doing well and for sharing their knowledge with others.

On Working (and Living) Together

It is not uncommon for success stories to involve two opposing personality types. The Slaughters have proven to be compatible when it comes to business and marriage and they credit that to how different they are from one another.

“We complement each other. We are opposites in many ways,” Greg said.

“In every way!” Kim laughed.

“But that is what makes us a powerful team,” Greg said.

Greg’s strengths include systemizing things to make processes easier and having endless energy and passion to share his experience.

“I am driven that’s for sure. I could easily work 16 hours a day and not even think about it,” he said. “I am the last person to ask about shows on Netflix! I don’t have a clue about that, but I have run businesses since I was 17 and I understand how to hire people. I understand how to appoint the right people. It’s literally what I’ve done since I was a teenager.”

Kim, a Realtor® for 20 years licensed in Arizona, is the organization part of the team and a self-proclaimed extrovert—a people person.

“I can connect with business contacts on the personal level and I can adapt to personality types. I am a work in progress when it comes to sales skills, but I am getting better,” she said.

Greg added, “I can go in there and drive results, she can come in before or after me and connect on a personal level. It creates more of a balance instead of one way or the other. It really helps when dealing with contractors and team members.”

Kim said the benefit of working together is just being together.

“Many couples work opposite shifts and don’t see each other. Although we can drive each other crazy, and it’s not roses every day, for the most part we do well. When we first started [in real estate investing] I was not supportive because he left a corporate job with a steady paycheck. I was freaking out. It took about eight years for me to really get on board. Now, I am grateful for the freedom we have, and the vacations we go on. But we do take breaks from each other—every human needs their alone time and their breaks!”

For Greg, the benefit of working alongside his wife is trust.

“I like knowing I have at least one person I can trust to get something done! I’ve told other couples two things: 1) There can only be one person in charge when it comes to the final decision. One person has to ultimately make the decisions. If both think they are going to do it, there will be problems. 2) Separate work from home. I can go into work mode and go into home/vacation mode and give up control.”

In addition to their REI education programs, the Slaughters are working on other plans that also align with helping others. Kim is in the process of launching her nonprofit called Together Saving Paws, an organization that will help no-kill shelters and rescues.

“If I see a human with an animal, I see the animal first!” she said. “Together Saving Paws is a grant program to which no-kill shelters can apply. We are donating 10 percent of profits from Greg’s online education program to the nonprofit.”

It’s not a surprise that Greg offers this advice because it’s straightforward and simple, just like how he operates his business and teaches:

“Pick what you love to do,” he said.

Troublesome Trends in REI

For Greg, picking what he loves to do was a no-brainer before he had even reached voting age. But along his journey in real estate investing, he has witnessed some concerning practices.

“On the first Tuesday of every month, I taught a topic and Q&A forum. During that process, it was amazing to me when I sat down with people who spent so much money for nothing—they paid 20, 25, 30 grand and never did a deal. Too many newbies get sucked into $30,000 coaching programs. I don’t think that’s the best option for a new investor. They are better off doing an internship with an actual investor doing the work,” Greg said.

He said a lot of people follow “gurus” in the flipping niche of real estate investing and get themselves into trouble.

“Flipping is the hardest aspect of REI. Not everyone should start there. I want to work with new investors and show them all the options within real estate investing and teach them how to do what is best for them. Ultimately REI is cashflow. It’s not flipping. It’s having rentals that bring in passive income,” Greg said.

Kim added, “The thing with a lot of these gurus is they teach at college level. They throw out terms like ARV and cap rate before their audience even knows the basics. Greg’s program is more like elementary school to provide base information before you get to college level.”

Another challenge Greg sees in the real estate industry particularly on branding and business, is social media. When he learned social media was a concerning issue in the REI space, he was affected personally. It was a tough lesson for him realizing that because he never built a following, his business was affected.

“Unfortunately, in this industry, it’s almost more important to have followers than the number of deals you’ve done. If someone has done thousands of deals but has a small number of followers, apparently they aren’t as knowledgeable as those who have thousands of followers but haven’t done as many deals. That’s just sad to me. It’s the state of today. Someone was beta testing my property management program and during feedback, she said I should charge more for it and it is great, but she never would have bought it. I asked why. She said the first thing she did was look me up on social media to see how many followers I had. I had only 30 at the time because I had just opened an account. But I had done 1,000 real estate transactions and had been managing properties since 1999! But that didn’t matter. What was more important is that I only had 30 followers,” Greg said.

He decided to adapt and follow the social media trend—even though he might disagree with it. So now, he posts every day! (You can follow him on Instagram and/or Facebook @GregSlaughterLegacy.)

“For someone getting started investing in real estate, just because someone has followers, doesn’t mean they know what they are talking about. That is very concerning for me. Someone can do one deal and have 10,000 followers and suddenly they are a guru,” Slaughter said.

Do your research, they both advise.

In addition to high-cost coaching programs and social media, the “only one way to do things messaging” is very concerning to Slaughter.

“Every market is different in this country. Every market is constantly changing. What we do in Indiana is different from what we do in Arizona. You can’t just learn one strategy, but more importantly you have to learn the market cycle and read the market and take what the market is giving you—that’s the recipe for success. People get too caught up in one method and try to jam that method into the market and they fail. How many times do you see people do one thing very well for a short amount of time, then boom! The market changes and they are out of business? They didn’t adjust with the market,” he said.

Another challenge in the industry is trouble with labor and contractors. Greg said most people run their business in a way that makes them dependent on the contractor. He does it differently.

“I’ve worked with hundreds of contractors but can count on one finger a guy in 22 years that had the systems and processes in place to run an effective contracting business for the long term I would trust without following up. The way I think of hiring labor is like McDonald’s where teenager workers come and go. Have your systems in place and revolve the contractors in and out. Set it up like a role to fill the void so you are not dependent upon the contractor.”

A Legacy of Learning

Within Greg’s education system, he is offering an introductory level, an advanced level, and a program devoted to property management. His program on how to self-manage your rental properties is already active and other educational programs are coming soon. All can be found at GregSlaughter.com.

He is offering online programs for entry-level investors in a step-by-step format for those who are getting into the industry for the first time. Slaughter’s simple, systematic approach has helped him build and rebuild a successful business, slay thousands of real estate deals, and guide others up to achieve their own aspirations. Greg and Kim have navigated learning curves with grace and perseverance—and that is legacy in the making.