Have you thought about making a big career shift? Our guest today, Matt Lavinder, shares how he went from a college professor to a house flipping franchise success story. He also shares with us the difference between being results-oriented and process-oriented.
You can explore New Again Houses Franchise by going to their website.
New Again Houses is a growing house flipping franchise designed to take the mystery out of house flipping and be an opportunity for someone with no construction or real estate background.
Matt Lavinder founded New Again Houses in 2008 after earning a Master’s Degree from Duke University and spending 12 years at his alma mater, King University, as an Assistant Professor of History, Men’s Soccer Coach, and Assistant Athletic Director. Matt’s real estate interests began when he and his wife, Hollie, flipped their first rental houses in 2000 and eventually grew into a full-time business in 2010. Matt started franchising in 2019 and now has nearly 20 locations nationally and is continuing to grow.
If you are ready to talk about franchising your business you can schedule your free, no-obligation, franchise consultation online at: https://bigskyfranchiseteam.com/ or by calling Big Sky Franchise Team at: 855-824-4759.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (00:01):
You’ve worked hard to build your business and now it’s time grow. Welcome to the Multiply Your Success podcast. I’m your host Tom DuFore CEO of Big Sky Franchise Team and a serial entrepreneur. And as we get going on our episode today, the question I have for you is are you process oriented or results oriented. Process or results? If you’re process oriented, chances are you’re focused more on how you get to where you’re going, and if you’re results oriented how you get there is less important than the fact that you actually get there. And our guest today, Matt Lavinder shares with us how he figured out which one of those he is and how it’s helped him in actually growing his own business. And Matt is the president and founder of New Again Houses and New Again Houses is a fast growing house flipping franchise that he started in 2008.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (01:02):
He started franchising in 2019, and now he has nearly 20 franchises out there and growing very rapidly. Prior to starting the company, Matt had earned his master’s degree from Duke University and he spent 12 years at his Alma Mater King University as an assistant professor of history, he was also the men’s soccer coach and the assistant athletic director. Just a phenomenal background and now he’s in franchising growing a thriving business. So this interview is absolutely fantastic. This is one you may actually want to end up listening to twice. There are so many phenomenal nuggets that if you’re not paying attention, they go by quick. So let’s go ahead and jump into my interview with Matt Lavinder.
Matt Lavinder, New Again Houses (01:48):
Thanks for having me. It’s Matt Lavinder and I’m the president and founder of a New Again Houses franchising. And so we’re a franchising the home flipping business.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (02:01):
Great. Well, and dig into that a little bit here with this home flipping, house flipping, you turn on any home improvement channel and there are house flippers and people on there and they sure make it look easy. And I know that it’s not so talk a little bit about that.
Matt Lavinder, New Again Houses (02:20):
Yeah. So that’s what we do. We teach people to flip a house in 30 minutes just in time for the credits and the big paychecks at the end. It’s that easy. House flipping is all the rage. It has been for quite a while thanks to HGTV. And so it’s an industry that has been dominated by mom and pop people. And most of the flipping that’s done is done at a small volume. And so with New Again Houses scaling is important. So volume is important in this business, just like it is any other business. And so what we aim to do is empower individuals to be able to scale that business to where they’re flipping a house every month.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (03:16):
Wow. Wow. That’s amazing. And talk a little bit too because your franchise system’s really been growing the last couple of years. Even when we first met, I think you were at maybe two or three or four territories at that juncture, and now you’re rapidly growing across the country. Talk about maybe some of the things that you’ve been seeing or how you help find a gap in your market space that you filled the need.
Matt Lavinder, New Again Houses (03:44):
Yeah. So we launched our first locations in 2019, and I think we launched five locations in 2019. And then in 2020 we added about 12. And so now we’re at 18 locations in I think nine different states and growing at about a one to two locations every month so it’s growing. It’s at a pretty fast growth rate right now, which is a challenge. There’s a big demand for renovated housing and I think it’s a business that’s on the right side of history because there’s just a shortage of housing right now. Anybody that’s looking at the real estate market can see that, there’s a shortage of housing. And part of the problem with that is there has been very little new construction done in the past 30 to 40 years.
Matt Lavinder, New Again Houses (04:51):
And especially in the affordable price points, it just doesn’t make economic sense to build new construction houses at affordable price points because the fixed costs of new construction has increased. And so it makes sense to build large custom homes, it doesn’t make sense to build a 1200 square foot ranch. So that leaves the solution with being remodeling the current housing stock, and the housing stocks getting older each year. The problem is it’s a very difficult business to scale remodeling single-family houses it’s difficult to scale and that’s the problem we’re trying to solve.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (05:43):
Interesting. Speaking of history, you mentioned history here. I’d love for you to talk a little bit about your history. How did you get into the house flipping business?
Matt Lavinder, New Again Houses (05:56):
Well, it goes back to another kind of history. When I came out of graduate school I really did not know what I wanted to do. And in graduate school, I fell in love with coaching and teaching. And so my very first career was I taught Western Civ history at the university and I was the men’s soccer coach for 12 years there. And that was a big part of my life. I realized that I was at heart a teacher and a coach. I think if you have that bug, it haunts you for the rest of your life, you can’t shed it. But then I did that for a while. And then in my 30s, I realized that there was that there was something else in there and that was that I had to be building things. And one of the things I learned about myself in my 30s is if I wasn’t building something, I wasn’t happy. And so knowing that about myself and my kids getting older, coaching in college is a pretty consuming career.
Matt Lavinder, New Again Houses (07:16):
So I started building New Again Houses and I’m not an HGTV viewer, that stuff doesn’t do anything for me. Actually, if my wife has it on, I come home and I start yelling at the TV because it’s also dumb. She tells me to leave so she can watch the show, but my passion has never been about the houses or flipping houses, that’s not my passion. What my passion is is about building a business and the business happens to flip houses. And so the teaching and the coaching and the building all kind of came together in building this business. And so kind of focused those parts of me on building systems and building teams. So in a lot of ways, it wasn’t that much different than building the soccer teams that I coached.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (08:19):
Yeah. And that’s a great point. And I have always found that people who have coaching backgrounds or teaching backgrounds tend to do well in franchising because you’re basically doing the same thing, you’re teaching and coaching your franchisees how to do whatever it is your franchise system is doing. So it’s no surprise that this has been a natural progression for you going down this pathway, especially with franchisees. One of the things that’s interesting, and I don’t know how much detail we want to get into on the call, but I’m a little bit more familiar. We’ve worked together for a couple of years here I’m more familiar with your business, but one of the things that has always stood out to me has been your attention to detail and process, and not only creating processes, but then process improvement. So would you mind talking a little bit about that maybe not specifics about your business, but just what you do and how you go through that? I think that would be a really interesting conversation.
Matt Lavinder, New Again Houses (09:30):
Yeah. I think people are born either process oriented or results oriented. And I think there’s advantages of being each, but I think it’s important to know who you are and embrace that. Coaching is a results business. You are measured by your results. And one of the frustrating parts about my own experience in coaching is I’m a process person. And so you really invest in the process and anyone who has coached always knows that that process doesn’t always end up with results. That’s been a consistent part of who I am throughout has always been really focused on process. And so in building this business, the focus is on process, with the idea that if you put in solid processes it will ultimately lead to success.
Matt Lavinder, New Again Houses (10:43):
And I think it’s the long game. It might not be success next month, but when success does come and it’s built on processes, I think it’s much more sustainable and longterm rather than building something just for results. Because I think there’s ways to get short-term results that in the long run aren’t sustainable. So we’ve been really, really focused on processes. And the fun part for me is building those processes with technology and software. And so I’m not skilled in building the software, I’m not a coder, I don’t have that expertise. But I have really enjoyed working with the software engineer in implementing and systematizing good processes.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (11:45):
Interesting. And using that technology or those systems and processes to work for you. Finding things and figuring out how different pieces all work together.
Matt Lavinder, New Again Houses (11:56):
Yeah. It’s almost like a puzzle, but it has to be user-friendly, it has to be simplistic enough for people to use. Because one of the things that I’m constantly aware of is that it’s easier to build software than it is to get humans to use it.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (12:18):
Yeah. Great point.
Matt Lavinder, New Again Houses (12:19):
So building processes is only half the battle, getting people to implement them is the harder part.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (12:30):
Yeah. That’s so true. Even thinking of a simple process for just even using a CRM system it always is that, the constant struggle with the sales manager saying, “Salespeople use the CRM tool that we have.” And the salespeople are saying, “Well, I can’t figure the thing out. I don’t know how to do it, or it’s not user-friendly, it takes me four hours to enter in my activity for the day.”
Matt Lavinder, New Again Houses (12:57):
Right. And your salespeople are typically results. They’re not process people typically, a lot of times their results people. For them the process of it is inefficient. It’s all easy until the human’s involved.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (13:18):
Yeah. Well, I love this idea of process driven and results driven, and you figured this out for you. And I can imagine for a lot of folks tuning in, we have a lot of entrepreneurs and business owners and franchise companies and there’s probably a broad mix there, but for you, how did you uncover that? And just maybe someone who isn’t aware and is thinking about it for the first time, what might be a step or two they could take in figuring that out?
Matt Lavinder, New Again Houses (13:49):
Well, I think every business is complicated. If you’re going to be good at anything, there’s going to be a lot of moving pieces. And in flipping a house, for example, we know that there’s 323 unique items that go into a typical flip. And so getting those 323 items, the right items, to the right place, to the right house is a big part of the battle. And so I think it’s stepping back and really thinking in terms of process, what is the path to success? How do we break down those steps to success? I think the problem a lot of people have is those steps are in their head. And the knowledge is there, especially if you’re really skilled at something like the knowledge is in your head, but you’ve never really broken down the steps to get there.
Matt Lavinder, New Again Houses (14:59):
And so it takes a lot of self-awareness to get it out of your head and onto paper because until you get it out of your head, it’s almost impossible to grow the business beyond yourself. So in some ways I think the process mentality is really important for growing a business to be bigger than yourself.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (15:24):
Interesting. That’s a great point and 323 items for flipping a house, a checklist, it would seem to be pretty easy for one or a handful or 10% to slip through the cracks. And certainly the value of the systems that you have put in place to make sure each step is managed and processed and walked through for the franchisee.
Matt Lavinder, New Again Houses (15:55):
Yeah. And I’m sure this is the case for most businesses is there’s a lot more ways to get it wrong then there are to get it right. And so we see the processes as almost guard rails to keep people from getting into trouble. And so to keep them on track on that path to success.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (16:22):
Yeah. That’s a really, really great point. I like that idea of guard rails and well, Matt, would you mind talking through a little bit… I guess, as a transition point here to talk through these ideas of our misses, makes and multipliers. We always start with a miss, usually these are oftentimes areas where people learn the most from maybe a miss that happened along the way, personally, professionally. But is there anything you could share that happened along the way and what you learned from it?
Matt Lavinder, New Again Houses (16:58):
Yeah, I think when I look back and when I think if I could have done things differently. In my 20s I think I lacked some self-awareness, and it wasn’t until my 30s that I really understood that I needed to be building something. And so I spent a lot of my 20s on things that probably weren’t consistent with who I really was. And so I feel like I’ve maybe wasted some years in my 20s, but that’s probably not unusual, we can all say that. And then once I got the business going, I didn’t put enough importance on networking. So it’s taken a long time to build this business I feel like. We worked really hard in the background for a long time before we launched. And I think I’m really envious of people who are strong networkers because it seems like that can accelerate the process.
Matt Lavinder, New Again Houses (18:09):
And for those of us that doesn’t come naturally, we’re introverts, I think we have to work harder and longer to make up for that. I think it’s something that I would have intentionally tried to get better at, or surround myself with better networkers to make up for that. The third thing that I think would have accelerated the process is if I had been able to leverage SBA Business Funding at the beginning. We had to self-fund this business and so that took longer. We just didn’t have the resources to invest in it. So if I had it to do over again, I would’ve sought out that funding to accelerate the process.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (19:07):
Yeah. Wow. Those are all phenomenal lessons and certainly the value of networking that’s a great point. It’s something that for those that it comes more natural to, you fail to see how great of an asset it can be. And if it’s not a natural thing, it’s hard for you to sometimes see the value in it because it’s like, “Well, why would I waste my time there when I could be doing, fill in the blank.” Whatever it might be for your business.
Matt Lavinder, New Again Houses (19:41):
I look at guys in their 20s who are ambitious and their circle of friends are… They’re networking in really strong markets. And if you’ve got that in 2021, the world is your oyster because it’s all about collaboration and partnerships. And so I think it accelerates the trajectory of any business. I think my point is those of us who are introverts, we shouldn’t just accept that. I think we should seek out ways to overcome that or crutches, just like we would any part of our business.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (20:26):
Yeah. Yeah. And to your point on that networking piece, one thing that really changed from the pandemic has been the virtual networking. So there are a lot of easy ways right now, where they’re doing Zoom meetings with 40 or 50 people. And you get whether it’s, for example, a BNI or a local chamber or whatever kind of networking a group. And now these local groups are able to do regional and national Meetups, and you can just hop on and you don’t even have to say anything your first go. So I think now is an even easier time to make it happen.
Matt Lavinder, New Again Houses (21:02):
Yeah. And the opportunity is so much greater. There’s literally no ceiling to it because before 2020, your potential was limited in some way to your geographical location. Your network was limited by where you were physically. So if you lived in Atlanta where you’re at, your potential was much greater than if you’re in a smaller town like I am. But now that’s gone, your physical location, your geography is no limitation after 2020, it’s going to be really interesting to see how that plays out.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (21:47):
Yeah, I agree. I agree. And especially for you having love and passion for history, I’m sure it will be very interesting to see how it all plays out when we start looking back 10 years from now, 20 years from now. Well, let’s look at the other side. How about a make or two that came along the way.
Matt Lavinder, New Again Houses (22:08):
Yeah. And I don’t want this to sound cliche, but I was telling somebody the other day, probably the most important business decision you make or career decision is really who you marry. And if you think about business, it’s so volatile, it’s so chaotic. If you lack that stability at home, it would make life unsustainable. People think of it is as work-life balance, but it’s all really interconnected. So one of the probably the biggest make was just the marriage that I have, just that stability has really allowed the business to make the freedom in the business. The other one is just, I feel like I’ve been able to align a line of business with who I am. The qualities that I have, the weaknesses that I have, like who I am is aligned with this particular business.
Matt Lavinder, New Again Houses (23:28):
And you’re right at the heart and soul of franchising is teaching and coaching. You are seeing potential in people and helping them realize that potential. And you’re using it through your whatever business platform you have. But at the end of the day, it’s about helping humans reach their potential. That being, it goes back to the coaching days. And so finding something that what I’m doing, being consistent with who I am is a big make right now.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (24:08):
Yeah. I think that’s brilliant. And I think you’re right. I think all too often, that whole idea of your spouse as being such a critical component, I know the same is true for me. There’s no way I could do what I do in my career without a fantastic spouse at home, without a great wife. Helping support and understanding, like you said, it could be really miserable the other way. And how about an idea for a multiplier? You’re using franchising, you’ve done a lot of different things in your career. What kind of a multiplier have you seen work for you?
Matt Lavinder, New Again Houses (24:57):
I am a firm believer in the power of ownership. And I think that organizations can multiply faster when the people, individuals have ownership of the success and the outcomes. And so one of the other things that I’ve learned about myself is I’m not a good manager, whatever micromanager is I’m the opposite of that. I’m not good at it. And so I’ve had to build a business that attracts self-starters with initiative, and they have to have ownership because I can’t manage people to success. And so the beautiful thing about franchising is you’re not growing a huge organization with employees to manage and middle managers, you are growing through ownership. And so you’ve got franchise owners who have skin in the game and you are helping them realize success, you’re not managing employees and to me that makes a massive difference.
Matt Lavinder, New Again Houses (26:19):
Because when you look at our business of house flipping, it’s a difficult business to scale. And I think it would be impossible to scale with employees because so many decisions have to be made on the ground. And the beauty of franchising is owners, owners are empowered to make those decisions. And I just don’t think you can make all those 323 decisions if it was employees and middle managers.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (26:53):
That a really critical component to franchising that you hit on there, that whole ownership, empowerment. Especially in your business it’s amplified, when you’re buying real estate and flipping homes and doing all that it is hyper-local, hyper-local.
Matt Lavinder, New Again Houses (27:14):
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (27:15):
And decisions being made immediate in the local market. It has to be done that way.
Matt Lavinder, New Again Houses (27:22):
And every project is unique. So you can’t just replicate one project after another across the country because those 323 items are unique for every project, it’s not like new construction. And I think that’s why you see new construction builders, they’re able to build 10,000 houses a year whereas you just don’t see that on the remodeling side. And I think a franchisee is uniquely set up to be able to be able to do that. The other part of the multipliers though is I would almost think of it as multiplication by subtraction.
Matt Lavinder, New Again Houses (28:03):
And I think the continuing challenge is I have to subtract myself out of that. Because what you find is when you’re the founder or when you’re the owner, anything that you’re involved with it’s very difficult for other people to have ownership of that. And so everything that I’m involved in, I feel like I’m almost putting a ceiling on that because it holds others back from taking ownership. And so a big part of the challenge is almost extracting myself from as many areas of the business as possible.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (28:43):
Wow. Thank you for sharing that. Let’s jump into the last question we’d like to ask every guest, which is what does success mean to you?
Matt Lavinder, New Again Houses (28:58):
I feel like I’m chasing that answer because it keeps changing. Every year you live, what success looks like looks a little bit different. What success looked like in my 20s was not what success looked like in my 30s and now in my 40s it keeps changing. It’s balance between so many things, the work and life health and all these things. Especially all of us that have parented have tried to achieve balance. And so it’s this thing that we’re always chasing and never quite get. And so I would like to think that, and it’s also going to be consistent with who we are so I’d like to think that it’s simplicity. I had this romantic notion of having this simple life with no responsibility living on the beach and listening to the ocean, but that’s really not consistent with who I am. So I’m still in the process of trying to figure out what success looks like.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (30:28):
Fair enough. Fair enough. Well, and that’s a great point. Depending on your stage of life, how old you are, different things have different weighted importance at those points in life. Single, married, kids, it all changes.
Matt Lavinder, New Again Houses (30:45):
Yeah. And I hope, I think part of success will be change. I hope that when I’m 70 my success continues to change because that means that you’re continuing to discover new things about yourself and new passions and success continues to look different. So maybe embracing change is part of what success looks like.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (31:17):
Yeah. Great. Well, and Matt, is there anything as we close things out here that you’d like to share or had wanted to make sure you got across before we go?
Matt Lavinder, New Again Houses (31:31):
Wow, man, it’s just encourage anybody that’s going through this process, whether it’s franchising or something else. None of it is easy. It is a constant journey of winning and then getting kicked in the stomach. And I think every time you do get kicked in the stomach, you question yourself. And I think the people that make it are the people that just keep going. It’s not easy for me or anybody else if they’re honest, it’s just about believing in what you’re doing and just keep going.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (32:19):
For someone to learn about the business and New Again, would you share the website and we’ll make sure we include it in the show notes too.
Matt Lavinder, New Again Houses (32:27):
Yeah, sure. newagainhouses.com/franchise. We’ve got a lot of stuff going on on the website and on Facebook as well at New Again Houses.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (32:39):
Thank you so much, Matt, for being here, what an amazing interview and let’s jump into our three key takeaways. So the first key takeaway that I took out of this was really our theme from when we opened the podcast here, which was, are you process oriented or results oriented? And Matt found out that he’s really a process oriented person. And candidly, I think as I’ve listened to it and been thinking about it for me, I really think I’m more of process oriented as well, but which one are you? And I think figuring that out for you will help give you some clarity on how you go about doing things. If you’re results oriented, you may need to find a process oriented person or vice versa to help as you continue to grow in your business. Number two, Matt said he was a firm believer in ownership, and one of the reasons he loves franchising and certainly this is not intended to be a plug for franchising but we’ll take it here.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (33:38):
But franchising has given him that opportunity to find people to take ownership in growing his business. And so I think that idea of taking ownership, giving ownership and empowering through ownership is really a great takeaway. Number three, he talked about networking and how networking has not been a natural thing for him, and he sounds like he avoided that. And so I think it’s just a good reminder about networking and creating and developing a network and continuing to grow that network can create a really strong competitive advantage, and get you to the direction you want to go faster by talking to other people and tapping into their network. And now it’s time for today’s Win-Win.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (34:31):
So today’s Win-Win comes from when Matt said the most important business decision you will make is the person who you marry. And he talked about how if you don’t have that support from the person at home, because really your work, life, personal professional, spiritual, all of these lives collide, they all come together and especially at your home. And so that person who you marry spend your life with, and whether it’s your husband, wife, life partner, sweetie, whatever that person is called to you or is to you, make sure that you’re on the same page, pay attention to that person.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (35:12):
If things are going great, be grateful to your spouse for supporting you on your endeavors. I know that I’m grateful to my wife for supporting all of the different things and entrepreneurial ventures that I’ve gotten into, and will I’m sure continue to get into over the years. And if you’re not on the same page, it’s something you should work at because it will be a win for you for your spouse and for literally every aspect of both of your lives. And so that’s our episode today folks, thanks for tuning in, please like, and subscribe and we’ll see you back here next week.