Incredible show alert! Back by popular demand, Rochelle Laflamme & Alisa Thompson, co-founders of Epic Alliance and creators of the Hassle-Free Landlord / Fund a Flip programs, join Adam & Matt to chart their explosive growth (and we mean explosive!) from electricians to top-tier real estate investors well on their way to $1 billion. Learn what makes these high performers different from the rest, from strategy to self-study, and how mastering mindset can supercharge your life and your bank account. Cut negative people from your inner circle, make yourself a money magnet, and get sh*t done! Read that again.
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Can you tell us about yourselves?
We are real estate investors based in Saskatoon, SK. We pair with people who want to invest passively in residential real estate. We control over $90 million in real estate and just hired our 75th team member.
How has COVID affected your company?
A lot of people had money saved away or in stocks and as the market got more volatile, people realized the value of Epic. They didn’t want to play the game with the market. Our business increased 30% because people want to position their money in safer and more valuable places. Real estate is still very solid despite everything going on. People still need homes to live in no matter what is happening.
Can you describe your business model?
We incorporated in 2013 when we were both electricians by trade. We did real estate training but had no cash or credit. So, we knew we needed to get good at using other people’s cash and credit. We started the Hassle-Free Landlord program – pairing with people who have the cash/credit to purchase and we become the guaranteed tenants. We ensure our investors get a 15% annual rate of return, higher than an average investment, and it’s secured.
We then started our Fund a Flip program, which is a wealth building opportunity. Clients get a 10% annual return on just a six-month term. We also have our Ninja Flip program where we average our clients’ investment to get them 29% on their TFSA.
We’re buying about a property per day and have a waitlist going for new investors. We’re doubling our portfolio every year!
How have rent or mortgage deferrals impacted your business?
Our investors see zero issues with rent delivered to them because that is our guarantee. For the actual physical tenants, we have 400 properties and of those, six were not paying rent.
We were very proactive. A large portion of our portfolio is on social assistance and requires high management. But that’s the trade-off for government money. We educated our tenants on how the deferral programs work and the truth around rent withholding. We gave our tenants a 10% gift card or credit for their rent in April. This encouraged people to work hard to get their rent paid. It was all about lots of communication and education.
We work with our tenants to do payment plans if they can’t pay all of their rent on the first of the month. We offer extra services like that as well.
How are you finding your properties?
Most of the properties come to us. We did a good job at placing ourselves in the market. People know if we say we’re going to buy, we are going to buy. We don’t back out. People know we’re a sure thing.
I want to know people’s why. Why are you selling your home? What’s going on? What is going to make your life easier?
For example, a lot of people were nervous about selling during COVID. One thing we did was make an offer and allow homeowners to stay in their home for free for 30 days, giving them time and money to figure out their next step. And we could extend that by another 30 days if necessary.
How do you analyze a deal?
It has to be a win-win. The numbers are the first thing. We have enough of our own properties to know appraisal values, rental income, etc. The money is made in the buy; you need the equity to work with to build the future.
What types of houses are you buying? Is age a factor?
We are only buying in Saskatchewan, specifically in Saskatoon, at this time. Our ground is very solid. So even a 100-year-old house is good. We need to make sure there’s a solid foundation, good roof and the mechanical is okay. We have our own in-house tradespeople so what might be a big job for homeowners isn’t a big job for us. Age doesn’t bother us. It’s always on a per house basis.
Are you expanding outside of Saskatoon? How do you stay on top of the market?
We are starting to expand into another Saskatchewan city, which we haven’t announced yet. And in the US, we’re expanding too. While I was down there this past winter, the goal was to open 5 cities this year and 15 next year. Now that I’m not down there due to COVID, we’re doing a capital raise for investment in Canada and will use that as the seed money for our US expansion. We’ll have Hassle-Free Landlord and Fund a Flip programs for US investors. After the first city, we’ll play it by ear. But we do have aggressive goals to launch in a few cities in the US.
How do you replicate your model in the US? How do you find trades, materials, etc.?
The reason we do what we do in Canada is because labour and materials are expensive here, as opposed to the States. When I was in the States, I was on my phone and computer all the time making connections and finding the perfect market. We were looking for places that mimicked Saskatoon. We wanted a steady economy and a market that wasn’t hit too bad by the last recession. We didn’t want any of the swing markets; we wanted boring markets.
I narrowed it down to six states and visited a city in each. Our system is value based and all about the numbers. In the US, ideally, we’d want to buy for $70,000, invest $10-15K in a renovation, have it appraised for $110,000-120,000 and rent for $1200 per month. That’s the model.
We like to have about 50 properties before we announce so we’re keeping the US location under wraps for now.
In the US, we don’t want to have any employees. We want to work with people who have their own teams. So the real estate agent we’re working with in the US has his own trades team. His system aligns with ours incredibly. He makes his money based on volume, which is what we do. He works with remote clients and does meetings virtually.
Did you approach COVID as an opportunity? And how do you generally approach uncertainty?
Before COVID, I had a plan to move to the US and begin buying houses. But pivot and adapt is our model. There was a lot of uncertainty when COVID first hit but I was wanting to move. We had all of this inventory; 50+ houses ready to go. I told Alisa I wanted to break through this analysis paralysis that people had.
So we launched a campaign to sell 50 Hassle-Free Landlord houses in 60 days. We increased the rate of return to attract people. We got on the horn, our marketing team did amazing, our investors spread the word and in two months we closed 52 houses. And in the backend, we bought and funded 49 Fund a Flips. So in the height of COVID and in just two months, we did 101 real estate deals and over $20 million worth of real estate.
We are heavily educated in residential real estate and never stop educating ourselves on business growth and personal development. If you look at any successful person, when the going gets tough, they don’t turtle. They dive in harder. That’s how they make their money.
What advice would you give younger people?
Asking for help is one of the hardest things for entrepreneurs to do. We think no one is going to do it like we can, no one is as passionate as we are. But we both agree that we should have brought on team members sooner. That would have freed us up to do high level activities. It’s hard for people to know when they should bring on someone else to take work off their plate.
Having each other allows us to keep up that high energy and high pace. We have always had coaches and mentors, who are so valuable. When you get stuck in a rut, it’s important you surround yourself with the right people. If you feel stuck, change your circle. Find new people.
What new beliefs or behaviours have you put in place in the last five years?
For us, it’s an evolution. We’re here to be the best versions of ourselves. I was raised by a single mom and I learned it’s not good to be normal or average. I don’t believe in keeping up with the Joneses. Not caring what other people think and being good with yourself is something I embody. And I try to spread that message to other people.
Our subconscious beliefs are so strong. I’m big into mantras and positive affirmations. I have positivity everywhere in my house. Your subconscious mind will pick up on those subtle views. When our business was having cash flow issues, I would say to myself, “I’m an investor magnet. I’m a deal magnet. I’m a money magnet.” And that changed everything. Everything is energy.
We learned to not use the word “never” because the universe will deliver. We don’t say if, we say when.
What has been the biggest challenge with your business and how have you overcome it?
As you build a team, it’s all about finding the right people. Thinking you can’t find the right people is a belief system. Our initial vision was to hire all of these entrepreneurs who could be part of our journey while we help them with theirs. But when you have too many people and too many journeys, it’s not a great fit. We learned that lesson.
Once we realized we needed, for example, an amazing carpenter or an office manager who can work 9 to 5, it made our life easier. There’s nothing wrong with not being an entrepreneur.
We have worked so hard on creating our culture. All of our team members are quirky beings, like we are. We attract unique people who might not fit into other places.
How can someone get involved with Epic Alliance?
Hassle-Free Landlord program: We can get houses for as little as $125,000. So if you only have $25,000 but can get a mortgage, you can afford to be a residential real estate investor. You can start with one property and grow from there. We work with people where they’re at.
Fund a Flip: You can enter this program with cash, home equity, line of credit or under performing investment funds. To earn the 10% annual rate of return and be in a first mortgage position, you need to have a minimum of $100,000 that funds the purchase and renovation. But we work with people where they’re at. We can utilize lower funds for different deals.
We figure out what people’s goals are and what they have to work with, and then we put together a business proposal.
Let us connect you with Epic Alliance. Send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org with EPIC in the title.