On this post, we’re going to set the record straight about using Podio for your real estate investing business. In the real estate community, there’s a lot of uninformed conversations/hype happening in the CRM space and not enough real-talk about the current landscape of Podio services around real estate.

The bottom line: not all Podio setups for investors are created equal…which one’s a fit for YOUR business? We’ll find out in a bit.

First, let’s understand…why Podio in the first place? How did we get here? What’s the meaning of life?

The Proliferation of Podio

I learned about Podio from a mentor of mine, Joe McCall, who started sharing the tool with the REI community in 2014ish. It’s important to understand it’s actually NOT designed for real estate, you need to build it…but here’s why it was exciting to everyone and why it’s different than the standalone platforms like a RealeFlow or Freedomsoft:

  1. Flexibility: You can customize the database so it displays exactly the right data, tailored to your liking, with multiple “field” types including address fields. You can create your own perfect ideal CRM. 
  2. Team and task: It’s a team-based system, meaning you can communicate about leads and deals directly with the relevant people on your team. Includes chat…so it’s like a Facebook for your business operations. Plus, you can assign check-box style tasks to anyone on your team.
  3. Integrate-ability: Automation. Podio can connect to other tools…but you need to be techie to understand how to use these to AUTOMATE certain functions. ie. If I click on “due diligence”…set a task for Roger to pull comps. That’s a simple automation. The rabbit hole goes deeper…giving you the ability to plug in email, text, postal mail, signatures, pdf generation, and much much more.
  4. Database views: The view-based look and feel of Podio makes it the perfect Lead Management solution to help investors stay on top of leads, marketing, and transactions intuitively.
  5. Mobile app: Execute deals on the road.

Pros: All of the above.

Cons: All of the above.

What do I mean? Well, given it’s flexibility, it opened up a world of “opportunity” for investors to spend countless hours getting their Podio workspace and automations jusssssssssssst right. No one had standardized a setup that everyone could use as a base. It required a lot of trial and error to get the right set of “Apps” and views that your whole team could get behind.

Podio is a great tool for tinkerers and business process perfectionists. Investors simply don’t have the time to figure this techy stuff out, nor should they invest that time.

Because of this, and the need for organization, there’s a lot of services now that make it easy to get up and running on Podio while still benefiting from all of the ‘Pros’ listed above.

But not all Podio setups for investors are created equal…

Let’s talk about the landscape so you can make the best choice for your business.

Standardization

Rewind to March of 2015…I published this video about my hacked-together (but awesome) Podio workspace I built for my wholesaling business. It went semi-viral in the REI community.

I created that workspace by meticulously diving into the details of seller lead execution. Within three months of that video, I was approached by Joe McCall and we partnered to form RealAutomation.biz, a SERVICE to essentially install and re-create the system from that video…for a one-time fee.

Over 300 investors paid us to set up their Podio accounts to streamline their lead flow. It was a great service that delivered the end result we promised…but it had some collateral damage:

  • Users needed to pay for multiple SEPARATE tools, including Podio, Globiflow (automation for Podio), and Mailchimp (email autoresponder), in order for their workspace to work properly :/
  • Additionally, if a user had to make a change, they’d have to get their hands dirty tinkering in these separate platforms, taking time away from doing deals.

I felt our customer’s pains. I wanted so bad to just…fix everyone’s workspaces all at once as we developed improvements.

Couldn’t do that though….everyone had their own separate setups. We’d have to go in manually one-by-one in order to instigate such overall improvements. It was not a scalable solution that could serve the community to the absolute best of our ability.

To solve this problem, I needed to figure out how to eliminate the need for any 3rd party tools at all, as well as create our own code that could actually update EVERYONE’S workspaces all at once!

This required me to launch an entirely separate team and company, apart from Joe, to properly bring this vision into a reality.

Thus, the birth of InvestorFuse, which is a subscription based software product that you run ON Podio…WITHOUT needing to tinker in multiple programs. We launched in February of 2016.

With the cash flow from a subscription business, we grew a team of 10 customer facing technical support and “Customer Success” representatives who are all masters of Podio and real estate lead management.

Our Success team members are wholesalers themselves. On the technical side, we have a systematic process of innovation and improvement that all users can benefit from, as well as a roadmap of new features vetted from 350+ company’s direct feedback.

This means: we’ve got a legitimate infrastructure all around supporting investors on Podio and pushing automation technology forward.

The Current Landscape

From these innovations came new entrants onto the Podio for real estate scene…and it’s important to understand the landscape if you’re looking to get up and running fast.

Due to the success of RealAutomation.biz (the previous one-off service)…many others (investors and non-investors) took the idea of a “one-off” service that didn’t require any fancy coding or anything that they could sell themselves. This has perpetuated the need for multiple 3rd party tools, like Globiflow, plugged into Podio in order for it to work…and it’s made things very confusing for everyone.

That said, some of these setups are quality one-off packages, each with their own different spin and level of support, and each requiring you pay for multiple monthly services on TOP of the setup fee. Here’s all the one-off options that exist now:

  • REIFlow (does include some built in-automation)
  • AppFlowSoft (one-off)
  • Sellerleadscrm.com (one-off)
  • REIVolution (one-off)
  • PodioZen Podio Apps (Just the apps, no automation)

Sorry if I’m forgetting anyone :/

This video I shot will help break down the differences so you can determine the best possible fit for your business:

***A Note on Tinkering***

Tinkering…or customizing Podio yourself, comes in handy if you have a very specific process you want to quickly put into your workflow…like a notification when a lead turns hot and you want an email or slack notification to go out to the acquisitions team…very specific workflows count as tinkering.

InvestorFuse supports tinkering to a degree. Certain fields have to stay the way there are, and how our apps interact with each other is programmed in the background. So you have to work around that if you want to do complicated tinkering.

Really it comes down to people being able to do their job effectively and quickly that closes deals and makes money, no amount of tinkering is going to solve the baseline people problem. Hire the best team first and foremost, THEN plug them into automated systems.

That said…we know there’s tinkerers out there! Here’s what you should do:

What do I do?

If You Are Just Starting in Real Estate

If you’re new, you can go either way. Here’s a decision tree you can use based on your preferences, budget, and lead volume:

Decide if you want the flexibility, integrate-ability, and team-based execution that Podio can provide vs. a Standalone software service like RealeFlow or Freedomsoft

Choose Podio If:

You have some leads and you need Lead MANAGEMENT (Organization, follow-up/nurturing/team-based sales execution at scale) more than you need leads

If you have a budget of 1-2K and want to work closely with a Podio architect, going back and forth over phone and email getting your system just right, and you’re OK with the occasional tinkering of workflow automation tools, and paying for extra services, choose one of the above “One-off” Podio setup options.

If you’d prefer working with a subscription software that has more automation, more functionality, more support, and constant improvements for a monthly fee that you can cancel at anytime…go with InvestorFuse! Sincerely…it’ll save you the headache of having to signup for multiple things, and you’ll have your workspace setup completely hands-free (our team does it all).

Use a basic set of apps without automation. We recommend the PodioZen app package listed above. Doesn’t include support, but it’s a solid framework to get you organized. Or…send us an email  at *info at investorfuse dot com* and we can hook up something even more basic for free.

Choose other program if:

If you need lead GENERATION and fancy features like comp tools, rehab estimator’s etc. MORE than you need lead management:

Focus on lead generation first before investing too much into CRM

Use the PodioZen app package or email us at *info at investorfuse dot com* and we’ll hook up a free set of apps.

For something more out of the box: Choose a standalone, non-Podio based CRM like FreedomSoft or REIBlackbook that actually sends you leads from a public database. Caveat: Not the most quality or targeted leads, as other people get access to the same data. Keep in mind…these tools pack in as many features as humanly possible, whether useful or not, so make sure you’re OK with a “master of none” type of system and that’s what you need.

**Note how we don’t recommend InvestorFuse if you’re new and don’t have any leads. While we can definitely help train you in proper lead management, you need leads in order for you to get value out of the automated follow-up systems we provide. Again, focus on Lead Generation before investing heavily into CRM.***

Experienced Investors

If you’re experienced, have a team, and you have a lot of leads to manage, you’ll want to use Podio.

Podio itself is built for lead and project management at enterprise scale. Specifically, the mechanical process of lead capture and follow-up is particularly lacking in other programs more suited for newbies, so if you’re experienced, we recommend going with Podio from a business process standpoint.

But, which system do I invest in that can live up to my company’s expectations?

For tinkerers and tech savvy customizers

Decide if you or your team wants to tinker with multiple tools and systems to get your workflow dialed in exactly how you want it. Maybe you have an in-house IT department…if you don’t, do not pursue these options:

Hiring a Podio “architect” (basically a business process consultant) to build your system from the ground up. These architects charge up to $250/hour, and takes a lot of time to implement, but they’ll get the job done, and it requires multiple other tools besides Podio. If you have a large enterprise operation that needs very specific workflows, lead assignment rules, or complex phone system needs:

Email Carson Young: cdyoung42 at gmail dot com

Watch this UNBIASED review from Carson about using InvestorFuse vs. using a Podio Architect or One-Off Service

Email David Richter: dave at jdautomations dot com

Paying for the above One-off setup “products” that involve multiple 3rd party tools and no automatic upgrades to the system. Much like an architect, but these setups are standardized and you’ll be at the mercy of the provider of the setup to make any changes or improvements without tinkering to make changes yourself.

For Those Who Prefer One Consolidated Service + Support

Decide if you’d prefer to pay ONE company monthly, working with a best-in-class support team, with continued training on lead management, forego the cost of multiple separate subscriptions powering your workspace, as well as receive constant improvements to your Podio system, I’d go with InvestorFuse. You can sign up and learn more at www.investorfuse.com/pricing

I’m biased, but from a simplicity standpoint, we’re a no brainer for investors who have leads coming into their business and route your lead sources/phone systems in, and we will literally train your whole team on how to stay on top of every lead inside our platform.

We have a community of over 350 companies, all actively doing deals, that share best practices in real estate marketing, and you get access to them as well in our private Facebook group.

We integrate with text, email, digital signature, physical mail, email autoresponders etc. all inside our system without needing other tools. The cost savings alone is a no-brainer.

Hopefully this gives you a slightly clearer picture of the landscape of Podio and the CRM tools out there. Whether you go with Podio or not, I hope you choose something that will help you focus more on doing deals, and less on tinkering with technology.

We’d rather you spent more time enjoying your biz and hanging at the closing table than in front of your computer.

To your success,

-Dan Schwartz and the InvestorFuse team