Driving For Dollars is one of the best ways to find off-market properties, distressed properties, and new customer opportunities. It's generally easy to do — especially if you follow best practices — but it doesn't mean it's easy to succeed.
In fact, it's important not to confuse easy to do with easy to succeed. Driving For Dollars sounds simple, but the amount of work you put into it before and after the actual driving can make or break your Driving For Dollars efforts.
More importantly, your investment into the tactic can often directly help you scale your business and find new customers.
How do we know? Because here at PropertyRadar, we have helped new and experienced real estate investors successfully scale by utilizing Driving For Dollars, and we are here to share the best tactics you can start doing today to help elevate your Driving For Dollars strategy to the next level.
However, if you're just getting started as an investor, wholesaler, or with Driving For Dollars, we suggest checking out our Beginners Guide to Driving For Dollars.
On the other hand, if you're already Driving For Dollars and want to scale your real estate wholesaling, investment, and property acquisition and become a Driving For Dollars Pro, this guide's for you...
In this complete Pro Guide to Driving For Dollars, we'll review, cover, and dive deeper into:
- What is Driving For Dollars?
- How to Scale Property Acqutiion with the Pro Driving For Dollars Process
What is Driving For Dollars?
Big picture: Driving For Dollars is a direct marketing tactic where real estate investors drive neighborhoods and scope out specific properties, including off-market, distressed, and vacant properties, to discover new opportunities and turn them into deals.
Think of Driving For Dollars as active new-business marketing. Essentially, you're gathering invaluable information you would have no other way of collecting and putting yourself in a direct position to connect with and market to potential customers.
Specifically, those who use the tactic most successfully understand that with Driving For Dollars, also called "D4D", the goal is to find distressed or likely distressed properties by canvassing neighborhoods and areas that may have a higher rate of distress. While it may be time-consuming, it's often a very profitable strategy for all types of real estate investors and is most commonly associated with wholesaling real estate.
How to Scale Property Acquisition with the Pro Driving For Dollars Process
Step 1: Plan Your Routes
As obvious as it may seem, this step is the foundation of a profitable Driving For Dollars strategy. Your goal is to plan a driving route based on neighborhoods you know have a higher concentration or likelihood of distressed and off-market properties. These may be areas you're familiar with or trying to break into, but you'll often find yourself needing to expand your reach into unfamiliar areas where additional research is critical.
It's important to note again that the work you put into your strategy and process, from researching and planning routes to creating opportunity lists and matching them to sales messages, is key to success.
Proper planning will also save you time and make your Driving For Dollars strategy far more efficient in the long run. In addition, your driving route plays a crucial role in your Driving For Dollars outcome, and having the right driving apps and processes will enable you to be as successful as possible.
- For instance, a foreclosure specialist may want to see how many properties in a neighborhood are underwater, in foreclosure, or owned free and clear.
- A roofing contractor may want to explore homes with roofs that are 20+ years old.
- A real estate investor may want to target homeowners based on equity or lengths of ownership.
- A real estate agent may choose to focus on turnover.
You get the picture.
Step 2: Drive and Look for Visual Signs and Cues
With the research and a clear route to follow, begin driving. Remember that your main priority is identifying distressed properties and likely motivated sellers. Keep an eye out for obvious and subtle cues, such as:
- Unkempt landscaping
- Broken windows
- Boarded-up doors and windows
- Piles of newspapers
- Overflowing mail
- Damaged driveways
- Distressed roofs
- Code enforcement tape or posters
As you look for these cues, collect and record this information on properties that meet your criteria to eventually build property lists. These notes will allow you to more effectively pitch your offer to potential sellers.
"I wish I'd taken a photo!" is a regret we often hear from inexperienced D4D'ers. Take at least one photo of every property opportunity.
It's not a bad idea to shoot more rather than less. Photos can highlight something that catches your eye and can trigger an opportunity flag later during a review.
Uploaded photos can help re-qualify a prospect and add support within a proposal or estimate or as part of a direct mail postcard or letter as "proof of interest" when you indicate to that owner or client that you drove by and visited the property.
We rarely hear an experienced drive-for-dollars pro who regretted snapping too many photos.
Take notes on each opportunity
While a picture is often worth 1,000 words, a few notes about the property and its surroundings may be helpful later when working through a qualification or purchase process.
Jotting down bulleted highlights, like recounting conversations with residents and neighbors, can be invaluable down the road.
Or, take advantage of your smartphone's microphone dictation feature to take copious notes and give your thumbs a break.
Identify opportunities you didn't find while researching
While driving your route, there's an opportunity to find potential new customers by keeping a sharp eye for visual cues about properties not on your researched list.
Whenever you see a property that catches your interest, make sure to add that property to your list in your Driving For Dollars app. Since these properties may not be on your researched list, and you're in front of the property, there's never a better time to take a photo and add some notes.
Fill in the gaps or update your data
Whether you're looking at pre-researched properties or just stopping by for a quick, opportunistic look, comparing what you see with your public record data is essential.
Since public records may not be current or accurate, updating your data and filling in the blanks is a significant advantage. In addition, knowing something about a property that would be missed by competitors who are searching only a spreadsheet is often how many of our customers have gained incremental new business.
Connect in person while driving
Those most successful with Driving For Dollars also do one thing more often than those who are just getting started— they strike while the iron is hot.
Go ahead and knock on the door. Talk to owners and neighbors and learn more about the property and the property owners.
Step 3: Match An Offer or Message to Specific Opportunity Lists
Poor segmenting and targeting is one of the most common mistakes beginners make. They often buy and use generic lists or lump everyone together simply by the area without considering property details, demographic information, or specific finding while Driving For Dollars.
After researching and driving your routes, return to your list of opportunities and begin segmenting them into groups based on your specific offer or pitch.
The type of distress, type of person, and characteristics of the property may heavily influence how you define a specific message for the property owner and ensure it's more likely to be read and responded to.
Step 4: Connect with Home and Property Owners
With highly targeted opportunity lists, proper segmentation, and a unique offer or pitch, it's time to connect with the home or property owners.
This is the next step in your marketing strategy. Consider your available channels, your offer, and how the entire hyperlocal marketing effort should work.
Tailor the message
For instance, if you're running a direct mail campaign, you can mention specific things that stood out about the property. Since direct mail is a popular strategy other investors use, this personalization will help you stand out.
Think about touchpoints
Beginners may send just one mailer, but professionals know that a complete marketing campaign will be more successful. For example, they may have knocked on the door already while Driving For Dollars, so sending direct mail might make sense, followed by a cold call or text message.
Remember, this is essentially a hyperlocal drip campaign. Your offer isn't a one-and-done thing; it's a series of messages you build on over time and add new channels.
Keep it unique
Your message and process should help you stand out. For example, consider changing each direct mail piece based on the touchpoint or what occurred, or was sent, beforehand.
Step 5: Expand Your Driving For Dollars Team
There's power in numbers.
Some of the most successful businesses using Driving For Dollars have learned to scale their efforts by adding people or resources.
Consider the fact that the more people and eyes you have canvassing neighborhoods, the more opportunities they'll discover and the more complete your lists become.
Of course, this doesn't mean you need to hire more drivers for your business specifically. Instead, consider recruiting ride-share drivers, delivery drivers, or others. By doing that, you can often eliminate overhead and ultimately make your Driving For Dollars strategy work even better.
Why Pros Use a Driving For Dollars Strategy
Driving For Dollars Can Put You In the Right Place at the Right Time
In many cases, Driving For Dollars can put you in the right place at the right time, giving you the upper hand over people who don't take the initiative to find lucrative deal opportunities.
For example, when you're out in the field Driving For Dollars, you may see signs of a distressed property (bank owned, vacant, foreclosed, etc.) or wholesale real estate opportunity on all the properties you're visiting that you otherwise would have missed if you solely relied on internet property data.
Since you're physically there, you can even hop out of the car to door-knock or speak to neighbors about what's happening with the property.
This is a great way to get to know a property owner. Speaking with the owner can give you an idea if they're a motivated seller. Discovering motivated sellers through in-person interaction is one of the most significant upsides of Driving For Dollars.
Or, if the property owner isn't around or is difficult to find, getting out of the car and talking to neighbors can help you locate the property owner or give you additional information about the property which may not be visible.
Always be sure that when you've collected all this information, entering it into a Driving For Dollars, app or tool will ensure you have all the details you need in one place for the next steps.
Checking Out The Property Gives You Real-Time Context
Driving around gives you a unique opportunity to notice things telling you about the property or occupants without having to speak with anyone.
Observing things like toys out in the yard, what kinds of vehicles are in the driveway, or the types of decorations on the porch may help you better position your offer. These are all new data points that can help inform your marketing strategy and offer on a particular property.
While you shouldn't rely on observing these things alone to help you find motivated sellers and generate potential business, they're signs of distress.
Driving For Dollars Gives You an Advantage
Driving For Dollars gives you a perspective you otherwise wouldn't have.
While your competition relies on potentially outdated data to make an investment decision, you can gain the upper hand by understanding in-person nuances to see the big picture of your investment.
Likely, other investors aren't putting in the effort to find missing phone numbers, so if you do, you'll be one of (if not the only) people to reach out, leveraging owner information that others aren't.
Discover Wholesale Properties
Driving For Dollars is one of the best ways to connect yourself with potential real estate wholesale opportunities.
Wholesale real estate investing is when an investor connects an active buyer with a property seller and charges a finder's fee.
In this case, no capital is needed to secure the investment — making it an excellent strategy for generating returns.
Driving For Dollars makes sense for many wholesale real estate investors since it helps them form a lead list based on what they're seeing while exploring neighborhoods, eventually finding off-market properties that meet the criteria for a wholesale transaction.
How PropertyRadar Makes Driving For Dollars Easy
PropertyRadar lets you easily track and manage all aspects of your Driving For Dollars strategy. With PropertyRadar, you're able to:
- Customize your real estate prospecting experience
- When building lead lists, use the "Discover" feature to populate a list of properties in the area that match your specific interests and map out strategic, effective routes.
- Capture photos for visual reference. Take photos and add them to your profile to help show proof of interest, qualify prospects, strengthen a proposal, and more.
- Set tasks and custom statuses for each property. Strengthen your lead list by logging tasks for each property. Never miss a step by adding tasks, such as "Contact the Owner," "Research Title," etc.
- Discover and log potential opportunities into the app. Turn everyday drives into Driving For Dollars by logging opportunities into the app as you see them.
- Store data for easy mail merge. Using PropertyRadar's mail merge capabilities, you'll be able to easily mail merge to build out your direct mail campaign. Direct mail marketing and the information you recorded on properties to send personalized direct mail is a solid approach to sourcing new deals.