Brenda Lavender was born in El Centro, California, and is the youngest of nine children. When Brenda was very young, her parents divorced and she relocated to San Diego, CA, with her mother and her three youngest siblings. Brenda attended Samuel B. Morse High School, where she played softball, participated in the drama department, choir, and the mock law debate team. Brenda also loved to dance; in elementary school, she participated in a dance troupe that included country dancing, modern dance, and Hawaiian dancing. Brenda would perform with her dance troupe at different schools and civic programs. Brenda was raised in the Baptist church, where she sang in the choir and enjoyed participating in youth programs.
As the youngest of nine siblings, Brenda benefitted from all of the activities that her siblings participated in and developed a love for sports, music, and everything family. Two of Brenda’s brothers played college football, with one brother attending the University of Southern California and playing in the Rose Bowl when she was quite young. As a result of visiting USC to support her older brother, Brenda Lavender was determined that she would attend USC as well.
Brenda applied and was accepted into USC and completed a year of general education. With the death of her father, Brenda was no longer financially able to attend USC, but continued her general education at community colleges such as West Los Angeles and Pasadena City College. Brenda would eventually complete her Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration at the University of Phoenix.
While at USC, Brenda Lavender was introduced to the real estate industry while working in the property management office of a shopping center. Brenda would continue to work in the real estate industry, gaining valuable experience while completing her Bachelor’s degree.
Brenda worked at multiple real estate companies throughout the 80s, 90s, and 2000s such as Davis Partners, R&B Commercial Management, Equity Office Properties, William Wilson and Associates, and Spieker Office Properties. In 2006, Brenda was hired as the real estate and property manager for the City of Beverly Hills. She was the first person to hold this position and would be instrumental in growing the real estate division through the development of four buildings from development, construction, lease up, and management.
After 10 years of employment with the city, Brenda reentered the private industry to work with one of the larger commercial real estate companies in the Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, and San Fernando Valley areas – Douglas Emmitt Management Group. After managing a high-rise property in Beverly Hills with Douglas Emmitt, Brenda worked with Black Equities Group in Beverly Hills as an Asset Manager.
Through her career, Brenda Lavender became a Licensed California Real Estate Agent, obtained a Real Property Administrator (RPA) designation through the Building Owners and Managers Association International (BOMA), and completed numerous continuing education courses in the real estate industry. Brenda currently lives in Van Nuys, California.
How did you get started in this business? What inspired you to start this business?
I started my business as a second income to my primary real estate job. I have worked in the real estate industry for over 25 years and during that time I have made a ton of money for my employers. I always knew I wanted to be a property owner, not just of my own resident, but as an investor, I just didn’t know how to do it. I have looked into many of the “teach you how to buy and sell real estate” programs and have generally been disappointed that the programs require a substantial financial investment with no guarantee of success or even real education and support to start your investment business. I’ve attended many seminars until earlier this year when a friend invited me to attend an Aspire Investment seminar. I agreed to go; it didn’t hurt that it was free and only five miles from my home. I was blown away by the seminar and the information that was freely provided. I learned so much information in the one-hour presentation and was invited to come back for additional “FREE” information. I returned and again the information was game changing and I was hooked, hooked on the Aspire philosophy, the community environment, and I was super inspired to get my small business started. I enrolled in the education component through Renatus and began taking the Real Estate Essentials coursework. I have been working on my business daily since that second presentation.
How do you make money?
I make money by providing property management consulting services for investors. My business seeks to fill the gaps of busy investors that prefer not to manage their own portfolio of real estate. I assist investors through the transition of purchasing the property to managing it on a long-term basis or the short-term for fix and flip.
Another element of my business is a fix and flip business, where I make money sourcing real estate to purchase for the purpose of fixing the property and flipping it at a profit. I have participated in several joint ventures with members of my investment community.
The last element of my business is to purchase real estate for long-term holdings and passive revenue. I have not obtained any property yet, but I am working towards the goal of owning real estate holdings that will provide monthly revenue of $10,000 and be my retirement income.
How long did it take for you to become profitable?
I am not truly profitable at this point. I have made money on several projects, but I am not making ongoing money and I don’t have any long-term real estate holdings or management projects. From everything that I have learned and seen, it will be several years before I can say that I am profitable and be able to focus solely on my business. As for now, I still need to maintain a full-time job to provide for my living expenses.
When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?
There have been many times that I have doubted if my business would work, but the more effort I put into the business and the more education that I obtain about how to operate my business, the more encouraged I am. I’ve always believed that I could be my own boss and run a successful business because I have been doing that very thing for someone else for over two decades.
Whenever I’m discouraged, I try to look back on how far I’ve come and all of the improvements that I’ve made. I also reach out to my support and advisory team for encouragement and to get re-focused. Unlike in my early years, I try to write down all my little successes, so I have something to reflect on when times are tough.
How did you get your first customer?
My first customer was a family member of a friend that needed help with some property. I met the friend and family member to offer several suggestions and solutions for free. I volunteered to write a letter and one letter lead to a lease proposal that lead to lease negotiations and eventually a lease. Once we were beyond the first letter, I provided a proposal for my cost to complete every part of the process and with the success of each process, the customer gained more and more confidence in my work. I went on to complete the lease and manage the construction process for the tenant to occupy the space.
What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?
I routinely employ several marketing strategies for the investment side of my business that often result in contact that leads to consulting business. I post signs weekly offering training for investors. This process leads to calls from interested parties in various stages of becoming investors. My investor community regularly sponsors investor mixers and training and I participate. I canvas open houses and collect information. I host investment gatherings for family and friends that spread the word of mouth and generate contacts in various aspects of the business. What I have found to be the most successful is to offer free information and services through my church and other organizations. This allows me to create contacts for people in various stages of their investment or purchasing process. Through follow up and providing free resources, I have been gained clients. They don’t always start out as paying customers, but real estate is not just about sales, it is about relationships, relationships, relationships.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
My ability to connect with people. In any business, you need customers and in the real estate business, you have to be able to connect with people to do business. In many cases, deciding to purchase or invest in real estate is a major decision. People are trusting you with their life savings or their biggest hopes for their future. It is never just about the money, it’s about the people and tapping into their dreams and desires. You have to create a win-win scenario to be successful in every deal.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
The most satisfying thing in being a small business owner is the limitless possibilities. When you work for an organization, there is always a cap on your earning potential no matter how well you perform. Owning your own business provides an uncapped earning potential. You can depend on a good working relationship with the boss and don’t need permission to take a day off.
What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?
The future holds tremendous opportunities for my business. I look forward to bringing members of my family into the business and showing them how to be business owners for themselves. I am most excited about being able to create a legacy for my family and securing my retirement future, even though I don’t think I will ever retire from real estate investment.
What is a recent purchase you have made that’s helped with your business?
My monthly subscription in the Renatus IOS system has given me the tools I need to find investment properties and the resources to evaluate potential deals to ensure I am making an informed and educated decision. If I submit a proposal to purchase a property, I know that I can be successful with the project and provide a return on my investment as well as any investors that I partner with on the project.