David Nettles, the CEO and founder of Nettles & Company Property Tax Consulting, has 25 years of experience in the real estate industry. Working as a broker, investor, and developer, Nettles has first-hand knowledge of market trends and regulations.
Nettles launched his company in the midst of the real estate crisis to help homeowners reduce their property taxes with advanced software, private market data, and exceptional negotiation skills. The founder discovered that some people were losing their homes during the housing crisis so Nettles decided to specialize his business around helping homeowners save money on property taxes. In addition to personalized tax consulting, Nettles & Company offers negotiations to help homeowners save thousands of dollars per year. Thus, they have helped hundreds of clients lower the assessed value on the houses they live in from 10% to over 50%.
Currently, Nettles & Company manages a property portfolio worth over ten billion dollars. Filing property exceptions, building a tailored dispute package for a property, attending informal hearings and appraisal review boards, and disputing property valuation are among the services they provide. For customers with several properties, the agents at Nettles & Co. also give progress updates. This allows property owners to keep track of the hearings’ progress as well as previous data for each of their properties. They have gotten favorable reviews from people who have used their services for a long time due to their exceptional service.
David A. Nettles credits his success to his enthusiasm for what he does, as well as his perseverance and hard work. In order to give his clients with the best possible service, he stays up to date on the latest technology and applications.
How did you get started as an entrepreneur?
I’ve been working as a broker since 1997 but when the mortgage meltdown happened in 2008, I dealt with clients who were losing their homes. I had to do something, so I started Nettles & Company Property Tax Consulting. My background was real estate, but this is a completely different area that I got into on my own.
When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?
Absolutely. When the real estate market turned, I knew things were going to get tough. At Nettles & Company, we handle about a thousand cases a year and we work with roughly a hundred clients, many of whom have more than one property in several counties. This adds extra layers of difficulty and creates issues when somebody has 10 or 12 properties in one county. We’ve had a huge learning curve in terms of how to deal with this. In the beginning, I didn’t know how Nettles & Co. would do because of all these added layers, but we got through it and now here we are with a good business model, good staff, and good clientele. We have a team that works well together and that’s why Nettles & Company has been successful.
What is the hardest part about entrepreneurship?
The hardest part is getting started. It’s also difficult to keep the momentum going after you get it up and running. In terms of putting a company together, I think it’s hard to find people who have the same level of passion like you do. It’s also tough handling negative comments from certain people and balancing that with how you want to build relationships with other people in the industry.
What do you consider as your greatest achievement so far?
The company is my greatest achievement, and we’re just getting started! I’ve been in the real estate industry for a long time. The market was out of control; it went crazy and there was a lot of fraud. We created something from scratch, putting together this team, doing the right things, and creating systems that work well. It’s not easy to do what my company has done, which is helping hundreds of people lower their property taxes. We’ve helped our clients save millions of dollars in total by lowering the assessed value on their homes. I know it sounds simple, but I’m happy that my team and I are doing something good for society at large.
What is one failure you had to face in the past and how did you overcome it?
I’ve had likely hundreds of failures in the past 25 years because we started from scratch with no money in the bank or anything like that. I didn’t have a big network to rely on, I didn’t have clients. So, we just started from scratch and took control of our own destiny. But failure is another word for feedback. Every time I get feedback, that means that something isn’t working. I was able to identify it and adjusted my plan accordingly. Every failure can be a lesson. Anytime you do something and it doesn’t work, it’s not actually a failure; it’s an opportunity to learn and take your next step.
What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you are using that works well to generate new business?
We try to stay active in the news; we’ve been featured on television and radio. We’re doing a lot of networking and attending seminars and workshops. It’s also important for us to get involved with our clients’ industries because property tax consulting is not something you can do in isolation, by any means. For example, we attended an event put on by an association and we met people from law firms, construction companies, and real estate investment companies. We tried to give as much as we could without asking for anything in return because we know that these connections would be valuable down the road.
What’s the best way to market a business right now?
I’m a big proponent of SEO and I think that digital marketing is still king because it helps a company be visible in major search engines. We’d like to do more content marketing, too, but we haven’t had enough time yet. Digital marketing is such an expansive topic and it’s a difficult thing to do right.
What advice do you have for entrepreneurs just starting out?
My advice is to find a way to work with established people in your industry first. It’s easier working with them before trying to go after new clients on your own. You’ll need their help because it’s always better to get referrals from someone you know. So definitely try to get referrals from people that know your industry and who can appreciate what you’re trying to do for their clients.
In terms of marketing, most entrepreneurs start off by going after bigger businesses in the hopes of landing a bigger contract. They might think it’s easier to go after a bigger target because they’re easier to find and usually have more money, but it’s actually harder in some ways. Their people tend to be overwhelmed and if you don’t know what you’re doing, you’ll automatically get disqualified. It’s better to work with a small company that wants to save some money and have a few clients, then grow from there.
What makes you successful?
My work ethic has been a big part of our success. I’m very dedicated to my job, and I don’t stop until the ship is going in the right direction. I also think that a lot of our success comes from our relationships with others. We try to treat everyone we meet as if they’re friends because someday, someone you know might be able to help you.
What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?
I’m definitely excited about the future of our company. I think that technology is going to greatly advance our industry, so we plan on staying ahead of the curve by learning as much as we can. We’d like to focus on marketing and we plan on growing our team. At the moment, we’re a company that’s focused on providing exceptional service and I think it will stay that way for quite some time.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
Taking a step back and seeing how far we’ve come. Our company has been in business for fourteen years now, and I’m amazed at what we’ve been able to accomplish in such a short amount of time. We make a point every year to look back on what we did the previous year and keep track of where all of our clients are these days, even if they’re not with us anymore. We like to think about how much money they saved or earned with our help, which reinforces why it’s so important for us to provide excellent services.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
I’d tell myself to trust my instincts more because they’re usually right. I was young when I started in business, and I think that at times, I didn’t listen to myself. It took me a while to realize this, but when you take the time to really listen to yourself, you’ll know what it is that your gut wants.
What book do you recommend our readers to read?
One book I’d recommend is called “The One Thing” and it talks about goal setting. It’s all about knowing what you’re ultimately trying to achieve and working backward from there. It doesn’t matter how much money you have, how many clients you have, or how many employees you have: if your goal is to grow as a business, it should always be the same thing: make more money this year than last year.
What is your favorite quote? Why?
“Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world.” This quote rings true for me because it reflects how we approach our business and it’s something I strive for: to have a goal and then follow through to achieve it. If you want to make more money this year than last year, you need to take risks and work hard every day.