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WS566: Using Military Planning to Navigate Difficult Times with Scott Lewis

The syndication business, and real estate investing generally, tends to have a bias toward action. While the importance of acting fast and decisively cannot be understated, strategic planning often takes a backseat. Our guest today, Scott Lewis, takes a unique approach in his business, Spartan Investment Group (SIG), leveraging his military background to prioritize precise planning. In this episode, Scott shares some of the lessons he learned from being in the Army. Aside from the honor of serving his country, the leadership skills he gained have stood him in great stead, helping him get through even the toughest times.

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Scott gives us insights into his planning process and the importance of understanding the various levels of operations. It is important to distinguish between the strategic, operational, and tactical levels of planning, and he walks us through how he tackles all of these. He stresses the importance of planning out the ‘what’ because if you don’t have the resources to connect your strategy to tactics, you can’t execute your strategy. Scott shows us how this works practically, giving an example of a difficult deal, which would have caused most people to crumble. Instead, SIG managed to remain level-headed and see the deal through. We also discuss the unique way SIG has prepared for the coronavirus crisis, the importance of slowing down, and other risk-mitigation strategies they use. We loved having Scott on the show. Be sure to tune in today!

Key Points From This Episode:

  • Learn about Scott’s background and what he’s been up to since his last time on the show.
  • Find out more about what motivated Scott to join to military later in life.
  • How Scott’s military training helped him start Spartan Investment Group.
  • Scott’s tips on writing a strategic plan: Don’t reinvent the wheel!
  • The difference between strategic goals and operational objectives.
  • What operational variables are and why it’s important to define your operating environment.
  • An overview of how SIG tackled the coronavirus pandemic and the effects it’s had on them
  • Find out how Scott’s thorough planning process works out in a deal.
  • Some of SIG’s other risk mitigation strategies and how they work in practice.
  • What communication at SIG looks like and how Scott keeps his finger on the pulse.
  • A recent business improvement, the biggest contributor to Scott’s success, and giving back.

[bctt tweet=”There’s an enemy that always gets a vote and he never votes with you. — Scott Lewi” username=”whitney_sewell”]

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Scott Lewis

Scott Lewis’s email

Spartan Investment Group



Glenn Mueller




About Scott Lewis

Scott Lewis is the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Spartan Investment Group, LLC (SIG), and has led several successful real estate developments ranging from single-family flips to raw land development. To date, SIG has completed $6M in development projects, has $9M more underway, and raised over $7M in private equity. As the Chief Executive Officer, Scott is responsible for developing business strategies and plans, ensuring their alignment with short-term and long-term objectives. He leads the Spartan team by overseeing all operations and business activities to ensure they produce the desired results and are consistent with the overall strategy and mission. In addition to Spartan, Scott is also a Major in the US Army Reserves and is an Operation Iraqi Freedom Veteran. He has held various positions including Infantry Platoon Leader, Military Police Company Commander, Officer Candidate School Platoon Trainer, amongst others. Scott graduated from Michigan State University with degrees in Chemistry and Marketing, from Catholic University with an MS in Management, from Georgetown University with a Certificate in Project Management, and has his Project Management Professional (PMP) Certification. In his free time, Scott enjoys spending time with his wife, Lindsay, mountain biking, skiing, and chasing their two Jack Russell Terriers around the yard.

Full Transcript


[00:00:00] ANNOUNCER: Welcome to The Real Estate Syndication Show. Whether you are a seasoned investor or building a new real estate business, this is the show for you. Whitney Sewell talks to top experts in the business. Our goal is to help you master real estate syndication.

And now your host, Whitney Sewell.


[0:00:24.1] WS: This is your daily Real Estate Syndication show. I’m your host Whitney Sewell. Today, our guest is Scott Lewis. Thanks for being on the show again, Scott.

[0:00:32.9] SL: Thanks Whitney. Glad to be here.

[0:00:36.2] WS: Always honored to have you and your team on the show. You all definitely operate at a higher caliber and I love having guys like you on the show.

A little about Scott, I would encourage you to go back and even search him on the show, we talked about numerous topics and things they’ve done in their business and how they’ve been successful so we’re looking forward to today’s conversation.

But a little about him, he’s a co-founder and chief executive officer of Spartan Investment Group LLC, also known as SIG. Has led several successful real estate developments ranging from single-family flips to raw land development. His current projects include the development of a 98,000 square foot self-storage development infil lots, luxury condo development and the development of row homes.

Scott, thank you again. Give the listeners, won’t you give them an update on the Spartan team and maybe something you all are doing now and then let’s dive in.

[0:01:25.2] SL: Yeah, that’s definitely my mistake. That’s a bio from when we first spoke and we’ve been at this quite a bit together. Yeah, Spartan definitely isn’t, we’re not involved in anymore residential stuff. We put that ugly baby to bed for us and now we’ve got over 4,000 storage units, a couple of hundred RV pads and we’re really just 100% focused on storage. A really good ride. That bio is probably about 18 months old so that’s really cool to hear that and kind of see where we were when you and I first spoke compared to where we are now.

[0:01:57.3] WS: Awesome. Yeah, I know you all have been doing some big stuff but 4,000 self-storage units now?

[0:02:02.8] SL: Like multifamily, you speak in doors, right? It’s not the average facility that we buy is 500 units and we’re building – we just bought one that’s 1,106 units. There’s not a ton of multifamily deals out there that are 1,100 units, right? There’s some stuff in LA and New York and stuff, but those are 10 figure price tags on that kind of stuff. For us, it’s a little bit duplicitous.

But yeah, our metric square feet, that’s what I like the guys like you know, if you want to measure kind of your success yard stick in a vanity metric where doors is in the multi-family, square feet is in the storage. We’re probably approaching half a million square feet which isn’t bad. Probably by the end of the year, we’ll be a top 150 operator in the country by the end of the year. We got some good acquisitions in the pipeline right now. But things are rocking and rolling. The team is – our headquarters team is – it’ll be 12 here pretty soon with a couple of hires coming on. We got another 15 folks at the property level so we’re moving and shaking.

[0:03:04.0] WS: Nice, it’s awesome to see your all’s growth and just watch it happen. One thing I have in common with Scott is just the military background. And it doesn’t take long talking to Scott that you’ll know that he has military background. I love the structure and the discipline and I felt like that’s one thing that’s helped me, maybe more successful is just the mindset that the military helps you to have as well.

I call it my ‘never give up mindset’ that they really instill into you and I love that about Scott as well. Scott, you know, one thing I know we’re going to discuss today is military planning and how that’s helped you to navigate difficult times. And I know you know people that may not have military background, may not be really aware of what that could entail but I’d love for us to dive into that and how that’s helped you even from forming your all’s business and how it helps you back then to be prepared for difficult times like this to even, some deals specific things.

[0:03:55.2] SL: Yeah, it’s funny. I must have like army guy written on my forehead. I was standing in line just minding my own business and the TSA PreCheck. I was in civilian clothes, I was traveling to a deal, I was standing there like probably screwing off on my phone or something like that. Suddenly, the woman in front of me just turns around and says, “Thank you for your service.” And I was like, “What?” She goes, “Yeah, you look like, you’re in the military.”

I’m standing there minding my own business like text messaging on my phone but apparently it’s invisible ink like everybody else can see but me but yeah –

[0:04:25.0] WS: Standing there in your flip flops and your Hawaiian shirt, right?

[0:04:27.8] SL: That’s exactly right, it’s just like, I guess I just wear it on my sleeve. When I joined the military, I was a little bit older. I was 27. I had a civilian job. I was a regional sales manager for a biotech firm and I was making some strategic decisions in my life and one of the things is I was looking at MBA programs and I was also looking at the military. The military was always something that I wanted to do and my dad served in Vietnam and the reason I wanted it was for leadership. Outside of serving country, right?

There were some specific reasons why I wanted to go on to active duty outside of just wearing the flag. And leadership and planning was one of them. I didn’t exactly know where I wanted to go at that time because I was 27. But I did know that I wanted to be in a leadership role. I had actually no plans to start a company then. I’m not an entrepreneur by kind of design. I kind of fell in to it as just being unemployable by anybody else so I had to start something that I earn a paycheck with.

I really, I looked at the MBA programs and then I just looked at the military and I’m just like, “You know, I really think that the leadership would be much more well trained in the military than it would be in an MBA program in an academic program.” I signed up and I signed up as an infantry officer, knowing that those guys, we got the best training. We had access to all the schools. We could do basically anything we wanted within the military framework because the infantry being the tip of the spear, we got a lot of resources.

I did that and I really learned a ton. I really paid attention with the end goal of you know, I wasn’t doing a career, I was going in, I was doing my four years of active duty and I was coming out back into the civilian sector. And I’m still on the reserves so I’m still doing my one weekend a month, two weeks a year thing. But it was really to go in and get that level of planning that it takes to successfully operate in an environment in which it’s very complex, very dynamic. There’s an enemy that always gets a vote and he never votes with you. So, it’s just been a really big help.

[0:06:24.8] WS: The enemy always gets a vote and they never vote with you, I love that.

[0:06:30.1] SL: Yeah, they’re never on your side. That’s what we look at the coronavirus that’s going on right now, that’s our enemy. And you know, unlike ‘08/’09. I’ve heard for the last 10 years, I’ve heard people reference, “If you haven’t done ‘08/’09, you really don’t know what it’s like to be investing.”

I’ve said this on multiple platforms that I think that’s just phooey because 08/09 is nothing like it is today. There wasn’t a biological pathogen out there wreaking havoc on our economy. There was human factors involve in ‘08/’09 and it was due to human factors.

This is not. This is uncontrollable, it’s a very complex dynamic environment. And once the enemy gets a vote and it’s going to vote against you.

[0:07:14.0] WS: Wow, okay. I just love that mindset too and just thinking that way of just the strategicness. And also, you know, you even went in to the infantry officer school. I mean, you decided that for the – to have the best resources, you know? You didn’t do that by chance and so, you know, lead us into how that helped you to maybe way back, starting Spartan and how that helped you all to be prepared for say, difficult times like we’re facing now.

[0:07:41.9] SL: Yeah, for folks as a reference, it’s Field Manual 6-0 Chapter 9 is really where the military decision-making planning process. And it’s written so Neanderthalic, infantry man like me who drag their knuckles on the ground and read it. If you get away from the army speak, it’s still a good reference for civilians to be able to read it because it’s not rocket science. It’s really not. We wouldn’t be able to do that. We’d all be dead.

It was going in, it was something that I was really like focused on because I knew that going in and planning for the types of operations I would have to plan, you’d have to think through multiple contingencies. That was really kind of like – even when we were starting Spartan and we’d grow our first strategic plan. There was some military and a lot of civilian in that regards to go higher level strategy.

But really, understanding the levels of operations that an organization will go through at this strategic level, the operation level and the tactical level. Understanding those mindsets and the words and the ideology at both area at all three that was really kind of helped us right our first strategic plan when it was just basically me and Ryan. That was it. We wrote that strategic plan before we really even got started because we wanted a roadmap. And understanding like, “Hey, we’re at this strategic level. This is kind of the what we’re going to do,” and just drafting that plan that what level and not mixing it up with what and how and all that to make it overcomplicated and to keep it really simple so that anybody can follow it and that’s really how we got our first investors.

They found some investors that had turned us down literally the week before on a deal that was deep into double digit returns on a condo development in DC. They read that plan. We had written in such that it could be easily followed because it was me and Ryan. We’re not the sharpest tools in the shed by any means. We had to write it to where we could follow it. They read it, they’re like, “Hey guys, we’re going with you, here’s all the money that you asked for.” and it was like, it was a quick time reversal and that’s really kind of what set us up for success on that first deal.

[0:09:46.6] WS: Nice. Maybe you could elaborate on what that strategic plan looked like a little bit or help us – how do we start to write something like that for our own business?

[0:09:55.1] SL: Well, the first thing that you do is you go to and you download mine and you rip it off and you steal everything that I’ve written in there because strategy without operations to connect to tactics is useless. We give out our strategic plan to anybody that wants it because we know that if you don’t have the resources which is where the operational level comes in to connect that strategy to tactics, your day to day activities, you can’t execute our strategies so it won’t matter.

I encourage people to go get it because even if you’re not going self-storage and even if you have no interest in building a 250-million-dollar portfolio at self-storage, the structure is still there. The overall mission, vision and values of our company are still there. Folks that are just starting out. Don’t recreate the wheel. I didn’t, Ryan and I went and we looked at the values of Google and Zappos and some of the top Fortune 100 best companies to work for.

We looked at what we wanted to do. We read how to write a mission statement, we’re not creating the wheel here. We borrowed from a lot of different places so that’s why I encourage your listeners to go to our website and grab that plan. Then use that framework to come up with the rough year stick is three to five strategic goals, you get anymore, you’ll be too scatter brain.

If you’re kind of a one man show, having five is probably still a little bit but if you’ve got a team then five is doable. We have three. Really kind of strategic goals, those should take you a couple of years to really finish. If you can knock out a strategic goal in a year, it’s not really a strategy, it’s operations.

We have operational objectives that are anywhere from one year to three year depending on how big they are. And then we have performance targets which get turned into tactics at the day to day level. All of that is written in there. The operational plans and the tactical plans are not in there because if somebody has all of that stuff, they actually could go out and do what we wanted them to do.

We’re willing to share but we’re not willing to overshare.

[0:11:51.6] WS: I understand. No, that’s awesome though. I mean, it’s still a great resource that we can just go to your website and see your all’s plan. At least I mean it’s a great guideline to help write our own.

[0:12:01.3] SL: Absolutely.

[0:12:02.4] WS: Yeah, that’s awesome. Let’s dive on in a little bit as far as just the military planning that’s helped you all navigate even the difficult times right now.

[0:12:11.3] SL: Yeah, it’s called MBMP in the army. The military decision-making process and it’s really a structured process to be able to make decisions in a complex and dynamic operating environment out there. And one of the first thing parts of it is to define that operating environment. It’s funny, I was – Ben and I were discussing with professor Glenn Mueller, he was at the Best Ever Conference if you were able to catch his.

[0:12:34.0] WS: He’s been on the show as well.

[0:12:35.9] SL: Outstanding. He was a professor and we’ve been engaging with him for about a year. And we were talking. He was in our office and we were sitting on talking about it and we were talking about 08/09. I said, “Listen, just because you have experience with ‘08/’09, unless that operating environment shows back up, that experience while yes, maybe 50% of it will be relevant, there’s going to be a good portion of it that’s not relevant for this new operating environment.”

It’s not necessarily the experience of living through it, it’s the experience of understanding how to define your operating environment through operational variables. That’s really where the military planning comes in. I’m not going to get into it here but for your listeners, if they want to research something, it’s called form PMESII- PT or your operational variables that those all stand for something. And for the sake of all your listeners, I won’t go into them but it’s basically operational variables that enable you to define your operating environment.

That’s the first thing you have to do. A lot of times, people especially in our circles, we have a bias towards action. Sometimes that’s good but sometimes that’s really bad. Sometimes you have to take a knee and really kind of look around and there was a technique called SLLS. Stop, listen and smell. That was really the kind of understand kind of where you were at. Look around, make sure you understand, what’s going on out there before you go through and actually dig in and come up with a plan.

For the Spartan team, when the virus started kicking off, we did about a week and a half of what we called gathering Intel. That’s basically, for the MBMP process, that’s mission analysis but for our team, we’ve taught MBMP inside of our team. And one of our team members worked as a DA civilian, Department of the Army civilian so she understands the planning process. That’s my wife.

And then the other –

[0:14:24.6] WS: That’s convenient. That’s not really fair, you know?

[0:14:27.5] SL: It’s not at all. that’s why I like people ask, “Well, how’d you built such an awesome team?” Well, I moved next to one and I married the other. He married one of them too. Good luck executing our strategy. It’s not very replicable. But you know we spent the time in folks in their respective lanes and operations or acquisitions or finance went out and as much as they could for about 10 days, gathered articles, podcasts, everything that we could find. Even kind of anecdotal like opinions from brokers and all that stuff to bring in to the planning process so that we could analyze that and really kind of come up with what are the top kind of opportunities.

We did a SWOT analysis too which is pretty standard on the civilian side of the house, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities or threats. But we also analyzed kind of our operating environments to determine what are the facts, assumptions and constraints that we’re really going to operate with kind of going forward? What are we going to look at when we’re developing our courses of action as to what the company can do?

After we gathered the Intel, we really kind of analyzed that and we did an entire whole day Zoom session. It was painful to do this remotely. It is much easier to do in person. That really kind of helped us come up with, you know. We looked at courses of action and we had two that we looked at, we could either go on the offensive or we could go on the defensive.

When we went through and we had five evaluation criteria that five things that were really important to us and we scored the two different courses of action against those evaluation criteria. And it was a decision to put the company into a defensive posture for 45 to 90 days to basically let the market settle there. And really turn all of our resources inward to make our current assets and our current portfolio really perform at the absolute top level and build all of those systems and processes that we have been trying to build. But as we are buying the properties you get distracted and some of those processes aren’t necessarily built.

But we decided like, “Hey, let us pull back for 45 to 90 days, we can’t travel anyways. So, we can’t go do due diligence of these properties and we can’t go do market feasibilities and any of this other stuff. So, let’s really focus inward.” That whole process led the team to all right, let’s focus inward. Let us put 80% of our resources in operations and really bolster out our current operations. So that when the shenanigans lift and we are able to travel again and we are able to go out and buy stuff, we built so many more systems and processes inside that we are just set to really operate at a very high level for the size of company we are.

[0:17:03.3] WS: What I really like though that happened there is you all didn’t panic. And you all didn’t guess. You know the first thing is like, “Well, okay, let’s go gather as much information as possible so we can make an informed decision.”

[0:17:14.9] SL: Yeah, one of the things you asked me in our run up to the show here is to give an example of how this works in a deal. So, let’s take our West Texas RV park, which now in hindsight might have been maybe we didn’t do enough planning. So, we are buying an RV park that for a while was just absolutely crushing it. Now we are absolutely getting crushed. That’s oil, right? Boom and bust. For that particular deal, so most of the time when we’re going into these deals.

Especially ones that are really kind of sticky in regards to maybe tough to find answer, something like that we saw really early on that this deal is going to be really difficult to take down and close. Because it was a West Texas RV park. It was based on oil. It was a mess. The financials were a disaster. And it was really because how the previous owners were running it and they were running it as kind of a mom and pop operation. There was one of them. They were feuding, blah-blah-blah, whatever.

So, one of the things that you do in planning is you come up with the most dangerous course of action and the most probable course of action for your enemies. Now in our world enemies can be – and I say enemies because that’s the military language but any third party that you can’t control. Like an appraiser can be an enemy, right? If they come in and they come in 40% under what you are paying for it until your deal, they are not going to be your friend I’ll put it that way.

So, for ours, the most dangerous and most probable courses of action we look at normally our brokers, sellers and lenders. Those are our general we’ll call them the 3D goes that we generally want to make sure that one of those third-party person does something that’s negative, we have a course of action to mitigate that.

So, for our planning months before we had to close, we went in and for the lenders, the most dangerous course of action was that we were going to get a lender that would pull out four days before close. That was what we came 90 days before our closing we came up with that as the most dangerous course of action.

Our most probable course of action was they were going to come back and we were projecting 65% LTV. And the most probable course of action we thought is that they are going to come back at 60% LTV and make us bring more capital to the table. Well, the most dangerous course of action happened. 96 hours before we were supposed to close, they pulled out.

So, it was funny like we got the call, on Friday we were having a call with them on how they are going to visit the property and they are getting ready to underwrite it and we’re supposed to literally close the following Friday. On Monday they call us like, “Yeah guys, we are not going to do the deal. You’re on your own. See you.”

[0:19:43.6] WS: You are kidding.

[0:19:44.9] SL: No. So, I mean a lot of folks have had this happen, right? Like you hear the horror stories of like, “Oh, the money is hard and the lender backs out the last minute.” But one of the things that we did is that in addition to identifying the most dangerous course of action, we look at mitigating actions. So how do you mitigate that?

Well for us, we’re like all right so if that happens, we’re kind of SOL at that point. All the other lenders who told us no, so we are going to have to raise our own debt from our investors. Okay, so that point we had never raised a debt from our investors. It was always equity so what do we do? We contacted our attorney and this was 90 days prior, so we contacted our attorney and said, “Hey, we want to have this in our back pocket if you need it. What do we need to do in Texas to raise a private debt issue?” He’s like, “No problem, I got all the documents.” He’s like, “It will take me 24 hours to put it together.” We’re like, “Okay, cool.”

So, on Monday morning those guys pull out. I said, “Guys, let’s do nothing for the next six or seven hours. Let’s not panic. Let’s go back. Let us look at what we wrote. Oh yeah we got all of this stuff.” Because we had completely forgotten that we had even done it. So, we went back in our trackers and we looked at one of our risk mitigation tools and we use Smartsheet to track this stuff.

So, we look back in our Smartsheet and go, “Oh yeah, I forgot, we do. Oh yeah, we already talked to Will. We’ve already got all of this stuff.” So at 5:00 that night I took the terms sheet that the lender had, ripped their logo off, put our logo on it and said like, “Hey, these seem like pretty good terms. We’re okay with this let’s see if our investors are interested.”

We asked three investors, all three of them said yes. We sent it out to our entire investor list, in 96 hours we had a million dollars in the bank. All of the loan documents signed and we closed the deal. And our broker was like, “How are you guys not panicking right now? Like I would be falling apart.” I’m like, “Well you didn’t use the processes that we had been taught to go through this stuff. We just dusted it off and just turned it right on. It was really very, very little stress whatsoever on that side of the house.”

[0:21:41.9] WS: You had a plan. That’s incredible. And that it worked so well too. That is even better, right?

[0:21:47.7] SL: Some of those same investors may have a different attitude towards us like oil, like $22 a barrel. But it will come back.

[0:21:54.0] WS: It will. It will. What are some other maybe techniques that you all put in place maybe you didn’t have to use or other things that you plan for that may have been potential things that could have hurt you but you didn’t have to put in place or actually go through with?

[0:22:06.9] SL: Yeah. So, for that one you know one of the most dangerous courses of action was the seller not extending the contract. And one of the ways that we mitigate that is we always ask the brokers to put us in contact directly with the sellers and we sit down with the sellers if we can. Some sellers have no interest. So far, we only had one that absolutely had no interest in meeting with us whatsoever. But all of the other ones we’ve sat down with and we break bread with the sellers.

Because we know I mean buying a real estate asset is a tough thing no matter what you are doing. So, to sit down – I mean most people are reasonable. Sellers want to sell and buyers want to buy. So, when things go sideways it is usually a communication issue, right? So, if we can sit down with the sellers, we are not going to cut the brokers out. I mean we could care less like that we want to take care of those brokers. So, we have no interest in cutting them out and the brokers that work with us know that we are also incredibly even-keeled. So, we are not going to fly off the handle with the seller, right?

That is one of the reasons why brokers love working with us because we are so methodical because we buy by process. We don’t buy by emotion. There is zero emotion in our stuff. Nothing. So it is not like if we are sitting down with a seller and they say something that could be perceived as confrontational or whatever it’s like, “Okay, whatever. We are going to work through that. No problem.”

So really having the relationship with those sellers and sitting down and breaking bread with them and drinking some beers. We actually still talk to those guys even today. That was two years ago, we bought this from them. They are just a really good group and really sitting down and opening that channel of communication, enabled us to work through some tougher spots.

[0:23:40.9] WS: What are some ways that maybe the whole COVID or coronavirus issue has affected you all that you all prepared for through this training as well?

[0:23:50.6] SL: Yeah, so great question. So obviously we can’t go out there. We’re social distancing and we are sheltering in places. So, in the infantry we call it terrain, right? We are always paying attention to terrain because it is one of the most important things and there’s three classes, restricted, unrestricted and severely restricted. So, we wrote an operations plan on executing feasibility and due diligence and restricted terrain.

And what we meant by that internally is severely restricted terrain is very hard to go anywhere. You know in my traditional sense I was infantry so think of like a marsh trying to walk through that. That would be severely restricted terrain. Here, shelter in place where you are not supposed to be out, that is severely restricted terrain. So, there is not much you can do in that.

So, we wrote a plan that basically enables us to execute our feasibility and due diligence with mitigating risk in restricted terrain, which means, “Hey the virus is still floating out there,” because it is going to be for a couple of years. That is my opinion but it is going to be a couple of years before the vaccine is created and dished out and everybody is good to go.

So, we have to figure out how to operate amongst this thing floating around out there in a safer way. So, we leveraged some of that planning to build out an operations plan to do feasibility and due diligence in restricted terrain while corona virus is still out there. So, we haven’t executed it because we are still in severely restricted terrain.

Where we can’t – we got shelter in places and we are not going to violate that to buy something. But as soon as that is lifted, we’ll be out there.

[0:25:22.2] WS: Nice. I’d love to hear a little bit about how important communications are between team members. And right now, I understand we are all communicating through Zoom and through Skype or things like that or phone, text, whatever or different apps. But what about – Let’s say from – I’d just love to hear how the Spartan team communicates from say the property level up through say you and Ryan. You know like, how are those things communicated?

And we are about out of time, but I just from your background I just love to hear how that works? How do you and Ryan know the details of what is happening at the property level and other people on the team as well that need to know?

[0:25:57.3] SL: Yeah, so we are not doing any special sauce. We are in the process of building both dashboards and databases so that we can have marginally real time. A lot of the bigger firms already have these systems in place. So right now, we are using Smartsheet to communicate from the property level. And we have an internal property management and asset management team that then collate all of that information and then turn it into whatever Ryan and I need to see in the three to five KPI’s, the key performance indicators, that we’re looking at for each of the particular properties.

So, there is nothing, I would say, that Spartan is a thought leader or a leader in that realm yet. It is something that we put a lot of focus on. That is a huge portion of our 90-day step back into operations is build those dashboards and those portals for our teams to be able to effectively communicate through the channels even better than we are now.

[0:26:57.9] WS: Well. You’re definitely a leader in just developing the strategic plan and operating plan. I love that. And I love too how you mentioned you called it ‘take a knee,’ but you know you said, stop-listen-smell you know all of those things is like you got to be able to do that sometimes. You got to be able to think clear enough to just stop and take a minute, right?

[0:27:15.6] SL: Sometimes doing nothing is the right answer. It is not often the right answer because they say that even a bad decision you can adjust. But sometimes taking a tactical pause is the Army’s way of saying do nothing without actually saying do nothing. They call that a tactical pause because it is going to sound hoorah in like be all you can be. They couldn’t say just do nothing for a minute, right? Because that would be too easy.

So, they say take a tactical pause and that’s basically what we did, is we are taking a tactical pause right now to build the systems and processes in place.

[0:27:47.9] WS: Is there a recent way that you all have improved your business or operations that we hadn’t talked about?

[0:27:53.0] SL: So, I think the really like we are building out Smartsheets. So, we have decided we made a decision to go with Smartsheet and we are starting to implement portals across the entire company in leveraging Smartsheet. Historically we were using it but just not to the level but we are really starting to ramp that up such that to get the most out of it. So that it creates a smart consciousness across all of our directorates. We call it the brain inside of Spartan.

So that development has begun as is our data warehousing. We are collecting a lot of data from our facilities and we are implementing Snowflake and we have attached it to a system called Alteryx. So, we are really building out our data infrastructure such that we could have real time information on all of our facilities to make better decisions in marketing, operations, all that stuff.

[0:28:41.9] WS: Nice. What is the one thing that’s contributed to your success Scott?

[0:28:44.8] SL: I think the self-study and really reading. I think for me I try to read as much as I can. I know that is a very generic one thing that’s contributed to my success. But I would say that audio books and really leveraging that car time. There was no iTunes, there was none of these back when I was a regional sales manager before I joined the Army. This was in call it 2003 to 2007. So, they had books on tape and books on CD and somebody told me about them.

I’m like, “That’s dumb like why would anybody do that?” Man, like those four years I was putting on 30, 40,000 miles a year on my car I missed a really big opportunity in my early 20s to be listening to that stuff.

So, all those younger listeners man I know it is ubiquitous across podcasts and books on CD’s and everything and Audible and all of these other stuff now but man, looking back like those are four years of my life I could have put myself even further ahead with even more reading and self-study.

[0:29:38.8] WS: I couldn’t agree more. I wear it out myself, the audio books, I couldn’t do without it. Tell us how you like to give back?

[0:29:45.8] SL: So, I do a couple of things. I am still in the Army reserves but I also like to coach mountain biking for some of the local kids here in Evergreen, Colorado. I unfortunately is probably the camps are going to get cancelled this summer, probably, I am guessing. But normally, I have a mountain bike coach in the summer for our parks and rec camp so that is really fun.

[0:30:03.5] WS: Wow, Scott. Thank you again for your service. I appreciate you giving back in that way and giving back in the mountain bike coaching too that is really neat. But grateful for your time. I am hoping that it’s helped the listeners. I know it’s helped me but just think through just creating that strategic plan. Helping us to be prepared for the worst or what could happen.

But you know having that plan I love how you talked about you all were developing that talking to your attorney 90 days before the worst thing happened just for a plan, what do we do then if this happens? And it turned out you had to use it and it worked. So, what would have happened to the deal if you haven’t had some planning ahead of time for that?

But tell the listeners how they can get in touch with you and learn more about you?

[0:30:44.9] SL: So, they can find me at and they can find our strategic plan there. Or if they want to email me directly it is

[0:30:58.6] WS: Awesome, Scott. That’s a wrap. Thank you very much.

[0:31:01.5] SL: Awesome. Always a pleasure, Whitney.


[0:31:04.4] WS: Don’t go, yet. Thank you for listening to today’s episode. I would love it if you would go to iTunes right now and leave a rating and written review. I want to hear your feedback. It makes a big difference in getting the podcast out there. You can also go to the Real Estate Syndication Show on Facebook so you can connect with me and we can also receive feedback and your questions there that you want me to answer on the show.

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