Our First Month in the Market

tl;dr

  • Weeeee’re back!
  • Our show is on the road; we’re using “CAM Transitions” as our go-to-market name
  • We’re approaching the search in a “high-touch” way, and have some early results
  • March funnel: 300 prospects > 18 owner/stakeholder calls > 4 NDAs > 1 IOI
  • #TheAsk: Refer us to any students who you think would be interested in a PAID internship this summer. They can apply here (and read about prior interns’ experiences here)

It’s been a while since we were in your inbox…hope you missed us!

So where have we been?

Last we spoke, we had begun fundraising to begin an industry-focused search in the Community Association Management (CAM) industry. And fortunately, we were able to get it done: our initial search capital has been raised and we are officially off to the races!

Our goal hasn’t changed: we will raise $20M of committed capital (upon first acquisition) to programmatically acquire and grow CAMs. We are honored by the folks who have joined the fray and are helping us get off the ground. Now comes the fun part: find the right first company, perform extensive but expeditious due diligence, raise deal capital, and successfully manage a company as new CEOs. Easy, right?

… right?

Getting specific

To take advantage of our single-industry focus, we started CAM Transitions as the brand for our search operation. The goal of CAM Transitions is to become a resource for CAM owners, employees, vendors, and other stakeholders – all while promoting who we are and why we’re a partner of choice. It’s sparse now but our goal is to dedicate more and more real estate to helpful content (e.g. blog posts, interviews, and articles) as we establish ourselves.

Since we are focused on proprietary outreach (and serial acquisition), being a resource to CAM owners is a way for us to build an acquisition pipeline. In an episode of the “Think Like an Owner” podcast, guest Jules Brenner says it well:

“… you have to almost [be] a business broker. … Do a little bit of handholding as well in terms of, ‘…this isn’t [a] me versus you kind of situation,’ which frequently they kind of feel when you meet them, but it’s more of me and you figuring out how we can make this happen…”

But our resources are only good if they get into CAM owners’ hands. So we’re off to pounding the pavement and spreading the word!

The “High-Touch” Search

During our search moonlighting process last summer, we played a volume game. We cold-emailed owners across the nation, targeting a <10% email conversion. Certainly got a lot of hits, but it likely resulted in some misses.

Missed_shots
In a volume game, we surely missed a few great targets…

Now that we’re industry focused – and starting with a few key geographies – conversion will have to go up substantially. So, in addition to a national email campaign, we are thinking of bringing the search back to basics: dropping off handwritten notes and sweets, and “never having dinner alone.” Our goal is to build relationships with sellers and various stakeholders like local bankers, lawyers, and accountants.

Among the 25 fastest growing cities in the US, 7 of them are located in Florida and North Carolina. Fortunately, we hail from Orlando and Charlotte, which we think of as an “unfair advantage.” So in our pitch, we can speak honestly about wanting to come home and own a business.

So we plan on dividing and conquering: spending half of our time in Chicago (working close to one another to get the benefits of partnership) and the other half in NC/FL. And it doesn’t hurt that we can camp (rent-free) in those locations for weeks at a time.

We also think we can improve CEO response rates by adding a personal touch to our hand-delivered outreach: hand-made cookies from Jalen’s godmother, a local biscotti artisan.

biscotti

So, how’s it going so far?

March was our first full month in operation, and we think our ramp-up is progressing nicely. To put some numbers to it, in March:

  • Owners reached out to: 300 (26% reply rate)
  • Calls/meetings with owners: 11
  • Calls/meetings with other stakeholders: 7
  • NDAs issued: 4
  • IOIs issued: 1

Some thoughts on that (we’d love to hear yours!):

  • Reply rate seems solid, though we’d like to keep improving it – we’re tweaking our messaging to increase engagement, and may introduce blog content to encourage clicks and send traffic to our website
  • We did have success in reaching out to other non-CEO stakeholders, such as banks, vendors to HOAs, property managers and members of the local industry association. We hope that will continue to increase our leads and supplement our cold outreach with warm introductions.

A trip down memory lane

Fun fact: Ellery is 1 year old! Almost 1 year ago to the day, O + J had this conversation on naming our budding search operation:

Naming Ellery texts

You’ll note the time – that’s the “Magic Hour” when J will start going to bed and O will start getting up [J: O is preparing for managing senior communities by behaving like an old man]. This tradition still holds today!

The team keeps growing

We have a new intern class! They began March 1st and will be with us until Mid-May.

We are also beginning to take applications for our full-time summer internship – which will be PAID (if they are not also receiving college credit).

If you have any friends, classmates or family members who want to give us a shot and learn more, have them apply here and email us at [email protected] mentioning that you referred them. Our past interns have blogged about their experiences here. We’ll begin reviewing resumes and job applications in late April.

Don’t be a stranger!

Now that we’re up and running, expect to hear from us about once a quarter. We hope you’ll come for the tales of our steep learning curve as searchers and operators…and stay for the excuse to connect and catch up.

Thanks for continuing to be part of our journey!

O+J