Tips to Build a Portfolio That Delivers Financial Freedom

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In this podcast, Liam welcomes Michael Chang from Trust BNB, a former investment banker turned Airbnb entrepreneur.Β 

Michael and his wife started Trust BNB as a side hustle, eventually growing it to 26 units in Philadelphia and Tennessee. They focus on rental arbitrage and direct bookings, emphasizing quality and guest experience.Β 

Both are now full-time in the business, leveraging a team of VAs to handle operations. Michael advises treating cleaners with respect, as they are crucial to business success.Β 

They work efficiently as a couple, making decisions together.

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Timestamps (audio)



[00:00:00] Liam: Welcome along, and this is the Boostly podcast. So this is the podcast that gives you the tools, the tactics, the training, and most importantly, the confidence to go out there and get yourself some more direct bookings for your hospitality business today. We've got a host with us today, so we're diving behind the host of another, uh, interesting and inspiring host to what, see what we can learn from their journey and see if there are things that you can implement in your business that they're doing in their business as.

[00:00:28] With hospitality. It's one of the few industries where we like to share and we can learn so much from each other. Um, so today we're going behind the host with Michael Chang from Trust BNB. Um, Michael is a former investment banker and he loves to share his social journey online. Um, To help others really how, how they can understand how to do short-term rental and a path to long-term wealth.

[00:00:53] So I'm excited today to dive into your business. Welcome along Michael.

[00:00:57] Michael: Thanks so much for having me this morning.

Michael’s Introduction

[00:01:00] Liam: Thank you, for joining. So let's dive in, with the question we always start with, which is, do you mind introducing yourself? Um, tell us a bit about where you host and what kind of model you use.

[00:01:10] Michael: Absolutely. So again, MI Michael Chang from Trust BNB started this business with my wife, we started in 2016 as a side hustle while we both were working full-time. And you know, we formerly incorporated business about five years ago and we've run it now to 26 units in Philadelphia.

[00:01:33] Pennsylvania in, in the US and Tennessee by a, the most, na, the most popular national park in us called the Smokey Mountains National Park in Tennessee. So we do a mixture of rental arbitrage where, where rent the apartments and re-rent them on Airbnb, direct bookings on the other platforms.

[00:01:53] And we also own property, um, and all our properties are in Tennessee.

[00:01:57] Liam: Take me back. Before you started trust b b, what did you do? I mean, you mentioned you were an investment banker, but how did you get started in hospitality and why?

[00:02:07] Michael: That's a great question. Uh, I fell back into it to be candid.

[00:02:12] I, you know, had spent a career on Wall Street. I was an m and a banker at Citigroup. Here in New York working on big transactions with big companies and it was, it was a great experience. Uh, but I always had an entrepreneurial event, always wanted to build my own business and I give credit to my wife. She is from a luxury goods background.

[00:02:33] Her career was at Tiffany's and it was much more she know and she loved real estate, so. We always thought about how we could grow a business for ourselves, and grow a portfolio for ourselves, and we found Airbnb. And after we started, we just saw the returns and it was like, okay, well this could be a real business that can replace our jobs eventually.

[00:02:53] And you know, we just took that path, just one unit after another, after another. Um, you know, for us the emphasis is always on quality. The quality of the listing, how much money you can make, not just getting the listings for the sake of. Increasing revenue. Um, so, you know, we've done it, we've done it in a very kind of purposeful way so that we could get cash flow to support our, uh, support our business, support our lifestyle, and also, and then eventually take that, take those profits and buy property.

[00:03:21] Our goal is always to accu, acquire as many properties as possible. That is ours. Our, we believe that's the true path to long-term sustainable wealth creation.

What’s your day-to-day in the business?

[00:03:33] Liam: You mentioned that you and your wife started, the business. Um, are you both in the business full-time and if so, what are your, what does your day-to-day sort of roles look like and, um, Yeah, we go from there.

[00:03:47] Michael: Yeah. So we, we've been, we've been lucky enough or we've been fortunate enough that the business supports both of us quitting our jobs. We have a very young daughter as well. She's just turned one year old. So the ability to, to be at home, to, you know, to have that location freedom, that time freedom has been, has been truly a blessing.

[00:04:05] And the way that we. I mean, now after a few years, we've built the systems. We have a, we have four-person VA team, for example, that just focuses on the operation. So the business generally runs itself operationally, uh, at least it's probably five hours a week of work that, of actual work that we have to do.

[00:04:22] Um, but so I'm very focused on growing the business. You know, and the financials. And Liz focuses more on the guest experience, making sure everything's okay. And she also works on property acquisition as well. So we're focused on growth in the business. Um, you know, and I think that that point is important, I wanna emphasize is once you, once you've built a, you know, 15, you know, 10, 20 unit portfolio, you're able to build a team that can operate that business for you all the day to day dealing with the guests, the, the, the vendors, you know, the cleaners, maintenance, all that can be done.

[00:05:02] Um, without, you know, all that can be in, can at least be done if you're operating a proper business because you should always be focused on working on the business and. Less so in the business. Um, when you can,

[00:05:16] Liam: how is it day to day, uh, working with your partner? Do you, do you get home and talk about, oh, we've got this place, you know, sort of, uh, being filled with guests or this is, or do you leave work for work and you, you keep it separate?

[00:05:28] Home

[00:05:28] Michael: Is life separate? Yeah. I think, uh, so, you know, working with my wife, um, we, I think the good thing is we started it together. Um, and we both worked on it. So we both did everything. So, You know, we look at it, it's a partnership, right? Because we both, you know, a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, especially in the beginning.

[00:05:45] So I think one that kind of puts, you know, everyone's kinda on equal footing versus one person comes in after another and then it's like, oh, well this is mine. Do you know? So there's not that dynamic so much I think is helpful. But to answer your direct question, it very much is we. Think and talk about work all the time, right?

[00:06:01] It's, it's our livelihood. Um, so we, you know, after we come into the office, obviously after we leave the office, excuse me, um, obviously we, we now have a child, so we take care of her. But when after we put her down, you know, we sit and we'll talk about, um, you know, what, what's next? Do you know? What we're gonna do next day and what happened during the day.

[00:06:22] And a lot of times it's just like, well, I don't know. What, what should we do about a certain situation? And, and having to talk that out. Are there disagreements? Absolutely. Um, you know, different, we have different operating styles, we have different philosophies. Um, but I think one thing that we both agreed on early on was, you know, we have to make a decision.

[00:06:41] Right. There's no excuse to not decide because you disagree or you're angry with each other or whatever it is like, so I think we've always like, okay, well you might disagree with me, I might disagree with you, but we need to come to an answer. And it's either you, or me, I care about it more than you, so I'll make a decision and vice versa.

[00:06:58] And we both care about it enough. Then we'll like, we'll hash it out and. Like, we're gonna make but we're gonna decide on this point. Um, and I think that's helped us carry forward because the hardest thing is like, you get in a fight, you stop talking, and then three days later, nothing happens.

[00:07:11] Yeah. And that's just not the right way to operate a business. And I don't think we'd be where we were, where we are now. If we, uh, you know, didn't have a dis a way to make decisions efficiently,

Who are the people who help you succeed

[00:07:21] Liam: um, who are the people who help you succeed? And what would you say to somebody who's listening to this conversation to say, Hey, go and make sure these are the people you've got on your team.

[00:07:31] You know if you're gonna scale to 26 units, like, like yourself?

[00:07:34] Michael: Yeah, that's a great question. Uh, I mean, the way our team is now is, you know, we have the cleaners, we have a handyman, we have, you know, a runner. Um, although runners aren't as important anymore with the advent of online apps, like Uber Eats and stuff, especially not, not as important.

[00:07:51] And then on our, on our internal side, we have. The VAs, uh, we handle a lot of the guest communications and then we have a bookkeeper. But I would say, you know, for someone who's starting or who has, you know, only a few units now, um, the most important person is your cleaner and treat that person with respect.

[00:08:11] Treat that person as a partner. I think a lot of times people feel, um, they're a vendor. They are the absolutely, they're the absolute most important person in your business. They see your properties every day. They turn it for the next guest. They tell you what's wrong. They tell you there's damage, so you can go get reimbursed.

[00:08:26] Um, that person's extremely important to you. So, uh, pay your cleaners, well, pay them on time, be very kind to them because without them, your, your success, uh, is built on their hard physical work. So, I, and I, you know, I guess question a lot, and that's always my answer because we've been lucky. We've had the same cleaners with us in Philadelphia at least since we, ever since we started.

[00:08:50] It was a young couple. Um, we met in 2019 at a coffee shop and Dave and him gonna grow their business with us. Um, And buy a home, start a family, get married. So it's nice to kind of like grow along with someone else that, that you have respect for. So, you know, that's a really important decision to get right early on and, you know, fire quickly.

[00:09:09] If they don't do well in the first month, you gotta get rid of them. Fire a new one. Mm-hmm. Because it's too important.


[00:09:13] Liam: It's beautiful. Thank you so much, uh, Michael. And uh, yeah, that's, bye from me. Uh, bye From Michael. Thanks, everyone for

[00:09:19] Michael: tuning in. Thanks, everyone thanks, Liam. Appreciate having me on.

[00:09:22] Liam: Having a blast.

[00:09:23] Can I get it on the Boostly

[00:09:24] Podcast? Bruce Lee Levi Bruce Lee cuz it's so hard on the tees. Loose leaf. Making up those rhymes. Don't write it, just do it loosely.