Kori Covrigaru of PlanOmatic: “Compete on value, not price”

Compete on value, not price. During the pandemic when everything shut down, we decided to try to retain and bring in new clients, while also giving our agents a break, by offering a 50% off flash sale in the summer of 2020. The goal was to stay busy, retain employees, and engage with our clients. As […]

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Compete on value, not price. During the pandemic when everything shut down, we decided to try to retain and bring in new clients, while also giving our agents a break, by offering a 50% off flash sale in the summer of 2020. The goal was to stay busy, retain employees, and engage with our clients.

As part of our interview series called “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became A Founder”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kori Covrigaru.

Kori is the Co-Founder and CEO of PlanOmatic, the biggest and fastest provider of property insights and marketing services for the single-family rental industry nationwide. With an unwavering determination for client success, he has created a team that thrives on the company’s purpose of “We exist to help our clients win.” With a national network of hundreds of contractors and 40 employees, Covigaru has met the moment with the unique value proposition PlanOmatic offers through technology combined with property insights to support their clients’ goals.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I knew from a young age that I wanted to create my own career path and be an entrepreneur. When I was in college, I started working for a family acquaintance that owned a company that had written software to create property floor plans. I started running the business locally, and eventually, they asked me if I wanted to license their software to create my own company. I was still in college but decided to take advantage of the opportunity to create my own business and called it Covrinet. My college friend Aaron Rose joined me in building the company, which we renamed PlanOmatic. The two of us started PlanOmatic in 2005 and have bootstrapped the company the entire way. Today, we have more than 40 employees, hundreds of contractors spanning more than 32 states, and are the biggest and fastest full-service property insights and marketing services provider to single-family rental investors, owners, and operators nationwide.

Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?

The first five years of business were by far the hardest. We were transitioning from being college students to running a business. It was incredibly hard trying to convince real estate agents that professional photos of properties and interactive floor plans were the future. We started the company in 2005 and the recession came quickly thereafter. Luckily, we did not seek outside funding, but we did hire a big team, and unfortunately, we had to let several people go due to the market conditions. My business partner Aaron also had to relocate three times during the first five years to help establish the business in key markets across the country. We eventually based the company in Denver, but it took a lot of self-sacrifices before we reached that point.

Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?

I never had a plan B. Failure was never an option.

So, how are things going today? How did grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?

We created a new corporate division last year to offer a full suite of property insights and marketing services tailored specifically for single-family rental investors, owners, and operators to make fast, accurate and informed decisions throughout the property life cycle, including acquisition, renovation, and leasing. Our corporate division has really taken off and we are now the biggest and fastest full-service property insights and marketing services provider to single-family rental investors, owners, and operators nationwide. While our corporate division has been incredibly successful, I always say that success is relative. We are still pushing to evolve, be bigger, create more value for our clients and really change the way due diligence is done in the single-family rental industry. The resilience and grit that we started the company with back in 2005, is still very much needed today. As a company founder and CEO, I think it is important to remember to never take anything for granted, and if you are not concerned about something with the business, you should be.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

When PlanOmatic first started, we used to make CD-ROMs with our property tours on them. We would then print stickers with a picture of the real estate agent and the brokerage firm logo to put on the top of the CD-ROMs for marketing purposes. We had received a big order and waited until the day before to burn and create all the CD-ROMs. It turned out that none of the CD’s we created ended up working so we pulled an all-nighter to get them done. While the experience was not funny at the time, I learned that there is a fine line between moving quickly and efficiently and making hasty business decisions without giving them enough thought. I have learned that it takes time to do things correctly.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

PlanOmatic prides itself on its service-driven approach to make certain single-family rental investors, owners and operators receive accurate property insights and marketing services within 48 hours after an order is placed. We live and breathe our company’s purpose which is “We exist to help our clients win,” to ensure the highest level of client service and success at every turn. Our focus is centered upon our client’s goals, what they need to accomplish, and how we help them achieve success. Our dedicated client success managers set goals with clients, implement plans to achieve them and review results on a quarterly basis, or more frequently as needed, to ensure expectations are met. There have been numerous times when we have recommended against the services that we offer to clients because they were not the right fit or it wasn’t the right time. While short-term this was not beneficial to the business, it has paid off and created long-term relationships with our clients.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

You really want to work on the business, not in the business. I always thought that I had to have my hand in everything whether it was marketing, technology, and/or operations, and I was super involved on every single level for a long time. When I realized that my job was to build an all-star leadership team and to stay out of their way, the business went to a whole new level. I try to limit my office working hours and really balance my time. No one comes up with an “aha” moment while writing an email or sitting in front of a computer screen. My best ideas come when I’m outside the office. I recommend balancing your time so that you have some creative space to think about the business instead of being busy working or strategizing on a process that is too deep in the weeds.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

Our COO Chad Gagnon has played a very important role in the growth of PlanOmatic. He started with PlanOmatic very early on and has held various roles over the years. When the pandemic hit last year and everyone was grounded, we were trying to figure out what other value we could provide our clients. We knew single-family investors, owners and operators still needed to acquire properties nationwide but that the due diligence process was largely painful, unorganized, inefficient, and inaccurate. We had the digital tools and a national network of contractors on the ground that could help speed up the due diligence for these operators, and we saw an opportunity to package up our offerings for this audience. Chad took the concept and the big idea and made it a reality. He created PlanOmatic’s Property Insights package and put together a real marketing solution for the single-family rental industry. I attribute the success of our corporate division and our Property Insights offerings to Chad.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

For every PlanOmatic order placed, we contribute a portion of the sale to the Mile High United Way in Denver. I also love educating and giving back to the younger generation. I am a teacher’s assistant at The University of Colorado Boulder for a real estate technology class and I enjoy educating and working with students that will soon transition into the professional stage of their lives.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my company” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. It’s never too early to establish core values and create a company culture. It’s important to establish the why behind what you are doing early on and creating a purpose statement is one of the best things you can do. We had gone through 10 years+ of business without outlining any core values, and once we established our company purpose, we started to realize what types of people we wanted on our team from a commonality and alignment standpoint. It is impossible to know if you have the right people in the right seats, without establishing your core values first.
  2. Hire the best talent that you can afford but those people must align with your company values. Look for smart individuals that are motivated and can take an idea and run with it. We have had a couple of scenarios in which we hired proven talent to bring their experience and expertise to the company. Those people came with a higher price tag, and while they could do the work, they didn’t align with our core values. They were the wrong people in the right seat, and it held us back. People must align with your company’s vision and culture, and you must take some risks and make some guesses along the way.
  3. Compete on value, not price. During the pandemic when everything shut down, we decided to try to retain and bring in new clients, while also giving our agents a break, by offering a 50% off flash sale in the summer of 2020. The goal was to stay busy, retain employees, and engage with our clients. While it provided a discount to our clients and they appreciated it, it was a big mistake for us because we brought in a ton of business that was not the best fit for the company by slashing our prices. The business that was coming in was based on pricing and not our value. As a result, the new clients weren’t happy, and we weren’t happy either.
  4. Founders should always overcommunicate the company’s purpose and vision. Constant communication is important. The more your employees understand the company vision and the goals, the more motivated they will be to follow the vision and cheer it along. To ensure our entire staff is aware of the company goals, we have quarterly, offsite full-day team meetings in addition to weekly team meetings where we discuss to-dos and review our metrics. Annually, we host offsite planning meetings to come up with our “WIGs” — wildly important goals — for the next year. I also give a state of the company address each quarter. Our ultimate goal is to make doing business PlanOmatic the easiest and most low-effort experience possible for our clients, so it’s imperative that we are all working together and understand what the company is doing to achieve this.
  5. There will always be way more big ideas than your ability to execute on all of them. Pick the best of your big ideas and take risks. When we decided to develop our corporate division to specifically service the single-family rental industry, we had to dedicate financial resources and allocate our most talented personnel to bring the idea to life. It was a huge risk. We were moving some of our most talented people from other parts of the business that were seemingly working to start a new division. We took that risk to get our corporate division started, and now this new line of business has grown to eclipse our legacy line of business and contributes to over two-thirds of total company revenue.

Can you share a few ideas or stories from your experience about how to successfully ride the emotional highs & lows of being a founder?

During the good times, it is important to celebrate all your wins. Take time to stop, recognize the wins, and the people that contributed to them to keep your team motivated. When times are not good, stay optimistic and keep moving forward. Surround yourself with the right people and always be prepared. Luck favors the prepared.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would start a movement focused on fairly educating our children. Children are the future and if we can start early on instilling a sense of equality and kindness, I believe the world would be a better place. If all children had a similar opportunity to learn and grow, then just imagine how many incredible people would develop and contribute to our greater society.

How can our readers further follow your work online?


This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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