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Moonlighting Adventures: How CEO Austin Benton Built a Successful Business in Real Estate While Working a 9-5

Working full-time as a finance director in a large asset management company is a tough enough job for anyone, especially a father with two young children. When coupled with a moonlighting exploit to building a lead generation business on the side, only a person with a lifestyle of intense hard work can pull off both […]

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Working full-time as a finance director in a large asset management company is a tough enough job for anyone, especially a father with two young children. When coupled with a moonlighting exploit to building a lead generation business on the side, only a person with a lifestyle of intense hard work can pull off both commitments for a considerably long time.

Born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, American entrepreneur, and finance expert, Austin Benton, describes his hometown as a place where hard work and dedication to one’s hustles are part of the unspoken culture.

Philly is an exceptionally hardworking blue-collar town and I think this culture contributed greatly to my mentality,” said Benton. “Every morning, I really like to get as much work as possible done before the sun rises. Truly, the town instilled a hard work mentality in me that has extended to my business.”

Benton is the founder and CEO of Leadspring ISA, a mortgage and real estate lead conversion company headquartered in Ambler, Pennsylvania. Founded in 2019, Leadspring holds a reputation as the first live-transfer lead servicing company with an all-US-based team catering to hundreds of inbound agents across the country, which implies absolute familiarity with the US-specific real estate sphere.

Foundational milestones

Before delving into the corporate world, Benton was an avid sports enthusiast with high-flying dreams until major injuries cut his basketball goals short.

“I love sports and I’m a huge fan of basketball,” Benton said. “The competition is really appealing to me and I just love the energy. Sadly, I tore both of my ACLs and my knees in college and that ended my basketball career. However, I still love to stay active and maintain my physical health.”

Benton continued his education and obtained his B.A. in Finance at the Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. He then proceeded to Lancaster University in the United Kingdom for his MBA. He attributes a great deal of his entrepreneurial success to these academic achievements.

I studied finance in my college years and I think my MBA really ties in everything and was very helpful in starting a business,” Benton said. “My finance degree was extremely useful as I was able to accurately evaluate revenue, expenses, and all the financial statements associated with my company.”

Benton joined the corporate world as a financial strategist and held several finance-related positions across different niches. He became interested in real estate during his final corporate-world position as a finance director with a major asset management company. Working at this firm afforded Benton extensive experience with real estate, mortgages, and all kinds of property-related loans.

However, he decided to specialize in lead nurturing and conversion out of a passion to see more homeowners make the “single biggest purchases of their lives” armed with solid information and the right agent connections.

“I think there’s a huge emotional connection to purchasing a home,” Benton explained. “A lot of people don’t really know where to get started, especially first-time home buyers. They don’t know the process and because it’s such a large purchase with an emotional component to it, people easily get scared and become hesitant. Helping people and chaperoning them through that process, guiding them, and keeping them fully informed, is what is really important to me, and I think that’s why we prefer the service we do.”

Bold moves and far stretches

When Benton was ready to delve into real estate lead generation, he didn’t immediately tender his resignation from his regular job. He toed the excessively difficult path of moonlighting – having a second job, typically secretly and at night, in addition to one’s regular employment.

Mostly on weekends or in any free time I had, I was building my agency while working full-time with two young kids,” Benton says. “I had to work really hard to get those clients as I was working a full-time job. Eventually, I was able to build such a critical mass of clients that I could finally let my job go and grow my business exclusively”.

Benton debuted Leadspring ISA in 2019 and a couple of years later, the agency has grown to a customer pool of over 200 agents, loan officers, and mortgage brokers. He partners with a team of experienced and former real estate agents – Luke Faulconer, Mark Alderson, and Patrick Dellavale – to bridge the gap between inbound agents and prospective buyers and sellers. Leadspring’s core services include lead reception and nurturing, live transfers between agents and prospects, six-month follow-up calls, booking appointments for agents with prospects, and Facebook ad-generated lead conversion.

On account of the inevitable, Benton had his fair share of struggles and early difficulties. One of the team’s earliest hurdles was staffing – ensuring that they had the right number of people in each department and assigning the correct responsibilities to the best-suited people. Benton explains that after this particular problem was scaled through, everything else rapidly came together as one solid piece.

“It’s very important for a call center like an ISA team to have the right number of staff,” says Benton. “If you have hundreds of leads coming in every day, you can’t be understaffed because there would be a massive queue of uncalled leads and it could eventually snow you under. However, you can’t be overstaffed because then, your margins will take on a big lead. So, understanding the numbers, staffing, and people costs associated with business is a key component to success.”

Benton and his team have worked hard to build a customer-centric agency where every connection is handled with a deeply personal touch – a work ethic that has contributed immensely to the company’s growth. Over the next five years, he hopes to see the agency scale up to a 1000-customer pool and remain on the steady path of progress.“During the pandemic, we recorded growth on revenue profit margins every month in 2020,” he said. “Although it’s been a challenge since the outbreak, people were still purchasing homes and we were fortunate to help them in that process, notwithstanding the global situation. Since we were able to grow so rapidly in that time, I believe that counting a thousand customers over five years is certainly achievable.”

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