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EP 2: Her Millionaire Journey with Ann Shank, Owner Panhandle Getaways

Ann Shank, the owner of Panhandle Getaways, joins The Millionaire Choice Show to share her journey in becoming a millionaire. Ann started her first business in her early teens. In her early 20s, she worked to grow a retail chain store to one of the top sales locations in the country. After receiving a disappointing raise, she realized that no matter how successful she was, someone else controlled her pay. She’s been a small business owner ever since, starting her first small business with just $700 in her pocket.

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Her Millionaire Journey with Ann Shank, Owner of Panhandle Getaways

Announcer: Is money slipping through your fingers. Are you missing your opportunity to become a millionaire? Welcome to the millionaire choice where we talk to millionaires and future millionaires about how to build wealth and what to do with it once you have it. We're here to help you do two things, make your millionaire choice and create your own millionaire plan. Here's your host, speaker, wealth coach, and author of The Millionaire Choice. He made his choice, and he created his millionaire plan at age 25; now it's your turn. Welcome your host, Tony Bradshaw.

Tony: I have with me today Ann Shank from Panhandle Getaways in 13 hub lane. Ann is a property manager and CEO, founder, owner of Panhandle Getaways. And so if you're looking to have a wonderful vacation down on the beach, panhandle Florida, yeah, that's a place to go. So Ann, thanks for coming in today. Thank you. So you have a great story. I love your story. I've gotten to know you over the years, and I just want to take a little bit of time and let you share your path.

You know, you're a millionaire, you've been there for a while. And you've got a great business and seen a lot of success, but you didn't grow up that way. And so take a few minutes and share with the audience what you had to deal with as a child and growing up into this place that you're at today.

Ann: I grew up in a middle-class family in Cocoa Beach, Florida. My dad worked for NASA. He was an engineer. I have three siblings, and when I was 11 years old, we moved to Atlanta. My dad started his own computer software company. This was way before anybody knew what a computer was. When I was 11 years old, I was playing on a computer with a coupler where we would log into a computer, and I would be able to play horse racing games and all kinds of games, tic-tac-toe and all this with the computer.

This was before anybody, you know, understood anything about computers. So it was a lot of fun. We moved to Atlanta, he started this business. He had borrowed some money from friends and family. It did not make it. He did end up going back to work for Rockwell, and as he got older, my parents got divorced when I was 12 years old.

It was rough, but still, one of the things that I can say is probably the hardest thing I've ever gone through, even though it was a long time ago. My dad left, remarried. My mom raised us. From that point on, I still saw my dad, but my mom raised us, and I just started working as a teenager. My first job was in the restaurant business, told them I was 16 when I was 15, and I always had a job.

I always just took a job wherever I needed to work. I found a job, and I always worked and always loved to work. I put myself through school, did not finish, went through three years of college and. Let's see. In my early twenties, I was working in a clothing store at Lenox Square in Atlanta. After being there three weeks, they made me the store manager of that store.

After eight months, I felt like I had learned everything I could, and went to my regional manager, told him I thought it was due for a raise. Our store had gone to number two in the company out of about, I think they have three or 400 stores at the time. I love to sell. I put everything into whatever it is that I do.

So the store was doing very well, and so I'd asked for a raise, and he said he couldn't do it, and I said, well, then I'm going to try something on my own now, I quit. And with $700, I opened up my first clothing store. I had been working at the Apparel Mart since I was 18 during shows. So I would go in and model the clothes and sell them.

And during that time, um, from then on, I would take the samples and sell them to, I'd have sales, home sales, and different things. So in my mid-twenties, I decided I'd take a shot at my own business and, uh, found a small space of 144 square feet. I paid $144 a month in Buckhead and opened my first little store clothing store. The first year I made $50,000

Tony: Wow. What was the name of the store?

Ann: It was called Colors. It was in an old building, in a Buckhead, no sign on the street. And people found out about it by word of mouth. And on the weekends, I would sit on the floor and take a poster board, put "samples sale" with the address and where it was located, and what I was selling. And I would go along Roswell road and I would, uh, the telephone poles - I would nail all of my posters all up and down. So that's what I was doing in my mid-twenties on Fridays and Saturdays.

Tony: Yeah. So 25 years old out starting this business. Right.

Ann: Right.

Tony: Wow, that's amazing. And just what a great story to see, you know, coming up from a broken home and then watching your dad, did it scare you at all that your dad tried the entrepreneurial thing and then didn't really make it work out, or did you, was that rattling around in the back of your head?

Ann: No, I was too young to understand that, I think so. No, I just think some people are cut out to... I think everybody has gifts, and some people take more risks than others, and sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't. And for him, it didn't work, but he had a very stable job with his company, you know, with Rockwell. So, he did very well. He just, it just wasn't cut out to work for himself, I guess.

Tony: Yeah. Yeah. And I would say my parents were kind of that way too. My mom did some management stuff, managed convenience stores, and some other leadership roles. My dad's a carpenter by trade machinist, and so he's, he likes to build things, make things. But yeah, definitely his whole career was spent working for somebody. So one question, uh, you went into property management, but you had this exposure at a very young age to this kind of like new technology thing that was going on. Did you look into going into the tech world at all, or was that something that rattled around in your head, or was it too early at that time?

Ann: My dad was so far ahead of his time, so no, no tech was not in my wheelhouse. You know, I just found a job and did it. You know, today, our kids are so worried about how they were going to make their career path, and they take so much time in figuring that out. You know, we have seven kids between the two of us. So when I talked to my husband about it, I say, I just took a job.

Tony: Yeah.

Ann: And I just started working.

Tony: Uh-huh.

Ann: And then the next thing came along. I have to say that looking back, I was a risk-taker in my twenties by quitting that job and saying, I'm just going to try this on my own. That's what I think that it takes. Really. You've got to just take that leap of faith and try it...

Tony: Yeah, yeah. And you started with $700 so to turn it into that. Now you went from this clothing business, and then how long did you stick with that before you went to the next thing?

Ann: So, I stayed with the clothing business for about five years. And I honestly just got tired of that and started having kids. And then I got married, so he was a chiropractor, in school, finished school, and so I helped him start and run his office and business, hired all the employees. I found the space, you know, I just always loved doing all of that. That was just in my nature, to be honest with you, to create and grow something, you know, regardless of what it was. So he was very successful from the beginning. And so we did that. We had, we were having kids, and then I got involved with the Smoothie King franchise. I was always doing something on the side, whether it's working with him or something else. I was always running something, whether it was the PTA or working in a classroom every day, you know, whether it was volunteering or running a small business on the side, I was always involved in something.

Tony: Yeah, that's awesome. So you turn the corner, you went in the property management business when you got through raising your kids and then getting the chiropractor thing off the ground, and then whatever transition, when did you start your property management business?

Ann: So, my first child was born in 88. I was still running my clothing business, quit that, and then started the doctor's office. And then, in 1993, so four or five years later, I bought my first vacation rental. So we bought our first vacation rental because we had a little extra money. We had cash in the bank for the first time. So I said, I'm going to buy a condo. I love coming down to Destin. I had gone to the Hilton, uh, fell in love with the area and bought my first condo, and that's how I got started.

Tony: And it's just off to the races. After that, I think when I met you, uh, your business was around 300 properties, and that really wasn't that long ago. Now today, you have how many properties under management?

Ann: About 650.

Tony: Wow. That's, that's some huge growth and, uh, exciting, just in you being so successful in that. And by the way, you have a beautiful house down there on 30a.

Ann: We are neighbors.

Tony: And, yeah, Ann is actually two doors down from my own beach house on 30a and a place called Prominence. Uh, just down from Rosemary beach. And so if anybody wants to go down there and hang out, and that's the place to go. It's a lot of fun for vacation. So did you ever have a moment, like, I think for a lot of people, especially for me, and it sounds like you came more from a middle-class family that was in better shape than I think my family was. My parents both came from broken homes, dysfunctional families did not know how to manage money. And so for me, it was a real cultural shift for me to decide that I was actually going to do something other than work a j-o-b, and you know, and I, at 25, I decided I was going to become a millionaire. Did you have a moment where you said, Oh, I'm going to be wealthy, I'm going to go do this, or did it kind of just happen to you?

Ann: Money never drove me, I have to say, and it still doesn't today, it just comes along with the territory, and it's fun. It's not fun to lose it, and it's nice to have it, but it's not a driving factor for me. No. I did have a few goals, but it's just that I wanted to work for myself, and I can remember when I went through my divorce myself in 2001, I remember telling my mom, money is not something I'm ever going to have to worry about. Because I'll just make sure that we'll be able to do it. You know, being divorced.

Tony: Yeah. Just more of a mindset of I'm going to provide. That's kind of what drove you is like, we're going to be okay. My family is going to be okay, and my kids are going to be okay. Yeah. That's good. That's a very pure, I think, reason for driving money. Yeah. I think for people who are pursuing wealth for the sake of wealth, it's different. For me, it was more of a - I didn't want to live the way that I had grown up.

Ann: Right.

Tony: You know? So for me, it was kind of like, I wanted something different than what I saw.

Ann: Right, right.

Tony: I didn't want to see, you know, bounce checks and lights cut off and water cut off, bills getting paid late and you know, struggling to survive, and you know, and those kinds of things.

Ann: Right.

Tony: So that's kind of what more drove me. It was just a different lifestyle, then the one I had grown up in. Yeah. So most people who become a millionaire, they have a plan. So would you say that you ever put like a financial plan? Like what do you do to manage your money? How are you doing that?

Ann: You want to know the truth?

Tony: Sure, let's look at the raw end.

Ann: I've always said, as long as there's money in the bank left over, then we're good. So to be honest with you, like I said, money doesn't drive me. It's fun to see it. What I really love is I like to create and then see it be successful. That's the fun part to me. And as long as that success is having 20 employees that love their job, and me not necessarily making a lot because I don't really have to... or if it's, my company's been very successful, and everybody gets to be along with that, you know, to me it's kind of all the same thing. So I don't go out and spend a lot of money on stuff, as a lot of people that could afford to. So I can't say that there's been any plan. I can say as I've had more money; obviously, I have more money to invest. Yeah, for sure. And for me, it's very natural to do that. So it's fun to just decide to get involved and open a general store. It's fun. All of that stuff is fun. It's creative, it's fun. I like to see it grow, you know? That's what drives me. I can't say that it, uh, really has anything to do with any type of financial plan whatsoever.

Tony: Well, what I like about that is I think sometimes a lot of the financial people get caught up and going, you have to manage every penny, or you have to budget every week, or you have to run a very tight ship. And what I like about what you're saying is, Hey, I manage this loosely. But I always was driving towards a goal of stability. And you know, you were loosely managing your money, but you're managing it with intent, I think.

Ann: Well, I wouldn't call it loosely because I'm very numbers focused as far as paying attention to everything. But, it doesn't drive me in the amount of money that I've made. That's what I meant by that. So numbers is my thing. I do pay very close attention to how we spend our money, how not to waste it. I've never laid off an employee in my life, and hopefully, we'll never have to. I will do whatever I can to never let that happen. So I wouldn't say it's loosely, I would say that I didn't have to put it down on paper in order to make it happen. I just did it. It's just a lot of hard work.

Tony: So you're very natural with numbers. Very comfortable with them.

Ann: Very.

Tony: Okay. Yeah, and I'm tending to be more that way too because I went to school for engineering, so I'll probably, I didn't do the computer engineering like your, your dad did, but engineer like manufacturing, engineering. So I'm very comfortable with the numbers and the math in my head and keeping the numbers straight.

Ann: Right.

Tony: Versus, you know. Like you said, putting it down on paper ever time. That's very interesting. So as you were doing these kinds of things, growing these businesses and you know, building the wealth that you have, what were some of the difficulties and the challenges you ran into along the way?

Ann: Having a balance in life has been my biggest challenge, because... And this is something that every time I'm in a small group, it's always what comes up is: what do you need? And I need balance. And the balance is only because I tend to spend a lot of time working because I just love to do it. And it's not that I neglect my family or the kids, I don't, I've been extremely involved, but I do work hard. So finding that balance of saying, okay, at 10 o'clock or at nine o'clock, I'm going to quit. It's hard for me to do that. I would say that's my biggest struggle overall.

Tony: Gotcha. Did you have any financial challenges along the way? Like a lot of times when people are doing small businesses, they'll hit a roadblock, and they'll get stuck, and they're trying to figure out: is my business shrinking? Is there a challenge, or did you kind of just kind of see success after success after success every year once you got started?

Ann: In the property management, it was success every year. But I've done little side businesses on the side, and I've gotten into a frozen fruit food truck business that didn't make it. Lost a hundred thousand dollars doing that, and to be honest with you, when I've made mistakes like that, it's okay. I just move forward. I don't look back. Honestly, I had the money to lose, so it didn't really set me back financially because I don't throw money away. Even at an early age, I always had money in the bank that I just saved when I worked in a restaurant, I bought my first house when I was 25 I had $25,000 saved at 25, so I was just, I guess you would say, a good steward with my money when I was younger, so I just didn't throw money away, and I didn't go out and buy expensive things.

Tony: Uh-huh.

Ann: I mean, I do every once in a while, but I can live with it or without it.

Tony: Uh-huh. If you bought your first house at 25, I don't recall when you got married—first marriage.

Ann: I got married when I was 27.

Tony: 27, so you actually bought your house before you got married?

Ann: I did.

Tony: That's interesting.

Ann: We lived in it.

Tony: Yeah. One of the things I found that's interesting like I would love to know your thought processes around that because today rental rates are the highest they've ever been for, you know, longterm rentals, people renting from apartments or houses.

Ann: Yeah, yes.

Tony: Fewer people are buying homes as a general ratio to renters. And the people that I talked to in their twenties, it's very interesting because there's this almost like mindset of fear of homeownership or buying a home, but yet here you are at 25 buying your first home. And so, what was your thought process around that? Do you remember?

Ann: I didn't want to pay rent.

Tony: It just, it just resonated with you. You're like, Oh, this is my money and somebody else has taken it.

Ann: Well, I've always looked at it as homeownership is being able to live rent-free because, by the time you sell it, you'll get all the money back that it costs you to own it usually.

Tony: Yeah. That's great. I think that's what's missing with a lot of the younger generation right now is just that general concept, not connecting the dots yet, financially. And you do, it's just amazing that you did that so quickly in your career and your life. So those are great decisions. I think you were making. So I want to ask you a question now on this journey, you're managing your money, you're growing yourself as a female entrepreneur and business. What are some of the things that you know now that you wish you would've known on that journey? You know, some of the wisdom you've gotten that you'd love to share?

Ann: Okay. Well, I haven't really thought too much about this, but I think understanding the hiring process and building a company and building the right team is something that I've learned over time, and I've learned by doing. I think that if I understood a little bit more about that earlier on, I would have figured out how to make the right choices. And I really didn't know. I mean, when I opened our first office in Panama City Beach seven years ago, I did not know what the hiring process was going to be like. I just figured anybody that wanted a job, we'd just be able to work and figure it out, and you know, be able to be trained. And so I've learned a lot along that journey – a lot.

Tony: You make me laugh cause I'm going like, yeah. How did that work out for you? I can just imagine...

Ann: I'll let you know, it's hit or miss.

Tony: What was your worst hire, your worst experience in those early days of that?

Ann: Oh, I can think of a couple of them. And they were the earliest ones, to be honest with you. Because I take people for their word. And so I just want to believe that everybody is honest and what you see is what you get. And I've learned that, that's not the case because I want to give the people at the benefit of the doubt to a fault. And sometimes that gets me into trouble.

Tony: Oh, yeah.

Ann: So, yeah, so I mean, I would say. That, you know, I've hired some people that were dishonest, so that have stolen from me, and I have hired people that have a really bad attitude that didn't like people in general. So, things like that, that would have been red flags somehow. And I kind of just ignored them. Just wanting to believe the best.

Tony: Yeah, just getting that experience. I think the more hires you make, the smarter you get about. It's just like anything else you do, the more you do it, the better you get at it.

Ann: Yeah.

Tony: And then just think about that in my early days of making a few bad hires up. I had one guy, I had two, the first one I hired, he was just like, yes to an attorney. He, uh, made it from breakfast to lunch, and he was gone. He's done.

Ann: Yeah.

Tony: And I'm like, Oh, man. Then I had another one that came in for a week and, uh, got a counteroffer from his old job. And then went back to his old job after one week on the job with me. I'm like, man, I really blew that one. And uh, I fixed that. But well, it wasn't fun at the time of the season.

Ann: Yeah.

Tony: Yeah. So obviously hiring is a big one. What are some of the other things you kind of wish you would know? I think a lot of times as entrepreneurs, you spend money on the wrong thing sometimes, right? And I think a lot of small businesses, you're trying to figure out how to best spend your money. And sometimes it's limited. And so I can think of. Know, spending money in bad places and you go, Oh, I wish I had that money back. I wish I would've done a better job with that.

Ann: So going back to that, I think I've done just the opposite. Instead of spending money on marketing and hiring people to do things, I would just put it on a piece of poster board and stick it out on a telephone pole. Right? So I really honestly have always lived under my means by quite a bit. And I think that that has kept me from getting in any trouble financially ever.

Tony: Lived under your means, so I think that's kind of some wisdom you had there that maybe you didn't realize you had it, but you were living by it, and it worked out well for you.

Ann: Yeah. That's why when I opened my store, I spent $700

Tony: Yeah, that's amazing to me.

Ann: Right? So I mean, I was selling clothing without a dressing room. Right? So I would say that I wouldn't do something until I really had to have it. So now, when I open up a store, I'm still very careful. Of course, I can afford to spend more, but I still watched the numbers, and I pay attention to what we're doing, so I'm not throwing money away, so it all makes sense. You know what I say to myself when I'm doing something, it has to be a no brainer, right. If I want to open up something, it has to be that if it doesn't make it, it's not going to cost us a lot of money.

Tony: Yeah.

Ann: Like if I open up a new office, do we need it? Do we need the space? Right. So I do think as I need it, and then I paid attention to what it's costing and decide whether the return is going to be worth what we are actually doing. And if it's that time to do it, I don't just go out and buy stuff because I can afford to do it. I don't go out and buy a newsman Mercedes sprinter van for the girls to ride around in and put artwork into people's homes, which a lot of other people would do. I just choose not to do that.

Tony: Yeah. So what are your girls delivering artwork in?

Ann: In a U-haul wrapped truck.

Tony: Yeah?

Ann: I'm getting ready to buy one, but that's something we're working on right now, and they're like, we want one of these. And so I'm looking for one, and I even went and looked at what they asked for. I'm just going to get them something that is probably nicer and a little bit less.

Tony: Spend it wisely. I spend the money wisely when you have it.

Ann: I have to say that I probably do that. Almost with everything I do.

Tony: Okay, that's awesome. So one of the things that I like to teach is, you know, it's very important to get mentors in your life. And I didn't have, really, mentors until probably I was in my thirties other than, you know, school teachers and things like that. So, can you think of any mentors that you had in your life growing up, they kind of helped guide you on this crazy path that you are on?

Ann: Well, to be honest with you, my mom had her own business as I was growing up. She started a carpet store. So I did see my parents both had a very, very good work ethic. When my parents got divorced, my mom had started a little carpet business and then opened a carpet store and then hired designers, and she made it through as a homemaker up until that point. So I did see her work hard. My dad has always been an extremely hard worker. He's 86 years old, and he would go to work today if he could. So, I think that as far as mentoring, what hard work looks like, it definitely came from my parents. As far as outside of my family, goodness... Maybe managers that worked with me in my previous jobs, watching other people. The founder of TJ Applebee's was my manager when I was 18 years old in a restaurant, and he would sit up at the high top table and pull out his blueprints and say, anybody that wants to come work for me, I'm going to open a restaurant one day. Well, it was Bill Palmer, and he was my manager. He was 24 years old at the time, and I was 18; these are the things I remember in my life. They're just little, but I just remember my owners and managers of people that I worked for, even in my teenage and earlier years. That stuff just stuck with me.

Tony: So attaching yourself to good people and having good people around you kind of influenced it. Yeah.

Ann: Just watching and learning from them and see how they work.

Tony: Yeah. I think the work ethic if you're going to be successful, it doesn't matter if you're in a job or if you're an entrepreneur, right? Work ethics is there, it's, it's gotta be in the top, you know, three, four, five things that you've got to do to make it, you know, well, especially if you're going to try to build wealth, you're not going to build wealth without a strong work ethic and, you know, habits and such.

Ann: Work ethic and being laser-focused on what you're doing.

Tony: Yeah. Absolutely.

Ann: Time management is of utmost importance in order to build the business.

Tony: Yeah.

Ann: There's a lot of sacrifices that some people would think they would have to make. For me, it's fun. So you have to love what you do, which I do. I love everything that I do. So that's very important.

Tony: Yeah. I don't think I've ever seen you without a smile on your face. So, especially when you're eating shrimp down on the coast.

Ann: Right?

Tony: So now you've got this wealth, you're successful. But I know you've got some things on your heart. And so, uh, and a lot of people do this. They have this wealth. They're like, okay, now I have this money. What am I going to do with it? Because I want to have an impact. And I know you're a person that wants to have a positive impact on the culture and society. So tell me a few things about what you're doing with your money now that you have it to kind of help others that are in need.

Ann: We're actually starting through Panhandle Getaways. We're starting some outreach programs that we've just actually just getting started with, so we're going to give our employees different options of things to go out into in the community and days, and we're just going to set up and let people sign up as if they feel led to do that. I always think people that have a lot of money, it's easy to give when you have it, right?

Tony: For sure. If it's not fun to give or easy to give if you don't have it.

Ann: Right? Those are the amazing stories to me, right? Because if you have it, it's easy. So there's things that we do in our business that just little things that we do that are directly related to property management with all of our linens that we can give with the food that's left by our guests that we collect and give to local food banks. So it's just a mixture of things between, with our employees and with our guests, that we're working on, to get involved in local community.

Tony: Now, you mentioned to me at one point, a thing called Heartland and The Rescue Ranch. Tell me about that.

Ann: So we haven't started with them yet, but my manager at Calypso has been involved with them. So he's putting together a program so we can go out and help at the rant. It's animals that have been rescued, and then they try to get them adopted out. So they just need help.

Tony: Cats, dogs? Or what kind of animals?

Ann: Horses.

Tony: Oh, so big animals. You're not talking about little household pets.

Ann: Yeah.

Tony: You're talking about the big ones.

Ann: Yeah.

Tony: So when you mentioned horses, I've got three daughters, six kids total, but three daughters. And uh, several months ago, my 12-year-old told me that she wanted to go ride horses for the first time. And so I took a Saturday and took my girls down to ride horses, and it was pretty amazing to watch them. Now, my first horse riding experience was terrible. It was horrible, was scared to death. The horse bullied, yeah, bullied me around, and I ended up walking the horse more than riding it. But uh, but my girls did a great job, and they really enjoyed it. Well, that's a great thing. So, Ann, if somebody wanted to go have a great Florida vacation and get some great rental properties on the coast, where would they go to find out information on that?

Tony: Yeah. That's awesome. And do you have a favorite property down there that you actually would recommend to anyone? An area or a particular area that somebody might go?

Ann: We're on-site and Prominence. So it's definitely a favorite of mine. The neighborhood there is very close to the beach. Great amenities, beautiful homes. Lots of great restaurants and a great atmosphere overall.

Tony: Yeah.

Ann: So, Prominence is my favorite out of all of our properties.

Tony: Now you do have a property management staff there on-site, and uh, they have a Monday night mixer. Is that accurate?

Ann: Friday.

Tony: Friday night mixers?

Ann: Yeah.

Tony: So go vacation down at panhandle getaways on Prominence on 30a and uh, hanging out with some of Ann's staff members on a Friday night mixer.

Ann: Yes, four to 6:00 PM.

Tony: Four to 6:00 PM I need to get back down there. My wife and I've been talking about it. We've been renting our house out more than using it. Well, Ann, I really appreciate your time, and thanks for your wealth of wisdom and information and just really inspiring story. Just amazing to see where you came from and what you went through and just turned it into something amazing with the 650 rental properties under management. Wow. That's just a great thing. Thank you very much.

Ann: Well, thank you. Thanks for having me, Tony.

Announcer: That's a wrap for this episode of The Millionaire Choice. Remember, wealth is a result of getting smarter with your money. Wealth helps you enjoy life and help people. For resources, tools, and a community that will accelerate your millionaire journey, go to The Millionaire Choice Show shares the opinions and experiences of people and should not be considered financial advice. Before making your own financial choices, please seek out the registered financial advisor or certified financial planner.

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