David Judge here and today we have a case study with Laura Sillano from POD Financial. In this detailed interview Laura details how she successfully implemented outsourcing into her business, detailing the processes she uses, the challenges she faced with staff and how we worked together to overcome those challenges.
Summary of the video:
David Judge here and we have Stacey the co owner of Harcourts Coomera with us which is located on the Gold Coast. And we also have Stacey's offshore team Michelle and Cindy.
In this short interview, we discussed the task the offshore team actually complete, any concerns or issues they had when starting, IT issues, how the two offices actually physically work together, and more.
We ran this session using a software called Zoom. And Zoom is a software that we actually use with our clients whether they want to have a two way video interviews as you see now or video conversations, screen sharing, typing conversation and so much more.
This is a hands on interview and we actually talk about how Stacey works with her team and why she is succeeding with the whole outsourcing thing.
Why did you decide to Outsource?
Cindy - We mostly perform admin tasks. One of our daily tasks are to perform banking and arrears management. I also process tenancy applications and process lease renewals.
Michelle - Yes we do banking each day, and sending arrears letters to tenants. We also process applications. Stacey will send the applications to us and we complete the rental and employment reference tests. We also process the lease renewal once we receive a response from the owner confirming what they would like to do with the property.
Stacey - Yes, they do a lot of following up with the lease renewals and are currently learning how to complete the entire lease renewal process.
How Do You Find Working For A Client That Is Overseas?
Michelle - At first I was actually hesitant as I thought it would be challenging to work for a client that is not physically here and of course you’re nervous that you won’t have someone beside you showing you how to do the tasks, but Stacey and I have constant communication we talk a lot and we skype a lot.
If we have any questions or if we’re confused about our tasks, she’s always there to answer. It actually doesn’t make any difference if she is here physically or not as she’s always there to support, so we’re really comfortable with it.
Cindy - The same goes for me. At first I thought it would be tough as she’s miles and miles away from us. Stacey is always available on skype and email, so if we have anything we need to clarify or have any questions about our tasks. So in this type of work where we are very far away from our client, communication is the key, so having Stacey as someone that’s always reachable is a lot easier for us.
David - At times when we have worked with clients and they’re simply not prepared to engage their team with skype and email, etc. I know in the office we’ve had to work with the client and help them to understand the best methods of communication and lead them down a path. Stacey’s success is from learning how to stay in touch and most importantly does stay in constant contact with her tea, which is fantastic.
How Many Clients Do You Work With At The Same Time?
Michelle - We both work only and exclusively for Stacey.
David - So it’s like you have become a part of Stacey’s team
Cindy - Yes, team all Stacey and team Harcourts.
David - Yes that’s right… One of our points of difference around outsourcing (or insourcing as we call it internally) is that we help you to connect and manage the person that works fulltime for your business and as a part of your business.
As opposed a lot of other outsource companies where sending a file to our business and then we assign that file to a different person every time to perform that task each time. It could be Jenny on Tuesday, Trudy on Thursday and changing every time.
Stacey - It’s nice to come in every morning and say ‘Hi Michelle good morning, how was your weekend’ or ‘Hey Cindy, how are you going?’ It’s nice to know who I’m speaking to everyday. I know who’s on the other end of that keyboard. I think we develop a relationship as well. Not only just a work relationship but a personal relationship as you do with your staff , you can’t help but do that.
What limitations have you found in Outsourcing?
Stacey - When we first employed Michelle the expectation that I thought in my head would be filing as it’s all on the computer these days, so it would be easy to do. Entering invoices, sending a few letters here and there. That was really what I thought they would be capable of (sorry Michelle).
After a few days I realised, ‘Michelle can take on more, Michelle is really good, Michelle’s quick and is learning really quickly, I need to give her more work’. That changed my mindframe and I started to give Michelle more and more work.
It was slow, and that comes from really feeling comfortable in the situation myself. The more comfortable I became the more work I was giving to Michelle. In turn we had to hire Cindy as well to help us and now I have Michelle and Cindy completing trust accounting, which I think shows how much trust and how much my expectations have changed from do a few little filing jobs to ‘here’s my trust accounting process’. It’s come from me feeling comfortable with the girls.
David - We have a very secure infrastructure in place to enable that to happen in a way that eliminates the issues you would have if you were sending it to an unsecured environment like someone working out of home.
How Have You Found Working With Your Offshore Team?
Stacey - Working with the girls has been very easy for me to take on. Both girls are lovely and we have no problems. The girls are willing to do anything. I can send something to Michelle or Cindy and there’s no ‘I don’t know if I can do that’, they’re keen to jump in learn things. Working with the girls has been super easy and a pleasure.
Have You Had Any Challenges Working With Your Client?
Cindy - It’s good to have a ‘Can Do’ attitude knowing that Stacey trusts as she puts a lot of trust in us.
Michelle - I noticed at first that Stacey was hesitant with me but as time went by she started to enjoy working with us. If she wanted us to complete a task we would learn but doing anything we can to achieve and reach her expectations.
Have You Had Any Challenges Working With Your Client?
Stacey - The biggest challenge for me was learning all of the IT, I’d never used skype before outsourcing, so that was a bit of a challenge. It still is actually as I forget sometimes to check skype. I haven’t found any other challenges. The only time we’ve found any challenges is if I haven’t trained the team properly.
If I haven’t trained the girls properly than it reflects in their work. That didn’t actually take a lot of time as the girls picked things up so easily. So as long as that training is there, they’re superstars and just run with it and get everything done.
Cindy - I thought communication was going to be a challenge at first, but I was wrong as Stacey was always available. The support we receive from Stacey and her staff… Kylie, Emma and Crystal. They’ve always been open, helpful and willing to assist us when we’ve needed help. So I can’t think of any challenges.
Michelle - Really the only challenge I have is I am still new in the real estate industry. When Stacey gives me a new task, I have a lot of questions like: Why do I have to do this, how does it affect the tenants. But as we receive our training, Stacey also gives us the reason behind each task so it makes me understand more about the tasks, which makes me want to learn how to do it on my own.
David - Interestingly we’re recording this call using a technology called Zoom for this call, which is really great for video conferencing (like we’re doing now).
Stacey - You don’t have to use Zoom for video either, most of the time I just pick my phone up and make something similar to a phone call and talk to the girls just like I’m on the phone with them. I’m not really into all of this video conferencing stuff, but for me just to pick up and call them over the internet is awesome.
What Advice Do You Offer To Other Real Estate and Property Management Agencies Around Outsourcing?
Stacey - This is working for us. It’s working so well that the girls are also doing marketing and are paying for themselves. Yes it takes times, maybe a week of training the girls, sitting on the conferences and making sure that everything is ok. You will have the new tasks that will pop-up every now and then where you’ll have to sit with the girls and train them on it, but that hour you invest you are saving hundreds of hours, cause they are so good to work with. They will pick up the work and will run with it.
They make your life so much easier, so if this is something you are thinking about doing, ‘just do it’... Real Estate really needs to get with this outsourcing thing. It’s amazing and should be in every office. Who wouldn’t want to save money, work with great people and get the job done, what’s bad about that?