Eva: Hi! My name is Eva Judge and I’m from Affordable Staff and with me I’ve got Sadhana Smiles from Harcourts Move.

How Did You Get Into Outsourcing?

Sadhana: A number of my counterparts who have businesses in Melbourne talked to me about outsourcing, and how it had positively impact their businesses. So I asked them for a name and contact details, and that’s how I found you. I remember the first phone call you had I was driving down Kingsway, you and I were talking and I said “I need someone now.”

Eva: I remember that. (Laughing)

Sadhana: You said to me you got someone wonderful, her name is Pia, she’s had a marketing degree and she’s fantastic. That’s right, that’s it put her on. That’s all I thought I had to do, was just to tell you to put somebody on and then..

Eva: Not quite.

Sadhana: It would just work out itself. You know, and we learned our lessons the hard way.

Challenges, Limitations, and Learnings

Eva: I think the challenge was, and correct me if I’m wrong, perhaps was the more cultural changes on your business? I think that’s the biggest challenge we encountered.

Sadhana: Absolutely. One of the things that we’ve learned is the system on outsourcing falls down not because it doesn’t work, it’s because how you’ve implemented it doesn’t work.

Eva: Exactly. Gotta have a plan.

Sadhana: You’ve gotta have a plan, you’ve gotta have a strategy in place. So, you know there’s a people piece, people are going to fear it. People are going to be not accepting of it because they have pre-conceived ideas of what that means. Your systems and processes are going to come under pressure, particularly if they are very paper bound and paper-based and tick box and checklists, and all that stuff and you really have to become digitized and create an online system.

Eva: But that’s a great, I guess, piece in itself because it’s cost saving to the business also.

Sadhana: Absolutely. I don’t have a filing cabinet in my business anymore. We don’t have files, right, you know. The other piece is around exactly what is the person offshore going to do?

What Tasks Do Your Team Members Do?

Eva: Which brings me to my next question. What do your team members do? Because you got two now, you start up with one.

Sadhana: Yes, we’ve now got two.

Eva: So let’s talk about Pia, she does most of your administration. What does she actually do for you?

Sadhana: Before I answer that, you know it’s tied in with this answer because it’s around we’ve got Pia doing what she’s supposed to do sitting in another country. Your team in Australia needs to find a way to connect with her. I always say to people: “Pia is not sitting next to you so if you want her to do something, you actually have to skype her in, bring her into our meetings, get her to understand what our business is like because she’s a long way away and she doesn’t get it.

So, Pia at the moment processes all of our arrears up to a certain point and then the property managers take it over. She does lease renewals, rent reviews, she does all of our filing so all about on online filing. She puts the new properties into the system, she does a lot of the phone calls to the tenants following up on maintenance. She’s actually now starting to answer our calls between 10 in the morning and 4 in the afternoon. We have the ability to divert our phones to Pia and we have to put a new phone system in to do that but we can divert the phones to Pia and it means that the property managers in that period of time can really do a lot of catchup.

Future Of The Business With The Help Of Outsourcing

Sadhana: In my head, for me, the future of my business and how outsourcing links in is I want to create a business because we manage properties all over Melbourne. So, we’re not just suburb based right? That comes as its own challenges but my vision is I want a hot desk office. I want have an office that is not too big but I have hot desks for property managers to come in.

Eva: Maybe in a shared space.

Sadhana: Shared space, yeah. They can work from home; they can work on the road because everything is cloud based. They can talk to Pia on Zoom, and Skype and everything else. We have admin on the office but property managers are out meeting clients, working with owners, meeting tenants, building that relationship, and then we have a whole admin team behind them.

Eva: Supporting them.

Sadhana: That’s right. So we have a support team. But even more than that, I mean my other vision is to get people like Pia and that to start making phone calls to a number of people that we meet every single day to upsell. You know? Look at McDonalds and you I know it’s an overused example.

Eva: Would like the fries with that?

Sadhana: Would you like the fries? These sixteen year-olds who upsell fries all over the world.

Eva: Upsizing you to the next…

Sadhana: Coke or whatever it is. And we don’t do that yet we a lot to upsell in our industry. So, I know that potentially Property Managers are not gonna be that good at doing that but how do we then switch it to make it part of somebody else’s role and they upsell the other services.

Advice To Other People Considering Outsourcing

Sadhana: So don’t just go and hire people and think it’s gonna solve your problems, put a real strategy in mind. So, why are you doing it? What elements of the business are you going to outsource? How are you gonna manage the cultural change piece in the business? What does it mean do your systems and processes internally? How is the connection piece going to work with the people that you’ve got sitting offshore?

You know, from meetings to Christmas and all that sort of stuff then you get the outsourcing piece. Otherwise and I’ve seen this happen in a lot of businesses, you’ll go and hire seven people somewhere else but their business here in Australia doesn’t change. So, all you’ve done is just added seven more people.

Eva: To the payroll.

Sadhana: To the payroll. And I think we’re gonna get the focus out of not doing this to save money on people, I’m doing this to create a better environment and change the structure of the business and improve the business. That’s why I’m doing it.