How did you get into outsourcing?

Nadine: Hi, this is Nadine from Affordable Staff. I’m here having a chat with Ray Dibb from Switch Finance. Hey Ray, how are you going?

Ray: I’m good Nadine, how are you?

Nadine: Pretty well thank you, always good to chat.

Ray: Thanks for coming down to our office our humble office and visiting us.

Nadine: I love your office space.

Ray: Thank you.

Nadine: Okay let’s get into it. Why did you decide to outsource?

Ray: Why did I decide to outsource? A few reasons, straight away you think you’re gonna save money. That’s usually the first reason, which can make you feel a little bit guilty saying that, but normally it’s around cost. The other side of it is there’s a lot of compliance in Australia when it comes to hiring people and when you’re in a growth phase in your business you’re a bit nervous taking on new staff because you have to have them for life in this country it’s very hard to sack someone if you don’t need them. So I suppose it makes it a little less daunting to test the waters on how things go adding another staff member when you’re not financially committed or committed to them via Fair Work Australia laws and all that sort of stuff so it gives you a bit of freedom to say, ‘Oh that didn’t really work, we don’t need them so we can let them go without any recourse on us’, that was probably the initial reason.

Nadine: Well you can manage the risk a little bit more if you can control whether you can let someone go if it’s not working.

Ray: Absolutely.

Why is trust an important factor?

Nadine: So, why do you think that trust is an important factor in outsourcing?

Ray: Well as we were discussing before, I think trust is an important factor in every facet of  life. In our particular business being financed for homes and businesses and whatnot, trust is is probably the most important thing in our business. You’re dealing with someone’s most, I suppose, largest financial commitment they’re ever going to make in their life. You’re dealing with very sensitive and personal information dealing with people’s stress, anxiety and the only way you can build rapport with people is if they feel they trust you. So trust goes through a whole organization even to the support staff that order the valuations and everything. It’s trust that they’re going to do the right thing for the customer. The customer basically has implicit trust in us because we handle this whole transaction for them and it can be quite daunting. So yeah trust is a massive thing in our business.

Nadine: So trust would be really important in all business transactions for you not just in the outsourcing space.

Ray: Absolutely, but also you want to know you’re dealing with a company that’s going to make sure your data is protected, that’s a big one, and some people would think if you’re outsourcing that your data could be vulnerable so it’s important that you you make sure you’re dealing with someone that is going to make sure that they’ve got things in place to ensure that and I know you guys are pretty big around security because I did go over to your office and they protect them, they’re pretty strict. I have to check it out.

Nadine: Yeah absolutely. Awesome.

Why did you choose Affordable Staff?

Nadine: Why did you choose Affordable Staff in the first place?

Ray: Well, Affordable Staff was recommended by Chris at our aggregator connective and
that was a plus because you already have brokers using you that use our software Mercury and I thought that gave me a little bit of comfort and I was also referred to another company, my mortgage choice franchisee, at the same time – they’re not as good as us by the way – but anyway he’s a nice bloke and I met with both companies, yourself and the other lady and I just did the pros and cons and you guys just came up better than them at the time and so I thought let’s do it and here we are.

Nadine: Excellent.

Ray: I think, how many 11 months later January I think I went over there January 2019. Coming back during COVID I saw these people with masks on I’m thinking what’s going on, so I don’t watch the news I never know what’s going on. I rang my wife I said there’s all these people wearing masks even the Aussies, it’s mostly Asian people wearing masks, and she goes yeah it’s because of the Coronavirus. I’m just sitting here stupid this is just when i was coming back from your office in Manila there at the airport. And I said, ‘beer doesn’t cause a virus’.

Nadine: No, that would have been because we have had face masks going for a while because of other viruses like the bird flu and things like that so people were already very

Ray: Everyone at the airport had a mask on except me I felt a bit out of it but anyway.

Nadine: That’s all right!

Do you feel that outsourcing is taking jobs from Australians?

Nadine: Do you think that outsourcing is taking jobs away from Australians?

Ray: I did initially. I tried this a few years back and I was unsuccessful at it but the company I used they didn’t specialize in our industry. I suppose that had a little bit to do with it as well. They’re a fairly small company starting out and after it failed I sort of thought to myself, well that served yourself right trying to be a scab and take jobs away from Australians. So, then when I did need to increase my staff, I tried actually sourcing locally and I couldn’t get anyone. I couldn’t believe it. That’s when I decided to try outsourcing again. So to answer your question, I don’t believe so. Otherwise I would have been able to source someone locally. But there was no one, I didn’t have many applicants and the ones I had were atrocious. So, I don’t believe we are taking jobs away from Australians at all.

Nadine: Do you think that maybe having the outsourced support mechanism in place has actually enabled you to hire more locally now?

Ray: It definitely helps because we’ve expanded our team locally while having Sid over there as well and he’s taken a load off but we’ve also expanded our brokers with our business as well. So it’s enabled us to leverage and I sort of envisage down the track once our guy Sid over there is up to the task, he will then have his own trainee sitting next to him and perhaps build a team over there slowly but surely.

What has outsourcing enabled you to do that you didn’t think you would before you started?

Nadine: So it’s enabled you to leverage, which is fantastic, but other than the leverage what has outsourcing enabled you to do that maybe you didn’t think you were able to do prior?

Ray: I suppose I didn’t think having someone working remotely in the office could be successful or as successful it’s sort of evolved to be yeah but we were pushed forward into the I suppose electronic and remote way of doing business during COVID. We were sort of doing that a little bit beforehand but I’m certainly an expert, oh no I won’t say expert, but I’m certainly a lot better at using Zoom and and you know we’re creating videos when we when we do training with Sid over there. So we’re building a bit of a library of videos on how to do things so he’ll always record or I’ll record and save it. It’s helped push me forward to using a little bit more technology that’s available out there. I wouldn’t have thought I’d need a soft phone so we had to learn up how to set up a soft phone computer using VOIP and all that sort of thing and that’s worked fine and you know he rings me on that phone on the mobile in the office and I think I’m in the office and the office number’s ringing me how did that happen and then I realized it’s Sid over there because I’ve shut zoom down but it sort of pushed me forward a bit to using a little bit more technology and thinking outside the box on how to work with people that don’t necessarily have to physically be in your office.

Nadine: More online communication.

Ray: But I’m by nature a very social person so I do prefer the in-person type thing but it feels like they’re in your office anyway when they’re on the big screen so it’s not too bad.

How are your local team working with your outsourced team?

Nadine: How has your local team found working with an outsourced person?

Ray: I’ll admit it was very challenging at the start but going great now. You gotta get over that hump and getting used to a new way of doing things. Julie my PA and the office manager, she’s been doing this a very long time, so it was about her also adjusting to doing something totally different, totally new and out of her comfort zone. She’s used to training people that are sitting next to her. So, I think she struggled a little bit with that, with him not being there but she’s really good with it now and she actually quite enjoys interacting with Sid. I think he’s not as scared of her as he was, which is a good thing!

Nadine: It’s probably helped Julie and your other team members to become more online as well and be able to work in that manner.

Ray: I think it has expanded their horizons a little bit, I think it’s opened their minds up a little bit as well. You know, initially people were, ‘Oh this isn’t going to work’, so they go into it a little bit close minded and I’m the type of person, a bit like yourself, very stubborn. If I say something has gotta work, it’s gotta work and we’re not going to stop until it works. Simple as that. So I basically said if this doesn’t work, I’m shutting the business down. And that sort of got the message across.

Nadine: Wow, that’s tenacious but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.

Ray: No, you gotta push hard. As I said, if it was easy everyone would be doing it. Some things worth doing are sometimes a bit challenging, you’ve gotta get over that hump. And once you do, the rewards are there. So maybe it’s not immediate gratification that you get from something, you kind of have to wait a little bit.

Nadine: Exactly.

Ray: You’ve to be able to see past that and that’s what has been great. If we weren’t in COVID I would be flying Sid over to have our Christmas party with us here. But we can’t do that unfortunately so maybe next year.

Nadine: We’ll bring your whole team over.

Ray: Yeah, exactly.

What measurable results have you found in outsourcing?

Nadine: From outsourcing, what kind of measurable or other type of results have you experienced?

Ray: As I said, I’m not much of a measurer so to speak, maybe I should be I don’t know but I sort of measure with my own intuition so to speak and I know I’m not a woman I won’t have the same intuition as a woman but I’ve got pretty good intuition and it’s certainly helped us leverage our business. I sense there’s been a load taken off when it comes to doing a lot of tasks – the word mundane is probably not the right word – but there can be some repetitive tasks in there and that can slow the office down and Sid helps take a lot of those away such as ordering valuations, saving of supporting documents, which can be quite time consuming when people send just a zip file of stuff all jumbled in there together it’s not named or anything, then you’ve got to go and divide them all up and name them that can be very time consuming. He’s been really good and helpful with that. So it has it has definitely leveraged the business and helped our business grow.

Nadine: So it’s actually helped your local team to have a bit more capacity.

Ray: It helps the the brokers obviously by having that extra bit of support there as well.

What advice would you have for another broker looking to outsource?

Nadine: What advice would you give to a mortgage broker or other person who’s looking to do outsourcing now?

Ray: Well first bit of advice; come and plug and play with Switch Finance and don’t worry about the stress of dealing all that but if you still want to worry about the stress then be patient and you’ve got to break things up into small bite-sized pieces if you just try to teach a support staff everything that’s involved there’s a lot of moving parts and you’ve seen our flow chart there and that’s only just a part of or it’s more of a summary more than a detailed flowchart so there’s a lot of moving parts and if you try to get them to do everything or do the whole process straight away you’ll lose them, so you’ve got to break it up into small
bite-sized modules get them expert in each one before you move them on so they can eat, breathe and sleep that job, that task then you add the next one on so it might take a little bit longer but you’ll end up with a very robust staff member and hopefully they don’t leave you.

Nadine: Well, hopefully they don’t and we’re actually trying to keep that model in place you know so you have a long-term placement for someone to grow and be promoted within your business it’s in everybody’s best interest.

Ray: You don’t want to spend having all that time training someone to have them then be poached or move on so I know there’s going to be a little bit of challenge in I suppose keeping someone interested in there for the long term but I’m sure you’ve got some ideas around that. I always have ideas and I’ll love to help you with those.

Nadine: Excellent excellent. So would you say that the recording of systems and processes from the videos in a documented process is quite important?

Ray: Well whenever we do a zoom when I’m teaching Sid something or that Julie’s teaching him, he’ll always record it or I’ll record it, save it as a little video, we’ll name it whatever it was about and that’s starting to build a bank of a library of different video training videos that he can go to and look at if he needs to. He has, when he first started, converting them into a written process and I suppose that helps it sink in a bit better. We’ve probably been a little bit busy lately for him to do that, which is a good thing that we’ve been busy, but as I said at the moment he’s doing two certain types of tasks and we’re getting him expert in those so I don’t think he needs to be turned into written tasks now because he’s just doing them all the time so it will end up being muscle memory for him basically.

Nadine: If you are looking at placing a second team member that might actually be a good activity for a new person to do breaking those videos down into a written process because it will help them accelerate their learning curve.

Ray: Absolutely, they always say when you write something you remember it better than if you just read it, I agree.

Nadine: Awesome. This is Nadine from Affordable Staff just signing off with Ray from Switch Finance.

Ray: Thank you.

Nadine: Nadine from Affordable Staff, helping businesses build efficiency through outsourcing.

Ray’s testimonial

Ray: Hey guys, Ray here from Switch Finance just like to give a little plug for Affordable Staff. We engaged them almost a year ago in November 2019 and I went over there in January to view their operation and spend a week there training my new staff member and I was very impressed with their facility, the whole process. Nadine was excellent leading up to me going overseas to check the offices out and they’ve been very supportive and very helpful and nothing’s been too hard we’ve had a few hiccups with the initial staff member getting sick and they’ve worked very hard to find me a brilliant staff member. We now have Sid, very happy with him and we’re training him up now to hopefully be a team leader in the future. So they’re highly recommended especially if you’re with connective because I have a lot of connected brokers there so quite well versed with our software mercury but very happy I highly recommend them. Thanks guys.