Hi, this is Nadine from Affordable Staff. And I’m here having a bit of a chat with Jo & Scott Beattie from Cube Home Loans. Hi, guys. How are you?
Good, thank you.
All right. Let’s get into it.
How did you get into outsourcing?
Why did you guys initially get into outsourcing?
I think for me, personally, it was something that I wanted to trial for quite a while. Scott was a little bit resistant to it and I guess to the unknown. And we went through the rural commission where we had a PA working in our office obviously because of there was a little bit of instability at that stage. She was offered a job by bank and we were more than happy for her to move on because it was a great offer and we had a great relationship with her that obviously left us a little bit snowed under. And I was actually able to convince him at that time to maybe we should look at this and you know and I couldn’t see any downsides and we jumped in.
Okay, awesome. So having a little bit less liability by not having to employ here in Australia again while you’re going through those uncertain times actually kind of prompted you to go towards outsourcing.
I think it was a bit of both so two things, one is if we employed someone and we did close our doors because of the recommendations we just it was just an unknown I think at that time we obviously would have had to go through redundancies and so on. Whereas with outsourcing we could arguably turn that tap off within a relatively short period of time without that associated liability with that kind of thing. And because we were so busy with a great problem to have, we couldn’t it wasn’t just as a matter of riding the wave and seeing how long we could last we knew we were only just keeping our head above water. So to be able to get someone who was already trained up in our software that we were using and hit the ground running was a big appeal to us in that regard.
Yeah. So a boost in capacity almost yeah. Okay great.
Why is trust an important factor?
Next question. Why is trust an important factor or such an important factor when it comes to outsourcing?
I think for me as a broker I don’t want the customer to feel that they’re being outsourced. So I’m happy for our admin to be outsourced but I don’t want the customer to be, to feel that they’re being outsourced. So there’s a couple of things I, one thing from a compliance perspective I like that it protects me, there’s a, the data is maintained in Australia so it’s not physically going offshore. But also importantly for me as the broker, I’m, it’s a very high touch, high relationship based business or industry so that wasn’t lost in outsourcing our admin side of things.
Yeah, yeah. So making sure you have appropriate structure so that your customers are still getting the customer service.
And it’s seamless from their perspective that they don’t as I say, they don’t feel like they’re being outsourced. It’s the admin workers being outsourced, not the customer. So for them, to be honest when I speak to customers and I actually say ‘oh look they’re actually in manila’, they’re generally quite shocked, generally quite shocked because they haven’t um, they’re not aware and that’s great because I don’t want them to, it’s not like I don’t want them to know that I, but I don’t want them to go or they must be in Manila. If that makes sense.
They’re not in Manila actually. Yeah we’re actually in a different city altogether. Well that’s actually okay. Yeah, um overseas we’re in the Philippines but on a central island.
And in a city called Bacolod.
Yes okay yeah.
The City of Smiles.
Okay. In the Philippines.
Yes, in the Philippines.
Why did you choose Affordable Staff?
Why did you choose Affordable Staff when you went with outsourcing?
I think for me; I had met you at an awards night. It was quite a while before we actually decided to outsource. And as I said before I’d been thinking about it and we had a chat. And I loved that you were so accessible. I guess it just wasn’t kind of a random company that we were, you know, jumping on board with. We also, our aggregator did a little bit of a spot and I think you got up and introduced, you know, the program and what it was and we also had a couple of brokers that we knew and respected and used you. The fact that we also knew that the staff, your staff were trained in our CRM system was a big bonus to us because it was kind of like a head start already.
Yeah. That forms part of our regular training and we do use Mercury as the interface. But we do train our team to be thinkers, not processors. So, you know, if they’re faced with a different CRM, they’ll still know that the information, certain information goes into certain fields in that CRM. So it’s not like a total shock for them if they’re working with another one.
Do you feel that outsourcing is taking jobs from Australians?
Do you feel that outsourcing is taking jobs from Australians?
I think you need to look at it two ways. Um, for me as a small business owner, if I put an admin person on, at the end of the day we’re a relatively small business. There’s a very limited career progression path for an admin person. Perhaps other than learning, breaking, and progressing in that regards. So for me as a small business owner I’d prefer to minimize my costs in outsourcing to a specialist where there’s a team of people in my, in our case we have two and I’d prefer to devote those, that time and end of your resources in Australia to investing into brokers which will give us return on investment or a dollar value, I guess in that regards. So for me, that’s yes, I’m sure there are jobs that aren’t being taken, that aren’t being utilized in Australia because of that, but I think it depends, you need to look at where you’re resourcing your business in that regards.
Yeah. So in increasing your broker’s capacity by not having them have to do the admin, improves their ability to grow their own.
Correct. So they’re les bogged down in the admin, in the non-income producing side of the business. So I guess if you read e-myth, you should never be doing anything like that. So in that regards, it’s probably a better utilization of skills that if the brokers have more time, they’re going to be hopefully riding more productively which is more profitable for us as a business owner, more profitable for the broker, they’ve got a better work-life balance which should hopefully give them a better longevity in the industry as well.
Yeah. And it’s actually facilitating a little bit of growth for your company as well because you’re not having non-income generating employees trying to do income-generating activities as well.
What has outsourcing enabled you to do that you didn’t think you would before you started?
So what has outsourcing enabled you to do that you didn’t think you would be able to before you started?
For me as a broker, there’s a couple things that we’ve always tried to maintain doing loans reviews and that kind of thing but obviously, when it’s busy, those tasks get very easily left to later, so it enables us to have a better maintenance program with our clients. The great things about that maintenance program is it’s actually involved generating new business that’s kind of come from nothing from a ‘how you’ve got a loan with XYZ bank? let’s do a review’ in some cases the customers just got a better deal and stay put in other cases. They’ve been able to generate an entire new loan and if they’re an existing customer and often I don’t even have to have a lot of involvement to do that. So it’s enabled me to not only maintain the volume I\m doing with the increased compliance and paperwork required in the current world but also increase my volume and maintain growth that I don’t know if I’d be able to do on a long term basis without that admin support.
And kind of maintaining your customer service as well.
Correct yeah. Well, it’s you just, you’ve got, something’s got to give so there’s only, for you, in your case very lucky there’s only one of me.
We’ve been able to have the odd day off too which has been nice and, you know, everything still keeps ticking over, so.
That’s always a bonus, isn’t it? As a business owner, we often don’t understand what a public holiday is. And we don’t really take accrued leave. I mean, if I accrued my leave and then tracked what I haven’t used. I may be able to retire for a year.
To give you an idea, this morning, Joe and I went out for a coffee. We were only gone for just 20 minutes but it was just something different to be able to do that we, you know, we still had stuff to do as soon as we walked back in the door but it was just nice to not have to do it here and have coffee in front of the office, in front of the desk, be able to go somewhere.
Just to get some space.
And just have a quick chat and it was just nice to, in that regard.
How are your local team working with your outsourced team?
How are your local team working with your outsourced team? How are you finding that?
So we have, myself included, there’s four of us as brokers, so we have two Vas. Junior VA if you like is pricing and valuation-based. So all of us has access to her and what she does is just the pricing and valuations for any loan or existing loan for review and so on. The reason I do, we do that, is I want the customer to have the same experience whether they’re dealing with me or one of the guys. If the other guys’ busy and go, I won’t worry about doing pricing or something like that. I just don’t want the customer to have that inequitable experience if they’re dealing with someone else as opposed to me. So that’s part one. Our senior VA, only two of us utilize those but the other guys contributes to his cost. But he does more the loan processing, the servicing calculators and that kind of thing. And in a lot of cases the data’s in house in Mercury, in our software, which often the VA has actually input. So to be able for them to then just transpose that data into their respective lenders, servicing calculator is a massive free up of time and it’s only if there’s a problem they need to involve me in that regard. S it’s definitely two-part to what we do. One is the pricing and valuation and loan reviews. The second is the loan processing side including servicing calculators and obviously compliance documents and that kind of thing.
Yeah. So your local employees who are brokers actually feeling a bit more supported from the assistant rather than feeling like their position is at risk.
Well, correct. And they get to utilize, they get to utilize those services at no cost if you like. I mean they don’t directly pay. So, and again it just makes it a similar experience who work for the customer. Whoever you’re dealing with, it should be the same. Whereas I know, probably not to the same extent in the current market but I previously, not all lenders are used to offer upfront valuation so some brokers will go ‘why would I bother?’ because the lender will do it for me. Whereas to me I’d like that we could control that process. So now we have our guys utilizing all the same services obviously with pricing, some lenders price better with others. So knowing who to price against, again the customer gets an equitable experience regardless of who they’re dealing with within our team.
Yeah, so everything’s quite even.
What measurable results have you found in outsourcing?
What measurable results have you found from outsourcing?
Well, I know that we certainly have written a lot more business this year than we probably could have handled without the Vas. And you know, it’s been a busy year and I guess that most people know that you know, there’s been an influx of business and we haven’t had to turn that away. Whereas previously you know, not having the level of staffing that we have now. We probably would have had to turn that away, and you know.
Which no one wants to do.
Oh well, in a battle he would have been lying on the floor right now.
So, no. We just were a bit, I guess we utilize the team in that regards which we still do, but it’s dependent on the customer’s circumstances. So for example, even though I’m arguably at capacity now, if I get a loan that doesn’t require a face-to-face visit. It’s something that I can take on without really having to diminish my time. So the guys can process that loan for me that with minimal involvement from me especially if they customer doesn’t require a face-to-face visit. For example, they’re an existing customer or they’re interstate, so a lot of that is enabling us to take on more volume. We wouldn’t give it away per se. But it may go to the other guys. So our brokers may not like it as much. But I may take on more in that regards than I perhaps would have otherwise.
Yeah, so it’s allowed you to actually continue to take on the growth without the business falling over or an individual just having way too much to do.
Without it affecting our clients’ experience
Yeah. Which has stayed at a good customer service level.
Yeah. Okay great.
What advice would you have for another broker looking to outsource?
What advice would you have for another person or another broker looking to outsource?
For me, just do it like you’ve got nothing to lose. Obviously, you need to expect there’s going to be some teething with anything. People have to be trained in the way that you want them to work, but honestly, we don’t regret doing it which is obvious because we now have two. But yeah, it definitely has been a good thing for us and for our business and I think for Scott as well.
Yeah, I think for me as a broker, it is a demanding role that people are Facebook messaging you, they’re texting you, they’re calling you, the real estates ring you, the solicitors ring you, the banks ring you, so there’s always, it’s sort of, to enable that, to I guess give me as a broker a better balance is important. Doesn’t mean I still get calls and messages and so on and there are no dramas there, but I don’t always have to, I don’t have to personally to those. Quite often I can outsource the response to that by getting our guys to do that and in turn, letting the customer know that I don’t have to be the point of contact for every single thing. Some people will always contact me for everything and that’s fine but what we’re trying to let them know is that it’s not just me and that’s something we encourage in the loan interview as well, that it’s not just me, it’s a team. The other thing from a customer perspective I like that we’ve got these other admin staff because it gives us a better perception of size so perhaps we’re bigger than we are if you like. So it gives that customer perhaps a bit of comfort that we’re not just a mom and dad operation, so to speak.
Yeah, and they feel like they have more points of contact which actually eases things up on the broker.
Yeah. And if someone’s not about like if I’m sick or on holidays, it doesn’t stop.
Yeah. Excellent. Thank you, guys. It’s been amazing having a talk with you about your outsourcing experience. This is Nadine from Affordable Staff, signing off.