Hi Damien here from Affordable Staff. Tonight I’ve got Melanie Dennis and Hayley Mitchell from Domain and Co, and Eva joining me from Affordable Staff. We’ve come to have a little conversation about outsourcing and how you found it in Domain and Co.
Why did you decide to outsource?
Mel – Damien, I’ve been looking at outsourcing for a couple of years. Probably about 4 years. It’s one of those things that’s been on my to-do list. But when we first, I guess, started looking at it about 4 years ago, it was a bit of a complicated process. I felt that we needed to go overseas to train the person. We had to set up their computer. It was all, I don’t know, too hard, I suppose.
Met you guys at a conference and had a chat about really how easy it was and I guess 4 years on, perhaps, from when I first looked at it, it just seemed a lot easier.
Damien – So it wasn’t an overnight decision for you?
Mel – No. And it was nothing around being worried about outsourcing. Or you know there’s a lot of people that have, I guess, the stigma about our jobs going overseas or whatever they might have.
We had no worries about how that was going to work. It was just really the logistics of it all and the timeframe of it all.
Eva – Very daunting. There’s a lot of unknowns.
Mel – Exactly. Absolutely.
Damien – So, what about you, Hayley? How did you discover outsourcing?
Hayley – Through Melanie. It was something that was on the agenda and she spoke about. And then all of a sudden she goes, “We’ve got someone in the Philippines!” And I go, “Oh, excellent!” Surprise.
Damien – But you’ve come from a different background. So you’ve come back up to the property management world but also from a training point of view. So it’s something as an industry we all talk about.
Hayley – Yeah. It’s a very hot topic.
Mel – It’s still actually surprising how many people aren’t doing it. I thought a lot more people would be doing it. But you know the girls around the room who’s outsourcing and there’s not that many people.
Damien – Do you think that’s because they’re afraid to put their hand up?
Mel – Maybe, I don’t know. I guess in an environment of property managers, why would you be?
Eva – It could be the fear, the fear of making the actual leap can be, I guess, challenging at times.
Mel – Yeah. Having, you know, I guess your own systems and your own back-end in place has made a big difference to us in starting it. And having the continuity of ease of training. Just check out page 31 of our bible and I’ll talk to you about that later.
So that’s made it really fantastic and maybe a lot of agencies don’t have that in place to be able to think about it.
How Did You Prepare Your Business To Outsource?
Mel – Our business is very systemized and procedure-driven, checklist-driven, anyway. So we really had those things in place to be able to train a lot easier. And having procedures and systems in place to then help somebody new learn. And that’s not just someone from outsourcing from overseas. That’s for any new person in our business. It’s always gonna make a massive difference.
How Are Your Local Team Working With Your Offshore Team?
Mel – As far as I’m aware, we’ve been very, I guess, open with our team in integrating Sunshine in and educating them that it’s no different to having anyone sitting next to us, sitting in another office, sitting upstairs in our office. That Sunshine is just on the computer, on the phone, the same way as they are. And it’s just educating them that it is just like somebody sitting next to you. It’s no different, really. Cause she’s there whenever we need her and how we need her.
Eva – I guess an analogy I quite like to use is, they’re literally just sitting in the office next to you, but there’s no door to the office. How would you communicate, how would you interact with a person in that environment.
Mel – Yeah. Absolutely. And we have heard some people say or the pitfalls are blah. But it’s no different to any pitfall when employing anybody. It’s the same thing. You still have to manage to make sure they’re doing their work effectively. Manage to make sure their work is correct. Manage to make sure they have, I guess, a day of work to be able to achieve. No different to anyone sitting next to me in the office or in the, you know, next room.
Why Did You Choose Us?
Mel – Met you guys at a conference and liked the way you did things. I spoke to a couple of recruiting companies and also some other friends of mine who are doing recruiting direct with the people overseas rather than through a company.
I like the fact that you guys are managing the HR kind of perspective so that sort of takes off that workload off of me to be able to manage that type of thing. But also, you know, not every company has phone calls. Like a lot of companies won’t do phone calling out on purpose. That’s just their thing. And you know just the way that it’s all come together.
Sunshine is part of us and Noelle, we’ve recently employed as well. So we have someone on the sales side of things, too. They’re part of our team. So if they can’t do everything that we’re doing, it doesn’t make sense to me, I suppose. It closes off what they can do if they can’t do all of the aspects everyone in my team can do.
What Limitations Have You Found So Far In Outsourcing?
Mel – Well, it’s tricky for them to do letterbox-dropping, hopping for inspections. You know, these sorts of tasks is I guess a great sort of limitation. And one day maybe they might come and visit us and we can train them how to do that, too. I’m not sure, no.
Limitations, no. Look their English is fantastic. Noelle is doing more phone work now that what Sunshine is, just because of the nature of what she’s had to do. And that’s been absolutely fantastic. The phone system that we’ve got set up through the computer is having no issues with delay or all those sorts of things. Their English is sometimes better than our staff’s. That sort of thing.
So I actually haven’t found any limitations except for they’re not on the ground to be able to go out and do things but that’s not what their role is.
Eva – I guess from the infrastructure perspective. It’s so important to make sure that, I guess, we’ve invested a lot of time and effort in making sure that we have the infrastructure set up correctly on our end to ensure that you don’t have the delays.
Mel – Yeah. And we’re not getting that. You know, internet speed’s always getting better and technology’s always getting better so I can only say getting better and better over time.
How Have You Integrated Your Team?
Hayley – The fact that they’re both really excited. Like Mel said the other day, “Oh Sunshine, we can teach you something new tomorrow.” She’s like, “Oh I’m so excited. Can’t wait till tomorrow!” I’m like, what staff ever says that?
Mel – And then in the morning I get, “Oh I’m really excited to be learning today.”
Hayley – It is, it’s different. And she’s got so much energy and she’s a good part of the team.
Mel – I think a big difference with her is that we have integrated her into our team, we’ve really made an effort to make sure she’s felt welcome as the team. She’s not back in the administration person for us and that’s, you know, some companies do have that, I get that and that’s what they want.
Sunshine for us, it’s very important that she’s part of our team. So our team have their birthdays off, day off. Sunshine and Noelle get their birthdays off. You know, they get their cake.
Eva – They get a cake, yes, they love the cheesecake.
Mel – Send them a care package when they start with, you know, bits and pieces to welcome them to Australia. It’s no different.
Hayley – They’re on our meetings, as well. Yeah, we have them in our meetings.
Eva – Do you actually have them on a call?
Mel – Yeah, so we’re using Zoom for the video conferencing and they’re there with us through our meetings.
Damien – How have you found that with the team?
Mel – Oh they love it. And look, the things that they’re tasked are, some of them are to pick up the team on what they’ve done wrong. And the team want to impress Sunshine.
So I say to them, “Hey guys, you’ve done this wrong.” They’re like, “Oh god, here we go. Mel’s telling me again. I’m gonna fix this.” But if it’s Sunshine, it’s “Oh yes, what can I do Sunshine to fix that for you?” So the whole integration has been really fabulous.
What Would You Say To Someone Thinking About Outsourcing?
Mel – I think they’d be worried about it but we haven’t employed the team overseas to get rid of any team we have in our office. That’s not why we’ve done it.
It’s to add value to the team in our office. So they can do things that are more I guess client-facing and client-building relationships. While we’ve got a team in the Philippines doing some of the back-end things to help them out in their day-to-day operations.
Eva – I guess that’s the real purpose behind. It’s not to take jobs, it’s to assist.
Mel – Exactly. And also, more service to our clients, too. You know, we’re introducing a lot of things that we just could not have done otherwise.
So now, when we’re brainstorming, we could do this. “Oh great, Sunshine and Noelle could achieve that for us.” Whereas before we just didn’t have the manpower to achieve it. So I think now, we can give a much higher level of service to our clients because they’re helping the team do that.
And yeah, I think it’s overall, jump in and do it. You know, try and have your systems and procedures down, because that does make it easier. But if you don’t, they will help you do it. So if you’re thinking I’ve got to get my systems and procedures down, employ them to help you do that. And get them to own the process.
It’s gonna build your business up and help you in employing any new staff on the ground as well as overseas.