David: Hello everyone, welcome. This is David from Affordable Staff and I have here with me–
Damien: Damien from Affordable Staff and we’ve got Sarah here from Melbourne Property Managers. So, welcome along, Sarah.
Sarah: Thank you very much.
David: Thank you for joining us today to have a bit of a chat about your experience in working with us.
Why did you decide to outsource?
Sarah: Well, I started outsourcing about 12 months ago now. I was at the PPM conference in Queensland and Affordable Staff were there.
Damien: I remember it well. I actually remember it really really well.
Sarah: Yes. So I was totally against it at the start come to the point where I actually told Damien here to f– off. Not interested at all.
Damien: Just give me a stamp.
Sarah: All I wanted was a stamp. Yeah. But then I kept walking past and I remember going, “That’s really interesting but no. No, no, no.” And then I listened to the panel that was on. And it was just business leaders that had been using outsourcing and how great it was for them. And you could just tell that everything they were saying was just coming straight from them. They were so raw with their examples and everything.
That completely turned me around. Hearing it from them and how amazing it actually can be was completely fabulous and I actually went back to Damien and got a VA starting within 24 hours from that.
David: So you had your one person now, you’ve got another person.
Sarah: Yes, we’ve just had Kristel start with us probably a week ago.
Damien: So you got Shine and Kristel.
Sarah: Yeah I’ve got two now.
How Is Trust An Important Factor In Outsourcing?
Sarah: Yeah. It was huge, huge amount of trust that you need to have especially from a trust accounting point of view and everything that is on our database, all into one thing.
David: Yes, one location.
Sarah: Exactly. So listening to everyone at PPM, and also talking to you guys at the booth and also talking to the girl who was on the other side of the computer screen.
Sarah: Yeah that was really great. And the thing that got me over the edge was the security that you go through when you’re picking your VA’s. What I was really impressed was that Shine came with a DISC profile. I felt like I knew her before I’ve even spoken to her. I got a copy of her interview. And the security behind everything as well was really impressive. So that’s what pushed me over the edge.
David: Did you see the footage of our visit recently to the Philippines?
Sarah: I did, yeah.
David: I don’t know if you noticed but everyone was wearing a lanyard. We have a guy who stands at the front who won’t let you in unless you have a lanyard.
Sarah: That’s awesome.
Damien: He wouldn’t let me in and I was wearing an Affordable Staff shirt
Damien: Yeah. I didn’t have my lanyard on it was in my bag.
David: Yeah, so. Multiple levels of security.
Sarah: Yeah, exactly.
David: Because we understand we work with a number of different industries including real estate and property management. And security is paramount especially when you’re dealing, like you’re dealing with people’s actual data. People’s information. So that’s important to keep that secure.
Do You Think Outsourcing Is Taking Away Jobs From Local Staff?
Sarah: To be honest if you look at it black and white, yeah you are taking away from jobs in Australia. But you’re also giving people the opportunity to have a job, have a stable job in the Philippines or wherever you choose to outsource. And I think that’s really important as well.
We were actually hiring two assistant property managers at the time that I was at PPM. So what I ended up doing was hiring one VA, so we hired Sunshine and then I also hired one on-shore staff assistant.
But the thing I found as well is going through that interviewing process and finalizing someone in Australia, I was really impressed with Sunshine and her work ethic, her willing to learn. And I think that it’s a massive cultural difference and I think that, as much as I might get sounded for saying it, I think it keeps the Australians on their toes a little bit with just what comes out of the Philippines.
Like Sunshine is incredible. Absolutely amazing. She does everything, she doesn’t complain about it. She’s willing to learn. All she wants to do is learn more and more. And I think that that is you know, really great.
Staff Burnout And Employee Retention
David: Do you think in Victoria or let’s say specifically Melbourne, that burnout of property managers is still a big thing?
Sarah: Huge, definitely. And the best thing about Sunshine is that the team downstairs that we got can leave at 5:00 or leave at 5:30 because they’re not stuck with the mundane tasks of entering tenancies and doing lease renewals and chasing everything and all of that sort of thing because it’s all done for them. So they can come in at 8:30, they can have a lunch break, they can leave at 5:00.
David: How was it beforehand, were they working–
Sarah: Long, long hours.
David: Cause I know Damien coming from the industry that was a big thing that you had as well.
Damien: It seems to be one of the most common things when we’re doing these chats.
Sarah: Yeah definitely.
Damien: We’re finding that, I don’t know how you put it, dollar-value on that. Staff are coming on time and going on time and have you found retention’s increased?
Sarah: To be honest, our clients are happier because they get more communication with our property managers, the on-shore ones, because they’re not, you know, having to enter in all the details. Instead of doing that, they’re calling the landlords, getting the tenants signed pay, we’re doing this, this, and this. And then in the background, Sunshine is adding everything in there so they don’t have to do any of that anymore.
How Are Your Local Team Working With Your Offshore Staff?
Sarah: Yes. So initially when I first came back from the conference in Queensland, there was a lot of push-back on it. Because especially I think in Melbourne, you don’t hear about it a lot. I didn’t even know it was a thing before I met you in Queensland. And because they weren’t able to be at the conference to listen to all of the fantastic things that were there, I did struggle a little bit.
However, once Shine started and was so efficient, they were shocked. Shocked with how on the ball she was and Sunshine surprises the team downstairs everyday with what she’s doing.
How Would You Approach Outsourcing Differently, If You Can?
Sarah: I mean I’d always like to say yes. I always think you can learn from anything. I think that perhaps maybe, I don’t know, I would have liked to have been able to give her more at the start. I found that I’ve been giving her a lot more now and I feel like I’ve sort of wasted six months because I’ve started giving her a lot more now. Yeah.
David: Yeah, okay.
Sarah: That’s probably the only thing. Working out exactly like a list of what you can give to them.
Damien: I find when working with clients, the first three months are almost a discovery period of the client.
Sarah: It is.
Damien: And then they get three months, four, and they sort of go “Okay, everyone’s better. Everyone’s on board. The local team’s happy. I’ve addressed the issues that I need to address. Now, I can start expanding on what the offshore team’s doing for me.” That seems to be pretty common across a lot of the clients we’re working with.
What Difference Has Outsourcing Made For Your Business?
Sarah: Time. Less stress. Straightforward tasks. Amazing. The biggest difference would be just the fact that the property managers can actually talk to their landlords.
David: And just going back to it, cause we sort of touched on it and then I sort of avoided it. I’m not sure. So for you, it meant that you didn’t actually put a local staff team member on. Instead of two, it was one and then another support person
David: And then overall, in your business, it’s assisted with time in the business.
Have You Noticed Any Direct Financial Gains After Outsourcing?
Sarah: So we don’t have a BDM. We’re not looking at growing at the moment. Mainly just for reasons. So when we do get new business calls in, we definitely action in that sort of thing. But for growth, the VA, Sunshine, has really been more stable for our current team that we’ve got.
David: Okay, so helped maintain exactly what you have now.
David: Cause what’s the average drop-off rate of properties every year?
Damien: About 10%.
Sarah: We have a lot of sales at the moment as well.
What Advice Would You Give To Other People Considering Outsourcing?
Sarah: Do it. Just do it. Literally.
David: The words of Nike.
Sarah: Just do it! Just do it! You’re never gonna know unless you don’t. You know it’s scary and it is, I was scared. But once you look into it and work out what you can do, I would always chat to other people who already have them so even setting up like a buddy system or anything like that that they can actually come in and see what the VA does, see how they get trained.
Because I didn’t know you could use Zoom and share your screen and all of that sort of thing. That was fantastic because Sunshine, literally, whenever I teach her something, she would just re-watch it if she needs to, if she has any questions.
David: And that was a big thing. When we were overseas, when all the clients all came together, it was like a massive amount of brainstorming when they all were there and talking together. It might be something we could look at as well.