Nadine: Hi, I’m Nadine from Affordable Staff and I’m here with Paul from Raise Finance just to talk a little bit about Paul’s experience within outsourcing and using us as his outsourcing provider. And perhaps to help us gain some insight for other people who may be looking at outsourcing to see if there’s anything that could be learned.
Why Did You Decide To Outsource?
Paul: I decided to outsource because I was getting bogged down in the mundane day-to-day tasks of mortgage broking. It was really stopping my efficiencies or was limiting my efficiencies when it comes to seeing customers. It was really taking a lot of my time.
Things like email management, managing the emails as they’re coming through, not missing any emails, not missing files that were coming through from customers. Saving the files, naming them, putting files together. A whole raft of admin stuff that stops you, takes time away from building a relationship with the customers.
Nadine: You’ve said a little bit earlier that it’s the relationship that actually matters, especially these days.
Paul: Yeah I mean, for me as a broker, I like just sitting and interacting with the customers. I like talking to customers, I like having coffee with them, talking about what is it they’re trying to achieve, building relationships with them. I’m not great with the administration side of things. It’s not that I can’t do it, it’s that it’s probably my least preferred. And so, if I can get someone else to handle that for me, and I’m confident that I’m not gonna miss anything, then I feel at ease. So by having a VA, it really frees up a lot of my time.
Trust As An Important Factor In Outsourcing
Nadine: Why do you think trust is an important factor in outsourcing?
Paul: This is a good question because in our business we collect a lot of sensitive information from clients. We know probably more than most of their family knows. How much they earn, we know what debts they’ve got, we scroll through their bank accounts, we know their spending habits are, their patterns of behaviour. We know a lot of sensitive information.
So by that going to an external source outside your office can be a daunting task because you’re wondering how that’s going to be managed. So it’s important that whoever you’re dealing with has the right systems in place that can’t be used and come back to say, “Well that information was provided to you, Paul” and that then was then leaked or went missing or something happened to it. So it’s extremely important.
Nadine: I have to agree. I mean, working with an outsourcing company that you know is protecting your clients’ data is an absolute must.
Paul: Absolutely. I mean, some of the clients we have are very sensitive clients. Not just them personally but maybe their jobs and what particular job they might do. Some of my customers are high court judges, and lawyers, and high level accountants, and politicians, and sports stars, and things like that. So you’ve got people in very sensitive positions and you just can’t afford for anything to go missing.
Nadine: Yeah, understandable. Systems and recorded process.
Why Did You Choose Affordable Staff?
Paul: I’ve always looked at outsourcing but wasn’t quite sure where to go with it. And like anything in life, if something is recommended to you, you tend to have a far more trust leaning towards that source.
So, there was a broker in our aggregator that was using your services and that broker then spoke, did a webinar to our aggregator and I watched that webinar. And I got in contact with that broker, sought more information from them, learned more about your company from that broker. And then was comfortable enough to then make that step to transition to chatting with you, and then having that conversation with you.
Is Outsourcing Taking Away Jobs From Australia?
Paul: Your initial reaction is yes, because that’s a job that an Australian could be doing and all the rest of it. But, if you look at it in a positive light, I took on VAs and then that gave me the ability to leverage my time which then produced more income. And from that, I’ve been able to then hire more staff in Australia.
So I’ve gone from me and one other guy, to me, two VAs, another mortgage broker, and now I just hired two other staff. So in the initial instance it’s like, yes, you’re taking away a job from Australia but I can tell you if those two people were Australians, it wouldn’t give me the financial leverage to then take on more income-producing staff.
So by taking care of the backend admin, I’ve then been able to leverage my time, produce more income, then hire more staff, and then build a team around VAs. And the VAs are the support mechanism to the income-producing staff, which are all here in Australia.
Nadine: Yeah, I mean, paperwork and administration is critical and compliant, but it doesn’t make money come in.
Paul: It doesn’t make money.
Nadine: Would you say then that outsourcing has actually enabled you to hire more customer-focused staff?
Paul: Precisely. We’ve been able to grow our team because I’ve learned the art of using VAs to leverage a certain part of my business, and then allow that part of my business to run its course and allow it to run. And then I can take my focus away from that, and then build another part of my business and then grow that using the same process.
So it’s always about freeing up your time, and then looking at other areas of your business. So we’ve taken on, we’re doing insurances as well now. So we do risk insurance now. That is another income-producing area that coupled with mortgages go hand-in-hand. So I’ve only been able to do that by getting the mortgages all set, and getting that process with the VAs sorted. Then I’ve then turned to the insurance going, “How do I grow the insurance part of the business?” And so we’ve grown that.
And then we’ve now been able to add more services to do with house and land packages, and build those. So, you get that sorted with your VAs, you move on to the next bit, and you move on to the next bit. But it all starts with having the confidence to take on a VA.
Nadine: Yeah. And the administrative capacity then creates more capacity.
Paul: Yep. Absolutely.
Limitations In Outsourcing
Paul: Initially with the limitations with outsourcing was learning how to manage someone that’s not in your office. So these VAs are located in another country. Using technology to interact with them every single day as if they’re in your office.
Now when someone’s in your office, you can look across and see what they’re doing and you can be straight onto it straight away. With VAs you can’t do that. You have to be able to set yourself and set your agenda for the day where you communicate with them at the beginning, give them instructions, and then throughout the day, using video conferencing technology, you keep communicating with them even though they’re overseas.
But the beauty about this is that you can keep communicating with them when you’re on the move. So if you had someone in your office, you’d only be able to look at them if you’re in the office with them. But having VAs overseas, sometimes I work from my office here where we’re located. I could be on the move, so I could be in my car. Or I could be back home and working from home, still plugged into my staff.
But if I had staff here in Australia, I wouldn’t know what they’re doing unless I was physically located in the same spot.
Nadine: Which kind of goes against what you’re trying to do with getting capacity to be out of the office with your clients.
Paul: Yeah, that’s right. I mean, if you have lots of staff in Australia, then you need lots of real estate. You need to hire big offices and that all adds to the cost. If anything, my office has come down in size. So we’ve taken on more staff but we’ve come down in size in terms of what we leased.
Nadine: It sounds like another efficiency.
Paul: Another efficiency. We were spending $60,000 a year in rent and that’s come down to like $20,000.
Paul: So we saved $40,000 grand a year in rent just because of the real estate side of things and then you re-invest that into staff which then build your efficiency which then build your income.
Local Team Working With The Offshore Team
Paul: I started using the VAs with you a year ago and it’s been an education process for me as to how I’ve then used them to grow the team. The team that I’ve got now in Darwin, they’re new to me in the last six months or so. And they are now learning and going through what I’ve gone with my staff. They’re new to this process. So every month that goes by, we’re all learning something new.
Nadine: I think that it’s always good to continue learning. You can never reach that point of it’s absolutely perfect because it’s gonna be something new coming in that could be a further efficiency. It’s always good to be open.
Paul: And all the staff that we’ve brought on board have never used VAs before. Never used VAs, haven’t used the technology that we use in video conferencing, Loom, Slack, Trello, Sales track. All these different software systems that we used, this is all new to them. And so, they’re learning, VAs are learning, I’m learning, and we’re putting it all together.
What Difference Has Outsourcing Made To Your Business?
Paul: Well, all our admin is sorted. From an email administration point of view, saving, naming files, creating documents, emailing customers to get stuff. All our administration is now better down, and we got that right. And the cost point of that is really effective and that has then allowed us to invest in income-producing stuff.
Nadine: Yeah. Awesome. So, it’s essentially helped you to scale and leverage?
Paul: Scale and leverage. So we’re on that path now. We’re on that path now.
Paul: As I mentioned before, one of the key attributes of having an outsourced staff, it enabled me to build a team around a certain part of my business. That gave me the confidence to allow that to run itself. And then I was able to step away and focus on building another aspect of my business and build that and with the same formula, give that the confidence to be able to run itself integrating with the first bit.
So for example, mortgages, all the associated headaches with collecting data, processing loans and all the rest of it. Having VAs in there with our staff in Australia, we’ve now kind of got that sorted.
I then pulled myself away from being a frontline broker and having to always be there with the client to then managing the business. And then I’ve looked at how we can add value to our business. So we now offer risk insurance, life insurance, income protection, TPD, trauma insurance, business expense insurance, and all the rest of it. And focusing on building a team around that, where anybody that gets a mortgage, you know, as part of the compliance, we talk to them about life insurance, income protection, risk insurance.
From a monetary point of view, you could spend 20 hours on a loan over here, make $3,000, you can spend half an hour on risk insurance over here and make another $3,000. So you can double your income straight away just by being able to have that run its course and then produce something over there that integrates with that. Double your income.
And then, now we’re moving on to another path, house and land packages, builders, land, and all the rest of it. And so we’ll now build that as well.
Nadine: Okay so it’s been really beneficial to you being able to develop a separate income stream that you didn’t have the capacity to attend to before.
Paul: Yeah, that classic “working on your business, not in your business.” Really pull back from being frontline mortgage broking where you can get really sucked into a vortex. And just being able to pull yourself away from that and just let the staff deal with it. Let technology and the staff process the loans, and have confidence that that will happen, and all your compliance is taken care of because we have workflows, we have check sheets, everybody knows what they’re doing. A deal before it moves from this point to this point has to tick all these boxes. You’ve got your compliance sorted. Allow that to run its course. It’s a machine, let it run. And then you can focus on running your business and adding more value to your business in other areas.
Nadine: Yeah, because you’ve been able to step back and trust that the process and the staff that you’ve put in place are handling.
Paul: Yeah, the old 12-mile view. Just come up 12 miles and just look down on your business. That one’s all sorted, onto the next one, get that sorted, onto the next one. But not every broker wants to do that. But at least it gives you the capacity to say, “If I’m only just gonna deal with mortgages, fine.” Get your VAs running the system.
So for example for us, using our technology, I have the meeting with the client or our staff will have a meeting with the client. Then the client uses the client portal to provide all the data, upload all the documents. Then the VA staff come in and pick it up and process the deal. All that gets done behind the scenes. They produce all the documents. I then go in there and do the needs analysis and the product recommendation and then I step out again.
And then the staff just process the compliance documents, send me the compliance documents, sends me the bank documents, all ready for the client to sign. And then I come back in again, then the customer comes in. We sign all the compliance documents, the bank documents and everything. I then send that back to the VA staff, they then file it all, all complied, everything’s done, they send it off to the bank, they process it with the bank, they chase the deal up, they follow the deal up. If they need anything from the client either by phone or by email, they just contact the client.
Of course I’m there all the time, but I don’t need to be there. Those things don’t require me to do it. Staff can do that from anywhere in the world.
And I even tell my customers that technology that we use does this, and we have staff located remotely and their names are Jennifer and Patrick, and this is their role, this is what they do. I introduce the staff, they’re on our website, part of the team. Everybody looks on our website, there’s the staff. Everybody knows. They’re not like a secret that just comes up.
Nadine: No, that’s right and you’ve got a good process there that is working.