Damien: Damien here from Affordable Staff and today I’ve got Eva.

Eva: Yes.

Damien: And Mark Taylor from Taylor’s Property Management Specialists down here. Thank you for joining us today. Mark’s been a client of ours for almost 3 years now, I think. Thank you for your time. I suppose I just wanted to talk to you a little bit about your journey, your journey with us, why you decided to outsource. And I suppose give other business owners that are in the property management real estate world a bit of an idea of what to expect, what challenges you found along your journey.

Eva: And what’s it like 3 years into a journey because a lot of people are considering outsourcing at the moment, and it’s becoming quite popular at the moment. But 3 years ago that was a whole new —

Damien: It was new in the industry. I suppose let’s get into it.

Eva: Let’s do it!

Why Did You Decide To Outsource?

Mark: I guess the bottomline for us is we had to move my team away from doing the low value tasks to focus on the high value tasks. We moved from a traditional real estate agency to a specialist agency —

Damien: Cause you used to have sales.

Mark: We used to have sales.

Damien: Traditional real estate sales, property management, the whole lot.

Mark: We’re now just focused on property management and with that, it brought on expectations that were much higher and we have now much higher expectational standards. I didn’t want my team doing low-value stuff when I’m preparing them for —

Damien: Financial — was financial consideration one of your considerations when you started looking at outsourcing? Was it like, hey I can save money here, or was it like —

Mark: Yeah yeah I guess. Short answer yes. The longer answer is, the bigger picture is if your paying your local team a lot of money you need them to be focused on the high value stuff. They don’t have time to be doing the low value stuff.

Eva: They don’t often enjoy doing that.

Mark: And they don’t enjoy it too yeah I agree.

Damien: I fully agree with that.

Mark: Growing and going forward, growing the business, it allows my senior team to be focused on what they’re good at.

Importance Of Trust In Outsourcing

Damien: So trust — why is trust important to you, and trust in a property management business is everything. It’s not a short-term transaction, you’re partnering with landlords and some tenants for a long period of time. Is trust an important factor when considering outsourcing?

Mark: Very much so. It’s critical. Because when you look at it, you’re opening the door to an overseas someone, company whoever, you’re opening your doors to your data, your network, your everything. So you’ve got security aspects to consider — it’s critical. From that aspect. And the other aspect is the trust that the team is, you’re blending two teams, an overseas team and then a local team. So you go out and make sure everything’s right so both teams work as one.

Damien: Security is one of the things that always comes up when talking to business owners. It always comes up, always comes up around: is my data protected, how do you protect my data?

Eva: Are they gonna solve my database?

Damien: Even down to new agreements, getting lawyers, checking that stuff off, just to make sure it ticks the box around data security and principal obligations nowadays. It’s one of those entrusted, or I think for us, one of the most important parts of our business making sure that we’re on the same page. We’re partnered with our clients on their journey through this, and you’ve been on that now for almost 3 years.

Why Did You Choose Us?

Mark: You came highly recommended by a consultant that I value. And let’s face it, those days, no one else was doing it. There were very few doing it. And I just liked how you did it, I was comfortable whenever Damien and I sat down and we went through, and you explained what you were doing. Very comfortable.

Eva: Back then, there was very few actual — officers. There was a lot of people working from home and the trust factor was a big issue especially back then. Makes sense.

Is Outsourcing Taking Jobs Away From Australians?

Mark: I don’t believe so, no. And I think for us it’s about leveraging the strength of our local team and leaving the focus away from the low, as I said earlier, the low value stuff to focus on the high value stuff. To me it’s very leveraging, the qualities you’ve got here and the expertise you’ve got here.

Limitations In Outsourcing

Mark: I think, in answering the question, the short answer again would be no limitations but again, I come from a very process-driven — I’m a very process-driven person in a very process-driven property management environment. I think if anyone’s gonna look into doing this, they’ve got to look at their processes and break them down or in fact, or we just pull them apart, break them down, smash them to be honest. And then we built them with the view of having an outside, an overseas team.

Eva: That was a big job when you guys took on the task.

Mark: We literally grabbed our process, we went through every process. We grabbed one, stripped it down, put it on the whiteboard, workshopped it with the team. And then we built it.

Eva: What is the property manager’s role? Where is the BDM coming, where is the leasing agent coming, where is the VA coming? Perfect.

Mark: It does take time, though. It does take time.

Eva: And tweaking.

Mark: Constant tweaking.

Damien: And then you just solve them out of office.

Mark: Yes.

Process, System, And Support Around VA Turnover

Damien: Working with the management team here, there was a fair bit of input in how they wanted this to work. You’ve had a change of staff over that period of time, so Gibran was one of your original team members now one of our trainers and team leaders in the office. And one of your team members actually left the business, so you’ve got two new people, so you’ve had four people working with you in this period of time. Have you found your processes and I suppose that change, cause it’s a concern, again another concern is team members are just gonna keep coming and going and coming and going. How have you found your processes and the systems and the support around, especially around change over, cause it is scary getting new people into a business.

Mark: Well it is. And I must admit, that the offshore turnover is a lot less than the turnover we have locally. You’ve got to expect it in local, so you expect it overseas too.

Eva: You were actually, personally a little bit unfortunate because Gibran applied for a team leader’s role in our business so it’s unusual for our team to leave us, but he just stepped up to another role.

Mark: Which is great, and for Gibran it’s great to have that sort of promotion within the business. But for us in building our process, we incorporated that eventuality anyway. Doesn’t matter if it’s A or B or C or D, the process is there, the training is there, when there’s a replacement they just step in and be trained and up and away they go.

Communicating With The Offshore Team

Damien: I suppose I wanna extend a little bit on that. Your team that you have. You have two team members over in our office. They’re part of your team, communication with them, how? You’ve got phones, you can literally pick up a telephone, call them?

Mark: Yep, they’re part of our system — rather than sitting literally in the next cubicle, they just happen to be overseas. But to get them we just dial whatever the number is and you get them. So they could well be just next door, they’re in our local file system, they log in to our system locally. It is as if they are next door.

Eva: But I think one of the observations that I’ve made from our office in the Philippines is that your office has done tremendously well. And some offices do it extremely well, some of them could improve. But you’ve really made your offshore team feel like they are part of this team, like they literally belong here. And I think that’s, that comes through with the quality of their output, because they feel appreciated, they feel welcome. Well done. I think it sort of works both ways in your office, your local team do also feel like they’re a part of your team here as well.

Mark: And I guess how we do that, they’re part of our email distribution list for example. They are part of the team. They’re part of anything they do. They get the emails, they get the internal emails, whether they’re local jokes or whatever the local news, they get it. They get it on the birthday list for example. We wish our team happy birthday.

How Have Your Local Team Found Working With The Offshore Staff?

Mark: They’ve adapted very well. I wouldn’t say there was anything negative there at all

Damien: Did they think, did they worry they’re gonna lose their job?

Mark: No, that was because I guess I sold them the dream. I worked through their journey and explained the journey with them. They understood my dream of removing the low value tasks off them for them to focus on the high value.

Was There Any Resistance From The Local Staff Initially?

Mark: Yes, on some. I had members that had very close minds, they’re no longer members of our team. But that’s life, isn’t it? There’s a bus, you get on it, there’s the journey, that’s where we’re going. If you don’t like the journey, well..

Eva: Each of those people was those resistant to any type of change — what systems you’re gonna move into, softwares…

Mark: And bearing in mind we’ve had a huge, our journey of the last three years has been —

Eva: Massive.

Mark: The vision and the journey has been very clear.

Damien: I think it’s one of the things that I notice, when you walk into offices, the integration’s working really really well. The team seem happy here. They’re bouncing around, it’s one of those, the local team — and I know the offshore team are happy too. There’s that real cohesion and bouncing around.

Eva: There’s a vibe.

Damien: Yeah, yeah there’s a vibe when you walk into the office.

What Difference Has Outsourcing Made To Your Business?

Mark: Again, it’s probably a common theme you’re hearing but again — the focus on the high value stuff. And allowing the team to be touching our clients in a much different way than what we used to before. The offshore team has been out to remove stuff that my property managers just don’t need to do anymore. They know it’s done in the background. It’s fantastic, it’s allowed us to have the higher touch, really.

What Would You Say To Someone Looking To Outsource?

Mark: Just do it.

Eva: Just do it!

Mark: Someone once wrote this nice little slogan —

Eva: Nike, was it?

Mark: This is a thing I say to my team. Look, it is a big decision, highly worth it, lot of work has to go into it to get the benefits from it.

Eva: So it’s not like you’re just throwing a body into your business, you have to plan for it, you have to prepare for it and get the systems ready for it, if you don’t know how to do it, get someone to help you do it

Mark: The implementation and then the integration has to be spot-on, otherwise, you have people out there just twiddling their thumbs or something. You just don’t want that. I found it valuable. To be honest, I couldn’t do without it now. I couldn’t go back three years.