In this interview, Gibran, our Lead Real Estate Trainer, along with one of our supervisors, Jackie, shares about his support role at Affordable Staff and some knowledge and insights about working as an offshore team member for Australian Property Management and Real Estate clients.
Can You Tell Us A Little Bit About Yourself?
Gibran: My name is Gibran and I’m one of the team members of Affordable Staff here in the Philippines.
Jackie: How long have you been working with us?
Gibran: It’s funny to think through and time flies so fast, I’ve not noticed that I’ve been here for two years now.
Jackie: Wow. Does it feel like two years already?
Gibran: Not really, actually. Maybe because I’m enjoying my job. I love my job so that’s why.
Jackie: Yeah, same here.
What Is Your Previous And Current Role In The Business?
Gibran: I was previously associated with one of the most prominent real estate agencies in Sydney. It’s a huge company in Sydney. It’s been a real pleasure to work with them. Now I’m a Lead Real Estate Trainer for Affordable Staff.
How Is Real Estate/Property Management Different In Australia vs. Philippines?
Gibran: It’s a big difference because here in the Philippines, if you want to rent a property, you can just go directly to a landlord and talk to the person. Maybe some paperwork but it’s a very simple conversation and negotiation. You can rent a property right away.
In Australia, there’s a system an organization that facilitates transactions between landlord and tenant. So if you want to rent a property, you have to go through an application process. Your application is subject for approval by the landlord so your employment and tenant history will be checked. Some of your personal referees will be called as well.
Jackie: So they have a lot of process.
Gibran: Yes. It’s an organization that does all these stuff for the owner so that the owner doesn’t have to think and be stressed about his property. Someone is taking care of his property.
Jackie: Right, and it’s not like that much here in the Philippines.
Gibran: Not really popular in the Philippines.
Why Do You Think Real Estate Businesses Outsource?
Gibran: Property management in Australia is a complex structure. Staff are overworked usually. They work so much more than what they get paid for. There are a lot of things to be done in the office and I heard that there are shortages of employees–property managers, actually.
I do think that real estate business in Australia are outsourcing because they want to be efficient and they want to be more effective with their process. Getting a virtual person to do the things that the property managers are usually doing, but at the same time not having to pay so much more.
Jackie: Right. But there are also some limitations, I think, because there are some jobs or tasks they’re doing that requires them to be physically there. Our virtual assistants can’t do that.
Gibran: That’s right.
Jackie: You are more of the supporting role?
Gibran: Support, yeah. Supporting the jobs that can be overwhelming for the property managers to do all these things.
How Do You Think We Benefit Our Clients?
Gibran: Previously as a VA, there were a lot of things we did on a regular basis that actually really assist and support the team members.
We can benefit the clients by freeing up their time. Instead of them doing archiving, documentation, and all these admin jobs, they can focus more on client-based activities. They can focus more on customer service, how they can value their client more.
Jackie: Yeah so it’s more of a collaboration of what we can do here in addition to what they can also do.
Gibran: That’s right.
What Do You Think The Industry Thinks Of What You Represent?
Gibran: There are many misconceptions about outsourcing here in the Philippines by people in Australia. My hunch is that they think that we take their jobs from the property managers, but it’s not actually the case.
Three things. One is, there are income-generating activities that property managers do there in the field. They have to be there present physically. Second is, there are client-facing activities that they have to be involved in person. They have to have a face-to-face conversation. So these two things cannot be done and cannot be replaced by virtual assistants.
The third is, underneath all these are the jobs that can be outsourced. If you outsource these jobs, it can really free so much time for the property managers and at the end of the day, they are not exhausted. They still have this work-life balance.
Jackie: Work-life balance. Same with you, too.
Gibran: Yeah, same with me here.
What Types Of Tasks Were You Doing For Your Client?
Gibran: On a daily basis, we do reference checking. We process applications. We also do rent arrears. We process vacate notices, termination notice, lease renewal documentation, rent increases and invoices.
Jackie: That’s really a lot.
Gibran: A lot of things to do.
Jackie: So you’re really a vital part of the team that if you’re not there, say for example, on an inevitable absence, it would really affect the business somehow.
Gibran: Yes, it’s a vital part because without you, the workflow is disrupted.
Gibran: It’s a big help for the property managers.
What Types Of Software Do You Know?
Gibran: I was using REST. I was using Microsoft Outlook, where we have this e-mail exchange. We also use Skype and Focus, which is our phone.
Now that I’m a Lead Real Estate Trainer, I get to be involved more closely and comprehensively with different tools that other clients we have here use.
I’m just lucky to be associated with talented and highly-skilled individuals here in the office.
Jackie: What are the examples of those tools that you are also aware of?
Gibran: Now, I’m more involved with Property Me, Property Tree, TICA, IRE, and Console. So, these are the systems now that I’m trying to learn every day.
Jackie: That’s really good, and not all the property managements use the same tools, they use different types?
Gibran: Yes. Tools are relative to the client, especially when the jobs are also client-based. There are different systems and processes that are unique to each client.
Jackie: That’s very good that you have a know-how on these tools.
How Do You Support The Staff In The Office Now?
Gibran: It’s funny because I remember when I started as a VA with a client, I was overwhelmed with so much to do. We have this tendency to fear what we don’t know and to fear what we’re not good at.
I’m always fortunate to have been given support by great, amazing team members here. So it was a smooth transition.
Jackie: That’s good.
Gibran: Now that I am the one giving support, I think that what I can do is to impart what I know, especially my background in real estate and property management, and to be really available for the person, for the clients, and for the team member.
Jackie: I think it’s important for us to mention about Damien Barnett, who’s been in the industry for more than 15 years. He’s a major support for us, too, in the real estate industry. Whenever we ask questions about real estate.
Gibran: Yeah, we get the answers right away.
Jackie: That’s right.
How Do You Overcome Any Problems?
Gibran: Problems are inevitable. We encounter them daily. You have to identify what the problem really is, the root cause and deal with it with optimism and professionalism. You have to communicate. You have to talk to your client, have an open conversation and be proactively engaged that we have this innovation.
Problems, nowadays, in this day and age, are opportunities for us to be creative, resourceful, and to easily get there and do it. You have to have this will to really embrace it. It makes everything more efficient and you can spread positivity.
Has This Helped Your Career Growth?
Gibran: Yes, I am, actually. I would not be here now if I’ve not enjoyed my job. I’m also grateful for the people surrounding me because they’ve been very encouraging, they’ve been so gracious to say that we can all do this together and support each other.
Jackie: Teamwork, indeed.