#309 Mail-Right Show: How Hirer Virtual Assistants for Real Estate Agents
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How Hirer The Right Virtual Assistant For Your Real Estate Office?
Robert Newman: Welcome back ladies and gentlemen, to the Mail-Right podcast, today it’s episode 309. And John and I are gonna talk about using virtual assistants in your digital marketing processes. We’ve talked about this before. We’ve had other guests on the show. We were teed up to do a show about this subject today, and we were gonna have somebody else contribute with us, unfortunately, that didn’t work out. So we’re gonna continue the conversation and we’re going to, discuss the ways that we’ve seen virtual assistants get used the way that we use them, and the way that other businesses like conversion monster and, other people like that, that you use might be using virtual assistants. Not saying they are just saying they could be.
So with no further ado well, actually, before we get started, for those of you who may be new to the Mail-Right digital marketing podcast or digital marketing podcast for realtors, I’d like to introduce my co-host to you. His name is Jonathan Denwood. He is a founder and an entrepreneur many times over, five years ago he founded a company that was aimed at real estate agents. And it’s designed to give you tools to help you market yourself online in various ways. Now, John, I’ll let you get more specific if you like.
Jonathan Denwood: All right. Yeah, sorry about, folks Actually, I didn’t actually tell you this actually, Robert, but we’ve had a slight change of focus to the Mail-Right company. We’re still focused on real estate agents, but our main focus is also gonna be real estate investors as well and offering a website, digital presence for those. And, that’s gonna be our main focus from the coming months Robert, I’m sorry about that. We also missed last week and that was totally down to me. Robert did his duty, but we had a guest and unfortunately, they had a family emergency around COVID a horrible virus. So that’s totally understandable, but we are pumped up for this discussion aren’t we, Robert?
Robert Newman: Yeah, we are very much, excited and ready to go, to be honest, virtual assistants and resources like them are essentially how I run 80% of my business. So I’m a big believer in this and it’s so logical to me that when John said, oh, you know we’re gonna do a show, I thought to myself. I was like, really isn’t everybody doing this? But the answer is, I don’t think they are. And even if they are, there are certain tricks that you can have processes that you can make. And I’ll talk about how I do my process. I’m sure that John will talk about how he does him, but I feel like now that I’ve explored and experienced virtual assistants, I honest to God don’t think I would ever, I don’t know that I would go back at hiring locally for most digital tasks.
Jonathan Denwood: There’s gonna be a difference there in our, position. So that’d be interesting.
Robert Newman: Oh, Good. Excellent. Well, I’m, extraordinarily glad to hear it. So why don’t we just jump into it with, a brief explanation from both of us, start with you, John, you do use virtual assistants or overseas resources in elements of your business do you not?
Jonathan Denwood: We do it’s mostly with my other business that, I’ve been running for over 10 years. And basically, we use what we call, and I think it’s the more widely used term. We have a hybrid model where my project managers are normally, US or Canadian based and I do have some experience with WordPress developers, that are also US based, but they deal with us- I have a couple of fortune 500 clients and they tend to work with those enterprise level. But then I have a host of other entrepreneurs, smaller clients, and we tend to use our offshore support developers with those particular clients, but they all have a US-based project manager that’s supervising- that works with the client and then works with the offshore teams, Robert.
Robert Newman: Gotcha. Okay. And how long have you been using these resources inside your business?
Jonathan Denwood: About eight years.
Robert Newman: Okay. When you first decided to do this, when you first decided to hire these resources, what was your reasoning? What was your logic?
Jonathan Denwood: Well, that’s the other factor, which I think- I think there’s a lot of propaganda out there, Robert. There’s a lot of propaganda in general. But there’s propaganda that you can go offshore, you can go to the, especially with the focus on virtual assistants, helping real estate agents. There’s a kind of propaganda that you can go to the Philippines, hire this perfect individual, and pay them peanuts. And basically don’t treat them very well either. And based on my experience, it’s nonsense. It’s just propaganda-
Robert Newman: That’s your logic you wanted to disprove the propaganda when you hired them, or is that just a-
Jonathan Denwood: Well the truth is that you’re gonna get where the truth is that you’re still gonna have to pay them reasonably well, but nothing, especially the different- it’s slightly different when it’s a public-facing individual. So they’re gonna need excellent English skills. When it comes to my offshore developers, I have some that are really fantastic developers but their spoken English is not very good. But it doesn’t have to be, because my project managers talk to the client. But when you’re talking about virtual assistants for the real estate industry, unless they’re totally doing back-office work, they’re probably gonna have some element of public-facing responsibility. Well if that is the case, you are probably gonna have to pay more than you think. But the good news is the caliber of individuals that you are gonna attract is gonna be much higher than what you would’ve attracted for the rate of pay if you are hiring somebody domestically.
Jonathan Denwood: Gotcha.
Robert Newman: Would you agree with that?
Jonathan Denwood: Yes, I do agree with that. I think that I don’t know. Domestic resources in the US like if you’re gonna have somebody working through your business. While yes the minimum wage in the US is 7 to $10 an hour. I don’t know any friends or any friends hiring other friends who are paying anything less than 20 to 25 here in California. So it’s a big rate of difference for me, at least like, if I’m gonna hire somebody locally versus hiring, like my top virtual assistant type resource gets paid like 7 to $8 an hour. So you’re saying it’s a small difference. I’m saying for me, it seems like it’s a 70% difference which makes it a very big difference for me. Like it’s not small.
And then you talk about things like, so I think it’s important that we mention, you always are gonna have challenges hiring employees. I feel that way at least. I’ve hired hundreds or maybe thousands over my career, especially in the call center business. There are always people that fall out and, and just do weird stuff. It’s a hard job. Anytime you start talking about sales and you start talking about rejection, there are people who can’t handle the job and they just, well, it doesn’t matter what you’re paying ’em they just don’t come back. So, that’s one thing I’ve noticed that’s very different about different countries and hiring virtual assistants. Is it depending on the country that you’re going to there are different countries that are good for different types of resources?
Now I would never call my developers virtual assistants. That’s completely wrong language. My developers are full-stack developers and they do an amazing job. However, some of them are living in countries where $20 an hour or whatever rate is, it goes five times farther than it goes with us. The place that I seek my developers is always the UK. And I look for countries like Russia or Macedonia. Russia is not as good, but Macedonia is brilliant. And there are other places that are coming out of that part of the world, where technical talent is really inexpensive. Now, unfortunately, Macedonia isn’t a place where English as a second spoken language is as common as a place like the Philippines. So it’s not really necessarily the best place to go to hire English-speaking developers.
And you have to speak the same language when you start talking about technical resources, there has to be clear communication because if somebody goes in the wrong direction and you’re paying for even a WordPress website is frustrating, screw up. But if you are paying to have an application built or you’re paying to have something much more complicated built, which is gonna take a few months’ worths of a process. To have misunderstood something in the scoping part of the process where you’re figuring out what the project looks like, and to get something wrong, sixteen ninety, a hundred twenty days later is, that’s not just frustrating. That’s throwing yourself out the f**king window, never gonna do this again kind of aggravating, right?
So those aren’t really virtual assistants though. Those are all overseas resources, which is a different subject. A virtual assistant is somebody that takes tasks that you are doing yourself, and then they do them, or somebody on your staff, like a management or leadership resources doing themselves. They take those tasks and they do them instead. Okay, that’s a virtual assistant. And that’s what John and I are talking about right now it’s a virtual assistant. So virtual assistants, where would you use them in your real estate business? That’s always a question that I get. And the funny thing is besides getting in the car and meeting with the client, you can pretty much use a virtual assistant to do everything else in my opinion.
A virtual assistant can call your appointments. A virtual assistant can manage your paperwork flow. A virtual assistant can get in your CRM and call back leads or organize leads for you by source and by category and go through and do very boring, but necessary work to organize the data that your business is creating. Because we are in the information age, ladies and gentlemen, and understanding what’s happening with our data is critical to our business. So those are all things you can do. Now, I get the question and I just watched an interview with somebody like 30 minutes ago, where the question is, well, how do you train people? So John, how do you do that? I know how I, how do you do it? How do you handle teaching these overseas resources what you need to be done? How do you task stuff out?
Jonathan Denwood: In truth, I used to be awful at it and I used to just play it by the seat of my pants. And I’m not involved in that, thank God, because I have a couple of project managers and they’ve written out documentation and processes. I have dyslexia, listeners, and viewers, which is in some ways it’s a strength because it keeps my email to the point. And I’m not one for writing out long-winded emails or documentation in general. So it has its good points, but I am not the right person to write, even though I actually like writing actually, Robert, I quite enjoy it. And I know a lot of people if they have to write something, they just get writers’ block, I’ve never suffered from that. But basically, my project managers and my chief lady who is an experienced WordPress developer as well. She has helped me with another project manager to write out documentation and a set of videos. So it’s a combination of internal onboarding videos for some of our new staff and good quality accessible online documentation, Robert.
Robert Newman: OK. So which is great information to get. So ladies and gentlemen, what I do is a little bit different than what John does. I created most of the processes myself but what I didn’t do is I did not write them out. Okay. What I did is I had somebody else write them out. So you might ask, how do you do a process without actually writing it out yourself? And the answer is I use a tool called screen automatic, which lets me do exactly what zoom is doing right now to this very podcast that we’re doing, where it’s recording it recording the screen. I’m very, very good at giving verbal instructions. It’s not that I can’t write instructions out. I don’t have the same challenges that John-
Jonathan Denwood: I’ve noticed that Robert.
Robert Newman: What?
Jonathan Denwood: That you’re good at giving verbal instructions.
Robert Newman: So, and I don’t have some of John’s challenges. I do have horrible ADD though which makes writing slow. It’s not that it’s impossible it’s just slow. And I’ve noticed that my professional writers write, oh my God so much faster than I do. If I had to guess, I’d say they write eight times faster than me. And so, but what I do, do is I think quick, and I do have a very clear mental understanding of what I want to be done and how I want it done. So using video like this, giving the instruction, say, step one, open, a Google doc, step two, write the URL down. Step three, find the customer’s contact information on the website, put it next to the URL. Step four, find the name first and last of the client. Step five, figure out what brokerage they work for. Step six any other notes that you have.
Creating a process like that via video is easy for me. I have about 280 videos that we’ve created for my company over the last five years, which are all instructional videos. Of those 280, I’d say about a hundred and 50 of them are aimed at are virtual assistant project management resources, cause they’re the people that talk to clients and they’re all task-related. They’re all simple task related videos that say, this is how you do this task A, B, C, D, E, F & G. And we use these videos over and over again these days it doesn’t take us very long to hire and train a new assistant because we have everything in video form. Takes about a week to get somebody up to speed because we have to keep sending them all the videos that come up in their job and then they have to review them and they have to do the task. But once that week is up If it’s a task-based virtual assistant one, that’s not dealing with clients. It’s super easy to train them. If it is somebody that’s dealing with clients, that’s public-facing, that’s a little bit more complicated, cause we’re really concerned about how people are talking to our customers. So I and somebody else inside the company usually-
Jonathan Denwood: Yeah. Sorry to interrupt you. We need to go for our break actually.
Robert Newman: He’s never sorry, ladies and gentlemen, he always just interrupts, right. We’ll go right back to our break and then I’ll continue on my descriptive rant here about how you actually, how we use virtual assistants, how I use virtual assistants. So no further ado. We’ll see you back here at your car, your radio, your phone, wherever you are, stay tuned. We’ll be right back.
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Robert Newman: Welcome back, ladies and gentlemen to the Mail-Right Podcasts episode number 309. John and I are talking about virtual assistants. We’re talking about how we use them first and foremost in our business. And then I think we’re gonna talk about, should you use them and when should you use them? So we obviously are big proponents of it, but John, do you think a real estate agent should use a virtual assistant?
Jonathan Denwood: I think it’s really, that’s a difficult one. I think if you are not able to hire domestic help and successively vetted them down and written out some processes. If you are having trouble with domestic ones and then you think you’re gonna solve your problems going virtual, it’s actually gonna get worse. This is my opinion you might have a totally different, but I actually think it makes the thing you cause the problem- I’ve had a couple of clients, real estate clients and their staff were always changing Robert. And the truth of the matter was that the agent was a nightmare. They were totally disorganized. Their expectations of their domestic assistants were ridiculous. And they weren’t basically, that pleasant of people to actually work with. As employers, we all have to hand out some punishment when people really balls up cause we are getting a heat, but in general I treat people or I try to Robert not always successful. But I do try, I try and treat people the same way that I would want to be treated. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people that don’t share that philosophy. Is there Robert?
Robert Newman: Yes, there’s a lot of people that don’t, share that philosophy. But so what, what ultimately like yes or no Do you think that a real estate agent should?
Jonathan Denwood: Well if they’ve got a successful domestic staff and they’ve got written down some of the processes, yes they should. But if they’re having trouble hiring people, in the past and they think that somehow by going virtual, that’s going to, there’s a deeper problem the problem is with the agent. If he keeps hiring people domestically and keeps losing them or they resign after. I had one agent got through four personal assistance in less than six months. That suggests to me that the problem was with the agent.
Robert Newman: I don’t disagree. So my opinion is that most agents should be using virtual assistants, which I’m sure people could read in the subtext of some of my other comments. But I think that anything at all, as a general rule where we as salespeople and this does say, I know that for me as a salesperson, it took me a long time to level up to this concept. Anytime that I’m doing a task that somebody who is willing to do it for $10 an hour or whatever the amount is I should be outsourcing that. I’ve been a commission-only salesperson for a long time and yet it took me a while to realize how true it was that really, I should always be outsourcing these repetitive tasks. Now I’ve done a very good job of figuring out how to use most of my time on the phone with an actual prospect and very little of it not doing everything else as it relates to the business.
I outsource almost everything because I’ve come to realize that the one thing that I do that can’t be duplicated is creating the connection with the client and ultimately making the sale. And I think that most real estate salespeople would relate very deeply to that. It’s not so much that somebody else can’t sell they very much can. I’m a sales leader too. And I’ve watched countless people sell in their own particular way, but nobody connects into people the same way that I do. Like nobody has the “my way” of selling. And so right now, while that’s important to me, I think, okay, I have be on the phone, but I can’t do these nine other things for the business. I can’t write all the blog posts. I can’t write all the emails. I can’t do every single other thing in the business, manage all the people, take every single task, review, every single task review, every single website. I mean, it’s exhausting just thinking about all of that work so I had to outsource.
I think the same thing is true of real estate agents. I swear, I don’t know a hundred percent of what your average daily routine is, but it should be I wake up, I look at my phone, I see my calendared appointments and I go out and I run my calendared appointments. Whether they be listing conversations or selling conversations, virtual assistants can help you get to that result. The result I just mentioned. What do you think, John, do you think that’s true or not? Do you think I’m over exaggerating?
Jonathan Denwood: Well with the camera of what I previously said, yes I agree with you. Now my role with Mail-Right and also with my other business is that I produce content. I do SEO research about the articles. I don’t write the articles, but I do a lot of videos that are put on YouTube. And I support the articles with videos. I go on a number of podcasts to promote my business. I do a number of podcasts myself. This is one of them. I do all the stuff that I’ve got to do. We all have only so many hours in a day. And this Gary V thing that you should do 17 hours every day for week after week. Good luck to Gary V. But I found that you will rapidly burn out. And I’ve seen it in the real estate industry. People who were quite effective, making really good money, hit the wall and they’re gone. They’re totally burnt out and you never see them again. So I don’t if you’ve seen that it’s a slightly different topic. It’s a whole topic, but it is linked to what we are talking about. Isn’t it, Robert?
Robert Newman: I agree with you. I’ve seen, I’ve seen career burnout. I’ve seen sales burnout. I’ve seen every type of burnout that there is because the jobs that we do are exhausting showing up and being a hundred percent every single day. And if it’s part of your sales career, you gotta go knock on doors and everything else before you even get into a sales presentation. If you’re setting your appointments, as well as selling whatever product that it is that you’re selling, that’s a big job. And in real estate agents, most of the time, that’s what is expected of you, which is why so many real estate agents turn to digital. They really just need somebody to turn on a spigot so that they can go out and do what is already a fairly big job in the sense of selling homes.
Now, one of those things that I strongly believe in is that every single thing that we can do to figure out how to make our jobs easier is gonna be great. Like with real estate agents, it’s always gonna be work that sphere of influence, work the sales that you already had and have, make sure your relationship is super strong because every single relationship you’ve created has the opportunity to turn into 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 sales over the span of a career, which makes it much easier for you a lot easier. So it’s actually time-efficient to spend more time inside that relationship, but you’re right, these are different subjects. We’re also over our time limit.
And, today I need to talk to you before when we go off the air. So, we need to wrap the podcast up, but ladies and gentlemen, boys, and girls, real estate agents of all, stages of their career, I really appreciate you tuning into the mail right podcast today, John and I, work really hard on it. I’m even to do a little bit of research on our guests when he sends it to me and calls me three times and sends me text messages in the morning, at night reminding me to do this. So
Jonathan Denwood: I’m not that bad for god’s sake, I’m not that bad Robert.
Robert Newman: So anyway, John works really hard at this. That was my point, which I think he’s, he’s slightly the wrong way, but my point is that John works really hard at this, and I follow along, beautifully because, I’ve actually gotten to the point that I’ve enjoyed the podcast, but please do us a favor. John has worked so hard on this stuff, go to Mail-Right.com leave a comment on any of his blog posts, go to the YouTube Mail-Right that’s forward slash YouTube Mail-Right look up the channel, leave some comments on some videos. We would really appreciate it. It’s a lot of work to do these shows. And if we’re doing anything at all that any of you are using in your business or you’re taking guidance, or you’re remembering this conversation that you heard, these guys have about digital marketing. Do us a favor. We’re not asking you to call us. I don’t need you to, to ring me up and talk to me about websites. I would love it though if you leave a little bit of feedback about the show on any of the places that you can do that, all right, John, over to you.
Jonathan Denwood: Yeah, I totally agree. And, we’ve got a fabulous guest next week and we got some for guest October it’s amazing where the time’s going. It’ll soon be Christmas. Oh my God. like I say, give us some feedback on the Mail-Right Facebook group, or leave us a thumb up on the YouTube channel, or if you’re very generous in a generous mood leave, a review or ITunes, and just give us some feedback over to you, Robert.
Robert Newman: All right. Well, ladies and gentlemen, that’s it. I really appreciate it. We’re gonna sign off and, you can find me Inboundrem.com if you want. I produced some industry leading content on every subject [inaudible] that relates to marketing. I’ve reviewed every single one of the big marketing companies in the real estate marketing space. They’re all up there. And so, and I’ve talked about websites, I’ve talked about everything, so you can just go to inboundREM.com and find plenty of information about me, about other topics that are closely related to what we talk about here. We appreciate you tuning into the show bye.