DGS 69: HireSmart Virtual Assistants with Anne Lackey

You finally find time for your first vacation in seven years, so you leave your property management company in good hands with a long-term employee. Just as you’re feeling relaxed, having fun, and enjoying time in the sun, you get a text message from your worker, “I quit.” There goes your vacation. It’s time to head back to the office!

After experiencing the same situation, Mark and Anne Lackey decided to start HireSmart Virtual Assistants, which helps property managers and companies find, train, certify, and outsource full-time dedicated virtual assistants.

You’ll Learn…

[04:22] Definition of a virtual assistant (VA) via 3 segments.
[07:55] Why get a VA and how to prepare for one.
[12:03] HireSmart’s 10-step hiring process to source the perfect person.
[13:05] Criteria and Assessments: Why HireSmart has a 97% success rate.
[17:47] Changing the Landscape and Lives: VAs are in top 1% of remote workers.
[21:05] Difference between a dedicated staff and productivity.
[23:14] How to start the VA search process with HireSmart.
[27:03] Local vs. international hires; don’t treat them any differently.
[30:25] Benefits: Save time, energy, money, and become better business people.
[32:45] Basic things to consider (i.e., language, education, availability)


[bctt tweet=”What isn’t getting done because you’re too busy, don’t want to do it, or not good at it?” via=”no”]

[bctt tweet=”Criteria and Assessments: Why HireSmart has a 97% success rate.” via=”no”]

[bctt tweet=”Changing the Landscape: HireSmart’s VAs are in the top 1% of remote workers.” via=”no”]


Jason: Welcome, DoorGrow hackers to the DoorGrow Show. If you are a property management entrepreneur that wants to add doors, make a difference, increase revenue, help others, impact lives, and you are interested in growing your business and life, and you are open to doing things a bit differently, then you are a DoorGrow hacker.

DoorGrow hackers love the opportunities, daily variety, unique challenges, and freedom that property management brings. Many in real estate think you’re crazy for doing it, you think they’re crazy for not, because you realize that property management is ultimate high-trust gateway to real estate deals, relationships, and residual income.

At DoorGrow, we are on a mission to transform property management businesses and their owners. We want to transform the industry, eliminate the BS, build awareness, change perception, expand the market, and help the best property management entrepreneurs win. I’m your host, property management growth expert Jason Hull, the founder and CEO of DoorGrow. Now, let’s get into the show.

Today’s guests, I’m hanging out with two really cool people, entrepreneurs, with values after my own heart, Mark and Anne Lackey from HireSmart. Mark and Anne, welcome to the show.

Anne: Thanks for having us, Jason. We’re excited to be here today.

Mark: It’s great to be with you. Thank you.

Jason: I’ve been spending some time with you guys. We’ve been spending a little bit of time together and working a little bit on your business and you’re working some of the DoorGrow magic with HireSmart. Those of you that are watching this instead of listening, Anne can you show off your logo there in the background just a little bit?

Anne: I can.

Jason: I’m so excited for you guys. Anne and Mark have this phenomenal business in which you help people get virtual assistants in their companies and I’m excited that we’re making visually. It looks as awesome as you guys are. Why don’t you introduce yourselves to everybody and tell everybody a little bit about how you got into this business?

Anne: I’m Anne, and of course…

Mark: …I’m Mark.

Anne: And we were investors, started a property management company, helping other investors back in 2005. In 2014, something happened in our property management business that really kind of changed us. We had a long-term employee quit via text on our first vacation in seven years and literally, we had to turn around, drive six hours back to the office, and I was ready to quit. I said, “If I’m going to continue to do his type of work day in and day out, I’m just not well-suited for it.”

What happened is we’ve got introduced to the concept of having full-time dedicated virtual assistants from the Philippines and we thought, “That’s interesting.” So we do what we normally do, right Mark?

Mark: We started digging in, learning everything we could, trying to find all the faults or the probable ways of what we could do and pitfalls. We spent some time looking at it, about six months before we made the decision that we were ready to jump in with both feet and we had our processes built as best as we could.

Anne: We started on that journey and we had a friend that say, “You’re happy again. What happened to you? What is different in your life?” and we said, “Well, we hired Theriza.”

Mark: That was our first VA. That was over our years ago.

Anne: She literally impacted our lives and I was like, “Well I want a Theriza.” They said, “Can you help me find one and can you help me train them? I don’t know how to do this.” I said, “Sure.”

We literally had two weeks to come up with a curriculum and a plan. Actually, interestingly enough, that was 3½ years ago and these VAs are still working for that client. Of course, that client has expanded, added more, and we’ve only gotten better and better. Now, a big part of what we do is helping property managers navigate how to outsource, how to have full-time dedicated virtual assistants.

Jason: Let’s define a virtual assistant because a lot of people hear VA and they think, “Oh, that’s something that’s not a team member,” or, “That’s something that’s auxiliary,” or maybe, “It’s somebody that doesn’t matter as much on the team.” Let’s get into that. Let’s define what really a virtual assistant is.

Really, if we look at the definition, my entire team of virtual assistants. Technically, they’re all virtual team members even if some of them are full-time employees. Work at my entire company are virtual and by some definitions, that they’re virtual assistants.

Anne: Basically, we look at virtual assistants into three segments. The first segment is project or task-based. You need a logo or you need something specific done, a kind of a want and done, we really categorize this as a virtual assistant but they’re really freelancers. It’s the word that we use for that.

The second one is that outsourcing model where you have call centers or you have a pool of people. You don’t get the same person every time but they may do answer or [00:05:28].

Mark: You’ve got a [box [00:05:30] of hours, basically. “I need 10 [box [00:05:32]444] of hours this week to have my phones answered.”

Anne: That is also a virtual assistant, too. What we do is full-time dedicated team members. What we do is helping the recruiting, training, and certification of full-time dedicated virtual assistants, much like any other recruiter that you would hire to help you find great talent.

Mark: We are they next employee. The only difference is, the employee doesn’t show up at the office at eight o’clock in the morning. They’re there remotely. When people can recognize that they can hire that way and have that employee work remotely, it’s much more productive. They come over to us and say, “We want one. We want two. We want three.” It’s just been overwhelming the response. This is the same thing we went through four years ago figuring it out that, “Wow, you can do this and you don’t have to have people right there in your office.”

Jason: Makes sense. I think that there’s a huge amount of freedom for me as an entrepreneur and not having team members that are right here bugging me constantly throughout the day. I love my team but I also know that my team loves how quiet a virtual team can be. Everybody can focus on their work, there’s this calmness that’s always prevalent in the business. There isn’t this immediate interruptions and urgency that’s constant.

I’ve heard from lots of entrepreneurs running multi-million dollar companies, million dollar plus companies complain on different mastermind calls and different calls that they’ve been on, talking about how their new assistant is driving them nuts because they keep coming into their office and saying, “What do you want me to do? What do you need me to do?”

I honestly see a really weird thing that I’ve noticed, even in the DoorGrow Club and in property management communities that just lets me know somebody is not yet ready for a virtual assistant or ready for a new team member. It’s this weird question that they ask where they go and post as if they have no clue what they want somebody to do and they say, “What do you guys have your virtual assistants do? I have no clue,” as if they need somebody else to give them some ideas for how they could use one.

Maybe you could address that. How does somebody get ready to be ready to have a virtual assistant? How do you guys help them do that?

Anne: We’re working with our clients. First thing we want to understand is what are the holes in their business. We come along as this consultant to them and saying, “What is it in your business that isn’t getting done because you’re either too busy, or you don’t want to do it, or you’re not good at it?” Usually what we do is help them figure out the best return on investment for that person.

I’ll give you an example. In my business, in the property management business, I can’t stand, I don’t have the personality to answer the same set of questions everyday. I’m not nice about it, it’s just not a good use of my skill set.

Mark: “Is that property still available? How much does it rent for? What’s the security deposit? Can I move in tomorrow? How to I apply?”

Anne: All of that. I had to sit there and answer the phone to do that. I literally would poke my eyes out with a fork and sell my business. For me, the best return on investment was to hire somebody who loves to answer the same set of questions, is very pleasant about it, has a great attitude to do that, doesn’t mind answering it everyday, doesn’t mind calling people back and saying, “Hey, you saw the property yesterday. Are you ready to apply?” That for me was a game changer.

We had somebody in that role that was here locally, but as you kind of alluded to, we had to listen to who won The Bachelor last night and all her family dramas. While we’re compassionate people and we do really care about people, at some point business needs to get done.

Mark: And imagine Monday and Tuesday there was no discussions with our VAs over about the Super Bowl. I guarantee you, every office in the United States lost six-eight hours in two days from all their employees talking about the Super Bowl.

Anne: We didn’t have that issue, thanks goodness. I think for every entrepreneur and every property management business owner, what they need is very different. You may be fine without it. You may have an employee that loves to be on this. That’ll be great. Maybe it’s your accounting background or maybe it’s listing roles or maybe it’s maintenance coordination. It doesn’t really matter the role. I can be done with a computer and a phone. We can help you source the right talent for you to fill that particular role.

Mark: And something Anne said is source the right talent because based on what those needs are, the top three things they need somebody to do. That’s where we go look for. We look for the personality, the mind set, the skill set, they can do that type of job. It’s not just the next person in line that need a job. It’s the person that is available out there that can actually meet the requirements of the property manager.

Jason: Yeah. I think that’s a common mistake that business owners make. I think one mistake that’s really common is that we assume that the rest of the world views things the way that we do. So we hate certain things. There are certain things I do not enjoy doing in business and that’s why I have team members doing it. The mistake I think a lot of business owners make when they first start hiring, is they assume that nobody’s going to like doing those things.

What I found is, somebody loves just about anything that exists. I have team members that they love staring at a computer screen and doing graphic design all day long. That is fun for them, especially not having to talk to people very often. They love that. I have some team members that love spending all their time writing. They think writing is the bee’s knees. They just love it. I would go crazy if all I did was write all day long.

I think the mistake we fall into as entrepreneurs is we try to incentivize or pay people the way that we would want to be paid. We tend to gravitate quickly towards commission and towards monetary incentives and things when a lot of team members don’t. As entrepreneurs, we tend to be like that. We also tend to sometimes feel uncomfortable giving people things to do that we might feel uncomfortable doing, but they might enjoy that a lot.

Anne: Absolutely. Part of our process in systems, which we have our hiring process, we have a 10-step hiring process that we use for every placement, goes through understanding the entrepreneur’s requirements and needs. Because we’ve done it hundreds and hundreds of times, we know where to source the perfect individual for that entrepreneur. Ideally, when I’ve made this three selection candidates, for my clients it’s really just about cultural fit. Everything else is taken cared of.

Mark: Because any of those three could do the job very well.

Anne: And oftentimes, most of my clients are very innate. They’re like, “I expected one good person but you gave me three.” Last week we actually have one client take two, because they’re like, “I can’t decide. I want them both.”

Mark: Two make a dilemma.

Anne: We can do that. It’s not a problem. We can help you with that. That’s always my goal is that it’s literally just about you just feel comfortable with who we’ve chosen. The other probably big differentiator is I work with every VA that’s been selected for 40 hours. Meaning, I’m reviewing their work, I’m reviewing their communication.

We’re putting to the test all of the things that we think are true based on data, testing, and that kind of stuff, and we’re actually making sure that our assumptions are actually true. If they’re not, then I fire them immediately, we go back to the drawing board, and get three new fresh virtual assistants for our clients to choose from. It actually works out really well which is why we have such a high rate of retention. We have a 97% success rate in our placement, so we’re very proud of that.

Jason: Yeah and that’s phenomenal. I’ve been through your process with you, reviewing it with you, and looking at all the steps. You have a really detailed process. We’re talking multiple assessment. Could you explain some of the criteria that you push people though to make sure that they’re going to be a good fit? There’s a lot that goes into this.

Mark: I’ll give you a little overview that Anne dig down deep. In our 10-step process, the testing and the evaluations that go on by the prospective virtual assistant is all online, all interactive, and they’ve got to get to a point of about six steps before they even have the first conversation with somebody, which is our partner in the Philippines, and through that interview process. It’s very rigorous just to get to that. We have a rate of about 1% of the people that come to us make it all the way through the 10 steps.

Anne: Certainly, there’s some basic testing that we do for math and verbal skills of course. There’s a couple of things that really make us kind of superior. One is the criminal background check that we deal with. The reality is, we’re dealing with people’s sensitive data. Making sure that we’ve at least done our due diligence and making sure we put them through several rigorous background checks is one of the things.

We hear a lot of times that people are going to hire [00:15:36] or try to do it on their own. They just don’t have access to the same tools that we do. I tell people in the property management they could manage their property themselves. They could but it probably would be a big mistake to do so because as property managers, as professionals, we have lots of experience looking at applications and credit, lots of experience, and all of that.

The same is true with virtual assistants. You could go do it on your own but you don’t have access to the same tools, you don’t have the same experience, you don’t have hundreds and hundreds of placements under your belt like we do. Just like an individual owner doesn’t have hundred and hundreds of [00:16:19] like we do. There’s a direct parallel there that lends itself in this analysis.

The other thing that we do is the soft skills, the personality. Mark and I are data hounds. We’re constantly evaluating data, we’re looking at data, we’re looking at our placements, we hear what our superstars have in common. We only get better and better. Honestly, after four years of doing this, we’re pretty good.

Mark: Yeah. We evaluate about a dozen personality traits.

Anne: It’s not just DISC.

Mark: It’s not DISC. This is something Fortune 500, Fortune 100 companies would use in their hiring. We go only through these attributes of these individuals, half of their personality and see how they fit. They may fit into an American company because this is a testing program setup for America. We took that whole testing program, ran it through all of our successful VAs, and built our own algorithm of how it applies and works in the Filipino culture, in the Filipino mindset. That’s something nobody else in our business and our industry is doing anything like that, and that’s what’s giving us such a high level of success.

Jason: You guys are checking anything from like their ability to typing, their typing speed. You guys are vetting them and checking their internet connectivity, which is a big issue in the Philippines, making sure that they have the right equipment. Really, your program is super comprehensive. I’ve hired in the Philippines, I’ve had Filipino staff, and I’ve had dealt with those issues. These are things you only learn through pain and profound [00:18:06] normally.

Really what you’re saying is, everybody that makes it through your process, they really are the top 1% of remote workers that are available in the Philippines. You [00:18:21] the people that would probably be working at any of these call centers or these big groups that call themselves virtual assistants. This is something very different and you’re getting them as a team member, a dedicated staff, where they get to learn your business, learn your processes, and you can then create a relationship with them.

Anne: That’s correct.

Jason: One of the things that, in working with you guys, that’s really been inspiring to me is you have a vision and a mission beyond just making money and just helping property managers find some team members, and you’re having an impact in the Philippines. Could you touch on that a little bit? I’d love for people to know about that.

Anne: Absolutely. We are very passionate about having good clients that want to integrate Filipinos as team members and we give them careers. That’s always how we look at it. Just like you would train and teach somebody that you care about in your organization, we expect the same thing for you to do with our virtual assistants. But even more than that, we’re changing the landscape.

This year, we had enough clients and revenue to be able to afford to pay for healthcare for our client’s VAs at no additional cost to the clients and no additional cost to the virtual assistant. Health care is very expensive. We have expensive health care here in the US, it’s the same thing there as well. They can’t get the level of care that we’re able to provide them outside of the BPO industry. So, we’re really kind of changing the landscape.

That’s one of the things that we use for retention as well as as recruiting because we can get the best talent, because we’re paying them extremely well. That’s another thing. My own personal assistant, Hannah, has been able to buy her own house. She was able to build her own house and that is a big deal. Most of them rent and most of them are in just really poor living conditions.

Mark: But we’re paying them very well. Back to the healthcare real quickly. When we started offering that, the response to our desires, our ads that we were placing that we desired to hire somebody, just went through the roof because nobody else in that industry, nowhere else can they get healthcare.

The response was just overwhelming. Between that, paying a very high rate for the individuals to have them want to continue to stay for our clients, it worked real well. We’ve got some of them who’ve been working with us four years now. So they stick around there and it changes lives. Like you say on the other side of the world, giving them opportunities they wouldn’t have otherwise.

Jason: Yeah, I love it. One of the issues I’ve seen with a lot of internet marketers that will leverage or use Filipino staffing, sometimes there’s this view that the people in third world countries are like commodities, they’re like a thing, they’re like disposable paper plate type of workers that you can throw away and go find another really easily. It’s disheartening to see that but also there’s a massive difference. I don’t know that people realize this. Unless you’ve done a lot of hiring of remote workers or virtual team members and seeing the difference between having a dedicated staff, there’s a massive difference in terms of productivity.

In my perspective, it’s about three times the results from team members that are dedicated and committed to your company versus having a contract or freelancer or somebody that is focused on other channels and other things. If they’re dedicated to you, their entire focus is helping you build your company. If they are a freelancer or a contractor, their primary focus is making sure they have the next job, they have other work, and they have enough work. They have too many different irons in the fire a lot of times and they’re distracted, and I think the communication cycle when they’re in those situations is also delayed.

I’ve noticed we’ve been able to move far faster with far fewer staff and get a lot more done if its team members are more dedicated. I used to have a larger team of part-time people or freelancers.

Anne: That actually is very true. The reality is, a lot of the virtual assistants have been treated very poorly. In other words, they have to scrounge for the next job because you may not pay them. That’s a big thing that we see. When I interview, I hear a lot like, “I had to leave because I wasn’t getting paid.” “I was working and not getting paid.” “I was having to continually try to find the next job.” We say, “We’re not like that. This is a career. These are our expectations,” and we have very high expectations. We counsel our people very well and we have a commitment to excellence video that they have to watch before they ever interview with the client. They’ve got to agree to do certain things.

It goes back to our core values, it goes back to what we’re trying to change in the industry, and I think the results are speaking for themselves. It’s amazing what we’ve been able to accomplish in a fairly short amount of time.

Mark: Yes.

Jason: I think it’s awesome. How does the process work? How do somebody generally gets started with you?

Anne: Usually it starts with a call. Usually I sit down with them for 15-20 minutes and we talk about the ROI, like “What’s going to give you the best bang for your buck? What do you need in your business?” We actually have some tools to help with that, which I’m happy to share with anybody that’s interested. From that tool, then they decide is this for them or not.

Most of our clients are blown away. They’re amazed at all the different things that our virtual assistants can do and we actually have 79 things in the property management business that we can identify that can be done.

Mark: And they’re blown away at the amount of money that they’re going to save on top of getting more work done.

Anne: Once we have the appointment, we get it through our process and we get through the expectations. One of the other changes that we’re trying to do in the industry is we’re trying to really come alongside the client and help them as their HR department.

One of the challenges you have with virtual assistants is, again especially if you don’t have that dedicated team members, that they “go dark” and you don’t hear from them. We solved that problem. We have multiple channels of communication. We’re here to help bridge those gaps. When a client has a problem with a virtual assistant, we talk it out like, “Is it your problem that you did not communicate, or if the VA having a challenge that we need to address?” We have a very specific, we call it a pathway to success and when there is a problem, we have a process to follow to get everybody back on the same page, re-energize the relationship and make sure that we help. We also have monthly office hours where we’re talking to our clients, kind of as an open forum, typically we have a topic, but it’s available to any of our clients for that.

Mark: Going back to your question, they’ll call, have a 20-30 minute conversation appointment with Anne, and then make a decision they want to move forward. They spend about 15-20 minutes filling out a simple form, they give us a general information. That starts the ball rolling. Then in a matter of a couple of weeks, they’re presented with three individuals that can do any of the job that they’re asking to be done where then they select. They make that selection, the VA then goes through a 40-hour one week training and they’re delivered to that company to go to work on a Monday following that.

The time period is typically less than 30 days that we’re delivering and the company owner spends 20-30 minutes on the phone, fills out a form, and then spends about an hour-and-a-half, two hours in interviews. They come out of that just astonished because they’re very used to putting an ad together, sending out that ad, getting hundreds of resumes back, phone conversations, narrowing it. You know the process from hiring. It’s terrible. They find this is really exciting and it’s so easy for them. So, we deliver somebody who’s ready to work.

Jason: Your hiring process is more detailed than most of the million dollar companies that I’ve worked with and seen their hiring process. It really is pretty detailed. At DoorGrow, I’m a lot like you guys. I really focus on this stuff and we have a pretty good hiring process. Everything that you and I talked about that you’re doing already in yours, which I think is just fascinating to me. I also love that you guys really provide ongoing support. There’s always a challenge.

Entrepreneurs are terrible managers. We just are. Let’s be honest. Most of use are not probably the person that should be doing operations or managing the team. Having somebody that helps us with that is critical. The fact that you provide that ongoing support in the relationship between the team member and them helps keep that relationship really healthy and really strong. Most people don’t even have that with their US-based employees.

Now, somebody may have never outsourced, may have never hired somebody in a third-world country. This all sounds maybe completely crazy to them to do something like this. Maybe you could touch on that to just those people that maybe feel nervous about this. How do they compare to US workers? What are the main differences?

Anne: There really isn’t a whole lot. Again, the only thing is they don’t physically come into your office. That’s really the main difference. They can’t do something that requires physical planting signs, lot boxes, [00:28:55] with that.

Mark: The [00:28:56] skills, the problem-solving skills, there’s something they’re really good at, I’ll point this out. When somebody comes in and they’re upset on the phone, we’re just like, “[00:29:09] we will be jumping right back at them.” They’re so calm and mild-mannered, they just listen and they’re so compassionate and empathetic. They mastered that. Their culture is just to take things easy and easy-going. That is a big change over what your local hires would be. But other than that, it’s just you can’t walk down the hall and tap them on the shoulder. You just have to hit them with an IM.

Anne: The one of the things I recommend that you don’t treat them much different than your team members. It’s like you were saying. You have your weekly meetings with them. That was something that I think Alex had actually introduced us to that. It doesn’t matter that you have somebody on board forever. You can re-onboard them today. Having that extra 15-20 minutes a week really helps you connect with them.

Every morning just like you would say, “Good morning,” I say, “Good morning,” to my workers, say, “Hey, glad to see you. Did you have a good night?” Very brief but still the same. Then we get to work. They’ve got questions, they ask me. But that weekly meeting has really saved a lot of time, energy, and effort because what it does is it makes sure we’re all rowing the boat in the same direction.

Then of course there’s company meetings, too. Our virtual assistants come to our property management meeting and we talk about vacancies and marketing reports and all of that. They actually write up the minutes for the meetings, who’s gotten responsible for what tasks so I don’t have to do that.

Again, the more you don’t look at it like, “Oh my gosh, this is the scary place on the other side of the world that we’re hiring from.” We are the easy button for our clients. I walk you through everything that you absolutely need to know to set you up for success through our process.

Mark: When you embrace this, your life will change dramatically.

Anne: It’s super simple literally. I think if you talk to any of our clients, they’d be like, “This is the best thing I ever did. This was so smart. It saved me a ton of time, energy, effort, money, all of that. And because you’re you and able to help me through this, when I do have a problem,” like I had a meeting with one of my clients yesterday and I said, “Let’s just talk it through.” He had some things he needed to do. He wasn’t clear in his expectations. I said, “You got to get clarity. You can’t expect somebody to read your mind of what you’re looking for and what you want to do. It’s just that, you wouldn’t expect that of somebody in your internal team and it’s kind of the same thing.”

Mark: So they become better business people all around through our experience with them, us being alongside them.

Jason: Yes, I see a lot of property managers get stuck at kind of like that 50-door sort of sand trap. They can’t grow, they can’t afford to hire somebody, they can’t figure out what else they can have somebody do, and I think this will be ideal to help them break past that. I think also I see a lot of people, if they can break past that, they usually break the 100-door barrier and they move on into that 200-400 door category.

That’s where I see other people kind of get stuck. Their number one challenge usually is when I talk with them, it has to do with hiring and staffing. They’re just dealing with this difficulty and usually they put the blame on the team members.

Something Alex, you have mentioned Alex Charfen, my business coach. He had mentioned to me this. He said this painful sort of thing to me. He said, “If you don’t have the business that you dreamed of yet or the business that you want yet, you’re not the person yet that can run it.” It’s powerful feedback and it’s kind of painful to hear. There’s sort of an ouch factor to that, but there’s also this freedom and this clarity in realizing, “Okay, if I make some changes, I get some clarity. If I make some improvements here, then every else can be better.”

It’s not just about having just the ideal person, which even the best person, A players, they’re not going to sit in an environment in which they’re always micromanaged, everything is terrible, they’re treated poorly, and they’re not given recognition in the way that they would like. I love that you guys still take that process.

Let’s talk about some of the basic things to be concerned about. English level.

Anne: You can get it at hiresmartvas.com/english and listen. Listen in or if you see us at a trade show, we typically have many VAs there you can listen to.

Jason: Great. They could serve out written and spoken English and that’s a big part of your process of vetting, find people that can handle that. In the Filipino culture, it’s one of the cultures that’s probably the most closely tied to American English.

Anne: Absolutely.

Jason: I’ve hired in India, for example. They’re connected to British English and it’s this weird Indian version of it. It’s really strange like the communication gap becomes really difficult. Not only that, but they’re a little bit more connected to American culture, right?

Mark: Well, yeah and if you’ve ever called Allstate, Home Depot, most of the big chains, any of those and got in their call center, you’ve probably talked to somebody in the Philippines, and most Americans can’t pick up on that. They don’t know that they’re not American that they’re talking to. Because of that alignment, American companies have such large call centers there. They’re the primary employer in the area.

Jason. What other big concerns do people have? One of the things we didn’t bring up that I think is important to point out is that, the majority of the people that your placing have college degrees, correct?

Anne: Almost all of them. We will look at experience for some. But most, if not all, have at least some college. Most have a four-year degree and some have even higher education than that. But here’s the thing. A nurse, he studies, gets paid $1.79 an hour.

Mark: And they can’t find jobs over there.

Anne: That’s why we have a lot of Filipino nurses here in the US. They come here.

Mark: But their families expected them to get a four-year degree. The family is very important there and their families requires that. They go get it although there’s no jobs. Then they go to work in a call center.

Jason: Yeah. There’s this huge opportunity that now it’s so possible to run a virtual company. You can have people, as long as they can use a computer, they can use a phone, they can speak, they’re educated, and they’re smart, there really is no limit unless you need physical laborers in your property management business, this would make a lot of sense. It really help collapse cost and allow property managers to be competitive.

Anne: Another thing that allowed us to do is be a differentiator, so we’re open seven days a week. We have phone calls answered live seven days a week.

Mark: By our VAs and our property manager’s happy because she doesn’t have to answer that phone and that email that comes in asking the same repetitive questions all day long.

Anne: Or on the weekends. We used to all have to take weekend phone duty. That was always fun. What that means is our internal staff, we can raise them up a little bit, we can pay them a little bit more, bonus them based on what we call revenue-generating events. When we make money, our property manager makes money because that’s the way we’re structured.

Mark: And we attract more owners because we are answering the phone seven days a week and getting our numbers of vacancies down tremendously. Nobody in my town is showing homes seven days a week like we are.

Jason: Let’s talk about the time zone difference because that’s another concern I think people are concerned about. You have some that work their own hours, probably daylight hours in the Philippines, and they work the US-based hours?

Anne: They always work for the time that the client wants. That’s part of the recruiting process. Part of the intake form that we get from our clients is, “I want somebody to work whatever.” A lot of times, it’s the normal business hours, Monday through Friday, [9:00] to [5:30].

Mark: Pacific, Mountain, or whatever the time zone is.

Anne: I do have some clients that have gotten savvy and they decided they’re going to shift their hours a little bit later so their VAs going to start a little bit later in the day, so they can extend their call hours into a couple of hours into the evening. Then we have some like myself where I have weekend calls, so I have one that work Sunday through Thursday and another one that works Tuesday through Saturday. That way, I can cover the seven days a week.

I recruit specifically based on what the client wants. It is five consecutive days, 8½ hours shifts because there’s a half-hour for a break. That’s the other thing. Everybody wants to think they need an hour break. There it’s the middle of the night. They’re not going anywhere. They have 30 minutes to go get a cup of coffee and eat a little something in the middle of the day to get their time reset, is all that they need. Much more than that and then we risk going to sleep or whatever. So we always say half hour’s perfect and it tends to work really well. We obviously screen for that. That’s part of our hiring process, making sure that they are and have been working graveyard shift for a long period of time so that their bodies have adjusted to that.

If you’re calling Allstate, Chase, whatever, they would be working in a call center in the middle of the night anyway. It’s really no different. We allow them to work in the comfort of their home office where their family is. They don’t have a two-hour commute each way, and we pay them extremely well. There’s a lot of advantages of how we’re able to get that top 1% talent, but recruiting for the time frame of our clients is a big thing. Most of our clients are going to be in the middle of the night but not all. I have a couple that start really early in the morning and go into daytime hours, but that’s more rare.

Jason: Great and they’re taken really well-cared off. They’re paid well and even though they’re paid well, they’re comparable to a US-based employee, that cost of them is so much cheaper.

Anne: Absolutely. Less than $20,000 a year all-in. It’s that easy. $360 a week, plus of course we have our recruiting fee on top of that, but it’s incredible cost savings of what you can do for here.

Jason: Now, some people might be thinking, “I’m going to go try this out on my own. I’m just going to go get somebody. I’m going to find Filipinos on my own and I will go make all the mistakes that companies typically make.” I’ve done this so I’ll just say this to everybody listening. The challenge is, one bad hire, one bad employee, may be really cheap. They may be really cheap, but the cost of the damage that they can do and the cost of the business you miss out on and the business you lose from that situation is more than you would pay for an entire salary of a really well-paid person. So, don’t make that mistake.

Mark: The key is you don’t know what you don’t know. People do that. They don’t know what they don’t know to ask about.

Anne: It’s just like, again, an owner of a real property, “I’m going to lease it out and I’m going to manage it myself.”

Mark: That tenant had [00:41:20].

Anne: We all can relate to that. They’re like, “That’s probably not the best idea,” but we see it all the time in hiring. You’re not a professional hirer. That’s not what you do. That’s not your role. That’s not your job. I’ve been in HR for 20 years and then having successful placements for over 3½ and we have a 97% success rate. Our numbers speak for itself.

Jason: Yeah and I love the dynamic between you two because you complement each other so nicely. I’ve forgotten to see your personality and how you guys work together which has been really fun to work with. Anne, you are a spitfire. You are driven and you are go, go, go. You’re like, “I’m going to do this now and I want this going.” You are so driven and Mark is such a great complement. He’s the epitome of the operator. He is meticulous about things. He’s so detail-oriented. You guys work so well together. They’re getting some of that, which I think is also a benefit.

Anne: Absolutely. He’s my anchor for starters. He came to see grounded and like I said, we’re both very passionate about this topic. We’re passionate about helping entrepreneurs and we’re passionate about helping the Filipino culture. What we’ve done and what we’ve created has made me very proud.

Mark: Yeah and we’ve changed hundreds of people’s lives here and in the Philippines. It’s wonderful to think about that and think about the impact we had around the world literally.

Jason: Yeah and I love it. Like I said before, good property management can change the world and I love that you guys are in alignment with that bigger picture and bigger vision. I appreciate what you guys are doing and I think everybody should get in touch with you. How do they get in touch with HireSmart?

Anne: The easiest way is to go on our website, which is hiresmartvas.com and if you want to book an appointment, you could do /appointment and go out and pick an appointment with us. We certainly would love the opportunity to serve you. We have chat on our website as well so you can always chat Adele who manages that chat, or you can email me, anne@hiresmartvas.com. That’s usually the easiest. I work by appointments so calling is okay but a lot of times, you’re going to get the voicemail because I’m working by appointments, helping clients, doing interviews, training VAs.

Mark: But you’ll go right on her calendar and book 30 minutes, just boom.

Anne: Boom right there and that way I got that time dedicated for you and can give you my full undivided attention which I would be honored to do.

Jason: All right. I’m excited and I think you guys are up to big things and are going to have a big impact on this industry.

Mark: Speaking of honors, we’re honored to be here and involved with you and your organization in changing lives [00:44:23].

Anne: That’s right. We’re going to have our new website being watched here probably by a broker-owner, so we’re excited that the DoorGrow—

Mark: Who did that website for us?

Anne: [00:44:33] Jason’s team.

Mark: Oh wow.

Anne: We’re still in the process of finishing it up but it’s going to be available really soon. It’s going to have more bells and whistles, and we’re so excited to work with you guys. Your team is amazing and Jason’s been really high, so we appreciate that. Again, we hired a specialist, right? I’m not a web developer.

Mark: We’re not a brand specialist.

Anne: Yeah, we don’t know anything about that, so you really transformed our lives and we do appreciate all that you’ve done investing in us as well.

Jason: I appreciate it. It’s been great getting to know you guys more and more. All right, everybody check out hiresmartvas.com and thanks for coming on the show again. I appreciate you being here.

Anne: Thank you.

Mark: Thank you.

Jason: All right. Hopefully everybody got some really good value out of today’s episode. If you did, be sure if you’re listening to this on iTunes, to subscribe and give us your feedback. We love to see your reviews in iTunes. That helps us spread the word.

Make sure if you are a DoorGrow hacker, to get inside our DoorGrow Club. It’s our free Facebook group. You can get to that by going to doorgrowclub.com. We have the most amazing resources there. The most amazing people are in there helping each other out. It’s just for property management entrepreneurs and business owners. The level of contribution, the level of value in there is phenomenal.

Also, we are ramping up and preparing already for DoorGrowLive 2019. Our live in-person event 2018, our first inaugural event and it went amazing. We are getting ready for 2019. Tickets are on sale already and it’s going to be held at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs in November. Be sure to get and lock down your tickets for DoorGrowLive. This is where we get all of you DoorGrow hackers together, connecting, and making a difference.

I appreciate all of you that are fans of the show, that are listeners, and I hope that you guys have some awesome success in growing your companies. If you get stuck anywhere, reach out to DoorGrow. We’re happy the help. Bye everyone and thanks for tuning into today’s show.



Anne Lackey’s Email

Alex Charfen (Business Coach)

DoorGrowClub Facebook Group


About Jason Hull

Jason's mission is "to inspire others to love true principles." This means he enjoys digging up gold nuggets of wisdom & sharing them with property managers to help them improve their business. He founded OpenPotion, DoorGrow, & GatherKudos.