Listen in as Simon Harris of the Summit Club interviews Outsourcing Angel co-founder, Linh Podetti, during his recent Business Base Camp webinar. In this video, you will learn about the benefits and challenges of outsourcing and how you can fully take advantage of it. If you’re looking for some advice on how to find the right virtual assistant (VA) to hire for your business, how to manage working with a VA, and ultimately, to optimise the business as well as personal benefits of hiring one to automate your business, watch the video or read the transcription below…

[Video transcript]

Facilitator

G’day and welcome everybody. Just going to wait for a few stragglers to come on – very excited about today’s session with Linh, I’ll introduce her very, very shortly. Also a lot of the theme with the clients who work on this quarter has been all about leverage. For us to give you ideas on leverage – I think today’s topic is perfectly suited for everyone on the call. I’m just going to wait for a few stragglers to come in. For those of you that are on the line, on the right hand side on your screen you’ll see a little control panel. I just want you to yes that you can hear me nice and loud – type in the control panel under notes or questions. Can you just type – put your hand up and say I can hear you or yes everything’s okay just to make sure we do a sound check with everyone please.

Just those online type in a yes in the question section on the right hand side near the control panel. I can see Cassie’s got her hand up. She’s raised a question. Everything looks good. Alright, now Linh Podetti – I’ve known Linh since I don’t know, 2009 or ’10 or whatever. It’s a long time ago Linh.

Linh Podetti

Yes.

Facilitator

Three children, [unclear 01:27] lots of things. I met Linh through a current – a client at the time. She was married to him or about to be married to him. When I was talking about web design – when I was talking about getting leverage into my business your name popped up on so many occasions I couldn’t ignore it. I know your biggest fan is your husband, but I wanted to check you out to see how you’re going and we started talking. I wanted to know what it is you actually did. We started talking about virtual assistants and in those days I just wasn’t ready. My brain couldn’t switch on to giving tasks to someone on the other side or halfway round the world at a lower rate.

All these objections came up in my head and I’ve never really discussed them with you, but I know that people on the call today will probably be in the same boat. What the hell is a virtual assistant? Why would I outsource? Today we’re going to explore that in kind of like an interview style. I want to get inside your head, understand the whole question and then what we’ll do is we’ll open the floor up to questions for people out there who are in the same boat. We’re going to hold questions until the end. If you just save them up, put them in and we’ll eventually give you plenty of time to answer plenty of questions.

I’m thinking that of all the session that we’re going to go today, through my interview we’ll probably flesh most of those questions out anyway. Linh, welcome to the call, thanks for taking the time to speak to the crew today. How are you going?

Linh Podetti

Very good thank you Si and thanks for having me.

Facilitator

Sensational, can you give us a quick – I don’t know – thumbnail sketch on the background of the industry, what the hell’s a VA? Who uses them, some of their friends, so we can all get our head around this whole idea of trying to get some sort of competitive advantage and reduce our costs in labour or reduce our costs or get us more productive? Give us the heads up.

Linh Podetti

Yeah sure, so I mean outsourcing and offshore outsourcing in particular is not new. It’s been – big companies have been doing it for many, many years mainly through manufacturing. Obviously through the recent times – in the 1990s when the computer technology starts to improve and the internets around that’s when we saw a surge in companies small and large who are able to post a job online, get applicants from all over the world to apply for a job. It’s just really quick access to be able to outsource or get offshore staff to work for you.

So there are sites like oDesk, Elance – I’m pretty sure a lot of people would have heard of it. They are the platforms that allow the buyer and the seller – so an employer like yourself to be able to post a job up and all the people from overseas – the global – everyone from every country can see the jobs that they want to apply for. They apply within minutes and there you get to see all the job applicants, past reviews and so it just makes the recruitment of these overseas people a lot easier. Hence we see more and more people outsourcing.

Facilitator

Right, so that’s kind of job specific right. If I need someone to design a logo or write up an operations manual or do some data entry or just really simple stuff, we can post that job online, people bid for it and then away they go. Is that what you’re talking about – that level of outsourcing?

Linh Podetti

Yes, so apart – so those platforms are really great for project based, like you said. However there are other platforms, for example online jobs.ph, which is specifically for the Philippines where you can hire them full time. There’s just so many platforms out there now specifically for different types of staff that you’re after, whether it’s full time or project based. Even the oDesk and Elance that I mentioned you can hire them full time. Yeah it’s basically up to you how you want to – it’s just a job platform whether…

Facilitator

I remember using Fiverr or oDesk I think it was .com to redesign a website, back out of html into WordPress or designing a new logo for my business. You post a job online – it’s quite cool. People bid for it and you don’t have to take the lowest bid, but that’s a really cool marketplace in its own right if you just want project driven stuff. Tell me about if I really want to hone in on now this whole concept of hiring a virtual assistant. I was thinking on the way here today why they are virtual because they’re not. They’re not in my office, but they are real people? I think of a virtual assistant as a cartoon at the back end of a computer scene, but it’s not. It’s an offshore assistant or an overseas assistant at some level. Tell me how does outsourcing like this – how is it going to save me time? How is it going to save me money? How do I get my head round it?

Linh Podetti

Okay, so assuming you’re – you’ve got a lot of repetitive tasks. You almost need like a personal assistant/ marketing assistant. That’s where a virtual assistant is perfect for your business. So, yeah to hire a virtual assistant you basically – there are platforms out there that you can tell exactly what you’re after, whether – you need to identify obviously in your business what sort of tasks you want to outsource because you want to make sure that they have experience in it, so you don’t have to spend a lot of time training them on that particular task.

In general, they are smart and fast learners. They’re good enough to be able to get you to train them on your business process and tools anyway. A virtual assistant for example, in the Philippines – you’re saving a lot of costs because you’re looking – their average minimum wage in the Philippines is about $300-$300-$400. Obviously the higher salary means the better the VAs are, but let’s just say if you are good – a really good VA for $1,000 that’s equivalent to about $200 a week, which you cannot get a VA from Australia to do that.

VAs from the Philippines are really great in that the cost is cheap. Their English skill is incredible because the Philippines is actually the third largest English speaking country in the world.

Facilitator

Wow there’s a fact I didn’t know. 

Linh Podetti

Yeah and they say 75 per cent of it is people actually speak fluent English. They’re really beating the Indians as well because obviously you’ve heard their accent, they’re like American, not – American accent sort of thing as well, so it’s easier to understand. Another interesting fact is that they call the social media capital of the world. Filipinos spend 53 hours a week on social networking sites. So 11 hours more than the global average.

Facilitator

I heard an interesting stat the other day Linh, that there are 500,000 university graduates coming out every single year.

Linh Podetti

Yes.

Facilitator

Out of the Philippines.

Linh Podetti

Yes, I can imagine so. What I find with hiring Filipino VAs is that they’re already knowledgeable in the IT department, in the online marketing department. They probably have worked for clients in the US or in Australia and helping them all around this sort of online business space. Every business nowadays, whether you’re traditional or not, you do have an online, internet aspect to your business, which they’re perfect for it. Obviously you can’t get them to do any physical work. You can only do things that can be done virtually – remotely – online or internet yeah.

Facilitator

They could be remote assistant then couldn’t they? Hey you mentioned their minimum wage was $300-$400. Is that a week, a month, what does that work out at?

Linh Podetti

That’s a month sorry. Sorry I didn’t clarify it. Yeah so that’s a month.

Facilitator

Wow so minimum wage is $300-$400 a month? I assume that’s US dollars right?

Linh Podetti

Yeah you can still – you can still get people willing to work for Australian dollars for $300. That’s the average and it is some people who are just out of uni and obviously they would work for any money. Obviously you don’t get the same experience as if you get the more experienced, but higher paying ones.

Facilitator

Okay, so we’re looking at leverage. We’ve got the skill set. We’ve got the degrees. We’ve got the English. We’ve got the technology skills. Got it, so next [unclear 10:16]. The question would be why a virtual assistant? Now, the sort of thing I hear people say, I’m super busy already keeping ahead of the curve. What I don’t hear them saying is things like I do low value tasks and I kid myself that I’m actually busy. I see a lot of business owners doing their bookwork at night, data entry stuff because of the outside hours and the kids are asleep.

They’re – it’s sometimes – maybe they’re in this position that they’re a – not a control freak but they maybe can’t trust anyone to do it as well as what they might do. All of these things are kind of out there. How, why, what’s the reasons why people hire a VA. Give me some real nitty gritty stuff here.

Linh Podetti

I think when you start to get so stressed and you realize that you alone in your business just cannot get the work done. Obviously your happiness level is being affected, but people like us who are entrepreneurs or business owners we set up a business to work smart, to enjoy life, not to work hard and not get the benefit out of the business, so how I get people to realize how much money and time they’re wasting is by actually working out – for example if you set out – just say you’re a coach and you usually charge clients $100 an hour.

If you work out all the tasks that you’ve been doing in your business like updating website, emailing – any of those things that you know a normal assistant of like – just say a $20 assistant in Australia could have done it for you and you work out how many hours you’ve been spending a day. If the people haven’t really got any staff you would assume they’re spending eight hours at least a day doing these things, if you times eight hours times $100 that’s $800 worth. If you could outsource it for just $10 an hour, think about how many hours you’re saving and how much money you’re actually saving.

It’s not just – now that you’re free with that time you can actually spend time on growing the business. There is no other way to grow your business if – to make more money if you don’t outsource this or…

Facilitator

The two biggest issues that people have is time and money. If we can – by working with an organization or someone that does the whole VA thing for me, I can save both. That’s cool. I guess I was speaking with Linh, just before we started the session today. I told her a story. I was about to make a presentation in front of 100 vehicle dismantling companies from all over Australia and New Zealand. The organizer came up to me and said hey should I – in your presentation you’re not going to be covering off anything about virtual assistants?

I said well actually no, but why would you say that? He goes they’re my secret in the business that gives me advantage over everyone else in this industry. I said well how does that work? How on earth do you – what would a VA do in a dismantling business? He said well when someone rings up for the part requirement and we don’t have one – we don’t have stock of what’s available, we’ve got to do the ring around. We ring round all of our mates, all the businesses, anyone we know we can find this part from a 1985 V8 Commodore or whatever it is.

We used to employ a whole bunch of people here locally to do that at an exorbitant – normal rate. He said what we’ve done now is we’ve used those people in different parts of our business because it’s growing so fast and we’ve given that job – that task, that low value task to a team of eight or nine or 12 I think he said virtual assistants. He said while I haven’t sacked people, I’ve just moved them into different parts of my business and have the lower value tasks conducted by someone else and that’s what his secret advantage was in his business. I would never have thought that would be the case as a part dismantler.

Tell me typically Linh, what sort of tasks – if I go to the next slide there – what sort of tasks are these people capable of?

Linh Podetti

Okay, so I mean if you could of anything that could be done by someone virtually then it all can be done by a VA. So, things like customer service, whether it’s email, support. We’ve got clients who use VAs to do calling – call support, calling up leads, calling clients for customer service related queries. They can help you with your personal emails and work email schedule emails, scheduling your appointments. When it comes to social media they can help you managing your Facebook and all your social networking sites.

Obviously there’s just so many social networking sites now. It’s really time consuming trying to find trending posts and interesting posts and then trying to schedule it. Not to mention you get your fans communicating with you, but if you’re not there to reply back then it’s really not an effective social site. They are there to help you manage all that. Obviously everyone’s got a website and you – if you need to update any article and news, they can help you with that.

They are great with content writing as well. Obviously if you feel that you need to make sure it’s in perfect Australian English you can always get them to do the research, write it up perfectly for you first and you just do a minor edit and before you allow them to post it. Anything to do with web research, like maybe doing competitor analysis, checking out what other people are charging or doing. I’ve used my VAs to help me book flights for myself, accommodation, booking restaurants. Even whether it’s personal or business, it’s still going to take me a lot of time.

You look at them as your assistant. You’ve got access to them to help you with anything, not just all business related.

Facilitator

It’s almost like going back in time when you see an executive that had a PA that made them look good – going back in time in a way, because we got rid of all those sort of roles years and years and years ago. We ended up doing our own word processing because we could type our own letter on our own computer, without having someone else in the pool do it. We write our own emails these days. It’s become less and less formal with letters getting written.

That means we’ve taken on the tasks that we used to outsource anyway, so we’re kind of – not that we’re going back in time, but we’re now, with technology able to do the same things and leverage ourselves out of those low end tasks yeah?

Linh Podetti

Yes that’s right. They learn all your CRM systems; help you update content on data entry work – just unlimited amount of tasks that you can give to them.

Facilitator

What I – and I use a VA as well, as most people know on the call, but the thing I found a little bit awkward was giving this person personal access to my emails, log ons and passwords to my email account, your credit card details and those sorts of things. That comes through trust and it comes through the organization you’ve worked with as well. How do we get over that trust issue of letting things go like that?

Linh Podetti

Well I think it just takes time. I mean even if you hired someone locally you wouldn’t just trust them and give them your bank details from day one. Obviously it just takes time to work with them and really trust – know their personality inside out and you can give them the details. I mean I’ve got – my VAs know – not all of them obviously. I trust the particular one person whose got access to my credit card, payment details, but it’s because we’ve developed a relationship over the past four or five years.

Don’t look at it any different than if you’re needing to trust someone locally.

Facilitator

I mean anyone yeah. Just in terms of other tasks, I’ve got an electrical contracting firm that uses a VA to do a whole bunch of stuff, but they now through zero have full access to do all the invoicing, to do all of the – turn quotes into jobs and all sorts of wonderful things, plus they do a – you mentioned the customer service call. They ring the client two days later and they say they’re ringing from x, y, z electrical company just checking to see that the job is okay. We couldn’t – we didn’t have the resources to do that before. Now we do.

It’s kicked up a whole bunch of really good feedback which we can put on our Facebook or wherever else. Two – I again, the more I delve into this, the more I see the validity of getting rid of low value tasks. Sometimes it takes – well it took me a long time to get my head round that. If I’m going – if I get the concept of VAs, someone who’s in a different country to me, but who’s my right hand man or woman. I understand there’s a bucket load of tasks that we can slowly hand over. How does that handover process work? What’s the process for giving tasks to a VA – how do I know they’re not sitting there doing nothing?

I don’t want to be a Big Brother and ask them to punch in, punch out, but how do I do that?

Linh Podetti

Yeah, so I think the most effective way to approach this is actually a document down your full process within your business from when you’re marketing and getting leads to actually delivering the product or service to the client. We had our client – so recently we had a client who hired a VA and they were too busy and just giving them ad hoc tasks and then – so the VA was sort of doing tasks here and there and sometimes not busy. What we got them to do – became a lot more effective – is actually run through the whole process steps from their business and then looking at each of those steps and process – marking down which ones that they need to do versus the ones that an assistant can do.

Then also looking at the tasks that are for example project based – for example if you need to do a redesign – you’re planning to do a redesign of your website then that’s considered as a project base and you can outsource it separately. If there’s any routine tasks, like updating content or updating the client’s detail in the CRM, then they would mark that as a VA sort of task. Then what happens is when you’ve got the VA there and you give them the whole process of the business, they actually get to understand where they fit in as well.

Not only have they been able to find so many tasks for them to do that you didn’t realise before, it also allows the VA to understand, okay I’m doing 15 out of these 20 tasks and this is where I fit in, where the tasks fit in. That’s how I would start to pass the tasks to the VA.

Facilitator

Yeah good one, the project stuff is hey can you – I don’t know – print this document up and put our logo on it and update it with the new pricing and that’s just a little project, versus ongoing tasks of diary, calendar management, sales process, whatever it may be. That’s a very good distinction, but I look at – another way to look at it is if you went down your daily to do list – I get clients to put a red pen next to the stuff that’s costing them money. The green pen next to the stuff that’s making them money and an orange colour on ones that are really why am I doing this task.

It should be not a to do, but it’s a don’t. It’s the stuff that you can look down your daily activity on your to do list or your default diary or whatever you’re doing, how can I get someone else to do this which means I’ve got to assign or a process to it. I just can’t say can you do this. You’ve got to design the steps out to it. In a way it’s forcing you to systemize the business to the point where you can delegate these tasks and it doesn’t have to be someone sitting in your office, is that right?

Linh Podetti

Yes, correct yeah. It’s just that sometimes when you’re doing a daily to do list you just do things that aren’t even important in your business or not even necessary. I guess I love your idea as well – I think it’s good to actually look – go through your business – the complete business system and process so that you actually identify what you actually need to do for the business versus – because sometimes your to do list are just random things that come up out of nowhere that aren’t really related to the business [unclear 23:02]. That’s definitely…

Facilitator

Sometimes I look at the things I say yeah I’ll get round to that, I’ll do that one day. I’ll get there some day and I’ll park them because I just don’t have the time to get to it. Now all of those things have been flushed out. Do you – another thing I do – there’s a project management tool I use called Trello. I assume you’ve heard of Trello?

Linh Podetti

Yeah I have heard of Trello yes.

Facilitator

Yeah so it’s kind of like – it’s not a time card system, but it’s a mechanism by – my VA’s name is Reggie and we can look at Reggie’s and see what his activities are during the day, if he’s getting slow or not, or getting more work than he can get through. It’s like a little project management tool that enables me – the first thing I used to is check how much time does it take him to do that? What is he doing? I don’t sit there over his shoulder, but this is a way – once I got comfortable that he wasn’t there shirking or doing things or taking too long to do things, once I was comfortable with that then – this is the thing that allowed me to do it was to have – what is it T-R-E-L-L-O for example.

I’m sure there’s other ones. It’s free, no cost to it.

Linh Podetti

[Unclear 24:05]. Yeah, yeah that’s right.

Facilitator

I’ve found that is a really useful tool to allocate jobs and then track time stuff as well. It’s really cool. Plus they can do screen shots of what they’re doing at any one time if they need to or want to.

Linh Podetti

Yeah, definitely when you work with a VA, because you’re going to be assigning a lot of tasks, emails will not do the job. It will get confusing and they’ll miss the task. You definitely need to implement a project management tool, such as Trello to help them – to help manage all the tasks and track what’s done and not done yeah. I completely agree.

Facilitator

Cool. Assume I’ve got my head round the concept. I’ve not got my head round what tasks and projects this person can do. How do I go about hiring one? What’s the process?

Linh Podetti

Okay, so when hiring a VA, obviously with many platforms out there they allow you to see the star – the rating, like four out of five or five out of five with past work experience, the jobs that they’ve done as well as feedback from the past employers. Obviously assuming that you like them and you’re up to the interview stage and you want to interview them, what I actually look for apart from their core skills – just say you’re after a content writer, you definitely want to make sure that you’ve read a sample of their work and you like the content piece.

However, what I really look for more for a VA is their soft qualities. The soft qualities that I care about more is things like do they do what they say? When they say they’re going to turn up online for the interview are they five minutes early or are they five minutes late? At the beginning you should not be lenient at all. If they can’t even perform well before you hire them, there is no – there is a high, high risk or high chance that they will not perform at all when you’re with them. Never tolerate excuses at the beginning.

For example if you’ve said to them send me some sample work before the interview and they quickly are able to send it to you on time versus you chasing up going oh you haven’t sent it to me. Those are the signs that you know that they’re not right. Now the other thing – another quality is willing to learn. Often you might [unclear 26:25] asking them are you familiar with this tool or are you familiar with this skill set? They will be like no I’m not familiar with it, but I’m happy to learn it, or they even go away and start training themselves and next time you have a chat with them, they already – they’ve already briefed themselves on what it is.

It just shows the attitude to wanting to learn and to prove themselves. They don’t talk about money straight away, they’re talking – they just want to prove – they sometimes even say how about I write you a sample piece of articles that you can assess it yourself. That shows that they’re interested in the job and not so worried about the money. Another thing is how regularly they update you. When you work with someone remotely you – the communication is so important. If they constantly update you for example saying yeah I got your email with the interview time. I’ll be online blah, blah, blah. Then they’ll be like hi, I’m online now – just letting you know that I’m ready to go.

It’s just – I know it sounds like – I don’t know – baby, micro-managing, but it’s like when they constantly update you, you actually know before hiring them that they care and they want you to know every step of the way. You need that when you work with a remote person.

Facilitator

Yeah sure, so it’s an interesting concept this whole thing. Now I’m interviewing someone, not even in my office. They’re offshore. You mentioned there’s a couple of recruitment platforms. Just so people know, what are the sort of platforms?

Linh Podetti

So depends – if you’re after project based I recommend using sites like oDesk. They have a lot of high quality – I won’t say VAs – I’d say more like if you’re after a logo, you can get – put a logo up and get a logo designer hired to do that particular job. I think that’s a perfect platform for that sort of thing. Then if you’re after full time Filipino staff for example there’s a site called onlinejobs.ph. Now both of these platforms and with every other platform, it can be quite time consuming and daunting when you’re first using it.

I remember when I first posted a job on oDesk years ago, within minutes I had so many applicants and I was overwhelmed with them. I didn’t know what I was looking for, so I was choosing the cheapest guy and they promised me the world, but they didn’t deliver. It can – it takes time to get used to using these systems.

Facilitator

I could imagine. I could totally imagine, so online – I’ve just posted onlinejobs.ph up on there in the chat section. I’ve got a question that’s come in at what level of turnover would a typical business hire a VA? I said we’ll wait until the end, but since you’ve got the question up we may as well answer it now. What level of staffing or what level of turnover do you reckon it would be okay to engage a VA? First question, well my answer would be single operator can hire one because they can get out and go any – almost any size business should consider this, is that right Linh?

Linh Podetti

Yes, definitely. Even if you’re a start-up and you haven’t really made a lot of money yet. You really need to – if you’re consumed in doing the daily tasks and operational tasks, you cannot grow your business, go out there network and get clients. You really need that support from day one. You need to look at it as an investment because yes it seems as if you don’t have money to spend, but that money is more than an investment. You will see that [unclear 30:18] more time and money than – yeah if you…

[Over speaking 30:22]

Facilitator

The second question in there was how much time does it take to train a VA?

Linh Podetti

Yeah, so if you were to go out and did that yourself and not knowing how to work with a VA, it can be time consuming, but there are services out there that can help you work with them effectively. If you find the right person already there’s not much training to do because for example if you know for a fact that you want them to spend a lot of time doing social media, a lot of time doing – working on a particular task and you’ve already hired someone with that experience then there’s very small – you don’t need to really train them.

If you just – if you don’t recruit the right person then there will be a lot of training involved.

Facilitator

So, a really good – you need to – the more time you invest the better. I assume you’ve got an on boarding process that you would with any employee. You induct them; you train them, you – depending upon the task. You could do a couple of hours a day or you could schedule it for as long as you need it right?

Linh Podetti

Yes.

Facilitator

It’s kind of a piece of string question almost.

Linh Podetti

Yes, I mean you have to look at your time training them as an investment as well. Once you’ve trained them well then they will be your right hand woman or man and you can leave all the tasks to them and not have to worry. If you constantly think it will take me too long to train them, I’d rather do it myself; you’ll be caught up in the same position. You’ll never get out of that same positon.

Facilitator

The next slide talks about the advantages – I think we’ve kind of covered that. Cost is a big one. There’s no overtime or weekend rates as well.

Linh Podetti

Yes.

Facilitator

They’ve kind of got the experience, they’re – I’m going to say the biggest advantage would be their eagerness. They’re just – I just love the fact that they’re eager. This is one of those soft qualities again – turning up on time, doing the proactive homework on stuff and poking and prodding you to – I’ve just done this thing, what do you reckon? That’s a real big advantage. It’s kind of a whole level of energy in the business that you don’t pay for, but you get as a result right?

Linh Podetti

Yes, I find Filipino workers in particular – they’re really hard working and they just treasure a stable job. They just – all I want is a happy workplace that they know their employer will keep paying them and they – that’s the only thing that keeps them – that they need to keep them motivated, whereas I think if you have – sometimes having local employees, they – I don’t know – they can become more demanding. They want to get promoted without even proving themselves, whereas working with VAs from the Philippines so far I rarely get anyone saying hey Linh I think I need a pay rise. They’re just happy that they’ve got a job and you look after them well.

Facilitator

I love the eagerness side of things. It’s just in their DNA. They’re amazing family people. They work to support themselves and their families and it’s just a lovely warm culture too. How do I – I know I’ve covered a little bit of this – how do I work with a VA, what’s the process?

Linh Podetti

Sure, so I’ve – first of all in terms of communication, there’s some software and tools – software and tools are very vital in how we can work with a VA. For example in terms of communication tools, I use Skype. That allows me to type/chat, voice chat, video chat and it’s free. I also – most of them now – I mean all of them have a smart phone now and they can download apps like WhatsApp which allows you to text for free, so there isn’t any cost in dealing with an overseas person, whereas in the past overseas calls and texts is expensive.

Now it’s all free, so I can even – when I’m on the road I can even send them a voice message with WhatsApp and then – recently I’ve actually been adding them on my Facebook as well, because it’s just another channel to message them when I’m not on Skype or when they’re not – somehow if they’re not on WhatsApp they’re most likely on Facebook. Obviously you can still do the traditional calling them and emailing them. In order to work with them, like we mentioned before, we definitely need a project management tool of some sort in order to manage all those tasks, otherwise the task gets lost.

In terms of how to work with a VA, those are the software and tools, but the next step you need to do is you need to brief them on your company’s process, so that they understand why they do what they do and how they fit in. Then make sure that you start to assign small tasks first, making sure they do that well before you add more tasks. At the same time don’t be afraid to give them a lot of tasks because you want to test their multitasking skills. You want to make sure that they’re very – they can organize themselves and work under pressure and can work fast, because of the workload that you’ve given them. In a way, start small but don’t be afraid to move fast with them.

Facilitator

Yeah, we sent Reggie across a whole bunch of documents to put into Business Base Camp in our resources centre just to make them all look and feel the same way and does the first couple and then end of the day says I’ve put 133 documents in today. Now, anyone else on this side of the ditch, Billy for example gets 101 phone calls a day, so no way she’d get to that level of productivity. This person’s just so focused on one task. The phone doesn’t ring in the background and no one’s tapping on my shoulder asking him out for a coffee. It’s just amazingly focused work.

Linh Podetti

Yes, also the other tip I could give you is as employee, when you give them so many tasks you need to help them by prioritizing on the task as well. You need to advise them of deadlines for the task, because if you give them all 10 things, they don’t know which ones are important and urgent. You need to identify that in order to set expectations. Often it’s not really the VAs fault or employer’s fault; it’s just really misunderstanding and not setting the right expectations.

Facilitator

I’ve worked with I’ll call them Asian people before and often times I – when you’re talking with them, the answer’s always yes. Can you – yes. The reality is they’re saying yes because they don’t know how to say no. I set that expectation up with Reggie right up front. I said mate, if I’m giving you a task and you don’t know how to do it, what would you say? He goes I’d put my hand up and ask a question. I just wanted to really make sure that wasn’t going to be an issue. How you work with a VA – software tool like Trello, assign simple tasks, manage deadlines, have a good on boarding process, induct them and all the rest of it – like any other employee. There’s no real difference.

Linh Podetti

Yeah.

Facilitator

What could go wrong? How could this all fall over? What are some of the pitfalls?

Linh Podetti

Well if you haven’t got your business processes defined and you’re just randomly throwing them tasks you will start to find that I don’t really need a VA anymore because I don’t even have any tasks for them. That’s not really the case. It’s because you haven’t actually took time out to define your process and your to do list to give them the tasks that they can do. Other issues that I find is some people actually find it so difficult to delegate. I love delegating. I love getting someone else to do my stuff. Some people actually find it hard to just give someone else work.

I think it’s just you need to get started slowly. If you’ve never really enjoyed delegating or know how to delegate you just have to start small. Start delegating some small tasks, get it done and as you start to see the production and things getting done without you doing it, you’ll start to enjoy the process and it becomes a habit of delegating.

Facilitator

Got it.

Linh Podetti

Yeah and some people think it only takes me five minutes to do it so I might as well do it myself. Every five minutes – if you add up the five minutes times the 10 tasks that you’ve done, that’s an hour worth of your time already. You’ve got to stop thinking like that. The lucky thing for me is I don’t really have any technical skills. I don’t like doing anything to do with a website. I don’t like getting into the detail of social media, so I just find it so easy to delegate. Some people who are talented, like they might be a – they might have website skills or graphic design knowledge; they might think I’ll just design this myself. I’ll just do this quickly.

Those quick – those many seconds to do it themselves equals a lot of time wasted.

Facilitator

I’m just Googling in the background here, even though I have a VA sometimes I sit there and go I’ll just do this. I have got to stop myself. I physically have to stop myself because I know I can do it, but then that five minutes I could have been doing – I could have been following up a client or – exactly the same thing. Isn’t that interesting?

Linh Podetti

Yes, you really have to get out of that. I guess other – all those things I’m listing is more around the employer side. I’ll explain a bit about how it could go wrong with a VA as well. With the employer side it’s like being impatient. You expect them – it’s like you’re hiring an angel. You expect them to come in and know everything from day one. You really need to realise that they are human. They are new – like a new friend, you need to get to know them, to be patient and teach them your business process and task. Obviously just look at it like a relationship with anyone. The more time and love and support you give them the more you’re going to get out of it.

If you treat them bad and treat them like just some slave that came in to do the dirty work for you, then you’re not going to get the same respect and loyalty as you would if you treat them like a local employee that came in to help you with your business. Just because they are cheaper to hire doesn’t mean that they are not valuable to your business. I think if you’re going to spend a lot of time training them you might as well really treasure that relationship and do it right from day one with them.

I guess from the VA side of things, there tends to be a high chance of miscommunication and misunderstanding. It’s mainly because if you don’t explain to them what you need done, why you need it done and by when and if you throw them a new task and don’t explain that hey this task is more important. Can you stop the other one and do it after? It’s just about setting things really clear for them that they can’t not make a mistake. It’s the whole misunderstanding thing that could go wrong with them. To combat that you just have to be even more clear.

If you follow my tip of showing them the whole business process and letting them see how they fit in, it will help them with their production – with their productivity, the way they work because they just understand it more. Sometimes if they don’t understand why they’re doing it and how they fit in they just can’t do the job right as you expect. Obviously other things that are out of their control sometimes could be internet, electricity interruption. Often in these countries there’s some blackouts here and there. It doesn’t happen every day and it doesn’t happen all day.

I often just get them to make up the hours that they’ve missed and as long as they are respectful and they let you know that I’ve got internet interruption, I’m going to be – I’ll log on when the internet’s back. Then when they log on they say I’m back and then they still make up the time then it’s really not an issue.

Facilitator

It’s not a huge one is it really? So that’s what can go wrong from both my side communicating and inducting, whatever and from their side. All overcomeable, nothing major – what are the options now for – Roger’s asked a question about a particular job role for a medical receptionist. I think receptionist in any company, but what are the options if someone wanted to go out and do this, how would they go about – we’ve already mentioned Fiverr and oDesk and onlinejobs.ph. How do I – what’s the process, how do I – what are my options?

Linh Podetti

Well yeah, so the first option is doing it yourself, which is going out there recruiting yourself and then interviewing them and training them. There is another way which is – I run a business called Outsourcing Angel and we understand the problems of outsourcing, so what we do is we actually help recruit you the perfect VA for the job that you’re after. We take that process away from you and then we sort of pass – we help to transition your task over to them at the beginning and help you train them up to the way you want them to be and we stay in the process for as long as you want to – until the client’s happy to deal with them directly.

There’s two options. One is do it yourself and one is with an agency help like myself.

Facilitator

No different to here. I can put an ad in the paper for myself and hire someone locally or I can use a recruitment agency. I think the difficulty I think – well the advantages of going on your own is obviously cost issues. It’s cheaper maybe. The advantage of going through an organisation like you would be that you take some of the guess work out of the whole process and make my life a lot easier. What does an agency do that I can’t do myself?

Linh Podetti

Well, if you were to recruit yourself you would have gone through what I went through five years ago which was inundated with all these applicants, not knowing who to choose. I spent a lot of time trying to find the perfect person, but not only that when I hire the wrong people it wasted a lot of my money as well. That’s where an agency is there to protect you. In a way you’re hiring the agency and the agency hires a VA. You sort of in a way don’t have to worry about the VAs. You can blame the agency and say I don’t like this VA anymore. I want to hire – I want another VA. They will find another VA for you.

Facilitator

You take a lot of the guess work out and will find – you’ll short list people, you’ll maybe do some pre-interviews or how does that work?

Linh Podetti

Yes exactly. We do the – we interview them. We make sure that they are suitable for the role. At the beginning because you’re not sure how to communicate with them, we help – we be the middle man communicators – hearing what you need, passing on to them and facilitate the process and recommend tools and software that you need depending on your business and how you want to work with them.

Facilitator

We pay you for example and you pay them. You take all of that – all those issues out as well?

Linh Podetti

Yes exactly.

Facilitator

We’ve covered a fair amount of ground today. It’s taken a little bit longer than what I expected. There’s no – there’s all good stuff here. I think it’s highly relevant. I took way too long to get my head round it. I thought why would I bother? As soon as we jumped in and this was I don’t know, a year or so ago. About this time last year we got the first VA. She’s gone off to have a baby in the meantime. That’s cool, growing a family. She’s growing another VA I suppose.

Then I had a month or two without a VA and I realised oh my God, what am I doing sitting here at six o’clock at night doing stuff that I don’t need. I’d rather be at home with my family, so I’ve done the – without one, with one, without one, now I’m with one again. It’s an education. It’s a learning process and I still don’t think Linh that I’ve got this nailed yet. After a year of doing this I still think that there’s more and more I could give this person, because they’re so capable. They’re learning all the time. They’re smart and as I say the one thing I love about it is that they’re eager to please.

I’ll never forget when I first spoke to him, I think [unclear 46:49] my first VA she kept calling me sir. You don’t have to call me sir and then she used some yes Your Highness or something. She thought I – rather than going okay I’ll call him mate, then she went up the ranks. Yes Your Highness. What, where did that come from? These people are so eager to please and so happy. That’s just refreshing in so many ways. Linh, I’m going to open the floor up to questions.

Usually we go really quiet here before people – slowly the flood of questions to come, but what sort of questions do you get that you find most that we haven’t already covered?

Linh Podetti

Okay, I think some people who come to me and said why should I use you when I could just go to those platforms and do it myself? I welcome them to because I know that everyone including myself experience a lot of hard times trying to learn this outsourcing thing. It’s just like a new ball game. It’s like trying to learn a new skill, learning how to – for example learning how to do Google AdWords really well. You can – Google AdWords you can probably set up a campaign yourself, but how effective and getting the results is a difference.

Outsourcing itself is a different ball game. If you want to do it right and you want – if you just want to focus on getting things done for your business then trying to learn it all by yourself can take – can be time consuming and so I recommend people do it the easier way which is dealing with us [laughs].

Facilitator

I totally get it. We’re not here to promote you necessarily, but at the same time the concept behind doing it yourself or hiring someone you just – not that you’re cutting corners but you’re just taking short cuts to do it the right thing.

Linh Podetti

That’s right.

Facilitator

The answer to your question Roger by using Linh, will be outsourcing, yeah effectively it will. She’ll run that for you. She’ll be your single point of contact to make the recruitment process work beautifully.

Linh Podetti

Yes, in a way it’s more simple for me in my job is to outsource to the VA – the right VA yeah.

Facilitator

You’re Outsourcing Angel is quite an appropriate name huh?

Linh Podetti

Yes.

Facilitator

I’ve posted the link up there. Good question Roger. [Unclear 49:12] a very active young man on the call today, what does it cost to typically hire – I mean how long’s a piece of string – I could hire someone at $300 a month or two grand a month. What is it going to cost me to hire a great VA?

Linh Podetti

I don’t want to promote myself at all, but I just wanted to explain so with our service, you’re looking at eight dollars or nine dollars an hour. It’s still very cheap, not as cheap as if you want to go directly, but obviously we have to add our time to help you recruit and project manage. We still have clients after three months coming back to us with some problems, not because of the performance, more about they just need some more ideas on how to work with a VA more efficiently. It’s still very affordable compared to – under $10 compared to if you were hiring someone from here.

Often I actually find it quite hard to find VAs from Australia with the online marketing skills and knowledge and yeah I actually – it’s not just the price, it’s actually finding them ready to go to help you with all these online work that the Filipinos just seem to already have the experience, whereas a lot of Australians they’re not – they work the usual job. If you want them experienced in digital marketing they’re probably on $100,000 a year or something, so yeah.

Facilitator

[Unclear 50:41] yes?

Linh Podetti

Yeah, so $300 – $200 – 200-300 yeah a week.

Facilitator

Yeah got it cool. Alright, so there’s no more questions coming in. What I’m going to do is wrap it up – huge thanks Linh, really appreciate your time today and your honesty in sharing. [Unclear due to feedback 51:05] to get my time back from doing low value tasks and to reduce my costs in my business, you’ve mastered that beautifully. Thank you Linh.

Linh Podetti

Thank you so much for having me. I appreciate it.

Facilitator

You’re welcome and again this will be recorded and put on site, so [unclear 51:25] thanks very much Linh.

Linh Podetti

Okay thank you Simon, thank you everyone, bye, bye.

Facilitator

Bye.

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