How to Pay Peanuts and Not Get Monkeys?

Picture of Stephen Atcheler
Stephen Atcheler


Once again, I have been blown away by the quality of work from our great team. If you don’t know, I run a business here in the Philippines, so I am not really outsourcing. I am essentially insourcing, so I have no choice really but to use the local talent. In any case, even if I had an opportunity, Filipinos are always my first choice for talent.

To make a living, I primarily sell talented people that cost less than what you would pay locally. This is quite a hard thing to market and sometimes it does get frowned upon. It is not only about the cost it is also about the quality. You want to make sure that is spot on. If it is not, you can drive people away which will cost you more than what you saved by going down the cheaper route.

When I talk to my team, particularly about marketing, I explain how important their roles are. They are essentially creating the material that will make someone decide whether they use our Real Estate Virtual Assistant service or another provider. It is critical that they put out only the best quality work.

Ok, I’ll stop beating around the bush and get to the point that inspired this impulsive article on a Friday afternoon when I could be doing anything else.

So at the moment, we are trying to make an impact and do things a little bit differently. We want to shake up the BPO industry. Everyone looks a bit same same, which makes it very difficult to separate companies.

It is kind of like being back in real estate where owners think you all say the same things and you all do the same thing so how do they choose? So then they try to drill you down on fee.

Anyways this is the conversation I have had with our lead designer Jasper about how I want us to be perceived. Everyone does an email newsletter; however, they are all very dull. I want our newsletter to deliver unique, modern, edgy ways of thinking, and that’s what I want it to look like right from the header to the footer! And….. this just blew me away!

I would have to say I am particularly hard to please when it comes to these types of things. Only someone with super talent can create this image. I get that not all of you may love the picture; however, it was exactly as per the brief that I gave. I was clear on what I wanted, and it came back at an even higher standard than I expected.


The wages in the Philippines are certainly lower as the cost of living is far lower, and that is a direct reflection. But the lower salary does not mean you get a lower quality. In fact, I would say quite the opposite. On some occasions you get work that is of higher quality for such a low price.

I get that this is in the creative area of graphic design; however, it is across the board with all areas of work. I have hired many staff in Australia before, and I can say that I have hired equal quality if not better in the Philippines. My personal experience backs my opinion and is the reason I have packed up and moved to the Philippines, building a whole business around it.

I think the key point though is you must know how to be clear with what you want and drive the ship. To get the result on the header, I sent samples that I found of each component and then said to Jasper, “now it is up to you as you are the creative one.” The result was awesome!

It is not the first time I have been blown away by the skill or talent that is on offer here and for a fraction of the cost!

I’ll mention a few other staff I’ve had great experiences with in the time I have been offshoring.

In my real estate business, I hired the best staff member I have ever had. And yes, she was located in the Philippines. She was just amazing in the sense that she was like a sponge when it came to learning. Her ability to take on more complex tasks was incredible. She was able to deal with solicitors on exchanges, create settlement figures and handle disbursements. Nothing was too hard.

Another was Bud Bud. Well, that was her nickname. Her real name was Carla, and this girl was the best on the phones I have ever seen. Unlike most internal staff I have had prospecting, Carla would never put down the phone. For her, the rejection was like water off a duck’s back. In the time she was with me, we would have generated more than $180,000 in commission from the appointments she set. The reason she was durable was she was used to it. Before working with us, she had to sell medicine for erectile dysfunctions. You probably remember the ads for Advanced Medical Institute! She had a pretty tough task before us, and she used those skills with us, and it was terrific.

I have one particular staff member who works with me still to this day and what amazes me about Ren is his ability to problem solve. He is the king of finding the easiest ways to do things. A long-time back when he started, I showed him the app Zapier, which is for creating automation. The stuff he has gone and learnt with that tool is genuinely incredible.

The few points above are just some things that have amazed me in my time with offshoring. There are loads more, and these are the ones I know about where staff are working directly for me. Across our group, we have 650+ team members working for businesses that I am sure also have many stories like mine. If they did not have success, why would they still have staff with us and be 100 % committed to offshoring?

Concerning the title of this article, we all know the saying that if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys. I am just referring to this saying as a reference, and I am not calling anyone monkeys haha. Here in the Philippines is one place where you can pay a far lower wage (Peanuts) however you will find serious talent (Not Monkeys).

If it is something you have considered than reach out and explore. I am always happy to have a conversation with any business owner wanting to jump in and take the plunge.

About the Author

Meet Stephen Atcheler, the Managing Director of a Real Estate Virtual Assistant Company. Stephen has been working in the industry since 2013 and has a wealth of experience in making outsourcing work for real estate businesses. He fell in love with real estate at a young age and has been working in the field since 2005. Stephen's passion for real estate and helping other business owners thrive led him to start his own real estate business in 2012, and eventually, to establish a real estate virtual assistant company to take it to the next level. Stephen's wealth of experience and knowledge in real estate and outsourcing make him the perfect person to guide you in setting up your own virtual assistant team. Feel free to reach out to him on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or Instagram.

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