When you start looking around at offshore service providers, it can get confusing to figure out exactly what they offer. It’s pretty different to hiring staff locally so you may not even know what questions to ask.
Basically, not all service providers are the same. Unless you educate yourself about how they are different, it’s tough to know what value you’ll be getting.
For that reason, I’ve written this article to help you identify the key factors you need to know before making a decision about your offshore service provider.
Keep in mind, I have been on both sides of the equation here. I used to be a real estate business owner and I know all about the highs and lows of trying to find my perfect real estate virtual assistants. These days, I am an offshore service provider, and now I know exactly how that business works.
So here are the top four questions you need to ask your real estate offshore staffing provider.
Do they know your business?
First up, does the service provider know your business and what you want to achieve? There are plenty of ‘generic’ providers who service many different business types. But if they don’t know anything about the real estate industry in your country, how can they help you find and train the right staff?
This was my major frustration when I first engaged a service provider. They just didn’t know my business and had a limited understanding of what I wanted to achieve. This became a significant problem during recruitment, performance reviews, and the ongoing management of staff.
Basically, you can’t just chuck an ad up on the Filipino version of Seek and hope for the best. The reason that you are going to a service provider is because they are experts in supplying offshore staff. It’s crucial that you go that extra level and get one that specialises in your business or product, someone who knows what kinds of tasks need to be done, and who understands the various complexities we need to deal with in real estate.
Choosing a service provider that’s real estate specific, like us, is key. You’ll be dealing with a business owner on the other end who totally understands the real estate industry. They will be there on a day to day basis to help manage the process and make sure everyone is working effectively.
You don’t need anyone to hold your hand when it comes to staffing. But it’s nice when you don’t have to explain the basics of the biz. Working together with a real estate specific service provider will speed up the process and avoid any pitfalls later on down the road.
Who is responsible for what?
Next up, you want to be clear about who is responsible for training and managing your staff. It’s important that you find out exactly what your service provider will be providing. Do they offer any pre-recruitment training? Do they have onboarding procedures to help facilitate the transition of the staff into your team? Do they have a training package that they can recommend? How much involvement will your account manager have? Are they just there to process the timesheet, or will they provide support to you as a manager and to your staff member?
The majority of providers will only provide a person, a computer, and a desk. A bum on a seat, basically. The rest is up to you.
We do things a bit differently at ShoreAgents. We have a complete course that our hand-selected recruits do before we even put them forward to clients. They sit our mentorship course, the super agent course, and also our Australian and New Zealand real estate training course before they even get started.
We have a very high level of training specifically in the real estate industry which sets us completely apart from every other provider out there.
How much is your VA paid?
This is something that a lot of business owners overlook. Of course you know exactly what you’re paying the service provider. But how much is your VA receiving in their hand?
I think this is really important. Companies that charge an hourly rate are usually forced to hire as low as possible. They’re obviously going to have a high turnover as staff get more qualified and move on to better opportunities.
Others will charge you an end figure and it won’t be clear how much you’re paying your staff. So when it comes time to grow your team, it gets difficult, because you don’t know what salaries they are getting. And if they’re a superstar and you want to give them a raise, you need to know what they’re currently on.
You know exactly what each of your local staff are paid, so you should absolutely know the same about your offshore staff.
You can check out my article How Much Does it Cost to Hire a Real Estate Virtual Assistant to find out all the different ways that service providers structure their contracts. You want to work with a company that makes it super clear where your money is going.
What are the terms of the contract?
Like any good business owner, you gotta read the fine print. What does an agreement with the service provider look like? Will you be locked in? Are there exit fees?
A lot of companies have a one year term so if you decide that you’re not happy, you can be hit with a full year of fees. Even if there’s an exit agreement, you may be liable for a penalty of three months. Even then, you’re not allowed to take the staff. So if the service provider has failed to perform, but you’ve invested a lot of time into your VA, you can’t move your offshore staff to another provider.
Again, we do things differently at ShoreAgents. We have a transparent 60 day contract and we’re not sticky with anything. We know we provide a great service, so if anyone were to be unhappy and want to relocate to another service provider, they could simply take their staff over there.
If you’re reading this then you’re already doing a lot of research into what you need to know before taking the offshore plunge. I hope you’ve found these four tips useful and if you want to discuss anything else about how a real estate virtual assistant can supercharge your business, just get in touch.