If you’re part way along the journey towards outsourcing offshore, you’ve probably reached a stage where you’re considering how your agency will look and how it might operate with a staff member who’s based in the Philippines. How will they integrate into your team? What role will they fulfil in a department and how will you or your team manage their workflow and performance?
We’ll take a look at each specific department in more detail below, but, no matter where your offshore staff member sits in the structure of your business, in many ways, they need to be treated just like a local team member. If your department has a weekly team meeting, ensure you set up a screen in your meeting space where you can bring in your Phillipine staff member via video conference. If you’re going to be referring to a work in progress document, a leads list or a project tracker, share it with every member of the team before you meet. It also makes sense to set up an email address for your staff member and send all enquiries relating to their role directly to them rather than having another local team member acting as a gate-keeper (at least once the new staff member has settled in).
It almost goes without saying that you also need to have software and files that operate in the cloud so that they are accessible by everyone, anywhere - this will be just as helpful for your local staff as for your offshore team. Collaborative working environments, such as Google Drive or Microsoft 365, are great ways to ensure that everyone’s working from the same and most up-to-date files.
Establish communication methods that work best for your team - email will obviously be vital but to replace the conversations you might have around the office, set yourself up with an instant messaging service for on-the-fly questions and answers. In most cases you can also jump on a quick video call from these apps if you need to speak face-to-face.
Of course, you can also set up a direct dial phone number to use either internally or externally if phone calls form part of your Philippine staff member’s role. And, if your local staff are caught up in meetings or ‘open for inspections’, their mobiles can be diverted to the Philippines number so that your offshore staff member can take a message rather than frustrating your potential customer with a voicemail answering machine.
Keep communications open with your Philippine team and ensure that turnaround times and deadlines are clearly articulated in your expectations of the role. Also make regular updates and catch-ups a part of your working relationship so you can keep abreast of any delays or issues.
From property management and sales through to marketing and accounting functions a Philippines-based resource will become an integral part of your real estate agency. Let’s take a closer look at the ways in which these resources can add value to your business:
Most property management teams consist of one or two managers who can each handle around 100 properties. They’ll either have an assistant or the agency receptionist helping with much of the administrative and processing tasks, and this is where the role of a virtual assistant property manager will step in. Your Philippines-based property management assistant can manage tasks such as:
- Tenancy applications, exits, renewals, arrears and inspections management
- New property onboarding administration
- Maintenance and repair requests and fulfilment
- General administration and correspondence
- Updating website and web-portal rental listings.
This leaves your property managers free to manage the face-to-face interactions that are needed to grow your rent roll and ensure your tenants and investors are happy. It allows them to be proactive, strategic and able to take on up to 250 properties each.
The only real way to increase sales in real estate is to ensure your sales agents are 100% focused on listing and selling property. Once again, your local staff can work with a virtual sales assistant who is based in the Philippines and is dedicated to supporting their administration needs. This would include tasks such as:
- Property and suburb research
- Updating the CRM
- Lead generation
- General administration and correspondence
- Updating website and web-portal sale listings
- Diary management, ‘open for inspections’ and meeting preparation.
Your sales agents are then free to give potential buyers and sellers the attention they need. It’s the personal face-to-face connection that’s going to make the difference between winning or losing a sale.
You may well decide that a virtual assistant can also complete various marketing tasks as part of their role with either the property management team or the sales team, but if it does become too much for one person, a marketing role is easily fulfilled by a Philippines-based staff member. They can perform the more time-consuming tasks involved in marketing such as:
- Email marketing management
- Collateral development
- New listing campaigns
- Just sold / just leased campaigns
- Auction campaigns
- Social media management
- Video editing
- CRM management
- Collateral development
- Updating the website and other relevant portals.
Some of these tasks can be partly managed by your local team members so that your agents’ personalities shine through in the marketing messages, but leave the heavy lifting to your offshore staff member.
With the large number of transactions occurring within real estate agencies each week, a bookkeeper or accounts assistant can help take on much of the reconciliations, invoicing, payments and reporting. Whether you work through a local accountant or have an internal financial controller, they can oversee the accounts while the transactional process-based tasks are easily performed remotely via cloud-based accounting software. Your Philippines-based staff member can also manage your pay runs and commission payments. Routine tasks we typically see outsourced include:
- Trust accounting
- Accounts payable
- Reporting for the property manager
- Bank reconciliation
- Reversal of receipt
- Creditor disbursement
- Processing end of month accounts
- Reviewing the property ledger
- Managing holding deposits.
Ensuring a successful working relationship with your offshore staff member all comes down to having a clearly defined role within your real estate agency and open communication and expectations - just as you would for a local team member. Once you set in place the technologies to manage work and keep each other updated, you’ll wonder how you ever managed without your offshore staff. One of our Beepo customers has even added their Philippines-based staff members to their website and another states just how much happier their local team is without the pressure of huge administrative task loads.
Still have questions? Download our free eBook, Answering all of your questions about outsourcing in the real estate sector.