Episode 293: Scaling With Professional VAs with Daniel Ramsey
Being an entrepreneur always entails wearing different hats. Sometimes, the secret sauce to effectively manage your time and business is through hiring a professional virtual assistant. Daniel Ramsey, the Founder of MyOutDesk, breaks down the many reasons why hiring professional VAs is time-efficient and cost-effective. He reveals the ideal country source for virtual assistants and how he picks from the pool of applicants to bring out the professional ones. As he touches on the work culture in the Philippines, he lists down the challenges of running an outsourcing business. Daniel shares how you can determine if you already need to take off some of those hats and pass them on and unravels the roadmap to a seven-figure business.
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I’m here with Daniel Ramsey. He is the Founder of MyOutDesk and he is an expert in how to grow your business using professional virtual assistants. This is something that anybody and everybody can use. It’s not relegated at all to just the real estate industry. It could be any industry, especially for those of you who are right now a one-man show. Once upon a time, we were probably all a one-man show if we’re entrepreneurs and everybody knows how exciting that is. How quickly that turns to, “I’ve got too many hats on. I can’t do anything very good at all. I need some help.” Virtual assistants are a great choice.
I have had up to six virtual assistants at one time. I have three and looking for another one. I do need to pay homage to my sponsor. Please go to TaxFreeFuture.com because you do not have any idea what your financial advisers are not telling you. Believe me, they’re not telling you a lot and they’re not telling you for a reason, mostly because they don’t get paid very well if they tell you. We’re going to tell you and then you can figure out how to get your money into a tax deferred or tax-free vehicle so you can grow your finances, your retirement and take advantage of this gigantic tool in your tool belt. Daniel, how are you?
Good. Thanks for having me.
I’d love this topic. I haven’t talked about it a whole lot. I’m glad that you’re here because it’s a super huge choice that a lot of people should be making earlier, way before they do or some of them don’t make a choice at all. Tell us where you’re from, how you got into the virtual assistant overseas outsourcing business and then we’ll move forward.
It’s a simple story. We’re in Sacramento, California, that’s where our headquarters are. The leadership team, our sales folks, all the marketing guys are here in California. We have 1,200 virtual assistants over in the Philippines. What’s cool about that, I’m a real estate broker-investor and literally, I haven’t even told you this story yet, but it’s a great one. I was on my honeymoon with my wife. I was at the bar and it was 1:00 at night and my wife passed out, sleeping in the bungalow. We were in Guatemala in the rain forest and we spent the day trekking through the Mayan ruins, so we were exhausted. We were newlyweds and I was at the bar at 1:00 in the morning working because I was closing a deal. I was in the midst of negotiating a big transaction. The bartender, he’s a Spanish guy and he got to know us because we’ve been there a couple of days. He started making fun of me. At that moment, I knew something had to change in my business world in order for me to have a family and grow this thing because at that point, it was just me.
He was making fun of you because you were on vacation on your honeymoon and you were still sneaking out working.
If you’re a real estate guy, whether you’re an investor, a real estate agent, broker or whatever, that is the reality that we all live in. We are working and closing deals. I was in Arizona. I was with a good friend of mine who has a couple of our virtual assistants and we were driving around and he was like, “Ramsey, I’ve got to go swing by a new home development.” I was like, “Why?” He goes, “I’ve got to negotiate a pool.” We’re just pulled in a million directions as real estate professionals. If that is you, then this is absolutely something you need to follow to. If I’m you, I’m taking notes.When somebody gets to the realization that time is more precious than money, everything shifts. Click To Tweet
I tried to automate my business, which was a form of house flipping. I buy houses with other people’s money. I’m about $15 million worth of private money, which is what happens over 22 years. If you pay people back like you’re supposed to, you get a lot of money. I went to automate and I tried five times myself and failed. I went to a mastermind, paid $30,000 to learn how to automate my specific kind of business. I got in a room with a bunch of people that had already automated my kind of business. I went there with an open mind and I’ll let them unwind me. I did what they said and I let them rewind me a different way. I’m proud to say in the last five or six, seven years, I haven’t seen the last 300 houses I bought. I haven’t seen the last 300 people that bought my house. I’ve been pretty much freed up to retire for a couple of years. Not even a couple of years, I was going on the second year when I figured out like, “This isn’t working. I’m bored out of my head.” I started podcasting and coaching people. A lot of going through that process and this, I have a lot of help from overseas. Of all the different people across the globe, you picked the Philippines to do this in and why?
There’re a lot of good reasons. In real estate, whether you’re an investor or an agent, you’re constantly looking for deals and that require prospecting. You’re on the phone calling people, getting them to register, send them mailers, whatever it is. One of the most important activities you can do for us as a company is helping our clients grow their revenues. We have around 600 folks that are just simply on the phones all day long looking for deals, pounding the phone, and basically prospecting for our clients. One thing about the Philippines is that they have an accent neutral kind of country. If you go India or Southeast Asia, there are some areas that the accent is thick. In the Philippines, it isn’t the case. You get folks on the phone and people don’t know where they’re calling from.
We tell our clients, “Get a local number, so it looks like it’s somebody calling right from your office.” If maybe you can add another line on to your office, so it says your office when they’re calling. For us, it was number one, the accent is very neutral, so growing people’s revenue is easy. Number two, 93% of the population, they’re Catholic. That is a good match for us in terms of like ethics, how they work and all of those kinds of things. Culturally, the US and the Philippines are very tied. We had an army base over there, we freed them from Spain and then later from a Japan. They are positive about Americans and they work our schedule. It’s normal for them to work nights so they can support us during the day.
That’s one of the things I noticed when I was hiring my first virtual assistant. I said, “What time is it over there?” It’s almost exactly opposite. If it’s noon here, it’s midnight there. They’re basically are pretty close. I said, “How do we work out this time difference?” They just said to me, “You tell me when you want me to work, that’s when I’m working.” They said, “It doesn’t matter. You tell me when you want to work, we work in your schedule.” I thought, “These guys are aggressive.” They want to work. The internet and this technology are bringing a middle class to this country.
As a matter of fact, some of the people I pay, I understand because I pay them consistently. They feel comfortable. They have good jobs. I pay them well. I start out average or whatever because of the exchange rate, it’s affordable. When you find someone, who does their job well, we can bonus these people and bonuses go a long way with them because of the exchange rate. I’m under the impression that $5 an hour in the Philippines is basically $50,000 a year salary in the United States more or less. Am I close there?
Here’s our world. We pay them about $1,747 a month for an entire month. What our clients tell us that’s about 60% savings compared to hiring somebody local in your office. We did a survey of our clients and asked them, “What are we saving you?” For 2018, we reported $55 million in actual savings compared to what you would pay in the US for the exact same caliber of talent.
You’re doing a lot of training, you do a lot of sifting, how do you qualify? Do you do background checks and stuff on your folks? What are the qualifications to work as a Filipino through MyOutDesk?
I think we got to start at the beginning and if you’re okay. I’m going to step back and then answer that question. Here’s the challenge that we find in our industry. There’re 28 million businesses out there. 96% of most of them by a long shot have revenue below $1 million. Most businesses out there are just expensive jobs or high paying jobs and people think they own businesses. Of that 96%, here’s another number that blows your mind, 60% of them tell the government that they made no money or lost money. This is the challenge that we have as an entrepreneur. Most people never get over the goal line of having a seven-figure business. We started looking at our clients who had made that versus the ones who hadn’t. What are the differences between the teams that have expanded and grown their revenue? It’s all about leverage, systems and processes. One of the things that we like to help people do is an analysis about who’s on their team and who do they need in order to double their business.
$1,750 a month, what does that come up to an hour that I’m going to be paying?
It’s a little over $10. It’s $10 an hour.
Here’s the point I want to make. You can pay someone in the United States $10 an hour, you’re not going to get a very high caliber person. I know. I wish it weren’t true, but I’ve tried it because I was a tightwad and I thought I was being frugal. That $10 an hour hiring an American cost me because they didn’t do anything. They screwed everything up and they don’t give a crap. I switched and I started doing what Daniel Ramsey’s suggesting. I started paying that amount of money to some folks overseas. I found out there’s this whole different caliber of person that’s working for them because of the exchange rate.
The overseas person is not getting to keep 100% of the $10 an hour. Of course, Daniel Ramsey makes a business out of getting some little markup on the person that he’s trained, checked the background on, and felt good enough to recommend. He can’t just go out and grab anybody and say, “This is the guy I recommend,” or he’ll look like an idiot. He’s got to put them through something. I’m not exactly sure what all it is, but I know that it’s got to be extensive because it’s his reputation on the line and he’s been in business way too long to be half-assed. My point is I was hiring ex-hospital administrators, assistants, managers of companies or I was getting a whole different caliber of a person for this $10 an hour. Their job was a very big deal to them.
A person with a $10 an hour job in the United States, they were looking for a job when they found you and they can find another $10 an hour job tomorrow or five minutes. There’s no loyalty. They’re not going to stay. Americans don’t want to earn their way to anything hardly from the ground up. They expect a lot of immediate gratification. I found that overseas, they’re willing to put their time and prove themselves. Their job is very important to them. The other thing I noticed is they take great pride in working for a good company where in some cultures, it’s not that way. Maybe we’re taught to go to college. They’re taught in their culture to find a good company, stay with them and grow with them. Is that right?
It’s a cultural thing. It’s interesting. In the US, we want to be the individual track star. We want to be the one that finishes the race and it’s because of me that we won. That’s our number one cultural identity as Americans. We were the innovators. In the Philippines, the cultural identifier, the number one thing that makes them tick is being a part of. In fact, they have a word in their culture about that. They’re way more concerned with the health of the entire system and the team than Americans are. That’s what makes them such a great fit as an employee for a small business, as well as they don’t have the opportunity that we have here in the US. For them, working for a US-based company is a massive opportunity. They respect and appreciate those opportunities.The challenge that we have as an entrepreneur is that most people never get over the goal line of having a seven-figure business. Click To Tweet
I have found the ones that I’ve worked with to be very integral and very much care deeply about the good of the company, which was refreshing to me. Also, there’re some challenges from going overseas, IP addresses and stuff. I’m sure MyOutDesk knows how to deal with those challenges very well. What are some of the challenges? I know there are some challenges with postings, stuff from IP addresses and stuff across the ocean, but there are ways to deal with it.
There’re all kinds of systems. Back when I was selling and active as a real estate agent, we put a camera in front of the MLS login and it was a Skype camera. My virtual assistants could log into MLS, upload my listings and do all the paperwork. We had a computer that was standard and they could just IP into that computer so they could post on Craigslist. They could see US-based websites. Most companies, depending on where you’re at, if it’s a national brand or a world brand, they will IP locate your PC. If you’re looking at Coke in Asia, you’re going to see the Asian brand of Coke, not the US brands. You have to know ways of blocking IP addresses and have a VPN if you need a login. These tiny little tricks if that’s part of the job description.
Are you training these specifically for certain tasks or do you do the background checks and turn them over to someone like me? Do I have to train them myself or is this a choice?
It’s a choice. I keep wanting to reel you back because your readers need to know how to start in the process, how to choose and what are the different things you can do.
Let’s do that again. Start from the beginning. I’m a new entrepreneur. I have a business that’s a job and I’ve got too much to do. I’m wearing too many hats. What do I do first? Take me from there.
What I would do is I get a sticky challenge. We call it stickies. You get a pack of stickies and then you just follow yourself around for a couple of weeks. I had this gal out of South America. She was an investment person. She’s making millions of dollars a year. What she was selling was like stock investments. She and I were talking. She was miserably unhappy. She doesn’t like the company that she was selling for. She doesn’t like her team. She came to me and said, “I need something else. I need to do something different.” I asked her to do the sticky challenge and that is following yourself around all day long and figuring out what you’re doing on a daily basis. She did that for two weeks. She found out she spent 37% of her time on social media. She was working 70, 80 hours a week. She’s one of these Millennials and an awesome business person.
If you’re reading and you’re thinking, “What should I outsource? What can I outsource?” The first step is doing a time study and knowing what you’re doing throughout your day. That is easiest done with a sticky note and following yourself around. Once you get that information, the next step is you have to ask yourself, “Mitch, what’s the one thing you need to do in order to double your business?” Sometimes the answer comes one, two or three, and there might be a bunch of stuff. You look at your sticky challenge and you try to decide like, “What are the things that I need to do and what are the things that I can delegate down to somebody else?”
One of the popular phrases is “Don’t work below your pay grade.” You figure out what it is that you do that makes the money. What’s the most important thing? For me, it’s always been raising private money or finding the deal. Everything else came after that. It didn’t matter. That’s what I did best. When I was trying to learn to automate my business, my goal was to eliminate anything that didn’t have to do with speaking to a potential private lender or speaking to a motivated seller. If it didn’t have to do with those two things, I was trying to completely take myself out of the picture of that process.
The next challenge is when you make that decision, and I went through this, I screwed this stuff up when I was new at it, leverage is hard. Finding deals and being a real estate professional, once you get good at that, it’s something you can do. I got good at it as you did, and it was something to do. I decided to hire somebody and it was like I was thrown back in kindergarten or first grade. I didn’t know how to do it. I didn’t know what the steps were. We were getting back to the biggest challenge with deciding what’s next. We have this other thing that is great for your audience. If it’s not finding deals or getting capital, then you put it into a system or a process. We talked about a little bit about that. My favorite thing to do is these webinars, we can talk about the why and the what. If you’re reading and you’re like, “I have my list. I did my sticky challenge. I know what the most important work is. I’m going to delegate and get all of these things off my plate, so I can double the amount of time. I’m finding money and finding deals.” You basically start doing a list and then you start making checklists or you start making videos. You start creating some training material for this person so they do it like you do it.
One of the biggest challenges for me was I had to give myself permission. Circumstances would have it, I was about ready to quit because I was so exhausted of the fifteen years of doing everything. I thought, “If I quit, I’m going to lose $1 million plus income down to zero if I walk away from it.” I decided one more time to try to automate it. If I could save $500,000 of the million-dollar-plus income, at least I wasn’t walking away from the whole thing and getting zero. I thought I would have to pay these people pretty good, so it’s going to take over half of my income just to pay the right people. How naive was I? Come to find out that once I had the right people in the right chairs that were experts at the one thing, they had to do instead of me being half-assed at the ten things I had to do or the 100 things I had to do.
I made more money. I did less and made more because everybody in their chair was so much better at the one thing that I was. I would’ve been all of them in most things if that’s all I had to do was their job, but I didn’t. Where I was surprised was that I made more when I quit doing almost everything. The other thing though that I would want to say to the readers is I had to give myself permission. I was used to buying 100 houses a year. The year that I decided to automate and fix my business, which took me a year, for better or for worse, maybe someone will fix it better, faster than me or not. It took me a year. I had to concentrate on every seat, I had to write the deal, I had to figure out what I wanted them to do, and I had to figure out how to keep them out of these people’s business. I didn’t buy 100 houses that year. That was the problem the other five times. I had not given myself permission to sit down and not buy 100 houses.
You can’t buy 100 houses when you’re one guy trying to fix your business. I only bought 30 houses that year. It was good enough to keep me afloat and make me not cry all together. That year, I finally fixed the business. I gave my self-permission not to buy any houses. That’s a huge expense that I don’t even want to calculate what it was worth but was it expensive or was it not? I am free and I have over a million-dollar income. It was a year and money well spent. Scary at the time but looking back I’d do it over. Tell me about some of your success stories where guys have done that?
Your story is absolutely the story and we call it a seven-figure business roadmap. The thing that stops an entrepreneur from making that leap to building a team and automating some of their business and then delegating some of their business is they’ve never done it before. It’s not an intuitive skill because normally we’re people-people. We like talking, we like sales, but sitting down and hammering out a process, that’s not normal. We’ve coined the play, pause, do where you record your screen and you do the work. You sit in that chair, you do the work and record your screen. You talk about the why, the what and the where and all the stuff. You can create three to five videos that basically you can save forever. Now you’ve just created a process that’s not super painful but 100% of the time it’s about creating the systems and processes. Like you, you had to take the gas, you had to take your foot off the gas. You have to do that in order to do this. We call that the optimize stage. It’s where you’re optimizing your business so that you can put systems in place, then automate it and eventually delegate the rest of it down so that you’re focused on the stuff that only you can do.
I can talk to you forever and we could probably talk for a long time. Maybe we should do a different segment after this, but I want you to go to REInvestorSummit.com/MyOutDesk. I want you to get a copy of this book How to Scale with Virtual Professionals. This thing has all the positions you could ever imagine in the real estate world. They’ve already got it mapped out who they are and what the positions are. You need someone for that particular position. They already understand it. You can look at the different maps. They can teach you about a 90-day launch program. They have a lot of offers. There’ll be a lot of links. Read what those links are about. Maybe they even get a free consultation with one of his representatives. I’m sure that’s on the books. Go to REInvestorSummit.com/MyOutDesk, and get to know Daniel Ramsey and his company better because it can make all the difference. Any words you want to say?The reality of a real estate guy that we all live in is we are working and closing deals. Click To Tweet
We’re ready to answer your first two questions. We optimized our business. We’ve sat in the seats and we’ve defined the job description for the folks that I’m going to hire. I know what I need because the reality is as an entrepreneur, we’re running around. If you remember back before you hired people and you’re doing 100 deals, you’re running around like a man with your hair on fire.
That’s reactionary. I’d go to do something, the phone would ring and I’d be off on something else. That’s horrible.
If you find yourself in that space, you’ve got to go to get a copy of the book and have a consultation. This is what we’re going to do. We’re going to look at your org chart and we’re going to look at basically what systems or processes you have together. The system is all the IT stuff. Are you sending mailers, what’s your phone system, what’s your CRM? How are you generating new leads for your houses or for private money? We’re going to look at all of those things and then we’re going to distill it into, “What are the gaps that exist in your business right now? What’s your schedule like?” A lot of our clients come to us and say, “Daniel, I need to buy some of my time back.” When somebody gets to that realization that time is more precious than money, everything shifts. You become the CEO of your business. You now are building a multimillion-dollar business.
You’ll be what you want to be when there’s a CEO under you. That means you own the business. It doesn’t own you and you’re not working in it. I’ve even got to get to the point where I am. I’m not the CEO of my business. I have a CEO that sends me the spreadsheets. I’m checking all this every Friday and look at the numbers and make sure the pipeline is full. Make sure the bank accounts are heavy and that it looks like we’re going to make it until the end of next week. I watch week to week to make sure that we’re not drifting off somewhere or fallen off somewhere.
We call it the seven-figure business road map. I want to break it down for your readers. If you’re in the “I do it space,” you’re an entrepreneur, and you’re a solo guy, what we’re talking about is hiring a team, building systems and processes. We call it the we do it space. That’s when you’re growing, you’re trying to get to $1 million in revenue, you’re putting your systems and processes and you’re hiring. You’re learning how to be a CEO at that point in the we do it space. What you just talked about is that they do at space and in the they do it, you’re squeezing profits out of your already existing system. All of that is about, “How can I leverage how many houses I’m doing. How can I leverage my investor relationships? How can I leverage my private money relationships so I can squeeze more? How can I do stuff like maybe making a podcast?”
In that stage in the they do it, it’s all about the people on your team and the vision. You’re looking for the future of what’s happening in the real estate world or in your particular industry, looking for ways to leverage and squeeze it. That’s I, we, they do it. When you do a consultation with us, we’ll very squarely sit down and understand where you’re at, what gaps exist. We won’t get stuck in the how pie. We’re going to get into the who pie. The difference between billionaires and everyone else is they only think about, “Who do I need to double my business, take this, or build this thing or whatever?” People, who are small business owners, solopreneurs, they’re thinking of, “How can I do it?” The right question is, “Who do I need on my team so I can win?”
We all get just 24 hours in a day. No matter how good a multi-tasker you are, and there’re arguments for against even the wanting to be a multi-tasker, it’s not going to happen unless you build a team. It’s challenging. I was good at some other stuff. Apparently, hiring people was not my forte because I hired people that sucked. They were horrible. I hired them for all the wrong reasons. I finally got to where I started testing people. I wanted all this great stuff, responsibility, money-driven, money-motivated, integrity, honesty, the whole thing. I wanted all that, but I also wanted to test them to make sure they didn’t have an entrepreneurial bone in their body.
They weren’t very good personal money managers so that no matter how much they made, they didn’t make enough to go in business against me. I started using that, started helping me find the right people. The people that these tests told me to hire, I was shaking my head going, “No way.” They’re with me like five years later and they’re top at their segment of what they’re doing. I’m completely blown away about who I was picking and what a real hiring psyche knows what to pick and it wasn’t anything what I thought.
We’re getting into your second question, which is like, “How do we choose and what do we do?” If you’re reading and you’re like, “Daniel sounds interesting. I’m not sure yet. He could be crazy. Maybe he’s one of Mitch’s buddies, I don’t know.” Just give us a call, come to our website, schedule a call. We want to help and that’s 100% of the truth. The other thing is we had around 30,000 applicants who applied to work for MyOutDesk in the Philippines. We do a first interview, we do a second interview, we check their references, we do an FBI grade background check. We’re basically making sure these people are exactly what they said they are. We’re putting them through two weeks of training. This training is all online. It’s all about real estate, what it looks like and what it is. It’s very basic.
It’s a surface level training so that when you’re ready, we know we at least have somebody who can finish a project and who is smart enough because if they can’t pass our tests, we don’t give them to clients. We started with 30,000. We put them through our funnels where we do a personality profile, we check their references, do all this, do the training. We onboarded 500 people to clients. It was less than 2% of the people get to do an interview. Our process, it’s twelve years of being perfected. Your job is out there to find deals, get money and build your wealth. Our job is to deliver high caliber talent to you. You just interview them and say, “I want to hire this guy, that guy or that gal.” That’s basically how we onboard folks.
I highly suggest you go to REInvestorSummit.com/MyOutDesk, pick up the free digital copy of the book Scale with Virtual Professionals. You’re about out of time for yourself. You’ve got your heart stop. I’d like to thank all the readers out there for stopping by to get you some Daniel Ramsey of MyOutDesk. Twelve years of providing quality overseas workers for people just like you, me and the real estate business. Also, thank you to my sponsor TaxFreeFuture.com. Please go to TaxFreeFuture.com. Watch the videos and you won’t believe what your financial advisers are not telling you. Thank you so much, Daniel. There’s a lot to be said about this. Do you want to come back another time with me?
We haven’t even gotten into the good stuff. I’m 100% in. We’ll get back here. We’ll try to serve your clients and dive into the details of what we do every day for real estate people across the country.
That’s good. Thank you for being on, Daniel.
About Daniel Ramsey
Daniel Ramsey is the founder & CEO of MyOutDesk – the real estate industry’s leading virtual staffing company, with over 5,000 clients including half of REALTrends very own top 10 Teams!
Back in 2008, he was inspired by his own time-management struggles to find a better way to help agents leverage their time & energy, and created MyOutDesk to provide a trusted, reliable solution to the office administration, marketing & prospecting tasks that every agent has – but most lack the time to focus on.
MyOutDesk grew rapidly and as it took on key clients across the industry, and as those clients grew their real estate businesses with the help of virtual assistants, Daniel began exploring the larger role of business process & systems outsourcing and key growth stages in real estate – which led to the development of the well-known “7 Figure Business Roadmap” and the publication of his soon to be best-selling book, “Scaling Your Business With Virtual Professionals”.
Daniel’s years of experience and expertise has also brought him opportunities to be a speaker at numerous national events, including speaking engagements with Keller Williams, RE/MAX and other major brokerages, as well as national media engagements on prominent podcasts like Pat Hiban’s “real estate rockstars” and “Real Estate Coaching Radio” with Tim & Julie Harris.
Daniel has 2 lovely daughters and a wonderful wife and is passionate about extending the movement beyond revenue, making an actual difference in many people’s lives. He’s made this dream a reality through the incorporation of the “MOD Movement”, 501(c)3 charity that has participated in building orphanages & senior housing in the Philippines as well as life-planning programs for at-risk youth here in the United States.