About Our Guest
Mark Homer sat down and talked with Brad Stevens of Outsource Access about ways lawyers, and entrepreneurs in general, can take tasks off of their plate using Virtual Assistants.
– Thanks for joining us. This is our extended interview with Brad Stevens of Outsource Access, where he helps empower business owners to take advantage of the many benefits of working with virtual assistants. The first part of this video is from our GNGF Live that happens every other Wednesday. The second part here is the bonus, extended interview where we dive into a lot of the tactics, and more on the benefits that he talked about with virtual assistants, and how Brad grew from three employees to over a hundred in just a few months. If you already solve the live, I’ll put the timestamp to the exclusive extended interview below, and make sure you like and subscribe so you can follow along with our great conversations on legal marketing, and the business side of running a law firm. And to watch this video on the platform of your choice, you can find it everywhere we stream at GNGF.tv. Welcome to GNGF Live, your bi-weekly Ask the Experts about all things law firm marketing and business growth. I’m Mark Homer, author of Online Law Practice Strategy, and founder of GNGF, Get Noticed, Get Found. And today, we are not in the GNGF studios. As you can see, I’m actually at home with my green screen. Like many of you, we’ve got our green screens to play with our virtual backgrounds on Zoom. So we are on a stay-at-home order here in Ohio, as well as many people, I’m sure, around the country, and so we’re doing our part to be fully remote, to stay inside, and help flatten the curve right now. But this episode, I think it’s actually a really good one, so be sure to watch it, but this episode was recorded a few weeks ago, right before this kinda craziness and world changed for all of us. But this episode’s about virtual assistants and outsourcing, which is, I think, very apropos to a lot of things going on today in terms of being able to be virtual and thinking about a remote firm, and now that you’ve kinda realized you can, maybe taking advantage of some virtual assistant services where you can really help do some things for kinda the busy work in your law firm, but also get some of your time back. So Brad Stevens, who is gonna be joining us here, he is with Outsource Access, and I met Brad as we’re both part of the Entrepreneurs Organization, and I met Brad because he speaks all over the world on outsourcing and how to take advantage of virtual assistants to help grow entrepreneurs’ business in the US, but also to give entrepreneurs some time back in the day to do things that they really love. You can see I got a lot of notes here, and you’ll see me kinda looking down here ’cause I wanna make sure I don’t miss anything since I don’t have my teleprompter that we usually have on GNGF Live. So, as always, be sure to like and subscribe. Like and subscribe the page, and please subscribe to the actual page, don’t just hit the Like button on the video. We still like that too, but subscribe to the page so that you can be notified when new videos come live. And thanks to those of you who watch us on Facebook. We’re getting a lot of great traction there, a lot of interaction, but we are working to build our YouTube subscriber base, so what we’d love for you to do is go to YouTube channel, which we’ll put a note in the chat here, but go to our YouTube channel, or go to GNGF.tv, which will be able to take you to our YouTube channel very quickly, and just hit the Subscribe button on the channel. 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It’s really focused on small-to-solo law firms, and being able to take actionable information back to do things in their firm, either on their own, or the things they need to know if they’re working with an outside agency. So check that out. It’s gonna be May 7th and 8th. Again, we’ll put their link in there. But if you aren’t following our page, you may not have noticed, but we did start a YouTube series called GNGF Tips on our YouTube channel, so please check it out. I’ll throw a couple in the chat during the moderation here. In fact, Joe, if you could do that. If you’re monitoring and listening to this right now, the, “Is SEO Dead?” which we just released recently, that’s a fun one. But it’s about a very good topic. Really about why you do need to be considering SEO, but I used the link bait title, “Is SEO Dead?” almost tongue-in-cheek. And then there’s a really good one on ROI, getting an ROI using PPC. That one’s got a lot of traction. A lot of people talking about that one. So check ’em out. New YouTube GNGF Tips video dropped every other Friday, so keep a look out for those. Again, if you hit the Subscribe button, you’ll get notified when those drop. And I think that’s it. Let’s get to our interview. Okay, here we go.
– Okay, so let’s get to the interview. Brad Stevens, thanks for joining me.
– Glad to be here, Mark, thank you, sir.
– Haven’t seen you in person since we were, what, in Peru together, I think?
– Are we allowed to talk about that?
– It was a good time, it was a good time. We definitely ate our way through Peru. That was amazing food.
– We may, or may not, have ridden unicorns, which made myself a hero to my daughter in a way you can’t even imagine.
– Yeah, that one, yeah, I guess you need a picture to go with it, so we’ll see if I can find that for the chat, just for everybody. And then I think I’ll see you in South Africa, probably in another month or so, right? Well, actually, later this month.
– Yeah, it all runs together these days, yeah. Yeah, down in Cape Town, ’cause I’m actually speaking in Kenya, and in Berane actually beforehand, before our Global Leadership Conference in Cape Town. Yeah, it’s gonna be a great one. You going on a safari? Did you plan one?
– I did not, I did not. I’m just running there to help with Global Student Entrepreneur Awards, and then heading back home. I have to speak, actually, right after that because I’m going to New Orleans for Small Firm Bootcamp.
– Oh nice.
– Pretty much right after that, so I’m trying to make sure I can squeeze everything in and not have to be flying to straight to a speaking engagement.
– A little sleep for jet lag.
– So, Brad, first of all, we met each other through Entrepreneurs Organization, but what inspired you to be an entrepreneur?
– You know, I was one of those kids that kinda grew up in an entrepreneurial kind of family. I kinda grew up with like a whiteboard permanently hanging over the fireplace growing up, where there was constantly idea flying around, and so I was inundated with it from an early age. I share when I speak, I actually had, remember the Micro Machines, the little mini cars? I actually had like 600 of them. I asked for them for every birthday, and every Christmas, and I carried them in Crown Royal bags in my third grade class and had a full-blow Micro Machine rental business. My mom still has a folder. I had little renter cards. I had a VP of marketing in there. I’ll never forget, her name’s Winter Hawkins. So it was the entrepreneurial spirit. I mean, honestly it came from my dad used to drive me to school every morning and he would just talk about it, and I would ask him questions, and that’s kind of what spawned it, and then I started a tutoring company, actually, in high school and helped kids during the summers bridge the gap. They were trying to accelerate on science and math. So it’s kind of always sort of in the blood for me, and then when I went to college I was gonna get a real job for a couple of years and the company I was going to work for, actually, ended up going under right before I was supposed to start with them. So, I had an option to take another offer, or actually start my entrepreneurial career, and that’s kind of all I’ve done the last 20 years, since I had a chance to start a number of businesses in different industries, and I don’t see myself turning back.
– Awesome, so this one you’re in, Outsource Access now. So how did Outsource Access come about?
– It was kinda born out of my last business, and my last business completely sorta unrelated. We manufactured and distributed teeth whitening products all over the world. We had a beauty division, we also had a demo division, and long story short, we had a product disaster happen with one of our products after we had shipped thousands of units, and they started leaking in purses, and so forth, all over the country, all over the world, and so I had to figure out how to get lean. Cash got tight, and so that’s when I started learning about this whole outsourcing, virtual workforce thing. I’d been hearing about it. There was platforms called Elance and oDesk, which was the big ones back in the day, that is folks that have done this stuff, and they merged, became Upwork, was one of the big platforms. But literally it was to save my business really at that point, and to learn how to do this, and over a period of six months I gathered my team and we figured out how to do this, and we had 50 people all over the world doing just incredible work, very fast, very low cost, and it just blew my mind in terms of the perceptions that I had around all of this. Completely flipped the script, and so I got asked by a bunch of different entrepreneurs and organizations to kinda share how I was doing it, so when we ended up exiting that business I was actually encouraged, actually my forum in EO that we’re a part of, to launch a business around it. And so, we created the name Outsource Access because large companies, Fortune 100, have been doing outsourcing for years, and most people think about manufacturing outsourcing, or call center outsourcing. Actually, all the fundamental stuff inside a small-to-medium business can really be scaled using these resources. So my goal is to really make it accessible to the small-to-medium business, the entrepreneur, the busy professional, attorneys, obviously, and how they can access it, understand it, all the doubts, fears, and concerns they have, and make it a truly reliable, scalable solution within their business. ‘Cause this is where everything is going. The world’s getting flatter, so now we focus on the highly confident, very vetted and trained VAs that are out of the Philippines is where we base out of, and I can share a little bit more about why. It’s a very Americanized culture there, so you don’t have the big culture gap, but you also have the economic benefits, super sharp individuals. And really, that’s the cornerstone that I found in my business, and for others to get a highly trained, vetted VA and then it kind of expands and builds from there. There are things you can build on and bolt on in addition, too.
– So, something in the entrepreneurial world that we always talk about, and especially within EO, is that really understanding kind of like your why. You know, as an entrepreneur of your business, and then for your team and everything. Why does your business exist? Why is this the passion that you’re focusing on, or what you’re trying to give to the world, right? And I’ve had a lot of my guests come on and talk about their why. So, what is your why?
– Yeah, I mean, being born in an entrepreneurial type of family, and that’s all I know. It’s all I’ve lived and breathed, and I’ve seen success, even within our own family business. I saw failure happen. And you know, small-to-medium business in the US, 50% still fail the first year. 95% fail after the first five years, because it’s hard, creating and launching a business, and as we know, you can’t even go to a bank and get a line of credit until you’ve had two years of tax returns of success. So it’s like, well, so how do I get to that point? You know, before I can actually grow. Max out credit cards, and everything else. So, part of my passion around doing this is that, ironically enough, when people see it on the surface they think, “Oh, you’re exporting jobs overseas,” and so forth. This is really actually helping save and support small-to-medium business, to get them access to resource and support, whether it’s marketing, operations, and so forth, that can help survive in their business. I’ve had several companies come out of bankruptcy by being able to get access to these resources, and ironically enough, create more jobs in this country. There’s this one that I share a story on in my speaking that, I mean, literally was in bankruptcy, near very close to it, and tried to launch a business to help senior citizens get paired with senior care facilities, and went the typical path, maxed all her credit cards, had to move back in with her parents, and you know, saw me speak, learned how to engage all this stuff, and went from near bankruptcy to half a million in revenue in 18 months, and employs 11 people in this country because of being able to grow that business. So, my big why is being able to, ’cause small-to-medium businesses is 95% of our economy in this country, and if I can help impact and support small-to-medium business with these resources. And on the other side of the globe, you know, I kind of started building a huge respect and appreciation with the culture there, creating jobs and opportunities for all of our staff in the Philippines, and I was inspired. Actually one day when my VA, I first brought her on, she said, “We’re making such good money here now “because of this opportunity,” she actually bought shoes and supplies for local children in villages in her country.
– [Brad] That’s awesome.
– And it inspired me, and I said, Well, if we ever launch a business around this, I wanna create a foundation, or a charitable movement, where we actually take a percentage of what we do and we buy shoes, and educational supplies, and actually building plans to work on a public education center in the Philippines, where we are. So it’s kinda come full circle. It’s helping small-to-medium businesses in our country survive and thrive, creating jobs and opportunities, and even further giving back into local communities across the board. So it’s pretty cool. I’ve got a lot of businesses I’ve been involved in in the last 20 years, but this is the most aligned I’ve ever felt as an individual and entrepreneur, to be able to have kinda impact in those different areas.
– That’s awesome. Well, I was gonna ask you, and you’ve probably answered a bunch of this, but I want to understand a little bit more, because I know you’ve done a lot with the United Nations, and Sustainable Goals, and some stuff going on there with how entrepreneurs are helping United Nations solve a lot of bigger problems, and stuff. So just kinda how your company’s able to kinda positively not just impact you, your employees, and stuff, but like the world. It’s very interesting, and some of the conversations we’ve had about it.
– Yeah, it’s pretty cool. It’s actually through a partnership that EO, the organization we’re a part of, partnered with the United Nations and so, frankly, I didn’t even know about this until I got involved, but for everybody who’s familiar with the United Nations, but they developed this framework called The Sustainable Development Goals, there’s 17 of them, that basically touches all elements of the economy, humanity, to have impact. And so, they wanted help, as far as further implementation and awareness, so it’s a relationship EO built with United Nations for us at our local EO chapters and organization to bring awareness, education. And see, I got a chance, one of the coolest opportunities of my life, I got a chance to run a think tank at the United Nations headquarters because of some of the philanthropic efforts, and what we developed, particularly around STG number eight, which is economic growth and decent work for all. And so, because of that, got an opportunity to participate. And so now, within EO, we’re looking at helping, because entrepreneurs are the best people to go to when you wanna get something done and executed. And outside the US actually, in Europe, and many other countries, the STGs are very formally known. I mean, you walk into a bathroom that’s using a sustainable initiative on water, there’s a plaque outside on which STG it relates to. So it’s just bringing awareness and education to the US and other countries.
– Yeah, it’s actually really fascinating. We’ll get a link in there, and we’ll put the STG goals. There’s a cool website on the United Nations for that, and I, like you, I learned a lot about it as we’ve talked about it and gone online and researched some of the things I’ve seen at EO. Yeah, there’s a lot of things within our company we’re trying to say, “Hey, how do we do things “that kinda match up to this?” And it’s a really cool initiative and I think that, to your point, I have recognized it more internationally than here in the US, so hopefully there’s, get more education around it, ’cause it’s not saying, “Hey, government needs to solve all the problems.” It’s, “Here’s the big problems, how can you help, “as an individual, or as a business, or as whatever?” So that part I really liked.
– And one thing I’ll add to it, that’s interesting, that changes the mindset of entrepreneurs. A lot of times when we think about, you know, give back, and impact, and social, is that it’s this tax deductible line item that you do every year, right? Versus the actual fundamental change it can make an impact in the business, even from a bottom line standpoint. You know, I mean, it’s the right thing to do, and I’m motivated and impassioned to do what we’re doing, but it’s had an amazing positive financial impact. I mean, the retention of our employees because of what we’re doing, and the impact we’re having in the community. People wanna work for companies that are doing these kind of things. I mean, we’ve won a lot of business, and people choosing us to get their virtual assistants because of the work that they’ve seen that we’ve done. Actually, a big franchise, national franchise we’re working with saw some of that, and so it’s getting people to change their mindset too. That it’s not just this, “Hey, it’s a feel good thing. “You gotta go write a check to a charity.” But, the fundamental change it can make in your business, and the bottom line impact it can have.
– Awesome, well, I wanna jump gears here, or switch gears here, and go to talk specifically around virtual assistants, and freelancers, and stuff, and how they can apply to law firms, and lawyers, and stuff. Because you know, in other interviews we’ve talked about, we’ve had somebody who actually has built an outsourcing platform just for lawyers to help other lawyers. And that’s fascinating one with Law Clerk. We did a Facebook Live with Kristen from there, and that was something a lot of people didn’t even realize exists. But there’s a whole host of things, whether it’s outsourced calling, to virtual assistants like you guys work with that can take over whole operational pieces of back office work and things. So tell me some examples, or things where virtual assistants have worked with law firms, or lawyers that you’ve seen, or maybe you’ve even done.
– Yeah, and attorneys and law firms are small businesses, small-to-medium businesses, just like a lot of others, and they deal with a lot of the exact same kind of constraints and challenges. You know, whether it’s customer service operations, marketing, and so forth. So, a lot of the common things that are shared across any small business, as far as everything from reception and answering phone calls, to managing chat and customer support on their website. Some people don’t realize that 30 to 40% of people would much rather chat on the website than pick up the phone and call you, or fill out your Contact Us form. There’s so much money lost in the warm lead opportunities by people that land on your website and you don’t have a way to engage them. Now, and very affordable having a VA that can help manage that. All the marketing functions, collateral, brochure, website maintenance and management. I mean, so many people have websites that they wish, they’re getting testimonials, “Man, I wish we had time to get that uploaded.” Or, “We’ve got this raw footage from a client “who had a great experience with us. “But how do we get that edited, and so forth?” I mean, people think that costs thousands of dollars. I mean, we do it for 30 or 40 bucks, a professional quality video edit. You know, website maintenance and upkeep. LinkedIn is a great outreach and marketing tool, and resource, and for a lot of attorneys too, it’s about partnering with people that can be good referral resources, right? So, I’ve actually got a full-time VA that does nothing but live in my LinkedIn account all day long, and all we do is actually, it’s kind of this, we call it a virtual online ambassador. So actually, I equipped him with a list of all of our blogs that we’ve written, and they’re categorized by pain point as it relates to VAs, and they’ll log in and go find where people are having conversations around those challenges, and paste specific links to drive them back to our website, to our blog. And the same thing with attorneys, if they specialize. I was talking to one the other day that specialized in immigration law, and that’s all that they do, and there’s tons of online communities where there’s lots of chatter. Well, she can’t be in all those communities, but a VA can, representing her firm, and go in and provide links and inbound, ’cause it’s all about being education. Just like what you’re doing with this whole initiative and this recording. It’s about education first. Just research, especially research and doing backend research for law where certain cases are concerned, going in and getting background information, helping with discovery processes. There’s tons of just research element that are done by outsourced resources. And then other things as far as just even billing, and chasing down receivables. That’s a lot of time, as far as chasing down receivables and the administrative part of that. So, it’s a lot of things that are common ground, shared in small-to-medium business, but some things that are unique to the industry that it can support them with.
– And I wanna make sure that you talk a little bit about this, ’cause this is something that was very eye opening to me, not even a year ago, and I think because of that, and I went on and did some more investigation and I now use a virtual assistant, in full transparency, through Outsource Access, so thank you. But you talked about how, ’cause a lot of people think, oh, Philippines, and it’s like an eight, 10, $11 an hour resource, which is less than I have to pay an intern here in Ohio. You know, what kind of quality am I getting for eight, 10, $11 an hour? And I want them to replace, like you said, be an ambassador, a replacement of you online. Or, whatever that you have them doing. And you kind of opened my eyes to, well, eight to $12 over there is actually like eight to 10 times higher than minimum wage, or something, I mean, it’s the equivalent of some high salary that you were telling me. So tell me more about that, because I think that was something that I’d like other people to understand, ’cause it’s a big misconception, I think.
– Yeah, and when I speak on this stuff any chance, similar to yourself, speaking all over the world, entrepreneurs and business groups, and all kind of different industry categories, and I call them DFCs, the doubts, fears, and concerns, related to this whole idea of outsourcing and engaging resources. And I had the same ones. As far as when I first started engaging the approach, but it starts, I mean, the Philippines, and I’ll share kind of its, what people don’t realize, they’ll typically group it into the rest of Southeast Asia, but what makes it different, and people that have had more of a culture gap experience is that the Philippines was actually controlled by the US up until 1947, so it’s completely Americanized culture, American education system, English is their second language. You walk down the street and there’s Starbucks and Longhorns. So, there’s not really the kind of the culture gap there. They have a huge focus on education within their entire country, and it is the American education system they typically follow, but economically, yeah, minimum wage is still one US dollar over there. And so, when you pay these folks anywhere from four, five, six, seven, eight, depending on skill level, dollars per hour, they’re making money than they’ve ever made in their life, and a lot of them, I mean, big Fortune 100 companies have been using the Philippines for a long time, like for call centers, because there’s not nearly as much of an accent there. But, you know, I’ve heard $1.50, $1.75 per hour. They can go make way more than that and go work with entrepreneurs all over the world and support them. So, it’s what I call the sweat-shop perception a lot of people have is, “Well, how can you pay these people “so low, but also get such great work?” And just, to mean, in the US we have a strong currency, and it still has a major impact in what it can buy in other countries and competency and ability. But I mean, my VA, she’s Lean Six Sigma certified. She’s certified in project management. She got actually certified in Toastmasters International in her local town, there. And these are the things that I have a certain perception, kind of like a third-world country perception, and are they gonna kind of understand, and get what I want? And that’s what inspired me to launch this business, is I had an experience that completely exceeded my expectations. I mean, everything from what I thought was a VA to kinda lightly manage my email, maybe do a little bit of calendar management when I waded my toe into this, now she’s my VP of operation of nearly 100 people. And that’s a massive gap, and doing an incredible job, and has now built a whole 10 person management team. So, the perception is a little different. Now, we still, the VA that’s gonna plug in and work side-by-side in a business and take on and manage administrative and operational functions, and feel like an extension of your organization is kind of what we focused on. Now there’s still a lot of tactical, skill-based stuff that I’ll talk about. I mean, video editing, or graphic design, or web development, and so forth. So we actually use a lot of other countries for that, as well. Where the VA still plays that main quarterback role and that interface with our clients, but then if a client three months from now needs a video edited, they can tap one of our video editors that may be in a different country, but the Philippines allows that very small culture gap and engagement. And as far as getting stuff out of people’s head, that’s the other challenge people have.
– So we’re gonna, I’m gonna pause you for a second ’cause we’re running out of time on our Facebook Live, but I do wanna cover that, so if you’d stick around for maybe another 10, 15 minutes, we can talk about some more specific tips and tactics, of how to maximize a VA, especially knowing me, as an entrepreneur, time-starved, right? Well, a lawyer entrepreneur is incredibly more time-starved ’cause we’re also having to go to court, and meet with clients, and just other things going on. And so, let’s talk about that. I’d love to talk about all this fast growth you’ve had. I mean, how you actually went from three to a hundred employees in a few months, right? So I think that would be fascinating to talk about, so if you could stick around for just a few minutes we can talk about that.
– Yep, sounds good.
– That’d be awesome, okay. So before we wrap up though, where can people find you online?
– So you go to outsouceaccess.com and you go to outsourceaccess.com/gngf, we actually got a great set of resources there. We actually have a tool that all of our folks love when I go speak for events, I call our Top 200 Tools, and then go and download that there and we’ve got over 200 tools to automate and delegate within your life and your business. And I have a recording there, actually, a one hour recording, a big keynote that I did, where I show on the screen a bunch of step-by-step case studies, ’cause I can talk about this stuff in generalities in kind of limited time, but I go through step-by-step examples, and show what was the challenge, and how they integrated these resources, and used it step-by-step that we’ll include as part of that. They go to that URL and check it out, and we’ll provide in the show notes, kinda links to all our social media handles and everything else if you wanna check it out.
– Yeah, absolutely, and so if you stick around we’ll go into detail on some of those top things, but if people don’t have time to come and watch, we’ll release that on Friday this week, but if they don’t have time, grab the tools, and you go into all kinds of detail in that kit, so that’s awesome. All right, well, thanks for joining me and sticking around with me, Brad, so just hang on a second. Thanks for joining us today. Be sure to like and subscribe to our page so you get notified when our next episode goes live. And so we’re gonna keep going here in the GNGF studios, so be sure to check out the extended interview with Brad that will drop on Friday. We’re gonna dive into some of these tactics he’s getting ready to talk about, as well as how he grew from three employees to over a hundred in just a few months. So you’ll definitely wanna check out that video. Okay, let’s get back to the interview. Thanks for sticking with us, Brad.
– So, I kinda cut you off there when you were starting to dive into some of the ways to kind of dive into working for a virtual system when you are time-starved as a lot of entrepreneurs, and especially lawyer entrepreneurs are. You were gonna go into a few things there, and then we talked about some earlier before the recording, so I wanted to make sure we hit some of these. So what are these top tips to kinda like, tactics, tips, whatever you wanna call them?
– Well one of the biggest challenges people have is like, “Where do I start, how do I begin? “How am I going to figure out what a VA can even do for me?” And so forth. So, part of what we’ve added in our process is we have a whole assessment that we kinda extract out of your brain, and kind of walk you through step-by-step on how our model works. And a couple of the tools that we use in the process that have been game changers for me, one called Screencast-O-Matic. There’s another one called Loom. So, a lot of people have done Zoom where you can share a screen together live, but you both gotta be on the screen together, or sharing like a live screen on Skype, or what have you. But Screencast-O-Matic, it’s pretty cheap. It’s only like 60 or 70 bucks a year, but you click a button and it lets you record your screen, your voice, and your mouse, and you can explain whatever you want to explain on there. Whether you’re explaining to people how to log in to your platforms, your systems on how to do things, whether you wanna give feedback that they just did a brochure for you and you wanna kinda quickly explain. When you’re done, you click a button and it quickly uploads, creates a link, and if you want you can put a password on it, but otherwise you send a link and they can watch the video. And I’ve seen, I know it sounds really simple, but the difference is, anybody that’s tried to explain a process, or protocol, or share, we get lazy when we go to type things out, right? Or people that have done like screenshots, and they put them in a Word document and they put a bunch of arrows and text boxes. People think that that’s what it’s going to be, and they’re lazy about the process so they won’t do it at all. When you can just click a button and quickly record your screen, A, it’s easier to do, so people are more likely to do it, but secondly, you’ll explain things with the nuances of your voice that you won’t take time to explain in bullet points or write out. And so it makes a big difference that you can easily. I mean, when we work with clients, we require them, actually, to do all their protocols that way, and they’re saved in videos, too, so now you’ve got a playbook going as well, so anytime you work with a VA to take on those things, you’ve saved those videos, and then you’ve got an ongoing sort of playbook that you can go back and reference going forward. So that makes a big difference in getting things out of your head, and communicated over that tends to be a struggle for a lot of folks.
– Yeah, that one was eye opening for me in terms of the process. I mean, we’re big on process here at GNGF, and we document a lot of things, and we’ve got project management systems for stuff, which that stuff’s great, but kind of communicating, “Here’s kind of what I’m thinking.” Or, what I really liked was, when I’m reviewing something, instead of marking up, or trying to type everything in a Word document, just communicating it. It’s a lot faster. So I’m now not spending as much of my time. I’m getting a better understanding, faster turnaround, all by just doing the screen recordings. I liked it so much that we also had outsourced our bookkeeping not too long ago, so I started using it with my bookkeeper now, where I’ll say, “Hey, I noticed this thing,” and I’ll just pull it up and start recording a Screencast and sent it to her. So now we don’t have to get on a phone call that often, where I used to have this every other week I had to make sure this time to this time I was available to go over stuff with her. Now, I mean, we just send stuff back and forth on video, and she’s within the States, our outsourced bookkeeper, but the tool and technology has been working great for that. So that’s been a big time saver for me, as an entrepreneur, so that one’s been great. And in terms of the quality, I mean, working with you guys the process was, I went through that assessment, right? And you kinda walked it through and saying, okay, based on the stuff I was looking for, you said, “Well, here’s the type of resource “we’re gonna look for you,” and provided a couple different resource options, and our virtual assistant, he’s a full college degree in marketing, and has worked in the industry in marketing and sales. His pedigree was somebody that I would hire full-time if they were in Cincinnati, right? Like that quality, and this person’s across the world and significant savings for the company, and a lot of the things that he’s been doing has been saving a lot of time for me. Things like scheduling these Facebook Lives, right?
– Right, it’s what I call, like, um. Again, and that’s, I mean, when I decided to launch this business, I wanted to do it based on what I saw were a lot of the failure points in other companies, or processes, and so forth, and on both sides of the equation. A lot of times I saw it fail because on the user side, that people just sort of want to throw up on a VA and expect them to sort of absorb and figure it all out. There’s a process to extract out, organize, and help you kinda step into this process. And as you saw, after the first 30, 45 days, you get a feel for it, ’cause I can tell people how great this is all day long, but it’s not until they start working with that resource, and they have the same kind of aha, like I did with my VA, that it sort of naturally unfolds. And then on the other side of it, I mean, we do IQ testing and emotional intelligence testing, and DISC profile testing. It’s just like if you hire someone local in your city there, you wouldn’t. You know, funny enough, when people see our process, we’ve had a lot of people adopt and ask us all the tests we use ’cause they start using it to hire their local staff, ’cause they don’t actually put people through the same process that they hire locally, and for some reason they think that they would do it differently. So we put together whole profiles so they can get full clarity of who that person is, and make sure that it’s a fit, and then go through that process of onboarding. And the cool thing is too, about the Screencasting, is it eliminates a lot about what people fear about the time zone differences, right? So the Philippines is 12 hours off from Eastern Standard Time, where we are in Atlanta, but using that Screencast recording, you can send it over, they can watch it anytime. You don’t have to have live meetings a lot of times, ’cause a lot of the work they do can be done at any time. But there are, they have to work local hours if they can, but it kind of helps bridge that gap.
– Yeah, we started off thinking, “Oh, we need somebody local hours.” And one of the key things that, and this was really hard for me to do, is give up my email. I didn’t give up my email, I mean, I will still go in and do, but now I process my email, I don’t live in email. And it’s because we realized that, oh, you know what? The time zone difference was actually perfect, because I kinda wrapped up my day and went home, and then I’d come in in the morning and a whole bunch of my emails were sorted and organized as to, “Hey, here’s things I think you really need “to worry about, and here’s things “that I’ve already filed for you, don’t even bother looking “at these, and hey, here’s all these newsletters “that I know you like to look at, “but they’re in another folder for you.” And then we even created another folder of, “Here’s things I’m probably going “to delete but double check ’em.” It streamlined my time. I’m in email for maybe two hours a day actively working on things, as opposed to just skimming through stuff, getting overwhelmed, and then shutting it down. The amount of time I used to spend looking at my phone, just constantly on email. Now, I just go to one folder. It’s the stuff that they think is urgent for me, and work on that, so it’s been great.
– Email is just, we joke around about it, but it really is a debilitating thing. And there’s actually an amazing book I highly recommend to everybody called, “Indistractable” that I just finished recently, “Indistractable”, and an incredible set of tools and framework.
– We can get a link to that, too.
– On how to think about, because it’s, in today’s world it’s whoever can manage distraction best is who wins. At the end of the day, I mean, we’re just inundated, and email is one of those things, and we get those endorphin hits of being able to see it and review it, and so forth and it can suck you in. That’s one of the first things I had my VA do for me, and we went through a week audit process, bucketed it out, and so now I have just a Brad Reply folder, and that’s where I try and operate purely is the stuff that I just need to reply, that we don’t have a process and protocol. ‘Cause most all your email falls into different buckets. Everybody thinks that, “Oh, I have to respond to everything.” If you really go through it, you can bucket it. You can create auto-replies and so forth, and then Calendly, which is a tool we use.
– [Mark] Same, we use Calendly, as well.
– I cannot recommend that enough to everybody about it being able to have an automatic link system to be able to book calls, instead of having to play the back-and-forth, when are you available? When are you available? People can book on it, and it creates intelligence. So if you get a VA to manage your email, that’s something we require with our clients, too, is that they get Calendly. It’s only like 10 bucks a month, super low cost, but I mean, that tool alone, it easily has hundreds of thousands of dollars of impact within a business and streamlining process.
– And we could probably go on, ’cause I think you have 200 tools in your thing there.
– And in there, you cover all kinds of, project management, you know, like Trello, Asana, we use Teamwork PM. We love Teamwork PM at GNGF here, and our templates and everything, so we already were thinking templatized things, so now it’s been kind of just inserting the virtual assistant, just like we would another resource at the company. It’s been great for us, and I just knew that for law firms, I hear them talking about virtual assistants a lot, but it tends to be looking at the company that takes over maybe, legal call handling, or live chats and stuff, so they have some legal knowledge and stuff, so there’s some specific things there, but all the other things, to helping process some of the practice management things that can be done behind the scenes, follow-up with clients, taking over people’s email. There’s just a host of things that law firms can take advantage of, and a lot of times, like you said, a lot of law firms I talk to are the kinda struggling entrepreneur saying, “Hey, I graduated law school. “I decided to open my own law firm, “and oh, I didn’t get taught to go be an entrepreneur. “I got taught to be a lawyer, “and I almost accidentally didn’t realize “I am an entrepreneur, but now I am, so what do I do?” And so, there’s some stats out there that are really scary of law firms who struggle to make enough money to pay their mortgage, let alone take home some money for their family and stuff. So, the fact that virtual assistants and stuff can help a law firm be able to focus on scaling, focus on providing a great service, which is the best thing a law firm can do. Provide great service, you’ll get great referrals, which leads to more business, and grow. But it’s, what’s the back office look like? If the back office isn’t organized, you’re not gonna get the good reviews, you’re not gonna get the good referrals, ’cause it’ll just seem too happenstance.
– Yeah, reviews is another great one the VAs can do, just go on there and just go on and post, and provide feedback as far as on different review sites in the process.
– Yeah, responding for like, “Hey, thank you for leaving a review.” Or even maybe following up with people and saying, “Hey, you mentioned you would leave a review. “Just wanted to remind you.” And just following up people to get a review is, ’cause people will typically give you a review, they just forget and get busy. So having somebody just reach out consistently, and say, “Hey, leave a review.” And we have a number of law firms that have used outsourced resources to just email and follow up with people, and have gone from having five or ten reviews, to like 100 reviews within a year, which in the legal world, 100 reviews, that’s not a lot in a restaurant, but that’s a lot for a law firm, you know. And that’s a big difference of like, 10, 15, 20 reviews, and then you have 100. There’s a big perception there.
– That can be a game changer, especially in an industry where you’re swapping time for dollars, right? I mean, they have no choice but to scale and find efficiencies in the process.
– So, I wanted to make sure I asked this question, because this one is fascinating to me. And we’ve talked a little bit about, but I really want people to hear, how you were able to grow. I mean, you had like three employees, and now you have over a hundred, and that’s been like months that it seems like this has happened. So how did you get that scale so fast, and then how do you actually maintain balance in your personal life with all this?
– Yeah, I have a lot going on in both arenas these days. But yeah, I mean, part of scale in this business, when you decide to pull the trigger, and as I shared, there was some foundation and some research in the process. The first phase of this business was I spent a lot of time working with entrepreneurs and businesses, and I would have these whole four-hour workshops, and analyze and interview other staff, and figure out what all their constraint points were. And it was a lot of intelligence for me to kind of figure out, where are the challenges and issues that people are dealing with to decide what did I want to launch. Did I want to launch a specific industry-based solution, or be a call center, or be a bookkeeping service, or what have you? And so a lot of time seeing, and studying what worked well, and what didn’t work well with other teams, and honestly, it was just seeing the confidence I had in my own team in the Philippines. We started with, literally, Jaycel, my very first VA, and hired her boyfriend, actually, was my second one, and I hired a third and a fourth. And when I went and visited over there, and I visited 20 facilities over five days, and to kind of see the whole footprint, and so forth, that’s when we decided to pull the trigger. And honestly, it’s just following, practicing what I preach, if you will. To be able to scale that fast, it’s about putting systems and processes in place that allows us to bring people on, and train them, onboard them, in a very methodical type of way. The other thing, too, Mark, I’ll say, is it’s just, relative to some of the challenge in the US with staff, and onboarding, and retention is they’re so appreciative and when you invest in culture over there. I feel like sometimes in the US, you know, well, we got beanbags and Razor scooters, and pool tables, and people just don’t feel quite happy enough. With our team, I mean, we invest heavily in them individually, their personal growth, their development, and we rented out a whole hotel for our Christmas party and bought presents for all their children. We’re investing in their community with our Virtual Assistants Give Back program. We’re launching a whole virtual success magazine, a digital magazine over there, celebrating the profiles of our VAs. So by investing in them and the culture, it’s helped us attract talent, and attract high quality folks, so that we can bring people in that can be successful very quickly with our clients. And I do a ton of speaking, as far as the sales side, I mean, you got two sides. You got kinda the demand side of clients, and also the supply side of VAs, and that’s part of what’s helped is speaking, as you well know, you know an opportunity to go and share your voice in a one-to-many relationship. Being a thought leader, and being impassioned as I am about this, has generated a lot of opportunity, and again, practicing what I preach. I have VAs, purely online, posting tons on social, just on thought leadership, and rippling out, and people seeing me to be the go-to person when it comes to VAs and outsourcing. And referrals have just been tremendous, I mean, word-of-mouth when you deliver well, it just tends to happen. So it’s good systems and processes, treating people properly so you attract the right talent, you get good people wanting to work for you, and then leveraging our own marketing, and speaking, and so forth to drive the demand side. We actually just brought on a guy that we’re working with right now that managed thousands, and thousands of people over there for actually, AT&T and Apple, I believe, are the companies he had worked with, that I just brought on as an operations director. As we know in EO, right, I’m trying to learn from all the head beating I experienced in my 20s and 30s, so I’m trying to keep operations ahead of sales, and proactively bring people on, ’cause we’re looking to maybe go to a couple thousand people in the next year, and bring our model to the US. We actually got clients in Europe, and Africa, and Australia, and stuff that we’re working with, as well.
– That’s awesome. So how are you maintaining the balance then? ‘Cause I know you have young kids, and the whole family thing going on, and you’re traveling, you’re building a company that’s mostly staffed in the Philippines. How do you manage to maintain some balance here?
– Well, I had a conversation with my wife last year, and I was like, “Look, I mean, this is an expansion cycle.” I actually learned that phrasing from one of my forum mates in EO. He had the exact same conversation with his wife. It’s like, “All right, honey, “this is gonna be an expansion cycle, “so we’re both gonna be onboard with this is gonna be “a little crazy, but there’s gonna be a release valve “on the other side.” And so, the good thing is that when my travel comes in spurts. When I am at home, I am working at home. I’m sure intentional and I usually take my daughter to daycare every morning, and I’m usually shutting things off at 4:30, five o’clock, and making dinner and cooking with the family. So the time that I do have, I’m very, very intentional about it with the kids, and with my wife. Yeah, so I got a four-year-old, and a just turned six-month, actually, today, six-month-old. And my wife’s absolutely amazing. I mean, she was a teacher for 13 years, and then we decided to have her kind of quit, and she wanted to stay home with the kids. So that’s certainly allowed for the home front flexibility, but practicing, again, what I preach. I mean, VAs have been a huge part of taking on the load, personally. We had some pretty crazy things happen in our house last year, and we had to rip out drywall, and deal with some different changes as far as renovations that we were doing, and so actually my VAs, I would just shoot videos of stuff, and they would then take the videos and go post on Home Advisor, and Angie’s List, and so forth, and help find resources. And my watch was broken. I took a picture of it and sent it to Jaycel, and she researched and found a facility online to do the repair documentation and log in to UPS and created a shipping label for me. So I found ways to integrate them into my personal life. Even vacation planning, and so forth, to truly help support. And I’ll tell ya, one thing I’ll share tactically with everybody too, something my wife and I have tried to do is every Sunday is having a family meeting. We don’t have it every Sunday, we try to, but we do it in our businesses all day long, but a lot of times with kids and crazy you’re like passing ships in the night, and things are going nuts with the kids and so forth, so having that Sunday meeting, that’s literally agenda driven. We sit down, and kinda go through and have categories. Let’s talk about financial stuff, let’s talk about travel stuff, let’s talk about planning, and it creates a place that things that would normally fall through the cracks, we can focus on and make sure that we cover together.
– That’s awesome. Yeah, we’ve been doing that for awhile, and I’m on the other side of the kids. So I have a 17 and 15 year old, and the 17 year old tells, he’s got a job. He tells his boss like, “I can’t, Sunday nights, “I can’t work.” He knows he’s gotta be there. We do dinner, and then compare calendars, and the calendar’s a little bit crazy right now, ’cause they’re telling me their calendars and putting it in the shared calendar more than I am, with when they’re working, what school activities are going on. But that has been great in kinda keeping us all on the same page, especially similar to you, family, I travel a lot. My wife also travels a lot for her job, so keeping all that straight. That family meeting, or we call it Family Game Night, so we will, typically, play a game of cards afterwards, or something like that. But there’s understanding of, “Hey, we’re gonna talk “about the schedule for the week, “and then we’ll play some games.” So that’s awesome.
– Yeah, again, we fall through the cracks sometimes on it with travel, but we try to keep that front and center and it kinda keeps us engaged in the process. And I’ll tell ya, something I learned from my forum mates in EO too, is just having vacations planned for the year, as much as we can. Having those slots we can both look forward to that, because I feel like life, happiness is so much a lot of times about having something to look forward to, so we try to always plan ahead, and know that we got that thing coming up, or that week. We just did Florida a couple weeks ago, and we’re going to Disney with the kids in a week and a half. That’s one good thing about working virtually, is I can kinda be wherever. So we try to plan ahead on that to look forward to it.
– Awesome, well, thanks for sticking with us. We got pretty much a whole nother Facebook Live level of stuff here, so thanks for diving into this detail. This was a great episode. So we have a lot of things to put in the show notes, and in the chat and stuff, with links here. So we’ll make sure all those are in there, and if not, we’ll get them in the show notes afterwards. But, thanks again, Brad, and it’s been great talking to you.
– My pleasure, Mark, thanks for having me, sir. I appreciate it.
– Thanks for joining us today. Be sure to like and subscribe to our page so you’ll get notified when our next episode goes live.
– Hey, what’s up? I’m Josh. Thanks so much for joining us. If you feel like you learned something today, think of how beneficial it would be to chat with myself, or another one of our marketing consultants one-on-one. Go ahead and visit our website to schedule your free consultation. It only takes a minute.