Outsourcing now-a-days has become a crucial and valuable option for business owners. For every successful business, consistency in employee quality, rate, and service delivery is extremely important. However, hiring a permanent employee and providing the benefits is quite difficult to certain companies. This is where outsourcing comes into the equation.
Outsourcing provides a great option – through which one can assemble a team of experts operating remotely and provide value to their own business as well as their customers. You may occasionally require more human resources for a project, but only on a temporary basis.
One of the leading names among companies that offer exemplary outsourcing services is ShoreAgents, which provides specialized offshore staffing solutions for the real estate industry.
In the following interview, Stephen Atcheler, the CEO of ShoreAgents, sheds light on the inception of his company, its services, and the future aspects of real estate sector.
Please brief our audience about ShoreAgents, its USPs, and how it is currently positioned as a leading player in delivering virtual assistance solutions for the real estate agency.
ShoreAgents has been created over time and was never ever going to be a business in its own right. However, I could not ignore the opportunity to solve a bigger problem in the industry. I myself was the typical customer that I dealt with on a daily basis.
I was the agency owner that had the struggles of the constant increase in costs to do business, the challenges of finding loyal and talented staff with the desire to be the biggest we could possibly be. Mostly, all vision and enthusiasm with little business know how, but the willingness to try and fail, until I could make it work.
That is exactly the journey I went down personally with my agency Reval Estate Agents until I found the offshore staff in the Philippines and learnt to develop modern efficient systems to make it run. That is the problem most agencies still face.
So, ShoreAgents was born in Jan 2019, and we now have over 120 staff and are growing at a rapid rate. ShoreAgents has turned into a seven-figure business in just two years, and within a total of five years the way we are tracking, we will be a 15 million annual revenue business.
The uniqueness about ShoreAgents is that we really know Real Estate from every single angle, so we are not just a property management support company or Real Estate Sales but also, we cater to software companies, real estate marketing, property development, and more. We have enough experience in knowledge to deliver to the entire Real Estate Sector which makes our capacity to grow as large as our thirst and let me tell you we are thirsty!
Shed some light on your offerings and how are these making an impact on the industry and your customers?
Initially, our offerings have been targeted towards customers that were in a similar space to the business that I used to run. The typical Real Estate Agency selling and meaning homes. So, we offered property management support and sales support. What we have worked out though that all businesses are almost exactly the same, and what they think they need is usually not what they actually need.
Let’s face it, most of the tasks people hire offshore for are low ends and repetitive or specific skills like graphic design or web development. What people need is good people and a system to run them not so much, someone who has the specific experience that the client thinks they may need. We have developed a recruitment system that is second to none with education around building systems that teach our clients to fish for themselves. There are other companies out there trying to do the work specifically and build the staff and manage them for you, however, in my experience that is a disaster.
We help customers get to a point where they become our ideal customers and then we work with them. However, if you just want it all done for you, we are not the right fit as we will not put our name to your work. It is your business, and you must take the responsibility to drive it. We are here to support your Philippines operations not run it for you. Soon as we got super clear with that, we started attracting far better clients that start to grow rapidly and we get to grow with their journey which is a great feeling.
The type of customers we have and some stories about how we have helped are amazing.
Success: BoxBrownie a now leading Real Estate Photo editing company could not deliver the customer service they needed, so we worked together and built a 20-person 24×7 customer service team which has allowed them to grow to exponential heights.
Success: Gallery Group is a Property Development company that started with a Property Management support person and two contract administrators. They have now tripled in size and have an extensive team of drafters, construction admins, graphic designers, and accountants amount their team of 27.
Success: UrbanX is a newer hybrid agency model that does the work for their partners in the space of support to keep them productive, they started with one and at this point, five months later have just hired their sixth person and I see this client going to the moon.
Think of it this way if you are an:
- Agency: We can take care of your back office, bookkeeping, and marketing.
- Top Agent: We can hire you an EA to keep you on track and keep the paperwork away from you, so you can list and sell, that’s it.
- Real Estate Photographer: A full-time team member can do all your edits whilst you are shooting
- Real Estate Videographer: Our multimedia expert can stitch all your content together whilst you are filming amazing content
- Real Estate Software: We have amazing devs that can work on your platform, technical support operators to help assist your customers, and onboarding specialists.
- Property Developers: We can provide you with contract administrators, drafters and so much more
There really is not much that we cannot help with. If it is done over a computer or the phone, it can be done as long as you have the vision and the ability to implement it.
Being an experienced leader, share your opinion on the impact of the adoption of modern technologies on the outsourcing industry and what more could be expected in the future?
The adoption of technology in the Real Estate Space is typically behind other industries and is only catching up. One of the positive things the Pandemic did was that it sped up the adoption of tech, particularly where it comes to running remote teams and communication online.
At ShoreAgents, we do not fear tech like most offshore providers as they think that tech will replace people which in some areas, they are right. We see it more as a positive as tech can help run the people creating more efficient systems with automation and low-cost labour running them.
One of the pieces of Tech that have changed our business and can be recommended to others is a productivity tool called ClickUp. This in itself with the proper set-up can help any business operate offshore smoothly and with complete ease.
In the future, tech will not only assist our partners with their offshore journey but also, we plan to implement it across our business, making it easier for people to learn how to outsource successfully and deliver them a smooth hiring process completely online. We are very excited about this, so watch this space.
Considering the current pandemic, what initial challenges did you face and how did you drive ShoreAgents to sustain operations while ensuring the safety of your employees at the same time?
The Pandemic hit the Philippines hard, and I remember the sad day where the office was closed, and we sent 100s of staff home with a computer under their arm. You must understand the Philippines is not Australia or the USA. Life here is very different and this is a third world company so that in fact was a challenge. The infrastructure here does not support work from home and our business halved overnight and it has taken us over a year to get back to where we were.
The safety of our employees is and will always be the priority. However, if we did not keep the customers, they would no longer be our employees, so we had to think about how we can keep them financially secure and that meant getting back to the office as quickly as possible. We were and are ahead of the curve in that aspect as we were the first BPO to have vaccines rolled out across the company right from our office.
Our office is the safest place to actually be when you look outside the office where rules are not being followed. We have created a theme where it is more fun to be working from the office that has bucked the trend. We will soon be 100% all back in the office and back to our visions of providing 1,000 new jobs in 5 years for Filipinos.
What would be your advice to budding entrepreneurs who aspire to venture into the virtual assistance solutions space?
Really, my advice would be I hope you are resilient as this is not an easy business. The key to the business is the people as the client acquisition is actually quite simple if you know what you are doing because you are selling high value at low cost. However, if you do not have a system to get the right people, you will have massive staff turnover and client turnover if the quality doesn’t match expectations.
We have learnt all of these lessons the hard way! This is my second attempt at a real estate virtual assistant business and last time I did things all around the wrong way and it ended up into a disaster.
How do you envision scaling ShoreAgents’ operations and offerings in 2022 and beyond?
We have learnt that the best people are the people that are fresh grads that are hungry to develop their career and a sponge when it comes to learning. We have a goal to put on 25 new starters every month and for us to be able to do this, we need to amplify our recruitment system and that’s what we have done.
I have watched the founder of the Mcdonald’s movie maybe 50 times and feel like we are on the third version of the speedy system right now like the Mac brothers delivered. A system of efficiency is what will get us to our goal so, it is our primary focus and will continue to develop.
About the Leader
Stephen Atcheler, the CEO has an extensive history in the Real Estate space from the time he was 18. He fell in love with the game, the money, and the business aspect of the industry. He has had experience in all facets, so his contribution is the knowledge to help customers feel secure that they have partnered with a company that knows them and their business.
The support from Stephen and the team has been absolutely sensational. Outsourcing really allowed me to streamline what I do, particularly with my back office out of things which takes a lot of time off me and allows me to focus on the role that I need. – Jason Gard, Accredited Real Estate Negotiator
The whole outsourcing process at ShoreAgents has been amazing – starting from recruitment to processing, onboarding, HR, and everything in between. – Tash Poole, BoxBrownie
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