In this episode, Derek is joined by Alex Garcia. He is a Virtual Assistant for a Real Estate Investor. Join us as Derek talks about Alex’s journey and deep dives into the business that he has built himself.
- Alex was a licensed teacher before he decided to venture into the BPO industry and become a call center agent.
- The average salary of a licensed teacher before was $200/month according to Alex.
- Alex shares that BPO’s offering to be in call centers is a much higher salary.
- Alex is raised in Davao and he knows the pros and cons of living there.
- He mentioned that the mindset of the Filipino are lacking of creating something that can be beneficial to our community or to our society.
- When Alex started in the VA industry, he was oriented with Real Estate and noticed that there is a constant need of VA’s.
- Alex talks about more of VA4REI business structure.
- There are more opportunities due to easy access to the internet and the industry is now more saturated with different type of niches.
- VA4REI have around hundred investors across the US and VA’s is about 50-70 Virtual Assistant and all of them are home-based.
Hi and welcome to another episode of the Outsource Accelerator podcast this is episode number 137. Today I am joined by Alex Garcia of the Virtual Assistant for Real Estate investors or the VA4REI so it’s a mouth full it says exactly what it does on the box which is a mitch VA services so really interesting to talk to Alex who is based down in Davao and I’m sure you will learn a lot about this today we talked about his journey and we also kind of deep dive into the business that he has built for himself so really really great story really inspiring if you want to get in touch with Alex at all or learn more about the episode go to our show notes at outsourceaccelerator.com/137
Derek: Hi and welcome back everybody today I’m joined by Alex Garcia of VA4REI and that means virtual assistance for real estate investors super excited to learn more about what he does. First of all, hi Alex thanks for joining us, yeah absolute pleasure and Alex I suppose you have your obvious experience in the outsourcing industry you’re based down in Davao can you give us a little bit of background about who you are and how you’ve come to be the founder of VA4REI
Alex: Yeah I’m a licensed teacher before but I was frustrated with the education system and there’s nothing I can do to change it because it’s centralized right so that’s why I decided to venture into the BPO industry and become a call center agent so I tried telemarketing selling Time Share and also appointment setting also venture into CSR and finally into online world which is the Virtual Assistant industry and it’s a huge industry and that’s why we just spoke to one which is the Real Estate and even the Real Estate is really huge market you got the brokers agents so we just focus on investors.
Derek: And to give us some sort of context and you are a trained teacher and as you say and it’s unfortunate but in this the developing world like often these things are run by the government and people are paid pretty poorly and so you get a brain drain from those very important things such as education and healthcare and I don’t want to be too kind of voyeuristic but to give people an idea out there what would a kind of average teacher salary be in the Philippines?
Alex: Yeah before it was like 10,000 pesos it’s like $200 per month.
Derek: and then as a contrast when you’re a young guy out of university you probably got a little bit of debt and you’re looking forward to your career what would the BPO’s offering to be in call centers as a comparison?
Alex: Yeah much higher salary like you start like $300 something like that depending on your skill sets.
Derek: Yeah so you sort of talking about kind of 50% minimum increase and so again we have listeners out there and people that are concern that outsourcing is a bad deal for the Philippines because they feel that they’re not getting paid well enough we sort of try and remind people that there’s different perspective on this but fantastic and so you started in the call center industry and you kind of progress along that and then I suppose you found your niche and the eventually you felt you’ve given it a go going out on your own is that right? and you have seen the development of the outsourcing industry, how long have you been working when did you graduate?
Alex: Yeah like around 9 years now
Derek: And how have you seen that develop you’ve done like pure call center sounds like with the timeshares you’ve done was that like cold calling, you done sales appointment setting, kind of the tough end of the industry how do you see the industry evolve and have you seen it kind of develop and are there more opportunities out there now?
Alex: Yes very huge because easy access to the internet so the industry is now more saturated with like a different type of niches.
Derek: And the Davao, you are from Davao and based down in Davao for those that aren’t aware it’s kind of a secondary or tertiary city but famously the hometown of Duterte the now President, the Mayor down there for a long time and really you know for all of these controversies he really bran Davao well and develop to good economic kind of environment down there is that how you’ve seen Davao?
Alex: Yes I was raised here I know the pros and cons and here are the most peaceful city and now one of the most developed cities in Asia, actually.
Derek: And so you moving along you what made you think of starting your own gig like why didn’t you want to progress in the BPO industry as a career. What made you think about starting outsourcing?
Alex: I always have this mindset of why not have my own business instead of employment and most of the owners of bpo industry here in the Philippines there are foreigners and I always have this mindset that if they can do it then we can also do it here Filipinos can also do it it’s just that we are not brought up so the mindset of the Filipino is that you need to have good grades go to school have good grades and get a good job but we are lacking of this mindset of creating something that can be beneficial to our community or to our society so that’s why I’ve decided I want to start my own outsourcing company and it is how I wanted it to be and I want to challenge the setup office setup, for now, how we can run the company online or people can just work it from their home, so that’s the start of VA4REI
Derek: So when exactly did you start the company?
Alex: Like 4 years ago
Derek: And you did it organically did you take on funding or what was your approach to getting this thing on the ground?
Alex: So it’s organic so what I did is I saved my salary and I did not touch it up to the point where I was like having much task that I can’t handle any more that’s why I decided to I need to hire another assistant and first it’s just like I want to share my clients or the investors to other VA’s give opportunities but at the same the there is always something in me that’s saying I need to also maintain the quality of VA or the online assistant that I share with this client because it’s my name right so that’s why I decided why not just make a system build business and make sure that we can provide quality Virtual Assistant.
Derek: So you have gone into really interesting niche that are wanna know about which is real estate investors so it’s pretty common now to have BPO’s specialized in virtual assistance as a kind of broad vertical and virtual assistance to a little bit of everything you are offering virtual assistance specializing in real estate investment assistance how did you come across that and you know I think it’s a fantastic opportunity but how did you yourself establish across an opportunity
Alex: When I started the VA industry I was oriented with real estate and I’ve noticed that there is a constant need of Va in the real estate industry and instead of me trying to jump into some of the issues just try to explore but still back to real estate that’s why I decided I need to create a training materials for this and just try to share it with some of their VA.
Derek: It’s a good product and there’s definitely a need that what I find commonly is difficult to connect your services with the people that are really needing them and also a lot it people don’t even know that your kind of services are out there how do you do your reach out how do you get out there to the west?
Alex: It’s mostly its word of mouth and also social media also got linkedin connection I got 6,000 connections right now Linkedin, we got this Facebook page so we also website we run very well on google and by the way there’s a reason why I call it VA4REI because of SEO purposes, so it’s for search engine optimization so I want to make sure that I got the right find that I want so that’s the reason why people cause is a common term especially in the US for real estate investors so we started it as virtual assistant for real estate investor so when they search on google we’re up there and it’s organic.
Derek: And I was gonna ask that then the jurisdiction are all of your clients from the US how do you find them into the changeability of kind of real estate investment and their need in the US vs the UK and vs other parts of the world?
Alex: Yeah that’s a good question, right now we just focus in to the US because even in the US there’s already huge need we’re trying to venture out into some other parts of Real Estate what I mentioned earlier like they got real estate agents, they got brokers they got property manager so in the US alone it’s already huge so that’s why our strategic plan is to slowly grow and probably reach UK or Australia or some other parts of the world we actually got Canada by the way.
Derek: And so I’m just sort of thing in to your growth, you’ve been going about 4 years you affectfully taking on jobs yourself and you’ve organically grown you have home based VA’s which obviously suits the VA, it’s fantastic working conditions but also keeps your expansionary overhead low you’ve got a really really functional niche that you zoom in and focus on yet also it’s a powerful niche because real estate investors they have a good chunk of money to throw around commonly and so how your expansion going and you know what sort of size are you how many seats do you have for example?
Alex: Now we are assisting around hundred investors across the US and also our VA’s is about 50-70 virtual assistant and all of them are home-based.
Derek: and so judging by this numbers then it is a full-time allocation so can Real Estate Investors they can be is the minimum sort of unit and also what are the fees is it kind of a package cost per hour or how do you structure things?
Alex: Right now we are charging them for monthly work so for part-time it starts with 320 that around 40 hours per month and full time about $1,000 so that’s 160 hours per month
Derek: How you training these guys? Are you just finding very effective assistance and VA’s and then they get up to speed and what is the extent of industry knowledge that it’s good for your VA’s to have.
Alex: For us we make sure that they have really communication skill cause that’s what our clients really need right now especially they’ll be on phone also next we check their internet connection or computer specs and the next thing is skills and attitude and our HR manager is always checking we’re getting 50 a day but we make sure that they’re the right fit for our clients and for our business.
Derek: Then the growth, where are you expecting to be in a couple of years I’m just sort of doing the numbers it seems fairly successful enterprise.
Alex: So right now we are harnessing our system cause at the end of the day it’s still our software system that we’re using probably we’re gonna hit 500 in 3 years based on the growth rate that’s always our goal and vision.
Derek: Just in context what are your thoughts do you hire VA’s from just around the local area in Davao because they’re all remote are you open to the entire Philippines?
Alex: The Entire Philippines as long as they meet our criteria.
Derek: What about in Manila, do you find people in Manila significantly more expensive?
Alex: Yes correct but we’re giving our VA’s competitive salary we got a standard rate but also you make sure that they understand that they’ll be getting this and at the end of the day we’re still running a business, they know our pricing.
Derek: And so if anybody to if there are any real estate investors out there also what if there is a service creep what if you have a real estate investor with the VA but then they want you to do some operational management they want you to do some bookkeeping is there an inevitability about you offering more and more services or you try to keep it very specialized?
Alex: We are actually expanding right now we are offering SEO we are offering web designing we are offering graphics also bookkeeping
Derek: and affectfully you open that up to any sector person or your still looking to stick to the Real Estate?
Alex: We planned but once we decided to go into that once we are going to venture into that some of the industry we make sure that we can really assist based on what they needed cause my motto is really to have quality Virtual Assistant and trying to understand what they’re doing instead of being there as a like a robot cause most of Va’s in other industry is doing that so I don’t want that to happen to our business.
Derek: It’s the offering high-value assistant as supposed to just having you know sort of bum on that seat.
Alex: Exactly so there going to be part of the business investor and they can suggest they can comment or they can also be sharing their ideas of so many things _
Derek: That’s amazing, so if anybody wants to get in touch with you, of course, Alex if anyone is interested in your services how can they do that?
Alex: You can email me at [email protected] or our US clients 321-200-0155 or they can just visit our website it’s www.va4rei.com
Derek: Fantastic thanks Alex and just for more obviously the time difference it’s really significant during the Philippines and the US are most of your team they’re working through the night they are working US hours?
Alex: Yes, mostly US hours and we train them to work during this business hours.
Derek: Thank you so much, Alex.
Alex: Thank you so much, Derek.
Derek: That was Alex Garcia of VA4REI and if you want to get in touch with Alex or know any more about his company then go to our show notes at outsourceaccelerator.com/137 and of course if you want to ask us anything then do so at [email protected] see you next time.