Tiffany Bowtell – Inception of Property Management Virtual Assistant
Last updated August 19, 2019
In this episode, Derek is joined by Tiffany Bowtell of Property Management Virtual Assistant. Join Derek as they talk about the future of the industry, the future of Property Management Services, the effects of automation, software and AI but also the future of Philippines and outsourcing.
- Tiffany has 20 years background in Property Management.
- She talks about what they do in Property Management Virtual Assistant and what tasks they cater to.
- According to Tiffany, one great Filipino culture is they are ‘die hard’ people, and they’ll do anything for you and your business to succeed..
- She thinks that technology will definitely play a part in the future of Property Management that outsourcing will have its own place alongside with technology.
- Property Management Virtual Assistant based in Clark which is secondary city of the Philippines just outside of Manila.
- The Philippine Government is embracing Outsourcing as the GPD for the Philippines for BPO is 10%.
- Clark is a special economic zone and it used to be an Air Force base that was shut down in the 80’s.
Derek: Hi and welcome to another episode of the Outsource Accelerator podcast. My name is Derek Gallimore and this is episode 150. So, today on this auspicious 150th episode we talk to Tiffany Bowtell of Property Management Virtual Assistant. We had Tiffany previously in episode 147. So if you want to listen to her backstory, go and listen there. So, in this episode, we talk more broadly with Tiffany about the future of the industry, about the future of Property Management Services, about the effects of automation and software and AI but also the future of the Philippines and outsourcing so really interesting conversation and I’m sure you will enjoy. If you want any of the show notes or want to get in touch with Tiffany or Property Management Virtual Assistant then go to outsourceaccelerator.com/150 enjoy.
Derek: Hi and welcome back everybody. Today we have Tiffany Bowtell with us again of Property Management Virtual Assistant. Hi Tiffany.
Tiffany: Hello, how you doing?
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Derek: Very good, thank you. And we had the pleasure of having on before so I really appreciate you coming back. And today I really wanna just get your perspective on the development of outsourcing, where it’s going, and also in respect to specialized verticals that you yourself specialized in. So I suppose this is a bit of background can you quickly introduce yourself and how you came to be running an outsourcing operation in Clark.
Tiffany: Yeah sure. So having a background in Property Management right now over 20 years and having global experiences while working in London as well as Australia and New Zealand in Property Management Sector. Originally my first, I guess my first business was a training and consulting company specializing in Property Management and education software training. And through the journey of owning that small to medium business we could see the benefit myself in using outsourcing to do some of the lower income generating activity so when clients, we were doing that as an organization they were also quite excited about us taking that over hence Property Management Virtual Assistant was born and our clients have been growing their roles with the support of our back accounts administration task ever since.
Derek: Wow, fantastic. So it’s been quite a journey for you and you worked in Property Management Services and really the whole spectrum of that and across two countries at least. Where do you see this whole thing going and more and more now talking from the outsourcing perspective we’re getting very specialized verticals, were getting very dedicated services and more and more we seem very highly skilled operatives such as your team take over roles from western companies. Do you see, for example, would you be expanding services do you see that this will be a kind of snowball effect for jobs generally?
Tiffany: I think one of the challenges we always come across why taking jobs out of the local country to offshore. The BPO sector particularly in the Philippines and ultimately our business model is looking at just one aspect of the overall real estate business, we only worked in the admin sector of that part of the business as you know in any business there’s multiple departments. Now your leasing department which goes to showing perspective properties and reaching them out, to your maintenance division. There’s also different areas to focus within Property Management and ultimately we just focus on the admin or back of half stuff. So we don’t take any telephone calls, we’re not a call center because ultimately we’re not interested in taking over Property Management from a global perspective. What we’re doing is coming in underneath the agency as supporting those day to day activities that a lot of agencies that they get busy are inconsistent with the paperwork and we just want to support that aspect of the business and make the Property Manager and also our ultimate goal is to make the Property Management Agency look amazing that they can handle anything that they can get stuff done and we are just the people behind or under the water if you look the swan on top he looks lovely and then underneath the legs are paddling, we’re the ones underneath where the legs paddling and that’s our model. So we have no ambition in world domination or take over we are quite happy to do our part within that role so I see Property Management, you know I started my Property Management career in the mid 90s and i’ve seen a lot changes in our industry not just in Australia but globally around Property Management technology changes have really kicked in but I still think that this is a service based industry and it still requires human to human contact and it still requires empathy and care particularly from tenants perspective and being put in to care to land investors if you wanna get a return out of their investments for property. And so that still require human to human contact and that’s one of the reasons we don’t do phone calls for a client because when a client actually get on a phone deal with the human to human contact is required. So no matter how much tech is involved i still think people want to feel cared for and this is a service based industry so it’s all about the people.
Derek: It’s interesting that you said that perspective because you’ve come at this from a Property Management perspective and I kind of think things from an outsourcing perspective and I completely agree with you in, really everyone wants to giveaway that boring paperwork and the company admin but it is the most critical thing because you really gotta make sure these things are done properly, their up to date, and everything is followed up. But very commonly I see in the outsourcing sector and certainly historically in outsourcing, the first thing to be outsourced was the call center jobs whether it’s sales or whether it’s customer service and I kinda think that was a bit upside down or backward because customer service it can be underplayed but actually they are the forefront, they are the people that talk to your customers and so then they become the face of the community and really should be the last thing that is outsourced or mass produced because it’s the kind of nuance it’s the relationship as you say isn’t. So I completely agree that you are right in suggesting that keep that at home, keep that in the community and so that’s where you connect with people and I think that there’s a bit of a hangover in outsourcing because people remember talking to maybe Filipinos or Indians on the phone when they call their bank and there’s frustration and unfortunately you know I think that there’s a bit of hangover as a result of that but really backoffice stuff and even highly technical stuff but a lot of things sort of done in front of computers are really like the best opportunity for outsourcing.
Tiffany: I completely agree it’s really different between Western culture and Asian culture, they are different and they have different value and ultimately for me I’ve been a consultant coach for a very long time and so I understand human behavior and I understand both differences and so for me it was about getting the best out of both sides, you know I’m gonna be the person middle of the local and the global, how can I get the best performance out of both side to make them work together and that’s what I found with the Filipino culture was they’re die hard, I’ll do anything for you, it’s wonderful and over the phone actually think they’re very guish but there’s all those more nuances that if you’re not living and breathing within the local community it’s just that stuff that you are not gonna be privy to and you’re not able pull out of the nuance of one to one human phone call you know what those things are unless you’re there locally to be able to know the key identifiers in that conversation.
Derek: And are you seeing more of a need for you services as the industry progresses I mean this isn’t a sort property podcast but I what I know about a property is always regulations increase, legislation increases, paperwork increases. Without outsourcing is it sometimes impractical for people even to keep up with all of these stuff.
Tiffany: Well it’s getting. it’s definitely heading in that direction I don’t think that’s gonna ease any more, expect anything it will just get more over time. Technology will definitely play its role in this well, we have some clients that are very tech heavy and we can already see the difference between a virtual assistant that’s working in a more manual old school office than one that’s really embrace the technology, and the layer of task are different between the two virtual assistant working for both agency but I sort of think it’s not going to really replace the person who still has to make the decision or whether that should be pushed whether or not that form should be sent. I think technology will definitely play a large part in the future of Property Management but outsourcing will have its own place in alongside technology. I definitely say in the future that we may have what we call a super VA, where that virtual assistant will be the technology person and will drive tech as well as the back account admin as well.
Derek: Property Management Virtual Assistant you have been based in Clark which is secondary city of the Philippines just outside of Manila, has incredible infrastructure and so we’re seeing a lot BPOs pop up there as is the intention of Clark. You have been going about 2 years now and you’ve already grown to over 60 VAs. Where do you see yourself going from here and I suppose in hand in hand with the development of the industry can you see that eventually, every property manager will outsource just as a normal means of operations?
Tiffany: I’d like to think so.
Derek: That would be good for you.
Tiffany: There’s so many that will ever work with. You know we’re not for everybody but you know I do see it as a crucial role I’d love to see Property Management here in Australia become more client focused and client’s experience to be a lot better than it currently is. Some agencies are great at it and others not so much but overall generally I think the majority of agencies will deliver an average service and so I think outsourcing is gonna elevate the agencies to delivering a lot better service and ultimately we just wanna see it grow Clark across all cities. I don’t live there I certainly would love too I’ve been as much time here over there I would love to have that opportunity personally for me which is the staff like family to a degree and great to hang out with them and I love spending time with the team. What I really love is the Filipino Government embracing of outsourcing and seeing those numbers I just watched your video this morning where you say now the GPD for the Philippines for BPO is 10%. And I remember a couple years ago rating is about 4% and couple years before that was only 2%, so it’s definitely growing industry in the Philippines and it’s an exciting time I can only imagine using my imagination what Clark, I don’t know BPO headquarters in Central Luzon is gonna look like 2025. I’m hoping it turns into a city and I’m really hoping that it can become particular with Real Estate and other industries as well but I’m really hoping that it will become a bread and butter part of running a small business. I think there’s a lot more advantages for anybody if you want to outsource versus the disadvantages a bit of mindset or may or may not be able to trust somebody.
Derek: Yeah absolutely. And you know just for a bit background Clark is a special economic zone and it used to be an Air Force base and when that was shut down in the 80s then President was very progressive and made a special economic zone and tried to encourage foreign businesses there which was really also coordinated with the beginning of outsourcing and now suddenly there’s a pretty good industry growing there but there’s incredible plans for business parks, more business parks to be built there and really it is becoming a bit of an outsourcing mecca other than obviously the center of Manila. So yeah it’s incredible facilities now I think people think of the Philippines like it’s a lot of people and grass huts but you come to these centers, these zones and they really incredibly modern have all the facilities that you would anywhere else in the modern world. And not only that as you say there’s phenomenal Government support and awareness of outsourcing so there’s the entire backing of the whole country which is super exciting for the whole thing.
Tiffany: Absolutely. We originally began our business in the very humble beginning with zero cash upfront and fully self-funded without any direct business. We started actually in San Fernando which is not that many kilometers away from Clark City but it was outside of that zone and it was outsiders of that area but you have to start where you can afford so that’s where we began in San Fernando and we build our regional team from and San Fernando is such beautiful city for history, Filipino history from its golden days and that beautiful architecture it is a great city in its own right but moving the team 12 months in over to Clark was probably the best move that we could’ve made and I still to this day pay for the staffs carpool bringing my regional team, we never had a team member to date resign from our business which is quite true but I’ve never had a resignation letter on my desk and I think that’s a testament to the way we integrate the staff and the knowledge that they can see with the growth of our business, the growth within themselves. And still making sure that they getting to work from the original San Fernando location. Moving to Clark was really truly the best thing we could’ve done from scalability and talent pool as well even though we still love San Fernando for us moving our business to a heavily government focused outsourcing arena was really next level.
Derek: Absolutely and you have mentioned the aspect of technology and how that might affect things. Do you see that there is a march of technology people are talking about artificial intelligence and a lot kind of BPO sector here in the big end of town? I really worry about this technological advancements, how do you see that playout in your industry and in your roles over the next 5 or 10 years?
Tiffany: Yeah well half part for me being an ex software trainer as well so I am a partner with one of Australia’s fastest growing and largest Property Management Software Company so I have been working with the guys since inception over the last five years and was actually an employee of the same company a decade ago since for me it’s really important to have that relationship with Property Management (The Core) you know one of the biggest property management software company called Property Me and being partner with that company I’m able to fit in on in the way the development of the software is going, listening in on forums, I ran Property Me well with few other people but administrator on the Property Me forum so I listen to people on the ground using the technology and their suggestion and then I get to fit it into development meeting, the path of software will be developed over time, that allowed me to sit right in the cold face of what’s going on with the industry and allows me to I guest it gives me that connection and industry for like 30 years. It gives me the I guess the insiders view of where the techs gonna go and that gives me pre-warning really eventually on how I can develop and adapt our outsourcing model because we will have to adapt there’s no two ways about it and what were doing now today in 5 years time will be different and we must, we have to stay ahead of where those changes gonna be and so being part of the connection with the software companies even though we still have clients we come across 7 platforms for us, 7 different property management software programs but Property Me is the one I’m connected to in a partnership, not from a financial partnership but just from a mutual industry partnership and let me stay ahead where the changes of industry are going.
Derek: Wow fantastic it is. This is business really isn’t it and nothing ever stays stable and there’s you need to stay on top of the evolution and you need to play your A game the whole time otherwise you will get left behind. I agree like I think there’s a huge opportunity in the SME market I think there’s still a huge opportunity but people are just concerned for the status quo which no doubt will evolve not least because of the technological developments.
Tiffany: Absolutely amazed from the Property Management perspective 20 years ago we used to have a clipboard and a piece of paper and a pen and then an old film camera and we used to walk around the property and do the condition report by hand and then we take photos down to the chemist and have the photos developed 2 days later. Now I’m looking at, reading articles about google glass in a way you can put a pair of glasses on them, do a video recording and video walks on your property you know I guess eventually we’ll have robots doing that kind thing so it’s ever-evolving and always changing and intensive running at outsourcing business it’s just going to keep adapting always staying ahead of where the changes are gonna be and I guess they’re a little bit of a fortune teller on where do you think it’s gonna go.
Derek: Yeah absolutely and you know it’s funny people always worry about the future and loss of jobs and things like that but no one is calling for the return of the Kodak camera and the clipboard like no one ever really wants to take the path backwards today that would no doubt employ more people but it’s actually less efficient and less sensible to do that.
Tiffany: I agree I still hadn’t met anyone who got two computer screen that wants to go back to one.
Derek: Fantastic, So thank you so much, Tiffany, and if anybody wants to get in touch with you or learn more about your specialized vertical how can they do that?
Tiffany: They can just reach us on our website so that’s www.pmva.com.au
Derek: That’s fantastic, thank you so much.
Tiffany: You’re welcome, thank you.
Ok, that was Tiffany Bowtell of Property Management Virtual Assistant. If you wanna get in touch with Tiffany or her agency which is Property Management Virtual Assistant then go to our show notes which is at outsourceaccelerator.com/150 and as always if you wanna get in touch with us then just drop us an email to [email protected] see you next time.