Calendar icon December 2, 2021

Virtual Assistance Deep Dive with Pete Neubig, CEO of VPM Solutions


Episode Description:

Actively growing your professional property management company means having to scale a workforce to keep up with demand. But trying to find the right person for the job, and keeping them long-term, is harder than ever.

In this Triple Win Deep Dive, we talk with Pete Neubig. Pete is the co-founder and CEO of VPM Solutions, an online platform that connects the real estate industry with virtual team members across the globe. Pete talks with Andrew about the biggest challenges facing the SFR property management industry today, like the growing pains of successful PMCs, why communication is so important across the board, top strategies to retain talent, and how to set yourself up for success right now.

To learn more about Pete Neubig and VPM Solutions, visit his website.

Follow the conversation PMs are having about this and more in our Facebook group. Learn more about automated property management.

Be sure to follow The Triple Win Podcast by Second Nature and never miss an episode!

Episode Transcript:

[00:00:00] Pete Neubig: People who are against automation say I don't like automation because I lose that relationship with my client. I will flip that and say, if I can automate eight of the 10 tasks that need to be done, that means that I have eight tasks, less that I have to do, which means I have more time to build the relationships.

My personal opinion is if you're not doing virtual assistance and automation, you're a dinosaur and you're going to get extinct.

[00:00:44] Andrew Smallwood: Hello, professional property managers, Andrew Smallwood here host the triple win podcast. Very excited for this episode today with Pete new big and let me give a little introduction of people. You'll get to know him a little bit as we have our conversation today. If you're not familiar with Pete through NARPM or otherwise.

He's the former co-founder of Empire Industries, Realty and property management based in Houston, Texas. And he sold his company to MYND management. And he became the vice president of Eastern operations as a part of the sale that business. Pete is currently the co-founder and CEO of VPM solutions and VPM solutions is an online platform that connects the real estate industry with virtual team members across the globe.

I'm sure we'll touch on that today, but I first off, I just want to say welcome to the triple win podcast, Pete. It was great to be on a NARPM radio with you yesterday and just, and just having conversations with you from Kansas city to today. It's good to get to know. Andrew, thank

[00:01:45] Pete Neubig: you for having me on the triple win podcast.

And we've known each other for a while from afar. Got to know you a little bit in Kansas city and over the last couple of weeks. So I'm looking forward to doing a great show for for the listeners.

[00:01:59] Andrew Smallwood: Absolutely. One thing I love about ups is you're a straight shooter. You call it like you see it.

And I know people, people really appreciate that. Appreciate that kind of candor. And you've got tremendous expertise. You're respected by so many of our mutual friends. It's just a. Operator and it's just great to have people like you willing to share their, their wisdom, willing to share the lessons, wisdom, insight, stories, all of that.

So grateful to have you here today. I want to dive right in, I want to talk about what's your point of view, Pete, on the biggest challenges that are facing property management companies and the leaders of the property management industry.

[00:02:41] Pete Neubig: Yeah, I've, I've boiled it down to a handful of major challenges.

I'm sure there's more than these, but the biggest ones that I faced at empire was the first one was payroll. So as we were growing, if you're a growing business we're a service-based industry and most service-based industry. As they grow. So does payroll. And what we found was that as our revenue continued to grow so did our expenses mainly in the form of payroll, number one expense where The second challenge that, that I saw was the stress level on your team members.

So as you grow now, more business comes in and for probably management company to be successful, to be profitable, they have to manage it. They have to keep their team stressed. Right? So for for empire to make, to make profit, I literally had to manage, you know, so many more homes than I had. Right. And so when when, when I would hire somebody, I would literally go into the red sometimes.

Right. And this is a challenge for probably manager companies, where the team is so stressed. You don't want to lose them. Right. So then you hire somebody and now you're in the red and now you have to go grow the business to get to get back in. The black is to be profitable again. Now, when you have the stress level on your team, because you're trying to make a profit then what happens is communicated.

To your residents and your owners goes down the tubes. And the number one reason why we lose clients, our investor clients is because of lack of communication and the reason why most residents don't renew their. It's typically because of lack of communication, right? You can say, well, it's maintenance.

Well, it's not really the maintenance. It's the lack of communication regarding the maintenance. And we all mean, well, we all want to communicate and we try to do that through technology. But at the end of the day, if the team is too stressed, there's too much going on. The lack of communication happens, which then now you have, now you're reducing churn and then you have to go get more of those properties, replace them.

I, and when you churn, when you have a move. Or I move, I move out and move in and an owner leaving that actually puts more pressure on the business because that's when a lot of things have to happen, right. Somebody moves out, you've got to do to turn. Then you have to, you know, put it on the market and you have to go get it.

You have to show it. You have to get at least up. And then of course, when an owner leaves, you got to do all the accounting on the back end, and they're never happy when they leave because there's no communication. And all this leads to the final challenge that I saw was as an industry, we are reacting.

Like, I know people have to manage that. Don't do anything until the email bangs or the phone rings. We're, we're almost like it's almost like were predetermined to just sit there and be reactive. If you have a free day, it's like, oh my goodness, I have a free day. I'm just going to wait for the next thing to break.

And so when you're a reactive company, you don't build the relationships that we all so crave. Right. And so if I'm not building relationships and I have lack of communication and or something happens, cause we're always going to make a mistake it's going to happen. But if you don't have that, you know, that communication with the, oh, I'm sorry that you know that feel good with the owner.

If you don't have that relationship you're gonna lose, you're gonna lose that. And so one little mishap and all of a sudden you ask the client and it wasn't me. Maybe that was the final straw because of the lack of communication. So those are the challenges that we had. Now, if you're a company that's not growing, you've been in business for 20 years and you grow 10 doors a year and lose 10 doors a year.

You're not going to have those type of challenges. But if you are a company that's looking to grow 10, 20, 30 doors a month these are challenges that you're gonna have. Right. I know some people they've had 20 Dave had 20 years at the same people with them for 20 years. Okay. You're finally going to have the same challenge I have.

And you probably, you have different challenges by the way. Cause you're, your people are probably resistant to change and, and there's some other big challenges there, but in a, in an industry where we're all trying to, most of us, the ones that are trying to grow, these are the issues that, that I'm seeing.

And I saw firsthand when I was in there.

[00:06:55] Andrew Smallwood: Hmm, you know, I love what you shared there. And we talk about this. We've talked about this in many previous episodes, Pete and events that we've done of property managers are constantly responding to, you know, putting out fires, handling issues, conflicts, and there's so much.

There's so many events in property management, like a move in, like conducting, moving through a renewal process like moving through a maintenance process, et cetera, that are, it's not one, two steps. And just, you know, a few seconds to move through those kind of things.

[00:07:29] Pete Neubig: It's one of the most intensive businesses to be in.

I find, I go look at like my local, you know, sandwich shop or smoothie king or whatever it is. They have like three processes. We literally have like three or four businesses in one business, right? We're a maintenance business. We're a real estate business. We're a property management business. You know, we have all these businesses and each one of those has all these different processes that you have to have.

All these things have to be done. And one little thing that you miss it, all of a sudden creates chaos. How many times you hear, like, somebody's like forgot to bring a key to a house. Right. And all of a sudden chaos ensues, it's like one little thing he's supposed to bring the key to your house.

[00:08:09] Andrew Smallwood: I, I, I loved, I wanted to call out something that you said that I really struck me as an important point, which is that so often right now, we're hearing from a lot of property management companies about how hard it is.

To retain talent. You know, there's this great resignation that people are talking about and how I think it was like 4.4 million people left their job. Last, I think it was last month or maybe it was September. It was the most in history. Right. And people are seeing, you know, employee churn. They're seeing investor churn, which you talked about, Hey, proactive communication and.

You know, the resident churn, maybe less with COVID and just the housing environment. But, but that can happen too with, with poor communication, et cetera, everything else. It's kind of like a triple L if you will. If people get on this like negative cycle, right. Where it's like, oh, the business gets tighter.

And then it's harder to make that investment to improve the bandwidth of folks so that they're less stressed and can do the things that are going to generate the activities that build the business. Right. And move things in a positive direction. So, you know, we've got ideas and solutions for this, but I'd love to hear what are the strategies you're seeing.

Working for property managers to turn that around and start to get things going in a positive direction without putting their business at risk in taking, you know, too big of a, a dip into the red, trying to make an investment to build a profitable business.

[00:09:41] Pete Neubig: Yeah. I think there's two solutions that I'm seeing.

One is that more and more people are going to virtual team members outside the borders of the U S. And then the second is going into some kind of automation solution. So it was interesting because pre COVID I started seeing less people were interested in working for the rate that I can pay them.

Right. So so on even pre COVID, I started seeing like, okay, I'm getting, I'm getting people who want $40,000 a year. To do something that's really like a $10 an hour job. Right. And, but you can't really afford the 40,000, but you can't find anybody to do the $10 an hour job. And once COVID hit after COVID, I saw this exponentially go up.

People don't want to work. They don't want to go to an office. They want to work from home. They want more money than ever before. And so I'm seeing, I'm seeing this is a Panda. For our industry because we are we're small businesses, right? Most of us are small businesses. And so it's hard for us to hire one person at $40,000 a year to file papers or, you know, get electronic documents signed or, you know, do follow-up phone calls.

These are things that can be done from anywhere for a lot lower cost. And I'll tell you a funny story. It wasn't funny at the time, but it ended up being the whole basis of why I created BPM. So I had this lady named Sharon working for me in the front office and she was an angry lady. So right there, you know, I put the wrong person in the wrong seat because the front office person is supposed to be like super happy.

Right. And so I'm like, man, she's angry. I'm like, she'd be perfect for a maintenance coordinator. I can move her. I need angry people to be maintenance coordinators. I think I'd be angry with residents and with the vendors I might, should be perfect. So I said, Shannon, you love your day. I'm going to give you a promotion.

So I gave her more. Now Sharon didn't have a college degree, never went to school, you know, and everyone to a, any kind of university got a GED or just maybe a high school diploma. Right. So I gave Sharon like a $5,000 a year raise, which I thought was great. Within two weeks, she comes back to me and says, I need more money.

This is too hard. Meanwhile, now. She was probably right. Cause she was, she at the time I was managing properties and she was my, my maintenance coordinator is my assistant. So she probably did need hazard pay for that just to be by myself. So what I, what I realized is one, she wasn't even doing a really good job.

Now, of course there was some training that needed to be done, but she was already super angry and now she's getting angry at me. Right. But she was just she was not a good fit for our culture and she was not in the right seat. And so that's when I decided, I said, Sharon, you just, I'm sorry, but your job has got moved to to virtual assistant land.

And I hired three people. For the price of one Sharon and those people all had college degrees. They were, they all were from we hired them in Mexico because we're in Houston and Spanish is a, is a second language. So they were bilingual and they they're the most important thing. They were appreciative of the opportunity that they were getting.

Whereas what I'm finding people for the low, lower wages here in the states. It's, it's not that I can get them to work. I, I can't even, I can't get them here half the time. They're there external influences come into my office, who who's got a baby mama drama and it comes into my office. But they're not appreciative these folks bilingual college degree and appreciate.

And more importantly my, my employee churn churn reduced because they were happy and I was able to to pay them a fair wage for where they lived, but it was, you know, it was a third cheaper, so it was just a, it was just an, for me that was a BFO or blinding flight of the the blinding flash of the.

For me, Andrew was like, okay, this, this makes a lot of sense. So at first I thought they could only be assistance. What was my mindset? But then I opened it up saying they can be more than assistance. So, so

[00:13:56] Andrew Smallwood: Pete, it sounds like, Hey, you had Sharon. It was the right person in the wrong seat or the wrong person in the wrong seat.

It wasn't working out and. You know, you've made this leap into trying a different approach to talent. And ultimately you went with three folks w which probably gives you a whole new level of capacity to handle it totally different volume of, of issues, which makes the job more manageable for those folks.

They can be more proactive. They can handle things faster and better. More importantly, you were talking a little bit about how it was a better longterm fit in the job because of where their expectations were and what kind of value this job, you know, provide to them based on the options available to them.

Am I hearing that right?

[00:14:43] Pete Neubig: Yeah. I'm going to bring it into the triple win here because you're exactly right. So having more people for the same amount of one person, you can do more tasks. You can get more stuff done. What we found was that the virtual assistance can handle more than we anticipated. We thought that we had to like every day, feed them like a few tasks here, go knock it out and come back for more.

What we realized was they can actually handle a whole process from end to end. I had to move in coordinator and move out coordinated maintenance coordinator. With this aloud was our big time people that we paid the most property managers to get out of the $10 an hour job and do what we call from the neck up thinking right?

The, the neck up, where they can think now what they're doing. They're managing reports. They're looking for what we call taps, and they are able to build those, build those relationships. It costs these low-level tasks are being done by more people, more tasks are getting done, which means that you can have better communication.

So for the triple win, you have better communication and things are getting done more efficiently for your resident, which now they're happier. If the resident is happy, then they most likely will resign the. Right. Don't pay, they'll resign the lease, which obviously is a win for the owner. But on the other side, you're your owner client.

Now they're getting answers to questions. Now they're getting that one-on-one time with the property manager and the property manager now can have a level of authority that they never have. I always call property managers. Hey, property manager, this go for that, like, like property managed to be more like almost like attorneys to me, or they should be like like your money guy, like you just talking about your property manager.

I'm not like a gopher. I'm not the guy, but because we've been doing the $10 tasks, we have this stigma that we're gophers where my people now they're having meaningful conversations. And now that is a. Because who knows the market, the property manager knows the market better than the you know, the investor in, in most times.

And so we were able to bring the triple win for our owner and our resident client, and for the property manager to property management company, because now we're making more money because we're capturing some more of these reducing churn and capturing some opportunities to make some more revenue in, in the form of buys and sells.

Now as far as what the mindset on what, what we think of virtual assistant can do, I am in the belief that you can actually hire a virtual assistant to be your CFO. That's how far I think this could be. I don't think it'd be your CEO, but I think that we can actually have them. So my virtual assistants were not only just VAs, but ax had supervisors.

And then I actually had one of my, VA's be a SU a virtual assistant or a virtual team member, be a supervisor to people in the state. And now I believe we can get them to that middle management. And I think they can actually go to upper management. I really do. Now you're going to be paying the $8 an hour, probably not probably going to be paying, you know, a whopping $15 an hour for a guy equivalent to a 70,000 or a six figure job.

But that's where I think we can go. And I think that mindset has to change for, for us as employers.

[00:17:58] Andrew Smallwood: So is it really Pete? Just the. Field team, the boots on the ground, et cetera, the people actually executing, you know, move ins, et cetera onsite. Is that really the piece of property management that you see needs to stay locally based?

Like what w I guess, what do you see as being the kind of thing that stays local versus, you know, being, being global or just.

[00:18:25] Pete Neubig: Right now, I would say if you if you have to go to a property or you need a license to do it, it needs to be either local or somebody, a licensed. I truly believe that it can be virtual.

When I ran empire property management in Houston, I had people in Fort worth in Dallas, managing Houston properties. My property managers never left the house or the office. And so we were really doing remote management. It's just that we were in, in Houston instead of in Mexico or the Philippines.

So I believe it's here. I'm sure there are a lot of business owners that are nervous about that. For me, I always felt that my management team should be stateside, but I'm actually, my mindset's changing on that now, as we just, as we just spoke.

[00:19:16] Andrew Smallwood: That's great. And, and then I'd love to ask you a little bit about, for people who are interviewing.

Global talent, right. And what they're looking for and finding that, right. You, you know, you talked about earlier having the wrong person in the wrong seat, and you've got a better idea now, from your experience, if you're looking for, you know, what are a couple tips you would give the audience for the typical kinds of positions and property management, and what you've learned about really, to look for in candidates that are going to Excel at those different levels that you were talking about.

[00:19:46] Pete Neubig: Yeah, that's a great question, Andrew. So I don't think it's much different than hiring somebody stateside. I really don't. So the first thing is, you know, you have to get the right person on the bus core values when you're, when you're interviewing somebody, do they embody the core values that you, that you want in your company right there on the right bus?

If they pass that, the next thing for me. Was you have to have a job role and the job role cannot be very wishy-washy right. It has to be, it has to be super detailed, right? The the more obtuse the job role is the less chance you can have anybody to be successful, because if you run a job well, that you're not really sure what, what they're supposed to do, how do they know what they're supposed to do?

So you have to have a job. Well, that's very detailed. And in that job role, you should have a personality profile attached. I'm a big disc guy. So I would say, okay, this person, this profile is a high C low S and to make sure that you put them in the right seat, I would give a personality profile and make sure that they match with the job role.

Right? So now you have the right person based on your core values, you have them in the right seat based on your personality profile. Now, how do you know they're going to do a good job? I'm a big fan of the one minute manager book by, I think Blanchard. Person's last name who wrote the author's last name.

And he basically talks about, if you do all the training upfront, you give him the measureables and then you just kind of manage them. Right. So it's delegate, not abdicate, meaning I'm going to, I'm going to train you. I'm going to kind of work through with you. I'm gonna spend a lot of time with you before.

So I'm a big believer in spending a lot of time in training your virtual assistant. For me the leasing renewal specialist was like an hour a day for like three weeks. My maintenance team was like two hours a day for like three months. So it just matters how in-depth the role's going to be. When you train them, you spend time, you have them build the policy procedure manual, right.

Or actually you build the policies, they build a process manual, they can change the process. They can change the policy. And then you have key performance indicators or metrics or measurables. If you're not sure what they should be. That's on you, that's your job. You have to build a job role and know what the measurable are going to be.

Once they are in once they're the right core, you know, the right core values and they have the right disposition personality, and then they know the job role is, and then, you know, the measurables are now you just having a weekly meeting with them and right there is how you can be successful. My big, one of the things I did not do.

Doing zoom meetings with them recording the zoom meetings and then letting them rewatch the zoom meetings and build a process manual. They had to remember it all from our two hour meetings, which was not smart on my part. So I highly recommend that every meeting you have with them that you That you are record.

Now, the only main difference between hiring somebody virtual is making sure they have good internet, making sure they have a good computer, good workspace. That that's really the main, the main stuff. Other than that, I think it's, I think it's very sad. To hiring somebody local

[00:22:56] Andrew Smallwood: it. And when you say, Hey, we're looking for these core values, everything else.

You know, when I think about teams that I've been a part of in the past where I've worked in an office environment with folks. And then since I've been at second nature, you know, I'm, I'm the guy in Nashville, everybody else's in Raleigh are all over the country. We've been remote and distributed across the U S for years and years, but there's a great.

Team culture. And I'm curious, you know, what are you seeing for people who are working across remote and distributed teams of having that teammate to teammate connection, where they cohere and communicate well with each other as a team? What are the kinds of things you need to think about as a business leader or things you need to put in place to help enable that?

[00:23:39] Pete Neubig: I'm sure there's way better people to answer that than me. I can just tell you what worked for us. What worked for us was treating the virtual team member, like a regular person, like, like a regular employee. Right. So giving them the holidays off with pay, giving them a couple of perks a week, a weeks of pay with you know, a week vacation with pay, but more importantly, Having them as, as we're going through the processes and we have team meetings having to put input and taking that input and, you know, having them, having them at least feel like they can make the, do the input put input in also having a track for them to, to, into move up in the company.

I know a lot of people are doing these virtual, like happy hours with their team, you know across, across all, you know, the virtual team versus the team locally. I'm sure there's a lot of other things to do. We just we just had them on a video. And so video is important to us. We I went down to visit them.

So every, every Christmas, you know, I had people in two areas in Mexico and I would, they would all travel up to one area. So that would be helpful. You build those relationships. We had a couple of them come up to the office so that we can do some training, but the more you treat them, like part of the team, the more they're going to have, the more they're going to embody those core values that you try to, as you're trying to.

That you're trying to put across all your team, but I'm sure you guys at second nature probably have better solutions than I do. I mean, you guys are spread across the world.

[00:25:14] Andrew Smallwood: I think it's great. What you shared and you know, it, it makes me think about what I heard. The CEO of a company called automatic which was one of the first, fully distributed, like across the globe companies.

They have over a thousand employees, very high performing organizations. And what they talked about was, Hey, they had this expensive real estate in San Francisco and New York and everything else. And that that's slowly shrunk down. As people were working from home and distributed pre pandemic, this was happening.

And he said, basically the paradigm flipped of everybody gets together in the same location for 50 weeks a year. And then two weeks a year, they get. Location freedom to go on vacation or go do kind of whatever they want. And he said, really it's the other way around people get that location freedom 50 weeks a year.

And then a week out of the year or two weeks out of the year, we get everybody together as a team to do that kind of relationship building and trust building that lasts far beyond that week or the couple of days that everyone's getting together. And. You know, whether it's a week or two weeks or a few days, or what have you.

I think that having that rhythm where people can do that people are kind of surprised how well a team can become cohesive and build trust. If you think about those days as, not the time to talk at people and tell them what the business plans are, where you could tell them that over zoom. Any other time, it's that time to really gel together and build relationships together as a team seems to be working for folks that have made this big kind of leap to the opposite paradigm.

[00:26:49] Pete Neubig: Well, I like that thing. Think about it. What your number one expense is payroll, you, number two expense is office space, right? And so if you get rid of the office space or greatly reduced that, you know, that amount. You can have a big party with everybody and build these great relationships that you said less far beyond that.

So, yeah, I think it's just an investment in a business. You create a line item and instead of, you know, instead of office space, it's, you know, offers get together or something like that. Right. And you just start building those relationships.

[00:27:21] Andrew Smallwood: That's so great. Pete, Pete, I want to take this a little different angle from here, because earlier you talked about automation and technology, and I feel like you've got this unique perspective of having run.

You know, I don't know if we'd call it a traditional management company, but certainly a successful, what many, what some people might call traditional management company, and then you had this new kind of talent strategy that you deployed and pushed further and further and saw more and more success with, you know, and then you joined the company.

Like mind for a period of time where, you know, big on technology you know, and there's a lot of technology vendors coming to this space, talking to folks, you know, I I'd love to see your perspective on. What are the problems that you feel like technology can solve in property management? What are the true opportunities to look for using automation, as opposed to delegation and finding the right talent strategy to get things right.

[00:28:22] Pete Neubig: That's a great question. I would say that the, the PR the, the people who are against automation say I don't like automation because I lose that, that relationship with my, with my clients. I will flip that and say, if I can automate eight of the 10 tasks that need to be done, that means that I have eight tasks, less that I have to do, which means I have more time to build a relationship.

So I truly believe automation can do a couple of things. One, it can allow you to create that gap between your revenue line. And your expense line, because with automation, the automation doesn't ask for raises, you don't have to increase your automate. You don't have to, you know, automation doesn't cost you very much more once you implement it.

So that means that as you bring on new properties, you pro like, let's say if you had, every time you brought on 50 properties, you had to bring in a new body. Well, with automation now, when you bring on 150 properties, now you have the brand new. Right. So now that that chasm gets really large between revenue and expenses.

Secondly, because I have automation, I don't have to do all these. I'm not busy at night doing all these things cause I was walking properly or I was talking to an owner for two hours. You can have those long conversations. You can start having. More in-depth conversations and you can start asking your own clients.

Are they looking to buy more properties where they're looking to buy more properties who they're hanging out with? Can they give us a referral? So you can start tapping into other resources of revenue. And when you have the time. To talk to an order for two hours because they have this challenge and you're not trying to get them off the phone because you're thinking of the 15 other tasks I need to get done before you leave.

And then you have to work all night that that's going to build that bond. And so I, I truly believe that you can actually build deeper relationships with automation and increase profitability with automation. My personal opinion is if you're not. Doing virtual assistance and automation. You're, you're, you're a dinosaur and you're going to get extinct.

That's my personal opinion.

[00:30:42] Andrew Smallwood: Yeah. It's hard to imagine somebody competing right. Doing things with the highest cost version of labor, right. That either technology, automation process you know, Lower wage talent, you know, would be able to execute doing that consistently day in and day out. Like that's just a, that's a compound interest kind of advantage, right.

That Peter, I want to finish with this, which is, I feel like there might be a lot of people listening to this right now and see like great conceptually. I get it and why I would want to do it and focus on automation, focus on looking at a new talent strategy approach here. Right. And how far I might be able to take it.

There probably have a little more vision than they did a half hour ago. Can we get, you know, tactical and practical a little bit? Like how, how does a placement service work? How, where should somebody start with these kinds of things? Where are the most effective places? And can you give some like examples with enough?

Meet on the bone that somebody could leave this and say, I'm actually ready to take some action today.

[00:31:45] Pete Neubig: Yeah, I think well Nordstrom is always a great way to start, right? If you go to an open discussion board and you ask somebody where virtual, how to find a virtual assistant, you're going to get, you know, 20 people giving you all these different plates.

There's, there's a lot of vendors that do placement services for Naropa. And then there's also my company where a Northern vendor as well. And you can go to our website. There's two ways to, to go about getting a virtual assistant. One is. You find a placement service company they'll come over to interview.

You they'll then go away for a week or two. And they will then find a couple of candidates. You do a final interview. They'll do a quick couple of day of training. And then while you have a virtual assistant. They charged some money up front for that. And then what they do is they hire the virtual assistant and then they turn around and then charge you an overage.

So they have kind of like a management fee, if you will, for lack of a better word for the virtual assistants. So the virtual system may make $5 and you're getting charged $12, something like that. With a company like ours, you can go online. We do not charge anything for the employee. And you can go and browse our, you know, our database of over 4,400 virtual citizens at the time of this recording.

And you can search through different, like I need app folio experience or property where experience or whatever it is. If you looking for a specific country, so you can do all these searches and you can post a job. You get matched with however you have, the job is posted with how the virtual assistants created their their profile.

And then you can invite people to jobs, or you can just sit back and get applications. So in, in, in with VR, what VPM, how would we try to differentiate? And we try to innovate in our innovation is you can literally post something and find somebody in minutes versus weeks. And then of course you have your, your hiring process and we have a step-by-step.

Walk through on the hiring process or for the walkthrough. So the first thing you have to realize is when, you know, when, you know, when do you need a virtual assistant, right? So you have to kind of think through what do I, am I ready for one right now? Because you may not have. Then once you say, okay, I'm ready.

What can they do? And so yep. There's two ways to go about it. One is they can be an assistant to your property manager and you create a job role based on that. Or they can own a processing and create a job role based on that. Once you have your job role, then at that point, you go out there and you go search for the right virtual assistant for, for you and your.

In a nutshell.

[00:34:20] Andrew Smallwood: Yeah, no, thanks for walking through the process and how that can work in a couple of ways of going about it. You know, a follow up question that Pete, to just help keep making this practical for folks would be. W do you have a recommendation on. A place to start. Is it leasing? Is it maintenance?

Is it accounting? Is it something else? You know, does it depend? What, how would somebody think about where to get started? Like you did of, Hey, I'm going to start with these three people to replace Sharon, what would you recommend there?

[00:34:52] Pete Neubig: There's two ways to go about it. So the way I did it was what was killing me the most.

Right. Like, I, you didn't, I didn't have to, you know, track phone calls and emails to know that maintenance was beating me up. I was getting beat up pretty good. Tyson was coming into my office, you know, twice a day and just, you know, beat me up pretty good. Punch me in the nose. And and so I'm like, okay, I got to solve this for.

Right. So whatever is the major pain point would probably a good place to start. Your team is probably complaining about they're over it. You might actually be potentially ready to lose a good a good team member because they're getting stressed out because of something. Right? So that might be a really one good, a good way to do it.

Another good way is. You can just say ma'am my team needs some assistance. That's all they looking for. We just need some assistance. And so you can say, all right, we're just going to hire a virtual assistant, just to be an administrative assistant and find out what are the five or seven tasks that each PM would like to take off.

And then maybe you go find a virtual assistant that can take off those five or seven tasks. Right. So if your portfolio based, there's probably four or five tasks that they can take off another one is you can, maybe the phone's ringing off the hook and you can say, I just need some people to answer the phone.

Right. And so I just want, you know, maybe the leasing, I need a leasing line answered, or maybe I need the tenant services line answered. And so you can hire people. To answer the phone that can, you know, and then you tell them that these are the top 20 questions and here's how you answer them. And that can, at least the phone is now being answered people, you know, a portion of people getting their questions, answered, everything else gets, gets escalated.

So I'd say those are probably the three ways to go about implementing a virtual assistant.

[00:36:45] Andrew Smallwood: I think that's helpful as a place to start, I'm going to ask. You know, a different question here, Pete, as we start to come to a close, which is, as you look to the future of property management, you know, Where do you see things going?

And I think a lot of people have questions. We've had people on this podcast talking about Airbnb, being a potential player or threat coming into long-term property management. There's the, there's the VC back companies, you know, Hey, what, what role is Zillow going to play? Although, you know, they were making headlines for, for different reasons.

You know, just a few weeks ago. W what do you see for. You know, the traditional company managing couple hundred units, you know, versus the people trying to grow to a thousand plus the other companies that are out there. What do you think this is gonna look like five, 10 years.

[00:37:40] Pete Neubig: So, you know, obviously I sold my company to a VC backed company, so that's kind of on my mind a lot.

My uncle owns a food distributor company in a in New York. And I bring that up before. That business is very similar to that industry is very similar to ours. Lot of mom and pops in over the last, over the last 20 years, the Cisco's of the world had been, been buying Cisco S Y S C O been buying a lot of these mom and pops up.

And my uncle started doing that. Now he's a regional. And so w I asked him what he thought and he said, there's always going to be room for the mom and pop. And and I truly believe that in our industry, I think there's always going to be room for the mom and pops. So if you're going to 200 to two, a thousand doors, I think you're always going to have room now, could you, or could your margins get squeezed a little bit?

Absolutely. I think that's why it's important to be a professional property management company and have a lot of these ancillary fees. And you and I talked a lot about this on our podcast about the resident benefit package. Right. So I truly believe the way to stay alive is actually having a lot of these ancillary fees and being more of a, a, more of a property manager, a professional manager.

Now I think the guys that are going to try to grow may have some challenges because they might be in multiple markets with all these other big companies. I, I don't see one VC company taken to this whole thing. Like I don't see mind which, which is one of the bigger ones right now, HRG. I, there's not gonna be one player.

There's enough for everybody. It's a, it's a really big pot. There's every year, it seems like more and more people are using professional managers to manage their property. So I think that's going to grow as well as more as more legislation comes in. I think you're gonna see more people go into the property management world or use property managers to manage their properties.

So. I can tell you from being at mind that there is no solution here. These guys are so Jared, they're trying to figure it out. There's challenges. They have unique challenges that if we only operate in a few markets or one market or one state that we don't have, right. They have to operate in California and in Texas, I mean, the stuff that I wanted to do in Texas, they couldn't do.

If you're a smaller company, you can pivot. So if you see something that's unique, that's coming along the pipeline legislation wise and what, or whatever it is, you can pivot much faster than, than these venture capitalist guys, because they have so many people and they're, so they're so top heavy that they have to make all the decisions float all the way down.

And they're just like a big aircraft carrier and we're like destroyers. Right? We could, we could pivot on, on the side. So. That doesn't mean that there's not going to be any challenges for us as, as you know, property manager companies. And again, I just think the squeezing of the, of the management fee, I would, I, I truly believe at some point somebody and I know Scott Brady on California's working on this, somebody smarter than me, he's going to figure out how you can actually do a $0 management fee and you can have a LA carte.

Now, the hard thing with Allah cart, You don't have the automation, right? So as, as technology gets better, the PM software has get better. You might be able to a lot of these charges. So when this happens, he gets charged whatever. Instead of like having to make sure your accounting person charges everything, that that would be a game changer.

I would love to see that happen. Think about it. Think about the marketing on that $0 management fee. You think you'd get compliant?

[00:41:22] Andrew Smallwood: Oh, man. You know, we talked about this in a future of property management panel and there's already a couple of people out there trialing this or a version of it, but yeah, you think about the value proposition of basically being able to say, all right, who do you think is going to manage your property?

Right. Cause it's $0. If you do it at $0, if I do it who's got the better process. Who's got the better systems. Who's got the better tools. Who's got the better team, et cetera, the attention, the focus, the knowledge, the expertise, all that just the relationships that's right. You know, it could accelerate things towards that a hundred percent professionally managed future.

So it's definitely interesting something we're looking at. I love what you said about. Hey, this isn't a Mo I mean the market for single family rentals before we even get into small multi, right. I think is something in the neighborhood of 16, 17 million homes, just in the U S. And so, you know, it's somebody could manage a million homes, right.

And not even have 10%. And it's going to be awhile before somebody is managing a million homes that

[00:42:28] Pete Neubig: guys are like, they want to get to a hundred thousand. That's the goal? A hundred thousand, right when I did a I did a survey at Narbonne in Houston, in 2015. And I basically said we basically manage about 23,000 homes.

We didn't even hit 1% of all the homes that were available that were, were owner that were investor owner, investor owned homes. And we're the, no, we were the, all the, all the property managers in Houston combined 23,000. And we weren't even 1%, it's a big number out there.

[00:43:05] Andrew Smallwood: A lot of opportunity, a lot of opportunity for.

Pete, I want to do this just, is there anything else, something we didn't talk about that you feel like would be valuable for professional property managers to hear about specifically from you before we end the recording today?

[00:43:19] Pete Neubig: I, you know, I, I would just say one thing is if you're super stressed and you are thinking about selling solve the challenge first, if you can solve the challenge, you may, you may not want to sell and maybe puts, maybe you can put somebody in your place to run your business.

Because if you can make it an ATM where it's not stressful for you and you can, you know, work four hours a day or four hours a week on it, and you have somebody that you, you know, to partner with and put in that CEO chair, it's nice to have that 18. And so maybe it's not worth selling at that point.

Just a food for thought.

[00:43:52] Andrew Smallwood: No, I, I love what you said. And so many people that listen to this podcast are asking, how do I go from having a full-time job in property management, right. To really having a property man. Business. And I want to tie this back to something you said earlier that I thought was a great point of a lot of times, the gopher perception of the property manager is centered around, Hey, there's a lot of nitty gritty work that has to get done to manage property well in a lot of people look.

That's who I'm hiring. That's what I'm hiring right? Is, is this you know, tactical work that has to get done. It's different when you say no, no, no. You're hiring my business. Right. And you're hiring an entire team here. You're hiring my processes. You're hiring my expertise. More like the attorney that you were referencing earlier as an example, financing the financial planner, right?

The asset manager, as opposed to the property manager. And so. You know, that's a perspective that I think we'll see more and more people gravitating towards and finding ways to work for. I appreciate your words of encouragement for people to stick with that and try to solve those challenges to get themselves into that position, and really appreciate the practical ideas and proven strategies you know, that you shared today about how people can do that through talent and automation.

So, Pete, thanks again, man. Thanks for being with us. I'm looking forward to the next time we get to talk.

[00:45:21] Pete Neubig: Thanks, Andrew. Thanks for having me on. I really appreciate it.

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