Case Study: A virtual assistant company with a niche


Andrew: Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy where I interview entrepreneurs about how they built their businesses. I think I’ve kind of exhausted my guest before we even started recording. He is asking me about the caffeine content of my drink over here. I promise, this is decaf coffee. I do have a lightly caffeinated tea here on the side. I try to drink a lot as I talk. But I’m freaking psyched. Daniel, I just love your business.
Let me introduce my guest. His name is Daniel Ramsey. He is the founder of MyOutDesk. They offer virtual assistants for real estate. Now look, the virtual assistant business I’ve seen forever. I must have interviewed a bunch of companies who do virtual assistants. We’re not talking about a guy who frankly created a brand new business. He was one of the originals, one of the early people online to do this. But regardless, he found a freaking niche, he’s built up this business, the revenue is strong, the customer base is strong. I’m just amazed by the model, and I’m amazed by how well he’s doing. And I’m amazed that he is doing this, not the only one in the business, it’s not a heavily software-based business.
Some of the things that he’s discovered, frankly, have been around for decades, but that’s what’s allowing him to build up this phenomenal business. So we’re going to find out about how Daniel Ramsey created his company, MyOutDesk. I’m going to repeat Daniel Ramsey a bunch of times because Daniel, you’ve got the worst search engine optimization on your name. Every time I search for Daniel Ramsey, I came up with Dave Ramsey, so I figured, “If I could come up with . . . Like, if this interview has Daniel Ramsey a few times in it, I could be the number one search result for your name.
Daniel: Totally could. Yeah.
Andrew: Yeah. This interview is sponsored by a company that I asked Daniel, “Can I do an ad for them?” he goes, “No kidding. I actually use them.” And I asked him to please save it for the interview. We’ll ask him about how he and now I are using RingCentral for our virtual phones. But first, Daniel, it’s good to have you here, seriously.
Daniel: Yeah, thanks for having me, man.
Andrew: What’s the revenue that you guys are doing with this business?
Daniel: This year we’ll be above 20 million bucks.
Andrew: Wow-we. And then net margins, are they over 15% in your business?
Daniel: They range. I mean, it just depends how much I’m spending, but we range from anywhere from 10 to 20. It really depends if we’re growing. We’ve had some stupid years of 270% growth. And in those years, we had low margins.
Andrew: And where do you spend your money when you’re growing?
Daniel: You know, sales and marketing, really. I mean, that’s where you’re supposed to spend it. And we also we put a lot of systems in place, so we built our own technology to kind of house all of our virtual assistants. We have 1,200 folks working with clients right now and all of them log on using a computer. So, in that computer world, you know, they have to log into a server, we check where they’re working and what they’re doing and all that kind of stuff. So we spent a lot of money developing that and, you know, just normal business stuff.
Andrew: I have a photo of you on your honeymoon.
Daniel: Yeah.
Andrew: What do you . . . You brought your laptop to your honeymoon?
Daniel: Yeah. So, Andrew, your introduction was perfect. You missed one thing, though.
Andrew: What?
Daniel: We actually built this industry. So back in . . . I mean, I know this is going to be crazy, but back in 2007 when I hired my first virtual assistant in the real estate space, nobody was using virtual assistant. In fact, Tim Ferriss’ “4-Hour Workweek” wasn’t even out. When it was . . . When it came out, dude, our business exploded because nobody was really doing it at a high level. So we were pioneers, and it’s been a lot of fun to screw that up and then fix it and then screw it up again, and then fix it.
Andrew: I want to find out about the screw-ups in addition to the fixing. I do remember that when his book came out, he had a couple of suggestions for companies to use. Do you remember, like, Ask Sunday, I think, was one of them?
Daniel: No, no. I think it’s Ask Friday.
Andrew: Ask Friday. Yeah. I used the . . . One of the companies they recommended and it just did not go well. I think the industry was definitely in its infancy at the time. Okay. So coming back to this honeymoon picture, why did you bring your laptop on your honeymoon?
Daniel: Because I’m crazy. I’m an entrepreneur. And you knew that when you asked.
Andrew: Of course, I got notes here. I’m teeing up questions, dude.
Daniel: Yeah, I love it. I love it. Well, here’s the thing. If you’re listening right now and you’re either want to be an entrepreneur or you are an entrepreneur and you’re trying to scale a business, the reality is, it’s freaking hard. Weekends, evenings, you think about it when you wake up first thing, you think about at night, you have employee issues, you have scale issues, you have technology issues, and . . .
Andrew: So what was the business that you were working on your honeymoon?
Daniel: Well, at that time, MyOutDesk, you know, was two years old. I had a real estate investment company and a real estate brokerage. So we sold houses for banks and short sales. Back In 2007, I was . . . I’m a real estate broker, so I’ve sold a lot of real estate in my time and, you know, hired virtual assistants. And my wife, thank goodness, cross my fingers, we’re still going strong 10 years in, we’re still married, got two beautiful kids. But yeah, she just kind of had adjusted to the fact that I’m an entrepreneur.
Andrew: You’re just going to work. All right. So, you know, let me take it a little bit slower and get to know you. You’re a guy who was working for Barclays for a while there, right?
Daniel: Yeah. So I went to school and got a degree in finance, and then realized that I hated finance.
Andrew: And then you still get a job in finance.
Daniel: Well, yeah. And in fact, I loved the business classes, but I didn’t like the, you know, like, accounting and I didn’t like finance, and so I went to work for a bank thinking, “Well, maybe I could sell stuff or maybe they’d give me a big account or maybe I could build, you know, some sort of . . . ” Because I like people. I like bonding.
Andrew: I can see it.
Daniel: Yeah, yeah. So, you know, I got in there and then they gave me . . . I managed people’s money, which was dumb because it was like, put your head down and work for three years straight. And I wanted out bad. So I was that . . . I’m that serial entrepreneur who I would get, buy the magazines and look for businesses to buy and look at the newspaper and like, call brokers and like, “Hey, what kind of a business do you have to sell right now?” Like, I even looked . . . I even toured a pizza place and then I was going to make an offer and the place burnt up, like, literally burnt up.
Andrew: Which might be for the best because instead what happened was, you got . . . Was it a house that you got for yourself?
Daniel: Yeah. So I was 20 . . . I think I was 23 or 24 and I decided I was going to buy a house because I was renting and I didn’t really like my roommate and I was like, “Okay, it’s time to move out.” Right? And I was like, “Well, why not buy a house?” and real estate at that time in the 2000s was just freaking taking off. You buy a house and two years later, it’s double, right? And I live in California, so it was even more than double. It was like, “Ah, this is crazy.” So I thought, “I have to buy a house being a good finance guy.” Right? And so I used a real estate guy and he calls me up one day and says, “Hey, what’s your home address?” I’m like, “Why?” He says, “I’m going to mail you, I’m going to snail mail, basically, the keys to your new home, but don’t use them until I tell you it’s okay.” And so I went to closing . . . I went to the closing table and I looked at the final HUD and of course, he made, like, six, seven grand and the mortgage person made four or five grand and I thought, “I can do their job. I could do this job.” And that’s how I became an entrepreneur.
Andrew: And that’s when you got into real estate.
Daniel: Yeah.
Andrew: And at some point, you discovered virtual assistants. What led you to discover virtual assistants for yourself?
Daniel: Yeah. So my brother was in San Diego and I was in Sacramento and we were collaborating, because he was a real estate guy down there, I was a real estate guy up here and he’s like, “Dude, I found this gal that is great at design.” And I was like, “I need a business card. I need a new business card,” because I was rebranding and trying to grow a different segment of our real estate and he’s like, “Oh, she can help.” And so I met her on Skype. You remember Skype?
Andrew: Yeah.
Daniel: Everything is Zoom now.
Andrew: Before Zoom.
Daniel: Yeah, exactly. Before Microsoft took them over. So I Skyped with her and she’s like, “I can design you a business card. I had already paid a U.S. company $1,000 to do this marketing, like, a local firm, you know, had a good reputation all that and she was like, “I can do it.” And in a couple of hours, she came back with a couple of designs and it was actually better than the company that I had spent $1,000 on.
Andrew: And so then how did that lead you to hire her to do more? What else did . . . ?
Daniel: I was like, “Hey, do you have any friends?” I’m like . . . Because I needed design work, but I needed administrative work, I needed somebody to manage my calendar. I had this whole inventory. I was selling a couple of hundred homes a month.
Andrew: Whoa, whoa, whoa. Wait. A couple of hundred homes a month?
Daniel: Yeah. Any one time I’d have 100 listings . . .
Andrew: Oh, you were listing. Got it. That’s significant, isn’t it?
Daniel: Yeah, yeah. I mean, look, the average agent sells one or two, right?
Andrew: So how did you get to that level?
Daniel: I’m crazy, man. I just . . .
Andrew: What did you do? What would . . . Be specific, dude. Come on.
Daniel: Well . . .
Andrew: And suddenly I want to make this into a real estate show.
Daniel: No, it shouldn’t be. But here’s the thing.
Andrew: No, it shouldn’t. But what did you do? Teach me something.
Daniel: Yeah. So business isn’t too complicated. Everybody thinks . . . I can’t tell you how many times. In fact, I was just talking to a guy who he’s in Memphis, and I was helping him in his business. He was doing a business consultation with one of our guys here who’s in our office. And he pulled me in for five or 10 minutes and I was trying to help him, right? And he’s like, “Well, you know, we’re really good at this, but I don’t know anybody else in the country that, like, does what I do and there’s 1.7 million realtors and here’s the one guy who thinks he’s special. And no offense, if anybody is listening right now, your business is your little snowflake, but here’s the thing that I would tell you. I modeled the biggest agent I could find. And it was that guy in San Diego. And then I found a guy in San Francisco who even did . . . These guys were doing 300, 400, 500 deals a month
Andrew: You modeled, this person is Christian Peter, am I right?
Daniel: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Andrew: Okay. But be specific. What’s one or two things that helped you grow that you learned from him?
Daniel: I’m telling you.
Andrew: Oh, sorry.
Daniel: Yeah, I’m telling you right now. I modeled . . .
Andrew: I’m ready to jump through the camera. Yes, please feel free.
Daniel: Yeah, exactly. Well, and here’s the thing, the secret is, so I have a friend who has a property management company and he thinks he’s special, I’m like, “No, you’re not.” There’s Long & Foster in the Pacific Northwest. And if you go and look at that company, they manage 2,000 rentals in their small little market. So the thing that I did is I just found somebody who was doing it at a really high level, and then I flew to his office and I picked his brain. And then I met his manager. And then I met his . . . I was like, “What system are you using?” At that time they were using this thing called Taza REO, which was an REO processing thing. And I was like, “Okay. Fine. I’ll just buy Taza.” So I bought Taza REO, then I hired somebody who was just like his office manager. Then I said, “Hey, who are your top 20 clients?” And he’s like . . . And he gave me the list of the people who were giving him the most business. So I literally found the guy who was doing it at the highest level, and then turn him into a mentor.
Andrew: And so, wait, by having this software, what were you able to do? By . . .
Daniel: The process was like, I didn’t have to do the paperwork myself. It was in a system. So back then in 2000 . . . I mean, it was 2003 and ‘4, back then everybody was kind of doing still with paper and they weren’t putting it into any kind of system. So we literally when somebody sends an offer in this platform, it was an electronic offer and it went into a system. Well, it allowed us to take all of our offers electronically, export it to Excel, and then I could choose the best one, like, overnight, right? And just . . . So system process, model the best, and then figure out how they drove business, and that’s what we just started driving business just like the biggest . . .
Andrew: One more thing. Where did you get your clients when you started following him?
Daniel: Yeah. So what he did which, as a real estate person, I had no concept of doing, he would fly around. So we went to Philadelphia and met a bank and then we went to Dallas and met another bank, and then we went to Boston. And literally just took branded materials, went in said, “Hi, my name is Daniel. I’m in Sacramento. I’m in San Francisco and I’m in Redding, California. Do you need any help selling any of your bank-owned properties?”
Andrew: Got it. And because you’re going to banks, you get lots of properties at once instead of trying to wait for a family of four to say yes to you. Got it.
Daniel: Exactly. Exactly.
Andrew: Got it. And so you’re doing all this and suddenly you found a woman who was doing your logo through your brother, you said, “Do you have any friends?” and she said, “I could do it.”
Daniel: Well, she . . . No. She actually said she had a friend from church who needed a job because I didn’t really need a marketing person, and my brother was kind of already kind of using her on a regular basis. And so I hired a gal named Julie, literally, like, 13, 14 years ago, and then Julie found a friend and then another friend and then we put an ad out and then all of a sudden we had a business.
Andrew: A team of virtual assistants in the U.S. at the time just for you.
Daniel: No. A team of virtual assistants in the Philippines working . . .
Andrew: Wait. At what point did you get to the Philippines because my understanding was, in the beginning, it was not the Philippines?
Daniel: No, no, no, it’s totally was. Yeah, Julie, Lilly, the first two people we ever hired they were in the Philippines.
Andrew: Oh, wow. Got it. So you really were ahead of your time.
Daniel: Right. And that’s the thing. There was a lot of U.S.-based virtual assisting companies at that time, but nobody was really going overseas mostly because the internet connection and the video conferencing technology at that time was really limited.
Andrew: Right.
Daniel: And so we just kind of . . . But because I had, like, systems in place and checklists and like step by step how to do what to do, it was easy to give somebody that job.
Andrew: And you already had systems in place because you were modeling somebody who was organized. Got it.
Daniel: Yeah.
Andrew: Okay. Let me close this part of the conversation by asking a follow-up question on something you said before. You said, “Business is easy.” And I interrupted because I wanted to get some specifics about how you do it. What do you mean by business is easy? It’s easy if you do what?
Daniel: Well, I don’t . . . You know what’s interesting is, everybody believes . . . Like in my business, there’s some really large outsourcers who’ve been around since the ’80s and ’90s. So most people are like trying to invent the way or figure it out, like, I’m going to make a marketing . . . You know, I’m going to create a marketing thing. I’m going to build a website or whatever. But the reality is, there’s millions of people who’ve already been there, done that, and so my advice is just, business is easy, figure out who’s your industry, what metrics you need to follow, and then do it just like the biggest companies out there, but do it economically, meaning, don’t go out and buy your way to success, just work your way to success. And that’s a tenet that most people just, you know, kind of avoid.
Andrew: That’s kind of interesting. One of the interviews that I did this year that really left a mark on me was in Estonia. I flew there to interview entrepreneurs and I met this guy who runs Bolt which competes with Uber and I said, “How are you competing with Uber? They’ve got more money than you.” He said, “Exactly. I model part of what they do, but I do it much cheaper.”
I said, the same as I keep pounding you, “Be specific.” I did and he said, “Okay. South Africa. We got to South Africa because we and Uber went in at roughly the same time.” They sent I think it was hundreds of people but at least dozens. My memory is not clear on exactly how many. I said, “How many did you send?” He said, “None. We found one person, we sent him a PowerPoint, we said, “Here’s our structure. Here’s how we work.” and we kept it cheaper.”
And one of the things now that I’ve been traveling that I noticed is in South Africa, it was cheaper to get Bolt. Their model is, “We’re not going to out-spend them. We’re going to go so cheap that more drivers will come to us because we can get them more work, more people will come to us because we’ll go cheaper, because we’re cheaper than Uber, and if we don’t have name recognition, once you get a cheaper price than Uber, you’re going to go tell your friends that were cheap.” Anyway, I’ve been seeing this now as I’m traveling and it’s phenomenal. And that’s essentially what you’re saying, Daniel, am I right?
Daniel: Yeah. I mean, well, what I . . . That’s a great example and Uber to this Bolt, but, you know, back when cars started, there was something like 350 car companies, right? When Ford one and GM and Chrysler, right? And so the idea is that you have to be really smart with how you spend your money, like that guy, it’s a perfect example. In the beginning, we didn’t spend money unless there was a clear path to making. Right?
Andrew: Okay.
Daniel: And it was almost like guaranteed, like, somebody said, “Come to this conference.” And we said, “No. Why should we come to that conference?” And they’re like, “Well, we’re going to give you a speaking opportunity.” “Okay, cool. Who is in the audience?” And they’re like, “We don’t know.” I said, “We can’t come.” You know, like, we can’t . . . And then . . . But when somebody says, “Well, we have this person, and this person, and this person, and our average is X, Y, and Z, we go, “Okay. That’s a fit for us.” So we’re really specific.
And you’ll laugh at this story. Two years ago . . . Because we’re in the real estate world, but we branched out in a couple of different verticals. So, two years ago, I told this other vendor in our space, like, he’s like, “So what conferences are you doing?” I said, “We’re just not going to do any more conferences. We’re just not.” And he’s like, “What?” because all of their business is driven on conferences, but I wanted to cut us off them because it’s expensive to fly four guys, it’s expensive for hotels, it’s expensive to speak and buy food and pay overtime and all the things that you have to do to go to a conference. So I wanted our business to be conference free for two years and see what happens. And absolutely nothing changed.
Andrew: You didn’t lose sales, you didn’t . . .
Daniel: No.
Andrew: All right. Let me talk about my first sponsor, speaking of sales, and then come back. Actually, I only have one sponsor for today. I’m trying to go from two sponsors to one to see how we like it, so I’ve moved one of the others out.
Daniel: Nice.
Andrew: It’s RingCentral. What do you know . . . What are you doing with RingCentral?
Daniel: Well, actually, they wrote a blog post about us a long time ago, and it comes up in a top of SEO results which I love, number one. And because they wrote that and we did this collaboration, we just started recommending them to our clients and then we started using them for our business. Because we’re a completely dispersed team, meaning, we have 15 folks here in our Sacramento headquarters, like, our leadership and sales team and marketing team are here, but everyone else, of our 1,200 folks, are in the Philippines and they all work remotely. We needed a way for us to be able to chat with them, do video conferences and to make calls. So RingCentral was a good offer.
Andrew: Because they do have a chat app within it so you can talk to other people on your team. They do have . . . What was it? It was chat. They do have conference software. I think they actually use Zoom, frankly.
Daniel: I think they do too.
Andrew: They do. So, frankly, what I ended up doing was I said, “Why am I paying for Zoom if I get the exact Zoom experience through them?”
Daniel: Right.
Andrew: So I get that with it. And then you actually give your virtual assistants a phone number too.
Daniel: Yeah. So, because we have people . . . And this is good for the audience. We have people that are prospecting all day long, sending text messages, emails, and we use Salesforce, so Zoom or RingCentral and Salesforce link up. So you can do a click to dial on the whole thing.
Andrew: Yeah, yeah. They give you a whole link to their app marketplace. I did training on them in preparation for this ad. They wanted to make sure that I saw how much they had. And yeah, they connect with all these different apps, including Salesforce, so one click we just start dialing, and then there’s Zapier connection for things that they don’t think explicitly set up is in there. And the benefit is, we for a long time we were saying to people on our team, “Just use your cell phone and call. You have unlimited minutes, anyway, it doesn’t matter.” Why are you shaking your head? Why is that a bad idea?
Daniel: Because I lead our sales and marketing effort, and when I have a lead in Salesforce, I want to know that, number one, the lead was called right away, like, it registered and then speed the lead is the number one indicator of results in a sales organization and 100% we are a sales organization. We don’t manufacture anything. We don’t have a product to sell. Our business is a service-based business, so for us, like, if we can’t attach an activity to a lead record, then it just didn’t happen.
Andrew: And they do give you all kinds of analytics. I don’t know if you use your own analytics or theirs, but they give you those types of analytics. The thing that I recognize was people started texting for . . . Even me, they start texting me on an outrageous level lately. And the reason is, you know, if you and I are going to talk and you’re coming to San Francisco, it’s weird for me to say, “Here’s my email address. Just, like, email me and we’ll find a time to get together for a drink.” And you say, “Andrew, here’s my cell phone number. Text me.” The problem is I do this a bunch and it’s only me responding to text messages. And if I can’t respond to a text message because I’m overseas or because I’m overwhelmed or something, there’s no assistant who can check my messages, but with . . .
Daniel: That’s right.
Andrew: . . . with RingCentral, she can see my text messages and she could respond to them. She can also start sending text messages to our customers even if it’s just, “Hey, it’s Andrea, I’m about to call you about the issue you had with your credit card.” Right?
Daniel: Yeah.
Andrew: A little text before a call, super helpful. Voicemail messages that are easy to see and easy to respond to. A bunch of people jumping on a single phone number, so if there’s a call that comes into me and I’m not here, it could go to Andrea, let her take it and so on. And then, of course, I get my own private number with them, so if someone just wants to dial me, they could do that. There’s so many other features that I hadn’t got into. Like, I didn’t even get into fax, which for most people won’t matter, but if it does, they’ve got a bunch of these features in there.
So all I’m going to say is they are brand new sponsor, they are offering something incredible. They are saying, “Go sign up. The price starts as low as 19.99.” I’m looking at my notes here to make sure that I get this right because I really want them to be happy with this ad run. And you will not have to pay anything until next year. So all you have to do is go to, that is,, I’m now two for two. I’ve run two ads for them with two amazing entrepreneurs and they each said, “We use them.” Okay. And I do see that the bigger the business is, the more likely they are to be with RingCentral.
So I see now. You were getting it for yourself, then you were, speaking of conferences, at a conference and a friend said to you what?
Daniel: We were at a First American Conference and they were selling virtual assistants and it was the first time First American had ever offered that service out because . . .
Andrew: What is First American?
Daniel: First American is like a title company for USA folks. They’re title . . .
Andrew: And they had their own virtual assistants?
Daniel: They have their own virtual assistants.
Andrew: Okay.
Daniel: Yeah. And in fact, they had them in India and I think the Philippines. So they’re selling them for $30,000 a year and my buddy says, “Are you going to get some?” and I’m like, “No, I’m not going to get some because quite frankly, I purchased . . . I have some folks and we pay 20,000 a year.” And he’s like, “Really?” And he’s like . . . I’m like, “Why do you care?” He goes, “Because I need five, like, right now.” And I was like, “I think I can do that, but I’m going to have to charge you something because it’s a pain in the butt.”
Andrew: Right.
Daniel: And literally, he was our first client, April 8th of 2008.
Andrew: And so you suddenly had five virtual assistants or that were on your staff.
Daniel: Yes.
Andrew: Why didn’t you become like a hiring platform? Why did you decide, “They’re going to be on my staff. I’ll manage them,” instead of saying to your friend, “Pay me a little bit of money and I’ll be recruiting for you and I’ll go recruiting for you.”?
Daniel: It’s a good question. You know what? It’s part of the culture. We found that with that . . . Because there’s a bunch of platforms like Upwork is a great example of a platform. Fiverr, Upwork, oDesk. There’s a ton out there. But what we found with them is that the people and the results were mixed, meaning sometimes you’d hire somebody really, really good, and then, you know, you could hire five people and they’d all, like, either disappear or go away or . . .
Andrew: Yeah.
Daniel: I mean, if you’ve ever worked with a virtual assistant from a platform, you just know they just go away, like, and we just . . . You can’t . . . As an entrepreneur if you’re listening to this right now, turnover is the enemy of scale. It is like . . . It’s the thing. If you spend six months training somebody and then they leave you, it’s like a knife . . . If you’re listening right now you can’t see this. But a knifing my own [inaudible 00:24:56].
Andrew: But Daniel, though, the thing that . . . But that eliminates it for your client, it doesn’t eliminate it for you. Now you’re suddenly in the business of having to replace these virtual assistants.
Daniel: Well, actually, what it does is it controlled our inventory. So I’ll give you an example. Our folks do an FBI grade background check before they get hired. We send them to a doctor and they do a physical, like, literally, we check to see that their health is perfect before we send them and give them a person. Then we remote into their PC, check the speed and . . . So what we’re doing is we’re a custom staffing company that really, really helps businesses double through leverage, like, if you need help . . . And it’s great right now because unemployment is 3% so we’re really busy. But if you need help and you want to scale your business and you know that talent is a thing that’s holding you back, we likely can help you.
Andrew: Why did you take it on at all? You already had a thriving real estate business. Why take on this little side thing for a friend?
Daniel: Yeah, you’re right. It was a side thing. And it’s a funny story. So I’m on my honeymoon, right? And you can probably . . . I mean, we started this conversation. I’m on my honeymoon, my wife is in the bungalow. We’re at a Francis Ford Coppola resort in Guatemala in the trees . . .
Andrew: Wow. Okay.
Daniel: . . . in the trees with monkeys everywhere, it’s crazy, and I’m . . . It’s 1:00 in the morning and I’m working at the bar and it’s my third night doing that because my wife is sleeping because we just crawled through like Mayan ruins and did all that honeymoon stuff, you know. And the bartender takes my phone and in Spanish starts making fun of me, like, literally starts making fun of me, takes a picture and says, “Dumb gringo,” and doesn’t think I really know, you know . . .
Andrew: What it means. And so that’s who took the photo that I’m looking at here?
Daniel: Yeah, exactly. Exactly.
Andrew: Okay.
Daniel: And so I’m . . . You know, after that I thought, “Man, I want to have a family. I don’t want to lose a marriage and something’s got to change in my business.” And this is 2009. So, for the next year and a half, I focused like a madman, like a crazy guy on putting systems and processes in place. And I’m talking about we documented everything from who clean the toilet once a week in the company to . . .
Andrew: And you’re saying your real estate company you were systemizing?
Daniel: The investment company because we had a real estate investment company, we had a real estate brokerage company, and then we had MyOutDesk. So we literally wrote SOPs, Standard Operating Procedures, for everything, like, hundreds of them. And the whole point was, number one, I didn’t want to work like a crazy guy anymore. I want to be able to have kids and be married and all that stuff. But in 2011, the big . . . The exciting thing for my wife and I is we moved to South America for six months and we just like said, “If we’re going to live this lifestyle, if we’re going to have a virtual assistant company and actually tell people this is possible, we need to be able to do it.” And so for six months, we lived in Peru.
Andrew: And this is part of you saying, “Let’s make sure that we really are systemized enough that I can go to Peru if I want to.”
Daniel: Or I can do anything that I want to.
Andrew: Okay.
Daniel: And that’s the beauty of being an entrepreneur. And if you’re listening, and we talked a little bit about your audience, like, if you’re building something and you want to be able to have that time freedom and really control your destiny, that’s why we all want to own our own business, right? And so . . . I mean, I lived seven minutes from my office, three minutes from my daughter’s school. My gym is five minutes from my . . . I mean, my whole world is this little tiny bubble called East Sacramento. Why? Because I can design my life and that’s the plus of being an entrepreneur.
Andrew: By the way, speaking of the gym, you do look healthier, you do look more fit than you did in that photo.
Daniel: I just got back from yoga like just . . .
Andrew: Did you just before this interview?
Daniel: Yeah.
Andrew: And then I hit you with all my high energy. And then were you frosting your hair back then?
Daniel: No, no. I’m naturally blond.
Andrew: That’s just natural blond. Wow.
Daniel: Yeah. I’m not a froster. No, I’m not.
Andrew: So this was for all the businesses, you were systemizing the whole thing, but I still want to get back to, why did you bother? If you had a thriving real estate business, why did you bother saying to your friend, “Yeah, for a little over $100,000 I’ll get you virtual assistants and I’ll manage them for you”? Why take that on?
Daniel: You know, it’s interesting. It provided scale for the organization. So, at that time, I had seven virtual assistants in my own real estate business and adding another five people meant that we could afford like a manager in the Philippines. Then we had another 10 and now we were like, “Oh, crap, we can do vacation time now.” And then we got scale and the real reason was because in my real estate investment company and also in the real estate brokerage company, I really did have an unfair advantage. I mean, I could hire four people for the price that my competition had to pay for one. And that really gave us the ability to prospect way more than everybody else in the market, do a better job at making sure the file was 100% every single time we closed. I mean, it just gave us opportunity that other companies didn’t have. And so . . . But here’s what happened. And you will love the story because we have entrepreneurs who are like this. I have a lot of ADD, right?
Andrew: Yeah.
Daniel: I mean, that’s just how it is. And so a guy says, “You want to get me some.” I’m like, “Yeah, it sounds great. I’ll start another business.” And literally, that’s what happened.
Andrew: That’s it. Got it. You know what? I don’t know if it’s ADD. I feel like you’ve got that entrepreneurial hustle. As a kid, you told our producer you had these businesses. What’s one of the businesses that you had as a kid?
Daniel: Yeah. I started off . . . What hooked me in business was, I was . . . It’s a dumb story. It’s so dumb. I’m in seventh grade and I buy and sell candy bars because it’s like, it’s my side hustle, right? I’m able to go to the movies and buy clothes and do whatever I want because I sell Snickers, right? Well, it was a Friday afternoon, I had one Snickers left, I hadn’t had any Snickers the whole week, I walk on the bus, I’m about to peel this off, and this guy comes up to me and says, “Hey, I want to get a Snickers.” And I was like, “Sorry. That’s my last one. I don’t have any left. Next week I’ll have more.” And he’s like, “No, no, I really want it.” And I’m like, “No.” And he goes, “I give you five bucks.” And I was like, “No.” And he pumps a $20 bill into my face and I was like, “Okay.” When I got off the bus and paid 25 cents for another one at the store. You know what I mean? Like, that’s the world. That’s what got . . .
Andrew: That’s what got you into business.
Daniel: Yeah. It just got me hooked. And I was one of the lucky kids because from that moment on, I always knew I was going to be a business guy. So, while everybody else was like, “I’m going to go to school and figure it out,” I was like, “No, I’m going to be a business guy. I’m going to get a business degree and one day I’m going to own a business.”
Andrew: And so did you have any of these side businesses that didn’t go well that in retrospect you think, “Oh, that was a big mistake”? You did.
Daniel: Oh, my goodness.
Andrew: What’s one example of that?
Daniel: Well, I had a con . . . So I’m a general contractor developer. That was the real estate investment part. And I had a partner in the construction world because, you know, in business, and everybody that’s listening that’s an aspiring entrepreneur, the one thing is lead generation and lead conversion. Like, that’s it. If you can generate the lead and then manage capital, you’re going to win. Those are the two major skills that most people don’t have.
So I started a construction business and I didn’t want to do the work of hammering nails or being in the field or, like, going to Home Depot and buying supplies. So I partnered with a guy and I split the profits. And, you know, one year we had 24% in profit, the next year it was like 18%, and the next year it was like 12, and I was like, I pull him in my office, I’m like, “Dude, I’m giving you lots of business,” because all of the business was coming from my real estate world, right? “What’s going on?” And he just breaks down and cries and he’s been hooked on pills.
So I had no idea and I didn’t have enough operational control and I had so many balls in the air that I just wasn’t managing that business well. I’m thankful that nobody got hurt, nobody died, you know, we didn’t have major loss or anything and we ended up just shutting that down and kind of focusing. But, you know, I have ADD. I like business. I love opportunity, so when I see it, you know, the biggest thing that I need to do is say no.
Andrew: As a guy who has ADD, do you have a hard time with standard operating procedures and documentation and following everything step by step the way you decided five months ago made sense?
Daniel: No. You know what? Because I do it in my style. So you and I are on a video conferencing line, Zoom, we’re using till right now. I would just do this and then record my screen while I was doing the work because . . .
Andrew: And what about doing it again? That’s the setup. And you’re right. One of the things I’ve learned is record it as you do it, talk it through, you give it to someone else who turns it into a document, right? Into a . . .
Daniel: Well, no. Yes and no. So, if you do three to five of those, we call it play, pause, do, right? And play, pause, do. So, if you do three to five of them, and then you talk about the how, what, and why that you’re doing it because the thing that people miss is all the industry knowledge or the reason why you’re doing something, they’ll tell you to do it, but they don’t tell you the why behind why you’re it.
Andrew: Yeah. I do find that when I asked somebody to record a video of what they do, they just tell me the step by step and I need to know why so that if things change or if I’m trying to remember it, I’ll get it. Okay. So you want them as they’re recording to talk through how, what, and why they’re doing it.
Daniel: That’s right.
Andrew: Okay.
Daniel: So, and do three to five videos of the same process covering all of the different eventualities, like, all of the different factors that matter, right? And then you do that, then you give it to your virtual assistant, they turn it into a document.
Andrew: Okay.
Daniel: They’ll clip the videos and then insert them into the document so that not only do you have now a written out SOP, but you also have a video on top of that. And that has changed our client’s life. That one little . . .
Andrew: So your virtual assistants will do that?
Daniel: Yeah. I mean, in fact, we make that part of their job so they understand why they’re doing it. If they can be on the video, that even makes it better. Like, let’s say you do two videos without them, two videos with them, and then they do two videos where they do the work and you’re reviewing it with them and making them and talking them through it and they’re talking it, that’s how you actually gain mastery.
Andrew: Got it. And so . . . You know what? One of my challenges was I had to create the documentation myself. And what I get into, well, video is tough because if I made a mistake, I have to go back and edit it, in the future, it’s hard to edit. So I started doing screenshots and I do screenshots and describe it step by step would take me two hours for a project that would maybe do 10 minutes, 15 minutes for me to do with mindlessly. And so what you’re saying is, if I hired one of your virtual assistants, I could just record it, explain it the way that you’re talking about, hand it to the virtual assistant, it is their job to turn it into a doc with clips of video, with an explanation. Got it. Got it.
Daniel: And then they hand it back to you and you sign off and say, “Yes, this is exactly it.”
Andrew: That’s it.
Daniel: Yeah. And then here’s another upgrade for folks, especially if you’re in that 1 to $5 million range, the thing that we always think, because, look, you and I and your audience we’re entrepreneurs, so not only can we juggle lots of balls, but we know everything about our business, we’re hyper-motivated because the money goes directly to our pocket, but employees they’re not. They need job security, they want to know that you care about them, they want to understand their value in the whole wheel and cog thing. So one of our upgrades that we help people do is if you have a written system and process, that’s step one. Step two, did you do any training on that written process and system? Right?
Andrew: Okay. Have it written and then make sure that you train the person who’s going to be doing it. Okay.
Daniel: Exactly. And then you can ask if I have the wrong person. So I can’t tell you how many conversations we’ve had where somebody goes, “Well, they screwed this up.” I’m like, “Okay. Let’s go back to the documentation.” and they’re like, “Oh, that’s not in the documentation.” Or, “See, it’s right there in the documentation.” And I said, “Okay, great. Show me where you . . . How did you train them?” And typically, it’s always the process or the training that just gets missed.
Andrew: What’s a . . . I highlighted this in my notes too from your conversation with our producer? What’s play, pause, do methodology? You started mentioning it.
Daniel: That’s what we just talked about, yeah. It’s . . .
Andrew: Play, meaning, I do it. That’s the play. I’m playing it and having it record. Pause is what?
Daniel: So, yeah, here’s the thing. If you make those three to five videos where you’re doing the work and you’re talking about the how, what and why, and then you give them to your virtual assistant, what happens is, they can then go do the work, play the video and see you doing it, pause it and then they can go do that work . . .
Andrew: Oh, got it. Got it.
Daniel: . . . and then they can play it again.
Andrew: It’s them playing my video, pausing the video, doing the work, coming back. Got it. Okay.
Daniel: Yeah, yeah. And if they do that and then you review the work for the first . . . I don’t know. I mean, typically what we tell people is, it takes 30 to 60 days to get somebody up to speed where they’re adding value. And at 90 days something happens magically where you’re like, “Oh, my god, this is the best thing since sliced bread.” But as an entrepreneur, you have to have the stick-to-itiveness.
Andrew: Yeah.
Daniel: Is that a word? I don’t know.
Andrew: Yeah, stick-to-itiveness is a word. By the way, so, I know you’ve got a book on this. I googled it. I went to Amazon to get it. I couldn’t find the book. I wanted to read it in preparation. Where’s the book?
Daniel: Yeah, we’re going to give it away to your audience. And it’s the pre . . . So what’s great about this, you guys are going to get a copy of a book that I spent two years writing this thing. It’s 12 years of this business over 5,000 clients that we’ve served, and so you’re going to get my heart and soul. We put our heart and soul into this book and it’s in the final edit, so this is a pre-release version of it.
Andrew: So wait, wait. I actually got a copy of it. You sent it to me because I couldn’t find it online. The copy that I have has like your markings on it. Your red pencil, there’s too much spacing, there’s an issue with this. Are you give . . . Is that what you’re giving them?
Daniel: No, no, no.
Andrew: Okay. You’re giving them the actual book.
Daniel: Yeah. I just had one on my desktop when I sent it to you.
Andrew: Got it. Because I asked you for one quickly so that I could see what it is that you wrote. All right. So how do people get this?
Daniel: All you have to do is text the letters SVP, so it’s, “Scale with Virtual Professionals.” We call our people virtual professionals because we’re not giving you assistance. We’re giving you badass people who actually do great work, right? So it’s SVP to the number 31996. So . . .
Andrew: Okay. Let me do it. 31996 is the number I’m sending a text message to and it’s . . . Wow. Every time I do SVP, SVP, I get autocorrect, but SVP to that number.
Daniel: Yep, to that number.
Andrew: All right. I’m sending it over right now.
Daniel: And you’re going to get it and then you’re going to fill out something and then we’re going to send it to you in your email.
Andrew: All right. Okay, good. And you know what? Even though I have it, the reason I’m doing this is to make sure that there’s no like, shenanigans going on. Obviously, you’ve got too much to lose, and so you’re not going to screw around with my audience.
Daniel: There probably our shenanigans. There’s shenanigans going on, yeah, for sure.
Andrew: So it’s . . . The number that we’re sending a text message to is 31996. Am I right?
Daniel: Yeah.
Andrew: And the word is SVP. Okay.
Daniel: Sam, Victor, Paul.
Andrew: And so let’s come back here into the story. So you started documenting your own process. Let’s talk about how you got more customers. The first customer was your friend. Where did the next come from?
Daniel: You know, it’s interesting. I just, I was traveling around in the real estate world and a bunch of the largest real estate guys in the country. Where I’m really focused on is the top 10% of the market, so, you know, guys that are doing 1 million or 2 in GCI, so they’re creating 1 million or 2 in revenue. Those are our ideal clients. And then we have people who are doing, you know, 3,000,000, 400,000, but ideally, they’re doing 1 million or 2 in total revenue. And we would travel around and other people would be like, “What are you doing, Ramsey?” And I told him about it and they’re like, “Get me two,” or, “I’ll take three.” And eventually, you know, it just turned into a real business.
Andrew: Just from people who you’re working with and networking with anyway, they heard what you were doing on the side and they said, “We want one of those too.”
Daniel: Yeah. And honestly, in the beginning, it was really slow. I mean, we didn’t really start getting steam until that 2011 or ’12 year and by that time, we had a website and we were doing webinars and interviews and we went to a couple of conferences where we got to speak on stage. And then eventually, it just kind of blew up. We had to hire a salesperson, then we had to hire somebody in operations. And eventually, you know, we were growing like crazy.
Andrew: So where’s the problem? It seems like everything you did just kind of worked out easily. You mentioned before that it wasn’t this easy.
Daniel: Well, nothing is easy. If anybody says it’s . . . I stood in front of this guy who’s really famous, you know his name. I’m not going to say his name because I don’t want it. And he goes, “Oh, I’ve never lost money in business.” And I was like, “What? Then you’re just not really in business. You’re just not.” So we had all this amazing success, all this massive traction, but we hadn’t figured out the most important thing. Once you get to a particular size, keeping your client, all of your clients, is actually almost as important as getting new clients. So we didn’t have systems to keep our engagement with our clients, engagements with our virtual professionals, and we had attrition. We had a lot of attrition, actually. And we learned a lesson in that.
Andrew: Why did you have attrition? How did you discover the reason it had? What was it and how did you figure it out?
Daniel: Well, we figured it out because we were losing clients. We would onboard 10 and lose 3 and we were like, “Wait, that’s a net seven. Why do we lose those three?” And then it was like, in one month . . . Literally, what happened was in one month, we onboard like 20 clients and we lost 10 and I was like, “Okay. Something’s broken.” And I’m like, “What’s going on?” And so then we got specific and we started asking the clients, like, “Why did you leave us?” And then we asked the virtual assistants, “Why did you leave us?” And we got really scary answers.
Andrew: What were they?
Daniel: I love that you’re asking me all this stuff. “You know, I felt like you guys didn’t support me after I was placed with the client,” or the client was like, “Yeah. It worked, but the virtual assistant, you know, I don’t know, I didn’t really have a good connection with them or their internet speed changed or something happened with their family or they missed a day.” So there’s all these like, crazy reasons, and we started compiling them all and keeping track of why we failed and why we succeeded. And then if we failed a client or a virtual assistant, we can go back into the system and see if there is a way to change it so that that failure would be prevented in the future.
Andrew: And it was just constantly doing that. Did you start scheduling phone calls with your clients to check in on them?
Daniel: Oh, yeah. And in fact, we completely created a customer service team because of it. Right? And then we hired . . . We have a mod trainers, what we call her now, and she helps train clients. And we added technology so that we could kind of . . . Yeah. So we added a whole bunch of stuff to fix this and it’s still a battle that we have, but at least at this stage, I know that it’s there and I know what needs to shift because that’s what . . . When you ask what the failure point was, I just didn’t even know it existed, right? It just all of a sudden one day we lost half of the clients that we onboard that month and I was like, “Wait. What?”
Andrew: Did you ever lose revenue or lose money?
Daniel: No. One time . . . You know what? Actually, it’s a great question. And I’m telling you everything. You probably get this all the time, right? Do people just dump on you everything about their business?
Andrew: I want it. Yes, I want that. When things are going well, they do.
Daniel: Yeah. Well, here’s what . . . So one month we had a payroll shortage, and so I funded it with $50,000 of my own cash, and then I was like, “Well, what’s going on? Why aren’t we getting the money that we need to pay our virtual assistants?” And we had a couple of clients who were using our service but not paying us. And we didn’t have a process for that because everybody always paid us before, you know. And so I called these guys, I’m like, “Hey, man, what’s going on? We’ve already paid your people and I had to fund your account by . . . ” And so a couple of months of doing that, and what we changed is we started forward building. So, if a client pays us, we then pay the virtual assistant. If the client doesn’t pay us, then a red flag kind of goes up, and then we intervene immediately. And we just didn’t have that system and process in place.
Andrew: By the way, if you saw my eyes suddenly go down here to my laptop, it’s because I’m constantly doing research on you, everything you’re saying, I want to get a sense of it. At some point, you said, “We get calls.” And I forget what the phrase that you had was, like, first to call or first to something gets . . .
Daniel: Speed the lead.
Andrew: Speed the lead, yes. Right. Speed the lead. So I said, “Let me see where the lead starts from.” So I went to Ahrefs, which is our research partner, to see what content is working on your site. And I saw one of the top blog posts is a blog post called “Vulcan 7 & Your Virtual Assistant.” I don’t know what Vulcan 7 . . . Do you know what this is?
Daniel: Yeah, it’s a tech platform.
Andrew: Okay. It’s a tech platform. So I thought, “Okay, great.” What they have is articles like this, that is one of their top producing articles, and on the bottom, there’s something that says “Schedule a free to double your business growth strategy session here.” So I click that. It leads to a page that’s broken.
Daniel: That’s a bummer.
Andrew: I know which is one of the cool things, by the way, about like Ahrefs. You get to see what the world values and then you go back in and see, “Well, how am I doing with this? What’s going on with it?” All right. So I said, “All right. I can get . . . ”
Daniel: That’s good to know the link broken. We’ll fix that.
Andrew: On that Vulcan 7 thing. So I get . . . All right. I get that. The rest of it seems to make sense. Do you tend to have an article that leads . . . Are you typing something out to somebody on the team?
Daniel: Absolutely.
Andrew: You are.
Daniel: Are kidding me?
Andrew: You are.
Daniel: I’m a boss. I can’t . . . I just typed “Vulcan 7 link broken. Fix it.”
Andrew: I always wonder about whether, like, how do entrepreneurs handle it? Is it just, “Ah, it’s just a page,” or is it, “It’s a page. It’s broken. We got to fix it”? Okay.
Daniel: You know what? I want to help you because nothing surprises me anymore. We’ve had 5,000 employees. I’ve had people steal from us. I’ve had people work their butt off so long and she started having contractions and she stayed to finish her work for her client, and had a baby in the taxi on the way . . .
Andrew: Whoa. Because she had to finish her work before going to the hospital. Okay.
Daniel: I’ve had somebody their whole house is flooding and it’s raining outside and she is found on top of her third story building, there’s like a little covering, and you can see her on her laptop because she still had internet and she still had power and she panned over and there’s water that’s going down her street, like, as high as cars. So nothing surprises me. You’re like, “Hey, there’s a link broken.” Okay. We’ll fix it. No big deal. And entrepreneurs, what I love about them is they just roll with the punches, man. I can’t tell you how much we fixed and it’s still broken and we still grow. We still do it because we’re hyper-focused on serving our clients.
Andrew: But in an ideal world, if that worked, what would happen is it would trigger a message to a salesperson, who would then call immediately.
Daniel: Yeah. Actually, we should try it. You should put in your details.
Andrew: Okay. Do I want to go request a consultation?
Daniel: Yeah. And actually, let me break that down for your audience. This is crazy. My air conditioning broke and it’s California, middle of summer, gets 100 degrees where we are. My wife calls four different companies. One company got back to her 48 hours later. The other three have never to this day ever even called her.
Andrew: Yeah. Wow.
Daniel: And we had a need. And so we had to keep calling companies. And so the reality is, what we help companies do is create speed to lead. Somebody registers on your website, somebody calls your business, our people answer, they qualify the lead, they make sure they gather information, then that lead information gets handed off to the professional who actually can service that call.
Andrew: So somebody is already checking me out right now?
Daniel: Yeah. If you . . .
Andrew: I just filled it out. I put in my real phone number, my real name, my real everything.
Daniel: You will get a call.
Andrew: Somebody is checking me out, but no matter what they’re going to call me.
Daniel: Dude, I mean . . .
Andrew: Don’t tell them to go look for me. I see you going down to your phone. Don’t tell them.
Daniel: No, no, no. That’s your lead.
Andrew: Oh, you saw me. You’re just looking to see that I was in there.
Daniel: Yeah, you’re in the system, so let’s just . . . We’ll just while we’re on here . . .
Andrew: Okay. But don’t do anything. Let’s just see. But is . . .
Daniel: I’m not doing anything, yeah. Promise.
Andrew: But it’s a salesperson who’s going to be calling me no matter what.
Daniel: Yeah. You should put them on . . .
Andrew: I put them on speaker.
Daniel: Yeah, exactly. It’ll be great.
Andrew: Okay, all right. So I get that. And then you guys follow . . . Do you close the sale usually right away? What percentage of your sales get closed from that first phone call versus down the road?
Daniel: Yeah. So our sales team has a 25% close ratio because when somebody registers and says, “I want to talk to somebody about a virtual assistant,” we’re pretty good at helping them find a virtual assistant. The only . . . And then, you know, another 10% or 15% gets converted down the road, but on average, as a company, a quarter of our team converts.
Andrew: All right. So I saw also, again, on Ahrefs which most people just call Ahrefs . . .
Daniel: What is Ahrefs?
Andrew: Oh, it lets me see like how you’re getting links from where you’re getting links, what keywords you’re working on, I could go see what your . . .
Daniel: It’s like SEMrush, right?
Andrew: I actually don’t know the space well . . .
Daniel: Moz?
Andrew: . . . enough to know, but it’s in the same world. I just don’t know well enough to know the difference between the two of them. I’m going to have somebody from their company trained me so that I understand this better. But I get to see that one of the things you guys do is you go to people . . . There are a bunch of articles online now that will list virtual assistant companies, you guys are on all of those. That seems like a big part of your strategy, right? If someone’s talking about it, you go there.
Daniel: Yeah. And actually, it’s great that we’re talking about that because that’s our second product that we . . . Or a service as a product that we offer, and it’s a marketing virtual assistant. So there’s this thing called a citation site, which I had no clue about, but Google My Business is an example of a citation site. And so you go in and you actually fill out Google and these other 200 citation sites and then you have a footprint in the whole internet web thing. So, if somebody . . .
Andrew: What do you mean? What’s a citation site?
Daniel: It’s like a site. It’s almost like an address. So what you’re doing by putting your business’s information into that address bar is saying, “Hey, I’m real. I’m a business. If you need X, Y, and Z service, you should call us.”
Andrew: Got it.
Daniel: And so one of the upgrades that we did, I don’t know, like six, seven years ago is we just filled out all the citation sites and then we went to all the blog sites and we started we blog on a regular basis and then we went . . .
Andrew: Oh, wait. Excuse me, I’m getting a phone call. Hi, this is Andrew. I’m recording a podcast but I saw that your call came in.
Henry: Yeah, Andrew, this Henry from MyOutDesk, virtual assistant company. How are you?
Andrew: Wow. Hi, Henry. Thanks for calling from MyOutDesk.
Henry: Yep. But I’d like help set a time for a strategy consultation that you requested, that you fill out online. I think because for the rest of the week we’re already filling up, I’m afraid.
Andrew: Oh, wow. Okay. Yeah, absolutely. Can we talk next Thursday at 10:30 a.m. Pacific?
Henry: Let me go ahead and see if the time is open. Okay? Just give one second, Andrew.
Andrew: Okay. And by the way, I’m still recording the podcast, but I’m glad that you jumped in.
Henry: Oh. Is this a good time to talk or I can give you a callback?
Andrew: If we can book that time, let’s do it now. If not, we can talk later.
Henry: Sure, sure. Give one second, let just . . . Pacific time.
Andrew: I put him on mute, Daniel is . . . For people who are listening to the podcast, Daniel is smiling. He’s like, got the proud papa. You deserve it. It worked.
Daniel: Well, you know, here’s the thing is . . . What was that? Like, three minutes? Two minutes?
Henry: Pacific time, correct?
Andrew: Can we do 10:30 Pacific time?
Henry: 10:30, yep, that’s open.
Andrew: Okay.
Henry: Let me go ahead and set that up and I can go ahead and assign this to one of our senior consultants, his name is Jack Murray.
Andrew: Whoa.
Henry: I just need a few minutes or do you want me to give you [inaudible 00:54:00]. I just have a few questions to ask so that the consultant is prepared and can aligned with specific to . . .
Andrew: Can we talk in 15 . . .
Henry: . . . what your needs are.
Andrew: Can we talk in, actually, 30 minutes? Thirty minutes I’ll be . . .
Henry: Thirty minutes?
Andrew: Yes.
Henry: All right. I’ll give you a callback in 30. Thank you.
Andrew: Wow. Thanks, Henry. All right. Bye.
Henry: Okay, no problem. Bye, bye.
Andrew: Wow, look at that.
Daniel: Dude, I like it.
Andrew: Look at that.
Daniel: Well, and that’s . . . I mean, what’s wild is that’s a . . . So, first of all, you know, if you would have gotten a voicemail, you would have gotten a text, then you would have gotten in an email, and then you would have gotten like a bazillion calls over the next three weeks until you answer.
Andrew: From the same number so that at least I get a text first to let me know, “Hey, expect it. Here’s what . . . ” Got it.
Daniel: Right. And an email saying, “Hey, this is Henry. You registered for a consultation. We really, really would like to get you into that.” And, you know, for your audience too, we struggled for a long, long time to know exactly what to call our consultations. And I think this is a place that every entrepreneur kind of goes through as you reinvent your business. Businesses go up and then they flatline and they go up and they flatline. No growth is straight, right? And that’s what anybody that says that they’re just not real business people, right?
So what we’ve done is we call it a double my business strategy call. And we have a senior consultant who actually goes through a process where we figured out what’s the one, two, three things that you need to do right now in order for your business to double? And then who’s on your team? What are the systems and processes? Like, do you have RingCentral? Do you have some sort of a CRM? Are you . . . What’s your product and what’s your service? And the question . . . One of my favorite questions is, “Andrew, if I could take 40 or 50% of your day and give it back to you, what would you do with it?”
Andrew: Well, I would create new things. I feel like we’re too busy doing the same thing.
Daniel: Yeah. And that’s exactly what we . . . And we would start breaking down what the same thing looks like, right? And we would find out if we could create a system or process and hire a person to take that over, and it would take you two or three months to get it nailed, but then you could get 40 or 50% of your day back.
Andrew: And so what he wanted to do with me before I talked to the salesperson was understand what I was doing. And then how does that inform the next conversation?
Daniel: Well, so what we’re doing is, first of all, we want to find out what kind of a business you have and what prompted you to register and what your need is. Right? So he’s going to call back and like, “Hey, who’s on your team? Tell me about your business. What are some of the needs you think you might have?” That way the senior consultants, what we do is we’ll just line them up. They have five or six-hour-long conversations every single day and their job is just to help people through what it looks like to hire a virtual assistant.
Andrew: And the reason that I can’t talk to that person right now is because you don’t want that person’s . . .
Daniel: Deflected.
Andrew: . . . not even a minute of their day to be wasted.
Daniel: No. No.
Andrew: Got it.
Daniel: Because they’ve got to close one out of four people or they can’t stay on the team.
Andrew: Wow. Got it. Got it. And if they’re just sitting around waiting to take a call from me, they’re wasting their time.
Daniel: Right.
Andrew: Meanwhile, Henry can figure out, “Maybe Andrew is not a good fit for this. Maybe Andrew doesn’t have a business yet. Maybe he’s just curious, maybe he’s just a podcaster who’s testing our system.” Got it.
Daniel: Oh, you got to believe what’s happening right now is he’s googling you and then pulling up your podcast and pulling up your LinkedIn.
Andrew: Really?
Daniel: Oh, for sure.
Andrew: This is part of your process.
Daniel: Yeah.
Andrew: Is it going through a checklist or is it in the CRM and Salesforce? What’s he doing?
Daniel: It’s on the CRM.
Andrew: And so the CRM has . . . Oh, sorry, go ahead.
Daniel: No, you go ahead.
Andrew: No, no, I’m curious about you. You about to tell me. I don’t want to interrupt it.
Daniel: So the CRM has, did we set an appointment? He set an appointment, but now there’s a whole host of information like “What are your biggest challenges? If you needed a double, what would you have to do? What’s your CRM? Who’s on your team?” And so he doesn’t have any of the information right now, so he’s going to go and look you up and try to figure out what the heck you need help with.
Andrew: Got it.
Daniel: So that when you guys talk in 30 minutes, it’s going to be a more productive call.
Andrew: Wow-wee. This is amazing. You got to be proud of this business, aren’t you? You are. I could see it.
Daniel: I am, yeah. What I love is, here’s the thing, I’m excited about the results that we get for clients. Like, I can’t tell you. We have helped people grow and scale and there’s one client in particular that we’ve been in business with since the very beginning. And I mean, this guy, he’s got over 100 people on his team now and it’s insane.
Andrew: And he’s MyOutDesk team.
Daniel: No. I mean, on MyOutDesk team, I think it’s . . . What do we got? We got 17 people from MyOutDesk, but we’ve been through his whole scale journey. We’ve walked the whole path with him and supported as business and it’s just fun to see the impact that we’ve had. In fact, our clients last year told us that we’ve saved them $55 million compared to what it would cost them to hire locally.
Andrew: Do you guys also hire . . . Like, can I hire a salesperson like the . . . Yeah, the salesperson like the ones that you guys have.
Daniel: Like Henry?
Andrew: Yeah.
Daniel: Yeah, yeah, for sure.
Andrew: I guess he’s an SDR, right? And so I can hire an SDR through you.
Daniel: Yeah, exactly. A salesperson, no. In fact, what we found is it’s 1 in 100 folks have the capacity for that role. And they have to have some deep industry knowledge. But we tried it, I’ll be honest. I mean, I tried really hard to make that happen.
Andrew: But are you guys just focused on real estate or you’ve gone beyond?
Daniel: No. So we serve the professional employment organizations like PEO, so HR and outsourcing and staffing companies. We serve IT companies. We serve a lot of healthcare companies. One of our shining stars this year is a company called Brightstar. And I think we have like 60 folks with that organization. So, yeah. Here’s the thing. Business, like we said, it’s not difficult, it’s not complicated, it’s easy. What we do is marketing, sales, and administrative support. Those are the three areas that we help people grow.
Andrew: Let me close it out with this. One of the things that you talked to our producer about as being a challenge for you is leadership. What’s the challenge and what do you learn about leading people?
Daniel: Oh, my goodness. Do we have time for another podcast?
Andrew: You know, I mean, here’s the thing. Our culture is defined by growth. One of my favorite things is, I’m a consistent developer, and the more you learn about your leadership style, and then you look back at who you were 3, 5, 10 years ago, you go “Holy crap, man. What was I thinking?” Right? And so, you know, I’ve lost some really great people because I needed to be developed as a leader. I mean, specifically, I remember I had unrealistic expectations for a marketing manager and I didn’t know what I didn’t know, and so I put these unrealistic expectations, and she also accepted these unrealistic expectations because she also didn’t know that that wasn’t realistic. And so we had challenge together because I didn’t know what I was doing. She didn’t know what my expectations were. And so I lost a really great culture fit, a strategist. And I can tell you, her name was Heather, and if she was here today, she’d still be kicking butt for our company. And now I know it was me, not her.
Andrew: How do you know what realistic expectations are to set for people? I’ve had situations like that too where I hire someone expecting them to do this amazing stuff and they say, “Yeah, I’m here to do it. And you’re probably going to support me right, Andrew, because that’s what this role entails.” “Oh, no, I thought you were going to do it.” How do you . . . How do you now fix that?
Daniel: You know, it’s good. So there’s two tracks, Andrew, that I believe work. One is, you don’t hire somebody who think they can do it, you verify that they have done it, and you, without a doubt, prove that they can do this. So the entrepreneur in us thinks because we can do anything, so can our employees, and that’s just not the truth, right? So hiring somebody with expertise is the best way to do it, but let’s be real, those folks are really expensive because they know their worth, right? You know, that gal, she was a $70,000 a year person and I didn’t know what I was buying for 70,000 because I’d never done it before, right?
Andrew: Right.
Daniel: So, you know, number one, it’s either you hire somebody with expertise and you bet the crap that they know exactly what they’re doing it that they can do it for you. And then the second thing is you’ve done it before. So you’ve done it, been there . . .
Andrew: So either you’ve done it before or they’ve done it before, but you’re not just making up something brand new and hiring somebody brand new to do it.
Daniel: Exactly. Or planting a flag out in the future and saying, “We’re going to do this,” and then trying to figure out how to do it later, which is a key. That’s what we do as entrepreneurs.
Andrew: Now my attention is back on your book. The book is called “Scale with Virtual Professionals.” And in the acknowledgments section, you acknowledge your wife, and I’m looking down here and I see a photo, a beautiful photo of you, your wife and your two kids. I don’t know what beach you’re on, but you guys look like you’re happy. And you’ve got your logo and the banner for your company and the whole family is holding it up. So you’re not working the way you were on vacation, you know, sitting there at your desk with a candle in that photo that you sent me. Boy, you’re still working with your family, you’re still doing it all and you’re not feeling . . . Are you feeling burned out on this? Like, I can’t even go on vacation without holding the banner with my family for a photo? No.
Daniel: No. No. So in that timeframe, we were doing a whole push for the company, like, extend the movement. That was last year. We started a nonprofit. So we built an orphanage, we’ve built an old folks home, we sent a bunch of high schoolers in Texas to a camp. I think I just donated money to a cancer survivor fun. My father passed away from cancer. So we started a nonprofit and we take a portion of our profits and actually do stuff in the community to make an impact. I’m really excited because this year will be my first year to ever do six figures of charity, which is a big deal. I’ve been toying below that for a long, long time. And so in that picture, we were as a family, you know, extend the movement, you know, and kind of just branding our company and our new charity.
Andrew: That’s what the hashtag “Extend the movement” means on that banner. I now zoomed in and I saw it.
Daniel: Yep. It’s the mod movement and we’re excited because . . . So our virtual assistants, they provide time, energy, and love, our clients provide money, and then we measure by how many lives we’ve impacted, how much money we’ve spent. And that’s . . . And 100% of our money actually goes to serve the community.
Andrew: All right. You got to give out that crazy phone number again because I never remember that stuff. Why don’t you just do like, Why are you using the phone number?
Daniel: I don’t . . . You know what? The phone number. You know how I came to this? And if you’re listening right now and you’re an entrepreneur, Joe Biden at the presidential debate said . . .
Andrew: The presidential again. Wait. From the debate. Okay.
Daniel: So from the debate Joe goes, “And if you’d like my entire plan about how I’d run the company or the country, just go ahead and text Joe to 31996.” And so, if you want Joe Biden’s plan to run the country or my book . . .
Andrew: Same number.
Daniel: I think it is the exact same number. And that’s how . . . That’s when I knew it was a brilliant strategy because everybody texts, everybody wants instant right now and nobody wants to go to a website and fill out a form and it’s just easier on your phone.
Andrew: No, no. Actually, you know what? It’s not . . . I wish to tell people not to text Joe. Joe goes to a different . . . It’s got to be something else. Joe goes to Joe Gallo, Chief Commercial Officer for a company called Smart1.
Daniel: Don’t text Joe. That’s a different number.
Andrew: Don’t text Joe. That’s a different guy. Just text . . . Go to this number. Just get out your phone, go to . . . Text this number, 31996. Text SVP and you’ll get it. And I’m glad to have you on here. Thanks, Daniel.
Daniel: It’s been a pleasure, Andrew. Thanks for having me.
Andrew: And I want to thank the company that now both Daniel and I are customers of, RingCentral. All right. Let me see, actually. They gave me . . . Like, these guys, by the way, are super organized. I’ve asked sponsors in the past, “If you want to be on, please send me information so that I’m prepared to talk about you. Get on a call with me so I’m prepared talking about you.” And they all say, “Yeah, we should. Actually, Andrew, you’re a professional, we trust you, go do it.” These guys said, “Andrew, we’re going to get on a call with you. We’re going to make sure that you have an understanding of all the features. We’re going to have you tell us what you think our audience is going to like and we’re going to give you talking points.”
I got the talking points. The one thing they asked me on the talking points and I’m making sure to really say is, you people if you’re listening to me, you don’t have to pay a penny until 2020. And they asked me to also spell out their name. So it’s R-I-N-G, RingCentral, to get that deal and to get started with them. Daniel, thanks so much for being on here.
Daniel: Thanks for having me, buddy.
Andrew: And for doing my ad with me. Thanks. Bye, everyone. All right. Your recording came out perfectly. We don’t need your backup copy. Thank you for doing . . . Dude, you freaking kick ass.
Daniel: Do I?
Andrew: I don’t know if I should say kick ass with you. I heard you were a guy who was a pastor and I feel like maybe I shouldn’t be crossing line.
Daniel: No, no. No, no, you’re good. And you’re in San Francisco, is that right?
Andrew: I am, yeah.
Daniel: Okay, cool man.
Andrew: I know.
Daniel: I didn’t . . . Now we’re buds.
Andrew: Yeah.
Daniel: How can we work together?
Andrew: I don’t know. I don’t know. I’ve been really fascinated by your business. I just . . . I wonder . . . I kind of wish that we would have given a URL for people to go and sign up if they’re interested just to see is there overlap when people need it.
Daniel: Well, we’re still recording.
Andrew: Sorry?
Daniel: We’re still recording, let’s do it, man. If you go to and you mentioned Andrews name we’ll give you $500 off for, you know, hiring a virtual assistant just because it’s you, man.
Andrew: All right. You know what? It is in my . . . And I’m getting no commission off of it. And we are still recording I guess on your computer, so we’ll use your computer’s recording from it than my backup computer. So instead of the main computer we’ll at least have it. And so what it is, go to myvirtual . . .
Daniel: No. myoutdesk . . .
Andrew: Wait. Why am I saying MyOutDesk. and just at some point mention Andrew or Mixergy and they’ll give $500 off and just let me know. I’m curious about how people respond to this. I don’t want the commission, I just want the knowledge to see, is there overlap? Is there something we could do?
Daniel: Yeah, perfect.
Andrew: Cool.
Daniel: And guys, when you go, here’s what I want you to hear. Bring your org chart, bring your systems and get ready to think about this one question. The only one question that matters for entrepreneur is, “If I had to double my business today, what would I need to start doing or who would I have to have on my team?” You know, when you think about a billionaire, like, the guy who buys a sports franchise, he doesn’t say, “How am I going to manage this team?” He goes, “Who do I need to hire so I can win the World Series?” And that’s how entrepreneurs . . . That’s a shift in thinking that I wish I would have had when I first started.
Andrew: All right. It is included in there, And now I do need your file, your recording of this interview because I didn’t record it on my main computer. All right, cool.
Daniel: Sweet.
Andrew: Thanks a lot.
Daniel: All right, brother. Talk soon.


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