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30: How to Work with Virtual Assistants

Home » Blog » Real Estate Investing Podcast » 30: How to Work with Virtual Assistants

Robert Nickell

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Robert Nickell is a national speaker, published author and one of the most successful real estate investors in the nation. Robert is known for his unique ability to teach, train, and run successful virtual businesses. Robert co-created Investor Virtual Assistant Services, LLC (IVAS) with the purpose of sharing his knowledge, experience and success with fellow investors around the world that are looking to take more control of their time while increasing productivity and reducing costs.

Are you a solopreneur? Most real estate investors are. We try to do everything ourselves and think that it’s very hard to find someone to care about each task as much as we do.

It’s what keeps us mediocre as real estate investors.

If you want to really kick butt as a house flipper and real estate investor, you simply need to learn how to delegate and have other people do the busy work.

If you don’t, you won’t make as much money and you won’t truly get the freedom you started doing this to get in the first place.

Virtual assistants are great for investors that cannot afford full-time in-house employees. I’m sure there are dozens of tasks you can think of that you’d rather never do again in your life. Those are tasks that you can have someone else do. And, guess what? They don’t need to be in the same city, state or even country as you.

Robert Nickell runs a very successful wholesaling business and uses almost entirely virtual assistants from the Philippines to do it! Sounds crazy, but it’s true.

He’s done so well with it that he’s started to train and provide these virtual assistants to real estate investors so that we can all benefit from their help.

Not sure where to go to find virtual assistants? Not sure what qualities to look for? Not sure how to streamline your processes and coordinate and make the most out of the virtual assistants’ time? Not sure how much you should be paying for virtual assistants?

We cover all of these questions in this episode. I learned a tremendous amount from Robert in this podcast episode and I’m sure you will to. Even if you’re not immediately considering needing help, it’s best to know that it exists so that when you start getting bogged down, you’ll know where to go and how to handle it.


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The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss

The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich (Expanded and Updated)

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Danny Johnson: This is the Flipping Junkie podcast episode 30. [music] Welcome to the Flipping Junkie podcast. My name is Danny Johnson; former software developer turned house flipper, flipping hundreds of houses. Each week, we bring you interviews, strategies, stories, and motivation to help you get started flipping houses and on your way to becoming your own boss and achieving financial freedom. Thanks for spending time with me today. Now, let’s get to it.

Hey, everybody. Hope you had a great week. We’re back for another episode of Flipping Junkie podcast in this series of episodes covering the basics from motivation and goal setting and everything like that, and now we’re working into building up our teams, figuring how to best go about doing all of the different things that a real estate investor/house flipper needs to do in their business, to run it like a true business so that you’re not just building another job for yourself. So we’ve had some great people recently on the podcast covering different things about working with contractors, working with real estate agents, things like that. So if you haven’t checked out those, check out those previous episodes in this series.

Today, I’ve got Robert Nickell on the podcast and we’re going to talk about how to work with virtual assistants. Now, this has been sort of a big thing since The 4-Hour Workweek was published years and years ago. But, you know, they can be very helpful for certain tasks and for other tasks might not be so good, but we’re going to cover all the ins and outs today with Robert and talk about how you can best use other people to help you with a lot of the work that you got to do, a lot of the busy work. So in the beginning, you know, I would spend a lot of times doing things I shouldn’t be working on like designing business cards and stuff like that. It was just really a way to not have to get out of my comfort zone. So if you find yourself working on some things that you know you shouldn’t be doing and consider whether you’re only doing it because you’re trying to avoid these other things that put you outside of your comfort zone even though you know that you should be doing them. And so, what I mean is working on designing postcards or working on designing business cards when you should be out putting out flyers or mailing postcards with your phone number on it to get people calling, to get great deals and stuff like that.

So, a little bit about Robert. He’s a national speaker. He’s a published author and one of the most successful real estate investors in the nation. Robert is known for his unique ability to teach, train, and run successful virtual businesses. Robert co-created Investor Virtual Assistant Services, LLC with the purpose of sharing his knowledge, experience and success with fellow investors around the world that are looking to take more control of their time while increasing productivity and reducing costs. And that’s all through using virtual assistants.

So, enjoy this week’s episode. [music]

All right. Hey, Robert. Thanks for joining me on the show.

Robert Nickell: Hey, Danny. Thanks for having me. I really appreciate your time.

Danny Johnson: Yeah, thank you for your time. So today, we’re going to talk about how to work with virtual assistants, and I understand you have some experience in that. Maybe we can get started with how you got started flipping houses, how you got interested in it and what you do now, and then we can go into that conversation.

Robert Nickell: Yeah, great. I think a lot of people, really my passion for real estate was really fueled early on when I probably Rich Dad Poor Dad and it pretty much changed my whole paradigm, the way I looked at everything. From that moment on, I’ve been totally obsessed with the idea of working in real estate and creating passive income and all the things that cashflow could bring into your life. So what I started doing in the summers from the time I was in middle school through college and graduating college was I worked for a general contractor in the summer. So my best friend’s dad was a GC and I’d ride shotgun in his big truck all summer long and kind of be his righthand man and jump from job to job. That experience alone was really amazing, really gave me a behind-the-scenes look at contracting and construction and the way all of that works, so I had a really strong feel for that. When I graduated college, my buddy and I, the same one whose dad was a GC, we bought our first house. It was actually in Denison, Texas and a really small town, just near the Texas-Oklahoma border and we paid $11,000 for this house from a guy whose father had passed away and he didn’t really want to do all the work and everything. So we started with an $11,000 house. We spent all of our free time from 5:00 PM till midnight every day after work, redoing that house. After a little while we just kind of hated our lives because we spent all of our time outside of work rehabbing properties which wasn’t any fun.

So in 2011, one of the big gurus came through Dallas and I signed up for their program. It was actually Fortune Builders by Than Merrill. I signed up with them and learned about wholesaling and then pretty much from that moment on, from 2011 to today, I’ve been fulltime wholesaling and rehabbing. So I used to do a lot more rehabs than I do now. I try to keep about 10% of all the deals I do rehabs and everything else I’m just wholesaling. I’m in three markets. I’m in Houston, Dallas, and Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Danny Johnson: Oh, cool. So you’re doing a lot of that with… So you have people that you know in those areas that are doing that and you’ve got VAs helping you with all of that as well?

Robert Nickell: Yeah. So the vast majority of the work that’s done within my own personal business is done by virtual assistants. So anything done on a phone or computer in all my markets, I live in Dallas so even here in my local market in Dallas, everything on a phone or computer is done by a VA. So answering the phone, screening for motivated sellers, setting appointments for the acquisition people and then on the sell side, they’re transaction coordinators, they’re managing the title companies. They’re the ones that are emailing property packets out to buyers list, building buyers list, managing buyer relationships, creating property packets, running comps. Pretty much anything within the business that’s not actually walking the property, they’re doing. I mean, my own personal VAs are even the ones making offers on properties right now. So we’ve got the whole thing pretty much automated and systemized and delegated through VAs. In each market, I have two people on the ground. So I have one person that’s actually walking properties and taking pictures. But their job isn’t really negotiating with sellers. They’re simply just walking properties. Then I have a different person who’s actually on the ground showing the properties to our buyers list. That’s how I have it set up in the three markets. The acquisition side from the buy side with a centralized in-house team of VAs that manage all three markets.

Danny Johnson: Awesome. Great. So are these VAs – you have people in the United States that are VAs or do you actually even go as far as going overseas for some or all of the VAs?

Robert Nickell: So everything that we do is, all of our VAs are in the Philippines. We’re a US-based company with US-based management and ownership. But all of our staff is actually sourced out of all the Philippines.

Danny Johnson: Great. I have about a million questions now all of a sudden. I want to keep them sort of ordered, so I’ll try to keep this from jumping around and we’ll start with a little bit of order to it. So what kinds of tasks, first? Well, actually even before the tasks, for those people out there that maybe aren’t too familiar with what a VA even stands for or what it is, could you explain that a little bit.

Robert Nickell: Just explain virtual assistants in general?

Danny Johnson: Right.

Robert Nickell: Yeah. So when I was first doing real estate and I was taught how to wholesale, I could to three to four deals a month max on my own. I was answering the phone, I’m running comps, I’m meeting with sellers, creating property packets, meeting with buyers, trying to sell the properties, manage title company relationships. I had a lot of infrastructure around that. I was really organized, I felt like, but I could still only three to four deals a month. It just maxed my time. So what I did at that time was my broker who I hung my license with here in North Texas, he was using VAs and that’s how I actually learned about VAs. It was through him. And what virtual assistants are is just the idea of anybody that’s not sitting in your office directly working for you. So I didn’t have the means or the ability to hire someone in-house to pay for someone, their salaries, their computer, the infrastructure, the office space – everything that was needed to actually support an in-house employee. So this idea of a virtual assistant, someone who’s not directly in my office that I’m not having to support a US-based payroll was really appealing to me.

So for me, the idea of a virtual assistant, it can be a US-based person but it’s just someone that’s just not working for you directly in your office They’re either working remotely out of state or for us in our business, everybody’s working remotely in the Philippines. The way that works is because of technology. Pretty much anything can be done on a phone or computer except walking properties. So there’s really not much in your business that can’t be delegated or outsourced to another person to have done. And we’ve just chosen because we have a business around it and we’ve had a lot of success, we go overseas because it’s a lot cheaper, it’s actually easier to manage, your infrastructure is lower. There’s just a ton of advantages to leveraging someone who lives overseas. But the idea of a VA is just someone who’s not in your office that works remotely directly for you.

Danny Johnson: Okay, great. I’m doing a series right now – I don’t know if you know that – on the podcast where I’m starting from… it’s almost like a podcast-based real estate investing course and so, you know, it’s all free obviously on iTunes. But I started with motivation, goal setting and foundation, like foundational episodes interviews. Then we’re working now into building teams and setting up your business to be a real business. So I think this falls perfectly in with where we’re at because some people like with that you just said with hiring and not being able to afford to bring people in-house, employees to work part-time or full-time. And what’s nice about hiring a VA also is if you’re not doing a whole lot, you don’t need somebody full-time, and so sometimes bringing people when you’re tempted to kind of keep them busy, you tend to spend so much time just trying to keep somebody busy –

Robert Nickell: The thought of hiring someone is very overwhelming because now, even if they’re not sitting in your office, you’ve got to train them, you’ve got to onboard them, bring them up to speed. You’ve got to teach them real estate. You’re talking about motivation. How do you find motivation when you’re talking to a potential seller? How do you know if that person is motivated or not? The scripting around that. The whole idea of just hiring someone in general whether they’re going to be overseas or actually in your office, that whole hiring process can definitely be overwhelming.

Danny Johnson: Right, right. What I love about it as well is that it sort of forces you to set up processes in your business?

Robert Nickell: That’s the best thing that ever happened to me. It’s funny that you say that, Danny, because I don’t bring it up much. But the best thing that ever happened to me was just pulling the trigger in hiring someone because then I had to get my buttoned gear so they could be efficient. I mean, I couldn’t have said that better myself.

Danny Johnson: Right. So you have to define everything and doing that, you realized how many steps are involved in most of the things that we do when you don’t really think about it. And if you don’t do something often you sort of forget about all the lessons learned and you have to relearn them because you never documented anything.

Robert Nickell: Yeah. It’s tough to pull what’s in your head and actually put it on paper. But that’s why we have such a robust infrastructure around training and teach real estate. So that investor is like you when you grab a VA. It’s pretty much just plug and play. They’re learning your business whether you’re a wholesaler or you’re a lender or you’re a property management company. It’s all about having the right person that you’re going to plug into the right seat.

Danny Johnson: Right, right. One question I do have before we move on past this because I don’t want to forget about it is, you know, you mentioned people – like you guys using people in the Philippines and they’re doing a lot of these tasks with talking to sellers and different things. How does that work with the time difference?

Robert Nickell: Yeah. Great question. So the Manila time is 13 hours ahead of where we are here in Central Standard time, so you can adjust that for west coast and east coast. They’re actually working overnight. So they’re working graveyard shift for them, real time hours. So all of my VAs that are on the phones for me in my business, they work 9 to 6 Central time. And anybody who’s an admin works 8 to 5 Central time. So they work your hours.

Danny Johnson: Okay. And they’re more than willing to do that I guess.

Robert Nickell: Oh, yeah. Definitely. So part of why we get such high quality VAs is we provide not only great pay but stability and support as well. So our VAs, there’s lots of advantages for working for us because we treat them right, we provide a lot of stability. We’re paying them higher than the average wages are in their area. And plus, we’re guaranteeing them all full-time employment. So if you’re a client, if you’re an investor, you don’t have to hire a VA full-time but we’re making sure all of our VAs get full-time work. So we’ve just kind of been able to take the current structure of the Philippines, the way things currently are and it’s been almost like a seamless integration to work with investors in the US. They just basically have to stay up all night to get that done.

Danny Johnson: Great, great. So what kind of tasks are best to have outsourced?

Robert Nickell: So that’s the million-dollar question. “What should I leverage a VA for?” And there’s lots of good answers for that. It kind of depends on where you are in your business. So the most important thing in my opinion is to look at your current business where it currently is and seal the cracks. Everybody, and I mean everybody including myself, in the real estate investing space it’s really easy to get distracted by shiny objects and things that look really appealing or processes or tasks. Or you see someone else that’s doing something really awesome and you’re like, “Hey, I would love to add that to my business.” The most important thing in my opinion whenever you’re starting to evaluate your business and potentially bring your own team members is: what are you currently doing right now? And the things you are currently doing right now, you just kind of want to seal the cracks. So if you’re doing direct mail and your phones answering and you’re running the comps and you’re running the comps and you’re doing everything yourself, what would be highest and best use of your time? Probably meeting with sellers. So if you had someone to work your leads, which is your life blood, the most important part of your whole business is your potential sellers, if you have somebody working that effectively where they’re gauging motivation and they’re simply setting appointments for you as the acquisition person, now you have a much higher utility value for your time. The highest and best use of your time is out in the field actually doing revenue generating activities. So whether your marketing is coming from online, you’re doing PPC or Facebook Ads or you’re sending direct mail or you’re door knocking, whatever it may be, any time the phone’s ringing, that’s the most important thing – is just making sure that every lead is worked to its fullest. In our Mastermind group, Collective Genius, we like to say all the time “no lead left behind.” In my opinion, that’s the most important thing, is to make sure that every opportunity that comes through your door is worked to its fullest potential.

So, number one is just sealing out the cracks. What kind of revenue-generating activities do you have currently going on in your business? Is that answering the phone? Is that running comps? Is that building, if you’re a wholesaler, your buyers list – is probably the most valuable asset that you have in your entire business, is your buyers list. So the first thing I would do before I start prioritizing tasks would be to look at what you’re currently doing in your business, where are you spending your time or if you have team members already, where are your team members spending their time, evaluating those day-to-day tasks. Because a lot of the ancillary, the very important and necessary task in your business, it’s not necessary for you to have a high salaried person or somebody that’s internal on your team to actually get that done. I mean, we talk about anything done on a phone or computer and I really mean that. I mean answering the phones for finding motivated sellers, cold calling agents is one of the most powerful thing any investor in entire country can do – is leveraging agents, letting them know who you are, you’re a buyer and you’re an asset for them.
Running comps is super time consuming. Every investor should outsource and delegate running comps to where that is super-efficient, you never spend any time in the MLS or Zillow or RealQuest or FlipComp or whoever you’re using. That definitely needs to be delegated.

Managing your buyers list. If you’re a wholesaler and you’re sending out property packets, those buyers are going to call and ask you all the questions that are listed right there on the property packets. You don’t need to pay someone internally to manage those buyer relationships. They’re super important but they can be managed by someone else.

All your research and database management. A common question I get is “What is the best CRM? What is the database to use?” and the answer, quite candidly, is the one you’re going to use, the one you’re willing to use. I love REI BlackBook and I love Infusion but that’s because I use them and I’m really effective with it. Other people love Podio or there’s a million of them out there, the different CRMs. The best one to use is the one you’re going to use, the one you like, and then just have a VA or someone else manage that database and make sure it’s kept up to speed.

Transaction and closing coordinator. So if you’re actually buying properties, you need to make sure that all their checklists are fulfilled on the frontend for all your team members and then whenever you’re selling them on the transaction side, you need to make sure that everything is in order.
Team member enrollment. So whether you’re a wholesaler or you’re a rehabber, you need to be having someone on the phone getting in touch with additional contractors or calling probate attorneys or divorce attorneys in the area and cold-calling agents, and all the different team members that you should be leveraging within your immediate area. You should have somebody grinding on the phone building those relationships.

You know, Danny, I know it sounds oversimplified but the most important tasks are just delegating what you’re currently doing, sealing up the cracks within your business and then once you feel like you’ve got some great traction around what you’re currently doing really well, then adding in additional revenue-generating activities first, things that are going to directly result in money. So, pulling For Sale By Owners list in Zillow, cold calling agents – anything that’s actually going to produce leads or generate income is what I would definitely delegate first. But the most important thing is to seal up your business, seal the cracks, get it running really, really well and leverage someone else to do that which will give you a lot of your time back and then you can use your time however you want. Do you want to work in the business? Do you want to spend it with your family? Do you want to be a tee ball coach or ballerina coach? Whatever you want to do. That’s where you should spend your time and pretty much delegate everything else that’s done on a phone or computer.

Danny Johnson: Absolutely. There’s a ton of power. I really like that you pointed out that focusing on things that are going to get you some more deals and more revenue because that’s what everybody needs to be focused on. Like you said, there’s so many shiny object things, so many things to get into, learning new creative ways to do deals and things like that. But it’s really focusing on the basics and do more of it. So, you know, leverage people to like you were saying, do a lot of cold calling and screening so you’re not doing it and getting burned out. You’re just talking to the ones that have already been screened and are worth talking to.

Robert Nickell: Yeah. Whenever we’re talking about ninjas and people who do business really, really well, it’s easy to see the people on stage and feel like you want what they have. To me, what ninja is, what having an awesome business is, is doing whatever you have really well and really efficiently. Then if you want to add additional things onto that that you can create and implement that are super efficient, then that’s ninja. But ninja isn’t having a million different shiny objects in your business. Those are just distractions, in my opinion.

Danny Johnson: Yeah. Right, right. You talked about using a CRM system which can really help when you’re working with a team. To go ahead and put a plug in here because this is my podcast, I can do that, but we’ve created so if you haven’t heard of that, you can check that out, REI Mobile. We set it up with that in mind to where you have team members and so people coordinate with each other and can see the leads and work on them altogether, so for people out there to check that out.

But we can move on to the next question which are, which kinds of things do you not recommend people pass along to VAs?

Robert Nickell: So that’s another great question. There’s only a couple of things that I don’t recommend. And this is just kind of general. So I don’t recommend that you ever give bank account access to anyone, not even your own team members. Like no one. There shouldn’t be anybody within your team that has bank information.

VAs usually have a hard time actually walking properties because they’re in the Philippines or they’re out of state or whatever. They can’t actually walk the property.

But Danny, we really don’t have a client that’s not doing anything else from managing the backend. So you want to talk about QuickBooks in all your accounting. We have tons of clients that use QuickBooks online and use our VAs every Friday going there and clean up their QuickBooks so their accounting stays up to date. I mean, what I say, it’s a personal decision. So whatever you find within your business that you just absolutely don’t want to delegate and you feel like that’s the best use of your time, I would hold on to that. I mean, we all have certain things that we like doing in the business and that’s just the truth of it. It’s one of the beautiful things about investing in real estate is there are so many different ways to do it and we can create our own business and structure things exactly the way we want. Then if you want to find a couple of things within that business that you really enjoy doing even if it’s not highest utility value of your time. Then it’s okay to still do that because it’s your business and you should be able to do it how you want.

But pretty much everything else, all the ancillary tasks, there’s really not anything that can’t be done on a phone or computer. We have a client in California who has four markets across the east coast and his VAs are the only ones that make offers to any of their – and they’re doing about 10 deals a month and they don’t have a single person on the ground making offers. So I know for some people it sounds a little bit crazy but if you have tasks that are being done on a phone or computer which is the majority of the tasks within your business, you can absolutely delegate that. But again, it’s just all about having the right person for that job. So someone who’s going to be working the phones and finding motivation from a seller, they’ve got to have some high emotional intelligence, they have to have great communication skills. Obviously, their English proficiency needs to be there and they really need to understand what you’re trying to accomplish. But the person who’s managing your database, they don’t have to be the best communicator in the world. They don’t have to be the best at building rapport with sellers. They need to be very technical. They need to be a DS on their personality profile so they can do that repetitive tasks, those detail-oriented tasks really well.
So rather than think about what someone can or cannot do, I think it’s more appropriate to think about just matching the appropriate skillset, the right personality profile with those job requirements.

Danny Johnson: Okay. With that in mind, how does this look for somebody interested in hiring some people, some VAs to do this kind of work? I guess you wouldn’t recommend them maybe hiring one to do a lot of different things. It’s more of just ones that fit for the things that you would want them to do but not everything.

Robert Nickell: Well, everything is a little bit relative. Right? But in general, the short answer is yes. You don’t really want to hire one person and have them as like as a Swiss army knife. You’re thinking, and most investors they do everything themselves and everything is up in their head, that six inches, the space between their head. And so they’re like, “Well, I can do everything. Surely someone else can do everything.” Yeah, that’s true but when you’re building a team and you want to work really efficient, you really want people in the appropriate space. So if you’re getting a few calls a week and that fills about part-time for someone and it filled between 10 and 20 hours a week and you’ve got additional tasks with your databased and building your buyers list or any kind of research. For example, Eddie Speed, he’s got the note School and his VAs that he got from us are working directly with the banks and they’re pulling all the tapes each day and updating Excel, that’s a very different person. He has them on part-time schedules because he has another part-time person who’s on the phone. So it’s really just evaluating the task within your business and figuring out the personality profile which would be just perfect for those tasks and then matching the candidate there. So if you have 40 hours’ worth of work in a week, I think it’s more important to divide that work among people, maybe two part-time people if it’s totally different tasks.

But what also happens, not to labor the point, Danny, but what can also happen is say someone’s answering the phone 30 hours a week. If you want to add in 10 hours a week or 15 hours a week of database management, more detail-oriented tasks, that’s absolutely normal and okay. We all do within our own task, within our own job descriptions, we all do some things that we don’t love doing. So if you’ve got someone that’s an absolute stud on the phone and 75% of their time is working the phones, then it is in my opinion completely reasonable to ask them to do part-time work outside of their base skill sets. But just when you’re thinking about hiring people in general, as long as your foundational thinking is around matching skill sets, matching personality profiles with that job description then you can’t lose, in my opinion.

Danny Johnson: All right. So maybe you could help us with some tips on doing just. One thing too, first, that I would like to know about is how do you go about making offers to them and paying them for that kind of thing?
So, say, you have somebody and you want to pay them for their time in answering phone calls and setting appointments. And being that they’re going to have to be up all night, is that something that you’re paying them for the entire time whether they answer any phone calls or not? How does that work?

Robert Nickell: The way we work within our company is we have different packages that can be 10 hours a week, so it’s just running comps or answering the phones. If you have just have a few of those hours a week worth of work then we have a couple of specific packages. But then we do everything at either part-time or full-time. So when you hire our virtual assistants, it’s a dedicated model; you’re hiring an individual who’s going to work for you and your business only, and they would work for either 20 or 40 hours a week. Then we just monitor that schedule. So if they get sick or they miss or whatever, we don’t pay them for the time that they’re there.
So we have a cost associated with our VAs that’s built in with our full service model, meaning we have an infrastructure around recruitment and training. I have a very large middle management team so when you sign up with us, you get assigned a success coach who’s with you from the time you sign up for the life of your account, helping you with anything you need, answering all questions, finding the perfect person and getting your infrastructure set up, setting the appropriate expectations for the amount of work that one person can do, what should accountability look like.

So we charge within our company just a flat rate for either part-time or full-time no matter who you’re getting, and then you just let us know, “Hey, I’ve got part-time worth of work.” Or we can even work through that process with you. We can help you mind map your business and create an org chart so you can really efficiently evaluate what’s going on and kind of plug people into those gaps whether it be part-time or full-time. If you’re going to do it yourself, then there’s lots of ways to recruit on your own to try to go find someone through Upwork which I guess used to be eLance and oDesk. And there’s different job forums out there where you can try to find your own VA. Usually, the VAs are going to want to contract in some kind of consistent model. You can find the person that will do time one-off. Meaning if you have a couple hours’ worth of phone work during the day, you can have them work 2 or 3 hours a day. You can find people like that. It’s very possible. It makes it a little more difficult to find high quality people because they’re oftentimes looking for more consistent work to be more stable. It just kind of depends.

So it really depends on what you as the investor really need within your business. If you only have a couple hours a week worth of calls, then it might be worth finding somebody who could just do one-off that way. But what we find people have the most success whether they’re working with us or recruiting on their own is to have some consistency around that person so that you build trust, you build loyalty and that person is really driven and motivated to work for you and your business. So if they’re working the phones and seller leads, you want that person whoever is answering the phone to really care about you and care about your business and care about taking the time to truly walk through that call and give it all the necessary energy and due diligence that it deserves because every call could be your biggest deal of your career.

So it’s possible, Danny, it’s very possible to find someone where you could one-off, where you could just grab a couple hours a week. But I think your audience will have more success with a more dedicated model. Finding someone where they can consistently pay even if that’s 10 hours a week, have some consistency around that, build that loyalty and trust from your employee so that they’ll essentially run through the wall for you.

Danny Johnson: Yeah, that’s an awesome point to make. I’m glad you brought it up. You know, as far as finding one-off, yeah, you can do it but they’re trying to raise a family a lot of times over there and from what I’ve learned I think is that, you know, a lot of them actually support their extended family. Is that right?

Robert Nickell: Yeah, definitely. We have some people that support their entire families because we can provide a lot of consistency and stability around that. So, you know, Philippines is definitely a developing country. If you’re hiring someone from the US, you’re going to face, believe it or not, many of the same issues because we’re all human beings and we all have the same needs and we all have the same requirements for us to have fulfilling lives. So, by leveraging a country such as the Philippines and their labor force, what we’re really doing is just… there’s a little bit of economic gap there which allows us to get high quality labor force just at a cheaper rate. But it’s very possible to find these people on your own with the US, you’ll just pay more for them usually.

Danny Johnson: Right. And when you do get them from overseas and building that relationship and having them really care about the work and care about you and what you’re trying to do, you’ve got to remember to treat them as if they did come into the office and work with you because I think a lot of times… because I’ve outsourced some things in the past and it does get really easy to just send off a quick email and not consider the fact that you’re talking to somebody.

Robert Nickell: Yeah. And like I said, I mean, we’re all human beings. We all want recognition and we all need to be patted on the back and we all need constructive feedback and help through any of the processes that we’re doing. All of our VAs are trained. All of our VAs know real estate. So, competencies there. But even still you’re going to need to bring them as part of your team even if they’re only working for you a few hours a day. They really need to feel like they’re part of your team and that’s why we use the dedicated model. There’s other services out there where you can pay a fee and have someone answer the phone for you. There’s several of those. Some really common big name companies that just do that, that just answer the phones for you. But they don’t really care about your business. They don’t really care about you as the person because they’re totally detached from you. They’re just performing a service for you as the client. I want our VAs to feel like they’re totally attached to the client’s success and if they’re clients are having success, that’s what going to breed success for the VAs which will provide stability and long-term employment and all the benefits and beautiful things that happen from a mutually beneficial relationship.

Danny Johnson: Great. So if you’re looking to do… so let’s say somebody that’s new to the flipping, to the real estate investing and they’re wanting to get things going and they’re wanting to have somebody go out and make a bunch of cold calls to For Sale by Owners on online classifieds or something like that. With anything like that, for example, or anything else, how would someone like that know how much they should be paying to have that kind of work done?

Robert Nickell: Yeah, that’s a great question. So our fees, it’s a flat rate. $9.60 an hour. So just under 10 bucks is what our rate is. But we are in no way the low-cost provider. We’re not trying to be. I’m trying to provide the most value possible. So for a VA in the Philippines, you can expect to pay for someone that’s good, that is going to do a great job for you, somewhere $5 and $10 an hour. You can find it for lower than that. There’s sites out there advertising for like $2 an hour. I don’t really recommend doing that because my opinion is, the quality, the result is not going to be there. So anywhere between about $4.50 an hour to $10 bucks an hour, there’s other VA companies out there that are charging closer to 15 and there’s some US-based VA companies that charge 35 to 50 bucks an hour. But for an overseas person, it’s realistic to get a really high quality person, 5 to 10 bucks an hour.

Danny Johnson: And that’s for pretty much any task that we do as investors, right?

Robert Nickell: Yup, that’s exactly right.

Danny Johnson: Wow, that’s not bad. With what you guys are charging and I like how you mention the fact that you’re trying to provide more value because in the end, that’s what really matters. If you’re getting somebody for $3 an hour but they don’t care or they’re making mistakes, it’s costing you more than you realize.

Robert Nickell: Yeah. That’s exactly right. And a lot of people, it’s totally understandable. Danny, I’m sure you are in the same position not that long ago. When I was first rolling in the real estate business, I didn’t have a ton of spare cash on the side at all. So the way I look at new products and services or things that were going to benefit my business, it was really hard for me to not look at it from a cost basis standpoint. But when you evaluate it, what is it truly costing you? It’s not just with VAs, it’s not just with hiring your team. Anything that you’re going to bring in to your business, there really needs to be value there. What is the return of that investment?

And so we try to provide one of two things for our clients. By leveraging our virtual assistants, you’re either going to get more time back or you’re going to make more money. And oftentimes, both. Because if you can outsource a lot of these tasks or delegate these tasks to someone else, you can get a lot more traction in your business. You can get a lot more done. And if that’s focused traction, that’s focused action on things that are actually going to benefit your business, revenue generating activities like answering the phone and running comps and setting appointments, then the value is really going to be there if that person can perform at a high level. And it’s not just about the cost of their hourly rate.

Another example is if you hire someone at 3 or 4 bucks an hour and you have to spend months and months training them, how much opportunity have you lost? How much of your business have you actually lost by having someone not work phones appropriately? It takes time for people to be good at handling seller leads. So you’re either going to have to train them yourself and pay a really low rate or you can have someone else like us. All of our VAs, they take absentee owner calls for weeks and weeks before they ever are certified to work with an investor. So they’re running my leads and they’re running my business when they’re in training and not yours. But it’s just the thought to think about when you go hire someone on your own for 4 bucks an hour. There’s going to be several weeks. It’s about an 8-week startup period for them to really learn what the hack they’re doing.

Danny Johnson: Right. So that’s no joke. I mean, you’re not just saying “We’re going to provide more value for the higher cost.” It’s not just an empty statement. There’s all that behind it, all that experience and everything. I know how much work it is to get the right people and get them trained. And to have you already having done most of that work or all of that work is worth I think way more than the difference. That sounds really good to me. So you have a website set up at Is that right?

Robert Nickell: Yeah. Any of your listeners can go to and they can get some additional information about us there.

Danny Johnson: Okay. And if somebody decides to go into it a little bit further, could you tell us exactly what the process is? How do you have somebody join up and get started with working with you?

Robert Nickell: Yeah. So any of your listeners, Danny, I would be happy to talk to them directly if they’re interested in signing up. And the way the process works is we just want to make sure first that you’re a good fit for us. We have a lot of demand for our service because our reputation is really good. We perform at a really high level. So anybody that we bring on, any new clients, we want to just make sure it’s a good fit. So any of your audience base, I would just definitely have a one-on-one conversation with, just kind of get to know them a little bit, see where they are in their business, what their goals are, what they’re trying to accomplish.

Then from there, it’s a pretty simple straightforward process. Once an account is created, my team reaches out to you immediately. I mentioned a success coach. So I started the VA business by just leveraging everything ahead within my own personal business; my scripts, my resources, my mind mapping, my processes, everything I had, which is the foundation for all of our training. So, when you first sign up, my team is going to reach out to you and they’re going to want to get to know you, who you are, your needs, what you’re trying to accomplish. Are you a wholesaler? Are you a hard money lender looking for additional rehabber clients? Like who are you, what are you trying to accomplish? And they’re going to work with you to actually create a job description. That’s the first thing we’re going to do with you. And then once we create a job description, the placements team goes and they look for candidates who are already trained. They’re already certified, they’re ready to go, and we send you resumes. Those resumes have their work history, it has their personality profile, the DISC profile in there. It has their technology capabilities. It has all their information in there. And while you’re reviewing resumes, my team is helping you get any infrastructure setup that you need from phone systems or email accounts or anything at all that you need for your VA to be successful. Between the time that you’re getting signed up and you’re looking for high quality candidates, my team is behind-the-scenes helping you get all the infrastructure set up. And then you’re going to interview candidates that you’re interested from the resumes where you get to hear them, you’re going to see them, you’re going to interact with them just like a real live interview. And through that process, your confidence will really grow and you’ll be really excited about selecting a new team member. Once you select a new team member, my staff stays with you for the life of the account. They help that new team member get onboarded, get them adjusted to your business and then we stay with you to answer any questions, best practices, any additional training that you need. All of our scripts, all of our resources we’re more than happy to give to you. And we’re just with you all throughout the entire process from the moment you sign up for as long as you’re using our VAs.

Danny Johnson: That’s great, man. That’s providing a lot. Especially with all those scripts and everything, so all that experience and creating all those processes and you have a very successful business so it’s not like you just took several courses that you read and created something real quick. This is all built from experience, right?

Robert Nickell: Yeah. And one of the best things, l love doing what I do, Danny, because it’s not a smoke and mirrors business. We’re not just selling some info product that may or may not work. It’s not just information. We are actually providing a service that’s going to create value in your business. And the more value we can create, the more you’ll leverage our services. So it’s not a smoke and mirrors business. This is just straight up providing value and then you benefiting from that and reaping those rewards and then it’s a win-win for both of us, for my team, my staff, my VAs, and then it’s a win for you, for your additional, either traction where you’re going to make more money or you’re going to get some time back to spend it with your family or however you want.

Danny Johnson: Yeah. That’s what really matters. Time is the most valuable asset that all of us have. So finding ways to leverage our time is the best that we can do. And that’s why I have this podcast interview where it is and sort of that’s still at the beginning of this whole series of podcast interviews. So that people go into this business knowing that that’s what you should always strive to do. Don’t just strive to try to do everything yourself because you are like most people going to feel like you can do more or care more about doing it than anybody else because it’s your business. But as we try to do all those things, we’re going to be dropping balls. We’re going to be dropping things, we’re going to be making mistakes because we’re not focused.

Robert Nickell: Focus is a really interesting word and without it, we’re all going to drown.

Danny Johnson: Right. For everybody out there, I hope you take all of the lessons and all the things that Robert has taught us on this interview and really try to incorporate that into your business and whether that’s trying to find someone your own and start to build processes and have the people, the VAs help you with that and work your business or go to and sign up with Robert. You’ll be doing great for yourself and being able to leverage more of your time. So thanks again, Robert for being on the show. Is there a way that anybody can reach you other than the website like a Facebook?

Robert Nickell: Yeah. Actually, Danny, I really appreciate you having me on and giving me this opportunity. If you’d like, is it okay if I give out a direct email address? Does that work?

Danny Johnson: That’s fine, sure.

Robert Nickell: Yeah. It would be [email protected]. I would be happy to talk with any of your listeners and anybody can feel free to reach out there. Also, if you go to, there’s a phone number there that people can reach us directly. We should be very accessible. You guys just make sure and mention that you heard us on the podcast and this is where you found us so we know where you came from.

Danny Johnson: All right. Well, great. Thanks a lot, Robert. I’ll be in touch myself for sure and really appreciate you again being on the show.

Robert Nickell: Thanks, Danny. I really appreciate your time.

Danny Johnson: All right, have a good one.

Robert Nickell: You too.

Danny Johnson: All right. That was a great episode. I hope you guys take some time to check out Robert’s site at VA is for virtual assistant. So that’s It provides tremendous value with having all of those, that experience of his business and his processes in along with the people that they train to work for you and help free up your time so that you can focus on the more important tasks. So check that out and be sure to check which is our CRM platform for real estate investors. You can work with a team in there so you can have the admin account and create team member accounts to help work with you on your leads and your business so that it’s not just one account everybody is sharing so you don’t know who’s doing what. We built it for that purpose in mind so that you can have a business and not just another job as you’re investing in real estate. So thanks again for listening to the Flipping Junkie podcast. For any links also for the show, books mentioned and links mentioned on this show, you can go to


Comments (1)

  • Pilot Bob

    One of my weaknesses that is holding back my business is lack of delegation. I love the idea of a VA. I’ve just signed up with Robert’s company. #VeryExcited

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