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How To Save A Ton Of Money And Improve Your Back-Office Operations By Outsourcing It To Offshore Talent

by | May 7, 2024 | Podcast

Franchise Masters | Connor Groce | Outsourcing

 

Looking to save money while improving your back-office operations in the process? The key could be in outsourcing those things to offshore talent! Connor Groce is a multi-brand, multi-unit franchisee in his twenties running a multimillion-dollar operation. He gives us the goods on how he saves $100K+ per year by outsourcing his back-office operations to offshore talent (e.g. HR, AR/AP, bookkeeping, marketing, etc.) We get into why he believes it’s more effective to do it this way (besides saving a ton of money). Connor walks us through his systems, software he uses, checks and balances, etc. Lots of insights in this episode, so tune in!

Listen to the podcast here

 

How To Save A Ton Of Money And Improve Your Back-Office Operations By Outsourcing It To Offshore Talent

I’m excited to have a returning guest. Connor Groce is going to sit here and talk to us about the ins and outs of something interesting that he has figured out about leveraging offshore talent to help him run his multi-million dollar franchise operation. Connor is a multi-brand and multi-unit franchisee with Smash My Trash and Shine. Connor’s done a good job of leveraging talent overseas to help streamline a lot of his operations. We’re going to get deep into that. I’m going to learn with you as we go through this. Connor, welcome back.

Thanks, Dru. I’m glad to be back. I’m looking forward to talking some shop.

If I remember your journey correctly, you started your Shine as an undergrad at Chapel Hill in the Raleigh area, and then got the itch to do another brand and moved to Cincinnati. That deal fell through with Smash My Trash but you found another opportunity and ended up moving to Indiana. You’re then back to Raleigh full circle. I love it. Welcome home. How’s business?

Business is good. It’s picking up in-home services around this time of the year. It’s rolling up in Indiana. I can’t complain. With the help of our team offshore, everything’s going well.

Real quick, before we get into the offshore piece, you’re running this remotely from Raleigh. Do you have an operating partner in Indiana or do you have a team that you’ve employed?

I would preface this with I would not be able to run Smash from Raleigh had I not gone up there and lived for a couple of years. With Smash and Shine when I was able to move away, in both of those times, it’s been after 1.5 to 2 years on the ground, learning the business and being able to trust the team to take care of things on the ground while I continue my involvement but do so in a remote, capacity. I would not be able to do that right off the bat. We have managers in place in both of the operating units that I have there. I maintain constant contact with them but in terms of what’s on the ground, they’re more or less taking care of it. I still go up fairly frequently.

Where do you want to start on the whole offshoring thing? I don’t know where to start other than I’m going to give you a lot of credit because Connor helped me get connected with an assistant that I needed some help with because I’m terrible at administrative stuff. I sent out the wrong dates on Zoom and Outlook invites. I forgot to send emails and confirm calls. Connor had seen a post when I came out of the FranChoice conference, the last one with the goal of saying, “It’s time for me to stop being a solopreneur and get some help.”

I was going to hire a part-time mommy thinking this stuff can get done during hours. You saw my post and said, “Dru, you should look into the Philippines because, with everything you have written there, you can probably get better and more reliable talent.” I did that and tried it. She’s still with me. Thank you. It’s been amazing. It’s $200 a week for 20 hours. I don’t even use the 20 hours. It’s not taxed. There’s no contract. I trust her. She’s like, “Give me more work to do.” I’ve never heard those words in my life from somebody who works for me. It’s been amazing. Number one, thank you for that. Where do you want to start on this offshore thing?

Connor’s Offshoring Journey

Let me walk through my journey into it because it has been a journey. What I will say is that I feel like when I started utilizing offshore talent a couple of years ago, between then and now, I’ve seen a lot more resources pop up. It’s caught a lot more traction amongst the small business community. It’s been happening in Corporate America for decades. It has matriculated down to small business.

When I got started, I was in one of those situations where you’re at an inflection point, “Do I hire someone else to fill a particular function in business?” Maybe but maybe not. “Is there enough work?” I don’t know. It leads me to the first realization, which is that while hiring somebody remotely is not always going to replace an onshore or in-person team member, it is a good way to augment someone else’s role. Meaning, if I have a manager in a particular location, it’s growing to the point that we need someone else to help with the more clerical side of things. We need somebody to help with sales, customer service, or operations.

A lot of times, a manager can expand their bandwidth if they have someone else who’s helping them with the overflow and the more clerical side of their role. That was the first time that I reached that to say, “How can we hire somebody to work alongside a manager to help backfill some of those administrative capabilities?”

Franchise Masters | Connor Groce | Outsourcing

Outsourcing: A lot of times, a manager can expand their bandwidth if they have someone else who’s helping them with the overflow and the more clerical side of their role.

 

I started hiring someone in Columbia. I got excited as a lot of people do as soon as you’re on a Zoom call with someone willing to work with you for $7 an hour and as a competent individual that’s excited about the role and saying all of these things. I rushed into it way too quickly, got way too excited about that, and didn’t put enough emphasis on building out a role and the systems to work together effectively. I learned a lot from that. My big takeaway was to put a lot of emphasis on setting them up for success before you go into making a higher offshore.

Do not bring people in and give them an opportunity unless you've done what you need to do on your end to set them up for success. Click To Tweet

To go deep on that, what stuff do you wish you would have had in terms of systems and stuff like that in place for that first venture into the offshore world?

On the system side of things, we have never had a big enough team to where I was ever big on like a project management software or task delegation system. I do think that when you start to bring in folks that are remote where you’re not interacting face-to-face on a day-to-day basis, even if there’s a small team, utilize something like monday or Trello. monday is awesome.

I use that for my CRM for FranChoice. I did it because you started me down this whole journey. I was like, “I need some CRM to centralize this thing.” I set it up and then Ann has figured it out because it’s super easy to figure out. You don’t need a programmer to do a bunch of customizations, automation, and stuff.

That’s the system side of it but what’s potentially more important is the role side of it. I learned very quickly that it’s very difficult to fill someone else’s role day-to-day as what I would call a gopher. “Will you do this?” It’s easy for all of us to sit around and say, “We’re so busy. If only I had somebody at my right hand that I could kick something to all day, they would have plenty to do.” In practice, it’s very hard to do that. Another thing that I would put a lot more emphasis on is identifying certain functions of the business that can be delegated completely. Instead of someone being a task rabbit, it’s more like, “When this happens, do this.” That’s where the relief can come.

What was the first role that you successfully found somebody to help you? What were they doing for you?

The first thing that we were doing was things like invoicing. Particularly when you’re in a business that has recurring customers, that’s something very predictable but also very time-consuming to build out invoices, integrate things like QuickBooks and integrate them with the CRM that you’re using, send invoices to customers, and follow up on accounts receivable.

The big challenge that I found there is it’s important but also something that’s not always as urgent as some of the other fires that happen in small businesses. Those tasks that are important but are not urgent tend to get neglected in a way that all of a sudden, they can become very urgent. Those are tasks that I found to be very effective as the first low-hanging fruit to bring in when you’re hiring a team offshore.

Did you give them access to QuickBooks with the bookkeeper role and not the full accountant role? You probably had to get them familiar with your business but were they able to take it and run with it pretty quickly, or did you have to provide a lot of training and oversight to help them understand how to do what you needed them to do?

There’s certainly a learning curve as there would be hiring anybody. To take a step back there, the Philippines, Eastern Europe, and Latin America are great. A particular advantage to hiring in the Philippines is that BPO or Business Process Outsourcing is the largest industry there. A lot of them have been trained in customer service or data entry. They’re used to working with Western businesses and very used to dealing with CRMs. I have a bookkeeper from the Philippines.

A particular advantage to hiring in the Philippines is that BPO is the largest industry there. A lot of them have been trained in customer service or data entry. They're used to working with Western businesses and very used to dealing with CRMs. Click To Tweet

Some of them know more than we think we know.

A hundred percent. They’re better at so much of that stuff than I am. Yes, there is a learning curve but it wasn’t very long before they were training me.

They’re Americanized. They went in English. Their night is our day for the most part. They work at night and then sleep during the day. They make the adjustments to accommodate our business climate, hours of operation, and stuff like that.

One of my team members, Josh, came on because his partner had gotten a job at night. All of a sudden, he wanted to match up, whereas we would think of that as a major inconvenience to have to work at night. That is the industry that dominates the job market in the Philippines so it’s much more commonplace. People typically are going to be much more willing to do that.

Our dollar, whatever you want to talk about politically or economically, goes a long way in the Philippines. They can make good money. It’s a win-win relationship, even though we feel like we’re getting a good deal on the hourly rate that we’re paying. They’re very appreciative.

Something that I had to get over is there was almost a feeling of guilt on my part about paying somebody $5 or $7 an hour until I talked with someone who made $7 an hour and was the sole breadwinner in the family. Her husband was a stay-at-home dad with their two kids and they owned a house. All of a sudden, I realized, “I need to get out of this way of thinking.” You’re not getting away with anything. You’re providing somebody else a great opportunity and you happen to be taking advantage of a fairly large gap in currency and cost of living.

The work ethic is amazing. You had said you’re never hiring an American ever again for anything you get in the Philippines. I understand why. They want to help be productive versus just collecting a paycheck.

Building An Offshore Team

There are a couple of things there that I would highlight. First of all, I highly recommend the book, to anybody interested in this, The Culture Map by Erin Meyer. She does a better job of anybody or anything that I’ve ever read about, codifying something as ambiguous and qualitative as culture is. One of the things that helped me to identify is that in some parts of the world, there is a nobility to being a business owner or being a boss or an employer that in the West has a combative stick-it-to-the-man mentality. I’m not saying that that’s all bad but that doesn’t exist in some other cultures in some parts of the world. You do see that translate into work ethic.

There are also some cultural things around loyalty and authority. When you’re building a team and trying to get a team to work effectively, do present certain advantages. This is another thing that I learned through The Culture Map. In America, I’ve been accustomed to this idea that if I’m being “micro-managed,” and that can mean varying things, if somebody is giving me very explicit instructions on what they want me to do, how they want me to do it, and I’m not expected to deviate from that, I think of that as, “This person doesn’t trust me to make certain decisions.” In other parts of the world, giving somebody too long of a leash can be perceived as apathy. There are certain differences where you do have to be aware of them.

I read a book called Virtual Freedom by Chris Ducker. It helped me to get in the right mindset. It’s easy to overthink this too. What the book told me is you’re not going to find one virtual assistant or one person who’s going to be able to do everything. It goes back to your point about understanding what functional role you’re trying to get help with and putting some systems around it but also, keeping it loose enough to where somebody doesn’t feel they’re boxed in because they’re going to be able to probably add some value to what you think is an amazing system.

It helped me understand, “I need to think through what and how to help the person help me but I’m not going to be able to find one person to do my accounting, customer service, or CRM.” Whatever back office function you’re trying to outsource, you need to be intentional about the roles. That helps you hire the right person too when you’re out there searching. It’s very affordable to have multiple people. You have multiple people on your team overseas. What does your team look like?

We have two full-time. We also utilize a bookkeeper controller person on a part-time basis. I utilize contractors. Gig work is very common in the Philippines. For example, we wanted to do more work to build our prospect database and wanted somebody to go through and pin dumpsters all over a map in a particular geography. That’s a perfect example of something you can hire a contractor who has done that before and does market research for a living. That can be a much better solution than bringing on somebody full-time, both from a cost perspective and also from an expertise perspective. It can work to have a generalist. We do have that but it can also work to specialize and hire contractors on a temporary basis to do a certain project that’s needed.

Franchise Masters | Connor Groce | Outsourcing

Outsourcing: Gig work is very common in the Philippines, so you can choose to work with contractors.

 

If you’re thinking about it, somebody else has probably already thought about this thing that you’re trying to get some help within your business. It’s probably already available. Somebody has already been trained on it in the Philippines or somewhere else. 1 bookkeeper and 2 project managers is what your team looks like.

We have one that’s more of a project manager. She jumps on pretty much whatever’s coming about on a day-to-day basis.

What kind of stuff is the project?

A great example is if we’re hiring somebody, she plays the facilitator role in posting the job post, screening out candidates, and calling to line up interviews so that our managers have to show up for the interview. That’s pretty much it.

Front-end HR stuff hands-off. She filters and gets qualified candidates to meet with your managers. Is it over the phone doing phone stuff and not just email?

That’s exactly right. If you’re looking for somebody over the phone, you can find people who can speak great English in a way. Sitting in America, you may not even realize that they’re not in America. That is a clear criterion that if you’re looking for somebody, that should be at the top of the list. There are plenty of other folks that I work with whose written communication is as good as yours or mine but they’re not somebody that I would put on the phone with a customer. Even though I can understand them fine, from a customer-facing perspective, I would treat them differently.

You got HR. What else?

It falls into that category but payroll. They take care of a lot of our payroll for us.

How do you have the system? How do you integrate with payroll? How do they know the correct amount of hours or wages to process on a weekly or biweekly basis?

We use Gusto, which is a time-tracking platform. It’s a system where managers can sign off on the time cards. We have our eyes to make sure that everything is accurate but in terms of going through and processing payroll and stuff, that’s something that our team in the Philippines handles.

Gusto is simple and awesome. You do payroll and recruiting. What else?

Invoicing accounts receivable’s been great to offload. It’s important but not urgent. If you’re a manager in the middle of a knife fight every day, that’s something that can easily get left behind. Things cold outreach, email campaigns, prospecting, and things like that. I want to play a role in setting things up and setting the campaign up to work well but once it’s set up and it takes somebody else to keep the ship moving, that’s a great thing that you can offshore as well.

With the idea of prospecting, probably for Smash My Trash, since it’s B2B, I’m assuming, what are they doing to help prospect and stuff like that? Is it tracking down the CFOs of target companies? What does that look like?

You can certainly use people. We already have a pretty well-built database of prospects. It’s not necessarily data scraping but if you’re in an industry where you have a wider array of who can be a customer and you need bulk data, that’s a great use case. In terms of prospecting, we have drip email campaigns and certain aspects of our sales funnel that are well established but someone else has to take on the administrative burden to facilitate that, move them through the sales funnel, and continue to make sure that emails are being sent, whatever stage of our process is being executed efficiently.

That’s easily one of those things when you’re in the heat of the battle building and managing a business that you’re going to forget to do and say, “I won’t do it this week,” 2 weeks go by, and then 3 weeks go by. All of a sudden, your marketing campaign is three weeks behind. The result is your revenue.

I can remember in my first days when I was an owner-operator. All day, it’s a knife fight. You’re dealing with customers and employees the same thing. At no point during that knife fight every single day was I in a position to have not just the time but the headspace as well to sit down and focus on those very important things. I found that having someone else who has their eye on it, who isn’t in the night fight every day but who does have their eye on stuff, makes me perform better as a leader and manager when it doesn’t all fall on my plate because there’s an extra layer of accountability there as well.

You touched on an important point, which is before you start thinking about outsourcing any functional areas of your business, you have to do it and learn it. You need to do it first, at least for your first business. 1) It helps you manage it better. 2) It also helps you help whoever you’re working with overseas to be able to do it better because they’ll take it and run with it.

In the first week in business, don’t expect to outsource everything to a team of people. Get busy and overwhelmed, and then start to intentionally think about, “First thing, maybe it’s invoicing, the receivables, bookkeeping, or payroll.” Those are pretty easy things. Maybe the next level is the marketing stuff. Once you get comfortable with the cadence and your strategy or the franchise company strategy, whatever it is, then you can think about maybe that more conceptual stuff to some systemize it but you got to burn yourself out first almost to a certain extent.

How we’ve managed that is that we keep three lists on monday, which is one, what are one-time tasks as they come up that can you help with this? The second list is recurring tasks. We know that every Thursday, we’re going to reconcile X, Y, and Z. A recurring task is going to happen on an ongoing basis. We keep a list of our project tasks. Those are things that may not be urgent but they’re ideas that we have that we know we would like to do at some point and would create value. It’s also not something that I’m going to tell someone, “Drop everything that you’re doing and do this.”

Compartmentalizing everything into those three buckets is a way to continue to prioritize what needs to be prioritized but also don’t just let the ideas that you have of, “Wouldn’t it be awesome if we did this one day,” fall by the wayside because there will come a point when they have more capacity. Your team can help you with that.

With customer reviews on Google and stuff, have you figured out a way to streamline that via working with your team offshore?

There probably is a way. I’ve always had enough success with platforms that can do that for you and that can optimize reviews and ask for reviews but I’m sure that there are ways that you could drive B2C reviews in that way.

A simple follow-up. That’s one of those little things. If the automated software doesn’t capture it, you could have somebody on your team pay attention to that and send a quick email to the customer, “If you get a few minutes, please, we would appreciate you writing a review.” It’s worth it. I probably need to do that for myself. See, you’re giving me ideas here, Connor.

That’s a great point too, more broadly. Sometimes all you need is someone else with their eyes on something. Even if it’s automated, I don’t even know how many accounts I have with all these different platforms that we use and everything. If you have someone else who can keep their eyes on that for you and let you know if something else comes up or makes suggestions, it’s not only the value that that provides in terms of the business but I do feel that makes me a better business owner when I know that I’m not the only one pushing a boulder up a hill.

Sometimes, all you need is someone else with their eyes on something. Click To Tweet

You sleep better. You have the comfort of more people on your team paying attention to something. It holds you in a way more accountable to do the stuff that you don’t want to do but you have to do on a weekly basis because you get those reminders, “What’s the plan here on this thing?” You’re like, “I got to do that.”

It’s another interesting conversation about culture and everything. I’ve had to be very intentional with everybody on our team. Stateside, we have a good culture of saying, “You can push back against me.” I want that. To me, that tells me that you care enough to look me in the eyes and tell me that you think that I’m wrong. In the Philippines, there’s not that culture. It’s much more authoritative so I’ve had to be very intentional about calling that out and saying, “If you need something from me that I’m failing to deliver, which happens, I need you to tell me about it and call me out for it. That’s what’s going to allow us to work together most effectively.” You’re not stepping out of bounds by doing that.

I try to send out a weekly email about something. It’s the most tedious thing for me to do but Ann is up my butt on Mondays, “Dru, what’s the email this week?” “I don’t want to let you down. I’ll figure this out. I don’t care about the business results.” I don’t want to let Ann down.

Dru, you could always hire a copywriter in the Philippines. They could take care of that for you.

You’re probably right. I don’t know if that’s one thing I’m getting my voice written through somebody else. That’s me probably have to go through growth as a person to get comfortable with that but it’s an exam, Facebook ads, Google ads, and SEO stuff. I bet you can find people that are 10X better than a lot of these agencies in the US that are ripping people off on a lot of this stuff.

This is not to say that all placement agencies are bad or don’t add value but I do think that they are way overblown in terms of the value that somebody that’s going to place someone offshore for you will do. If you are hiring general administrative talent from the Philippines hire direct, it’s going to save you a ton of money and they’re very efficient. First of all, there’s a massive labor pool with both English speakers and relevant experience who are going to be qualified. There are also very efficient ways to do that because the industry in the Philippines is so well-developed.

If you are hiring general administrative talent from the Philippines, hire directly. It's going to save you a ton of money, and they're very efficient. Click To Tweet

I would go to OnlineJobs.ph and get an account. You will have plenty of candidates to go through. If you’re looking to hire in a different region of the world, there are various, reasons to do that. If you’re hiring in Eastern Europe, HireUA is a great firm to work with out there. If it’s a different region of the world or you’re looking for something more specialized, then yes, an agency can be effective. Otherwise, I do not think it’s worth paying $3,000 to $6,000 for something that you can do yourself fairly easily, in my opinion.

I used OnlineJobs.ph. It’s $70 for a posting. I had over 100 responses. They weren’t all good responses you could tell. Some of them were ChatGPT-generated types of deals. What happened with Ann is she saw the posting, responded, and got lost in the shuffle of all the responses that came in. She tracked me down on LinkedIn and wrote me a nice personal message.

We hopped on the Zoom for ten minutes. I was like, “Let’s give it a shot.” It’s either going to work or not. I’m going to learn some stuff going through this to get better at hiring if I have to hire again. I got lucky. It’s the fact that she went the extra step to track me down on LinkedIn. We all are globally connected through the internet. It’s not like it’s rocket science but it showed that extra effort. That little bit of extra effort has translated to everything that she does.

On OnlineJobs.ph, you can search for candidates. Even if you don’t even want to post a job, you want to go on there and search for people with relevant experience and you reach out to them. You will get bombarded with applications but if you want to be more direct in your outreach, that can work great as well to help streamline the hiring process.

One of the things that you told me about was, “Don’t be afraid to spend an extra dollar to $2 an hour. Don’t be cheap. Don’t try to get the person for the cheapest amount of money.” Spend the extra money because they’re going to see it on the posting. Those who are hungry for it will probably go the extra mile to make themselves stand out to at least have a conversation about the opportunity with your company. An extra dollar to $2 an hour is tax-free. You’re not paying payroll taxes on that stuff. I hope the IRS doesn’t come and audit me after this one. It’s worth it.

Offshoring ROI

I don’t care if the US imposes a 100% payroll tax on offshore talent. I will still do it. That’s going to come at some point. To hire an American, you have to pay payroll tax and there are all these regulations and stuff. There’s very little regulation on hiring people offshore. I don’t do it to avoid paying payroll taxes. I do it because, first of all, you’re not going to be able to tax your way out of the currency arbitrage and all of that stuff. There are people around the world that make great employees. When you limit yourself to only the talent pool that is in your little bubble of where you live, you’re pre-qualifying out people who could make great additions to your team in a variety of capacities.

When you limit yourself to only the talent pool that is in your little bubble of where you live, you're pre-qualifying out people who could make great additions to your team in a variety of capacities. Click To Tweet

I recommended Wise.com as the way for me to send her the money. I decided to pay her weekly. She’s like, “You don’t have to do that.” I’m like, “I want to do this.” She’s like, “You’re going to get hit with extra fees.” I’m like, “It’s $3 or $5 per transaction. It’s okay. I got it.” What do you use to send money? You told me and I forgot what it was.

Wise is great. Remitly is what I use but they both do effectively the same thing.

It’s super easy and secure, at least I haven’t had any issues. How much are you spending a month on offshore talent roughly?

It’s about $800 a week.

It’s $3,200 a month. What do you think the equivalent of US wages and burden would be with the quality of talent that you’re getting?

For someone of Jasmine’s caliber, and Jasmine’s one of the folks that we work with, she is probably an $80,000 or $90,000 a year employee in the US.

Jasmine is just one of your team.

You think about that right there. You get into the bookkeeper and accountants. I don’t even know. It would be a very interesting exercise to set up but I know that it would be a lot.

It’s probably $25 or $50-ish. You’re spending $40 or $50-ish. That’s $100,000 potentially more reliable, streamlined, and less drama. You opened my eyes to this. I had seen and read some stuff about it. When you recommended it to me, that was what clicked for me like, “I’ll give it a shot. Connor’s recommending it. He’s doing it. Let me see what I can figure out.”

If you’ve thought about it, somebody else has thought about this and figured out a way to make this happen overseas. It can be done behind a computer, even over the phone. It’s not a sophisticated nuanced conversation that somebody is going to have to have super intricate knowledge about a job, customer, or whatever it is. It can be taken overseas.

Pretty much everybody has probably seen something about utilizing offshore talents or virtual assistance, which I hate that term, but a lot of that is directed in the context of finding someone. It’s probably an agency’s marketing. There is too much emphasis on how I find these folks and not enough content rather on how I work with them effectively. Finding qualified great people is not the ceiling. It’s how they are going to create value for the business and interact with you and your team stateside.

Franchise Masters | Connor Groce | Outsourcing

Outsourcing: Finding qualified great people is not the ceiling. It’s how they are going to create value for the business and interact with you and your team stateside.

 

There are software platforms out there that are very affordable and can enable a lot of this. monday.com is not just a CRM. It’s full-blown HR, project management, and a lot of different functional aspects to that software. It’s cheap. QuickBooks is out there. I’m sure there are better alternatives to QuickBooks. I’ve been too lazy to figure that out. Gusto for payroll.

Slack integrates great with monday. LastPass is something that you would want to set up. It’s a platform. It’s great for personal use too but you can put all of your accounts, login info, credit card info, bank account info, and everything. For accounts, it gives other people the ability to log in to your account without seeing the login info. When you have it saved on your computer and it appears in dots, it lets them do that on their computer.

With credit cards, bank accounts, and things like that, you can put that in there so that they can utilize the credit card but you can also set up certain things to where it won’t let a transaction go through that’s not approved. There are different ways that you can protect yourself. That’s another thing. Our team takes care of a lot of our accounts payable. They’re able to do that through a bank account or credit card without even having access to our bank account or credit card, which is helpful.

What kind of checks and balances do you have in place to monitor from a security standpoint or any funky stuff that might go on?

Nobody has the ability to initiate any outbound transfers from anything without it being approved. That’s what’s on LastPass in between the settings on the bank accounts, they can draft a transfer to a certain vendor but it’s not going to leave our account until I have the ability to go through and authorize it. I do that to a lesser extent but to a degree with stateside employees as well, where there are checks and balances to make sure that nobody’s setting up a fake vendor and transferring things to themselves.

They’re overseas, in a different country, or oceans away so the process of the checks and balances you’d have in place is pretty similar to what you’d have in place if they were in your office in the States.

I am more concerned about an American employee stealing from me than I am about someone in the Philippines stealing from me for a number of reasons. You certainly do have to have the right boundaries in place to protect against that.

How did you figure all this stuff out? Did you jump into it and put it together yourself or were there resources that you leaned into? I’m asking this for anybody who’s reading and thinking about trying to start this journey of creating an offshore team. Are there any good resources that you found? Were you like, “Screw it,” and jump in and figure it out?

Yes, I was like, “Screw it,” and then jump in and figure it out. There are good resources out there. For whatever I’m encountering, whether it’s how to hire or work with a team effectively, I search for that on YouTube or something. I hear from other people what has worked for them but I have not found a hack or something like, “Here’s a service that will set all of this up for you entirely.” I always found it to be much more effective to try to figure it out myself.

I’ll tell you the inflection point for me that I learned a lot from. The first person that I hired was in Columbia. I did not have the right things in place. I had not set her up for success. I had to part ways with her for that reason. I’ve unfortunately had to let a lot of people go to the US. The person that we had in Columbia was the hardest termination I’ve ever had to make because it was my fault. That to me had changed my perspective on not going gangbusters on this and trying to find people and bring them in. Do not bring people in and give them this opportunity unless you’ve done what you need to do on your end to set them up for success. That’s ultimately what’s driven me to change my approach.

I bet you could search YouTube videos on how to work with an offshore bookkeeper and set up the right protocols, monday.com, Slack, or LastPass. There are people who put this stuff out there for free that you can lay in your bed and put your headphones in. Instead of watching TV, spend an hour watching some videos on how to figure it out.

That is one difference that I would say between hiring somebody in-house versus hiring a contractor or a fractional bookkeeper or something. When you’re hiring somebody in-house, you’re responsible for designing their roles. We’ve talked about setting up the systems and doing everything to make sure that they’re well-positioned to succeed.

When you’re working with a contractor, somebody who is a bookkeeper for a living, a lot of times, they’re going to have better insight into the systems that they need to be successful than you will. They may do bookkeeping for a lot of other American companies. That is one advantage and those kinds of things. I would lean on a specialist more to help you with that than I would lean on somebody like a generalist that you’re bringing in-house to set the systems up for themselves.

Connor, I’m listening to you talk and you’re inspiring me. I’m a solopreneur. The last thing I want to do at the end of the month is close out my books and go through and classify all those transactions, log stuff, and the balance sheet. Every year, I pay the same price. I wait until April 1st. I’m like, “I got to update my books for last year to get my taxes in.” I call this bookkeeper whom I pay $25 an hour who’s mediocre at best. I went with her because she was cheap.

The other American outsourced bookkeeping services are $300, $400, or $500 a month. I’m like, “I don’t need that.” Maybe that’s me being cheap. I’m going to go on OnlineJobs.ph and find a fractional bookkeeper to help me avoid the pain that I create for myself every freaking year because I don’t update my stuff regularly throughout the year. Thank you, Connor. I appreciate it.

It’s minus $10 an hour. We don’t use her to do taxes or anything like that. That’s more complex but it certainly saves us a lot of money, not only on the hourly rate but having it updated on a regular basis to present to our tax accountant at the end of the year and say, “Here’s a packet of everything that you need.” It saves us a lot of money by doing it that way.

Also, time. I’m running around. I had to clear my day. It’s self-inflicted stupidness on my end when there’s a solution staring me right in the face that is easy and reliable. I thank you, Connor. Any advice for anybody who’s thinking about starting a business in business and has built a large multi-unit operation in the franchise world or entrepreneurship? What would you recommend is the first place for them to start in their journey, trying to figure out if they can put together a good team offshore?

I hate to beat a dead horse here but I thought I would start by making a plan for what this person is going to do and what their role is going to look like. Also, your workflow for how you’re going to work together with them effectively. To add another point to that, it’s very easy for us to sit here as Americans and look at somebody willing to work full-time for $1,000 a month and be like, “Oh my goodness.” Even if they just did one thing, it would be worth it.

While that sounds to us like a negligible amount of wage for a full-time employee, it’s still $12,000 a year. That’s still not a negligible expense to a small business. I would start with identifying ways that someone else could add value to your business and not have your mind blown by the difference in wages to the point that it clouds your judgment as to whether or not you need someone. Something you’ve done though is part-time can work, and it sounds like it’s working well for you, as long as you’re comfortable with the fact that you’re not going to be this person’s sole opportunity.

Starting at how we clarify our use cases and how we are going to set up design a role and build the system is a much better place to start than how we find someone. If you can lay the foundation, there are thousands of people out there, millions maybe, who are capable of doing that role. Don’t start there, start. Start at the starting line.

That’s advice for any hire in business. You have to have it clarified and have the systems in place for them to be able to operate and execute. Don’t expect them to come in and build stuff, whether you’re hiring a technician that’s going to be in the field, a CFO, or a sales, whatever it may be. Everything you’re talking about is blocking and tackling for any hire on your team, not just overseas.

It’s increasingly relevant when you’re hiring people from overseas. When geography is no longer a factor and anybody in the world who has the qualification and can speak English is a candidate, all of a sudden, finding the right person becomes less complicated. In my mind, that shifts the balance towards that should not be the focus. It should be on, “How am I going to set this person up for success in their role?”

Franchise Masters | Connor Groce | Outsourcing

Outsourcing: When geography is no longer a factor and anybody in the world who has the qualification and can speak English is a candidate, all of a sudden, finding the right person becomes less complicated.

 

Maybe a good place to start is the stuff that you hate doing on a weekly basis that inconsistently gets done, that feels like it’s pulling you away from the value, the stuff you want to be doing in your business to continue to grow it, start focusing on those things and maybe pay attention for a few weeks to boil them down into a list of stuff, even getting them into a list. That’s a big help. You can start to figure out, “This isn’t as complicated as it feels like when you’re in the heat of the battle.” You can start to figure out some software that might enable you to communicate effectively or for somebody who can utilize overseas to help get this stuff done that’s in your head or you do naturally, even though you hate doing it.

If you make a list and you use the three buckets that I mentioned, the one-time step, the recurring step, and the projects, and then you start to prioritize that even, that’s an awesome place to start. Maybe even go ahead and use Loom and set up some Zoom recordings of how you do that. If you hire somebody and on day one, you give them a monday dashboard that has those lists that are built out and attached to each of those lists is a Zoom recording of you walking through exactly how to do it, they’re going to be very well-positioned to create value for you.

It’s funny, you go through that process of documenting this stuff and creating a video. You give yourself a few days’ break, go back, and look at it. You’re like, “I’m not that special. I thought it was special. I thought I was the only person in the world that could do this stuff but that’s typically not the case.”

It has made our business run more effectively and helped us be more organized when we have a team around the world because we know that we can’t work with paper. We can’t leave paper all over the desk because it’s not going to work that way. We have to funnel everything through a digital system. From an operational hygiene standpoint, that’s been very great for us as well.

That’s a good word, operational hygiene. I’ve never heard that before. That’s a good one.

Do you know what it means?

I have a feeling. I was going to make a funny joke about it but I’m not going to do that. This is good stuff. Hopefully, anybody reading has picked up a couple of nuggets or two. The biggest thing is to start small and get started. It’s worth the gamble. It’s an investment but do it. Check it out online. OnlineJobs.ph is a good resource. What were some of the other good resources that you mentioned?

HireUA, if you’re interested in hiring an Eastern Europe, that I believe will be the next region of the world that has already taken off. There’s a lot of talent in Eastern Europe that can serve Western companies very well. If you’re going to use an agency, I would recommend it. In terms of platforms and stuff, we talked about monday, Slack, Remitly or Wise for payments, LastPass for account storage, and Loom for training and stuff. That’s the extent of what we use in addition to our standard CRMs, G Suite, and everything else.

Thank you for coming on and dumping some very valuable knowledge on us. We need to get together back in the Carolinas.

Most certainly be here soon.

I’ll let you roll.

Thanks, Dru.

 

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