Whether it is in the context of finance, human resources, or IT in the real estate industry, there continues to be strong arguments for and against outsourcing. If you are looking to free up some of your valuable time, Laorence Nohra of Tradebusters offers the following guide to help you successfully delegate outside while still maintaining control.
There are great outsourcing success stories as well as those that portray complete failures. Not surprisingly there are still many negative perceptions around this business proposition. The critical question is “Are these perceptions potentially hindering many agencies from maximising the competitive edge opportunities that effective outsourcing can deliver?
What is outsourcing?
Quite simply it is the process of transferring the execution of certain activities within a business to an external and specialist service provider.
In the real estate industry, some of the most common cited ‘cons’ of outsourcing is the perception that it “removes responsibility and transparency resulting in damage to service and reputation”.
Outsourcing does not mean zero involvement. Rather it is the recognition that certain non-core activities in a process are more effectively handled by a specialist service provider so that the business can concentrate on core activities that deliver higher customer value.
An example of this is in the trade maintenance process. An experienced service provider in this area can save an agency significant cost and time (hours or days per week) associated with: finding a suitably qualified tradesperson; arranging access with tenants; and ensuring that the work is completed within expected delivery times. However the core ‘value-added’ activities of this process, including interaction with the landlord, ensuring satisfactory completion and payment remains with the agency.
The result of this partnership is more freed up time for the agency to focus on other core activities like prospecting or even improving customer experiences as they benefit from the support of experts to help deliver a quality and efficient process.
How do you get outsourcing right?
Tradebusters offers the following considerations towards successful outsourcing:
- Understand why and what you are outsourcing. Is it to save costs, reduce workload, free up time for more prospecting activity or even to provide other services? Identify non-core activities that are suitable for outsourcing verses core activities that will remain in-house.
- Select service providers who are in sync with the features that define your business. It is important to work with providers that are can support your long-term strategic objectives.
- Adopt a phased approach to outsourcing. Start with outsourcing one business activity to ensure your expectations are being met, and then gradually expand this to other areas as your comfort levels increase.
- Consider whether a combination of service providers is appropriate. This could enable access to expert capabilities supporting key business activities e.g. trade co-ordination, direct mail providers etc.
- Embrace ownership for the outsourcing journey and its opportunities. Don’t expect a service provider alone to solve any pre-existing process or cultural organisational issues. To be truly successful requires working alongside your service providers on issues and improvements. Assess if your service provider can supply incremental activities that provide you with a greater competitive advantage: e.g. special client offers, more regular newsletters etc.
Effective outsourcing is about establishing a collaborative partnership to gain control, market share as well as improve overall business performance and value. Within the current challenging and highly competitive environment, it is time to cast aside the old school thinking about outsourcing and seize the real benefits of an increasingly valuable business proposition.
10 activities to consider for outsourcing
- Direct mail content development
- Tradesmen co-ordination
- IT set-up and support
- Newsletter preparation and communication
- Website content management
- Human resources activities
- Non-sensitive administration support services
- Routine property inspections
- Direct mail distribution
Lahorence Nohra is the CEO of Tradebusters, a national trades service provider. It services home-owners as well as real estate agencies in property management and sales in the co-ordination of qualified tradespeople for home repairs and renovations. For further information visit, www.tradebusters.com.au.