CONTRIBUTORSElite AgentOpinion

The pitfalls of outsourcing calls

With landlords’ and tenants’ service expectations and demands for immediacy ever-increasing, outsourcing is a tempting option. Tiffany Bowtell says outsourcing can work, if done correctly.

In the past five years, outsourcing in the real estate industry has profoundly affected business owners’ ability to grow their business.

Efficiency and capacity to manage more properties for less are at an all-time high, yet some agencies reach higher targets than others. 

With a growing variety of options available in the market, it can be tricky to decipher the differences between companies, services on offer, and what will best suit your unique requirements.

It comes down to a simple choice – does it make your business better off, and is it an easy process?

After being in the property management industry for 26 years, I’ve seen many changes in technology, but ultimately, the process by which we rent properties hasn’t changed that much.

That’s why when our clients were looking to focus on growing their rent roll through the leverage of outsourcing, I jumped on board to create a new model. 

Our clients have seen increases in their rent rolls of between 30 and 40 per cent year-on-year (in the organic growth sector).

This tremendous growth was achieved without the challenges and roadblocks of recruitment, training, or employing more staff domestically.

And those numbers are even higher in the acquisition growth model.

Long story short, outsourcing works, but only if it’s applied with the right strategy. 

More recently, I’ve noticed a curiosity in the industry about outsourcing customer service activities, especially telephone calls.

I get it – your team is super busy, and your clients’ demands/expectations are higher and more immediate than they’ve ever been before.

Inevitably you find yourself asking, ‘What else can I do to help my property managers?’

Unfortunately, the answer comes back to outsourcing customer service because isn’t that what takes up all of their time? 

When I’m asked whether my company can take on phone calls I typically reply:

“Why? Don’t you like your clients very much?”

Now, to be clear, I’m not about to say anything that could be construed as racist or counter diverse in any way, as this is not a language issue, but outsourcing phone calls to offshore workers is a terrible idea and it will certainly drive you out of business. 

Who hasn’t been on the receiving end of an overseas telemarketer or been shipped offshore to update your address over the phone – it’s not usually a pleasant experience.

Even if the worker has a script and is willing to help you, it’s the context with which your queries are handled, and in property management that could put you in serious trouble.

Your clients want to hear from you.

They want YOU to give them the market recommendations.

They want YOUR local expertise and they want to give YOU more business – if you’re willing to give them your time, love, and attention.

Call centres have been around for the best part of two decades, but as the world gets smaller, our landlords, tenants and tradies want interactions and connection with you, not your back of house staff.

The last thing I want is to see our beloved industry struggle through lowering fees in exchange for low-quality service.

Back-of-house outsourcing is a wonderful tool if used correctly, but bringing real estate into the world of call centres could be the beginning of the end when it comes to the client experience.

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Tiffany Bowtell

Tiffany Bowtell is the Founder and CEO of Property Management Virtual Assistant.