Mobile Home Park Mastery: Episode 51

Virtual Assistants Can Yield A Real Benefit To Park Owners

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The book “4-Hour Work Week” introduced America to the concept of “virtual assistants” – people who will do tasks for you from afar using the internet and at a cost far lower than full-time employees. In this third installment of our five-part series on “The Top Five Tools of Mobile Home Park Owners” we’re going to discuss the websites and resources that allow you to take full advantage of farming out many of your tasks for extremely low prices, and with protection from the complicated and litigious labor laws that plague employers today.

Episode Transcript

A little over a decade ago, an author named Timothy Ferriss wrote a book called, "The Four Hour Work Week", in which he utilized virtual assistance to do many of the jobs that required much of his time. Since that book came out, millions of Americans have asked themselves, "Can I do certain things better or easier using virtual assistance?" In this, our third part series on the Five Top Tools of Mobile Home Park Owners, we're going to talk about virtual assistance. The kinds of things they can do, what they cost, how it can make a Mobile Home Park owner a more efficient person. Who has more free time to do those things they really want to do. It often actually, even makes the productive use of their time in buying more parks, and frees them from having to do day-to-day operations.

So let's talk about the different types of virtual assistance out there. The first one I want to talk about are what I would call ongoing virtual assistance. These are people that do regular tasks every day or, they do special tasks but really in a very deep drill granular format. One of our favorites is called Upwork.com. That's Upwork.com. And, through Upwork you can find nearly any kind of assistant you want. You can find receptionists. You can find graphic designers, web designers, software designers, accountants, administrative assistants. Virtually, anything you're looking for. What does it cost? Well, the more skilled are going to cost you $15 to $25.00 an hour. Now before you recoil and say, "Wait a minute! I thought this stuff was all inexpensive." If you were to go out and get this quality of talent in the U.S. workplace, and have to meet all of U.S. Labor Laws. Bear in mind, if you hire a regular human, not a virtual assistant, you are saddled with all of the obligations of everything from, overtime to healthcare.

But with virtual assistants, you escape all of those items. So, we find to be the pricing very, very fair for what you get. You could get some really, really talented people. Now of course, you're casting a wide net. Many of the folks you're going to get on Upwork.com may live overseas. They may live in Europe. They may live in Asia, it doesn't matter. In today's modern world, it's all about phones and the internet, right? So it doesn't really matter where they are geographically located at. So, if you're needing someone to do a regular task. Let's say you own a Mobile Home Park, and you need someone to do the accounting for the Mobile Home Park. It's possible, you could find someone with the right fit through a website such as Upwork.com.

Another one we use a lot is freelancer.com. Now, freelancer.com, it's more geared towards graphic designs and web designers. So if you're looking at creating your own website, if you're looking at creating your own logo. If you're looking at doing repetitive graphic design tasks like perhaps, you want to do a newsletter every month for your park. Then freelancer.com again, is a very good resource. Price wise about the same as Upwork.com and again, it varies very much on the tasks you're looking for. So, not all of the tasks you get at Upwork and freelancer are expensive. But, they're not going to be as inexpensive as some of the other one's we're going to talk about. Now, let's go from the ongoing virtual assistance down to task based virtual assistance.

We have three different groups that we like to use for task based projects. The first one, and it's amazing what all you can get done is called, Fiverr. F-I-V-E-R-R. Fiverr basically, virtually most any task is $5.00. Now when we first started using Fiverr, we thought, "there's no way that's possible". As you recall, possibly if you were looking at our MHU.com videos from a few years ago, we started having Fiverrs' doing UNusual things. Like, we would have them juggle chainsaws while chanting a mantra of the top things you need to watch out for when buying a Mobile Home Park. We couldn't believe people would do all these things for $5.00, but they do. Now, sometimes if your project is more in depth, it will cost you more than $5.00, but theIR price will be established on the front end. These folks will do almost any kind of task or project you are looking for. And I mean, it's limitless. And it's crazy how good the product is in the end. If you want to do for example, some kind of commercial for you Mobile Home Park, they could do voice dub overs that would rival anything you'd see on NBC. And again, it's about $5.00. So, although those ongoing virtual assistants we talked about were a little more pricey, Fiverr, my gosh it is so cheap.

Another one is called 99 Designs. We love 99 Designs for creating logos for Mobile Home Parks, for your own entity. They can do just the greatest logo and web design. Now, they're not like Fiverr, it's not like $5.00. 99 Designs is typically about $99.00, but the quality of what you get is amazing. We recently did a competition. What you do is you send out through 99 Designs, that you try to get a logo. And they'll get a whole bunch of people to get together to try and do that logo for you. And then, you chose the winner. And then the winner, cleans the things up. Makes minor modifications and you've got just what you wanted. You know, I used to work in an ad agency when I was in high school and early on in college, down in Dallas. And that ad agency is fairly well known for doing some of the top logo designs in the United States. And I can tell you from experience having worked in that agency for several years, the stuff that I see at 99 Designs is just as good as what the agency was producing. Now, don't tell them because I know it's depressing. But basically, when you farm out graphic designs to the whole wide world, and you don't even know where these people are that compete in the contest, they could be anywhere in the entire world. The quality of the workmanship is astoundingly good.

The third one is called FancyHands. Now, FancyHands does tasks that take 20 minutes or less. So, these are little minor things that you might need done. For example, you want to have your envelopes addressed for your residence. FancyHands can do that type of thing. Yet again, it's not very expensive. It's not as in depth as the ongoing. So, the ongoing that grouping, they are the kingpins of getting those perpetual tasks done. But, these task based groups, like Fiverr and 99 Designs and FancyHands again, do great, great work all relatively inexpensively. Then the final group I want to talk about is what we call Agency Groups. Now, these are such websites as longerdays.com. And what they offer is a team of people who can help execute nearly any task you need. So, they can do, being receptionists, invoicing, writing. Once again, graphic design. Or another one we use is called Answerforce. Answer Force can do basically, message taking reception work for you.

Let's say for example, you've got a Mobile Home Park and you're running some ads and you want somebody to answer the phone. Well, LongerDays or Answerforce could provide you with just such a person. And, there's another thing we should talk about. There are some other groups beyond these three broad groups, the also park owners use a lot. I think I would fall ... Use for example, Who's Calling? Under the concept of virtual assistant. Who's Calling? Is a service that basically, records and transcribes all the calls coming in. And, we talked about them on last weeks' edition as far as the way we do surveillance on parks. But again, I have to kind of count that as a cross-over. It's not only a surveillance issue but it's also, giving you a virtual assistant who's basically recording every conversation. Now another way that virtual assistants are utilized in the sales function, there are groups out there like, Who's Calling? Where you can actually have and hire people who you port through Who's Calling, who can answer the phones for you, for your park. And do a pretty good job of it. They can answer them 24-hours a day. They charge by the minute, so it's based on how many minutes of calls that you get.

So the bottom line is, with virtual assistants, you can operate a fairly large portfolio of parks really, without hardly any full-time employees. It's perfectly reasonable today. You could operate your Mobile Home Park or parks using just an onsite community manager and then, almost every other task could be done through these groups of virtual assistants. It's just amazing how this is developing at such an enormous rate. You know, when I started my first company back in the early 1980s, every company back then, had to have a receptionist. We didn't have call forwarding back then. We didn't have answering machines, there was no voicemail. Someone had to physically answer the phone for you. So, before you could even start any business, you had to organize who would answer the phone and it had to be a live, real person that you either paid full-time to answer your phone. Or when you were starting out, you shared through some kind of executive suite format. You look at how amazing it is today, that all those things that we had to pay big money to do and it was very stressful. I mean, if your receptionist didn't show up for a single day, you could not capture of your incoming calls for the day. Imagine what a disaster that would be.

It's so refreshing that today you can do all those things that used to cause so much grief. 20, 30 years ago, using these virtual assistants, it's just an amazing improvement. And also, just on the cost. What's better than having someone answering your phone and only paying them by the minute? That's a great way to handle it. If you don't get any calls, you don't pay any money for it. So I think we'd all have to agree, that virtual assistants are very, very much a part of the society we live in today. And Mobile Home Park owners, smart Mobile Home Park owners, are utilizing virtual assistance more and more.

Now, this does not mean you can truly manage your Mobile Home Park using nothing but virtual assistance. You know, there's some people in the self storage industry that are now trying to manage their self storage facility using kiosks. These basically are free standing things like an ATM machine. People can come up, and they can rent units. It actually does the contracts for them and will even dispense the lock to them. Mobile Home Parks are nowhere near that level at this point. They're still a ways away from being there. So, what it means is, virtual assistance while being a very, very important part of the fabric of being a park owner today, they are not the entire picture. You still have to have an onsite community manager, there's no getting away from that fact. But, you can do so many things using virtual assistance. That if you're not using them, I would definitely urge you to start looking into using it. Looking at the pricing, think of all the things you do as a park owner each day because, you can do so much using virtual assistance in such a high quality of effort. It's really astounding.

Now, in next week's edition we're going to be talking about, on our fourth of the Five Tools, software. All the various software programs that park owners use today. But on today's edition, I just wanted to emphasize again, that virtual assistants, if you're not using them you're really missing out. They truly are one of the best tools for park ownership because, it allows you to have a very large workforce that you control, at a very small price with very, very high quality of work. Again, this is Frank Rolfe of the Mobile Home Park Mastery podcast series. Hope you enjoyed this edition, hope you learn some thing's and we'll be back again next week.