Global Teams, Local Wins: Mastering Offshore Staffing with Drew Le Faucheur

Episode 96 November 10, 2023 00:48:17
Global Teams, Local Wins: Mastering Offshore Staffing with Drew Le Faucheur
The Agency Hour
Global Teams, Local Wins: Mastering Offshore Staffing with Drew Le Faucheur

Nov 10 2023 | 00:48:17


Hosted By

Troy Dean Johnny Flash

Show Notes

Welcome to The Agency Hour, where we’re all about turning your web design and digital agency into a powerhouse of profit and productivity. This week, we’re thrilled to have Drew Le Faucheur join us.

Drew has over ten years experience working with offshore teams and as General Manager of ConnectOS, Drew heads up the Australian and New Zealand regions, responsible for client relationships and business development.

We’ll be diving deep into the nuts and bolts of offshore staffing – discussing the ins and outs of finding quality staff, understanding the business model behind a staffing solutions firm, and pinpointing the roles that will most benefit your agency. 

Let's get into the nitty-gritty of building a team that fuels success, wherever they are in the world.



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Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Speaker A: We're dealing with people. So occasionally there can be misalignment that happens in any business in the world that is involving in the sourcing of people. So we've got to watch that very, very carefully, both from an expectationist point of view or occasionally, if there is misalignment, we have to be on the front foot, if you like, in managing that. [00:00:18] Speaker B: Welcome to the agency Hour podcast, where we help web design and digital agency owners create abundance for themselves, their teams, and their communities. That's right. Abundance beats scarcity every single time. This week, we're joined by Drew Laforter. Drew holds an executive MBA, has over ten years experience working with offshore teams, and as general manager of Connectos, now heads up the Australian and New Zealand regions responsible for client relationships and business development. In this episode, we dive into the challenges around sourcing staff, the business model for a staffing solution company, how to filter out bad talent and attract good talent, and which offshore roles agency owners should be exploring. I'm Troy Dean. Stay with us. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome to the Agency Hour podcast, Drew LaFosia. Hey, Drew, how are you? [00:01:06] Speaker A: Good, Troy. How are you? Good. [00:01:08] Speaker B: Thank you for joining us. A little bit of background. Just give people the too long, didn't read version. Who are you, what do you do and why are you here? On the agency Hour podcast? [00:01:17] Speaker A: Sure. So, as you said, I work for a company called Connectos. I'm a general manager there, basically responsible for client management, client development in Australia and New Zealand. At the moment, we're expanding to other markets as well. And why am I here? I hope I've answered all the questions, Troy, but Josh Moore duo, plus we've done a bit of work with them in sourcing candidates for our model, which is offshore staff based in the Philippines in a managed services model. [00:01:45] Speaker B: Great. So let me just unpack that. Josh Moore, for those listening, is one of our Mavericks Club mastermind members. He was looking to expand his team when he first started working with us. He frankly didn't have enough people on his team, and he had never used team offshore at that point. I don't believe so. We encourage him to explore this. He went digging. He found you guys. You guys are a integrated resource solution is what it says on your website, but you're a staffing solution company for people, companies who want to hire and grow a team in the Philippines, which has a whole bunch of. Having been there and done it myself, a whole bunch of headaches and a whole bunch of problems that you're going to have to solve along the way you guys solve a lot of those problems for your clients and just match your clients with staff in the Philippines. Correct? [00:02:34] Speaker A: Correct. [00:02:35] Speaker B: So, first of all, how did you get into this? I know we were talking a little bit about this pre show, but just give the audience a rundown. How did you get into this business model? [00:02:45] Speaker A: Yeah, thanks for. So again, sort of very high level. I've got enjoying my age a little bit here, but over 20 years experience in business development, relationship management. And through that I worked for a company, quite a well known publisher called Lexus Nexus, well over ten years ago now. And they went down the path like a lot of Australian companies, although outsourcing their administration team at the time. So I was in a sort of senior role managing that. Got a feel for it day to day, really saw the value in doing it. And then through other roles, again, I was in a GM role managing a team offshore and built close relationships. So again, had got more of a grassroots feel. And then the Connectos opportunity came about three years ago. For me, very exciting journey as a business, given the level of growth. It was the sort of short version there. When I started, I touched on Troy. We were at about 130 staff on our books, and now three years later, we're approaching 1200. [00:03:39] Speaker B: Wow. [00:03:40] Speaker A: You know, we're on the BRW number 29th, I believe, last year, and we've got some other. Well, we're now the number one rankEd, not to plug the business too heavily, but number one ranked based on Job Street. Indeed. Which is relevant because that's assessed by what employees think of us rather than other corporates. So that plays an important role in us attracting the right candidates. So look very passionate about the space, Troy, and it's very exciting. And I think that's where the world's heading for a lot of companies. [00:04:09] Speaker B: Totally. I mean, COVID has really accelerated this. I think everyone's heard a horror story. A lot of people listening to this podcast have been through a horror story of trying to hire staff, whether it's local or remote, whether it's the Philippines, whether it's Indonesia, whether know South America, wherever, whether it's next door in the next street. What are some of the challenges if people are like and know Josh is an example. People are just getting into this for the first time. What are some of their blind spots, the things that they're not thinking about that they should be? And again, not to plug your business too much, but maybe how do you help them with those? How do you help them accelerate that journey and not have to kind of go through those challenges on their own? [00:04:54] Speaker A: Yeah, it's a great question. I think I'd probably answer that in two levels. One, I guess as an industry we absolutely deal with those perception issues. No question there are reputations on cowboys, some cowboys playing in our space. That is absolutely something we have to deal with and understand. We've got to push through that as a brand part of it too, I'd say. Well, firstly, why is that perception there? There have been issues, I think, on a lack of transparency in the industry and it's something we try to address in our model. So number one, as an example, if you're using a service like ours, you get charged lump sum amounts and you have no idea what you're really paying for within that. And then there was an issue recently, I gather that where there was alter, say, big end of town and there were some things that came out and I realized there was some, let's just say, gouging going on and I won't say more than that. So transparency can be a lack of issue and we've certainly tried to address that now model with being very transparent on what we charge, what the employee owns and so forth to come on. Your question on, I guess, some of the challenges around it, I think certainly with people that go direct. So as opposed to using a model like, as if people go and try and source staff direct on sites like upwork and other equivalents, there are risks around that. And that in some ways can tarnish the whole space because there are things that can happen. You can get very good staff, but equally, these issues around people working two or three roles at once is one example, disappearing after three months and you really don't have any recourse because it's a different legal jurisdiction. So those things can again tarnish the whole industry. Part of the value and what not just us but providers like us where you are employing them under local labor law contracts means they can't be working two or three jobs at once. You don't tend to disappear after three or four months, so that offsets some of that. But again, you're dealing with those perception issues. Troy, I think can be part of it. And I think beyond that, look, as you said, I don't want to be plugging us too heavily, but it is quite involved in setting up a business in the Philippines and certainly the founder is more the expert here than me, but understanding that it's just difficult to set up an offshore business. There's a lot of different processes and things take longer than you think I think the investment we put in our business on attracting the right candidate, that takes time. And you're dealing with one of the values of what we do as a low cost resource. So if you like, you have to play the longer game. You can't charge huge money, but it takes time to build that brand at the same time. And you wouldn't want to up your rates to increase cash flow in the short term to make ends meet. So it's a bit of a tightrope for any business, I think, starting out in this space in the first few years. [00:07:44] Speaker B: I mean, it makes sense. So, just to be clear, I have been to Manila several times. I've hired staff over there, we've fired staff over there. I have friends over there who run BPOs in the Philippines. It is a different world because, as you know, you're not dealing with the same bureaucratic structure that you might be used to dealing with in Australia or the US. And you're right, someone hires someone in the Philippines on upwork, and they go missing after three weeks, and all of a sudden they say, oh, well, I tried to hire someone in the Philippines and it didn't work. It's like someone who is a Facebook ad campaign, and the first campaign doesn't work. So they say Facebook ads don't work. One of the most profitable companies on the planet, their whole business model is advertising. And you're trying to tell me the Facebook ads don't work? It's not that Facebook ads don't work. It's just that you haven't figured out how to get them to work for the. I think there's a lot of fear, and I think there is. And also, it just ends up going in the too hard basket. Right. Because it is. Now, one of the things that I know from personal experience is that it takes a bloody long time to find and onboard good talent into your business. As I said, whether you're hiring them in your own office or on the other side of the planet. And again, we're not here to plug connectos, but the reality is you're in this business. One of the advantages of using a service provider like yourself is that this is your core business. You're recruiting lots of talent on a daily basis, and you are top tales. Another example of, I mean, they will publicly say they only hire the top 3% of the talent. So obviously you're paying a premium for that talent and their infrastructure, but you're saving time having to go through that process yourself. What I'm curious about is what do you do, how do you filter out the good talent from the not so Good talent, and what do you do to attract those people to Connectos? Because there's a lot of providers like you. There must be dozens of places, hundreds of places where talent in the Philippines can go to try and get these opportunities. How are you attracting good talent for your clients? [00:09:52] Speaker A: Yeah, again, very good question. So the two parts of the question, I'll talk and guess in terms of our process and then the brand, because I think they are separate points. The brand being, again, how do we attract the right talent? I will unpack that a little bit. But on the process and some of these responses, Troy, they are going to be sort of common sense things I'll say, because, yes, you do need good stuff in the recruitment team that know what they're doing, that understand the market, as I'm sure your audience would expect. But there is some nuance around that on literally how they go about screening campaigns. The communication piece, funny enough, is there's actually very good comms, you probably know, in the Philippines, across the board, but understanding some of the nuance on certain roles, especially in marketing, is a good example, actually, where you do need to look below the surface if it's SEO and you look at scripts and so forth. So having a really strong recruitment team that understand the market kind of goes without saying. Look, I think in some ways it would be good to have a recruiter on the call with me because they can go into some of the nuance, but they do manage that process really well on the brand, on attracting the right talent. I could unpack that a lot, but there's some with the basics. So where we're located, for example, now parts of Manila, BGC McCarty are good examples where they're actually gather ex military grounds that were converted to office space over time. Nothing wrong with that. They're good precincts, but depending on the staff, they're not necessarily as accessible as other parts of Manila. We have deliberately located in Mandealong, which is right next to the EDSA Freeway, so very accessible from public transport. And driving into the office, that's a big deal in a city. Likewise, totally most populated city in the world. Densely populated city in the. So that's a big part. Now, even the office we're in, it's the mega Tower and it's a really high quality building, so it's a great environment for the staff to be in. It's not surrounded by concrete, natural light. The offices are really kitted out as good as what you'd see in Melbourne or any other major city in Australia. So they're on proper great working conditions, 120 centimeter desks, large flat screen TVs. We do a lot of, we're a very strong HR focus in the team, and I do occasionally say this in conversations with potential clients, but the idea that internally there is absolutely a focus on looking after the team. But as I say, how does that play out in practice? So these team building activities on a monthly basis, often staff that might only be one staff for a company, a group with others in a similar industry. So they feel like they're part of know. The fact that we're located above the Mega Mall is a big deal from a local point of views. And the Mega Mall is the 6th largest shopping center in the world, I gather. Because if you think about their lifestyles, Troy, they start early than us. They're two or 3 hours behind, depending on what time of the year it is. So they typically start early, finish early. They go straight down from the mega Tower down to the mega Mall, do this shopping and go home. So these are big draw cards from a lifestyle point of view, in terms of getting the talent, these sound like little things in isolation, but things like having a masseuse, it sounds cute, but again, these are all draw cards. So all these sort of pieces add up to why are we getting ranked right now, the number one based on job streets are so owned by seek. These are credible things. So they really do look at that in terms of which managed service provider am I going to work for? And that sort of completes the picture. [00:13:36] Speaker B: And they have choices. Right. There is an abundance of opportunity for Philippine talent at the moment because companies in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the US, the UK are looking for talent. There's obviously not only economic benefits, but there's also just popular, like, there are just numbers. Right. I talk to agency owners all the time and explain why the Philippines, I think is a good option. Because in, like, not only economically does it make sense, but just think about the numbers. In the Philippines, a lot of people are skilling up in order to provide services to Australian and New Zealand companies. In Australia, we're not skilling up to provide those same services. Right. And it's a numbers game. It's not just the cost of living over there allows us to have an economic benefit. It's purely the numbers. Well, the talent pool, I believe the talent pool is bigger over there with the kind of skills that we need to support our business operations. [00:14:39] Speaker A: Yeah, absolutely, Troy, I think just following on your point, sort of a couple of insights I would share that might be valued. I mean, first of the idea, often the tendency can be to think in terms of a role rather than just standing back from your own business and thinking about, okay, what are the things that are taking away core staff, senior leaders away from high value tasks. Right. So thinking in terms of functions rather than worrying about what the role might look like is a helpful way to do it because it's very common. We'll see local businesses grow rapidly because they get their senior team together and say, okay, guys, you all know what your core remit is and what's taking away from that. And for those functions, how do we outsource that? And then companies like us and where we feel we can add some value, we can really consult on that and say, well, based on that, we think that's one, two roles, whatever it might be. Again, because you can get hybrid skill sets within the one resource, that's often another thing people don't realize. You can get someone who's a social media marketing manager, as an example, also doing some general office admin. So I think from, as you say, talking Sims of global trends, the idea that that question are your team spending enough time on the high value tasks, freeing them up, what does that mean? What's the role and effect of that? Right. So therefore they've got more time to allocate to high value task strategy, whatever it might be. Okay. It's just a helpful way to think of it. The other insight I would share that I absolutely was enhanced for me at Connectos, beyond my other roles, is the idea that you can really find resources or people that aren't just disciplined, hardworking, turn up on time and follow instructions. There's really good soft skills there. So strong EQ, right? The ability to like our CSMS client relationship managers, they have to read between the lines. You've got these conversations around, whether it's terms legal or more nuanced conversations. And again, you can get that sort of talent because, as you say, it's a cornerstone of their economy. So they're really gearing up for that to be an absolute have been for a long time, key service to offer. So, yeah, it's evolved a lot, I would say, too, in the last ten or 15 years. [00:16:44] Speaker B: Now, if you're listening to this and you're thinking that you want to grow a team, but you don't want the responsibility of having your own team members, or you don't have time to figure that out just yet because you're just inundated and overwhelmed with work that you need to get done. One option may be to just use a white label development partner to get those client projects done, and over time, you might discover that you have more free time to think about growing your own team, in which case, using someone like Connectos might be a good solution. But in the interim, or maybe you just don't want the responsibility of managing your own team and you just want to outsource everything to a white label dev agency. Totally fine. In that case, you should definitely talk to Manish and the team at e two M solutions. They are our sponsor here on the podcast. They're also our platinum sponsor for our MavCon events. There's 100,000 reasons why they are our sponsor, and I can tell you now, we have been offered sponsorship for years on this podcast from everyone and his dog in the web design space. All the big brands that you would expect have approached us for sponsorship and we have continually turned it down because I want to be able to talk on this podcast about what is best for you guys and not feel beholden to say something specific because our sponsor is allowing us to do this and funding us. The good thing about E two M is I do have complete creative control over this podcast. We can say whatever we want in this podcast and also we just have such a value alignment with the guys at E two M that it made perfect sense to bring them on as a sponsor. Their business model is different to Connectos. They are a white Label development agency that will do all of your care plan work, all of your development work. They'll also do some copywriting and they'll do some SEO. They manage the projects in your system. They manage their, you know, pretty much a plug and play system that allows you to move very quick and get some stuff done without too many headaches. So e two agency Mavericks is where you should go to check that out and start the conversation with Manish. And they will very kindly give you a discount off your first month to get you on board and get you started. We have many clients using them. I'm also interacting with them at the moment because I'm helping one of our clients out who is unwell. I have dived in and I'm helping him get some projects over the line. And so I'm actually project managing some projects at the moment and working with the guys at E two M to get some projects done. I can tell you the quality of work is outstanding and their communication is excellent. So e two M solutions for that route. And now we'll get back to talking to Drew at Connectos. One of the things I want to clarify for people listening is if I am an agency owner, I come to you guys like Josh has. I say how I need some staff to help me run some SEO campaigns or do some social media management. I'm employing the staff member. You guys bill me, I pay you, you guys pay the staff member, but I'm managing the staff member myself. Right. It's not like I don't call Drew and say, hey, Drew, we need this campaign for a client. You go manage the staff. I've got a direct relationship and I'm managing the staff directly. Correct? [00:19:56] Speaker A: Correct. Yes. So just to add a few points to that, Troy. So exactly right. Our responsibilities, we're sourcing them, screening them, interviewing them, and then you have your process, interviews and whatever. Then once you're up and running, we're managing all the back ends, all of their payroll. We pay them on your behalf. Then when you get our invoice, you have a breakdown of that. All of their IT set up management around that HR if needed. Again, that's on an as needs basis. But they're exactly right. They're your staff. They report to you. They're part of the team, part of the culture, just on the legal choice. The way that will work is we would have a service agreement with our clients and then they're actually employed by us direct. So we have the employment agreement with the employee and then the service agreement. So against, you're covered in terms of PI and risks and so forth. But that's how we set that up, which I think is fairly common across the industry. [00:20:46] Speaker B: Do you provide any advice to people who are looking to hire someone but haven't really been through the recruitment process and don't really understand how to interview and what to look for. Do you provide any consulting or advice around that? [00:21:01] Speaker A: Certainly on an ad hoc basis. It's not a formal service we provide per se. And again, I don't know that there'd be a lot of it out there, but certainly our process, and we certainly guide you through it. So as part of our onboarding, the client success manager, the relationship managEr, we provide a full onboarding guide on how to do that. There is some common sense around it, meaning spending the right time up front. Common sense that might sound occasionally where there can be clients not getting the full value as they might not spend that initial, especially the first few days. Paint the picture. This is who we are as a business this is our brand, this is our culture. Really embedding that even in the first week, just sets the tone for the first few months. So again, we provide guides on that. So I guess beyond that, the training would be more informal in a way, but guidance as needed, Troy. [00:21:55] Speaker B: Because there is so much, and I guess I'm looking at clients that come to you that are new to this. How do you manage their expectations? Because one of the things I've found in the past is that people hire a remote staff member and they expect a unicorn. They expect someone who can do everything. And I've certainly made that mistake in the past when I was starting out as well, because it's just a bit naive and a bit of inexperienced. How do you manage those expectations to clients and kind of set their expectations and say, well, this is probably three roles, not one? [00:22:23] Speaker A: It's a great question, Troy, because it touches on the point I made earlier. We are fully cognizant of the fact that, as I mentioned earlier, we have to deal with this perception of the industry. And beyond that, it is absolutely a space where we need to be nimble. Right. So how do we try and reassure that we are very strong in our process? And what do I mean by that? Like if we're not talking about it, we're ISO 27 that doesn't want thousand one compliant. That gives people some reassurance, but also in those initial stages, really providing a lot of as requested too, but documentation so they can see from the go get, we're not a backyard. We've got, this is an idea of who we are. This is our IT policy and how that works. We provide a copy of our terms up front once they have the discovery that you can review before we get to formal T's and C's signing off. So you can review that, and that's quite involved. But just being as transparent as we can on this is what the process looks like. We provide guides, I mentioned onboarding, invoicing and other things, because you're absolutely right, it can be a leap of faith for a lot of people that are new to it. It's a new space, legal and so forth. So as much as we can, we try to offset that with providing the detail to your other point on wanting the unicorn. And occasionally, when I say occasionally, where we need to push back, we have done. But most of the time the expectations are pretty solid on what you can get versus what might be needed. But marketing is a good example where we've had requests for what I would call very senior strategic marketing roles that need an understanding of the local market. Now the Philippines, very different market to Australia for obvious reasons. So some of those we would actually push back and say, well, no, some of that, I guess more senior skill set that should probably remain locally or that's not what we would provide. What we can provide is, I guess the mid tier experience being managing the day to day, providing content, managing SEO and so forth, which doesn't lead need and local knowledge in the market. [00:24:26] Speaker B: And I guess for those, because. [00:24:31] Speaker A: I. [00:24:31] Speaker B: Think this is where the clients that we work with, I think this is exactly where they get stuck, right? We've got a lot of clients now who kind of have this strategist implementer division, right? So they have strategists locally who are working with the clients to come up with solutions, design strategies. They understand the local market, they understand the local environment. They've got their finger on the pulse in terms of what's happening with competition, the local landscape, any compliance or new legislation that's happening, and then they design the strategy and then the implementers will run the day to day and keep everything running and we'll obviously give feedback to the strategist and that's been a very successful model for a lot of our clients. But I think some clients expect, well, why can't I hire a strategist in the Philippines to get on the phone with the client and design the whole solution? I know why that's problematic, but I wonder if you can just talk to that for a minute so people can hear it from someone who's got that experience firsthand. [00:25:34] Speaker A: No, look at his head. And especially in the startup space, right, you're wanting to grow. And again, I was general manager of a startup and managing an admin team, so there is some nuance to a try, I think, because again, you can get very senior, really smart, commercially smart, nimble people in the Philippines, and I've seen them in Ops roles and manage them directly, they're fantastic. You could use that functional approach, but just thinking about what's your core IP in your business? And I guess I'm thinking about it in terms of what's realistic to outsource, but where are you taking too much of a risk, especially to a startup on outsourcing strategy or IP? Some of those really high end functions where the marketing is the best example, where you need certain local knowledge, you ain't necessarily going to get in the Philippines. I think on the financial side, again, this has probably very rarely come up, but there's a difference between sure even being a senior accountant or managing senior tasks versus cash flow planning in your business, or some of those really important risk management aspects that I personally wouldn't be comfortable outsourcing beyond a point because it's a critical function that needs some of that nuance. There's maybe an argument on the financial side, if someone's good enough, they could still do that. But the way I would look at it is I guess starting with the outcomes, thinking, okay, you want to grow, you want senior people focusing on high value tasks and I guess drawing the line on what relates to your specific IP financially, where is it really a commercial decision maker for a business owner come partner versus optional, and that could be one way to approach it. Hope I've answered your question, Troy, because it's a great question and I don't think it's necessarily a straight click on answer. [00:27:27] Speaker B: No, it's not. And I think some people just have to learn the hard way. They try and outsource tasks that will bite them in the bum because they haven't heeded the warning. And certainly my expectations have had to been reset and managed over the years, and not just with remote staff, but with local staff as well. So if I'm an agency owner, what kind of talent should I be looking to recruit in the Philippines? Whether it's through you guys or someone else, what can I expect that I can outsource and get a remote team member to help me with? What are the typical roles that you're looking at recruiting for? [00:28:07] Speaker A: Yeah, great question. So look, we're working through it and probably starting with the most common would be administration. And I often talk about administration role. Troy, there's almost three tiers to. It's a good way to look at it because it is the most common and it's also the most common as a hybrid. So I mentioned earlier, you can have someone as a marketing manager hybrid with an admin bookkeeper hybrid admin, and that's a very common. But within admin, for example, the three tiers could be the lower level data entry, like really basic data entry, entering fields in an application. A mid tier might be more what we typically hire, general admin tasks, back office administration process and so forth. And then I'd describe a senior as someone who we've seen examples of admin staff coordinating, rostering for staff, field reps in the field, and they're coordinating and resource managing around that. So they're quite project managing effectively. That'll be the senior level, but that'll be the first and most common admin accounting come bookkeeping is another broad bucket, basic bookkeeping up to literally logging into case the ATO portal to lodge statements and so forth. It would be another large bucket. Again in the startup space that can be basic, back end it and then more established businesses. Anything from Devs, front end, back end, devs, full stack, some of those. And you do certainly see spikes depending on where the market's at for industry needs. I've mentioned social media marketing manager will be another bucket that again, we've seen quite a trend in that the last six months. Actually. There seems to be a lot of need for that. And beyond that, Troy, I guess they get these more niche technical roles. So drafting and construction engineering could be one example, estimators could be another, and then they're sort of within that broad, sort of ad hoc technical, let's call it. You get these different niches within that. [00:30:00] Speaker B: And just in marketing, apart from strategy, what roles would you say? Well, that's probably not something and I'm more than happy for you to challenge me on this. My experience would say the two roles I've found very difficult to hire for, specifically in the Philippines are design and been. Should I not bother trying to do that? Or have I missed something over the years and not found the right talent? [00:30:31] Speaker A: I'll start with the copyright because it's interesting you say that we've actually sourced some of those roles lately and done it very well for content based organizations. Look, short answer me, but we've absolutely seen that. I haven't seen an avalanche of. It's a bit of a niche role, but certainly we've done it successfully. I think common sense around that, Troy, you'd be paying well for what the market offers. You've got to do all the right things to get the right candidates. So I think those you can get on the design thing. I think that to me it would depend, but I would say some of it could potentially relate to my comments on the senior marketing. If it's design, where again, the Philippines and the Asian region, very different market and tastes vary. We've seen graphic design roles. Absolutely. I mean, graphic design, it's a niche role, but we see it quite regularly, let's put it that way. But I would say if you're looking for a strategist on design to sort of set the strategy and then design based on that, maybe that's something you might be just careful about. But certainly basic graphic design roles we. [00:31:37] Speaker B: See a lot of actually, I've actually had seen some great video editors come out of the Philippines as well, which is not something that I expected. But I will say that they are harder to find than a web developer or a full stack software developer or an admin assistant. And I don't know why, but the creative roles I think are harder to find. I think the talent pool might be smaller there. And also I think you're right that the aesthetic and the taste and the market right across Asia is actually quite different to what I've experienced in Australia. And you just go to Asia and you have a look at the graphic design and the billboards and the pamphlets and the brochures, and you can see that it's a completely different kind of aesthetic. And so I think creative talent in the Philippines that are serving Australian or New Zealand companies, the ones that I've seen work really well, are ones that have studied what's going on in the Australian New Zealand market and have had a look at what other companies are producing and have adapted their style accordingly. [00:32:38] Speaker A: And I think that just on that, Troy, it's again common sense, but you put some fairly tight parameters on that. So. Exactly, if you are taking what I said earlier, you want to use a bit of common sense on some of that senior, senior experience. But if you say, okay, I want someone who has that Australian experience, as you say, on a fairly niche, it is a niche role. You can find them. [00:33:00] Speaker B: Apart from design agencies and marketing agencies, who's the typical client that comes to you guys? [00:33:09] Speaker A: It is quite broad. We have a broad cross section. Yes, certainly within finance and accounting, you do see a mix of sort of SMEs to mid tiers, I guess. But the way I describe, rather than using industries, for example, you see quite a lot of startups lean, let's say less than five year startups see a lot of even under ten years where they're really sharp, but they're still technically a startup and they're looking at, I guess, some of these more generalist roles. So in marketing and doing a little bit of SEO, a bit of digital marketing, had one of those this morning actually, where a little bit of admin. So that's a very common bucket. But then we're also given that, I guess, where the business is heading, we're having a lot of larger clients that will literally say to us, we need a lot of staff in, let's say, an administration type role in a short time frame. So as a business, I guess we've stretched to that as well, where there might be some capability presentations initially and stakeholders and so forth. And then in the mid tier I typically, I must say, dealing with a lot of startups and sort of mid tiers. Troy, at the moment, just that's the way it's sort of panned out, which is great, but I guess it's just a different type of conversation where, as I say, more generalist, I guess, for those smaller entities, understandably, and then they grow. And the other point I'll make on this is a good insight to share, actually. That especially if you're looking at growing at a team, spending the time on thinking about what those one or two initial roles look like is a really important point because often they become initially what could be an OpS role in the trenches for a future team lead of four or five staff. So firstly, getting those one or two roles right, initial roles is absolutely critical, but also understanding that that's probably going to evolve into a gun, Ops tech, whatever it might be, into a team lead. So that adds another layer of, and we feel we can absolutely help with that. That's something to bear in mind, just thinking about that future. [00:35:05] Speaker B: Yeah. And across all the industries that you serve and the 1200 OD staff that you've got, what have you seen work with those that have been successful versus those that have had a team member that hasn't worked out for whatever reason? What are the Traits of those that are doing it really well? What are the sort of the common characteristics that they're displaying? [00:35:25] Speaker A: Yeah, I think, firstly, I'll use the word common sense again, but spending the time up front. So especially in that first week, painting a picture of this is who we are as a business, this is our culture, because that's what you're doing. You're bringing them in on the journey. I think I would add to that, Troy, not that it's with the absence of this means you're not being successful, but companies, I guess, seem to have a natural. They appreciate that we look after our people. Right. So I was going to say HR, but it's not a HR focus. It's just if you're really sort of people focused in what you do and looking after your people, our model does seem to resonate and it just sets the tone, right. That if you think about the overall experience for the employee in the Philippines, they're coming to a company to our end, they're in a nice environment. If they're working in the office, there's a lot of the things we're doing on that end. Client they're working for, again, is setting the tone. They're very focused on staff well being, building that relationship and just setting that tone, especially in the first few weeks, often say that doing that, they become, I guess, much more independent in the context of the business they're working for. If you spend that time up front, I'm sure this is common sense stuff for a lot of your listeners, but just setting that tone early, I think, is a bit of a, bit of a no brainer. [00:36:38] Speaker B: It is common sense, but it's, well, I would say it's common sense, but it's not common practice. [00:36:44] Speaker A: Indeed. You're right. You're absolutely right. That's why I shouldn't qualify that too heavily, because you do see, I've said it really, but at least this sort of set and forget, then a few weeks in, there's a bit of a misperception. We do our best to communicate that. But yeah, there can be that expectation that. [00:36:59] Speaker B: I think the other thing I think that's worth noting is new team members generallY, by and large, they don't want to be a nuisance. They want to fit in. They want to be useful. They want to be helpful. A lot of people don't feel comfortable asking a lot of questions in the first 14 to 30 days that they're employed. They want to try and figure things out themselves and kind of be competent. Add to that, the culture of the Philippines is, I think what I've learned over the years is that you have to be overtly explicit in making it okay for people to ask lots of questions and let them know that that is the right thing to do because their culture is that they won't be as forthcoming. As I said, any new team member, regardless of where they live, will want to figure things out themselves and make an impact and make an impression. But particularly in the Philippine culture, they're very proud. They don't want to be seen as not competent or not be able to do the job. And so you think you really need to lean into people and let them know it's totally okay to ask lots of questions. We'd rather you ask lots of questions up front and get clarity than go off and do the wrong thing. I'm curious. Obviously, you don't train the staff how to do the job they've been hired for, but how do you keep the staff that work in the facility, in the office there? What do you do to maintain that culture and to kind of nurture them as good employees and good team members? [00:38:35] Speaker A: Yeah. Great color questions, and I'm glad you raised the point on the cultural differences, Troy, because it's a very valid point. And as you say, they tend to be more, what's the word? It's not more, not subservient. They might be quieter when they should maybe raise something of that perception. Right. Or it's a very important point to knowledge. I think that's actually softened a bit in the last 18 years. And the reason I say that, it's still there and something to acknowledge, but I just think this is my perception. But it's such a big market over there and I think the understanding of the differences and nuances with strain culture versus the PhiLippines, I think has improved where the gap is, I think compared to when I was doing it in 2010, the lines are a bit less clear. If that makes sense or it's getting closer, how do we do that and create that culture? So I touched on this, but we do have this very strong HR driven focus in our business. So I mentioned the office and monthly and monthly team building events and so forth. It's worth mentioning the Christmas event, Troy, because you probably know, but in the Philippines, the Christmas Party is a very different thing to what it is in Australia, in that it is absolutely a culture building exercise. Right. So in Australia we organize an event and organize drinks or whatever, but over there, to give you an idea, I think we're potentially looking close to a thousand people at our Christmas event this year. And it's really about the team, it's not about the management clients. We encourage clients to come, they're not obliged to, but it's a big night, we have performers and so forth and the staff win prizes, but it really is as a business and as a team, the staff love that. So we put a lot of energy, time, money and resource into that. Beyond that, I think I've lost my train of thought. There was something else I was going to say, and I've lost my train of thought. But the monthly things are really important and hopefully it cements that there's a little thing. But doing the staff benefits. So having an employee benefits program, having the health care and some of those things too, and that should be standard. Unfortunately, it's not in our space. Some of the don't include healthcare, which is a big deal over there. Of course, I think all those pieces do add up. We do actively encourage clients if they ever want to visit the Philippines again, they don't have to, but if they do, because again, building that relationship with your staff so we can arrange pickup at the airport accommodation, vice versa. Some staff have visited Australian businesses to build that relationship. So again, I just need to emphasize. There's no expectation to do it, but just those little things can help. [00:41:27] Speaker B: Yeah, incredibly beneficial. It changed the game for us. When I went to Manila and met our staff. Is there much interaction with the team members that work for different companies, but they work in the same office. Do they form friendships and they have that kind of sense of camaraderie in that office space? [00:41:43] Speaker A: Absolutely. So I mean, to give an idea that the team in the office, they'd be sitting next to each other, there is a team, so they learn by osmosis. There's a lot of those things. So again, I call them team building activities. So they are grouped together based on industry. We allocate significant resource to that. So there's a big. The CSMS, our relationship managers, have their own sort of events as well. We've put a lot of turbulent, I guess, on the back end resourcing of that. So getting transparency on where the business is, where there's a need. You know, we've recently had a major upgrade in our systems, HRI system, and what that basically gives us is more visibility over where there's a need. Right. So where do we need more staff, more resources and so forth? And that's sort of siding on a tangent, but it again relates back to staff feeling supported. Right. In what they're doing, both in a work sense and having these turnbulling activities. [00:42:45] Speaker B: Because one of the other things is if you're living in Australia or New Zealand, you've got staff in the Philippines and they're overwhelmed or they've just got too much work, they won't be the first to put the hand up and, you know, I need some help. How do you manage that? And how do you become aware of that? And then do you go back to clients and say, hey, you need to hire some more people? [00:43:07] Speaker A: Yeah, probably in the initial stages, I tend to find, because our process typically is like, often I'm having the initial conversation, it might be my equivalent, if you like. And then we get into the process. Right. So we go through and sourcing and so forth, and then it's really the CSM relationship managers managing the data today on there as needed. So where Troy? I tend to watch really closely in that first three months, right. We're dealing with people. So occasionally there can be misalignment that happens in any business in the world that is involving in the sourcing of people. So we've got to watch that very carefully, both from an expectations point of view or occasionally, if there is misalignment, we have to be on the front foot, if you like, in managing that. Beyond that, it's interesting. I don't tend to find we are dealing with anyway situations where staff's been there for, let's say, six or twelve months and we're having reports from their team that they're absolutely inundated and it doesn't tend to happen that way for us. We absolutely notice where there's a workload, they'll come to us. We need more staff because it's growing. We see that a lot, but it isn't something we've had to deal with. I like to think again, the employee benefits and we very strong HR focus internally. We watch that pretty closely, actually. So employee well being is something we monitor very carefully. But as I say, touch wood, it hasn't been something we've had to the scenario thing where it's major burn and after twelve months and we've got to fill that gap which watch pretty closely and it's a fair too. Clients are pretty good like that. I think once they understand the model and the roles tend to grow over time, especially the admin is a good example where they start with a core focus and then over time they realize, okay, great, we can also delegate, but it seems most clients don't understand the parameters of that. [00:45:00] Speaker B: Yeah. What are you most excited about in this space? Over the. Now that we're out of COVID we've kind of come back to some kind of new version of normal. It's still very much a remote workforce. Half the buildings here in Melbourne are empty. I imagine commercial real estate in the city is going to become pretty cheap over the next five years as people have just refusing to go back to the oFfice. What are you most excited about over the coming years? [00:45:23] Speaker A: Great question, I think. Look, I guess I'll approach it from two points of view. One's, I guess, from a Philippines based and maybe from an Australian centric point of view. I think we are building really good relationships with our clients and it is great to find when you come back and you get that feedback that really happy with the process and all the pieces are doing really well. So absolutely I'm excited in terms of some of these relationships we've developed, especially the last 1218 months post COVID, where typically we build that trust and then great. Now when you do really expand out, of course that excites me, that that's business development and it's exciting for any business to see that. And as I say, Troy, we really are working very hard behind the scenes to manage that. Growth quality can suffer when you have that back end resourcing and really know not being complacent as that grows. Look, I think from an Australian point of view, I'm a mad, very patriotic Australian, and my view on this is that more and more Australian businesses need to look at this as an option because as I say, we very commonly see businesses grow locally. So when you do free up your senior people or high value resources to do the things they're good at and focus on the high vehicles, business tends to grow anyway. Right? So I think from Australian point of, it's actually a really positive thing. They tend to grow locally, it creates more jobs because of these sorts of initiatives. So I'm a huge believer in that. [00:46:49] Speaker B: Awesome, Drew. It's been great having you on the agency, our podcast. Where can people reach out and say thanks and get in touch and explore the possibility of working with you guys? [00:46:57] Speaker A: Yeah. Thank you. So, yeah, Connectos. So you'll see it's just Google Connectos. One word on our site. They can obviously reach out to me direct. It's basically my name. I can provide the details and, yeah, happy to have a conversation if people are really exploring that. Quite often we have a chat. It's not necessarily there's a need now, but I'm happy to have that conversation if people want to learn more. Thanks. [00:47:18] Speaker B: And we'll put links in the show notes, of course, underneath this episode. So check out Connectos Co. We have clients of Connectos. We share clients. So we think that it's a good idea that you have a chat with them if you want to go down that path. And know that, as I said, we have mastermind clients who are in this space and are using connectos and having a lot of success. So they come highly recommended. Thanks for spending some time with us. I'm glad we connected. I look forward to keeping the conversation going. [00:47:42] Speaker A: Thanks, Troy. Thanks for the invitation. Appreciate it. [00:47:46] Speaker B: Thanks for listening to the agency hour podcast and a massive thanks to Drew for joining us. I really enjoyed chatting with him and I could chat for hours with him about growing teams, maintain and nurturing a strong culture and all that good stuff. Okay, folks, please don't forget to subscribe and please share this with anyone who you think may need to hear it. I'm Troy Dean, and remember, Dragonflies have six legs but can't walk.

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