I hesitate to start a blog that could spin out of control; as 'outsourcing' is a highly politicized subject that can branch off in 1,000 different directions. So let's focus on specifics: Real Estate Agents hire virtual assistants to help market their listings, and the staff that helps them is based in India. Is this a good thing if it meets the budget? Debate is certainly welcome, but here are the reasons I say NO!
- Have you ever tried to get directions on a task from someone who is not well versed in the English language? If they have translation issues, how accurately do you think they are going to refer to industry specific items such as FHA/VA, cul de sac, let alone adjectives that are necessary to catch a readers eye?
- Did you know that certain Virtual Assistant companies (ahem) will actually write your ad copy FOR you? You don't have to agonize over the details, just send pictures, the MLS sheet, and a flattering, eye catching description will be created, you approve the proof, and it's done? Someone who does not have a handle on the English language will never pick up on the stainless steel appliances and double ovens in the kitchen, the mature landscaping, the spacious master suite, the updated lighting fixtures, the 42 inch cabinets, the berber carpeting, the rocking chair front porch, the garden tub, the soaring entry, the light and bright kitchen, the potential guest suite or home office, etc. etc. You get the idea, experience makes a huge difference in how your properties appear online. The entire purpose of hiring an assistant is to save time...so why are you writing each and every ad and proof reading incessantly if you need to save time?
- What happens when something goes wrong? We've all had that seller who micro-manages their listing. You write up something flattering and wonderful, put it on your MLS, then you syndicate to all the right places, only to find out that your seller believes the patio is a porch, and wants EVERY ad changed TODAY. Normally you would tell a seller like this some important facts about marketing, but this happens to be one of your first referrals from a very important referral source, and you want to get straight A's on this one. What do you do? Does your assistant in a different time zone half way around the world understand the importance of these changes? Do they know what you could lose if it's not done TODAY! More importantly, do they care? So you have to make the changes yourself? Do you have the log in information to every site where the home is posted? Do you know enough about syndication to explain to the seller how long it will take to hit certain sites?
If I had to name the biggest difference between a United States real estate virtual assistant and someone based overseas working in a 'data entry factory', I would have to say it comes down to just that: Do they care? Probably not. Do you want someone working with you on your business who does not care? I'll leave that up to you.