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EFP 80: The Virtual Assistant’s Not Weak – YOU’RE Weak!

Justin Cooke January 30, 2014

There’s quite a bit of complaining when it comes to Virtual Assistants. We tend to put a lot of the blame on them because after all, we’re paying them to get the job done! Shouldn’t it work smoothly?

Why You Might Be Setting Your VA Up for Failure

Today, Joe and I talk about how some of the flaws that come with VA’s may not entirely be the agent’s fault but your fault as well. We’ll cover signs of when it’s your fault and when it’s actually the VA’s fault so you can find a better way to work with your staff. Ultimately, the responsibility always comes down to you. You can delegate tasks, but the buck stops with the entrepreneur.

This is a good one to listen to even if you haven’t hired a VA yet. If you’re thinking of dipping your toes in the water, let this episode be a guide for your future experiences.

Check Out This Week’s Episode Here:

 Direct Download – Right Click, Save As

Topics Discussed This Week Include:

  • VA’s flaking and when it’s your fault.
  • Reasons your VA’s are making mistakes with work.
  • How to avoid VA’s working for someone else.
  • How to deal with assistants not being able to understand a concept.
  • The amount of workload for your assistants and how to gauge balance.



  • “It takes time to get someone up to speed. If you think you can throw over a task and it’ll be done, good luck.” – Justin – Tweet This!
  • “No one cares about your money, your life, your business, or anything else as much as you do.” – Uncle Joe – Tweet This!

How do you deal with the problems we talked about in this episode? Leave us a SpeakPipe message or comment below to let us know.

Photo Credit: Forge Theater – Flickr


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Announcer:                        Welcome to The Empire Flippers Podcast. Are you sick and tired of gurus who have plenty of ideas but are short on substance? Worried that ebook you bought for $17.95 won’t bring you the personal and financial freedom you long for? Hey, you’re not alone. Join thousands of others in their pursuit of niche profits without the bullshit. Straight from your hosts, Justin and Joe, from Empire Flippers.

Justin Cooke:                     Welcome to episode 80 of The Empire Flippers Podcast. I’m your host, Justin Cooke, and I’m here with my business partner extraordinaire, the man with the plan, Joe “Hot Money” Magnotti. What’s going on, buddy?

Joe Magnotti:                    Hello everybody, and happy birthday to my mother.

Justin Cooke:                     It is your mother’s birthday. I got the Skype update. I got the little present thing in my Skype, and I was like, “Oh, congratulations.”

Joe Magnotti:                    And my Facebook won’t leave me alone about it, either.

Justin Cooke:                     Parents are getting old, man. They’re just a reminder that we’re getting old. And the older they get, we’re like, “Oh, my parents are getting old. Oh, wait, wait. That applies to me, too.” We’ve got a great episode lined up for you this week. We’re going to be talking about why the virtual assistant’s not weak, you’re weak. So, this is actually a request we got from someone that sent us an email and said, “I’d love for you to get back to the VA stuff. I’ve had problems with my VA.”

I see a lot of people complain about some of the issues they have with their virtual assistants. So, we want to cover some of those issues and cover why we think it might be your responsibility or your problem and not necessarily the VA. So, we’re going to go through whose responsibility what is, through five main points.

Joe Magnotti:                    And I love the Glengarry Glen Ross reference there. That was good.

Justin Cooke:                     Yeah. The leads aren’t weak, you’re weak. I love that movie. So, before we do, I want to give you some updates, news, and info. First thing, we’ve got no new iTunes reviews unfortunately, but we do have a five star Stitcher review. It came in from Joe Cassandra. He says, “Justin and Joe, dig deep and keep you listening. It’s a ton of fun listening to them. If you’re looking to get into niche sites, there literally isn’t any other show you need to listen to. Flip on over to Empire Flippers.” Thanks, Joe. Really appreciate it, man.

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah.

Justin Cooke:                     Joe runs a podcast called The Entrepreneurial Showdown. It’s a really good show. I really recommend checking them out, and we’ll put it in the show notes.

Joe Magnotti:                    Were you on that show?

Justin Cooke:                     Yeah, buddy. I was on one of the episodes. It was fun. Yeah.

Joe Magnotti:                    Cool.

Justin Cooke:                     Second update I want to talk about is, Justin over at Centurica, he’s actually originally from, released the 2014 Website Buyers Report. It’s fantastic. He sent me a preview copy earlier this week. And then, I was playing with it, looking at the final copy here recently.

Basically what he did is he profiled a bunch of different website buyers, a bunch of different sites that were for sale in 2013, and looks at the multiples they go for, gives some analysis on why they go for those multiples, looks at some gotchas regarding website purchases, and then reaches out to a bunch of people in the industry and asks them what they’re seeing from their space and their niche. There’s some really good feedback in there. I really recommend checking it out. We’ll have a link to download that in the show notes. I would definitely recommend downloading that.

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah. I have it in my queue of things to get to this week. How many pages is it?

Justin Cooke:                     I don’t know. Maybe 30 pages or so. It’s not a miserable read. You can check it out. It’s got a lot of graphics. It’s not just a boring … Justin actually can get pretty analytical. I’ve read some of the blog posts over at FlipFilter, and sometimes you’re like, “Wow, it’s stacked heavy.” But it’s really interesting, because he knows the industry really well, and he’s connected in the industry, too. It’s really good information. I’d recommend checking it out.

Another update we had is, Glen over at, you know the blog post, where he just clobbered GoDaddy and CNET on their link building and SEO tactics. Basically, he talked about how they are authority sites that are getting too much love in Google’s eyes, and they’re using that to their advantage to clobber some of the smaller sites that are probably more niche specific and actually better, and should be ranked higher.

He actually looks at private blog networks, or PBNs, and he talks about some of the advantages and disadvantages to using them as an SEO, or someone that builds profitable websites for link building. So, it’s a really interesting read. I recommend checking it out. We’ll link to that in the show notes, as well.

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah. I always notice that these companies were using parking pages and things like that you were talking about before the show, in order to get links back to them. I was wondering if that kind of stuff was ever being analyzed over at Google, or whether they’re talking about it. It’s funny that you never hear about the big brands getting beat up. You always hear about the little guys.

Justin Cooke:                     They had a Rap Genius thing recently in the news, where they were clobbering other people and their horrible link building tactics. And then they get called out on their own. He mentions that in the article a bit, actually. But yeah, GoDaddy’s been doing some stuff, and they’ve been doing it for years and it’s still happening.

It’s interesting how Google treats different brands differently. If you’re a smaller guy, it does make it more difficult. I think that’s bad for the internet in general. Google’s ultimate goal, which is valid, is trying to get the best or most valuable information to the top. That gets problematic when you’re ranking major sites over smaller sites that have more niche specific information and better information. You know what I mean?

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah. I just think that the link deviation for larger brands probably doesn’t need to be as diverse, because they have so many links. So if you have a gazillion links that all say GoDaddy, Google’s probably not going to penalize you for that, because it realizes that most links point to GoDaddy or use the brand name GoDaddy.

Justin Cooke:                     Yeah. But what they’re talking about in [inaudible 00:05:21], check it out, but they’re talking about GoDaddy adding bits of code to other people’s sites so they can add to their site with the links and the anchor text already included. And it ain’t GoDaddy. It’s the keywords they’re looking to rank that page for. So, it’s a lot more sketchy than just trying to get people to link to you with GoDaddy, which would be fine, but it’s actually trying to target keywords for ranking.

I don’t know. The whole thing is a mess, man. The fact that you have to use PBNs, or you have to do other things to do all the same [inaudible 00:05:48] sites, it’s just ugly, man.

Joe Magnotti:                    Open source search engine.

Justin Cooke:                     I know. I know. Joe’s inside joke. He talks about he wants Google to be truly open source and explain exactly how you can get to the top of the search engine, and just hammer people that cheat. I don’t know. It’s an interesting thought.

Joe Magnotti:                    I mean, it works for the stock market most of the time.

Justin Cooke:                     All right. Let’s get right into the heart of this week’s episode.

Announcer:                        This is The Empire Flippers Podcast.

Justin Cooke:                     All right before we even get into this episode, Joe, we should talk a little bit about responsibility. I often see people talking on the web or online. They’re talking about how the VA screwed them, or this happened to them, or whatever. And ultimately, you put yourself in a position to where you let the VA screw you. The buck has got to stop with you. You’re always ultimately responsible for everything that goes on in your business.

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah. I totally agree with that, Justin. And also, something I didn’t mention pre-show, which I just thought of right now. And that’s we’re going to go into whose fault these things are. It’s a good way to frame the argument. But sometimes, honestly, it doesn’t matter whose fault it is.

Justin Cooke:                     Yeah. No, that’s the truth. You’re absolutely right. You’ve got to fix it.

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah.

Justin Cooke:                     As the entrepreneur, you’re the one that has to fix the problem. And I think getting past the blame game initially is important. Funny enough, we’re talking about this, and we have some stuff we have to talk about after the show that you and I are going to get into a little bit, but we’ve got to avoid the blame game and try to fix the problem. I think that’s really important. So, a little prep for our more miserable chat.

Joe Magnotti:                    It is. I just think focusing on the solution is definitely the better idea. But, hopefully some of these points will at least help you avoid these potential pitfalls.

Justin Cooke:                     That’s the goal. Let’s talk about point number one. You hear about this, VAs flaking out.

Joe Magnotti:                    Oh, this one drives me crazy.

Justin Cooke:                     They disappear, or they just don’t show up for work. They don’t show up for their interview. They don’t show up for their first day of training. They don’t show up. A week later they stop showing up. And this is something that we hear about a lot. Let’s talk about what’s your fault in this.

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah. You should know that we’ve been hiring VAs since 2006, and this just happened to us this week, or last week.

Justin Cooke:                     Yeah. It never goes away. Things that are your fault when a VA flakes out, is if you hire them and you kind of let it go on, and they have a history of flaking out on you. It just becomes a problem three months down the road. I think that’s setting it too easy in the beginning, or not having those strict regulations in place from the get-go.

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah.

Justin Cooke:                     You’re basically letting them over time do it, and then it starts to become a problem for you later on when things get tight or you need to extra work down, where you’ve been really lax on that previously.

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah. I mean, you’ve got to have either yourself or your direct manager for them double checking on the work on a daily basis, and making sure progress is being done. If you have a large organization, sure, you can divvy that duty out. But somebody has to be checking everybody else.

Justin Cooke:                     Another problem that’s your fault is that you didn’t check their references. How it works in the Philippines, and you should do this in any country, whether they’re in the US, India, Philippines, whatever, but if you get anything less than a glowing recommendation in the Philippines, it’s a bad sign. A lot of times a previous employer will tell you flat out that they’re horrible. But they won’t tell you they’re amazing. So if you hear any hesitancy in their describing the situation, it’s probably not a good hire.

Joe Magnotti:                    Back to our example. The guy that didn’t work out for us last week, he was at his last job only three months. And so, our HR management decided not to check his references because he had such a good interview.

Justin Cooke:                     Oh, really? Cute.

Joe Magnotti:                    And I bet that’s the reason he wasn’t there that long.

Justin Cooke:                     Yeah. I just want to let our HR manager, Paul [Dotes 00:09:21], our fault for letting you get away with it.

Joe Magnotti:                    It is.

Justin Cooke:                     But that’s definitely something that you need to do. I mentioned this briefly, but a third point here that might be your fault is the lax standards or requirements from the start. If you’re just letting them get away with it early on, they’re probably going to continue to do that and it may only get worse.

The fourth point I want to mention is not being qualified for the job or position. We see this a lot. If you hire someone that isn’t a great fit for that job from the get-go, they may rather leave than admit that they’re not capable or able to do what you’re asking them to do.

That’s definitely a cultural thing here, where if they’re just not comfortable with the job, it would be losing face to tell you that. They don’t want to tell you that, “Okay, I’m not comfortable doing this job, or I don’t think it’s a good fit for me.” They’d rather just slink off and kind of go away, rather than face the music so to speak, and tell you, “Look, this isn’t a good job for me.”

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah. This is really a tough one, because a lot of times here in the Philippines, and we’re going to talk about this later, you’re just going to get the “Yes, sir,” thing. And unless you’re very familiar with it, it can lead to you hiring someone who’s not qualified. I’m not really sure that’s your fault, but yeah, you definitely need to dig down and test people, and make sure they are qualified for the job they’re going to be doing.

Justin Cooke:                     Yeah. If you’re not qualifying them well in the interview, I think potentially that is your fault. I mean, it could definitely be called your fault. Their fault, the things that could be their fault is if they’re late to the interview, or they’re late on their first day of work. And this happens, but if it’s already a problem that early on, it’s very, very likely to continue to be a problem. So, that’s definitely their fault. You can’t control them not showing up for the interview, or showing up late, or late to their first day. But that’s something you need to be aware of, that this is potentially a problem right away and you need to knock that off.

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah. I remember when we were interviewing a lot of people back in our office days. If somebody was late, we would make them wait the amount of time that they were late for that.

Justin Cooke:                     Yeah, we did. Yeah, we did.

Joe Magnotti:                    We had somebody show up one time like two hours late. And we just let them sit there-

Justin Cooke:                     We did.

Joe Magnotti:                    In the waiting room.

Justin Cooke:                     Oh, yeah. That’s right. That was … I felt like a jerk, but you know what? You’re wasting my time. So, we had other people coming in and interviewing and they were just sitting out there. I remember that, man. That was crazy.

Another one that’s their fault is if they just can’t make it to the training. If they’re going to miss the training, they’re not going to be up to speed. It’s going to be a real problem. And we’ll see this too, where people just kind of flake out before the training’s even started. They don’t even know if they’re capable for the job. They don’t even know what the job entails. But if they’re that disrespectful to the job in the beginning, that’s going to continue.

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah. I mean, avoiding the training. Or what we see a lot is someone will do the beginning of the training, like the first half of the first day, and then say, “Oh, I’m going to get back to it. I’m going to get back to it, but can’t do it right now for X, Y, and Z reasons.” Really, the real reason is, is they know they’re not qualified, or the job seems way harder than they thought it was in the interview, and they just don’t want to do it.

Justin Cooke:                     Another one you’ll hear is, their mother, brother, sister, dog, dies or is in the hospital, or there’s something wrong. Now, this legitimately happens, I’ll first say, this legitimately happens in the Philippines, especially with families that are so important and so widespread. So, you’ll have Auntie So and So, that’s not really your aunt, is not even related to you. But everyone’s so close and there’s a small community, that’s like their aunt or their mother or their brother or whatever. You have really close-knit communities that expand out to extended families.

Now if this is happening a lot early on, in the first month, two months, three months, that’s obviously not going to be good. And if this is somebody that they say is happening over and over again, especially early on, it’s not likely to be true. But we’ve obviously had employees with major problems in their family, six months down the road, nine months down the road. Even early on. But all of the other signs pointed to being okay, and we knew it was legitimate.

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah. I hate to beat up on the Philippines for this kind of thing, but almost anyone who’s done work with Filipino outsourcers has a story of well, family member A got sick and then the VA wasn’t able to show up anymore. Especially people who have little experience with the Philippines. So, just be aware of it. Don’t try to be negative or dwell on it too much. But yeah, don’t take too many excuses.

Justin Cooke:                     So here’s how to avoid this issue. If you want to avoid your VA flaking out, here are a few things you can do to avoid it. First one is, hire in pairs. We always talk about the hit by a jeepney problem, or the hit by a bus problem. If someone disappears, and they’re well trained and have all the knowledge and skills needed to do a very important task for you, what happens if they disappear? What happens if they get hit by a jeepney? What would you do?

And a great way to avoid that is to hire two people. So, you have two people trained on that process. And maybe they’re not always constantly working on that, but they both are trained and know how to do it. So if one person does flake out, disappear, whatever, you have someone else that can step in and train the second one you add. So if you lose one of those people or they flake out, you need to start looking for another person that you can hire that can take over that job, and you can, again, have a second person.

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah. And it’s so cheap in the Philippines that really, at almost any staffing need level, even very, very small companies should just have two VAs instead of one.

Justin Cooke:                     It’s one of the interesting things about the Philippines. I’m not sure if it’s good or bad. I think there’s good and bad to it. But if you go to the mall here in the Philippines, you have 20 people at a very small area of the department store, hanging out ready to serve you, ready to help you find your clothes or whatever. And the reason they do this is because staffing is cheap, so they can afford to have more people. That also can cause problems where no one person takes responsibility, and you have a bunch of people hanging out, too. But yeah, it’s interesting. You see a lot of times though, a lot of companies will overstaff here. I think that’s a really good idea of you to do, as well.

Second thing you can do to avoid a VA flaking out, is to instill tighter controls in the start. You’ll notice that if someone’s going to flake out, that mostly happens early on. That’ll happen in the first week, maybe the first month, their first two months. But it’ll happen very early on in the process. So if you can set hours, meetings, check-ins, maybe not with you, but with other staff, and have them report back to you whether they’re flaking out or they’re not showing up, that’s, I think, really critical.

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah. I mean, even though the majority of our people work from home and they can pick their own schedule, they have to have a set schedule and stick to that schedule.

Justin Cooke:                     And they’re checking in with their supervisors. They’re setting off reports through supervisors. And if they’re not doing that early on, we don’t want to keep them around, and then where it’s six months they’ve been wasting our time and not getting everything done when they’re supposed to, and then have them flaking down the road. We need people that are doing a great job from the get-go. And the best way to do that is to put the tighter controls up front and in place so that you can track them.

All right. Let’s move on to point number two. You hear about this a lot, too, is that your VA is making mistakes. They’re doing the work and they’re making small mistakes here and there, sometimes large mistakes, that it’s just not going to work for you.

Let’s talk about why that’s your fault. First step is that you gave them poor training. Or, you didn’t properly apply the skill transfer process. We had a great episode on this actually. A really important piece of our business is implementing the skill transfer process with our team members here in the Philippines. And I’ll link to that in the show notes. You should really check it out.

But a lot of times what happens is, that they didn’t verify that they understood your instructions, or you didn’t take the time to verify their early work. So, Joe, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah. I hear this a lot. I hear this complaint a lot from people that have, again, very little experience with the Philippines is, they say they hired a VA on oDesk to do a very simple job. And the job was done incorrectly. And then it took hours and hours of work to undo all his mistakes. And so, they blame the Philippines in general for that.

Justin Cooke:                     Yeah. Or they have one bad experience with a VA and say the entire Philippines sucks. I mean, there’s almost 100 million people in this country, and you had one bad experience, and the whole country’s-

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah. And I would say the verification step of the skills transfer process is probably what you’re missing. A lot of people, they put the instructions down on paper, or they do a screen cast or something like that. And they just kind of shove that over to the VA and say, “Go ahead and do it.”

Justin Cooke:                     “Good luck. Good luck.” And so, yeah, what will happen is they’ll tell them verbally, let’s say on a Skype call. “Here’s what you need to do. Do you understand?” And they’ll get a, “Yes, sir.” And the VA’s going, “Oh, my God. I don’t understand, but I can’t really say it. It’ll ruin the job, or have him look bad on me, or lose face.” So, they won’t tell you. A better way to do that would be to get feedback from them, and make sure they understand.

The other problem is that you set them on a task, and two weeks, three weeks, four weeks later, you go to check the work they’ve done, and they haven’t done it, or they’ve done it improperly, or there’s a ton of mistakes. And you go, “What happened? I told you clearly on the Skype call how to do it four weeks ago.”

What were you thinking? It’s your fault. You didn’t check their work. I know, the first day in, you didn’t sit down with them and take a look at their work and make changes to the process to improve? It takes time to get someone up to speed. And if you’re not taking that time and thinking you can just throw over a task and it’ll be done a month from now, good luck. That’s not going to work.

Joe Magnotti:                    Right.

Justin Cooke:                     The second point I want to mention is that you’re asking for people to do work outside of their skillset. So, I can’t have my programmer here in the Philippines hop on a phone call with a customer, someone looking to buy sites. That’s just not her skillset. She’s not going to be able to do that.

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah.

Justin Cooke:                     I can’t expect my content writer to get in there and mess with the CSS on Empire Flippers. That’s just not going to happen.

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah. This super VA thing. I mean, just you want a general VA to do a whole bunch of stuff. I mean, the kind of things that you were talking about, I think are outlandish or outliers. What more than happens is, I want somebody to go and find a good logo for my company. Not to create it, just to find one for me. But I also want them to call and make plane tickets for me. These are different skillsets.

A general VA, can you find the right person for this kind of stuff? You can. It’s tough. But it’s better off if you divvied them up into different characteristics, different skillsets, and made sure different people were doing them.

Justin Cooke:                     That lead into the next point, which is that you didn’t select the right person when hiring. So you hired them for a particular task, and you totally change the rules. And so, trust me, we all do this with smaller business, or as entrepreneurs. I mean, it’s a fast moving environment. So, when you go from having them do one thing and totally change the rules and have them doing something else, you need to make sure it’s within the same skillset. If it’s not, it’s your fault for expecting them to do things that are way outside of what they’re able to do.

Let’s talk about some of the things when they are making mistakes that are the VA’s fault likely. The first one we have here is not aiming to please. And what I mean by that is that generally your VAs in the Philippines are, they want to bend over backwards to help you, to make sure that your business is going well. They really are interested in your success.

Now, they may not know how to do that. It’s your responsibility to explain to them the tasks and the process they need to use to make that happen. But they’re really wanting to help you out. If they’re not, that’s weird.

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah. The other thing is, is you’ve got to remember that the main motivator in most people’s lives in the Philippines is not their job, their work. It’s their family. It just is. And for Americans, it seems to be the other way around a lot of times. And that’s-

Justin Cooke:                     For better or worse.

Joe Magnotti:                    For better or for worse. It’s a cultural difference. It’s something you need to understand. But at the same time, I totally agree, most Filipinos still want to do a good job for you. So if you get the one, the VA that’s just kind of, “Oh, yeah, whatever,” you know that you’ve got a bad apple. I’m not sure that’s something you can train out of them. That’s something you need to identify early on, and you need move on it.

Justin Cooke:                     Yeah. Make sure you don’t misunderstand confusion for apathy. But if they’re apathetic toward your job or toward your success, that’s going to be a problem. You’re going to have to deal with that.

The other thing is that if you’ve, as we talked about in the first point, if you’ve hired two people for the job, and the second person with the same instruction and training is, and one of them is making mistakes and the other one’s not. So you’ve gone through the skill transfer process with both, they both should be successful and the other one is not. That may just be a skillset problem or a problem with that particular hire. Not everyone has the same skills or same talents and capabilities as other people.

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah. Listen to your people, though. I mean, if your mid level managers, low level managers are saying that this person is not up to snuff, they are bringing the rest of the group down, it’s time to transfer that person, or to have that person move on from the corporation.

Justin Cooke:                     Yeah. A lot of times what we’ll do is, we’ll take some person that’s on a particular task, and if they’re bringing the rest of their team down, we’ll give them an opportunity to work in another area that we’re hoping will be a better match for their skillsets and their interests, too. And if that doesn’t work, then it’s probably not going to work.

So, here are things you can do to avoid VAs making major mistakes or a bunch of minor mistakes in their work. One of these we talked about earlier is, hiring in pairs. One of the things you can do with those pairs is then put them in competition. So, you’re going to pit them against each other. Hopefully, a friendly competition, a game of competition, where they can battle it out and see who can do better. And the way you do that is to track both the volume of their work, and their error rates.

Joe Magnotti:                    I really love these points, because this is what made us stand out when we started doing a lot of outsourcing is, we noticed that other outsourcing companies didn’t do this kind of stuff. And so, when clients came to work with us, they were impressed by the fact that we put together a good spreadsheet, we could show how many tasks were done in that particular day, how many that broke down to per hour. Cost effectiveness became a metric that was measured. All these kind of things. And clients are impressed with that. That’s something you should carry through to your own company.

Justin Cooke:                     And something you and I would do, we clarify with our customers which was more or less important, volume or error rates. Was it really important to do an amazing job even if they’re slower, or can they be a bit faster and have a slightly higher error rate? Then what we do is communicate that to the team.

So you as an entrepreneur working directly with your VAs, that’s something that you need to clarify with them. Which is more or less important, and what should they be shooting for? So, as long as you’re tracking it, and they’re in competition, you’re going to see which is the weaker both on volume of work and on the errors that they’re making. And you can adjust and tweak once you have those metrics in place.

This is something we do right now with one of our clients that I think is fantastic. They love us for that, is that we track the hell out of it. We put them into competition against each other. And we’ll give prizes and benefits to the ones that are successful, and take a hard look at those that aren’t being successful, too.

All right. Let’s get into our third point. We’re going to talk about VAs working for someone else. They call that moonlighting here. Where they are employed by you, but they happen to either have a part-time job somewhere else, or sometimes even a full-time job, or multiple full-time jobs with another employer.

Joe Magnotti:                    I have to say, I’m not a big fan of moonlighting. I mean, when somebody says that they’re moonlighting another job, I’m just not a big fan of it.

Justin Cooke:                     Not a big fan of that. Yeah, that’s one of the things we looked at with Vincent, an apprentice who was coming over here. He told us that he had three other internships or apprenticeships that he was working on. We’re like, “Really? We’re going to be number four for you?” We actually brought that up, so that he could clarify with us. “No, no, no. I’m dropping these other ones. You’re going to be my main priority.” That was important to us.

Let’s talk about how this can be your fault. It’s problematic if you don’t clarify your policy on this from the get-go. If you are totally against moonlighting, you don’t want them working for anyone but you, you have to state that very clearly and upfront. I would do it in the interview. And I’d also do it in writing, saying that, “That’s not acceptable when you’re working with me. I want you working with me full time.”

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah. I would say as much as I hate moonlighting, we don’t have that policy. And the reason why we don’t have that policy is, we’re going to get into it in a second, but …

Justin Cooke:                     Just for managers we do.

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah.

Justin Cooke:                     Not for employees.

Joe Magnotti:                    Right. And I think that you need to be not so heavy handed with your people. Because if they can pick up a few extra bucks working an extra 10 hours a week on something else, that’s something they should be able to do.

Justin Cooke:                     If you don’t agree with that, just be clear about it upfront. Then you know if they’re doing it, then it’s not cool. The other thing that I think people, entrepreneurs have a problem with when they’re working with VAs is they’re not paying a fair wage.

They’ve read some ebook somewhere that says you can get people for peanuts. And they’re going to pay them peanuts. And what they don’t realize, this VA understands it’s peanuts, too, and now has to work three jobs and have three employers just to make a fair wage.

Joe Magnotti:                    I remember we used to get these requests all the time when we were running through the outsourcing company was, people would say, “I heard in the Philippines that people live on 60 cents a day. Can I pay 60 cents a day?”

Justin Cooke:                     “I’ll pay you a dollar a day. You can make 40 cents or something.”

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah. It was just ridiculous kind of stuff. No. I mean, yes, there are people in the province that are living on a bowl of rice, I’m sure. But those are not the people I have working for me.

Justin Cooke:                     Yeah.

Joe Magnotti:                    They’re educated people.

Justin Cooke:                     Yeah. They’re working in a bigger city in the Philippines. They have technical skills. They’re online kids usually, 20 year olds generally. These aren’t the people that are living on a bowl of rice a day.

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah. But see, I would say that this point, the not paying a fair wage, and our next point, which is giving too little work, these two combined are the number one and two things to know to stop moonlighting. If you pay a fair wage, and you give them enough work to fit 40 or 50 hours in a week, they will not moonlight.

Justin Cooke:                     Yeah, that’s so true, though. Even if you’re giving them a fair wage but you’re not giving them enough work, they’re going to have that extra time. And they’re going to say, “Look, I want to better support my family. I’m going to pick up another job because I’ve got the extra time.” So yeah, those two things paired together, I think, are really important.

Joe Magnotti:                    When we interview people, we say, “Be prepared to work 50 hours a week.”

Justin Cooke:                     Another point I think is that, when you’re interviewing someone, you’re interviewing your VA, and their thoughts on their current employer are not so hot. Maybe they say negative things about their employer. Maybe they tell you that they don’t need any lead time to leave their current employer. They say, “No, I can just leave. I can start on Monday. No problem.” Or, they say something like, “Oh, yeah. I’m working with them now, but I can cut back my hours and still work with them, and still work with you.”

Joe Magnotti:                    Very bad sign.

Justin Cooke:                     Yeah. If you don’t want them moonlighting, that’s going to be a problem, because that’s exactly what they’re going to start doing. You’re going to be their number two employer. When are they going to drop your work and you’re going to be number three employer? Those are the things that are their fault.

So, if you’ve clearly stated your position on moonlighting, you’re just totally against it, and they’re violating it, obviously, that’s a clear mistake on their part. That’s their fault. There’s nothing you can do about it, but you do have to deal with it because it’s your responsibility.

Joe Magnotti:                    And stick to the policy.

Justin Cooke:                     Another thing is that they’re moonlighting affect you. You either see a decrease in the quality of their work, or their quantity of their work. If you’re tracking your work, that makes it a lot easier to track that. You’re seeing what’s going on. And you’ll start to notice that over time if their work quality and quantity decreases.

Another thing, and we’ve actually had this happen, is when a VA is recruiting others in your company to join their side projects or their side employer. I mean, that’s a cancer that’s really problematic.

Joe Magnotti:                    That’s exactly the word that came to mind for me. That is a cancer that needs to be cut out immediately. I don’t care if it’s going to cost severance. I don’t care if you have to-

Justin Cooke:                     Done. Done.

Joe Magnotti:                    Compensation. You’re out.

Justin Cooke:                     Out. You can’t be sneaking work from other people in our company. Horrible. So here’s some things you can do to avoid a VA working for someone else, or moonlighting, other problems that come with it. Definitely clarify the position when you’re hiring them. Lay that out very clearly and upfront. And make sure that both new employees and current VAs and employees are aware of the policy.

Another thing you can do is, just when you’re interviewing someone, avoid those who are badmouthing their previous employer, the ones who aren’t going to give lead time to a previous employer. We actually ask that as a disqualifying question.

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah.

Justin Cooke:                     If they are willing to leave their employer at the drop of a hat, we don’t want to take you on.

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah. And as for you, any of you out there that are still working for an employer, haven’t started your entrepreneurial journey yet and maybe you’re looking for another job, when you interview for somebody never badmouth your old employer.

Justin Cooke:                     Yeah, and never be willing to just leave at the drop of a hat unless you have a very clear reason on why that’s okay. I want to know, hell, I want to know as an employer that you’re leaving your other company, but you’re going to help them find and train your replacement. I want to hear that. I want to know that you care enough about your employer that that’s something you’re interested in doing. If you’re flipping burgers or something, obviously, you probably don’t care and they don’t care about it.

But for the kind of companies that we’re working on, it’s very personal. These are personal things. And so, there is going to be a personal connection. You’re not going to want them to screw you, because it’s bad for you, it’s bad for the business, and it’s stressful, man.

Another way to avoid this is to make sure that you’re giving fair pair, and you’re measuring their work, and it’s enough work for them to do. If you’re giving them a fair wage, you’re giving them enough work, and you’re measuring it, that’s a great way to avoid them going off and working for someone else or seeing their work decline because of it.

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah. We beat this point to death, but it is probably the most important one when lining. Fair wage and enough work, and they will be very unlikely to move on.

Justin Cooke:                     So steering to point number four, Joe, which is your VA is having trouble understanding or grasping a concept. And again, let’s cover some of the things I think are your fault. First one being, you have flawed expectations. The truth is, nobody cares or is going to understand your business the way that you will or that you do. Nobody. It doesn’t matter whether it’s an employee, a high paid employee, a VA, it doesn’t matter. No one’s going to be as into it as you are.

Joe Magnotti:                    This has nothing to do with the Philippines. This is just the world. This is how the world works.

Justin Cooke:                     Yeah.

Joe Magnotti:                    You want to listen to Uncle Joe. I’ll tell you something right now.

Justin Cooke:                     Uncle Joe?

Joe Magnotti:                    I mean, no one cares about your money, your life, your business, or anything else, or your stuff, as much as you do.

Justin Cooke:                     And you’re so deeply involved in the process, so deeply ingrained in the business, that you’re going to know it intimately. And the fact that someone can’t understand some of the concepts that are bouncing around in your head is pretty understandable.

Another thing, and we’ve talked about this before, but you didn’t follow the skill transfer process. So, they don’t understand why it is you’re doing what you’re doing, and you didn’t pass over those skills that you want them to accomplish very well.

Another thing that we see entrepreneurs screw up is just a misunderstanding of the, “Yes, sir. I’ve got it,” answer. So you get that a lot, where someone will say, “Yes, sir. I’ve got it,” or, “Yes, sir. I understand.” And they may not. Really they’re saying that because they’re trying to save face. They can’t tell you that they don’t really get it.

So, the best way to do that is to give them a scenario. You give them a scenario, and have them explain their reasoning and step through that with you step by step. That’s going to go a lot further than, “Did you get it?” “Yep. Got it.” “Great. We can move onto the next lesson.” That doesn’t work.

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah. It seems a little bit heavy handed. And definitely if you’ve never dealt with foreign VAs before, this is going to be initially like that.

Justin Cooke:                     It’s weird. And you feel kind of like a jerk a little bit. Right?

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah. But you’ve got to do it.

Justin Cooke:                     Because, you’ve got to work through culture. I mean, you’re dealing with cultural barriers. You’re dealing with all different kinds of things. And so, being explicit and having them step through their understanding of the process is going to actually show you what they comprehend, what they understand about what it is they need to do.

Another problem we see is expecting conceptual work from a more task oriented VA or employee. Some people just can’t get the concept of what you’re doing. Or it’s just not them. They’d rather focus on a task where they can shrug it out. And so, expecting that person to be able to understand the conception of what you’re doing, is really your problem not theirs.

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah. I mean, you’re going to see that a lot. There’s just going to be a simpler class of workers that you’re going to deal with. And this is true in America, too. I mean, everyone who’s been in a management job in America sees the same thing. There are people who just don’t strive for success, and leadership, and getting advancement. They just want to keep doing what they’re doing for the rest of their life. They’ll do it for 40 years.

Remember, we had an outsourcing job many, many years ago when we first started here where it was just categorizing businesses. All you literally had to do was choose the business out of one dropdown, and then choose the category out of the other. And there was something like 7 million records.

Justin Cooke:                     And all they had to do was just sit there all day and categorize these businesses. And some people hated it. They hated it. They’re like, “This is mind numbingly boring. I can’t do this anymore.” And that’s because they want challenges. They want something different. Other people loved it. They thought this is the best job in the world. “I can just sit here, knock these out all day, and go hang out with my family and enjoy my life after.” They just view work as work.

And so, knowing what your people like. Knowing what they prefer for their work is really important. So, trying to give a conceptual job to a task oriented person is going to be horrible, and the same thing in return. So, trying to give a-

Joe Magnotti:                    A task oriented job to a conceptual person is definitely going to be an issue, as well.

Justin Cooke:                     Yeah. For sure. So, those are some of the things that are their fault. If they can’t get through the skill transfer process, or they keep getting stuck at one particular step, this is maybe it’s just a problem that they’re not capable. They’re not capable of doing everything or everything step in the process. What you might want to do is consider cutting some of the conceptual work out of the process. And we’ll talk about that in a bit, as well.

Joe Magnotti:                    Here’s the thing. You have to be willing to walk away sometimes. It’s sad to say, but it’s true, not just in the Philippines or with VAs, but it’s true with employees in general. Sometimes they just can’t be trained through the process. You’ve tried them in multiple categories, but it’s just not going to work. Now hopefully, you find that out in the interview process, and you avoid having to train bad employees. But, if you don’t, and you get to a training dilemma, really come to hard nosed kind of step where they’re not getting it, sometimes you need to walk away.

Justin Cooke:                     Another thing you can do. Let’s say there’s a 10 step process. And three of them, the first three are very task oriented. The four and fifth are more conceptual. The sixth through eighth is task oriented. What you can do is break those up. So you have a task oriented person working on the task oriented stuff, and a conceptual person working on the more conceptual or analytical stuff.

Another problem that is actually their fault, I think, is when they’re milking you for a job even though they’re failing at it. Now we said earlier in the show that often, if someone doesn’t feel they’re capable for the task or they’re just not able to do it, they’re just going to kind of go missing. They’re going to disappear. So, that’s what you’ll deal with more often.

But every once in a while, you’ll have a VA that does milk you. They know that they’re not being successful. You know they’re not being successful. But they’ll hang onto the job just because, instead of bringing it up to you, instead of mentioning it, they’ll just keep the job and keep sucking at it. And that’s a problem. That’s their problem. That’s a problem you’ve got to fix.

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah. This is relatively rare, but it does happen. You should have other checks and balances in place to account for it, and again, be willing to terminate that employee.

Justin Cooke:                     So, here’s how you can avoid the problem of not understanding or grasping a concept. The first thing is to keep the task oriented and conceptual projects separate. If there are different steps in the process, you’re going to want to break that out. And you’re going to want to make sure that the task oriented people are working on the task oriented steps, and the conceptually oriented people are working on the conceptual work.

Another thing you can do is cross-train, and then demote their job when necessary. So, maybe someone finds over time that they hate the job they’re doing. They just don’t dig it. And they don’t necessarily want to tell you. But if you have them cross-train, they’re going to kind of lead naturally more into the position that suits them, that’s a better fit for them.

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah. I hate to say demote here. You mean transfer, right? You can transfer them from one process to another. We do this often. People just get burned out on doing the same thing. We’ve had people do the same thing for years, and then come to us and say, “Hey, look. I know my efficiency’s down. I know my numbers are down. I really want to keep working for the company. Is there somewhere else I could fit in?” And we try to respect that.

Justin Cooke:                     So the fifth point I want to talk about is when your VA is not doing enough work. Here are the things that are your fault. You didn’t test the workload before handing it off. And basically, you’re not giving them enough work. This happens.

We used to get this from people that are looking to outsource all the time. “I’ve got this idea, and I want you to run with it.” We ask, “Have you done it? How long does it take?” “Well, I’m not really sure, but I think you could do it in this amount of time.” Well, that’s horrible. You’ve got to know. You’ve got to know that step one through six here is going to take someone three hours, because you’ve done it, or one of your employees has done it before. You’ve got to have that groundwork laid out so you have an idea on how much work you’re sending over. Otherwise, you don’t know.

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah. And sometimes you’ve got to … It just gives you a baseline. If you know it takes you three hours to do it, it might take a virtual assistant, at least in the beginning, longer to do it because they’re going to be less efficient. They’re not a native speaker, that kind of thing gets into it. They don’t know your business as well as you do, that kind of thing. But in the long run, they’ll actually get better at that very focused task because they’re doing it over, and over, and over again.

Justin Cooke:                     I see some of the people at our company doing the work they do, one of them specifically for a travel agency, and there’s absolutely no way I could do it that fast. I could not do it that fast. So if you’re measuring me, I’d do like 8 an hour, and they’re consistently doing 14 an hour. And that blows my mind. But at least I know that eight an hour is where they should be. If they’re below that, if they’re doing two an hour, I know there’s a serious problem. If they’re doing 14, it means they’ve become really efficient.

Another point I think we should mention is, you’re not paying a proper wage. We mentioned this before. But if you’re paying them peanuts, you’re not paying them nearly enough money, they’re not going to be able to do all the work or they’re going to be moonlighting or causing you other problems.

Another thing that we see a problem with is that you may not be sure they’re doing enough work. Or maybe they’re doing more work and you don’t know. So, there’s a disconnect between the amount of work they’re doing, the quality of work they’re doing, or that you think they’re doing, and what they’re actually doing.

So, they may, and they may be right, they may be feeling that they’re doing plenty of work, probably more than they should. And you’re thinking their workload is not enough. So if you don’t have those measurements in place, you’ll have no idea.

Joe Magnotti:                    This is why tracking and spreadsheets are so important, because they give you an objective measure of what the people are doing. Now quality standards, maybe you need to put some quality standards in effect, too. A rating system or something like that. But, you want objective measurements when possible, especially when you have more than one employee doing the same task.

Justin Cooke:                     Yeah. We don’t always do this. I was actually thinking about this, Joe. In the last two weeks, I can think of two distinct cases where once I came to you and said, “I don’t know that enough work is being done on this project.” And there’s another one you mentioned to me earlier tonight where you were saying, “I’m not sure enough work is being done by this person.” Right?

Joe Magnotti:                    Right.

Justin Cooke:                     So, by not measuring that, that leaves us with a real problem. So when we measure it, we know for sure. We know that we’re good.

Another problem that we see VAs run into, and entrepreneurs, is that they give them too many different types of tasks. They have eight or nine different tasks that they’re working on. And as you know as an entrepreneur, as a worker, you know that when you go from one task to another there’s a bit of a disconnect. There’s a bit of a time in between focusing on one task and focusing on a new task that’s completely different, and you get some loss there. If you have too many of those, you have your VA spread too thin, and too much time is spent in between projects or tasks.

Joe Magnotti:                    We definitely hear this from new entrepreneurs or entrepreneurs that don’t have any management experience.

Justin Cooke:                     New in that they’re just starting off their business and they have a wide spread of things they need done, and they’re having their VA help with, or-

Joe Magnotti:                    But it’s absolutely your fault. I think that you have to be wary of it, because if you’re having people switch from one task to the other all the time-

Justin Cooke:                     Or, if you’ve got a ton of them.

Joe Magnotti:                    It’s probably time to get more employees.

Justin Cooke:                     Yeah, that’s right. So let’s talk about the things that are their fault. Sometimes you’ll have this in the Philippines where you have someone that’s pouting. They feel neglected because of pay, because they’re not getting enough attention. Now, while I say not paying a proper wage is a problem, sometimes there’s a disconnect on what they think they should be getting paid and what they are. And sometimes you are paying a proper wage, and still you get that kind of kickback, that pushback from a VA, where because they’re feeling neglected, they’re going to do less work for you. And that’s a problem.

Joe Magnotti:                    Well, if someone’s making $250 a month, and they see that you’ve bought a software service for $100 a month that they’re using on a regular basis, they might be a little not so happy with that.

Justin Cooke:                     You think? Are they right to feel that way? Is that cool?

Joe Magnotti:                    I don’t think they’re right to feel that way, but I think that this-

Justin Cooke:                     It does happen. Yeah. I think the-

Joe Magnotti:                    That’s their fault, for sure.

Justin Cooke:                     Yeah. But you have to deal with it. That’s the thing. Another thing is that sometimes you’ll have distractions. They’re not doing enough work because of Facebook, because of their friends, because their family’s in their house, their dogs are barking, all kinds of things. And this is something that we check when we’re interviewing someone, or we used to when we were doing the interviews, to make sure they have a reasonable work environment.

So if Joe’s talking to them on Skype, for example, and there’s dogs barking and babies screaming in the background, that’s something he would ask about. “Where are you going to work? Is this your workstation? How’s that going to work out?” So, if they’re too distracted, that can cause a problem and have them not do enough work for you.

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah. Don’t be soft on this. There is really no reason why a person can’t have a dedicated workspace, even in the Philippines. A little area of the house where there’s no distractions, and they have a desk, something to work from.

Justin Cooke:                     How’s their internet? Have them test their internet and send you the download speed. Make sure they’re able to work there, and the power isn’t going out all the time. If it is, if they can’t find … And there’s a ton of coffee shops and internet cafes. There’s somewhere else they can go work. If they’re not able to do it, and they’re telling you it’s not working, you’re going to have to deal with that.

Here’s how you can avoid the not doing enough work problem. It’ll help you, at least. The first thing, we mentioned this before, is test the workload before handing it over to your VA. So, how long does it take you to do that. Use that as a benchmark or a baseline. And they should be doing that or better. Make sure that you’re paying a fair wage or rate. Make sure that you understand what other people are being paid for a similar job, and pay that at least.

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah. I would say right now fair wages in the Philippines are between $250 and $400 a month.

Justin Cooke:                     For entry level VA.

Joe Magnotti:                    For entry level VAs.

Justin Cooke:                     It depends on where you are, too.

Joe Magnotti:                    It does. But I think that’s a good range. You know if you’re outside of that range, they probably have a little more experience, or they have a specialty skill like programming or design or something like that. If you’re below that range-

Justin Cooke:                     They probably have three bosses.

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah.

Justin Cooke:                     They probably have three bosses.

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah. It’s just not going to be a good idea.

Justin Cooke:                     Another thing is to measure their work. If you’re not measuring their work, you don’t know if they have enough work or not. And they don’t know, either. So, that causes a disconnect on the amount of work being done. You may think it’s horrible and you want to replace them or fire them or whatever, when in reality, they’re doing more of the work than you actually asked them to do originally. And that’s because they’ve taken on, they’ve gone further than they were supposed to do, and taken on new roles in your business you didn’t know were problems. So, it’s good to measure their work.

Another thing is to clarify distractions in the work environment before hiring. The best way to do this is when you’re interviewing them, ask them. Ask them about their work situation. Ask them about their power outages. Ask them these types of things. It sounds weird, but how often does the power go out in your house is a fair question when you’re hiring a VA.

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah. Do a video chat and take a look around. Ask them to show you a little bit of where they’re working from.

Justin Cooke:                     That’s a little creepy, man. “Take me through your house and show me.” No, I know what you’re saying. But just, “Does the internet work well enough for us to have a video chat at all?” Right?

Joe Magnotti:                    Right. These kind of things, it’s just really important to get to know the person you’re going to be working with.

Justin Cooke:                     All right, man. We’ve hammered this home. Let’s give them our tips, trick, and our plans for the future.

Announcer:                        You’re listening to The Empire Flippers Podcast, with Justin and Joe.

Justin Cooke:                     All right. The first thing we want to talk about are some changes to the marketplace. Let’s talk about the sites we have for sale. Originally, we created the marketplace with a very individualized approach. We had-

Joe Magnotti:                    Their own sites.

Justin Cooke:                     Yeah. We had these small niche sites that were very focused on a particular keyword. And we actually built in all these APIs, and they do really interesting things. They’ll pull up daily from our AdSense and show updated earnings and stuff. Problem is now is that we’re selling drop ship sites. We’re selling Amazon sites. We’re not selling $1,000 sites. We have a site up there for $80,000. And it feels like we’re not giving the right information.

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah. And-

Justin Cooke:                     That’s the feedback we’re getting from potential buyers and actual buyers, too.

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah. We don’t use EMDs on these sites.

Justin Cooke:                     Yeah. We’re putting CBC up on a site that doesn’t know what CBC is. So, if anyone’s wondering about that, why does our marketplace look that way, why is it not giving me better information, it’s because we’re working with a legacy system. So, we’re changing the way that we do business, and we haven’t really upgraded the way we’re displaying the information. So, that’s going to change. We’re going to start working on that in the near future so we can give buyers more information about the sites they’re buying, and better information so they can make a more informed decision.

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah. And if you guys have any suggestions, please let us know.

Justin Cooke:                     Yeah, let us know in the comments. We’d really like to hear them and see if we can get those implemented. We still want to protect the niches. I think that’s really important. Especially for like … Someone ask me about that. They said, “Why do you need to protect the niches if they’re good sites?”

Here’s the problem. That, let’s say you have a drop shipping site, and it’s a year and a half old. But it’s not really established in the marketplace. It’s not established in their niche. It’s got some name recognition, but you don’t want the buyer to all of a sudden compete with 15 different copycats that pop up and are now using the same suppliers or drop ship. You want to give that buyer enough time to build it out.

And so, a site that’s let say 10 years old, and manufactures in China, has this amazing brand recognition, of course, we’ll display that. No problem. But then on the other end of the spectrum, we have the small AdSense sites that are just starting off, that are early in the market, that’s not great to share that because they’re much more easy to copy.

Joe Magnotti:                    Yeah. And I think there’s just too many black hat techniques you can use out there to really negative SEO other sites.

Justin Cooke:                     That, too.

Joe Magnotti:                    I think that’s bad. But, I think the future of our marketplace is probably going to more a more general marketplace. There is limited categories, limited information.

Justin Cooke:                     Not on the CBC, not ranked for a particular keyword or anything.

Joe Magnotti:                    Although, it’ll be listed in the pop up listing, because it’s going to change relative to each thing. But yeah, I think the price, the revenue, the category, we should make the marketplace a little more general.

Justin Cooke:                     The main listing and then more detailed information in the pop up when you dig in to look at it.

Joe Magnotti:                    That’s right.

Justin Cooke:                     Yeah. I dig that. Second point I want to mention is something I’ve been using recently. It’s called Expensify. You can use this to track personal expenses. It’s cloud-based. I have an app on my phone, and I use it on my laptop, as well. It uses multiple currencies, so if I want to use pesos I can use it. It’s pretty intuitive. You can set up the categories you want, or you can use the categories that are already there.

It’s actually built for organizations, so if you need to be reimbursed, build your expense account, and then send that off to your company, you can do that. I don’t use it for that. I’m just using it to track personal expenses. But, I just want to let you know that it’s out there and it’s meeting my needs for now. If you have something you use that you like better, let me know in the comments, too, and maybe I can check it out.

And that’s it for episode 80 of The Empire Flippers Podcast. Thanks for being with us. Make sure to check us out on Twitter @empireflippers, and we’ll see you next week.

Joe Magnotti:                    Bye bye everybody.

Announcer:                        You’ve been listening to The Empire Flippers Podcast, with Justin and Joe. Be sure to hit up for more. That’s Thanks for listening.



  • Bryan Bigari says:

    Great show – been listening for 6 months or so, first time to comment. I was wondering what you should do if you don’t see having 40-50hrs a week of work for one person? For example, if you are ramping up you might want two people (for the flake factor protection) yet not have 80hrs of work a week, so each VA only gets 20-25hrs.
    Any suggestions on how to handle that situation?


    • I would dig deep to find those low priority tasks you been putting on the back burner for a long time. Certainly there is some internet research (i.e. prospecting) that could be done for you business to occupy their free time. Every business could use a large amount of warm leads sitting on their desk each morning!

  • Vic says:

    Hey Guys,

    Been listening to your podcast for the last year or so, thanks for all the info. Question, what is the best way of finding quality job candidates here in PI? I’ve needed to hire for a while, but finding a good worker seems so daunting here. Getting simple daily tasks completed is frustrating enough, I just can’t imagine how the F I’m gonna find someone competent enough to delegate business tasks to. But I’ll admit I’m a weak ass manager 🙂



  • Tung Tran says:

    Training is a must, and never assume anything. I learned this lesson the hard way 🙂

    I’ve just hired a professional writing coach for my writer and it was well worth it…

    • Justin Cooke says:

      Totally agree, Tung!

      A professional writing coach, eh? Not bad – I have a coach/editor for the blog here myself. Which reminds me…I have to stop commenting and get back to my post so I can ship it to her tonight! hehe

  • Sudheer Yadav says:

    This will also help my blog

  • John Gibb says:

    hi guys

    what a wonderful podcast!

    I used to make silly mistakes over a decade ago myself… when hiring others was new to me. Now, I have a manager handling this task.

    I think for maximum efficiency, you should hire your VA for less than 6 hours a day, and teach him or her to work in bursts of time. Take a 15 minute break every 90 minutes or so.

    What do you think?


    • That will put you under the 40 hours needed. I agree with short sessions and frequent breaks, but try to keep your VA’s busy for at least 8 hours a day (maybe 9-10 hours with breaks and lunch) and 40 hours a week. That way you become their number one priority.

    • Justin Cooke says:

      Glad you dug the show, John!

      As much as we like to think we’ve moved on, we still find ourselves making mistakes with teams – I think it’s something you can seriously improve on, but probably never get “perfect”, eh?

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