Interview with Jay Berube – Hire Smart Virtual Assistants
We are spotlighting Jay Berube with Blue Bear Property Management. They have been using remote workers for over a year and are now expanding into other markets. Learn from Jay about his success in sales and using a Virtual Team Member from HireSmart to expand his business.
Want to know more about the great advantage of hiring virtual assistants to your business? Feel free to book an appointment with today so I can help you strategize all throughout the process!
Anne Lackey: Start. Good morning. My name is Anne Lackey. I am the co-founder of HireSmart Virtual Assistants and I am excited to have Jay Berube with us today. And Jay is a realtor, property manager, and real estate trainer and coach. And he has helped real estate agents and property managers bridge the largest gap in real estate, which is about sales. And if you’ve ever heard Jay, he is amazing, provides a great amount of value to you. I love listening to him. He helps his clients focus on specific sale skills and commands. He simplifies the sales process and it makes it easier for agents to level up their sales game and sell more homes, which of course if you’re listening, whether you’re an agent or a property manager, it doesn’t matter. We all need more homes in our inventory. Isn’t that right, Jay?
Jay Berube: Yeah, that’s right. More doors. More sales.
Anne Lackey: Exactly. So he’s at 15 years of experience. He’s in the top 1% of real estate agents in the nation and he’s had over $325 million in real estate and he has sold over 1,400 homes. That is amazing amount of homes and he believes in freedom through influence and when you influence more people you change more lives. And I love that because I love to change lives too. And before we get started, I always love to ask the question of all of my guests, what are they most proud of? What is their biggest accomplishment? When I asked Jay, he told me he is most proud of creating more freedom in the lives of real estate agents and property managers.
So Jay, welcome to the show. We are so glad that you guys have joined us today.
Jay Berube: Yeah, thanks for having me on, Anne.
Anne Lackey: Is there anything else that you’d like to add as kind of a beginning point to this journey to our listeners before we get started into some of the other questions I have for us today?
Jay Berube: No, I’m excited to dig into the questions and get going.
Anne Lackey: Perfect. All right, so the purpose of this particular spotlight is to really share some of the leaders in our industry and kind of what are they doing, what’s their specialty, what’s their secret sauce? And so Jay, tell us a little bit at first about your company and where you’re located and kind of your strengths in the market.
Jay Berube: Sure. So I will kind of wrap it all up in a bow because I’m not the traditional person, I guess you would say. Never have been. But yeah, when I started real estate about 15 years ago, I was selling a lot of new construction homes and I was representing buyers. It was mostly sight unseen stuff. And this was in Southwest Florida. Then people got their hand caught in the cookie jar because it was all speculation, flipping contracts. It was nuts. And there was this moment where properties weren’t selling anymore and people could not flip and make $30,000 by assigning a contract. And they said, “Well, what do I do now?” And I one time I said, “You know, have you considered renting it out?” And that started the road to property management for me. And over the course of those say six, seven years, I was getting a lot of agent referrals and build up to almost 400 doors.
Didn’t really have good strong systems in place at that time. I was kind of just running around with the pulling my hair out and then built my sales business up as well. Fast forward, I got into… I took all of my sales skills that I’ve developed over the years because that’s one of the things that in the real estate industry and the property management industry is almost completely absent. You know, in real estate to get a real estate license in most States you go and take… I know, right? It’s laughable just thinking about it. 60 to 80 hours of class time to sell someone’s most valuable asset. How-
Anne Lackey: And it doesn’t teach you anything about the business. It teaches your riparian rights.
Jay Berube: Exactly. It’s completely nuts. So all you need is that and a high school diploma and then all of a sudden you can start selling real estate. So there’s all these sales skills that are absent. I developed being able to understand neural linguistic programming, influence the way people use body language, the way that they speak, how to ask questions, all of these different things from different trainings and stuff like that over the years.
So that’s where my niche and my specialty is. And to give you an idea of how that works for me, in the last two years of selling real estate, selling almost a hundred homes a year, 80% of the clients’ homes that I sold, I never met face to face. So it’s all over the phone and it’s all building that relationship over the phone.
A good friend of mine who is a really big in the property management industry, he was asking me how my conversion is with cold property management leads coming in and I said, “On average I’ll talk to a new cold lead for about 12 minutes and I’ll set the appointment and it’s a phone appointment and then 15 minute conversation on the phone and I’ll close them and get the door.” So essentially under 30 minutes to close new units and he’s like, “That’s unfathomable.”
Anne Lackey: Yeah, no. That’s a great statistic. And I think it’s something that a lot of the property managers aspire to, but don’t know how to get there. So how long have you been in the just overall in real estate business? How many years have you been in business?
Jay Berube: 15 years. Yeah.
Anne Lackey: And kind of share with our listeners a little bit about your staff’s structure on the real estate side and the property management or if you have those kind of mixed together. Kind of share with us a little bit how your staff is.
Jay Berube: Yeah, there was a time about five, six years ago where I decided to have two separate brokerages. Wrote the, you know, one for the sales, one for the property management. So, in essence at that time it was really to build a complete different set of books in case I wanted to sell either one of the companies. But it evolved into more than that because no matter if… Even though I have the two separate companies, they work so closely together. And I’ll tell you honestly, I’ve tried leaving property management so many times, but pulling me back. It’s like I’m sober now for 11 years, but I used to try quitting drinking all the time, but I couldn’t do it. So it’s like the same thing with property management. That’s the drug of choice.
Anne Lackey: Well I think some property managers are surprised that you don’t drink. I don’t drink either. So everybody’s like, “How do you survive?” I’m like, “Well, we just do it. You know, it’s just part of it.” So you have two separate companies. How many people work in each company?
Jay Berube: Yeah, I have an operations manager that oversees those two companies. They’re both in Florida. I live in North Carolina now. Where, Oh, you didn’t even know that.
Anne Lackey: I didn’t. Exactly, congratulations.
Jay Berube: I’m actually opening a real estate brokerage here in Charlotte that we’re launching in the next 30 days. So that’s very exciting. And that’s going to be complimenting my partner’s property management company up here as well.
So there’s an operations manager. She oversees, Kristin, she oversees those companies. And then we have Shelby as an assistant property manager. We have a couple of remote team members as we call them through your great company.
Anne Lackey: Thank you.
Jay Berube: And then we have a listing coordinator essentially that kind of goes back and forth between the two. And then I have a couple of agents on the sales side.
Anne Lackey: Well that’s great. You know, it’s so interesting to hear that you’ve moved to Charlotte because a lot of people get stuck and they’re like, “Well, I just don’t know how this remote thing works.” I’m like, “I promise you it works.” And so even as a business owner, you don’t have to be located necessarily where your business is.
Jay Berube: You know what’s funny? When I was leaving, June 5th or something, I was leaving my office for the last time with a box. You know when you get fired you have your box of stuff?
Anne Lackey: Yeah.
Jay Berube: And I was walking out and I took a video of myself and I was like, “This is surreal. I am now a remote team member for my own company.” And it’s really hard to fathom, but so many people, especially in real estate, think that as you as the agent, once you’re done, then that business dies. Which is not true. Not for real estate or not for property management. Your end game should be to stop trading time for dollars.
Anne Lackey: Time for money. Yeah.
Jay Berube: Yeah. And remote team members do a great job of that.
Anne Lackey: Well, I love to hear that because I started in investing. I came into this world as an investor, very similar kind of strategy that you did. New homes that need a property manager because we had people that were buying these new homes and needing management. So that’s kind of how we got started too. And you know, it’s so funny to me that so many real estate professionals do exactly what you just said. They trade their time for money. And while it’s a big payoff, when you actually calculate the dollar per hour, I’m not so sure it’s as liquid as people necessarily think. So I’m all about leveraging peoples’ time. OPT and OPM. I like to leverage other peoples’ money too as an investor. So I love that.
What was your primary goal, when you hired your first remote team member, what kind of what was your thought process? Or what kind of prompted you to explore that as an option?
Jay Berube: You know, at that time there was a couple of different thoughts. The first one was to reduce our outward expenditures, to reduce our payroll, but to have somebody full-time and to have somebody do tasks that could be done by somebody who’s remote. And as long as they’re trained properly, which is the biggest part.
Anne Lackey: It is.
Jay Berube: And I mean that’s one of the reasons why I love working with you is because I know that you put them through what? A week or two of training on your own.
Anne Lackey: I do, I do. We have a 10 point hiring process just to even get to our clients. And then after that I work with them for 40 hours because you can hide for two or three hours, maybe eight hours, maybe 16. After 16, at least on my platform, you’re done. If you’re not an A player, you’re out. And I think that’s really kind of the secret sauce that we have is that one on one where we’re really saving our clients a ton of time with just the wrong hire because of that system. So it’s okay. It’s all good.
Jay Berube: Hold on one sec.
Anne Lackey: That’s okay.
Jay Berube: Hey, I’m on a call. Yeah. My wife and son.
Anne Lackey: It’s all good.
Jay Berube: Oh this is my key shed.
Anne Lackey: Oh wow.
Jay Berube: Yeah. When I moved to Charlotte we didn’t have a 3,500 square foot home anymore because of our location. So we built a, what is it? 100 square foot office outside.
Anne Lackey: It’s great.
Jay Berube: So yeah, it’s pretty awesome.
Anne Lackey: So getting back to kind of remote staff and what was your biggest ah-ha moment after you started working with the first professional that we placed for you? Because I have a lot of clients who go, “Well it sounds good, but I just don’t know.” And you know, once I deliver that first one, it’s like if you can just get through the first one, it’s usually hands brown, no brainer. This is the best thing since sliced bread. Share with our listeners a little bit about your ah-ha moment and kind of what clicked for you.
Jay Berube: I’ll tell you what. With every remote team member that… Well, I mean we have two full-time and we only had to have one other person besides that who ended up not being a good fit where you’re always, you know, quick to be like, “Look, that’s not the right fit.” And you know? And to end the relationship. But it’s always that the work ethic and the caringness, you know, their investment in the company is always such high at a higher level than anybody locally that I ever hired. So we have John and MIkko and they are geeked up on wanting to do a great job, on wanting to be a part of the team. And I mean, if there’s a thing as over communication though, they’re not afraid to over-communicate and I love that.
Anne Lackey: Wow. That’s a lot of the training that I do too is kind of helping them understand in real world. You know, because one part of the job of course when you hire is the skillset. You’ve got to have people that have the skills, but that’s their soft skills are really kind of what make or break and that’s really where the my one week class kind of comes in. Right? I’m testing those soft skills all the time. So I love the fact that we’ve had such great success. How has that impacted your business by bringing in remote team members in plus or minus? What would you say have been the positives? And then what would you say is something that maybe is a little challenging?
Jay Berube: I’ll tell you the biggest positive is having… It took us about a month or two to get it squared away once we had our first remote team member, but then once we did and once we got into a groove, starting to do virtual meetings, team meetings, daily huddles, our time as a company was spent more efficiently and has continued to move in that direction. And I’ll tell you from me now personally being a remote team member, my company’s in Florida, I spend a hell of a lot less time than I used to spend when I was in the office with the rest of my team because now they’ll like… They’ll notify me when I’m needing to be notified. There’s not this yapping around for… I’m a direct person. I’m a no nonsense, let’s get right to the point. And not everybody’s like that. And I don’t have to deal with that anymore. And it’s a constraint in business. It just takes longer to get something done.
So the efficiency has totally increased and I know from all of my friends in property management that have remote team members, I know that that is… That’s uniform throughout. A challenge, I guess the only challenge is that with having a remote team member, you have to be very, very specific on the tasks that you want done. So if you can be very specific on what you want done and how you want it done and you can train very specifically on how to do that, then I found that I have a lot of success. Those folks pick it up, they do a good job, but if I’m too vague, it could start going off in different directions and then I don’t know about it right away and it gets frustrating.
So two things with that. Number one, be very specific. But number two, also make sure that there’s accountability measures in place so that people are reporting back what’s been accomplished and then you know if they’re on track or not on track so that you can handle it right away.
Anne Lackey: Well it’s so interesting that you said. So you said a lot in that kind of little minute or two that you gave. And so I want to just summarize some things that I totally believe in too, which is once I started having regular meetings, which I actually found out from Alex Charfen back at DoorGrow in, you know, this last year, kind of how he structures. That was a big ah-ha moment for me.
Well I thought I had good communication with my remote team members. That took it to a different level. Just knowing that they had that carved out time every week for me just to sit down and give them my undivided attention for whatever they needed. It was available for me to talk to them about something I needed or for them to ask me for help that they needed. Totally cut down on the noise because they always knew that unless it was an emergency, it could wait until we actually had that time together.
So my interruptions in my day were tremendously reduced and I think that if more people embraced that they would probably the same type of results. Again, whether it be remote or your in-house. I don’t think that really matters. I think people need to know that they have that time that you as the business owner are investing in your people. So I’m totally onboard with that. And then the second thing that you were talking about is having set expectations. And again, I don’t know that it matters whether they’re remote or whether they’re in-house. I think we allow ourselves when they’re in house to kind of have a little bit of a pass because we do catch it a little bit quicker because we’re talking to them on a more regular basis, more just kind of around the water cooler.
But what I found with me specifically is virtual staff or remote staff may be more of a business owner than somebody that owned a job. I can go away and not have to really necessarily worry about most of my businesses. Now I still am active in certain businesses. That’s because I choose to be, I mean HireSmart certainly if I wasn’t active in that business, I don’t know that we would’ve progressed as far as we have. But in my property management business, I maybe spend an hour or two hours a week if I’m lucky and it runs without me. I mean very much. I attend a meeting a week, I sign leases and that’s it. That’s all I do. And you know, that’s again, it’s a strength. So if I choose to sell it, which I’m not sure that I ever would. Again, I have an asset that runs without my necessarily my involvement. And that’s the definition of a business owner rather than somebody that owns a job. So I love those two things.
If you can think back to the hiring process when you were using HireSmart in that process. From, you know, kind of share with some people because I think a lot of people think, “Oh my gosh, I’ve got to be perfect. I’ve got to be ready. I got to wait. I can’t move forward because it’s so scary.” Tell people a little bit about that hiring process from your perspective. I mean, how hard was it? How easy was it? You know, what was the experience? I think, you know, I always tell people it takes about three weeks from order to delivery. Sometimes that shifts a little bit depending on how busy we are, but generally I can get a team member delivered to a client in three to four weeks versus you having to do it yourself. Kind of share people a little bit about that experience if you don’t mind.
Jay Berube: Yeah, you find candidates for us within maximum and I, you know, results may vary but with us you found our candidates within a week maximum and you provided us, I believe with three and those were the top three based on DiSC assessments. What we’re looking for. What I like is you ask questions so you’re great at identifying your business and other peoples’ needs, which is a key in sales and it’s asking questions. You ask questions, what are you looking for? What do you need? What do you expect? And then the type of person so that you find success for everybody. I mean for us anyway. So it didn’t take long and then you put them through the training. That’s a week or two or something. And usually they start three weeks after we engage you.
Anne Lackey: And it’s pretty simple. They’re ready to go. Right?
Jay Berube: Yeah. I don’t worry about it at all.
Anne Lackey: So for those of you that are on the fence, I’m here to tell you I’ve been doing some research here to see what the average length of hire it takes for more of the people and I’m the least amount of time to hire, give you three great candidates and that you can choose from all of them. And then we have the guarantee as well. We do a six month guarantee on our placements to make sure that we’re helping along the way. So Jay, kind of wrap it up for us and tell us a little bit about what else you would add if anybody’s considering using a remote team member or any other words of wisdom you-
Jay Berube: I got asked the other day, you know, how much does Anne charge? And I said, “Honestly, I don’t know and I don’t care because the time that it would spend me to find someone, right? To put out the ads and to… I would have to have my own remote team member just doing recruiting, hiring, the interview process. Right? The onboarding process. I mean it’s a nightmare and I don’t have to deal with any of that and my time is more valuable. So any PM owners or any owners that are thinking about getting a remote team member or thinking about working with you for it, it’s extremely inexpensive and it’s your time is more valuable. So yeah, there’s no sense.
If there’s something that can be done remotely for any one of my companies, I will first look for a remote team member, a virtual assistant before I look to hire someone else.
Anne Lackey: Well I thank you for that. And for those of you that are answering that… Are asking that question, our charge is $2,495, which from a recruiter level for an entry level position, that costs you in here in the US six grand or more. I mean for just a basic entry level position and we’re not doing basic entry level positions, although we do have that, but a lot of our skillsets like you know Mikko’s an inside sales rep BDM for you, right? So I mean that’s not somebody that here locally could, and again, the costs for him is less than $20,000 a year. But yeah, again, that same person here in the US at least in my area, maybe it’s different for you, Jay, certainly and feel free to correct me, but if I were to pay somebody that was on Mikko’s level for here in Atlanta, we would probably be paying them $65,000, $70,000.
Jay Berube: Yeah, I was going to say 60 minimum. And you get the same work ethic. You don’t get the same work ethic. I’ll set Miko up with my training and his skillsets against any… Well not anybody, but a majority of ISAs, inside sales associates in the US and he is going to beat nine out of 10 of them.
Anne Lackey: So let me ask you a question, Jay, and again, if this isn’t the right platform for it, certainly feel free to say that. But you do have a coaching program for… You have a training program that you provide property managers, is that correct?
Jay Berube: Yeah.
Anne Lackey: Alright. Are you open to new clients?
Jay Berube: Yes. If there’s a property manager or real estate agent that’s looking for sales, related skills, and training, I have a couple of awesome things that are going to be coming up soon, but are not open right now. So we don’t have any open enrollments. But, in order to start getting acclimated with the type of training that I have, you can join the free Facebook group and that’s easy. You can just go to salescommands.com and that will direct you to the free Facebook group where there’s tons of trainings, free resources.
You know, my whole goal is to give agents everything they need, right? And when I say agents, I’m talking about property managers, real estate agents, because it’s pretty much all the same when it comes to the sales part of it, right? The operations is completely different, but the sales part of it is very, very similar. So if you go to salescommands.Company, you’ll be able to get right into the free Facebook group and you’ll see all the trainings in there, the resources, and all that good stuff.
Anne Lackey: Well that sounds great. We’re going to put a link to that as well in the transcript as well as we’ll do it on our splash page at the close of this session. So Jay, thank you so much for having us and being with me today. I appreciate you so much as a client. I know you have a choice and I’m glad that you chose us. And again, we just are excited to have all of our clients share some of the best practices. So if you want to connect with Jay, make sure that you go to salescommands.com and again, the link will be in the show notes. So thanks so much and have a great rest of your day.
Jay Berube: Thanks, Anne. You too.