I’ve covered a lot of ground when it comes to building a good relationship with your Online Filipino Specialist. It isn’t magic. It’s not a secret. These are proven principles you can follow to be successful in outsourcing to the Philippines.
Over the years as I’ve outsourced my work to Online Filipino Specialists, I’ve gotten some good feedback from them on what business owners can do better. These are tips that business owners should know but often forget. Or advice that just needs a bit of tweaking to work a little better. Here are some of the things my OFS’ have shared:
Communicate regularly using different methods
My own OFSs sometimes have to remind me that I need to communicate better. In fact, one of them reminded me that when I respond to their emails promptly, they’d work faster and be more productive.
Filipinos need to hear from you. They love to please. So it’s vital that they know where they stand with you and be reassured that they’re doing a good job. They love feedback. You should email them, talk with them via Skype or even call them if necessary.
Email is usually the best way to reach your OFS. And in my experience, they are very good at responding quickly. Also, anytime you need to make corrections or suggestions with work they’ve done, creating audio or video using Jing is very helpful. Doing this with the use of diagrams and screenshots allows the OFS to clearly see how they can improve.
Sometimes even the daily email isn’t enough.
This communication needs to start from the day you hire your OFS. Not only do I send my new OFSs a welcome email that explains policies, expectations and duties I need them to fulfill, but I include some audio or video. This helps put the VA at ease by hearing my voice and seeing my face.
Plus, anytime I need to give feedback on an assignment, rather than try to explain things in the body of an email, I use Jing to create a screen recording. Screen recording makes it easier to give step-by-step instructions that are easier to follow. My OFSs appreciate this and the many ways in which I reach out to them.
A few years ago, an OFS named Kiel had this to say about the importance of good communication: “I can say that creating a video seminar, instructions and comments is the best way of communicating to us. It makes us feel your presence even though you’re not around. The way you want us to work like we own the sites that we are working on was so motivating.”
As I’ve stated before, Filipinos are humans, just like you, me and any local U.S. employee you would hire. They’re going to make mistakes or not understand something. Completing a complex assignment is going to take time, same as for any worker. So don’t. expect difficult tasks to be done overnight. For many OFSs you hire, there will be a sharp learning curve. Invest the time in them. Don’t expect perfection. This is a long-term relationship that will take time to build.
Patience is also needed if your OFS’s work quality begins to drop. Obviously this would cause concern and should be addressed. But before you overreact and fire them, find out exactly what the issue is.
I once had an OFS whose production began to decline. I was concerned, so I let her know I needed her to do better. Her performance improved at first, but she began slipping again. Still, I tried to be patient, and it’s a good thing I was. It turned out that this OFS has a serious heart condition. She needs a heart transplant (which she can’t afford) so she’s going to have an angioplasty. I felt crappy for pushing her, which made her heart condition worse. We talked about this and were able to work things out. It would have been easy for me to fire her, but my patience paid off.
Give proper correction and treat employees well
This is related to the point above. Treat your OFS like a human being. Treat them the way you would like to be treated. Don’t berate them or yell at them when they mess up. You would expect the same professional, respectful treatment if it were you making a mistake. Your Filipino workers will welcome constructive criticism. They want to know how to do better and meet your expectations. So help them by pointing them in the right direction instead of taking out your frustrations on them.
One of my OFSs has a friend who once had a boss who treated his employees terribly. The friend related this experience: “A friend of mine was working for this guy who hired a manager. All of them were required to wave on Skype for roll call. If you don’t wave or say hi, you’re fired. He got fired. They were made to do black hat SEO since the guy had no SEO background. He hired managers who had no background, too. When they gave their opinions or discouraged certain strategies, he said they were being difficult. Also, the guy made assumptions and said they are not allowed to be absent, even with storms, sickness or family emergencies. He was a monster. My friend lost weight until he was fired.”
Your Online Filipino Specialist deserves your respect. Don’t be the type of boss that acts like a tyrant. Filipinos are no different than you and me in that they recognize what makes a good boss. They know the best employers know how to treat people right.
Provide excellent training
I’ve emphasized this repeatedly, and Filipinos echo my feelings on this topic. One of the biggest concerns workers in the Philippines have is that they won’t be trained effectively—or at all. They readily admit that they often lack crucial skills. They want to learn. They want to work. But they’re also aware that they don’t always have the experience or competence in certain areas.
I remember the first Filipino worker I hired, Joven. He knew absolutely nothing about the tasks I did in my business. His skills were woefully lacking. But I trained him. He soaked in everything I taught him and he applied everything he learned in his work. He learned skill after skill until he got to the point where he can do just about anything I need him to do. This doesn’t happen without tremendous effort on the OFS’s part and your commitment to teach and train.
Don’t forget to pay
This may fall into the “duh” category, but you might be surprised how often this happens. Most of the time, it’s an honest mistake. You forgot to send their salary because you were too busy and it just slipped your mind. But please understand that these people depend on this money to survive. It’s their livelihood. What you pay them is a lot less to you than it is to them. If they do work, pay them, and pay them on time.
I have mentioned many times that one of the most unique characteristics of Filipinos is that they’re honest. Of course, not every person in the Philippines is honest, but in my experience working with Filipinos, I have never dealt with a dishonest OFS. In fact, with all the business owners I have taught, I only know of one instance of dishonesty. In this case, an OFS stole from his boss. But the reason this happened was because the business owner didn’t pay the OFS the amount they deserved. While dishonesty of any kind should not be condoned or tolerated, this shows just how important this pay is to Filipinos.
Along with this, Filipinos appreciate raises and bonuses. It motivates them and makes them feel valued. Paying on time and pay increases will go a long way toward building a strong relationship with your OFS.
A few extras
In addition, there are a few additional things I’ve learned from my own experience that will help you in managing your OFS and in getting the most out of your relationship with them.
If you can, go to the Philippines and meet your team. I realize making a trip like this might not be easy, but it certainly would be worth your while, even if you’re only able to go once. A face-to-face meeting would go a long way in establishing trust and building your relationship. This meeting could be held to clear up misunderstandings or confusion in a more effective way than you could do through email, Skype or over the phone. You could even make the trip and treat them to a little fun.
Be careful with phone calls. I’ve stressed many times how important constant communication is with your OFS. Often, even the daily email isn’t enough. Before you consider picking up your phone and calling them, remember that making this overseas call isn’t cheap for your Filipino worker. Instead of using your cell phone or home to call their home or cell, call one another through Skype. It’s free, and it’s just as effective as a phone call. I almost never make phone calls, and with rare exception, I see no reason why you’d have to.
Consider hiring all your people from one city. One key principle of outsourcing to the Philippines is to hire one person to begin with. Eventually, you’ll be able to hire multiple OFSs. I know many business owners who have several OFSs working for them, and their business is flourishing because of it. Once you get to this point, you may want to think about hiring all of your workers in the same city. This makes the most sense if you intend on setting up an office in the Philippines. If you want to go this route, it would be so much easier to get your entire team into an office if they all live in the same place. Many business owners don’t have an office in the Philippines. I don’t have a Philippines office myself. But if this makes sense for you and your business, keep this in mind.
Pay attention to the exchange rate. The U.S. dollar and Filipino peso exchange rate can vary considerably; it can even change drastically overnight. At the end of April 2021, one U.S. dollar was equivalent to 48.11 Filipino pesos. This figure has actually went up by more than one peso in the past three months. However, in the 10 years I have worked with Filipinos, I have seen the exchange rate fluctuate between 38.00 and 50.00. That’s a 25 percent change—what big difference! A 25 percent reduction to a Filipino’s salary is significant. Keep an eye on these rates so you can adjust how much you’re paying your OFSs. If the rate begins to dip, send your OFS a little extra to compensate. As the rate goes back to higher levels, you can pay the original salary once more.
Never give out your employees’ names. I know I’ve broken this rule since I started featuring my employees. Still, I want to discourage you from doing so because once you talk about your Filipino workers, someone is going to reach out to them and try to poach them. I only felt comfortable talking about my employees because I’m 100% assured of their loyalty. They’ve proven time and time again that they’re not going to leave even when presented with a better offer.
Every task you assign must have a purpose. As I’ve said before, one of the advantages of hiring an OFS over a contractor or freelancer is since they’ll be with you for a long time, they will care about your business. They want to help your business grow. So give them jobs that are challenging and meaningful. Don’t give them busywork. You’re creating a dead-end job that will kill your OFS’ motivation. Make sure there is a reason for every assignment. Let them know that the work that they do us contributing to your business in a meaningful way.
About John Jonas
John Jonas is a long-time outsourcing expert and the creator of OnlineJobs.ph.
Since 2005, John has taught hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs how to profitably delegate to VAs in the Philippines (and get their lives back in the process).
With help from his own VAs based in the Philippines, John has created an outsourcing empire that allows him to work 17 hours/week and to spend most of his time with his wife and 5 kids.
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