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What an amazing experience to be interviewed by the incredible Rosie Shilo of Virtually Yours.

Rosie is one of the top VA Advocates in Australia, and runs an incredible support network for VAs. If you're looking for support, or would like to be a VA, be sure to check out Virtually Yours. You won't regret it!

And don't forget to check out some of the other episodes here. So much incredible information!

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Transcription

Rosie Shilo

Hi and welcome to the virtually yours podcast outsourcing mysteries exposed. The no BS, husstle free podcast for business owners who outsource or provide outsourcing services. I'm your host, Rosie Shilo, virtual assistant advocate and owner of Virtually Yours, the virtual assistant network. Let's get started. 

Hey, everybody, welcome to our podcast episode here with Hanna Finlay from Off-Site Tradie and Off-Site Reception. Welcome, Hanna.

Hanna Finlay  

Thank you happy to be here.

Rosie Shilo  

Excellent. I've got Hanna here today because her business setup is really cool. And it's she provides a service that a lot of people don't understand how they can tap into. And I know for a long time I wanted someone to be answering my phones for me, because I am terrible with answering the phone. And I had to get my head around it but I did because I was so desperate to get someone to answer the phones. And Hanna sorted that all out for me and thank god you guys do that for me now. 

Hanna Finlay  

Happy to do it!

Rosie Shilo  

Good, good because, you know, it's just something that I was always absolutely terrible at and I mean, as you know, even just returning calls I'm still a shocker. So how did you get started as a VA?

Hanna Finlay  

I started at least six years ago, I was temping. I love the variety of the different work doing a couple of weeks in one business then going and doing something completely different. And I thought, I'm gonna cut out the middleman here and do it for myself. And then I discovered the world of VAs and thought it's not as new as I thought. I was onto something brilliant, new, but yeah, it was good to have a whole bunch of other people in because it sort of helped me guide to where I needed to be. So, yeah.

Rosie Shilo  

And so you started Off-Site Tradie first, didn't you?

Hanna Finlay  

I actually started off working for corporate. So I was Cue Administration Solutions, and then I moved to Off-Site Tradie. So I worked in a lot of large large companies, helping them with projects and decided I just wanted to work with the little guy you know, I didn't need to work with the hundreds of people involved, and six months to make a decision kind of kind of business. I wanted to help the people that really needed it. So yeah, with your help, we got to Off-Site Tradie and started building that

Rosie Shilo  

That was fun, was fun being involved. Yeah. Off-Site Tradie still still awesome. And and it's not just Tradies that you support though, is it?

Hanna Finlay  

Not anymore now. So we started with tradies and then I got a couple of phone calls from other industries. That said, I know you do this for tradies, but I really would love for someone to do it for me, would you take me as well? And it's sort of just built from there. I thought this is a great market, and that's why I created a separate business that's still generally the same thing, just a different target market, which is Off-Site Reception.

Rosie Shilo  

So what sort of businesses? Do you have any really kind of kooky businesses that you do reception services for? 

Hanna Finlay  

So I've got a vet that's got full time staff there, but they get so many calls that we take their calls as well. One of my VAs who's running through the white label service, she's got a cocktail bar. Yeah, we take bookings for a cocktail bar as well. Yeah, there's a few few interesting ones music, schools, dance schools, driving schools, psychologists, a lot of people need it.

Rosie Shilo  

Yeah. 

Hanna Finlay  

And the tradies

Rosie Shilo  

Yeah. So how on Earth do you keep track of it? I think a lot of people would wonder how someone could answer their phones for them and be able to actually help their prospects or the customers. How do that?

Hanna Finlay  

Yeah. So there's a lot of training involved and a lot of onboarding. When you get to know a client, you really want to spend a lot of time learning about their business. But I've built an online portal. So as soon as that phone tells me that it's a Virtually Yours call, my team can click on the Virtually Yours link and all the information they need is there. All the frequently asked questions, ways to send messages to you if we need to. So it's all sort of at the touch of a button. But obviously, they would have had their training first and had to read through websites and done their research before being put on a line.

Rosie Shilo  

Yeah, I like that because years ago, I did reception for a few different businesses, but they didn't have VOIP stuff back then. And I had a couple of mobile phones on my desk. And it was hard because it had ring and you'd have to manually flick your brain to, picture that! manually flicking it, to whoever that business was, and whereas with yours when the phone rings, that information comes up on the screen, is that right?

Hanna Finlay  

Yeah. So it'll display it on the phone, whether it's a desk phone, or whether it's a soft phone, whatever they're using. And it also in the headset will tell them there's an incoming call for, and it'll say the business name.

Rosie Shilo  

Wow.

Hanna Finlay  

Yeah. So if I'm not at my desk, because my headsets are wireless, I can still answer the phone while I'm making a coffee and walking back to my desk because I know who could answer for.

Rosie Shilo  

That's amazing. 

Hanna Finlay  

It's pretty good. Pretty fun.

Rosie Shilo  

Yeah. I love it. And so you've got a couple of people who work on site with you though, don't you?

Hanna Finlay  

I do. Yeah, I've got a full time employee and I've got a casual employee as well. But I've also got a couple of VAs around Australia that that take calls as well.

Rosie Shilo  

Yeah, so that's for if there's extra workload

Hanna Finlay  

Or, we're having torrential rain now, if there's a blackout or the internet drops out.Flick it over to WA and keep going. Hey, yeah,

Rosie Shilo  

Weather is so glorious today. 

Hanna Finlay  

It really is. What a great day for a public holiday.

Rosie Shilo  

I'm stoked about that. All good. We can have a bit of rain, it's great. Yep, I absolutely love that. I find it to me, it's allowed me to just get rid of one of the things that really drained me in the business. And so now I know a lot of, so do you have people who? Because I can jump around a bit in here in my brain and you can come along for the journey if you like. I get most of my messages emailed to me, which works really well for me. Does anyone do it that way? Or are there different ways that people can find out who's called them?

Hanna Finlay  

Yes. So a lot of the time the client We'll want an email if we're just a message taking service for them. But we do have SMS available as well. So if it's an urgent thing we might have, like we've got some tradies that do make-safes after a storm, so they need those jobs SMSd to them straight away. So we send those via SMS, but we sort of make the call whether it's an urgent one or whether it just needs to go by email. Some of them want to just SMS and some we book directly into their booking software, so they don't even hear from us. They just see the appointment come up in their in their software, and they go,

Rosie Shilo  

that's amazing. What about VAs? I know a lot of VAs, you know, startup and they've come from a reception type background and they know how to manage a multitude of calls. But for them to set up something like that would just be you know, apart from doing the whole mobile phone thing would be really overwhelming. You've got like a white label thing. How does that work?

Hanna Finlay  

I do. So I've got, I built my portal from the ground up, so I created it. And I tried to make it as easy for the people accessing it as possible. So the way I set it up with the white label clients, there are obviously other VAs who see the potential in their clients to take their calls. They just want to answer the phone, they don't want to think about anything else. So they can sign up to one of my programs. We do all the technical setup, we help them through the onboarding process with their client. The client doesn't know we exist, we're just tech support. All the phone calls run through the system, they get access to the portal as well. They have the opportunity to take extra calls if they want to if they want to earn a little bit of income. And if they're off taking the kids to school, then the phone diverts to us and we answer as a backup. So they've always got that Monday to Friday, nine to five coverage for their clients. Even if they only work two, three days a week. 

Rosie Shilo  

That's really cool. 

Hanna Finlay  

And then at the end of the month, they get a report that has all their pricing on it so they don't even have to think about the bill. 

Rosie Shilo  

And then they they just on charge that to the client. 

Hanna Finlay  

Well yeah, or they can tell me what they want to charge the client. My report will show them what I'm charging them and what they're charging their client based on what their quote is. Yes. So I try to make it as easy as possible so they can just pick up the phone. 

Rosie Shilo  

Now I know why you are a Rubik's Cube queen! She's got it. She's got it. I bought a Rubik's Cube after visiting Hanna because I was just like, I really want to work this out. And she's just like clickety, click, click, click one of those work. And I really, really I want to work it out. But I'll get partway there and then I'll put it down and you'll come back and then it'll gone to hell because my eitght or three year old or maybe a fur baby, I don't know. Someone has just totally stuffed the whole thing up, and I don't know where it is anymore. It's called the Rubik's Cube mum challenge.

Hanna Finlay  

Excellent. Yes. Well, if you get stuck, you know where I am.

Rosie Shilo  

Yeah, I might

Hanna Finlay  

come out to the farm and have a Rubik's lesson.

Rosie Shilo  

I'm always up for that! But to be able to create something like that from the ground up and I look at you, and I just see cogs turning, because, you know, that's, that's full on. Yeah. And I mean, when you were doing Cue, and you're mainly doing websites and quite techie stuff, weren't you?

Hanna Finlay  

Yeah, well, we in Cue, it was more, it was huge project. So it might have been, we worked for a major waste management company. So it was implementing all their new databases and getting that to talk to the individual trucks and what route it went on to. So there was a lot of background technical stuff, and I sort of think that that's, that's where I blossom. That's where I love. So as much as I love speaking to people and doing all the phone stuff. My goal is to be the one behind it all doing the technical stuff, and making it faster and quicker and easier and a more reliable service.

Rosie Shilo  

And you do that amazingly. Yeah. And I even just, you know, with the onboarding, I felt like at least you know, it was it was Rosie idiot proof, because I had VOIP lines here and I was like, Oh my god, how do I get them over there? What do I do here and we had the two work lines and one was going over there and one was staying here and and you know what, the best thing about this office is there's a phone here somewhere. Don't you love it! And it never rings. It's like the dream. 

Hanna Finlay  

Is it plugged in?

Rosie Shilo  

I don't know. Probably not! Otherwise Ella would be calling China like every second day. I think it was plugged in for a bit and then Ella discovered it, and she's gonna be four next month for those of you who don't know, and she discovered the phones. She can climb up so Greg's got another office, my husband's got another office in the house and makes it sound massive haha. In our ginormous mansion! And she can climb up onto his desk and get his phone so we have to lock his office when he's not there. Because she will. She'll just I went to his office one time and said you you've been on this call for two hours and 28 minutes. And no one - I've ended it could be anyone, Yes. It could have been a radio station and we were just running live the whole time

Hanna Finlay  

Yeah, but that I would listen to

Rosie Shilo  

Gotta be better than some of them! Love it. So I can't even imagine, you know where you could go from here with your business. To me it looks like it's just doing so well. And I mean, you went out into into another office for a little bit, and then came back home to the home set up which I've seen other VAs do over the time. What are the plans moving forward?

Hanna Finlay  

This time next year, I plan to be in a proper office on my own. So last time I was in sort of share building it was an accountancy firm, and they rented out a room. But yeah, this time next year, I plan to be in an office and I'd like I'd like to at least double my team. I'm looking for an extra one at the moment. So it's growing. Always looking for new people to put on so it's Yeah

Rosie Shilo  

But that's someone local. Yeah?

Hanna Finlay  

Yes, yes. It'll be someone local. That'll come to my house. And then when I've got my office, hopefully in town, I don't want to go all the way into Ballarat. I'd like to stay in my little country town but um, Yeah, I'd like to have another another staff member on. That'd be good.

Rosie Shilo  

Yeah. So if you're around the 'rat area, yep, and you're awesome with the phones..

Hanna Finlay  

Give me a call. 

Rosie Shilo  

I love it. Cool. Um, so any handy tips you can give to business owners around, you know, making a transition from answering their own phones to getting someone to do it for them?

Hanna Finlay  

Yeah. So I guess, whenever you find that it's frustrating you to answer the phone, that's the time when you need someone on, we find that a lot of people that are working for themselves think that they can't afford a service like this, but they can't afford not to have it if it's taking them away from their clients. We've even got businesses that are chiropractors they might work in the mornings in the evenings, but they're offer a chunk of four hours during the day. So even just a couple of hours to help relieve the pressure off what you're doing and to stop disconnecting you from what you're doing. You could answer a phone call and be on the phone for 10 minutes and then it takes you another 10 minutes to get back to what you were doing. So it's, it's easier than you think, to make a change. It's a one hour meeting and forwarding a phone.

Rosie Shilo  

Yeah. I think people think that if you're going to be there nine to five, Monday through Friday answering their phones that they're paying for you that full time job, but that's not how it works?

Hanna Finlay  

No, it's not. So we we do have a monthly fee to have the service which covers a lot of changes to the system. We've recently introduced call recording and that sort of stuff as well. So and then it's a per call basis. So if you are on holidays and not taking any calls and not advertising and no calls come through, you're going to have a minimum bill that month. Alternatively, if you are taking holidays, you;ve still got someone to answer the phone and do bookings for you. So, it's something that... It's it's almost essential to small businesses especially, particularly tradies and people working on their own, because they, they don't need to worry about it. It's one less thing on their on their tasks.

Rosie Shilo  

Yeah, it's, to me, it's a no brainer. When I had the VOIP line, I was paying for the calls and stuff like that coming in, and then minimum fee and having to answer the calls myself. Whereas Obviously,

Hanna Finlay  

And getting the voicemails and calling back and

Rosie Shilo  

yeah, and whereas having someone else do that for me, I mean, I don't think I've got I don't have a massive number of calls coming in. I direct most people to email but, for me when I've got it set up as direct debit because it is that affordable that I know it's not going to bounce! And because it's a no brainer, and it's it is yeah, I don't think people realise how affordable it is

Hanna Finlay  

yeah. And it just makes a difference because you can drop your kids off at school and know that a call is going to be answered. You can have a sicky. Yeah. You know, I think two weeks off. I've got a psychologist that's going on six weeks holidays over Christmas, and she's going to come back to full books. And she won't have to pick up the phone and make those bookings yourself. Yeah.

Rosie Shilo  

And I'll have.. So with mine, you know, I'll have people contacting us around how they can submit a job leave, and Hanna and her girls help them through that I don't have to do it. And people wanting to know a little bit more about membership, Hanna and the girls can help with that. And so if they email me, I'll email them back. But when it comes to the phone, 1. the sound on my phone is terrible. So it actually was quite unprofessional to pick it up. And 2. I've got kids in the background, and I just generally don't like the phone. So it's so much more efficient, more effective and more professional to have a friendly voice who knows my business picking up the call. And that's part of it too is that it's professional, but it's friendly. And it's real. It doesn't feel like there's this, you know, massive room full of robots answering the calls. It's like it's part of your team answering the calls.

Hanna Finlay  

Yeah. And you've got your recording at the start as well. So it sounds like your big time.

Rosie Shilo  

Yeah, I'm made the recording. Yeah, that was really cool. 

Hanna Finlay  

I like that you did it, I think it suits yours definitely, to have your voice on it. I do most of them. Yeah. So it probably sounds a bit weird to the callers is hearing my recorded voice saying thank you for calling blah, blah, blah. Please stay on the line, and then hello! The same same person answering but you know, whatever! You change the pitch in the recording a little bit and that doesn't sound like me anymore.

Rosie Shilo  

You do the peppy thing? Yeah. So on that note, so I basically today wanted to let people know how that sort of thing can work. Whether you're a VA wanting to offer reception services or your business owner, and you're crazily answering your own calls, which I think is nuts personally!

Hanna Finlay  

I don't even get to my own calls! I make my team do it!

Rosie Shilo  

How funny is that! It's the best though and it to me, and it means that I can get more conversions on those general inquiries coming through, more action taken. And it's eased a massive stress to me, because I've found the calls or the lack of my ability to take the calls or return the calls really, really stressful. And so even just in terms of easing that stress, it's been really, really worth it for me. So I'm really stoked that you've come along today and shared with us how it all works. Yeah. And so where can people go if they want to learn more about you and your business?

Hanna Finlay  

Yeah, so our Website is www.offsitereception.com.au or they can get us on 1300 39 30 30.

Rosie Shilo  

Beautiful. So that's a that's a good idea! They could ring you!

Hanna Finlay  

Yeah, they could. They could ring one of my team.

Rosie Shilo  

Yeah. Yeah. If you get Hanna, you'd be pretty lucky. Excellent. Thank you so much. So we'll put those links and that number in our show notes, and, and some information. Are you able to share some information in our show notes about your white label?

Hanna Finlay  

Yeah, absolutely. Definitely. I can do some stuff.

Rosie Shilo  

Excellent. Thanks so much for your time today Hanna

Hanna Finlay  

Thanks for having me. It's been fun.

Rosie Shilo  

See you later everyone. We'll see you in the next episode of Outsourcing Mysteries Exposed.

Hey hey hey, thank you for listening to the Virtually Yours podcast, Outsourcing Mysteries Exposed. Between now and our next session. I know you're going to be hanging out to take some action on outsourcing in your business, so head on over to virtuallyyours.com.au and you can download some information there about the best ways to outsource for business growth. If you're a virtual assistant, make sure you join us we have an amazing virtual assistant community at Virtually Yours, Aussie VAs connecting and helping each other grow. Have a fantastic day and I'll see you in the next podcast.