Why Do It All Yourself? Outsourcing May Be The Best Financial Decision For Your Team

Ed Craine
July 2, 2008 — 1,553 views  
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We’ve all been guilty of trying to manage everything.  Most of us realize quickly though, that this simply isn’t possible. To be successful, we need to learn to delegate tasks to others.  Delegation frees up our time to do what we do best, which is managing our team.  In doing what we do best, we also do what is most profitable as well. 

One of our key objectives as managers is to ensure employee success through employee satisfaction.  Achieving this objective will lead to success in our primary objective of maintaining profitability.   Unfortunately, any time that is taken away from focusing on supporting and guiding our loan originators, isn’t likely to be time well spent.

To explain, you might consider that as a manager, the only thing you have to sell (if you’re not originating) is your time. The question then becomes; how is that time best spent?  Is it best spent trying to fix a website glitch?  Is it best spent doing payroll?  Or is it best spent working on a “problem loan” that has one of your originators ready to give up?  Naturally, the website should be fixed, and of course your employees need to be paid.  But, the answer is unequivocally, that the best use of your time is to help your loan originator with their dilemma, as doing so will earn the team a profit.

The mortgage market is certainly competitive these days, and production is down for many managers.  That’s why it’s important to consider outsourcing work to virtual assistants or contractors, as it might be in our best financial interest. Of course outsourcing will cost money.  However, when the cost of outsourcing is weighed against the cost of losing a loan because you’re too busy with other tasks, hiring a virtual assistant or other outside consultant can more than pay for itself.

Objections To Outsourcing:
Before covering some of the easiest and most cost effective outsourcing services, it’s important to address some objections to outsourcing.  The first argument against it is usually the cost.  Rising overhead may initially sound frightening, but again remember that the time you’ll free up to work with your team is invaluable.  You might even have time to originate on your own (if you don’t currently.)  The ROI on your investment in outsourcing may very well be impressive.

The second objection that managers have about outsourcing lies in the fear of not having work done in-house.  The fear is generally based on one of several assumptions. First is a fear that if work is outsourced, proximity may be an issue. This is a valid objection. For example, if you decide to outsource your I.T department, and something goes wrong, the solution may be delayed if the outside company is far away.  The solution?  Don’t outsource your I.T to a company farther away than you feel comfortable with.  We’ve all had I.T problems before, and our teams will survive if it takes a few hours for issues to be rectified.

A second assumption that prevents managers from outsourcing has to do with communication issues.  By outsourcing tasks to others, you run the risk of miscommunication with your service provider. But, internal miscommunication happens from time to time as well.  Keep in mind that any qualified virtual assistant or contractor will allow you to try their services on a temporary basis to make sure that communication is clear, and that you’re happy with their service.

The third assumption that is made as an argument against outsourcing lies in the fear that the outsourced provider won’t deliver the quality of service that you need.  This is also a valid concern.  However, as we all know quality of work can be an issue with employees also.  Quality service providers should be found as a result of our due diligence, which can be conducted via asking others for referrals and researching companies on our own.  Incidentally, the International Virtual Assistant Organization (www.ivaa.org) and the Real Estate Virtual Assistant Network (www.revanetwork.com) may be great starting points.

Viable Outsourcing Options
Now that the major objections (though you may still have others) have been addressed, consider several tasks that eat up your day which could be outsourced, saving you time and money.

1.  Marketing, Advertising & PR
Marketing, advertising and PR are vital in any mortgage climate.  In a hot market, we need to keep up with our competitors.  In a cool market, we need to maintain our brand awareness for continued success.  Large advertising marketing or PR companies can charge monthly retainers that won’t fit in your budget.  However, if you start asking your partners, friends and extended network for referrals, you’ll likely find that there are smaller agencies or solo practitioners who can provide the services you need at a price you can afford.

Spending time trying to dazzle clients by forging your own advertising campaign isn’t a bad idea.  After all, nobody knows your businesses as well as you do.  But, there are professionals who can take your core message and deliver it in a succinct manner to your target audience for less time, and therefore less money than you’d spend doing it on your own.

2. I.T Services
Wouldn’t it be nice if we all had the luxury of having an in-house I.T team?  Unfortunately, that’s not always possible.  However that doesn’t mean we need to attempt to be the I.T department.  I.T. management and maintenance can easily be outsourced to a qualified contractor who will keep technological needs up to par without charging a fortune.  Again, the value of a referral from a trusted friend or colleague shouldn’t be underscored.

3.  Dictation Services
Dictation services have become incredibly savvy over the years, not to mention affordable.  Although you may not think that you need a dictation service, it allows you to multi-task. Consider time spent in your car.  With the dictation services available today, you can dictate important ideas, memos, marketing concepts and more all while you’re en route to the office.  Your thoughts then arrive typed in your inbox, freeing up time so you can focus on your team’s needs.  Both www.idictate.com and www.copytalk.com provide inexpensive service.

4. Human Resources
Human resource companies can make life much simpler for managers, particularly if you find one that offers not only payroll, reporting, health care and retirement planning, but also screens potential employees for you.  While some companies offer some of these services, outsourcing all of these needs to one provider can be a stress reliever and money saver.  That way, you reduce the number of subcontractors you work with, all the while fulfilling a vital need.

5.  Secure Document Disposal
Identity theft is running rampant.  We must ensure that our clients’ sensitive information is securely protected.  But, managers can’t afford to spend time shredding these documents themselves.  Until you transition to a paperless team, make sure that all vital information is fiercely guarded.  Secure document disposal companies make this easy by removing the burden of shredding thousands of documents.  This relatively new service has proven to work well; freeing up not only our time, but the time of our support staff and loan originators.

There are clearly arguments against outsourcing or hiring virtual assistants.  However, in addition to freeing up our time, and thus increasing profitability of our team, there are other arguments for outsourcing.  Remember that even if we have a particular affinity for technology, for example, our main strength lies in our ability to structure loans and help our teams to do the same.  In contrast, a virtual assistant who specializes only in technology solutions undoubtedly has expertise far and above our skills.  Moreover, outsourcing will ensure that if problems do arise, they won’t be ours alone to fix; as we’ll have the support of our virtual assistants.

When we take our time and hire only the most reputable service providers to do the tasks that are outside of our expertise and are nonproductive activities, it’s very likely that our profits will increase, our employee satisfaction will remain high, and best yet, we’ll get to do what we do best- manage our team.

Ed Craine


Ed Craine is the CEO of award winning Smith Craine Finance, one of the oldest independent Mortgage Companies in San Francisco, California. A 25+ year veteran of the real estate financing industry, Ed has originated and negotiated loans in excess of $2 billion, to include both commercial and residential properties. He has simultaneously held such notable positions as Vice President of the California Association of Mortgage Brokers (CAMB), as well as serving as the Public Relations Committee Chairperson of the 5,000 member strong association during 2007, the year in which the mortgage industry received more media attention than in recent history. Ed currently also serves as 1st Regional Vice President of the Certified Commercial Investment Member Institute (CCIM). He will be inducted as Vice President of the Southwest Region of CCIM in September 2008.