Yigal Adato: 00:01 Hey pawn family, welcome back to another episode of the Pawn Leaders Podcast and this is a really cool episode. I have my friend Jaime Jay who’s the founder of Bottleneck Virtual Assistants and we really go into depth about how you can hire a virtual assistant to take some of the aspects of your business and delegate them to somebody else for not too much money. And what happens is basically we open up to not having to do the marketing, not having to do the accounting and being able to focus on the business at hand, which is pawnbroking and bringing in those clients. So, listen to the episode, I appreciate you and check it out.
Yigal Adato: 00:42 Hey everyone, my name is Yigal Adato and this is the Pawn Leaders Podcast, a podcast to help you make more money, stress less, and live an epic life all while working at the pawnshop. Hey, Pawn Leaders welcome back to season two of the Pawn Leaders Podcast. And today I’m excited to have Jamie Jay with me who is not just a friend of mine. I consider you a friend, Jamie. You are one of the first people who had me on their podcasts. So, I appreciate that. Jamie has an incredible podcast called Stop Riding The Pine and he opened the doors for me to be able to feel comfortable and confident in front of a microphone. So, thanks for that bro.
Jaime Jay: 01:31 You’re welcome man. Heck yeah. Didn’t need any too much pushing, man. You’re a natural.
Yigal Adato: 01:37 Thank you. So, guys Jamie is the founder of Bottleneck Virtual Assistants and what they do is they identify a hire and cultivate team members through an efficient and systematic approach and this award’s ambitious leaders the opportunity and time for personal growth and professional growth. Since leaving the US army as a former paratrooper, and I didn’t know about this in the 82nd airborne division, he began working in corporate America and he worked for a couple of different fortune 500 companies over the next 12 years. And over those 12 years, he learned a lot about business and working with others, but you never quite felt like he found his calling. And after overcoming some tragedy multiple times, Jamie shaped himself into the kind of person who continues to pursue his dreams are both self and creative discovery. And Jamie enjoys coaching people dreaming of a fantastic future, connecting amazing people and creating some outstanding companies like Bottleneck Virtual Assistants. Jamie, welcome to the show.
Jaime Jay: 02:28 Thank you so much for having me Yigal, it’s truly an honor.
Yigal Adato: 02:32 Now, you know, it’s my pleasure having you on, I’m thinking about season two and I’m thinking, what resources can I bring to the Pawn Leaders Podcast and you are one of the first person, you know, people to jump into my mind, in the virtual assistants. You know, virtual assistants do so much for business owners and allow them to be their best at what they do. That I think this is just a great connection to bring you onto the show. So, let’s talk about bottleneck. Let’s jump right into it. Then we’ll talk about how you got into it. So, I know you from stop riding the pine, your podcast. I know you from doing like branding and marketing, which is what you are doing and I’m sure you’re still doing that. And then you started bottleneck virtual assistants. What got you into this business?
Jaime Jay: 03:16 That’s a great question. You have to go all the way back to 2006 and 2006 is when I left corporate America and I went out on my own with a partner and we founded an advertising agency, a marketing agency that was real estate based and focused. So, we did everything real estate, from mortgage, real estate agents, companies, things like that. And we would do websites and marketing for them and all that kind of stuff. We even had a magazine that we distributed 12,000 copies a month and people would buy advertising in there and we do articles on, you know, different things are going on with the real estate market at the time. And my partner was from the Philippines. We were both living in California at the time, but he had a connection and he said, I said, man, how are we going to do this? This is going to be expensive to hire the production director and the editors and the developers. I’m like, man, we’re going to have to invest. Then he said, well, we can be able to save some money cause I’m going to help build a team from the Philippines. And I thought, what, how is that going to work? I mean, I don’t speak Tagalog, I don’t know.
Yigal Adato: 04:23 [Incomprehensible] before, but you know.
Jaime Jay: 04:25 Yeah. So, yeah, so we got together, we had, I think it was 14 or 15 total on staff and I think 11 or 12 of them are from the Philippines. Everything from our operations manager to admin to developers and even the layout of the magazine came from the graphic designers in the Philippines. And I had incredible experience with them. And 2008 the good old housing crisis hit and we lost all of our clients in the span of about three months.
Yigal Adato: 04:59 Wow.
Jaime Jay: 05:00 And so, we were doing well, we were having fun. I didn’t save, I learned a massive lesson. I had to move back in with my parents. Like, could you imagine I’m 38 years old living with my parents and it was terrible. Not, I’d love my parents, but that’s not where I wanted to be. And yeah, so I kind of kept doing that for friends. People were, you know, saying, how did you do that? And I would tell him, so I’d say, call this person and connect with them. And I kind of did that all the way for 10 years or so, while I was doing some different endeavors along the way. And then it was at the urging of my mastermind group that said, hey, you really need to focus on this. This is a golden opportunity. So, about 2 years ago I officially formed the company and it’s just been going fantastic. We’ve learned so much along the way. And yeah, that’s kind of what brought me into doing bottleneck virtual assistants full-time.
Yigal Adato: 06:06 That’s awesome. And I want to make sure that the pawnbrokers who are listening now, when you talk about virtual assistants, what type of work in a virtual assistant do? Give me just a quick list of the type of work that a business owner would wanted take off of their shoulders, and the type work that you guys take on, so we talked a little bit about some of this areas like accounting, social media, what else do they do?
Jaime Jay: 06:28 So, this is a really a question, but I also have to preface it, especially in the pawn industry or an industry that may not be used to outsourcing or hiring virtual assistants. They need someone to come in, they need to physically see their bookkeeper, they need to do all of this stuff. So, I want to kind of preface this before I answer that question and I will answer, I promise. But there comes a point in time in any business, I don’t care what industry you’re in, where a certain amount of work comes in and a sense of overwhelm comes tumbling over. And that’s because you’re trying to do so many different things. And many business leaders, pawnbrokers and people in the pawn industry experienced the same thing. It doesn’t matter what area you’re in, but if you don’t create a system or a process in which everything that you do in your business from the very get go, it’s going to be very hard for you to hire. You know, brick and mortar, not only virtual, but brick and mortar, having somebody actually come in. You’ve got to have those systems built out. And so a mutual friend of ours, Scott Beebe says, you always do something as if it’s the last time you’re going to do it. And what that means is you kind of write everything down. One of the biggest things, and one of the biggest challenges I feel for business leaders, business owners is delegating because they feel that their expectations won’t be met. What better way to get all of the stuff out of your head and to write it down exactly how you do it as a business owner so that if you do eventually need someone to come in and take over that role they’re going to maintain your voice, your tone, the brand integrity with which you want to develop your business and grow your business with. So, I think that’s a really huge precursor to the different types of roles. Now, the different types of roles can be anything from bookkeeping, as I said, social media which is huge, writing. So people that want to market more of their services through SEO is blogging and articles going out and building relationships online for SEO. If anybody does search engine optimization, I don’t know if that’s even that thing in the pawn industry.
Yigal Adato: 08:50 We’re starting, it’s getting there. Yeah.
Jaime Jay: 08:52 Getting there. So, this is all stuff that can help you with. And what I really feel, boy, I’m just talking away here. I get so excited when I get asked this question, but one one of the biggest things for me is when I start a new venture or a new business or something like that, I want to work in it. So many people say, don’t work in your business, work on it, Dah, Dah, Dah, Dah, Dah. But I think you have to work in it and learn every aspect of that business because this is going to do one of two things. It’ll do two things. It’s going to show you what you like to do and it’s going to show you what you don’t like to do. Both of which are key in running a successful business where the mastery comes in is taking all the things that you don’t like to do that don’t give you energy and delegate that to someone else that it does give energy to. But you have to figure out and go through the processes to find out what you like and what you don’t like and all the busy work, you know, the bookkeeping or the administrative work, the social media, the stuff that you may not like doing, that’s easy to delegate, but you’ve got to create that system. Focus on the things that matter to you, growing the bottom line, you know, networking, getting out there and doing whatever it is that you need to do to focus on the actual business growth and lead the detailed more specific stuff. The mundane details that you may or may not really like to do to someone else who really thrives on that.
Yigal Adato: 10:20 Yeah, and I believe like when we talk about the pawn industry, you know, we talked about this in the Pawn Leaders Podcast Community on Facebook, and if you’re listening to the podcast, please go to the Pawn Leaders Podcast Community. It’s a great community of pawnbrokers just asking questions and trying to improve themselves and their business. That pawn shops used to be where you just opened the doors and people would walk in, but these days you need SEO, you need social media management, you need Instagram and Facebook and you need to work on a great website in a lead magnet and bring people into the shop so then you can blow them away with the service, the price, the loans, all those types of things. So, I believe more than ever, and it’s why I brought you on that pawnbrokers need to be at the front of the line and delegate all of that stuff that you just said. Delegate social media, SEO, graphic design, because if not all that happens Jamie and I experienced it, being in the stores for 16 years. You’re on the front of the line, you’re writing loans, you’re doing business and you’re forgetting to market, you’re forgetting to blog, you forgetting to post on Instagram because it’s like, and this is so much I need to do. It’s overwhelming. Hiring somebody to do it, keeps you at the forefront and helps you beat the competitor.
Jaime Jay: 11:36 Oh, amen. Exactly. I think one of the biggest challenges is there’s probably two things. Number one, people don’t know when to hire, but even before that, they don’t know what to do about hiring. And sometimes people will hire just to hire somebody because they think, oh, I need help. I’m going to hire this person and then they’re going to come in, okay, I want you to do this and this, and they’re going to go crazy. We like to come in and from the very beginning and really prepare that business owner, that business leader for a specific way to hire somebody. And we do that through what we call is a six step hiring formula. The first thing we do is delegation roadmap. This is thanks again to Scott Beebe. I mean, we’d go down and we list out all the tasks and I have video instruction and this is free by the way. And this is from years of experience that I’ve collaborated, collected information and I put it all together in the six steps. The first thing is the delegation. You write down every single thing that you do every day. Imagine how many things a pawnbroker does every day, the owner, like if it’s a million things, write them all down. Do it in two sessions, one hour each day if you can get it done, but then assign a value to those which gives you energy in which gives you don’t, which don’t give you energy. The ones that give you energy do, the ones that don’t. Now all of a sudden you have a job role for all of those tasks so that when you go to hire somebody, you know exactly what you’re hiring for and more importantly, they know what they’re being hired for. They can literally look at it. The third thing is when you’re going about this to make sure you have a good interview lined up, how do you give a good interview? What do you need to ask? What are the points? Well, you can reference your job role for number one. You have a really good idea of what tasks you want delegated. And then the third thing is, because you’ve written down the processes, okay, this is how I send an email or this is how I would want social media done. This is my branding, these are my colors, this is whatever. When someone comes on, you already have all of that laid out. So, it’s a lot easier for you to get out of what’s in your head to someone else. And then the fourth thing is to make sure you do a good interview. We have videos on that to help you out and make sure you ask the right questions. We’ve an offer a confirmation interview and that’s where you actually give somebody a task. We highly recommend that. To a new candidate to make sure that they can do what they said they can do. And then you go through the hiring process and then we help you out. What does that very first meeting look like between you and your virtual assistant? And we do this all before you even met the candidates to interview.
Yigal Adato: 14:25 Awesome. And I think, I know that people are listening and saying how to hire somebody who doesn’t know the pawn industry, how to hire somebody who’s never worked in the industry. But I want to make sure that people understand that a SEO guru, someone who’s great at it, they can sell snail food or pawnshop. You know, a social media marketing genius can sell books or pawn loans, it doesn’t matter as long as you can clarify what you want, the type of customer that you want and they’ll build it for you. And so, this thought process of I need somebody who’s only worked in the pawn industry or who has specific, you know, time in the industry. I think it’s a farce. It’s not necessary because these virtual assistants have such great backgrounds that they can, you know, do just as good.
Jaime Jay: 15:19 Well, I think you make a really good point Yigal. I think also if you look at it from the point of view, if you bring someone in that has experience in the pawn industry, maybe that bad habits, maybe someone else has taught them how to do something that doesn’t align with your particular belief systems or the way that you want things operated, right? We’re in, if you bring in someone new you can show them exactly what you want them to do. Detailed down to the very specific item, itemized lists that you prepare and they won’t come in with any bad habits. The other thing that you have to look at too is you hit the nail right on the head. Social Media, social media. Yeah, there’s certain lingo and stuff that needs to happen, but this is why we prepare you in advance for your meetings, your action items. We take care of all a lot of this upfront so that you know how to best describe what it is that you want done and the biggest challenge that you may find in hiring someone that doesn’t know the pawn industry is a simple fact that you may have to train them a little bit. But this is where people really dropped the ball. So, many people need to hire somebody because they’re so busy. I need to hire someone because I can’t do it all. I need a break, I need to take maybe a vacation or I need to focus on this. I need to, you know, whatever it is that you need to be doing. The problem is if you don’t take that time upfront and train them properly, whether or not the person has experienced or not it’s going to end up biting you in the rear. And that’s the number one reason why people are either let go or quit is because they don’t have a set group of expectations and there isn’t a clear direction to what they’re supposed to be doing.
Yigal Adato: 17:15 Jamie, and that goes for both in person hires and virtual assistants I’m guessing.
Jaime Jay: 17:22 100%
Yigal Adato: 17:22 Right. And you said something great where a lot of people say, you know, I need to fire these people, they’re not doing this right. And what I always ask is how’s the training? Have you trained them correctly so that they can do it with their eyes closed or they can do it without a problem. And I think a lot of times we believe that we’re communicating what we want, but we don’t tend to say everything that we want or the way we communicate it in our heads and what comes out of our mouth is totally different. So, I think hiring people for me, why it’s so important, especially a virtual assistant, let’s say, is because I want to be able to spend as much time at home as possible. I want to be able to beat a competitor. I want to be able to just be up with the times of being on Instagram and Facebook and doing SEO and getting my accounting done correctly. And some of the best pawnbrokers that I have interviewed on this podcast always say the same. They say, you want to succeed, hire people who are smarter than you. And I believe it doesn’t matter where those people are, if they’re smarter than you are, they can do the job, pay them their money so you can rest and put your head on the pillow at night and sleep comfortably.
Jaime Jay: 18:39 I love that. I love it. And I’ll tell you right now, I am nowhere near the writer that Karen is. She’s our head writer and she nailed it. I’m not a coder. I had a web development company for many, many years. Still do. I’m not a coder, a programmer, I don’t know PHP. I don’t know all that stuff. But my developers, I’ll put them up against the best in the industry. They’re amazing. And every single aspect, they kill it. My designers, oh my gosh, they can design like nobody’s business. Me? I have a hard time drawing a stick figure, right? So, what I’m good at or what I enjoy, I should say, it’s like talking to you. This stuff is fun for me and this is a good way for me to reach out and build my business. But it’s fun and I enjoy this. I thrive on this stuff. So, this is what I want to be focused on, right now developers are building the websites, they’re doing all this stuff behind the scenes that do not give me energy. And my podcast, you know, we’ve been doing it for four years now. 250 episodes. I love podcasting. I love interviewing. I love doing this. I cannot stand the editing. I cannot stand the marketing. I don’t like the publishing. I don’t like writing the show notes that just drains of living daylights out of me. So, I give it to somebody, my audio engineers, they love it. But writers, they love writing that, you know, they love publishing it. The social media manager, she loves living her life on social media. She loves it. I don’t,
Yigal Adato: 20:17 I love that. Cause I’m the same way. I mean this podcast, I’m going to give up my secret. I record, I send a file and then my engineer, my writer, you know, he does everything. He puts it up, puts on, it’s like magic to me, you know, and that’s not my forte. So, I believe, especially in today’s market, in the pawn industry, we have to be competitive. We can’t be asleep at the wheel when it comes to like marketing, social media, writing, blog posts, having great websites, keeping up with our Google reviews, all those types of things. And if we’re consistently pawning selling and putting out merchandise and dealing with the employees at the store, how can we have the time to do all this stuff? And I think your resource bottleneck is such a great way to take that off the plate. Pay Somebody some money, obviously it’s going to be less expensive. I remember. So, this is funny. So, I remember years ago, my brother and I, we kept on thinking about like, okay, we need to have a marketing agency. Like we need to have a marketing agency to do all this marketing. And my sister was in marketing school, right? So, she’s like, yeah, we can hire some people. And I’m like, great, how much is it going to cost? And I was like, man, it was like, you know, 30, $40,000 per kid coming out of school. Or like, there’s no way. So, we essentially created an agency within house, but we have three or four young kids working for us. And it was tough. It was tough because it was on staff all the time. We had to pay them their check, you know, bi-weekly. We didn’t know what work to give them. And I think having a virtual assistant is just having a conversation. Like you and I are right now on a video conference call saying, Hey, let’s map out the next three months. This is what I want. Here’s some pictures of my stores. Here’s a great story. Here’s kind of, you know, a video of us and they’ll be able to help you map that out as well. Not just say, I’ll post twice or three times a week. Is that correct?
Jaime Jay: 22:16 Yeah. Yeah. So yes. What’s really cool about this is seeing the growth over time. That since how we’ve grown and we’ve created different roles. And it was really neat for the first writer we hired, it took us six weeks cause I really had to walk her through it and we wrote down every single step and this is what we want to do. And I had to kind of help her with a little bit on page optimization and all this stuff so it could get found in the search engines and stuff like that. Fast forward eight to months, we hired another writer. It took us two days because all the systems were down and we were ready to go. And you say bringing on an assistant or whatever it may be to help you out. Not only can they do the work as per your direction, but now my VA’s, they create job roles for future hires for me or they revisit the existing workflows or processes that we have and improve upon them. They obviously submitted to me and I’ll go through and see that it’s correct. But that is time consuming stuff. Our marketing campaign that we’re coming up with for the fourth quarter and it’s all being done by the Va’s. Yes, I have my input. I meet with them weekly, I meet with the marketing team once a week and I meet with the entire staff once a week. But, and we come up with all these cool ideas, but they’re the ones that really assemble it, they put it together. This is what’s going to happen this date and this is what’s going to happen this date. And it’s just amazing. So, a lot of that I don’t really have to worry about. I’m basically saying that’s a great idea, or let’s probably not do that one yet.
Yigal Adato: 23:59 Awesome. Love it. So let’s, let me ask you two questions. One, let’s talk about like a success story. Somebody who came to bottleneck, hired virtual assistants apart from you obviously, and was able to, to grow and scale their business. And then after that, let’s talk about kind of the, the costs. What does it cost to hire somebody? What does it take? And Yeah, I’ll let you lead.
Jaime Jay: 24:20 Okay, perfect. So, yeah, this is a great one. There is a, at St Louis, Missouri which about three and a half hours north of us, which I’ve never met them in person still, but they’ve been with us for about three years, I’d say. They hired, they were looking for social media manager and they found someone that had just recently graduated college locally and she wanted to I believe 48,000 a year. And they contacted me from a referral source and said, Hey, you know, we’re just kinda getting started in this. It’s a new thing. We don’t really have this much money, you know, but we really need this role. So, I went out and found somebody that not only was a college graduate but had three years of experience and we place them at the time, they’ve had a couple of raises since then at the time for $12 an hour. Huge saving. They’ve since hired three more VA’s from us. They’re growing, thriving real estate investment company. And so they’re working with 4 Va’s and it’s incredible success story in my opinion. And they love it. They just reached out, they want to hire someone again next month. So, it’s fantastic to hear the growth and they’ve been able to scale because they have all this work and way more cost effective. And they’re turning out some great stuff. It’s amazing. So, with regards to costs we do what we call as a sourcing fee up front. The processes is you contact us, you fill out a questionnaire, we want to make sure that we can give you exactly what you’re looking for. So they fill out this what we call the VA intake form. And then if we feel that we can place them or source them with a really good candidate we’ll ask them to pay a sourcing fee. And that sourcing fee is one time, $500. The average cost to hire somebody in the United States right now is $4,129. And that’s a lot because of all the preparation and everything that you have to go into it. So we do $500 sourcing fee will go out and source 10, 15, 20 different candidates, whittle that down to three and then we invite our perspective client into interview three candidates back to back for 10 minutes each and they’ll go through a small little interview process which is moderated by our operations manager, Yeng and she’ll make sure that the candidates show up and the 10 minutes is going to be okay, it’s two minutes so next. And then a client will pick or choose the candidate they felt they had the best rapport with that they think they can do the best job with. And we do what we call as a confirmation interview next. Now that is not moderated that simply between the client and the virtual assistant and they can do 10 minutes, they can do an hour whatever they want to make sure they feel comfortable and we asked them to assign them a task, you know, nothing big, something, you know, 30 minutes or less and then put a due date on it. Get this to me by tomorrow at 11:00 AM and this and insurers and helps our clients feel that yes, this virtual assistant can do what they said they can do. And boy they did it right on time or they were early. Then the client reaches out to us. We sign agreements it’s a month to month. You can cancel any time. We asked for a 14 day advanced notice. So, if they do want to cancel, we can place the assistant somewhere else. But all of our virtual assistants sign an agreement with us, meaning that they cannot take another job. And the reason for that is they can take projects but not another job. So, if our client wants to grow and use them for more and more and more stuff, as they get busier and busier, they don’t have to hire somebody else and retrain them. They can just work with this person and this person, the Va that’s assigned to them can follow along and grow with the company as needed.
Yigal Adato: 28:03 Awesome man. And I told you before the call that I’m going to have to talk to you after the call to hire myself, a couple of Va’s to work on some things. But I want the pawnbrokers in the Pawn Leaders who are listening to the podcast to know that don’t try and do it all yourself. You know, you can spend a lot of time, a lot of money trying to learn this stuff. You’re not going to be great at it. That’s the truth. And if you want to win in this industry, if you want to win in this business today, I always talk about three things. It’s a leadership, marketing and strategy. And when it comes to marketing strategy, hire out the marketing and build that strategy so that you have some free time to spend with your family, to go hiking, hunting, whatever you’d like to do. Or Jamie who plays hockey, he’s really a hockey fan and enjoy life. Don’t just sit there and being a slave to the business. So Jamie, I want to thank you for being on.
Jaime Jay: 29:00 Thank you so much Yigal. All that means the world man.
Yigal Adato: 29:03 For sure. And how can people find a Bottleneck so they can sign up some VA’s asap.
Jaime Jay: 29:09 Yeah, just come on over to bottleneck.online you can kind of check out some stuff that we have there. I have a little overview video and there’s an inquiry form there. So, it’s just /inquirybottleneck.online/inquiry. You fill that out. We have an automated system that will send you out a link to schedule a free consultation with me and I’m happy to explore, determining specifically for the pawn industry, the best process for the pawn industry. I’m happy to do that and build that out for whomever wants me to do it. And again, at no cost.
Yigal Adato: 29:42 Awesome. I love that. Reach out to Jamie. It’s like you said, it’s a free consultation to see if Bottleneck will work for you and Jamie, love you brother. Thank you for being on the show.
Jaime Jay: 29:53 Thank you so much Yigal.
Yigal Adato: 29:54 I appreciate you and guys remember to check out the Pawn Leaders Podcast Community, we talk about the podcast episodes, we talk about pawn, life, and check out pawnleaders.com to jump on a call with me to see how we can improve your business and take it to the next level. Have an incredible day. And I’ll see you guys in the next episode.
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