Today I’m happy to have John Jonas on the show. John is an entrepreneur who has been making a full time income online since 2004. He runs the popular site OnlineJobs.ph and he’s helped thousands of entrepreneurs succeed by teaching them how to replace themselves through outsourcing.
Over the years, I’ve come to realize that there are many tasks that can be outsourced to someone virtually and John’s methods makes it so easy. Enjoy the episode!
What You’ll Learn
- How to start a Filipino outsourcing company from the United States.
- How to get traction for a job board
- How he got his first few customers.
- John’s process for hiring a great Filipino employee
Other Resources And Books
Klaviyo.com – Klaviyo is the email marketing platform that I personally use for my ecommerce store. Created specifically for ecommerce, it is the best email marketing provider that I’ve used to date. Click here and try Klaviyo for FREE.
Privy.com – Privy is my tool of choice when it comes to gathering email subscribers for my ecommerce store. They offer easy to use email capture, exit intent, and website targeting tools that turn more visitors into email subscribers and buyers. With both free and paid versions, Privy fits into any budget. Click here and get 15% OFF towards your account.
SellersSummit.com – The ultimate ecommerce learning conference! Unlike other events that focus on inspirational stories and high level BS, the Sellers Summit is a curriculum based conference where you will leave with practical and actionable strategies specifically for an ecommerce business. Click here and get your ticket now before it sells out.
Many successful entrepreneurs I know outsource a lot of their work to the Philippines because you can find great workers at a fraction of the cost. Well John Jonas is the founder of onlinejobs.ph, which is a job board for Filipino workers. And today he’s going to teach us how to hire from there.
But before we begin, I want to give a quick shout out to Privy who is a sponsor of the show. Privy is the tool that I use to build my email list for both my blog and my online store. Now, Privy is an email list growth platform, and they manage all of my email capture forms, and in fact I use Privy hand in hand with my email marketing provider.
Now there are a bunch of companies out there that will manage your email capture forms, but I like Privy because they specialize in e-commerce. Right now, I’m using Privy to display a cool wheel of fortune pop up. Basically a user gives their email for a chance to win valuable prizes in our store. Customers love the gamification aspect of this, and when I implemented this form, email sign ups increased by 131%.
There are other cool things that you can do too also. So let’s say you offer free shipping for orders over $100, well you can actually have Privy flush a pop up when the customer has $90 in their cart to urge them to insert one more item. Bottom line, Privy allows me to turn visitors into email subscribers, which I then feed to my email provider to close the sale.
So head on over to Privy.com/Steve, and try it for free. And if you decide that you need some of the more advanced features, use coupon code MWQHJ For 15% off. Once again that’s P-R-I-V-Y.com/Steve.
I also want to give a quick shout out to Klaviyo who is a sponsor of the show. I’m blessed to have Klaviyo as a sponsor because they are the email marketing platform that I personally use for my store. And over the holidays right now, I actually depended on Klaviyo for over 31% of my revenues. Now, Klaviyo is the only email platform out there that is specifically built for ecommerce stores, and here is why it is so powerful.
Klaviyo can track every single customer who has shopped in your store and exactly what they bought, which makes it extremely powerful. So let’s say I want to send out an email to everyone who purchased a red handkerchief in the last week, easy. Let’s say I want to set up a special auto-responder sequence to my customers depending on what they purchased, piece of cake, and there is full revenue tracking on every single email.
Klaviyo is the most powerful email platform that I’ve ever used, and you can actually try them for free at mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O. Once again that’s mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O, now on to the show.
Intro: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. We will teach you how to create a business that suits your lifestyle, so you can spend more time with your family and focus on doing the things that you love. Here is your host, Steve Chou.
Steve: Welcome to the My Wife Quit her Job Podcast. Today I’m happy to have John join us on the show. Now, John is an entrepreneur who has been making a full time income since 2004. He runs the popular site onlinejobs.ph, and he’s helped thousands of entrepreneurs succeed by teaching them how to replace themselves through outsourcing.
Anyway, many of you probably know from my blog, but we have three full time employees at BumblebeeLinens.com which is our ecommerce store right now. We used to have four; we had to let someone go. Anyways, the minimum wage in California is actually going to creep up to seventeen dollars in the next couple years, and we’ve kind of come to realize that there’s many tasks that can be outsourced to someone virtually.
Now John’s company does this in his sleep, and so I want to kind of pick his brain today. And with that, welcome to the show John, how are you doing today man?
John: I’m good, thanks for having me.
Steve: John, for everyone out there who doesn’t know you, can you just give a brief intro of how you founded onlinejobs.ph in the first place, and what you’re up to today?
John: So I’m a terrible employee. I graduated from college in 2004 and had a job for ten months, and my only goal there in that job was to quit, because I don’t know it just doesn’t, it doesn’t work for me.
Steve: What was your job?
John: I was a programmer. I graduated from college in Computer Science. I was in programming. And I really like programming, it’s really great, but just working to make someone else rich just doesn’t work for me. And I found myself like stealing their time and…
Steve: Did you outsource your programming job to the Philippines or?
John: I didn’t know how to at the time otherwise I totally would have.
Steve: Okay, all right.
John: So since I learnt to make a little bit of money, I quit my job and started working from home. And I had these people working for me in the Philippines within a couple of years, and they were working on my business at the time, I was doing affiliate marketing stuff. And I just found myself; I have a mastermind group that we have a phone call every week. And I found myself teaching what I was doing every single week because there were 15 of us on the call, and every week people wanted to know more because it was so successful what I had kind of stumbled into.
So the way that we found people was crappy at the time, and so after a couple years I was like, there’s got to be a better way to find these people because this is so good. That’s when I started onlinejobs.ph, which is the marketplace to find the workers. So that’s kind of how I got into it.
Steve: So I’m just curious why Filipino workers and not a different country, like what’s special about them?
John: So I didn’t know this at the time. So one day I was talking with the owner of BatCountry.com [ph] and this is 12 years ago. And they were huge, and I was nothing. But he and I had some similar things that we were doing. It was like a side pet project of his and my main business. He says when you are registered outside with some of the stuff; make sure you go to the Philippines with it. I was like what? He said yeah because in India when you tell them something and they say yes, that means yes I heard something come out of your mouth, it doesn’t mean yes I understood what you said.
And that was a big shock to me, like I had never thought anything of the sort. I just thought [inaudible 00:06:37]. And he gave me a reference where I could hire someone, and I think what it really was, was it was hope that like there could be something different than what I had previous experience. Because I think most people I knew at the time had experienced what I experienced in outsourcing and it was just painful, it was a problem.
And it kind of gave me hope that maybe there’s something different. So I ended up hiring someone and it was completely different like it changed my life. Where he gave me a reference where I can hire an individual full time person. They speak good English, we’ve never had a communication issue, they’re honest, they’re loyal. The person still works for me today 12 years later. They’re hardworking, they’re pleasing, they want to make you happy. I have taught him everything I can teach him I think. And he has started to run businesses for me that have made hundreds of thousands of dollars.
And along with their honesty and their loyalty, they’re not entrepreneurial, so they don’t want to steal your business. So there’s all kinds of cultural things that when you combine it together, make the Philippines a very different experience than the beastly world that we are at. At least I have never heard, I only try to cover different countries, but I’ve never heard someone say to me like, hey, I’m finding the same experience somewhere else.
Steve: Okay, so it’s a cultural thing. Did you ever try to hire someone in the states or?
John: Yeah. So way back then, I actually tried four different people. And with what I was doing then, I taught them stuff, and the very first thing they did was quit, because it looked like, oh I can do this on my own.
Steve: Interesting okay.
John: And I have two people in the states that work for me today, actually three people in the states that work for me today, just growing the business, doing different things.
Steve: And why couldn’t those employees be outsourced?
John: You know sometimes I think they could. I have an amazingly good writer here in the US who I love, like she’s a really great storyteller, and I love her style and it just fits me, and so I keep her. I have a girl who is really, really creative with Facebook or with just advertising in general, and so she runs our ad team with someone in the Philippines running ads, and a designer in the Philippines. And I have another writer here in the US who does other odd stuff.
Steve: Interesting okay. So yeah I was just about to ask that question, so would you say like the writing talent is better in the US than it would be over there?
John: Yes. I mean you could — so like if you read my blog, if you read the blog, working with the blog at jonasblog.com, there are blog posts there written by me, by people in the US and by people the Philippines, and I would eventually guess you couldn’t tell which are which [overlapping 00:09:44] the byline of the author.
Steve: So let’s switch gears a little bit then we’ll get back into the outsourcing thing a little bit, but how does one start a Filipino outsourcing company from the United States, like did you travel back and forth or did you do everything entirely in the US?
John: I did everything entirely in the US, all in the US.
Steve: Okay that’s interesting. So how did you get started with something like that when you started?
John: So like I said, the dude that I was talking to from back [inaudible 00:10:13], he gave me a reference to where I could hire someone. At the time it was a company that has offices in the Philippines and it was agentsofvalue.com, it’s still around. They have offices in the Philippines, they recruit Filipinos, bring them into the office, and they like offer you a menu like here’s this person that we have, here’s this person that we have, and they have like 12 people that you can pick from.
And then they mark up their salaries and listen to you basically. The good thing was it was a full time thing where like that person only worked for me full time. The problem was when I had the first person quit and leave because of office politics, it was like this is work, you can’t quit, you’re an amazingly talented programmer, just because you’re not able to work in this office, you’re going to work for me still. So that was kind of how I got started, and then it kind of spiraled from there with hiring more and more people, and more and more people asking me why and how are you aren’t these people, how is this working out for you?
Steve: I mean the company itself onlinejobs.ph like how do you — it’s like a chicken egg problem, right? I mean you got to get people and you got to get demand?
John: Yeah. So how I did it, we built the site and actually I just had my guys in the Philippines build the site, and I just I really just told them, hey, look here’s the concept, like look at Monster.com. This is what it is, we want a dumb down version of this, right? And I had Bill [ph] and I had this guy who was a programmer and a reasonable designer, and so he just did the work. And I was very much uninvolved and it was very crappy. But that was in 2008 when he was building it, but it worked.
So I wrote some copy for it. And then I was teaching employers at the time how to find people, and it was the possibly at the time it was really painful. And so in the Philippines I just sent an email to all my guys in the Philippines saying, hey, we have this site, how do you think we could market this in the Philippines?
And they were like, oh I can tell my friends about, oh I can post on Friendster, which was the Facebook in the Philippines at the time. I can post classified ads, I can do whatever. And that was all we did, and within a couple of months we had like a thousand visitors.
Steve: Interesting, is that why you registered the .ph domain?
John: It is, so it was yeah to attract the Filipino workers, because I knew that was part of — I knew I could bring employers to it because I was teaching them how, and they were really flocking at the time to us. And so it was a matter of kind of get the Filipinos just to recognize this and sign up. And that turned out to be even easier because the job situation in Philippines is so different that yeah.
Steve: It must be pretty bad over there right for them to…
John: Philippines, it’s a very third world country, and it’s a weird employment situation where there’s tons of temporary and part time work. So like I’ll tell you, the only time I’ve been there was in 2010. We spent a month in the Philippines on vacation with me, my wife, and my three kids at the time. And so we were on this remote island, and I’m in the grocery store and I see this kid stocking shelve. And I start talking to him like, hey, are you from here, what do you — no I’m not from here. I’m from Manila, which is a 14 hour boat ride away. I’m here for six months to do this part time temporary work. In six months my contract is up and I go back home.
John: Yeah and then it was like we had an assist come to our apartment every day, and she was two dollars an hour, and she was the exact same story. No I’m from near Manila, I’m here for six months and then my contract is over, I go back home. And then what? Then I find another job. Like this I don’t understand it, it seems super inefficient, but this is how this tons of work is, they’re so — when you offer them a full time stable job, it’s really good for them.
Steve: Okay, so the way you marketed it early on in the Philippines was just kind of like word of mouth it sounds like?
John: Yeah like we just — in fact I think I had six people working for me at the time, and I just said, what can you do, and they all went and did something. We never run any ads, we never put up like billboards or anything like that, we just talked about it online, and then people started talking about it online, and it kind of snowballed.
Steve: What about in the US, how are you getting your customers? So did you have to have critical mass obviously first in onlinejobs.ph in terms of Filipinos before you started getting business in the US for it?
John: So because I was teaching employers at the time, I was teaching how do you do this, how and why, like why do you go to the Philippines instead of somewhere else? Why do you use the Philippines instead of Odesk, which is what it was before Odesk and Elance? Like what’s different about this? I was teaching that and I would say like, look here’s a good way to find people, onlinejobs.ph is one way, and here’s another way is value. So some people started using Online Jobs, the poorest did.
The Filipinos were coming, and then there were jobs, and so people were like, oh my gosh, I got a job, they’re telling their friends. And they’re part of every good experience and they’re telling people.
Steve: And so you never had to run ads to begin this either, it was just word of mouth as well in the beginning?
John: Yes, which is not a great story for me to tell you for other entrepreneurs, right?
Steve: No, I’m just curious.
John: You got to run ads, and we run ads today, we didn’t when we started.
Steve: Okay, how does the business model work, is it just like a straight finder’s fee from the employer side?
John: No, well it’s a recruiting fee. So you pay to recruit people, you pay a monthly fee, $50 to recruit people for a month, it’s the cheapest recruiting fee that exists. You pay 50 bucks; you recruit whatever you want for that month. So you need to hire three people, hire three people. And then when you’re done recruiting, you cancel that monthly fee and those people are still yours, we don’t take a cut from their salary, we’re uninvolved in the process after that, we just provide the marketplace.
Steve: Interesting. Is it sticky though, like do people just tend to come back over and over again?
John: Yes and that’s what we’ve found is that someone who hires someone one time, or even someone who maybe doesn’t even pay, they just look at profiles and see what there is, we find that person is going to come back. And whether it’s in three months or whether it’s in two years, they’re going to come back. So it took me a long time to figure this out, because often there is a long delay like someone sees it and realized it, and they’re not ready to hire someone right now. But we use BluPro for analytics, it’s a Google Analytics.
John: By looking at people’s behavior over a long period of time like individual behavior, I finally realized what was going on and why it was growing when we couldn’t track, because people were waiting six months, and then coming back and hiring someone.
Steve: Let me ask you this and let’s get more into like the actual outsourcing process. So when people come to me or when they’re looking like the first thing that most people think of is Upwork, right? So can you kind of describe the difference, like what’s the main difference in going Upwork versus someone from the Philippines?
John: So the main easy difference is turnover. So in Upwork, the whole purpose of what they’ve set up is for someone to get a job, get that work done, get paid and get feedback so they can improve and get another job and get feedback and prove to get another job, right? Because in Upwork you have to have feedback in order to get a job. At Online Jobs there’s a feedback system, there’s a rating system that you will find very few ratings on people, because what most people do at Online Jobs is they hire someone permanently.
And if they find someone who’s good, they don’t leave feedback, like saying, hey everybody, this guy is really good, right? Because you hire someone full time permanent, and they work for you for as long as you manage to be successful. So that’s why like the first I hired 12 years ago, still works for me today.
Steve: Interesting, so you’re not looking for odd jobs on Online Jobs, you’re looking for full time employees?
Steve: Okay, interesting.
John: And you can get odd job stuff done, but like at Upwork you go and post here’s what I want done, and people will say, oh I can do it and here is how much I charge, here’s my hourly rate. At Online Jobs, people say, here’s my monthly, here’s what I want per month.
Steve: I see interesting.
John: And so it’s a different concept. We’re like at Upwork you’re guaranteeing yourself one 100% turnover with the workers in your business which is fine for if you just need a small thing done. But most businesses need long term stuff done over and over and over again, and that’s what people find at Online Jobs.
Steve: Okay and then can we just kind of talk about like the going rate for someone in the US versus someone equivalent in the Philippines?
John: Yeah so like who?
Steve: Let’s talk about developers.
John: So I don’t know the developer costs in California.
Steve: It’s really expensive.
John: [inaudible 00:20:11] I would bet that a PHP programmer like a good PHP programmer is like 70,000 a year here. I have four full time PHP programmers who I would put them up against just about anybody, and they cost me between $800 and $1200 a month full time.
Steve: Okay, so it’s a factor of two cheaper than.
John: It’s a factor of ten cheaper.
Steve: Factor of ten, 1200 a month, that’s – okay.
John: So 1200 a month versus like well so like 800 a month, my guess is 800 a month, right? And that’s $9,000 a year.
Steve: Interesting, yeah that’s crazy. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I was off by order of magnitude there. Yeah that’s crazy.
John: I mean it’s hard to say you’re going to get twice the output from someone in the US. You’re going to get more probably depending if you hire the right person you’re going to get more. Twice maybe, ten times, not a chance.
Steve: Interesting, so this is something I did want to ask you, like what are the kind of like the best jobs that you can outsource, because I’m an electrical engineer. That’s kind of why I started with developer, because there’s a lot of nuances to being a developer, right? There’s quality of code, there’s just ways of thinking, efficiency and that sort of thing. If you’re getting like a better quality person in the US, could there be like some negative long term repercussions going forward? Maybe PHP isn’t a good example because most PHP scripts are pretty straightforward.
Steve: But for anything really complicated like an application, would you outsource that?
John: I personally would, like I had to develop a lot like we have a windows application that we had someone developing to do, and he’s been great. He’s a full time worker, he works for us, so when there’s a problem he just fixes it. We have an IOS staff that has done Philippines, actually there’s a fifth developer, our IOS developer and he cost me $1200 a month and he’s pretty good at that. I think I mean whatever we ask him to do is not normal, and he figured out and made it work how we wanted it to work. So I don’t know the long term repercussions…
Steve: Or technical debt is more like what I was getting at but…
John: Technical debt?
Steve: Yeah like where you just slap something together and you get it working, but then it’s like spaghetti code or…
John: So here is what — I find the opposite problem. In the entrepreneurs I have talked to typically, I find the opposite problem usually where like people get so into getting something perfect and exact and beautiful in the beginning, they never make sales. And that’s where most entrepreneurs suck is in not making sales. And so they are so concerned with it being precise and beautiful looking code that it doesn’t matter.
Like I have a good friend doing this right now, and I can tell him stop it, like what you’re doing is not going to work. This doesn’t have to be perfect, you don’t have to have this extra feature, your code doesn’t have to be beautiful, it doesn’t matter. You’re not making any money from it and you’re not going to until you stop doing this it make sales.
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So what are some of the best things to outsource? Like social media, I’ve had friends do writing to a certain extent, you mentioned earlier that the writers that you have in the US are better, but you do have writers and in the Philippines, right?
John: Yes, so like I have – I’ll tell you the things that I have. So we have good design work done.
Steve: Like graphic design you mean?
John: Graphic design.
John: Programming, any admin, or customer service stuff is done in Philippines.
Steve: How does that work, so they’re in a different time zone, right? So is it just email support then?
John: So we do email and chat support, and we hired three young people to cover the three eight hour shifts, and we have an extra person that fills in time for other people. So like we’ll have a couple of hours of downtime and that’s why we can hire a couple more to fill those in, but we’re pretty good with our support. You can hire phone people, and it’s a question I get asked often. We don’t have it, but it’s not that hard to do with all the different internet voice systems that exist today.
Steve: Sure of course.
John: So social media only is done in the Philippines, our Facebook gets done partly in the US and our advertising, I mean our Facebook Google at role [ph] being — all gets partly done in the US and partly in the Philippines.
Steve: Are the prices like still around a factor of eight to ten then cheaper?
Steve: They are, okay interesting okay.
John: I mean like it’s — let’s see, we pay the person, our Facebook person in the Philippines, our most expensive, our most highly paid person, our ads person are like $8 an hour, $8 or $12 an hour. Per person in the US is $50.
Steve: Okay, wow. But the expectation is always to hire them full time, right?
John: That’s mine, you can hire part time.
Steve: Or what I mean is like a long term relationship is always the expectation.
John: Yeah, so let me tell you kind of what that does for most entrepreneurs, what I’ve seen. You had a contract worker; you have to put a similar effort in to hire that person as you do to hire a long term person. Then once you hired them, there is a difference in what your brain will allow you to do. So for example, I work like 12 hours a week because I have given everything that I do to someone else in the Philippines. And I’ll take that step further.
So every day when my guys in the Philippines logs into my email accounts and archives all the emails he knows I don’t want to see, so I have a clean inbox and more. It makes my day more efficient. That’s something you would never consider doing with a contract worker, it’s too painful because you’re going to teach them and they’re going to leave, whereas the person that does this has been with me for 12 years, and I know he’s not going to leave. And so I can make my life better because…
Steve: You he’s not going to leave, is that because it’s just turnover in general is really low because it’s a cultural thing or?
John: It’s a culture; yeah it’s a cultural thing. So I’ll give you another example. I had a girl once who was doing a bunch of work for me, I love her, and I put her in a client facing position. This was the first time we’d ever done this because of who I am, like people look at me as my employees are amazing because I tell amazing stories about my employees. So I know that someone — when people find out who my employee are, they are going to try and hire from me, right?
So I put her in a client facing position and said, hey, you’ll get second job offers from other people now, and I just want you to be careful. You know I’m a stable employee. She interrupted me and said, oh don’t worry sir, I get jobs offers from people every single day, I’m not leaving. And that’s kind of if you treat them well in the Philippines, that’s how it is. Like just because they get a job offer that pays them more doesn’t mean they’re going to jump ship. They’re probably not going to.
John: And that makes a really big difference in a long term business situation.
Steve: So that sounds like that’s one of the key advantages, right? You get loyalty, they’re not all mercenary as long as you just keep them happy, they’ll stick with you?
John: Yes. It’s critical, it’s critical, right? Like a programmer, they write code, they know the code. It’s so hard for someone else to come in and learn and understand stuff.
Steve: Right that was the other question I was getting at with the developer stuff, but yeah it sounds like your developers have been with you for a very long time.
John: Yeah, like we have a good developer, they don’t leave. We don’t let them leave, that’s not true. The very first guy I hired was a programmer, he left years ago because I was paying him $500 a month, and the guy was amazing. And this was ten years ago. And he got a job making $2500 a month in Singapore.
And I was like, okay, this is your dream, I know this is your dream, this is what you want, and I also know that I can find someone else who is just as good at $500 a month. And you can’t – it’s not 500 today, it’s a 1,000 or $1200. But he said, in leaving he said, but don’t worry sir, I’ll keep working for you part time at the rate you’re currently paying me. So like that loyalty is…
Steve: So John, are you just a really good employer, like what are some of these things that you do that keeps them happy, or is this like a consistent experience across a lot of the people that you’ve interacted with? So it is a consistent experience under certain circumstances. So I think I am a good employer, but I can tell you the things that make me a good employer.
John: So often and I get the sense that your concept of this is that I don’t know if I can trust this person. I don’t know if I can trust him to do good work, I don’t know if I can trust them to be honest or whatever.
Steve: Yeah, that’s the angle I’m taking yeah.
John: Right, their idea is I don’t know if I can trust this person. So you’re looking at it like skeptical of them, they’re skeptical of you. And unless you shift your mindset to, I have to trust this person and I’m going to treat this person as they’re sitting next to me, and I love them and they’re amazing, they’re going to continue to be skeptical of you. As long as a Filipina is skeptical of you, until they trust you, they’re not going to do great work, because in the Philippines they don’t want to lose face.
And so they really want to make you happy, that’s how they are as a culture. They’re a pleasing culture. So if they don’t think they’re going to please you, that you’re not going to be happy with their work, they’re not going to try and do their best, because they’re going to hold back and just be conservative with stuff. And that makes their life not great.
And if you do things to push them to where they trust you less, they start to get more and more hesitant rather than more bold. Rather than trying to impress you, they get more hesitant to the point where they’ll disappear. And that’s really the situation where most people lose a worker is not working, is working less, most of the time because they don’t know if they can trust you.
Steve: I guess the same is true of any employee, right?
John: Yes, but it’s more so in the Philippines because of their culture. Yeah, these are like general good management practices, but I found a lot of people don’t do. So here’s an example. I recently had a guy who worked for a friend of mine who I know is really, really, really good, this employer. He worked for him for four years. It’s Brad Callahan. A lot of people know him; he runs a very well done software system. This guy worked for him for four years. His business was changing, the thing he was working on, he didn’t need him anymore. He said, hey, can you find this guy a job?
So I had at the same time a CEO of another company who said, hey, I’m interested, do you have anybody that you trust. So I sent him this guy, it was a perfect match, right? One day later he said, oh this doesn’t work, he’s not good enough. I was like, what do you mean? Well he showed up an hour late, and he didn’t do this thing exactly right how I asked him to. I was like well dude; he’s been working you for two hours, like you’ve got to have a little bit of patience here. This guy is 14 hours different time zone from you.
And so that’s usually a situation where I’m like this doesn’t work for you. You should not hire someone in the Philippines. You have zero patience; you have zero tolerance, this is not going to work for you. But, so for the people that I see succeeding, they’re willing to put up with, oh you made a mistake, let’s fix it, and move on. Here’s the mistake you made, let’s fix it and thank you for trying really hard, that’s their attitude.
Steve: Okay and then I guess these are just all true as if you were just hiring someone in the US, right? I guess that’s the mindset that you really need to take. You shouldn’t think of these people as like temporary workers that are just doing the jerk that you don’t want to be doing, so to speak?
John: Yeah I mean like the thing that I see often is like, oh just fire her, just get rid of her, oh they suck, just get rid of her. You know like it’s a robot on the other side of the world without you know it’s a robot. And when you realize after you have someone working for you for a while and you start to get to know them and their family, you realize, oh my gosh, like life is a struggle over there.
This person is putting for some serious effort to do some amazing stuff for me, and right now they’re having a problem in their life like their mom died and they live far away, and that’s why they’re not showing up to work, and they don’t want to tell me why they’re not showing up to work because they’re scared that I’m going to be disappointed in them. And it’s not working right now. Where a lot of people are like, fired, you’re done.
Steve: So John let’s switch gears a little bit, and I’m assuming that like maybe the majority of the people over there are like this, but I imagine there’s always going to be some bad players, right? And so what are some of the processes that you have in place to kind of weed out the bad people from the good?
John: So one of the things that we have done at Online Jobs is created the ID proof system which is a reading on zero to 100 of, is this person who they say they are, because it’s a virtual system where like it’s easy to create a fake profile or create 20 fake profiles, and trying to get 16 different jobs and doing very little of each to just get paid whatever you can. So ID proof is a good move. I have looked at thousands of profiles and started recognizing patterns of here are things that cheaters do. And so we put that — I put together into an algorithm that’s pretty good.
So if someone’s ID proof is low, you’ve got to be really, really careful when you’re hiring them, and I’m not saying that you can’t find someone who is good. There are people who come in and they’re like I’m not willing to put in the effort to make my ID proof high, the score high because I don’t think this is going to work. Because they’re skeptical of getting a job online, often in the Philippines they don’t feel like this is going to work. So you can find it but someone whose ID proof is high you’re much more likely to find…
Steve: What about during the interview process, like once you actually have them on Skype?
John: All right, so here is the next thing, don’t do Skype interviews.
Steve: Really, interesting.
John: Yeah so Filipinos are again they’re a very pleasing culture, and they are also skeptical of their own talents. So like you get someone who has not worked for an American before, and they haven’t talked on the phone before, and they’re very scared of their English, like of you judging them in their English. So they will feel like they’ll know, they’ll understand you on the phone, they watch American TV and American movies. But they’re very worried that you’re not going to understand them, and you’ll be disappointed in them. So I skip the Skype interview.
Steve: Interesting, okay.
John: Because what I find is you schedule a Skype interview, your schedule of five people, three and a half will not show up. You have lost a really good person who was a programmer that didn’t need to be on Skype and they didn’t want to go on Skype with you and so you lost them in the interview process. So the way that I do my interviewing is I ask lots of questions over a long period of time. So what I find with this is — so it’s a remote worker, it’s not someone that’s in the office every single day, you get to watch them.
Their attention to detail is important to me, their responsiveness is important to me. And I can gauge that pretty well in an interview process where I send them an e-mail a day or two emails a day asking them one, two, three, four questions each time. They have a hard time faking it. If they faked their profile or their friend helped them write the profiles and their English is flawless in their profile, they’ll have a hard time doing over a two week process where they’re entering three questions in emails a couple of times a day.
So you get to see their English; you get to see their attention to detail. I ask them four questions, they only answer three of them, why? I get to see how responsive they are. Do they take two days to respond to an email or do they take two hours, because if they take two days during an interview process, the chances of them taking two days after the hire then is really high and that has worked for me.
Steve: What about live chat?
John: You can do live chat yes and then you get to see kind of how quick they are right? There are things to be concerned about. So like live chat is good, you can fake live chat. So okay, most people in the Philippines have their own computer. Live chat will tell you maybe how fast of a typer they are, or how slow their internet connection is, or how poor their computer is maybe. But going into the internet cafe you can change that. You can get a fast computer, you get fast connection.
If you’re writing emails back and forth a whole bunch of times, and they’re taking more than a day to respond, that to me something is wrong, and I get that through email. Like you’re going to work through internet café, you weren’t able to get to the Internet cafe today, or not every single day for two weeks, and that just tells me this is going to be a problem, right?
Steve: It’s interesting. The reason why I was like wondering about your email method, it makes the whole interview process really, really long and drawn out, right?
John: It does.
Steve: Like weeks?
John: It can be, it depends on the person. You’ll get a gut feeling pretty quickly often. And often times I’ll do it, like if I get someone who is responsive, I will send them an email every time I get one back. And often, our times will overlap; they’re in the same — later they’re getting up early, because like in the Philippines it’s very common to be up at 5 am, just because of the way the sun is different there than it is here.
So you’ll get four hours in the morning when they’re up, or four hours in the afternoon like they’ll come online at two o’clock, and I’m still working at two o’clock. So you’ll get sometime where I can send them an email and they respond, and I can send them an email and they’ll respond, then I’ll get a whole bunch of questions in over a three day period and hire someone.
Steve: During the interview process, do you actually have them do some work for you?
John: Not often. So that’s something that you can do it, and I have done it over — I have done at times, and I’ll do it with multiple people sometimes, where the only issue is you have to tell them you’re going to pay them, because Filipinos are scared of doing work and not getting paid. So you tell them, hey, look, I want you to do this test task, I’m going to pay you regardless if I hire you or not. Here’s the [inaudible 00:41:42] no, I’ll pay you, can you do this?
Steve: That’s really interesting that you don’t recommend Skype. It sounds like you don’t use — you personally don’t use live chat, you just do this email type of interview drawn out over a couple weeks.
John: Yeah. You can try Skype, but like if someone in the Philippines doesn’t have a microphone on the computer because they don’t, then you just lost a good — because now they know that Skype interview is required, and I can’t get a job with this person for now, another missed opportunity. And if they were really talented for a programmer position, you just lost a really good time to review.
Steve: But how do project reviews for like a developer position for example? Oftentimes it helps to talk via voice, right?
John: Yeah, I don’t do it.
Steve: You don’t do it, okay. So I’m just curious about your process then, so do you have them create the specification then you review it or?
John: Do you mean for a feature?
Steve: Yeah for example.
John: I will create the spec.
Steve: Okay and then…
John: With the developers I am very involved.
Steve: Okay but not by voice.
Steve: Interesting okay. That could take a little bit of getting used to actually.
John: So actually okay so it’s not by email either. So first of all email — we use Basecamp, whatever.
Steve: Okay sure year.
John: Transfer and save things like that. But what I do is a lot of video. I do a lot of screen capture video explaining things and showing my screen exactly what we’re doing, exactly what I want. And I have found that to be super, super effective. So they’re hearing my voice, and this is a big deal with what we talked about earlier of getting their trust, is them hearing your voice in these videos. They learn to know you, come to know you and they trust you. So I found that videos are a big deal [overlapping 00:43:54].
Steve: Yeah these short like one or two minute clips essentially?
John: Yeah or five or 15 pop ups.
Steve: Okay and then they don’t produce videos back for you, do they?
John: Sometimes they do yeah.
Steve: Okay interesting.
John: Yeah, they’ll take screenshots and say like this is what I’m seeing, we’re working through an issue, also looking – this is what I’m seeing, and we’ve got to find that, can you reproduce this for me? Like they’ll say, how do you reproduce this?
Steve: So John, let’s kind of end this interview with like some gotchas, like what are some best practices, and what are some things to watch out for?
John: Don’t pay someone ahead of time. When you’ve hired someone in the beginning, don’t pay him up front, and always pay after work is done.
Steve: Are they at a salary in the beginning or you’re just talking about the very first task?
John: No, sure the very first task. No I always start people on a salary. Different people do this differently.
Steve: Sure, I was just asking your process yeah.
John: My process is I start on salary, and I have started lower than what they want, and then I raise it within a couple of months to what they want to. Gotchas, so what most people will find the biggest problem is the disappearing Filipino, where they do good work and then they disappear, and it’s unbelievably frustrating because you spend a lot of time recruiting someone and then to have them disappear.
What I have seen is 97% of the time that issue is with the employer not the worker. Now it’s a cultural thing that the employer need to understand, but usually when a Filipino disappears, it’s not because they don’t want the job, because they do, it’s because they don’t understand something you’ve asked them to do, or they don’t know how to do something, or they’re uncomfortable doing something, or they don’t understand your instructions. And even though you think your instructions were super, super clear, you’ve got to find another way to explain it.
If they’re disappearing, if they’re not showing up to work, that’s usually the problem. And so when I hire someone, I tell them, I know that you’re going to get stuck on something at some point and you’re going to want to disappear and not say something to me, don’t. You can’t disappear, that’s the worst thing you can do. And it’s been interesting, like I got an email once from someone that said, Sir, I don’t want to send you this email, but you told me I can’t disappear, so I’m not. I have to tell you what’s going on, here I go. That was what she said in her email to me.
So if someone disappears, you seek them out and say, hey, I know you’re stuck on something, what are you stuck on? What can I help you with? Will solve 90% of the issues in hiring Filipino workers. That’s a really big one.
Steve: Okay interesting.
John: Another one is internet and power outages, where like there are times in the year in different places of the country where they have scheduled power outages, because of not enough power to go around. So and usually it’s in our winter and their rainy season, now their dry season, their warm season, where they’ll have four hours every single day or six hours every single day with no power. And it’ll be in the middle of the day and they’ll just start sending you emails, I’m sorry, I couldn’t work today for three hours because our power was out, I’ll make it up for you tonight or on Saturday.
Steve: So it’s just basically have the expectation that these things will happen so you don’t get mad at them?
John: Yeah and that is a big one right there is don’t get mad at them. Well like it’s okay to mad, I get it, but especially in the Philippines if you yell at someone, like in the US you yell at someone, they get over it. In the Philippines that’s not the case where you yell at someone and then they don’t trust you anymore. And yeah these are good general management practices, but anytime you’re going to give some negative feedback to someone, start with positive, lead with positive, it will make such a difference.
Steve: Okay, all right John that’s some good advice. Yes some of it seems very specific to Filipinos which is really useful. I never thought that giving a Skype interview for example would be a negative thing, and you could be missing out someone really good by doing that.
John: I know and it took me a while to figure it out, where like I’m scheduling these interviews and they’re not showing up. And now today I see it every day, because I have a girl in the Philippines — actually I stopped her from doing it, but she does recruiting. And she schedules these interviews, and she’s like, oh three of the four didn’t show up. Like stop doing this, they don’t want to do it.
Steve: Yeah I know it’s really counter-intuitive actually to someone in the states. John it’s been a pleasure chatting with you today. I want to give you the opportunity to tell us where people can find you if they need to get ahold of you or your services, where can people find you?
John: So I am infinitely available through email, and if you submit any contact us form on Online Jobs, you would — if you want me, you’ll get me, it will come to me first. But if you say, hey, send us to John; it will definitely get to me. You can get me on Facebook even though I really dislike social media. If you send something to me on Twitter @JohnJonas, it will get to me also. Yeah, so I’m available through business and any communication except for phone.
Steve: Okay awesome. Well thanks for coming on the show John; I really appreciate your wisdom in teaching us what the nuances are interacting with a different culture.
John: Yeah, thanks for having me, this was really good.
Steve: All right, thanks a lot John.
John: Talk to you later.
Hope you enjoyed that episode. I’m actually in the process of trying to hire an employee in the Philippines right now and John’s advice has actually been invaluable. For more information about this episode, go to mywifequitherjob.com/episode190.
And once again I want to thank Klaviyo.com for sponsoring this episode. Klaviyo is my email marketing platform of choice for ecommerce merchants, and you can easily put together automated flows like an abandoned cart sequence, a post purchase flow, a win back campaign, basically all these sequences that will make you money on auto pilot. So head on over to mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O, once again that’s mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O.
I also want to thank Privy.com for sponsoring this episode. Privy is the email capture provider that I personally use to turn visitors into email subscribers. They offer email capture, exit intent, and site targeting tools to make it super simple as well. I like Privy because it’s so powerful and you can basically trigger custom pop ups for any primer that is closely tied to your e-commerce store. If you want to give it a try, it’s free. So head on over to Privy.com/Steve, once again that’s P-R-I-V-Y.com/Steve.
Now, I talk about how I use all these tools on my blog, and if you’re interested in starting your own ecommerce store, head on over to mywifequitherjob.com and sign up for my free six-day mini course. Just type in your email, and I’ll send you the course right away, thanks for listening.
Outro: Thanks for listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast, where we are giving the courage people need to start their own online business. For more information, visit Steve’s blog at www.mywifequitherjob.com.