Terry Yonker, Licensed Real Estate Broker and Founder of Automated Agent, first dabbled into the world of virtual assistants about 10 years ago. "I was so busy at night doing administrative paper work and non crucial tasks," he said. "When my daughter was born, things got even busier. I got to a point where I was missing important things in her life because I was too busy doing admin work. This, along with a book I read, The 4 Hour Work Week, showed what was really possible with virtual assistants. I started using virtual assistants more and more effectively, that my monthly deals doubled while spending less hours. I was making more money and I had more time."
Other local agents began calling Yonker and wanted more information about how to find virtual assistants and how best to use them. Around the same time, he was asked to speak, on this topic, at the Florida Realtors Conference in Orlando. Seeing an opportunity to share his newly acquired skill set and turn it into a business, he launched Automated Agent. Yonker explained the concept, "We provide manpower, training, and operations manuals for Real Estate Agents to use outsourced labor effectively. We provide the link between agents that have certain expertise and skill set and a college educated work force that performs for them at $3 per hour."
Through trial and error, Yonker discovered that the Philippines was an ideal location to source virtual assistants for real estate type work. They speak English and they're very familiar with American culture. Yonker even struck a deal with the world's leading site for finding Filipino Virtual Assistants, Onlinejobs.ph, to work with them on training virtual assistants to better serve US based Real Estate Agents. What makes Yonker's service so unique is that, unlike other virtual assistant services, which are basically middlemen with an up-charge, he shows Realtors how to skip the middle man and go straight to the virtual assistant. This saves the Realtor a considerable amount of money.
"Our clients download an online playbook that shows them exactly what to do," Yonker said. "Our Agents use virtual assistants for things like email marketing, mailing campaigns, social media marketing, maintaining databases, entering listings into MLS, editing photos and researching leads to uncover the information they need to market to their clients. Virtual assistants are the coin that starts the jukebox. Some will even coordinate with other virtual assistants working in different areas.
Looking ahead, Yonker would like to maintain his Real Estate Brokerage in Orlando as a home base, while traveling the country and spreading the word about Automated Agent. He continues to teach courses on virtual assistants for Florida Realtors and increases the awareness of his own product through webinars driven by Facebook advertisements.
Yonker offers up some great advice for aspiring entrepreneurs. "Get an outside look at what's really happening," he said. "We tend to tell ourselves a story about where we are in business. We need someone from the outside to take a hard look at what we're doing and shine some light on where we really are. Don't be afraid to open the Kimono. It can be hard to take another perspective into your business, but it's important. As the famed Nobel Prize winner Richard Feynman put it, 'The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool'."