Hiring Virtual Assistants for Your Law Firm

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As most law firm owners are making the shift from a partially or fully integrated virtual firm, most come to a halt when it comes to hiring virtual employees. If you have never experienced working with a virtual assistant then many questions may arise, such as: how much should you pay, what expectations are acceptable, or how to evaluate the performance for someone who isn’t physically present. When hiring virtual assistants expect a learning curve that will require your patience and time. The pay off will be worth it. Trust me.

In this episode, we speak with Brett Trembly, a former President of the South Miami Kendall Bar Association and former Vice-Chair of the Florida Bar 11th Circuit Grievance Committee 11 “I.” Brett has also been named a Super Lawyers Rising Star in Florida for the past three years. 

Brett is well known for his outstanding law firm and how he created a whole business model around working with virtual assistants. 

In this episode, Brett and I discuss:

  • The accelerated acceptance of hiring a virtual assistant fueled by the pandemic
  • Migrating from a VA for projects to a full-time VA that becomes an integral part of the team and the culture of your company
  • The importance of identifying all job responsibilities that can be delegated to a VA.
  • The recommendation that a VA be a full time
  • The learning curve to managing a virtual employee
  • The distinctions between an in-house employee and a VA
  • The pros and cons of going international for skilled Vas
  • Anticipating a boom in the need for bankruptcy attorneys and bankruptcy training
  • Maintaining confidentiality and security working with international VAs versus domestic Vas
  • The ability to hire high-end talent for less than U.S. wages while helping society as a whole
  • The benefits of managing your time and interruptions when structuring your interactions with your VA

Allison Williams: [00:00:54] All right. Brett Trembly. Thank you so much for being here. And welcome to The Crushing Chaos with Law Firm Mentor podcast.


Brett Trembly: [00:01:00] Hi Allison. Thank you so much for having me.


Allison Williams: [00:01:03] So, Brett, you and I know each other and we've known each other for a little bit from our days in a coaching company together. So I already know you have a kick ass law firm. But today we're actually going to talk about a portion of law that I think is greatly underserved. And you have actually created a whole business model around this, which is this area of virtual assistants. So first, talk to me about what prompted you to go into creating your business and providing virtual assistants to law firms.


Brett Trembly: [00:01:30] Absolutely. I would love to Allison. Thank you for that. This is, this is, was not my brainchild. I want to make sure that people know that. I would never take credit for something that was was not my idea. So I have a business partner in this business, also an attorney in Miami.


Brett Trembly: [00:01:46] He had a real estate law firm and he went to lunch one time with a friend who mentioned, the friend did that he had a virtual assistant who was in the Philippines. And this was about October of twenty seventeen. And so my business partner was heading out of town, almost skipped the lunch, by the way. So talk about a life changing lunch for the both of us. And he couldn't shake this idea of, of a virtual full time employee. And and my my business partner is former military. He had been all over the world and and he just kept coming back to it. So I used to see him at the time before we were business partners. Every week at least, we would talk all the time. And I. I make a joke. It's like he went into a rabbit hole for two months and he came out in late December twenty seventeen with five of his own employees from the Philippines. So he hired five all at once and put him to work doing post closing and processing. And he had one as a personal assistant.


Brett Trembly: [00:02:49] And I said, holy cow, man, that that's incredible. I need someone for marketing. Can you find me a marketing assistant? And within about two weeks, he found somebody really good for me. And she is still with me, by the way, at the Trembly Law firm. And so, you know, we're just talking, and he said, man, I really think I can do this for attorneys and I'll charge a consulting fee and I'll help people.


Brett Trembly: [00:03:15] So this is where I come in. And we kind of differ, of course, jokingly on how the business developed. But I said you could do that and make a little bit of money and a little bit of difference, or based on my experience with different types of business models, you could turn this into a recurring revenue model and really just exponentially create a difference for people because you can take the employer liability off of them. You can charge monthly for the employee. You can have a little bit of a spread so that the company can make money and pay for costs. And, and this could be a real legitimate business, not just something you consult here and there and make some onetime fees. And so I happened to go to a conference in January of twenty eighteen, and I told one of my friends about the concept. He loved it. So he signed up. He was the first client of Get Staffed Up. And then I, I, I repeated that. I got a second client for the business. So I, not in the business made the first two sales for my friend's business. And we sat down for our monthly breakfast because we were, were already very close. We did a lot of masterminding together, a lot of business development together. And he said, why don't we do this business together, you and me? And I said, where do I sign up. I'm in? And so that was late, late January of twenty eighteen. And here we are just over two years later. And and we are, we've really just taken off, Allison. The company is, is blowing up in a good way right now.


Allison Williams: [00:04:50] Yeah. I would imagine you would be blowing up because, you know, it sounds like just from the way you're describing it, that you realize the need and ultimately sold people a service that they didn't even realize that they needed. I think nowadays more and more people are realizing, especially law firm owners are realizing that they do have a need for that type of model. So let's talk a little bit about the model, because you reference the idea that the virtual assistant is a full time employee and that sounds a little bit different than some of those sites out there, like Up Work or Fiver, where you kind of create an activity to delegate to someone. And then you have to go source the person, find the talent, get the person on boarded. So how did you distinguish that you were going to be full time employee staffing versus project based staffing?


Brett Trembly: [00:05:35] I think it was our experience where he and I both had a full time employee for our firm. You know, I was not interested in the business model which already exists of, of finding a virtual assistant for any business can go online. They can find a virtual assistant, you know, domestically or internationally. You know, the price ranges vary greatly. But for let's say I need 10 hours a week or I need 20 hours a week. In our experience Allison, and this is probably where you can shed some light. But when you say things to yourself, like I only need a personal assistant for 10 hours a week, you're flat out lying to yourself. And I don't mean that in like, I know better than you type a way. It's that I've been there before where you, you rationalize how much you actually need help. And what you're really doing is, is keeping things on your plate. I have yet to meet a business owner who cannot use a full time 40 hour a week assistant just to help them with all of the different things that come flying at us and the opportunities. Saying no. Scheduling, calendaring, organizing. And so this was like we used to have a lot of conversations around the psychology of why you need someone full time. We used to have a lot of conversations about the fact that you can have a full time employee who is virtual. Now, after the coronavirus, we're not having that conversation anymore. You know, the coronavirus really pushed society 10 years forward in terms of having virtual or remote employees and not just internationally, but domestically as well.


Brett Trembly: [00:07:13] And so the whole conversation is different. I would like to say that we were prescient and we saw this coming. That's not that's not necessarily true. This was a good opportunity. We ran with it. And now the timing has been phenomenal. But we had, we had the conversations with lawyers and we're both lawyers. So we focused on that niche of marketing to lawyers. We have plenty and we have a lot of non law firm clients. But niches being niches, of course. So we stick to that niche in terms of the publications and our marketing and our message and our tagline is, we liberate lawyers with incredible virtual talent. So, but we had to convince lawyers, you need someone full time, write down everything you're doing. And I bet you can. I bet you will come up with 40 hours in a week of how you need to help someone. And that kind of morphed into, well, what type of help. Do I need marketing? Do I need clerical? Do I need administrative? And that helped us build the business model where we have three offerings. We have clerical virtual assistants, admin virtual assistants and marketing virtual assistants. And they're all full time. And it's, we're just no longer having the conversation with people about do I need full time? And how do you work with someone virtually as a law firm? The question now is, do I use you guys or is there another option?


Allison Williams: [00:08:32] Yeah. So I think you said a lot there that was of great value. So, of course, the first thing that immediately drops out is the idea of only needing 10 hours a week. So I'll tell you, you know, I'm very candid about the things that I've done wrong so that I can help people to avoid my mistakes. And one of the things that I did when I was first starting the coaching company, Law Firm Mentor was I didn't know how to work with a VA, but it's the industry norm in the coaching industry. So I said, OK, well, this is the way you do this. So let me just go do it that way. Same way that lawyers decide I need somebody in-house because that's how you do it, right. So I went out and researched companies, found the company that I ultimately went with who I love for my particular industry, Equivity VA and I said, I don't know how many hours I need. Let me just go get a package. And I bought a package of, ironically, 10 hours. But, of course, you know, she contacted me in a week and she was like, So you're out of time. I said, OK. So I'll just add more time. And the next thing you know, I said, all right, well, this is just nonsense. Like, you know, you've got to, like, knock off working for all those other people. I need you full time. And the beautiful thing of it is when they have the freedom to know that they have the time and they're not, you know, trying to budget their hours or restrict their hours or limit their hours, they're very much about figuring out what needs to be done and just doing it just like any other type of employee. So you free yourself of you having to come up with enough work to give them. And it becomes self generating that the person sees that they fit into your company and they start to create on their own.


Brett Trembly: [00:10:05] I mean, I couldn't have said it better. They become a part of your culture, they become part of your team. You have a set score card every week with time for projects so that you can give them more project work to do when you have someone 20 hours a week or 20 hours a month. They're just filling their time for you. And it's, I would argue, harder to manage because you have to make sure that you have those specific tasks and that you triage them all the time because half of them are never going to get done. So I think it's actually easier to manage a full time virtual assistant than it would be 20 hours per week.


Allison Williams: [00:10:39] Yeah. So let's talk a little bit about managing, because I think that's one of the things that I hear a lot from lawyers that are resistant to the idea of working with the VA. They say, you know, if I can't walk past my person's desk to know that they are working diligently on the project, I don't know that it's going to be done. I don't know that they're going to prioritize the way that I want them to. I don't know how to oversee their work. And a lot of lawyers are now having to create KPIs and systems around that now that people are sheltering in place and working from home. So talk to us a little bit about how you help facilitate a lawyer who is unfamiliar with that process to really learn how to manage someone remotely and someone that's their full time team member.


Brett Trembly: [00:11:20] So there's a learning curve for sure. And I was one of the people that would say I it's easier for me mentally to walk across the hall and go into someone's office and work with them. And even after about nine months to a year of working with my own marketing virtual assistant, there were times where I felt like, man, this is, this can be a little bit difficult. And that's because I hadn't fully learned how to to manage somebody virtually. So fast forward. And by the way, as a company, Get Staffed Up, we spent... And I mentioned starting in 2018. We got our first five clients very quickly. And then we stopped. Our goal was get five, place them, and then we're going to build out the back end of the business. And we spent from February to late July not making any sales and just working on the factory. Building out with our own team of five employees for Get Staffed Up. How to, how to recruit, because that's the hard part is as you mentioned Equivity VA. There's a lot of good virtual assistant companies. But how do those companies go about finding the best people? If you want to create the best team. Do you want the Michael Jordans or, or not? Right? Like, how are you, how are you finding the best virtual assistants? Because they're not all created equally. This is not just, quit a job... Someone comes in and you, and you fill them in.


Brett Trembly: [00:12:49] So we made sure that, I mean, look, we're not even at two years of selling. So we had our own learning curves. And we've learned along the way how to better help our clients learn how to manage somebody virtually. So what I would do at the beginning, just give out a bunch of projects. And then when I felt I had time, I would, I would call and check in, etc.. Now, what we do is we have very structured meetings once per week where we have 90 minutes of working on projects and checking in. We do use some some software to help us. But what we do is we issue spot. We identify the issues. We talk through them. We work on projects. And we delegate a whole week's worth of work. And then there are other times of the week we check in. But when you are writing down the big projects and then, and then writing TO DOS and you have them on a piece of software, we don't lose them. You avoid what happens to a lot of us Allison. And I'm sure that, that you and your clients at Law Firm Mentor can identify with this. I was used to just texting, Hey I need this or What's Up? We need this and sending an email and like, what platform are you giving me? What do you want me to pay attention to? Right. I'm guilty of that. It just kind of word vomiting, idea vomiting. Just do this, do this, do this without any structure. And then a few weeks later, I'd say, what happened to that project that I gave out? Well, there was no real system around that. So we help our clients develop weekly scorecards. A weekly scorecard is something that they are your set activities. Could be 10, could be 15 of something that your virtual assistant or in-house employee, by the way, is responsible for every week and how many calls they're supposed to make. How many consultations at their goal is to set? How many how many follow up inquiries on the marketing side?


Brett Trembly: [00:14:47] How many email newsletters per week or per month? How many social media posts, whatever the position entails, because it's different for every business. So we help create a scorecard and then we help our clients. At least we suggest a cadence for checking in and for working with their virtual assistant, Zoom, by the way. Because. Because we're doing this on Zoom today, right? (Absolutely.) has really fast forwarded peoples' progress because you can share the screen and you can look at projects together. And I think that was kind of the missing component for a long time of what people wouldn't take the time and sit down with their virtual assistant.


Brett Trembly: [00:15:24] They thought, I want to email a bunch of things, a bunch of projects, and then I'm going to get everything back just the way I want it. That's not how life works, whether you're in-house or virtual. So you need to share the screen on Zoom. You need to do it consistently every week. And it, it can. It can really be as little as 90 minutes, you know, and a chunk of time and then a few check-ins per week. And you'll be amazed that all the things you can get done.


Allison Williams: [00:15:51] Yeah. And, you know, I think a lot of lawyers, when they start to think about the utility, I mean, you're describing a lot of support that you're giving them to actually help them learn the process of working with a VA And I don't hear that coming from a lot of other companies that staff VAs. So I think Get Staffed Up is really one of the foremost leaders in terms of being able to really connect someone with not only a person, but the way to get the best out of that person. And that's really what the. goal is of hiring. So you get this person, you get your VA. You start managing them. You get the work going to them. And then at some point in time, you start to realize the freedom of having a highly competent, capable person that you have helped systematize. But I would imagine that for a lot of people, there are concerns about how do I compensate this person differently than I would, you know, an in-house person, because the metrics of a staff person are somewhat different. When I have to consider overhead for them that I don't necessarily have. Or when I don't have to pay out bonuses in the way that I did before. Can you talk to us about what the distinctions are between those two models?


Brett Trembly: [00:16:57] The two, the two models of of...


Allison Williams: [00:17:02] Of compensating an in-house person versus compensating a virtual, at least in the way that you're staffing a full-time virtual person.


Brett Trembly: [00:17:09] Sure. I'll just tell you the way we're doing it, because with most, even with most big companies, you're negotiating with the company itself, not really with the, with the VA. So we have flat fee priced models where if it's the clerical virtual assistant, that's our, that's our entry level. That starts at 1,450 per month. The administrative virtual assistant starts at sixteen fifty per month. And the marketing virtual assistant starts at eighteen fifty per month. If you need multiple languages, it costs when I say starts at. It means there are some variables for a bilingual virtual assistant which costs a little bit more per month. But the reason we have that flat monthly fee based pricing is so that you have you have predictability and you're just paying that exact amount per month. Now, that shakes out even at the highest price point to be about ten dollars per hour and then at the lower price points, a lot less. It's possible to get your own virtual assistant out of, you know, very respectfully, I'm just talking about market here, but like Bangladesh or the Philippines for about five to six dollars per hour.


Brett Trembly: [00:18:24] So you can find a little bit cheaper. But when you when you hire someone directly, it's very tough because you don't have the oversight. You're not sure about the labor laws. You're not sure if you're even subject to labor laws. You've got to shuffle through in the four hour workweek. Tim Ferriss says you have to try about seven to eight before you get someone that you really like. And it's a lot less predictable. And that person is just like any other employee. And employees have issues. I mean, we all know that, right? It's something we can never get away from. So our, you know, and domestically, the virtual assistants are a lot more expensive in our experience. You know, I can't, I'm sure, I'm sure. It's all over the map and there's high end and low end, but there's pros and cons by going international, domestic. So when I say domestic virtual assistant, you can have, you know, Sally sitting somewhere in Indiana who's just working from home and and she's working for you.


Brett Trembly: [00:19:21] Our, one hundred percent of our people are from other countries. So we have a lot, for example, in Mexico and Central American, South American and the Philippines. And we believe that there are incredibly talented, skilled people, individuals, employees all over the world. And we, I think we used to have this notion, well, I'm here in the U.S., I have to have some in the U.S. because they're going to know, they're just going to understand things better and know things better. And in our experience, that's just flat out not true at all. There are really incredible people all over the world. We argue we're helping the global economy. And we, you know, look, the one thing that that some people say is, well, I want to hire someone in the U.S. I want to provide U.S. based jobs. And we couldn't agree more with that. But I would argue, Allison, and I think you and I both went through this experience early on in my law firm when I tried to do everything myself. I was stuck. I couldn't get out of my own way. I finally started growing my firm after a year and a half. When I did get help, I got a law student to basically do my do everything for me, administratively speaking. And that's when my firm doubled. And I said, OK, I'm going to trust this. It's going to work if you hire someone for a lot less money through us because it's international and you can take advantage of of the economies of scale, labor triage, whatever you want to call it. You're gonna grow faster and be able to hire domestically a lot sooner because, you know, some people are full time virtual, Allison, and some people have a mix. They have some people virtual and some people in-house, which like I have at my law firm. So I know that was a long answer to your question.


Allison Williams: [00:21:05] But it was that it was an exceptional answer. And I think one thing that you touched on that people really need to understand is that you're not exploiting labor from another country when you are paying at or above market rate for that country. In fact, a lot of. This is where the dollar is worth a lot more there than it is here. They can get a lot more bang for the same dollars that you would pay someone here. So you're actually elevating people in other locations to a higher standard of living than they otherwise could attain from what are considered high quality jobs in their country?


Brett Trembly: [00:21:36] Exactly. Our our staff people now, again, they're legally our employees and we essentially lease them out to you. We don't really say that that way. They work for you full time. They're responsible to you. But legally, they're our employees. They're paid higher than the median pay in every country we're in. So so they're well above, you know, middle income. And that's just their entry level pay. They make more money over time as well. And we're proud of that because we argue that our skill is finding the best people possible. And if you then try to pay those people poorly, they're going to leave. And our turnover rate is very, very low because we pay very competitively and above the median.


Allison Williams: [00:22:20] Yes. Great stuff there. So let's let's talk about one thing that I've heard recently that you told me about, which is a program you have coming up specifically to an area of law that unfortunately, I believe is going to have a big boom coming up, which is bankruptcy. So I know that you have built out an entire bankruptcy bootcamp to get people on the staff who can assist with what a lot of bankruptcy attorneys are already predicting will be the boom in business for them. Can you talk to us a little bit about that?


Brett Trembly: [00:22:48] I would love to, Allison. So this right. My business partner has experience in bankruptcy and we had our quarterly retreat in March. And we're talking about, well, what, what's coming down the pike? How can we help? And I mean, you and I are not the only ones to foresee an increase in bankruptcy. I think that's that's rather common a common perception at this point. But so we hadn't had paralegals in the past because well, for a different, a lot of different reasons. But we talked about in bankruptcy specifically, it's a very process oriented business and it doesn't take a ton of of sit down, you know, in person such as litigation or high end family law litigation like you do. And so we said, is there a program that we can create? And my business partner. Again, he really dives into the systems. And he came up with this bankruptcy bootcamp. That's three days of training so that your, when you get someone, look and we have stayed away from from training. We have a client happiness liaison that stays with you for any issues that come up with with your your staffer, as we've call them, or your virtual assistant. And and we're very involved with the success of your staffer through our company. But every business is different. And we we've in the past said there's no way we can train someone to run your business or to to do all your marketing. You're still gonna have to come up with job descriptions and really do the training yourself. And there's there's no magic unicorn that just steps in your business and from day one gets everything. But for for the paralegal positions for bankruptcy, we thought we can give them the basic knowledge that they would need in three days to understand the concepts and the terms and how the bankruptcy process works so that if you hire them because you're seeing an influx of bankruptcy cases, maybe you don't have the physical space. Maybe you're just a forward thinker and you realize now you don't need somebody in-house.


Brett Trembly: [00:24:56] Maybe you don't want to take on more commercial space because like a lot of firms, you see a pandemic happen and now you've got way too much space that you're paying for or whatever the reason. Maybe you just think I need more help, but I don't want to pay somebody, you know, 50, 60 thousand dollars a year because I don't know how much more bankruptcy is going to come in. We put together the bankruptcy bootcamp so that your paralegal will have some knowledge from day one. I will, I will tell you, though, because we've had some people say I want to add bankruptcy to my law firm as a new practice. Can you give me a bankruptcy paralegal? Well, the answer's no. If you need someone to run your entire bankruptcy department, as you've never done it, you as a lawyer, and you don't know what you're doing, respectfully, and you're trying to learn, our bankruptcy paralegals are not for you. You need someone with a lot of experience. You've got to find that person. Get lucky. Poach them. Pay them a lot of money because you're going to be listening to them. Our bankruptcy paralegal program is for established bankruptcy attorneys and law firms that need more man slash woman power and want to add to their workforce quickly.


Allison Williams: [00:26:05] All right. Well, it sounds excellent. And for those that are in the bankruptcy practice area, I know that they will benefit from having someone that can come in and immediately get into the weeds of the bankruptcy practice without having to, you know, start them at completely ground zero. So, you know, you talk about the idea of training. And I know that a lot of lawyers struggle with that as a general concept. And one of the things that I think is also missing is kind of the facilitation of work, you know, because you talked about the fact that you're going to, these are your employees that you are essentially loaning out, if you will, or assigning out to the law firm. But a lot of law firms are really into tech when the tech is on site, meaning there's a lot of technology that facilitates work transfer. But transferring that work when it's out of your, you know, your encrypted domain or your your legal tech environment can be a little scary. So we had a guest on that that long ago, Heinan Landa, who wrote a book all about legal tech and protecting your infrastructure. But can you talk to us a little bit about how a VA would access your otherwise confidential information and what types of software tools and protocols you're going to recommend to somebody who's working with the VA?


Brett Trembly: [00:27:18] Yeah, sure. And I did want to touch on something you said, Allison. This is where if you're new at hiring. Look, just because we're running law firms doesn't mean we innately know how to manage people, create systems. You know, we're trained as lawyers, not as business owners. And that's where working with someone like you as a law firm mentor can help teach and coach people on how to teach and coach their employees. And I think that's very important. We've all heard about or met the lawyer that I hired someone one time and it was terrible. So it doesn't work or it's not for me.


Brett Trembly: [00:27:54] Well, you had a bad experience. That doesn't mean you just give up. You get back on the horse and you have to learn the skill of how to not only onboard and train, but continually help your people improve with feedback. And it doesn't, it doesn't mean that the first time you hire, it's a, it's a great person, which means you have the skill or you make a bad hire and it's just you can't hire someone. You're not good at it. You can learn the skill and you have to, you have to keep trying.


Allison Williams: [00:28:24] Yeah, I definitely echo that sentiment. I mean, there's getting in the weeds of working with someone and then there's the evolution of who you are as a leader and as a manager through having someone that needs guidance and structure. And unfortunately, we have to learn through our problems, which means that you can avoid a lot of them by working with a business coach. But you absolutely have to get in there and actually do the work to kind of figure it out for yourself in terms of what works for you 100 percent.


Brett Trembly: [00:28:52] Now, in terms of the tools and you asked about technology. We argue that whatever you're using in-house, it works just as well internationally. So, for example, if your employees are at home and they can access emails, emails have encryption, your data is just as exposed to theft. In fact, the statistics will show that more employer and employee theft and data breaches happen domestically than internationally.


Brett Trembly: [00:29:23] So we we we use Zoom and we encourage our people to use Zoom for communications. We have our, if your, if your email list is hosted by Google, for example, or Outlook, then you create the same tools and permissions and you can prevent employees from erasing certain emails or from getting, you know, into back end emails. You can't prevent them from deciding one day to spam your entire list. But we've never seen that happen. And for, for you know, if you're using CLIO or, you know, Rocket Matter, any one of the legal softwares, you create a new user, you can open or lock certain permissions just as you would your own, your own staff in-house. You know, you're going to be seeing these people, we assume every day. We've got, we do background checks before we hire them. And it's not foolproof. Nothing ever is. But we have yet to have a data breach. And I myself have experienced I've been a victim of phishing and some other things that have happened, but not internationally. All that stuff has happened to me domestically. And so that is probably the biggest concern Allison, people have, is they say, but is it safe? And I mean, you're dealing with a human being just like you would here. And our argument is that, you know, there's there's probably less opportunity for somebody overseas to be able to make use of your data than there would be here. And what I mean by that is, is what are you going to do by stealing someone's data? Who are you going to sell it to? How are you going to monetize that thing? The criminal masterminds that do that, they come from certain countries and they certainly don't have your, you know, they don't put people in front of you. We have their Social Security numbers. We have their bank account information. We do background checks. We know who these people are. And they can be tracked down just like somebody could in the United States. So they would get in just as much trouble in their own country if a theft was reported.


Allison Williams: [00:31:36] Yeah. And, you know, I think this also goes back to what you said earlier, which is what we talked about, rather, the idea that if you're hiring somebody in a country where your dollars here don't mean a whole lot, but your dollars there are significantly more for them. They're not going to do anything to jeopardize that job because they're already outpacing the market, if you will, by getting those those higher in type jobs. You know, it's kind of like if you think about the travel industry, you know, with cruise lines, if you ever go on a cruise, you know that you have the waitstaff, the maid service. They're almost always from international countries in the islands. And so they get those jobs and then the money that they make on those cruise lines can fund their family for a year with one month of salary. And so they do everything that they can to keep those jobs. They give 1000 percent because they are so concerned about staying at that high level of compensation. So I think it really is the same thing with the VA. Would you say a hundred percent?


Brett Trembly: [00:32:33] That's such a great point. You really hit the nail on the head. We argue that we find harder working people with, with a better attitude and that are hungrier than you can domestically, because there are just things here that people won't do because we have a lot of wealth in this country. And and it's kind of like, well, you know, we don't want to do the entry level jobs after we're teenagers anymore. And there are people out there that are very happy to sit at home and be able to, because all of our people work from home. We don't have. That's another competitive advantage Allison, is we don't have a building that requires... basically, we're pandemic proof, if you will. Our people already stay at home. So they're working very hard. And they're not going to jeopardize, for the most part, a really well-paying job. And I think the way you put it is poignant. You know, not to get philosophical, but, desperation from poverty, from lack of access to resources. What prompts people to feel like that's what they have to do? They have to figure out another way to make money. And so the more that the small business economy can hire people and provide good jobs, then I think that just helps society as a whole.


Allison Williams: [00:33:46] Yeah. And, you know, it's a win win. The employee gets on the high end and you get the high end of talent for less than you would otherwise have to pay. So. Go ahead.


Brett Trembly: [00:33:56] A lot less. I mean, if you, I haven't done the math in a while, for example, but our highest seller, and it's kind of funny to put it that way, but we have the most clients that have the middle level, the administrative virtual assistant at sixteen fifty a month. That's all in. There's no additional payments to us. There's no taxes, nothing like that. That's nineteen thousand eight hundred dollars a year to get someone at that equivalent here in the US with an education that, I mean, because this is not like we're hiring people that dropped out of high school respectfully either, that are trained, that have a background technology, that have the computer, that have the Internet that are very high skilled. You're going to pay, especially in my market, you know. Fifty five. Sixty thousand dollars. I know that's not. I'm in Miami. It's not the same everywhere. But but arguably, even in, I don't know, Georgia, which I still saw, has the lowest minimum wage. You're still gonna pay someone thirty five to forty thousand dollars. So you're talking about a significant amount of savings and that's just salary. We're not talking about office space and overhead and all, you know, food and travel and parking and all the other things that people have to do.


Allison Williams: [00:35:12] Yeah. And, you know, I'm glad that you actually did the math on the numbers because the numbers are stark and the numbers oftentimes, unfortunately, are where a lot of people make their decisions. And while I certainly don't promote making decisions solely from a place of economics, you can't run a business successfully without considering the economic cost of your labor. And so that's a very, it's a very important piece that people need to understand. But one of the things we haven't talked about yet, which is the other piece that I think really wears lawyers down, is the emotional toll that is involved in having someone else added to your onsite culture. So onsite culture is not just, we happen to work together. As soon as you add two people, you have a three person relationship, you have the person, each individual, and then you have the interplay of the two of them. When you add another person, you have another two. You have that new person interacting with each individual and interacting with the existing relationship of the two people there. So every time that you add people to your workplace, you are adding interpersonal dynamics that you get to avoid by virtue of having someone who, yes, is going to interact with the culture, but on a much more piecemeal scheduled meeting type of arrangement versus being all day everyday under the same roof, seeing each other, working with the boss and that sort of thing. So I think there's a lot of benefit to having a VA if for no other reason than that, you cut down on a lot of that.


Brett Trembly: [00:36:36] Yeah. And I like the way you said that at the end, because at first I thought you were going to say you don't have any of those issues. But what you said is it's just on a piecemeal and it's a lot less. And I think what you're referring to is the office place drama we have. We have not had a sort of incident where somebody or another employee said something to this employee because they're virtual, that that that kind of water cooler interaction just doesn't happen. And I hadn't really thought about it that way Allison, but it's a really good point. The only, the only pushback and I know you even, you said this, but I want to make sure people understand, is that we encourage our clients or you or anyone that has virtual assistance to make them a part of your company culture. Morning huddles via... You can use Google Hangouts, you can use Zoom, you can use Amazon Chime. It doesn't matter. Get people face time. And just because someone's in the Philippines, because by the way, our people in the Philippines and also here in the Western Hemisphere, they work during your working hours. And so this is not like the other model where you, you're sleeping and the work is being done, and then you check the work and you can't talk to him all day and then you email him at the end of the day and you give a bunch more projects. Include them in virtual retreats, include them in morning huddles, include them in meetings, give people the face time.


Brett Trembly: [00:37:59] The more you do that, the more value you're going to get, the more that your employees are going to feel a part of the company and the more loyalty they're going to have to you. We have a client that owns like I think nine or ten swim schools here in Miami, and she has three of our staffers, virtual assistants, and she sends them care packages, shirts and company swag and includes them just like you would any other employee in-house, because she wants them to feel a part of their culture, because that's the way that she looks at them. And that's the best scenario when you have somebody that doesn't take a lot of the emotional time in the office but feels just as big of a part of the team.


Allison Williams: [00:38:47] Yeah. Well, I didn't, I'm glad that we did clarify that. I didn't mean to suggest at all that your person is kind of not part of... But there is definitely something about, you know, kind of like where you started this discussion, you know, the idea that I'd like to go across the hallway and see my person. There is an energy transfer that happens when two human beings are in the same space. And so even when you have someone working virtually, yes, they can be absolutely brought into your culture. But they are not in your culture in every single moment of every single day while they are sitting at their desk doing the work because the other people are not interacting with them. So slight distinction, but very important point there so that people understand we're not suggesting that you're hiring somebody to warehouse them doing projects off on the side. They are very much a part of how you're going to interact even with your live team. But there is definitely from the people that I have in our coaching company, as well as prospects, people that I've talked to and, of course, colleagues of mine, because I am still a lawyer. You know, there is a distinct difference between having somebody passing, like you said, the water cooler and having somebody who is in their world doing their work and having to access your office when they have to interface with supervisors or other team members.


Brett Trembly: [00:39:58] Yeah. And you know what else Allison, which is really nice is if you can get to the point in your own firm where people have access to you on a schedule instead of whenever they want, because we've all dealt with the days where people just keep walking into your office. And I can't even, like I'm going to go work somewhere else because I can't get anything done, virtually speaking. There's a lot fewer opportunities for them to just bombard you when they need you. So you're forcing yourself and your virtual employee to figure out when they can bother you. And, you know, I don't mean, like, bother in a negative way, but when they can access your time and you train yourself to give them feedback in a structured manner which creates much more efficiency.


Allison Williams: [00:40:43] Oh, my God. Right. You are so speaking my language right now. I literally just recorded a video about this last week about the idea of having, as I say, the den of all evil in a law firm is having an open door policy. I tell people my door is never open to you. My email is open to you so you can schedule yourself and then you will have an open floor with me, which means you can get your time when you have your time. My monitors go off. My e-mail goes off. My phone is off. And it is just you. And we focus and we get 10 times more done than if you stop my train of thought when you are in the mood and walk into my office. And then I have to stop even to tell you not to be here right now. So lawyers really, really need to maximize their efficiency by understanding that you are doing a great disservice to both yourself and your employee. They never learn to work on their own if you are the teat, that is always accessible to them. So, yeah, definitely love that point. Great, great. Great.


Brett Trembly: [00:41:38] Yeah. And I, I'm going to listen to that episode because I'm not sure I'm the best teacher at that lesson. But that lesson is so important when, and I'm guilty of this in my law firm. If somebody walks in and I'm, I'm doing email on my phone or my computer, I have a choice. Do I stop what I'm doing and lose that momentum or do I ignore my employee? And sometimes I just like. Hold on. And I try to finish. Right. But I'm still now distracted from what I was getting done or I'm listening and I'm doing two things at once, which means I'm not listening and it frustrates me and it frustrates them. So I love the point you just made. It's really good.


Allison Williams: [00:42:16] Yeah. And you have to make it into a culture, like you said, you know, you talked a lot about culture. And the idea is, I think a lot of people, they don't really own this, but they feel triggered by the idea of rejecting a person, which is what no feels like. So they just avoid it by virtue of. All right, fine. I'll stop and deal with this now. But when you get to a level where you're a little bit more emotionally healthy and you can accept that, I can tell this person no and they're not going to leave. So I'm not going to be abandoned. And they're not going to be hurt to the point where they can't function. But I'm going to have a conversation with them and say, look, in order for me to be the best leader of this business and in order for you to have the most opportunities to make the most money, to have the most autonomy, to have the best working environment, I need to be focused on what I am focused on. And you need to be focused on what you are focused on. And when we need to meet, we absolutely will meet. You'll get the floor, you'll get my attention and you get the benefit of all of that. Know that I was giving you just a minute ago because I'm going give it to everybody else when it's your turn.


Brett Trembly: [00:43:14] No, it's it's such a good point. And those lessons are hard to learn and they're hard to maintain because you may, you may try it one week, but then the energy happens in the office and you feel yourself going right back down. But I guess that's a conversation for another time.


Allison Williams: [00:43:31] Yeah, well, that's just seepage. Right. Seepage happens when we don't communicate what we're doing. Right. You can't, you can't throw up a boundary at a moment when somebody is in distress and think that that boundary is going to be enforced. So you have to create your boundaries as a cultural idiom when there's not a need for you. So you tell everybody this is what's happening. And then when you tell them no, they are reminded of what you previously told them rather than being told no in a moment where they need you and then they feel some distress about that.


Brett Trembly: [00:43:57] Yeah. It's a great point.


Allison Williams: [00:43:59] Yeah, same here. So I am so glad that you took time out of your busy schedule to talk to us about virtual assistants. Get Staffed Up is a company that I have heard a lot of great things about in the marketplace. I know you have a lot of raving fans out there. You've helped a lot of law firm owners. So tell our audience where they can get a hold of you if they want to learn more about Get Staffed Up, if they want to investigate getting a visa for their company.


Brett Trembly: [00:44:23] Absolutely. Thank you, Allison. We, Get Staffed Up, just like it sounds dot com. We have our website, it's just geared towards contact us. You know here, here's a little bit of information, but let's hop on a call and make a decision. So we call them decision making calls. You can go on our website and schedule that at any time. We'll email you probably within the hour with some available times. And that's, I mean, look, we're all over social media. We're internationally as well now. And, but I think we're pretty easy to contact and pretty easy to work with. However, I don't, I don't list the phone number for the reasons you just said. We're not a company that will deal with distractions that way. We're also very structured and we schedule the time so that when you need us, you're prepared, we're prepared and we're going to have a really in-depth conversation with you about what it's like to work with us. I did want to mention one thing, Allison, that when you hire or you decide to work with Get Staffed Up, it's not we don't just find someone and give them to you. You have just as much say in who you hire as we do. We're finding people through a really tough process where only five percent of applicants ever even get interviewed by us. We do the first interview. We have a tough, tough screening process. We do the interviews. If we think that it's a good match for you. We'll present you with that person and you get to say yes or no. Do I want to interview that person? And then you get to interview them and then you get to make your final decision. I just wanted to make sure that was clear, because a lot of companies, you know, they just kind of give you what they have because they're trying to fill their hours here and there.


Allison Williams: [00:46:05] Yeah. Well, that's a very good point. I'm glad that you shared that with everybody because it sounds like Get Staffed Up really becomes a partner with the law firm to get the best A team assembled for that law firm. So, everyone, thank you so much for tuning in. Again, Brett Trembley of Get Staffed Up. His contact information and information about that bankruptcy boot camp is going to be in our show notes. Everyone, this is Crushing Chaos with Law Firm Mentor. Have a great day.

To contact Brett:

Email: brett@getstaffedup.com


Brett’s Bio:

In the South Florida legal community, Brett is a former President of the South Miami Kendall Bar Association and former Vice-Chair of the Florida Bar 11th Circuit Grievance Committee 11 “I.” He also volunteers on the Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division Mentoring Program, the Dade-County Bar Associations Rainmakers Committee, and annually volunteers for Miami-Dade County’s Ethical Governance Day. Brett has also been named a Super Lawyers Rising Star in Florida for the past three years. 


Brett also maintains his leadership emphasis and is strongly committed to giving back, serving as Past-President of the Rotary Club of South Miami, Past-President of a B.N.I. Chapter, Vice-President of the Rotary Foundation of South Miami, Inc., as a Director of the Palmetto Bay Business Association, a member of the Pinecrest Business Association, an American Ninja Warrior alum, and Moderator for his E.O. forum.

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