THE THOUGHTFUL ENTREPRENEUR PODCAST
Joe Rare talked about the impact of AI tools on the virtual assistant industry. Joe pointed out that while AI tools like ChatGPT can automate low-level tasks, they still require human input to be used effectively. He referred to these individuals as “prompt engineers,” who create prompts, rules, and guidance for the AI tools.
Joe emphasized that Level 9 Virtual's virtual assistants have adapted to AI tools, enhancing their value by learning how to leverage them for their clients.
He also discussed the challenges home service businesses face in the current market. Joe stressed the importance of responsiveness and customer service in gaining a competitive edge. He believes that companies prioritizing customer communication and providing timely responses will be more likely to succeed in the long run, even in unfavorable market conditions.
Joe also pointed out the inefficiencies and lack of processes in the home service industry, which often leads to overworked business owners and difficulty finding and retaining staff. He suggested that implementing effective strategies and systems can help these businesses grow more efficiently and provide better customer and employee experiences.
Key Points from the Episode:
- Specialization in providing virtual assistants for small and medium-sized businesses
- Differentiation from other staffing agencies and platforms
- Impact of AI tools on the virtual assistant industry
- Role of “prompt engineers” in leveraging AI tools effectively
- Importance of responsiveness and customer service for home service businesses
- Inefficiencies and lack of processes in the home service industry
- Level 9 Virtual's solution to communication challenges for home service businesses
About Joe Rare:
Joe Rare, a successful serial entrepreneur and investor, is known for his insight into digital businesses and real estate. Starting his career with a door-to-door sales venture, he swiftly expanded it to a 40-person team, selling it after 27 months.
Despite early failures, Joe found his calling in building digital companies, subsequently establishing multiple businesses that generate over seven figures. His portfolio extends to owning five wedding venues and numerous real estate investments.
A devoted family man, he operates his ventures from his Montana home, providing invaluable assistance to small and medium-sized businesses worldwide. His journey epitomizes learning from failures and leveraging growth opportunities.
About Level 9 Virtual:
LEVEL 9 Virtual is a premier provider of virtual assistant services, serving small businesses globally with over a decade of industry experience. From modest beginnings as a small VA provider and coaching platform, L9V has transformed into a top-tier provider of high-quality virtual assistants, attributed to their unwavering commitment to client satisfaction.
Their unique approach involves a tailored, unhurried process to ensure an optimal fit between the virtual assistant and the client's needs. This commitment to excellence and personalized client service differentiates L9V in a competitive industry, setting new virtual assistant service delivery standards.
03:03 – “I look and I go, this is amazing that we can get this kind of staff and get this kind of talent.”
17:42 – “The concept of failing fast has been monumental to everything I've been able to do.”
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Links Mentioned in this Episode:
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Josh (00:00:05) - Hey there, thoughtful listener. Would you like consistent and predictable sales activity with no spam and no ads? I'll teach you step by step how to do this, particularly if you're an agency owner, consultant, coach or B2B service provider. What I teach has worked for me for more than 15 years and has helped me create more than $10 million in revenue. Just head to up my influence and watch my free class on how to create endless high ticket sales appointments. You can even chat with me live and I'll see and reply to your messages. Also, don't forget the thoughtful entrepreneur is always looking for guests. Go to up my influence and click on podcast. We'd love to have you. With us right now. Joe Rare. Joe, you are the founder and CEO of Level 9 Virtual. You're on the Web at level 9 virtual dot com. We also have a really great personal website want to point out, and that is Joe Rare. Joe, thank you so much for joining us. Yeah, you got it.
Joe (00:01:17) - Thanks for having me.
Josh (00:01:18) - From beautiful Bozeman, Montana. And by the way, you've got some great photography on your website, but Bozeman seems like a beautiful, like hidden gem part of the country, if you want.
Joe (00:01:31) - Not so hidden anymore.
Josh (00:01:32) - No, no, no. Yeah, you're you're getting a lot of immigrants from other parts of the country,
Joe (00:01:40) - For sure. And, you know, I'm one of those immigrants, too. You know, we found a beautiful place to live and chose to relocate our family. And so that's how we ended up here. And we love it.
Josh (00:01:49) - I've tried working with level eight virtual assistants and they were no good, so I'm ready for level nine.
Joe (00:01:54)You got to come up one.
Josh (00:01:57) - Tell us more about what Level nine virtual is.
Joe (00:02:00) - Yeah. So, you know, in my career I have pretty much used virtual assistants the majority of the way through. obviously, you know, if you want to get into the story of the four hour work week, that's where I was introduced to it.
Joe (00:02:12) - And then the world is flat and realizing that labor force can be all over the world, it doesn't matter. You know, when I started level nine virtual, the idea was to help the clients that I had in one of my other companies, help them find virtual staff to make their life easier to get tasks done at a lower, you know, price point. And, you know, it was essentially lower cost labor that they could create leverage. And it worked really, really well. And then I thought, oh, I should probably build this into like a real business. And so we really kind of took it on and kind of found a niche within our niches that was really, really successful and the company kind of exploded. You know, then Covid hit, of course, and then all our clients lose all their clients and now we're like, okay, well we got to kind of pivot a little bit and then we pivot again. And the company, you know, through Covid, I mean, we exploded.
Joe (00:03:03) - And, you know, the premise of the company is just simple. It's create the opportunity for small businesses, for medium sized businesses to hire specialized staff that can support their business for a you know, obviously a fair rate a much less expensive rate than if they were to hire local in most, you know, first world countries. And so our staff is all based in the Philippines for the most part. Yeah. But you know, when people hear that, they go, oh, no, I can't do that. Well, the majority of my team has more education than I do. They would have more work experience than I do. You know, I'm a college dropout and my lead developer is a professor at the university. So it's like, you know, I look and I go, This is amazing that we can get this kind of staff and get this kind of talent.
Josh (00:03:52) - Yeah. And so let's talk about like, again, here we are in 2023 and you know, and you know, tools like ChatGPT have absolutely changed the game for some of us.
Josh (00:04:03) - I think for most of us in business and again, you're not you know, to friends are like not really paying attention yet. You're not competing against ChatGPT. You're competing against, you know, business leaders who are on it and and they're getting their teams. And can you talk about how AI tools have affected the VA world?
Joe (00:04:28) - Well, you know, a lot of the the low level tasks that ChatGPT and other tools can step in and do they still require some, What's interesting is they still require somebody to actually know what to put into the tool. So all of AI is an output machine that seems phenomenal if you have an input engineer. So what we, you know, with our teams, we call them prompt engineers. You have to actually be good at creating prompts and creating rules and creating guidance to tell the AI the thing that you need to do. You need you need to get out of it. So while yes, we're seeing like copywriting, a lot of that is getting kind of taken away some low level type tasks.
Joe (00:05:13) - But what's interesting is, you know, our client base, a huge percentage of our client bases in the marketing agency world, even the marketing agency companies out there, they still aren't good at creating personas and AI prompts and all those things. So all it did is it kind of shifted how our team has to be responsible enough to learn the tools, provide value to their clients using those tools. And that's I mean, that's how it shifted. We haven't lost clients because I came in and took over. What we've done is we've taken our team who's working with somebody and then they've had to actually go in and go, okay, you have to learn how to use this because your client needs you to. And now all they do is they just morph into more of a prompt engineer. Or they could take some of their low level tasks. Have AI do it? And it hasn't lost us any clients, I think that it's going to be something that's absolutely complimentary. And if we continue to be kind of on the forefront and we force our teams to learn these tools, we're just going to become more valuable.
Josh (00:06:16) - Yeah. And where does Level 9 fit compared to all the other ways that we may be able to connect with VAs higher VAs? Like, how would you differentiate yourself from, say, like another staffing agency versus Upwork and other connection platforms and tools and agencies?
Joe (00:06:37) - So we're a little more specialized than most places. So if you're going to go to a staffing agency, they're going to have people who have just said, Hey, I want to work and I want to work with somebody else. And so, you know, the way that they'll kind of staff them up, they're not going to do any training. They're not going to work with them on specific tools. We're trying to bring in people who have a specialization that actually us as a company we specialize in. So that's why we help and we have a huge support around the marketing world and marketing for small businesses and medium sized businesses, social media, marketing, video editing, running ads like all of these these tools, graphic design. The reason that we kind of really focus in those areas is because that's what we specialize in internally.
Joe (00:07:22) - And so as we do that, it makes it really, really effective for us to offer the same thing. Well, a lot of the staffing agencies, it's very kind of general. So you're going to get somebody who's much more of a generalist than a specialist when it comes to things like Upwork. The challenge with those platforms, which we still go try to find talent on those platforms as well. But the challenge comes in. You don't know that person, So now you're taking a shot and you say, Hey, I've got a project, I need somebody to do it. I get on Upwork, I find somebody who looks like they have the qualifications. I'm going to put some money on the line and then I'm going to hope that they know what they're doing. Well, we have the exact same, you know, offer is as Upwork, we call it our pod service. It's projects on demand. And the way that we do it is we do projects that we've done thousands and thousands of times.
Joe (00:08:11) - So when you submit something you're not, there's no way that you're submitting something that's completely brand new. There's almost nothing that you're going to send to us. We're going to be like, Yeah, we've never seen this before. No, it's something we do literally every day. And we have teams of people who are specialists in providing the outcome of those projects that you need. And so the difference really is specialization. It's the repetition. We've done so many of these projects over and over. We've worked in so many different industries. And we actually train our team. We do background checks. We do, you know, things like a lot of people don't realize in foreign countries they don't have, you know, power grid. That's amazing. Like we might have in the US. So their power goes out. Well, what do you do? What we check for backup power. They have to have generators. They have to have backup locations. What about their ISP? How fast is it? Do they have, you know, secondary locations to go to if the Internet goes down? You know, like things like that, all has to be in place.
Joe (00:09:07) - And then, you know, we do criminal background checks. We do reference checks. I mean, we actually get on the phone and talk to people and make sure that they say they can do what they do. Then we test them and actually say, hey, can you actually do the thing that you say? You say you're skilled in this. Let's see you do that for us. And then we will we will grade you and make sure that it's that you can actually do what you do. So for us, it's specialization. And then it's all of the stuff we do behind the scenes that makes us a lot different than if you're just going out and you're saying, Hey, I'm just going to point and shoot and hope that something comes out of it.
Josh (00:09:42) - Yeah. Are there particular types of companies that you work with frequently?
Joe (00:09:47) - Yeah. I mean, gosh, home Services is huge. Home Service services especially we have a system called live lead nurture service. And so what we do with that is we're, you know, we're allowing their incoming calls or their incoming texts or their Google my business messages, Facebook messages, all to come into our system and we answer them in real time.
Joe (00:10:10) - And it's seven days a week, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.. So, you know, if you're looking at what's going on in the market right now, guess what? Most people aren't answering their phone. They're too busy. Right? And then they're not getting back to people fast enough. And I believe that in this market, in the way that it is, those companies, even if they don't have capacity to take the business, those companies who are actually responding to customers today are going to end up with the business when the market crashes and when things aren't all glory. Because, you know, for example, you know, I'm in Montana right there building like crazy out here. One of the biggest challenges is home services is slammed. You can't get a contractor. They're booked out a year. They're booked out 18 months. You can't get a plumber for weeks and weeks. You can't get roofers. You know, they're the booked a year out. So because that, you know, there's so much challenge that everybody is so busy, which is just bizarre because the economy is supposed to be really bad right now.
Joe (00:11:09) - Right. I can't figure this one out. But, you know, because of all this, they're not answering their phones. So somebody calls and they need something. There's not even anybody to answer the phone. And you see it. This isn't just a Montana thing. This is everywhere in the country.
Josh (00:11:21) - Yeah, Joe. No, I can tell you. Listen, my experience with that. So last year, you know, we completely redid the entire inside of the house, kitchen flooring, a bunch of other. And it was shocking shock roofers shocking how many people you would leave voicemails with. Of course, it never goes to a live person. Just leave some crappy voicemail, leave a message, never hear back. Right. All the homes are like people do to repair my screen. And, you know, in the pool area. Yeah. It's good luck. Good luck. No getting someone to return a phone call. I'm like, it is such a low bar to in home services today, in my opinion, to make it big.
Josh (00:12:05) - And that's shocking.
Joe (00:12:07) - When I think I think that if somebody really wants to step in and they want to go build a seven figure business, they could do it in months, not years. They could do it in a couple months.
Josh (00:12:16) - And meanwhile. Yeah, and I just want to throw this in here, too, you know, at the same time and this home services are notorious notorious for the business owners work in these 70, 80 hour work weeks. You know constantly checking on jobs, having to fill in, dealing with adult daycare type stuff, you know, filling jobs because someone didn't show up to work. I mean, what a mess. What an absolute mess. And again, I'd say, you know, of all of the small business industries, I have seen the biggest violators of, you know, kind of every E-Myth principle in the book.
Joe (00:12:52) - To a tee. I just I literally last week just met with a consultant who is local and is this older guy. And he's just all about like processes and, you know, you've got to get the owner out of the business so that they can focus on the things that matter.
Joe (00:13:06) - And his focus is the home services industry, because it's so rampant. You know, these guys do not run businesses effectively. They are making money. That's not there's no lie about that. They are right. Busy. The problem is, is that they could grow so much more efficiently if they actually had processes. And one of the challenges, every single one of those, you know, those business owners will say is that we can't get the staff. So my argument is always, well, you can't get the staff because you don't have the time to actually give them the attention they need. You don't have the processes to make them feel like they're working in a company. It's like, Hey, yeah, you can have a job, Come show up to this job site, come do some work, we'll cut you a check. No wonder they leave, right? They have no processes, there's no onboarding, There's no, like, you know, professional growth for them. There's nothing there. They have nothing as far as a company structure goes, it you know, because it probably started with the business owner in one truck going job to job bidding.
Joe (00:14:09) - Then he does some work, then he goes and bid some more. He's been in the evening and that's kind of been his process. Then he adds a couple guys, then hopefully he's got some more guys, but by the time he gets to 1020 and you know, he's subbing out and he's got all this, the all these people, he never went backwards and said, Hey, I should go build processes to actually operate the business. So he's still flying by. He's in his truck. And if you go look in the front seat of his truck, I'll bet you his entire business is sitting in there. And so we step in with, you know, one point that we can provide value, which is, hey, let's not make every customer in the valley hate you because you don't answer your phone. You never return phone calls. They can't get in touch with you even if you responded and say, Hey, listen, we are booked so far out. Our recommendation would be to call this other company.
Joe (00:14:56) - If there's anything that opens up, we'll squeeze you in. But right now we're just booked. That's better than never then never talking to anybody. And so we have a service that literally does that. And we can if it's an inbound call, we can do text message, you know, missed call, text back. We can answer the phone in real time. So that's some of the things that we offer for, you know, in that home services. And then we also work with attorneys and medical staff and chiropractors and, you know, and dentists and and all that marketing agencies. I mean, really, there isn't too many businesses that we can't step in and find a solution to provide.
Josh (00:15:35) - Yeah. Your website, Joe is level 9 virtual.com. What would you recommend folks next step be? After listening to our conversation.
Joe (00:15:47) - In the top right corner, there's a button that says Book a call. That's the fastest way to just get to a human being. It's a live person. You can ask all of your questions.
Joe (00:15:57) - You'll most likely talk with Dakota. He's in Las Vegas and you'll get a chance to chat with him and ask all your questions and figure out how this can work really effectively in your business. It's pretty simple. The virtual assistant world is essentially staffing, using people who are just in a different country. We don't recruit and hire people who are complete newbies and have no idea what they're doing. Like we're actually getting people with education. We're getting people who have worked in a lot of different fields. We bring them in, we train them and send them down a path that is effective based on their personality profile and their core skill sets. So we're never trying to take somebody that doesn't fit in a role and stuff them in and then give them to a client. We're really taking time to evaluate what is their personality look like. You know, the difference between somebody who's, you know, kind of like a nerdy developer versus somebody who's very social and very communicative. Those are two different types of people.
Joe (00:16:54) - So why would we try to make one be the other? And that's what we see a lot of times with some of the other companies out there. Somebody might have an interest in becoming a developer, but yet they can't stop talking and they just want to get on and they want to be on social media and they want to, you know, communicate with people. They're not going to be good at that because they don't sit down and focus and it's just not their personality. So we really focus on the personality profile, along with the skill set to create great candidates that can support businesses.
Josh (00:17:22) - Yeah. Joe, I just want to also point out your personal website because you share really good content. Your personal website. Joe Rare dot Com. Anything you'd recommend that you're kind of particularly proud of from a thought leadership standpoint or, you know, maybe insights that might be valuable to other business leaders. Yeah.
Joe (00:17:42) - Yes so one that I've kind of been hanging on to lately a lot. I think it's because I've been in experimentation mode with some new businesses that we've been launching is the concept of failing fast.
Joe (00:17:55) - You know, and it can be starting a business from the beginning. It could be taking a next step in your business to create a new growth path. It could be hiring somebody and filling a new role that you've been hesitant to do. But the concept of failing fast and actually taking a shot and doing something, you know, people always ask me, they say, well, how is it that you can own and operate like, you know, what do we have? I think six companies. Now, the reason we can do that and we can do it effectively is because I fail faster than most people take their first step. And so we'll go out and we'll just try things. We'll throw things against a wall, see what sticks, what works, what doesn't, you know, hey, we'll allocate a set amount of resources, go out and we lose all those resources and realize like, this isn't going to work or is it going to work. And we have to adjust and maybe add more budget, but the ability to go out and just try things.
Joe (00:18:48) - You know, there's a great saying in business that the amount of revenue your company create generates is directly related to the number of offers you make to your market. And that one like hits home because sometimes we get so busy and we're doing things in our business and we're stuck inside the business and we can't see from the top that the answer to 90% of our problems is just to sell more stuff or to increase our margin to create more money. So what do we need to do? We need to ask our market for more sales A lot of the time that could be existing clients. What else can you offer them? You know, how can you increase your revenue that way? So it just taking a chance like going out and actually failing, realizing that the only thing you're going to get out of that quick fail is a quick lesson. You're going to learn something and then you're going to be able to go adjust and then you'll be able to take the next step forward and then fail again. And then the next step forward.
Joe (00:19:47) - And the whole time you're just creating progress. And so I would say the concept of failing fast has been monumental to everything I've been able to do.
Josh (00:19:56) - Totally agree. Joe. It's been great having you on your website. Joe Rare and of course, level nine Virtual. Joe, thank you so much for joining us.
Josh (00:20:05) - My pleasure. Thanks for having me.
Joe (00:20:13) - Thanks for listening to the Thoughtful Entrepreneur Show. If you are a thoughtful business owner or professional who would like to be on this daily program, please visit up My Influence slash guest. If you're a listener, I'd love to shout out your business to our whole audience for free. You can do that by leaving a review on Apple Podcasts or join our listener Facebook group. Just search for the thoughtful entrepreneur and Facebook. I'd love even if you just stopped by to say hi, I'd love to meet you. We believe that every person has a message that can positively impact the world. We love our community who listens and shares our program every day. Together, we are empowering one another as thoughtful entrepreneurs.
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