The VA Hiring Blueprint: Michael Sjogren's Proven Strategies

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In this podcast, Mark discusses the common hiring challenges faced by businesses in the hospitality industry. He introduces Michael Sjogren as a solution to these problems. Michael shares his journey, emphasizing the importance of building a team for business growth and time freedom. He offers valuable advice on effective hiring, including clear criteria and personality assessments. 

Michael explains his transition from traditional real estate to short-term rentals, influenced by books and mentors. The podcast concludes with a discussion of the services Michael's team provides, such as recruiting virtual assistants, developing systems, and offering ongoing support for seamless team integration.

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Timestamps (audio)



[00:00:00] Mark: All right, everybody. Welcome back to the Boostly podcast. Uh, today I want to talk about something, which I know a lot of you struggle with. I see it all the time in the hospitality community, the Boostly community and further afield, and it's hiring. Um, there's a certain point in your business career where you go from doing everything yourself and you go, right?

[00:00:17] I want to hire. And then, you know, you've heard of things like Upwork and online jobs. ph and all those crazy places and you go out and you hire, and it's a disaster. Uh, and there are many reasons why it is a, is a disaster. And then, you know, you have to start all over again. And if you get burnt the first time, you get overwhelmed, you never do it again.

[00:00:34] You just go, ah, sorry, I'm not doing that. But I heard about a solution. My good friend is with me on the left and I want to, I wanted to get him on. Uh, it's taken a while for us to do it, but I'm really glad we're going to get it done now because of this service. It's something that I want you all to dial into.

[00:00:49] There's a link we're going to give you. So make sure you check out for that. We'll have it in all the notes and all the things. Uh, but without further, uh, Michael Sjogren, thank you very much for coming back. I believe this is the hat trick, the third appearance on the podcast. So get the hat trick ball next time I see you.

[00:01:02] So thank you for coming back.

[00:01:04] Michael: Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. Thanks for having me.

Back to the lightbulb moment

[00:01:07] Mark: So by now, everybody knows who you are, the story, the journey, et cetera. But can you just sort of wound it back to the day that you realized that this? Service that you're offering now and what we're talking about now, what made you like get that light bulb moment of, uh, actually, I think I can do

[00:01:23] Something with this.

[00:01:23] Michael: Yeah. I, you know, it comes back to like why I started from the beginning. I mentioned it and I'll keep it short, but like, I talked about it in Nashville last year, I was like. I didn't get into this business because I loved hosting and all that stuff. And you know, that's great if you're into it. I got into it as a business opportunity because my kid was sick and I wanted to create a business that didn't rely on me.

[00:01:44] Like something that I could build that eventually I could build a team and I wouldn't have to trade time for money. And when I got around eight properties, that's when I started to notice like my, my tech was dialled in, my systems were dialled in. I had a lot of AI and automation, but at the eight-property mark, I just.

[00:02:01] I couldn't step away and I kept getting sucked back in and I was like, man, I'm, I'm spending way too much time like in the weeds. And, uh, I, you know, like a lot of people, I went to Upwork. I went to, um, online jobs. ph. I went to a lot of different services and, you know, found somebody, they seemed good, brought them on.

[00:02:21] And, uh, the thing that I hear the most and I resonate with is like, I feel like they just ask me questions all day. It's like, I should just do it myself, right? And I learned a lot. I went through four VAs before I eventually found Mark, and uh, ended up scaling my team from there, and now we have like six, yeah, six VAs.

[00:02:39] But, um, the reality was, as you said, it was a multitude of factors. The first one was I had no set criteria for what I was even looking for. It was just like somebody with a pulse who was somewhat responsible could help me. Um, so I had to get clear about what I wanted from this person.

[00:02:58] And the most significant recommendation I can make for people is to do a two-week time study. And I got this from Alex Sharfman a couple of years ago, who was big on this. And it's, it's so simple. Create it in a spreadsheet or a Google sheet or whatever, just Sunday to Saturday from 5  a.m. to 10  p.m. or whatever your waking hours are.

[00:03:18] Print it out. And then every 15 minutes, just write down what you're doing. It's not just work. It's everything, you know, every 15 minutes, write it down. And then at the end of the two weeks, you want to go through that and figure out where were the biggest time sucks in my business that I could use help with.

[00:03:33] And if you just do that one thing, it's going to give you so much clarity. Right. And then from that point, it was like, okay. I started to learn about personality assessments, right? And you can talk to Steve Trover over at better talent and those guys like they've got that stuff dialled in, but I'm like, okay, who's going to be naturally good at the things that I need help with because somebody can suck it up and do it for a while.

[00:03:55] But if they're not going to enjoy it and they're not going to want to stay long term, what's the point? I'm going to have to go through this all over again, right? So really getting the right, right butts in the right seat. And then from that point, it's like, okay, Now I've got the right person to have the right skill sets or at least the right personality type for those skill sets Now, what do I do?

[00:04:15] And when I was first onboarding people, it was all right on Monday We're going to jump on Zoom And you're just going to shadow me for the day, right? I know a lot of people have done this, and I want you to put yourself in that person's shoes for a second. Imagine you left a job to go work for some company, And they had no formal onboarding.

[00:04:36] They had no SLPs for you to look at. There was no employee manual. Your boss just said, Hey, you're just going to shadow me. And we're going to figure this out. It doesn't exactly set the right tone that you're a reputable business.

Where did you get your inspiration?  

[00:04:48] Mark: Where did you get, your inspiration from? Cause the thing I love about you, and I've said this to a lot of people is that I feel like.

[00:04:55] Your vertical has fallen upon short-term rentals, but you are so knowledgeable and you've got so much discipline and structure in place. You could have gone on any vertical, you could have gone down cars. It could have been anything you would have been a success in it. So how have you brought all of this into your world?

[00:05:11] Like what are the books that have inspired you? What are, who are the people that you've been tuned in to sort of train your brain to be this way? Yeah.

[00:05:18] Michael: So like a lot of people, man, I read Rich Dad, Poor Dad in my mid-twenties, and it was like the light bulb went off. I was like, you know, and I went through college, you got my undergrad, my MBA CPA license, all this stuff, but that book changed my life.

[00:05:32] So I knew real estate investing was going to be the vehicle. Um, and I thought I was going to raise money and buy apartment buildings, you know, since 2014, I started like. Diving into that hired coaches and mentors in that space, but it was a struggle, man. And I just didn't get any traction. I was trying to raise money.

[00:05:49] I was trying to find deals. I was working a full-time job. You know, I had a sick kid. It was just born. It was just crazy. And then I met a guy in a mastermind group, uh, Marcos. Who, his primary thing was tax deeds and tax liens. I think he's, um, I think his IG is the tax deed hunter or something like that.

[00:06:06] Um, but he introduced me to short-term rentals. He was doing arbitrage back in 2016, 2017 before it was a huge thing. And I was like, this is interesting. I don't know if this is legal, but it's really interesting. Right. And, uh, I told Kristen about it and I was like, I think this is going to be our ticket because traditional rentals, you might make.

[00:06:25] A hundred, 200, maybe 300 bucks a month with this, you're making a thousand, $2,000 a month. And he didn't even need to own the property. So that was the light bulb moment. And then I ran into guys like Eric Moler, uh, Jay Massey, a lot of these guys that had just started getting into it, scaling it up. And I was like, huh, okay.

[00:06:44] So like this is a viable thing. And so I just devoured as much information as I could. I went through different programs, went through Eric's stuff, I went through Jay's stuff. I went through Marcos's stuff. Um, And that was it, man. Like that was the spark. And I started to get a little bit of success. And then a lot of my focus shifted to the stuff that you talked about.

[00:07:02] I read, looking at my bookshelf, I went through the E Myth. And then traction, just like you talked about, and then I went through all Mike Michalowicz's stuff, like devoured all of that, and now my goal from the beginning was to work no more than four hours a week on the business. I'm like, if this is what I'm if I'm going for time freedom, I, that has to be my guiding light.

[00:07:23] So how do I do that? And it was just getting around people like that and reading books like that. Listening to podcasts and, you know, Alex Sharfman was a great one. I was in his mastermind for a year. Um, I hired an attraction coach through EOS to help me get that system set up. Like. I was just, I've always been a fan of education.

[00:07:44] Like I reinvest a lot into like coaches, mentorships, everything, because it's just a cheat code. It's like if I'm trying to get this result, somebody else has like, I'm happy to pay them for that, you know, fast lane.

What this all means

[00:07:56] Mark: So just walk us through exactly, um, what this all means, how you go about working how the process looks and why should a short-term rental host decide to book a call?

[00:08:10] Michael: Yeah, at the beginning it was just folks in our mastermind program. I was teaching them how to go out and recruit people. And they were like, well, can you go recruit some people for me? And I kept getting that over and over and over again. And then finally I approached Mark. Um, who was my operations manager at the time we had an unfair advantage, to be honest, he was employee number three at Airbnb's call centre in the Philippines and he grew it to 5,000 agents So he built a call centre over there.

[00:08:38] So he knows everybody that's working over there So he just goes and cherry picks people that used to work for him and just offers them a new opportunity And so we started doing that for folks in the mastermind And then through different speaking engagements and conferences and everything else people kept asking me like hey, can you just recruit?

[00:08:55] BAs for us. And I was like, well, it's, it's only for the mass run people. I kind of do it as a favour for them and whatever. And I just, it kept coming up and coming up and coming up. And so finally we just said, all right, well, let's put something together, whether they're with us or not, that we can at least help them because The true truth is if you don't build a good team, you will never have time freedom.

[00:09:17] You just won't. As good as your systems are, you will always have that anxiety in the back of your head that you can't shut this thing off. You just can't. You can't shut your phone off. So the team is what gives it to you. And so what we started doing was just offering the recruiting and then what we found is Okay, we could give you the best candidate, but if you don't have the right systems, you don't have the right cadence, you don't have the right meeting structure, all of that, it's not going to work.

[00:09:43] So we packaged it all together, so we'll recruit people for you, we'll help you build out your systems, I'd give you my entire SOP playbook if you have nothing. To use for now and then we'll help you build yours While we go recruit people for you and then integrate them into your business Mark no longer runs my portfolio Uh, he does this full time and he manages all the vas on the back end and gives them continuous support so it's worked out pretty well, man and people are grateful because You know, as you scale, you build that traction.

[00:10:15] You're not afraid to get deals. Now you're growing, but it's like, how the hell do you step out of the day-to-day and just focus on the things that you want to focus on and it's through building a good team, having a blast. Can I get it on the Boostly podcast? Bruce Lee is like Bruce Lee. Cause it's so hard on the T is loosely making up those rhymes.

[00:10:33] Don't write it. Just do it loosely.