Guest: Steve Ashbee
Presenter: Henry Acosta
Guest Bio: Steve Ashbee, born in England in 1969, established a UK business in 1997 offering a team of spiritual counsellors delivering psychic and astrological predictions via telephone. In order to maintain the customer service lines through the night he then setup operations in Australia in 1999 to offer Psychics Connect clients a 24-hour service.
His business experienced rapid growth in the UK and Ireland, USA and Canada up until 2009. The negative impact from the Global Financial Crisis significantly affected revenues leading to a reduction in labour and the need to re-evaluate his marketing strategy. For the business to stabilise and grow again, Steve knew he should focus on the Australian market as it was more likely to weather the GFC. He then turned his attention to the Philippines and in 2013 established Bureauserv Global Inc. to support Psychics Connect.
Segment overview: Bureauserv Global Inc. specialises in providing innovative and cost-effective business outsourcing solutions with advanced computer telephony applications. We are committed to assisting businesses achieve their desired growth by developing services tailored to their specific needs. With expertise across a variety of business process services, backed by our distinctive ‘Investment in People’ philosophy, we constantly review procedures, think ahead and embrace ingenuity. This forward-thinking approach helps our clients manage the growth of their business with confidence. Bureauserv has significantly matured and continues to grow with 30 personnel supporting SMEs in Australia, Singapore and the UK, allowing businesses to remain competitive by increasing levels of productivity while keeping costs under control. The business now offers Customer Service and Sales, Digital Marketing, Accounting, Bookkeeping and Payroll and Virtual Assistance/Administrative Support.
Address: Suite 1402 Ma. Natividad Building 470 T.M. Kalaw, Ermita, Manila
Contact: (LOCAL) +63 2 353 5555
Transcript – Bureauserv Global Inc.
Henry Acosta: Hello and welcome to the Outsourcing and Offshoring Philippines podcast with Henry Acosta. I’m Henry and our guest today is Steve Ashbee of Bureauserv Global Incorporated. Steve was born back in England, back in 1969 and he started his very first business in 1997. His business offered a team of spiritual counsellors, delivering psychic and astrological predictions via telephone. Due to rapid demand and growth, he expanded his services around the world and with him wanting to service everyone around the clock, he set up operations in Australia back in 1999. But with the global financial crisis happening in 2009, he had to rethink his business and in 2013, he established his new business called, ‘Bureauserv Global Incorporated’ in the Philippines. Bureauserv still supports his business, Physic Connect and other SMEs from all around the world, from Australia, Singapore and even the UK. He is their Founder and is now their Managing Director. With all that said, we’re glad to have you on the show Steve. Thank you for coming.
Steve Ashbee: Hello Henry. Thank you very much indeed for having me on this show. Thank you.
Henry Acosta: Just to get things started, can you tell us a little bit more about yourself and what you do for Bureauserv?
Steve Ashbee: Yes. As you covered there, I’m the Managing Director of Bureauserv Global Inc. We’re based in Manila, we have 30 personnel at the moment at Bureauserv. We offer services that are essential to all businesses really, customer services and sales, digital marketing, accounting, bookkeeping, payroll, any back office, administrative support as well. We assist SMEs in Australia, a few clients in Singapore, UK. We help businesses remain competitive by increasing levels of productivity whilst keeping the cost under control. We like to, as we have in our website, consider ourselves as a one-stop outsourcing partner for SMEs.
Henry Acosta: Awesome. What brought you to the Philippines and what gave you the inspiration or idea of starting or moving your business to the Philippines?
Steve Ashbee: Not so much an idea, more on necessity really. I established the business the UK in 97, expanded into Australia about 2 years later to offer a 24-hour service. We went through a good period of growth that was around the sort of “.com period.” And then after that, money and investments kind of moved into property which then led to the GFC. That was a real wake-up call and a correction from many of us of course. But during this sort of artificial period of prosperity as I call it, that we all went through in the early 2000. My business enjoyed significant growth, advertising in print media and yellow pages was working very effectively back then. There’s no need to really get serious about the web and digital marketing so perhaps a little easy-going. It was cruising along quite nicely, perhaps a little bit arrogant perhaps during those times when there’s a full wind in the … sail, you feel like times are good. Of course when the wind drops that’s when the hard work begins. It really was a matter of … the bottom fell out the market. It took a little while to realize that this is the new environment and that things aren’t necessarily going to get back to the high levels that we enjoyed before. During this time, 2009 and 2010, I needed to contract the business and create some stability for a while. I needed to consider how to grow again. But I knew that I’d have to do things differently which led me to establishing Bureauserv in the Philippines.
Henry Acosta: How was the challenge of moving here? What were your challenges I mean with regards to starting your business here and what were the things that you faced?
Steve Ashbee: Fortunately, I was introduced to a good attorney who gave me a lot of advice with regards to establishing the business, established as an export enterprise. I think really the guidance I had from the staff that joined me at the beginning, I was very careful in a way. Recruited in the early days in the area of business admin and accounting, bookkeeping to sort of get on the right track. I think I got off to a safe start initially, dealing with the expansion and dealing with travel a lot as well was a challenge. Working between Perth, Australia, Singapore and Manila. There’s been a lot of travel. I haven’t been able to stay in Manila for long periods of time, which that’s been a challenge in itself. But I think it’s just really important to track carefully, to seek some good advice, second opinion, understand business and banking, BIR, everything, labor, recruitment. There’s so much to learn.
Henry Acosta: I see. With regards to Bureauserv Global Incorporated, what are the services that you guys offer to people?
Steve Ashbee: Well we offer customer service, inbound and outbound customer service, digital marketing. We assist SMEs and taking their website to the next level, responsive mobile friendly or fundamentals of SEO in place, allowing us to then maintain their website and incorporate social media marketing as well. Web, search and social media, accounting, bookkeeping, payroll services as well. As I said earlier, the key fundamental areas of a business which are essential. Of course, during these difficult trading times certainly we’re facing in Australia now, businesses are becoming overwhelmed. Business owners are becoming overwhelmed, wearing too many hats, need to possibly reduce their staff numbers but then not put too much pressure on themselves, allow them to get back to what they do best, why they went into business in the first place. But for Bureauserv, to partner these SMEs and to offer the support in those areas.
Henry Acosta: How was been your client acquisition? How do you usually get clients? Do they find you or do you have a marketing strategy with regards to that?
Steve Ashbee: Certainly, word of mouth, we like to build long term relationships with our clients; be in the area of customer service, accounting, bookkeeping, digital marketing, we’re keen to partner with our clients and keep that long relationship going and the trust is built overtime, which of course brings referrals so that’s certainly good to see. That’s an important barometer of your business of course. But then also lead generation, we use Infusionsoft, automated marketing software, automated email marketing software. We find that very effective as well. In fact, we now assist other companies to implement Infusionsoft into their businesses. It’s a terrific CRM system for small businesses.
Henry Acosta: With regards to your clients, how was their growth been? And if ever a first time client is talking to you, what would be your advice to them with regards to starting outsourcing here in the Philippines?
Steve Ashbee: It’s important to develop, well to be very honest with each other, to understand what our capabilities are to get across to them and for them to get across to us what exactly they need. We’d like to partner with our clients with over the long term as I said and where we start with businesses and perhaps, with accounting, bookkeeping and then we move into assisting and them with the digital marketing as well. But, it’s important that our company gets to know the businesses’ culture. We try to get across our passion, dedication for helping the client. We have highly skilled personnel, we’re very selective with our recruitment process. I’m very proud and confident in delivering that service that the clients are looking for. Of course, it’s a growing market and businesses have a lot of choices now out there in places like the Philippines. But really, I think it’s important you get to know the company, how they operate and to make sure you’ve got the right match.
Henry Acosta: About the Philippines, how did you end up in the Philippines? I mean there are other countries that service outsourcing too. Why did you choose the Philippines as the place to re-do your business or re-invent your business?
Steve Ashbee: I became aware that there’s a depth of talented and dedicated people of course in the Philippines, having met many Filipinos in Singapore in fact who were applying for positions with my business there. I was very impressed how they present themselves, their resumes. Of course, there’s a good command of the English language, very positive engaging approach to customer service, not just the inbound call center but also, I mean our accounting team, our digital marketing team, they demonstrate excellent communication, good rapport with their clients, really passionate about our clients’ businesses as well. All of those ingredients come together. And well, I think it comes down to their willingness to support, getting on-board, really wanting to make a difference to Bureauserv and to our clients’ businesses as well.
Henry Acosta: What would be the most common misconception that people have before starting to outsource here?
Steve Ashbee: I think that really business owners have to realize that it’s not a quick fix. That time and energy, it has to be put into establishing as I said, the relationship with the company or working with, the BPO in our case, to keep communication going, to look for ways to improve that we’ve got to stay in-touch with our client and understand their needs and look for opportunity for the growth for them and improvements. That communication and an on-going relationship is really important for it to be successful because it’s not a quick fix. It’s not a matter of, ‘Okay look, could you deal with this? Just take this one for us’. And everything falls into place, certainly not like that. There’s a learning curve.
Henry Acosta: What would be your main take away message for all our listeners right now?
Steve Ashbee: Well really, it comes down to the people. I mean, we’re talking about my business based in Manila. My business is successful because of the incredible personnel we have. They encourage me, I aspire to them, to their thoughts as well and what they’re able to achieve. It’s a wonderful partnership. It’s wonderful working with our Filipino team. We look forward to more growth, to expanding, to helping them on their careers. We look for talent when we are recruiting our personnel. We’re looking for people who can make a difference and we provide a platform for their career growth as well. It’s a partnership and it’s a wonderful experience. It’s a good journey.
Henry Acosta: For anyone who’s interested in looking at your service, where can they find you guys on the internet and where can they find you in Manila?
Steve Ashbee: Yes. Our web address is bureauserv.com. We’re based on T.M. Kalaw corner of Roxas Boulevard, near Luneta Park, Manila Bay.
Henry Acosta: Awesome. Well, that’s all our questions for today. Thank you so much for getting on the show.
Steve Ashbee: Most welcome Henry. Thanks indeed. Thanks for the opportunity.
Henry Acosta: And that was Steve Ashbee of Bureauserv Global Incorporated. Me and Steve just finished talking about his company and the Philippines as a place to outsource work for your business. If you want to learn more about outsourcing businesses, you can visit us at www.offshoring.com.ph. We’re also available on SoundCloud and iTunes. For more updates, follow us on Twitter and Facebook. You’ve been listening to the Outsourcing and Offshoring Philippines podcast and I’m Henry Acosta.