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5 Things You Should Know About Working with a Virtual Assistant

5 Things You Should Know About Working with a Virtual AssistantTake a look at your to-do list, are there tasks on there that are taking away the time you should be using on your business? If so, it’s probably time to start looking for a virtual assistant.

It could be a single person that is dedicated to working with you and your business, or even a service that provides assistants on an as need basis, either way, a virtual assistant (also called a VA) can free you from the administrative tasks that aren’t an effective use of your entrepreneurial time. Another major advantage of a virtual assistant is that they work remotely and as needed so you don’t have to spend as much as you would for an employee that works on site, all the time .. you know, the clock punchers.

So .. ready to contract a VA for your business? If you are, here are some tips on finding one and working with one successfully.

-1- Know Who You’re Hiring

It might seem like common sense, but some might not think about it. If you’re going to entrust someone with your info, whether it be for social media, public relations, bookkeeping tasks, or any number of sensitive information required tasks, you need to make sure you trust the person you hire. Talk to colleagues, get referrals. Check out social media groups specifically for virtual assistants. There’s many such groups on LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+.

Interview the virtual assistant as if you were hiring an employee, but also keep in mind that VAs are also independently owned businesses. You need to ask more questions, especially about their business. Need some help asking the right questions? We can help you out there.

-2- Make Sure Your VA Understands What You Do

Not every VA has the same experience and skills, you’ll need to find one who understands the kind of work that you do. While they may not understand your medical practice in detail, they should have some relevant medical industry experience.

Be willing to set aside some time to for training. Your business processes are yours, and perhaps you are the only one who knows how it all goes together. You should not have to train your VA in every aspect of their tasks, however.

Example #1: Social media marketing: Your VA should bring their SMM skills to the table, however you may need to instruct them on post formatting, your editorial cycle, or your preferences.

Example #2: Virtual reception: Your VA will know how to answer the phones line, but you will need to provide some training for those instances when a call comes in that are specific in nature to your business.

-3- Figure Out the Payment Up Front

There are many different types of virtual assistant business structures – solopreneurs, small multi-VA practices and large employee-based virtual assistant businesses – and all have different pricing models. While hourly pay might seem like the easiest option, it may not always be the cost effective option. Many virtual assistant practices offer retainer hours, where you purchase a set number of hours at a discounted rate.

Another payment model is a fixed price model, which is primarily used for a one-time project or piece. Many content writing practices use a per piece, or a $X/100 words pricing model.

The structure of how you pay aside, make sure you’re getting the best work for the price. Please keep in mind that cheaper isn’t always better. The saying “You get what you pay for” comes to mind often. You are paying a bit more for workers that are more skilled and experienced. It always ends up being worth it in the end. Know what you can afford and start there looking for the best value you can buy.

-4- Keep Their Schedules In Mind

Having remote partners means potentially having time zone differences and that has a direct impact on how you and your VAs work together. If you have someone that is in a different time zone, you should make sure that they can get back to you within a reasonable time frame. Consider outsourcing locally. This doesn’t necessarily mean in your town, but keep your radius small:

• If not your town, then your county
• If not your county, then your state
• If not your state, then your time zone
• If not your time zone, then your country

Something else to keep in mind is that you aren’t likely to be the only business that the assistant is working with. It’s important to respect the fact that just like your regular employees your VA has other responsibilities other than the tasks you assign them.

Virtual assistants are not your employees, they have other clients, whose tasks are just as important at yours. We’re lucky that we are so important in your lives!

-5- Be Clear In Your Communication

Communication is an important part of any relationship, this is especially true in a business relationship that is virtual. It’s hard to explain things clearly digitally but it’s necessary to make sure that they can effectively perform the tasks they were assigned. Create a YouTube video for some of your tasks; you’ll save time and never have to answer a question twice.

Most often, if a VA doesn’t complete your task successfully, it’s because of communication that wasn’t clear in the instructions you gave. While a seasoned virtual assistant will be proactive in asking questions, we cannot know everything. So spend a bit of time and extra effort to make sure that you were clear and that both parties are on the same page.

About Out of the Office Virtual Assistance:

Since 2006, Out of the Office has offered ideas and ways to increase your productivity, decrease your workload, and work more efficiently. We nurture a successful business relationship, while continuing to grow as your business partner. We are focused on streamlining your administration, social media planning and execution, content writing and offering creative solutions for your business success.

Virtual Assistant Information
 

The Virtual Assistant Information blog provides free information for small businesses, entrepreneurs, startups, executives and individuals interested in learning more about hiring and working with a virtual assistant. We’re part of Virtual Assistantville, a premium virtual assistant directory where you can find and hire a professional virtual assistant to help support your business.

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Janine Gregor - a couple of years ago

Great ideas here! The YouTube idea to sort out tasks so the same question is not answered twice is a terrific idea! I use Jing to record short videos for my clients which allows me to record my screen and my voice but I had not thought about asking a client to create a YouTube video.

And knowing what you can afford is a great start in determining fees. Sometimes potential clients post fees that coincide with what an employee will make and that often can be too low for a VA to invest his/her time. So having one set monthly budgeted amount to start with makes more sense.

I will add that IMO using certain words such as ‘interview’ and ‘hire’ is utilized in an employee-employer situation. I’d like to offer a client consultation as opposed to an interview as I am stating what it is I can do for the client to meet his/her goals.

And in some circumstances, not all, but some, it does work best to be in a different time zone because often I can complete work before the client rises.

Thank you for the great post!

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