Hiring a Virtual Assistant, both sides of the story

It is crucial to understand that a Virtual Assistant is your partner in your business, as well as a fellow business owner.

A Virtual Assistant will have a vested interest in helping you as the client excel in your business so make sure that your values and business philosophies align.

Do not think you can simply hire a VA as your personal delegation dump, this will not result in a sustainable, nor beneficial future for either party involved.

Here are some initial questions to ask when hiring a Virtual Assistant, along with some responses to consider as a Virtual Assistant being asked these questions:

    1. How long have you been in business?
      1. Prospective Client:  Look for a company or individual that has been in business 3+ years, to have a sense of their credibility and reputation within the industry.
      2. VA:  If you are new to the industry, have you considered reaching out to experienced VA’s to see if you can work with them to start building your reputation?
    2. What are your business hours?
      1. Prospective Client:  The very fact that you are looking for a VA tells that you are a busy individual.  Find someone who fits your schedule.
      2. VA:  Why not specialise in offering evening hours to compliment the clients existing in-house PA, who is covering the 9-5.
  1. What happens if I have a rush project?
    1. Prospective Client:  Am I charged an additional fee for a faster turnaround?  Costs should be agreed up-front, along with how you are going to clearly communicate that this particular task required additional attention.
    2. VA:  Expectations should be set-out from the beginning.  If a client needs you to drop whatever you are doing for someone else in order to help him or her quickly, they need to understand that one day you may need to delay one of their tasks in order to provide the same service for another client.
  2. What is the back up plan if my regular VA is sick or on a planned leave?
    1. Prospective Client:  You want to be sure that you won’t experience any type of service interruption.
    2. VA:  If you are an individual providing VA services you need to consider this, you will need a break at some point!  Try working with other VA’s they too will need a holiday.  Don’t leave it too late.
VA Life - managing time
Managing & tracking your billable time is crucial for both you & your client.
  1. How is time billed – per minute, per project, etc.?
    1. Prospective Client:  What payment methods do you accept?  Many VA’s bill to the minute, others by the hour.  It’s not uncommon for agencies to round up to 15-minute increments, and there are task-based solutions too, so be sure to ask.
    2. VA:  Be clear on your charging policy.  Good time tracking is essential, services such as Harvest will also allow you to provide detailed reports for clients.
  2. Does your contract require that we work together for a specific length of time?
    1. Potential Client:  Ensure that any commitments are spelled out, and there’s an option for you to leave if you’re dissatisfied.
    2. VA:  Do not leave yourself un-protected.  Good contracts can make or break a company.  Ensure they are clear and concise.
  3. Out of everything you do for clients, what is your favourite?
    1. Potential Client:  This question can open you up to understanding more about the person (or team) you will be working with.
    2. VA:  If you are doing what you love on a daily basis you will thrive.  Be honest with a question like this, not just to the potential client but (and more importantly) to yourself.
  1. Do you charge for time we spend emailing or on the phone?
    1. Potential Client:  Many companies or VA’s will charge for time spent on the phone, but ancillary e-mails and updates are often complimentary, but never assume.
    2. VA:  This comes back to being clear about your charging policy.  Your potential clients need to know what they will and won’t be charged for.  Unexpected bills are never nice for anyone.
  2. What security measures do you have in place?
    1. Potential Client:  This is extra crucial, especially when working virtually. Your VA or VA Company owner should be able to clearly list the procedures they have for keeping your data secure.
    2. VA:  Data Protection is not to be taken lightly.  Ensure you are compliant within the regions you are providing your services.  Being virtual comes with the benefit of being able to work for anyone, from anywhere but that also comes with responsibility.
  3. What does the on-boarding process entail?
    1. Potential Client:  You want to hit the ground running. Experienced virtual assistant companies have the existing knowledge to direct your efforts right from day one. You may specifically want to ask what the first 30, 60 and 90 days of working together will look like. The virtual assistant should be able to tell you exactly what will be done to drive results and how things will happen.
    2. VA:  Pay attention to your on-boarding process, first impressions count.  Don’t be afraid to learn from mistakes, tweak your process as you move forward.  Talk to other VA’s whenever and wherever you can to gain knowledge.  Your new client should feel confident with you.  Write down your process and share it via a Google Doc with them.

You and your Virtual Assistant can make better business together.

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