Over the last several weeks I’ve spoken to a few entrepreneurs who are gun-shy about hiring a virtual assistant. It’s not that they’ve never worked with one before. They have – and unfortunately it wasn’t a good experience. One of those entrepreneurs, after having a lengthy conversation with me, decided to try again. Now that she is a client of mine, we have begun the clean-up process. She wasn’t exaggerating when she shared how awful her experience had been…balls were dropped, T’s were not crossed and I’s were not dotted (heck…in some cases not even written) all over the place.
So how can you avoid hiring the wrong Virtual Assistant? There’s no guarantee but these six steps will certainly help you make an educated decision.
- Make a list of the qualities you expect from your Virtual Assistant or Virtual Assistant team. These can include things like reliability, professionalism, adaptable, and sense of humor.
- Then make a list of the tasks you’re looking to outsource, like Infusionsoft, website (WordPress or HTML), copyediting, social media, etc. Do you do a lot of product launches? Do you need a VA who knows about teleclasses? Do you use a membership site?
- How do you work with your team? Be honest here. Do you assign a project to your team and then micromanage? Do you tell your team what you want and let them figure out how to do it? Do you work with your team to set a goal and map out the plan together? Do you have a lot of projects going on at one time? Do you often change directions on what is priority?
- Look at the tasks and qualities you listed and write a job description. Also take into consideration your work style and your turnaround needs. In this description include the available hours (like 9:00-5:00 ET, weekends) and your preferred method of communication (phone or email).
- Ask for recommendations…but it’s more than that. When speaking with colleagues or referrals about their Virtual Assistants, find out what they’re doing for them. Someone may have a great VA who does their ezines and article marketing, but your needs may be very different. You may be looking more at product launches or social media marketing. And ask about their work style (see Number 3). If you strike out here, submit a Request for Proposal through an organization like the International Virtual Assistants Association.
- Once you’ve gotten some recommendations (or responses from Requests for Proposals), review the VA’s website. If you like what you see, schedule a call. Ask specific questions about how the VA tracks hours, her invoicing and confidentiality policies. Keep notes and make a list of pros and cons, feelings and intuitions that you had during your call. You should do this for each VA—because talking to more than one is suggested—so you can compare notes later.
After you’ve talked to several Virtual Assistants, how do you decide? Did any of the VAs go above and beyond your expectations? Did any follow-up? If so, then those VAs get extra points! Did all the recommendations check out? Look at the notes you took and see who stands out the most. While costs may be important, remember that the cheapest is not always the best. Try not to let money be your deciding factor because the money you might save could end up costing you more than just money in the long run!
Hiring a Virtual Assistant should not be taken lightly. This is a person you are going to work with closely to expand your business. You will need to trust them to perform the tasks you require, but also to guide you when their expertise outweighs yours. Take your time to do your homework; you’ll be glad you did.
What experiences have you had working with a Virtual Assistant? Share with me below.