So you’ve decided to hire a VA and delegate? Now what? How do you go about it? How do you know if you’re getting someone reliable? With literally thousands and thousands to choose from, how do you know you’re not hiring some fly-by-night company? Just where do you start?
Well, here are some steps you can take to help you find just the right person.
First, make a list of the tasks you want to delegate to a Virtual Assistant. There are Virtual Assistants who specialize in certain areas — such as Search Engine Optimization, Social Media Marketing and Shopping Carts — or certain programs — such as Infusionsoft, 1 Shopping Cart and Top Producer. I specialize in Infusionsoft.
Make a list of the qualities you want from a Virtual Assistant. Do you need someone who works late and/or weekends? Do you need someone with good phone skills? Do you need someone proficient in a certain software? Of course you want someone who is honest and has a good work ethic.
Next, ask for referrals. Check with your colleagues and other business associates to see if they have any experience with Virtual Assistants and who they would recommend. If you can’t find one that way, then there are several Virtual Assistant trade organizations, such as International Virtual Assistants Association or VA Networking. You can also submit a Request for Proposal on the VA trade organization’s website.
Once you’ve got a list of VAs, start by looking at their website. Since a Virtual Assistant works virtually, having a website is a key part of the business. Does it look professional? Is it grammatically correct and free of typos? Does it contain testimonials? If not, don’t mark that one off the list immediately. That person may just not have testimonials on their site — either because they’ve never asked for them or their clients wish to not have their information on the website.
Set up a consultation. Fill out the contact form, send an e-mail or make a phone call. Don’t be discouraged if the VA can’t talk when you call but rather wants to schedule a time to talk. She (I’ll use the female gender since most VAs are female) may be in the middle of a project and has a deadline to meet. Did the VA respond promptly to your contact form or e-mail request? Was the VA on time for the scheduled call?
When it’s time to talk on the phone, ask questions. “Why did you decide to become a VA?” “What types of clients do you work for?” Some VAs specialize in specific areas, like supporting coaches or public speakers. Personally, my clients are all across the board, and I enjoy that. It gives me a lot of variety and I learn about different industries.
More questions to ask: “What hours do you work?” “How do you organize your work when working for multiple clients?” “What do you enjoy doing?” “What do you dislike doing?” “How do you keep track of your time?” “How does your billing work?” “What types of payments do you accept?” If you know you’re going to be paying by credit card, and this VA doesn’t accept credit cards, you can take her off the list.
For a newer VA ask: “What has been your past work experience?” You want a VA who is experienced as an upper level support, such as administrative assistant or legal secretary and not someone who was a receptionist or filing clerk. Do NOT ask for a resume, though! Remember a Virtual Assistant is fellow business owner and asking for a resume brings connotations of an employer/employee relationship. She should, however, be able to provide past work experience. If the VA has been in business for several years (10+ years myself), then she should be able to provide the types of businesses she’s worked for and types of projects she’s done.
Ask for references. If there were no testimonials on the website or you’d like to speak with those satisfied clients personally, ask the VA for that information. Don’t be afraid to do the research.
Pricing can be a touchy matter. While you want to get a reasonable price, you don’t want to pay too much and if you pay too little, you usually get what you pay for. Another problem with the lower priced VA is she will end up so busy she can’t do your work effectively anymore — to make ends meet she will have to work for more clients and more hours and become overworked and underpaid. I’ve seen VA prices in the United States as low as $15 an hour and upwards of $85 an hour. Usually the more specialized the skill and more experienced the VA, the higher the price.
And most importantly, you must feel comfortable with the VA. Did she ask questions of your business? If there was a personality clash during the consultation, chances are it won’t work when you’re trying to work together.
Did the VA follow up after the initial phone consultation? I make it a point to look at the prospect’s website (if they have one) and follow up with an e-mail, letting them know what I liked about their site or if they had any typos. I also attach my Policies and Procedures — every VA should have one.
And finally, go with your gut. And if the first one you hire doesn’t work out, don’t give up!! Just because you may have had a bad experience with the first VA doesn’t mean the next one will be bad. You could be pleasantly surprised…and be making more money in the process!