With the new year fast approaching many of us have done or are doing our plans for our business in the new year. Some of these plans may be getting some assistance with administration tasks to free up your time to grow your business.
A Virtual Assistant could be the answer to this!
A Virtual Assistant can be used a little or as much as you want, so you don’t have to give us a minimum number of hours and then try and find work for someone to fill up that time. You won’t have to find space in your office to put someone or purchase new equipment for someone to do their job. You can leave all that to your virtual assistant, you just hand over the work and it is done in whatever time it takes to be done.
So, you think this sounds good but what questions do you ask a Virtual Assistant to see if they are right for you?
This depends on what you want out of a Virtual Assistant. Think about who is it that you need. Do you need someone to answer your phone and therefore you need them in the office from 9am-5pm? Are you flexible about when the work can be done, or do you have a set turn around time that an assistant will need to work to? Do you need a particular skill or experience or are you happy to train the new person?
Here are 7 questions that may assist you to find the Virtual Assistant.
1. What experience do you have and how long have you been in business?
This will give you an idea about whether the VA is a good fit for you and whether their experience is suitable for your needs. Depending on the tasks required sometimes, having the right person is better than having the experience so it is important to find out about the VA and why they are in business.
Asking them how long they have been in business gives you an idea about how long they will be around. However, don’t discount the new VAs just yet. Ask them about why they went into business. They may have some great reasons to go into business for themselves and these will keep them very motivated to keep their businesses going.
I know personally, although being in business for the last 5 years I am very motivated to stay in business even through the toughest to times due to the needs of my son. I have to make it work for us, so other VAs may be similar.
2. Will they work with other specialists?
Do you require different specialists you may need to work with in your business? Will the new VA “play nicely” with them? Will they communicate with them effectively? There is nothing worse then having an assistant who doesn’t work well with your other business colleagues or alliances and they have to continually check in with you. This defeats the purpose of having a VA, it doesn’t free up your time, it just takes up more of your time.
3. What times do they work and what happens during holidays or if they are ill?
This question is really important! If you need someone 9am – 5pm to answer your phone then there is no point getting a Virtual Assistant who is going to finish work at 2pm every day or only works 3 days per week.
What about when they go on holidays or if they are sick, should your business not be looked after during these times? After all, you probably took on a VA partly because you didn’t have to worry about holidays or sickness.
Some VAs, like us, will have a team who work for them which means that all these times are taken care of. Other VAs may have an arrangement with another VA who they will have look after their clients if they are going away on holidays.
Personally, my business has a team and I have two members of my team trained on each client. That way if I have one team member away for any reason, there is another team member available to continue the tasks so your business doesn’t suffer.
4. Will the VA work with overseas VAs?
You may already be using an overseas VA or you may be thinking of using an overseas VA. Let’s face it, although overseas VAs are a cheaper option, in most cases you get what you pay for and you will have to use an Australian VA for some things.
There is no problem with using both but will the Australian VA work like that? If you do want to use both then a great way to make that work is to have the Australian VA ‘manage’ the work going to the overseas VA and have it overlooked by them. That way by the time it gets back to you, you can ensure that it is suitable for your needs.
We have a few clients who use us and also an overseas VA and it works well for their needs.
5. Will they help you find another VA for tasks they are not skilled with?
Picture this, your business is growing as a result of having a VA to assist you and now you want to hand over more tasks but your current VA isn’t skilled with these tasks. The last thing you want to do is spend more time trying to find another VA who will help you with those tasks?
Find a VA who has a great network of other VAs. In our business, we are members of an Australian Virtual Assistant network and also have access to overseas VAs so if you are looking for someone for a specific task we are able to go to our network and find a skilled VA for you. This will save you a huge amount of time.
6. How do they track and charge for their time?
There are many different ways a VA charges for their time. Some may sell packages for certain tasks, some charge by the hour and others charge a monthly ‘membership’ type arrangement for a certain amount of work. Some VAs track their time for what you use and some may charge in 15 minute increments. Most VAs use some sort of tracking software where they should be able to provide you with a report about where your time is used.
In our office, we have tracking software that is used and provide reports for time used or any calls received if we are doing reception work for you. We also charge our time out for the actual time that is used and not in 15-minute increments or we provide you with a suitable package.
7. How do they ensure your information remains secure?
Undoubtedly, you will have to share some passwords with your new VA and also you will need to share documents with them. How do they keep this secure? Do they do regular back up?
We use a secure password program which stores all the passwords for us and you don’t even have to actually give them to us, you just share a link to the login details and keep the password hidden. Most VAs like us will use a cloud based program like Google Drive, Dropbox and OneDrive where you can share access to any documents that are required. We also regularly back up all our data as well.
These are just a few of the questions that you can ask a potential VA, it is important to have a good fit with you and your VA to ensure that it works well for you and your business.
If you would like to know more about using a VA feel free to book in for a free strategy session.