Hiring a virtual assistant is a great asset to many professionals. Regardless of your industry a VA is a cost effective way to bring experience to the table and only pay for the services you need without having the overhead of an employee.
But it’s not just enough to HAVE a VA; it’s knowing how to work with one that will determine your success with this type of relationship. Understanding how to get the most out of your virtual assistant is important in keeping and maintaining a long term, healthy relationship.
COMMUNICATION IS KEY. Having open communication early and often is what will lay the foundation for a good experience.
- Be upfront and honest about your expectations with your VA.
- Outline your goals.
- Outline what you’re hoping to accomplish.
- Outline how you want to accomplish them.
- Decide on the best form of communication. If you receive too many emails already, have another system in place for quick questions and responses. You can try:
- Facebook Messenger
- Text Message
- Have a regular weekly meeting. Be sure to set your relationship up for success. If you have a goal to accomplish, be sure you have a weekly plan in place for that to happen. You and your VA can discuss the best route to take to get there. Having a regular check-in date scheduled with clear instructions for the week will not only help you stay organized but also give your VA the direction they need to do their work as efficiently as possible. Be sure you are receiving an update on a regular basis outlining what has been done, what follow up is needed, and that all questions that have been sent to you have been answered.
- Encourage File Sharing. One of the biggest areas of concern when working with a VA is not being able to see progress being made in “real time”. You can set up a file sharing system with your virtual assistant to help with this. Google Drive or Dropbox are great and enable you to see where a project is without having to wait for an update.
- Progress Tracking. This is important in the beginning to build a healthy virtual relationship. It helps both sides understand how much time is being spent on a task or project. This not only allows you to see where the most time in spent, but can help you plan for the coming months. You can try a program called My Hours where your VA will log their time and send you a report showing what was accomplished and how much time was spent on each task or project. This helps both sides see where and how time is spent and helps you plan going forward.
- Don’t Take The “Try It & See Approach”. Typically someone coming in with a “we’ll give it a try and see what happens” attitude is not truly committed. When you give something a “try” you have the mindset that it probably won’t work. You need to have it set in your mind (and your budget) that you will “try” for a reasonable amount of time. Giving someone 5 hours to “see what they can do” and spending 3 of those hours training them will not produce any results. Making a 6, 9 or even 12 month mental commitment will help you get past that mindset.
- Make Your Virtual Assistant A Team Member. It’s easy to fall into a pattern of shuffling off the tasks you don’t want or have time to do; that’s what you hired your VA for, right? But as you’re doing that, be sure to get their input and opinions so they feel involved and part of your team. When you treat someone as an equal player it will not only boost their moral but give them the confidence to voice their opinions which could be very beneficial to you and your company.
- Ask Questions. If you don’t like the way something is being done or you don’t understand why a task took so long, don’t hesitate to ask. Always communicate openly with your VA and share the good and bad. Don’t wait or be shy to share your thoughts. Brushing something under the rug only leads to a giant pile of dirt, which doesn’t help anyone.
- Be Transparent. Although many VA’s are experienced professionals, they are human. Mistakes will be made and just like any other worker or employee you would have, they need to be communicated with regularly and expectations explained from the beginning. Concerns must be addressed immediately so the situation can be rectified as soon as possible. Since a VA isn’t sitting beside you they may not see the eye rolling you’re doing or the concern in your voice if you’re emailing them. Transparency is very important when working with someone virtually.
- Be Patient. It takes time to get into a routine with a virtual assistant. People looking for immediate results can be quickly disappointed. Three months is typically a good time frame to expect a flow to be in place working with a VA. Sometimes this can happen sooner (or later), but having some patience through the learning process is the key to getting your virtual relationship on the right track.
Taking steps to make the most of your virtual assistant will help set your relationship up for success. Have a plan, put it in place, and watch your business grow!
Laura is the founder of Elite Virtual Assistants. If you’re ready to put a plan in place to work with a virtual assistant, give her a call today.