Hiring a Virtual Business Manager (VBM) or Virtual Assistant (VA) can be one of the most valuable investments in your growing business. They can help you manage your day-to-day business operations and ongoing projects like social media marketing, customer service or client relations. To make this investment as meaningful as possible, here are 3 important points to consider when outsourcing.
A great working relationship between you and your VBM is often far more than just you assigning tasks to an independent contractor – it is a partnership. So here, we can see how finding the right person is the first step to developing and nurturing this special relationship.
Your virtual resource should have at least some knowledge of your industry or a willingness to learn about it. Especially if you are utilising them to support your customer service, they should be able to represent your business professionally. They should be able to speak confidently with customers and clients while providing accurate information about your business.
So when hiring, hire someone with the experience, skills and work ethic to complete business tasks correctly. Create a list of these tasks before conducting any interviews. This way, you’ll know exactly the person you need in your business. Sometimes though, in unusual circumstances, you may consider training a virtual assistant if you think they’re worth the effort, possibly because they’ve expressed keen interest in working with you and learning new skills.
Furthermore, ask for professional references in the form of testimonials you can verify. Then you can have a high degree of confidence that your new VA has the skills, experience and expertise to complete all necessary tasks on time – or at the very least, is a fast learner!
Time Management Skills
In many cases, your VBM can complete the tasks you assign in less time than a full-time, in-house employee. When hiring a VBM, ask specific questions about their work habits, productivity and how much time they can give you each week or each month.
Since some tasks will take longer than others to complete, provide a copy of your task schedule to potential VBMs to review before making a final hiring decision. Don’t forget to hire the VBM that meets all the other criteria and who can accommodate your schedule too. For example, if you need to maintain frequent contact with your VBM by phone, online chat like Zoom or Skype or via email, consider hiring someone within your time zone.
For transparency, most reputable VBMs utilise time tracking tools to evidence the time worked on your account. If this is not offered up, ask at the interview how the VA will be recording the time worked.
You Get What You Pay For
The third point of my ‘3 important points to consider when outsourcing’ is to remember that an experienced Virtual Business Manager typically charges more for their services than a novice VA. However, if you’re willing to invest time to train your VA and are looking for a lower hourly rate, consider hiring someone with less experience. On the other hand, if you need someone to jump in and start completing tasks without much supervision, consider hiring a virtual business manager with the necessary skills and experience to get the job done. Don’t worry about their higher rate.
The same principle applies when hiring a virtual resource who lives in a different country. Where the freelancer lives can influence how much they charge for assistant services. However, keep in mind that time zone differences and language and cultural barriers can – and usually do- affect overall communication. Time zones also restrict the scope of client-facing services and, in some cases, even influence how well business tasks are completed.
The good news for small business owners and start-up companies is that you can hire a virtual assistant by the hour, by a set number of monthly hours, or by the project. However, if you’re on a budget, let prospective VBMs/VAs know immediately as this will save you a lot of time during the interview process.