You must think I’m nuts. Because I’m writing a blog about firing your virtual assistant. That goes against every sales and marketing text book out there.
Why would I - a virtual assistant - want to put that nugget of information into your head?
Because it’s important. Because it’s a fact of business when dealing with virtual assistants. Sometimes things just don’t work out and you need to know when it’s time to let someone go, even if that someone is me. (I hope it’s not me!)
In every Employer/VA relationship, there is a beautiful honeymoon that undoubtedly takes place. You, the employer, are desperate for help. The VA tells you all the wonderful things she can and will do for you. Life is going to be better just as soon as you send over the first payment.
Happiness! Joy! Relief!
Unfortunately, sometimes that happiness is short-lived. The honeymoon ends much too quickly. But you think that it’s just because it has only been a few weeks. Your VA is still learning your business. She’ll get better. She’s really busy and you know this. That’s why she’s not returning your message. You just haven’t trained her enough.
And in a matter of weeks, you tell yourself it’s you, and you need to do more, and things will change if only you…
No. Stop that thinking right now.
You get so desperate for help that you’re willing to keep moving down the wrong path with the wrong person. This doesn’t help you or your business in the long run. Deep down in your gut, you know this isn’t working out, but you just don’t want to go through this whole hiring process all over again. So you keep sticking to this person who is not helping you achieve your goals.
Okay, that’s a tough question. I won’t make you answer it, but think about it. What I want to show you are three red flags that will immediately tell you your VA and you are not going to work out.
NOTE: I’m not saying the VA you chose is bad, or that you’re awful to work with. The Employer/VA relationship is completely different than one you’d have at an office. Because you’re both miles apart (and it could be countries apart), the relationship has to be one of trust, understanding, and care. You’ll work more closely with your VA than anyone. She will be an amazing support system for you. She will know just as much about your business as you do.
That means the relationship has to be just perfect to work.
So let’s talk about those red flags that will help you know it’s time to break up before you invest too much time and effort into a VA.
She promised turn-around times - but doesn’t deliver
I think this one is a complete deal-breaker in any business. During the honeymoon, if you ask your VA to write blogs, and she tells you she will write and post one per week every Tuesday at 10am….and you see the blogs being posted once on Wednesday, then a week goes by with nothing…. RED FLAG.
An experienced VA is going to know how long things take to do (generally) and what her schedule is like so that she can accommodate your timetable properly. Failing to adhere to the delivery and turnaround times for work is a huge problem. Perhaps the VA just doesn’t have good time organizational skills. Perhaps she’s tried to take on more work than she’s able. Whatever the case, you cannot have a VA who turns in work to you “whenever.” That’s unacceptable.
She does not respond to your messages in a timely fashion
If you’re asking her a question Monday morning and she doesn’t respond until Wednesday… RED FLAG. Now, for me personally, if I’m receiving emails and phone calls outside of business hours, yes, I probably will not respond until I’m officially in the office again. Because we all have to have the boundaries of work hours and personal hours in order to maintain our happiness. (You don’t want your customers calling you at home on a Saturday night at 10pm, do you?)
But during business hours, your VA should respond within a reasonable amount of time. Even if it’s just to say - hey, I got your message but I’m on the phone. I’ll respond as soon as I’m off.
Acknowledgement is key to a great Employer/VA relationship.
She told you she could do what you asked - but she can’t
The worst offense between any two people is a lie. When you ask a quality VA if she is able to do a task, she should tell you the truth. If you were to ask me if I can design a website for you, I’m going to flat out say NO. I am not a web designer. Can I use platforms like Wix or Weebly or other drag and drop sites? Sure. But anything coding - that’s right out.
If you have key tasks that need to be done by someone who has experience, you need to make sure they have that experience. Plenty of people (not just virtual) will say they are able to do something just to make themselves look better in the interview process. But, when it comes time to shine, they can’t perform. And you don’t need someone reading through help files and “For Dummies” pages in order to solve your problems.
Of course, the best remedy even prior to having those red flags flying is to take your time before you hire. Feel free to check out our previous posts on the whole hiring process.
We are all consumers. And as consumers, we are all looking for the best that we can have. (At least, the best that we can have with the income that we currently have!) We want to make sure we’re eating the best food, getting the best medical care, having our children go to the best schools. And we, as business owners, want to hire the best workers for our business.
But are we really getting the best?
Decades ago, when I was just a youthful college student, I got a job working at a now-defunct warehouse club. And during my training, they talked to us about the products they were selling. They had plenty of name-brand labels, but they also had the store brand alternatives.
For most people, the best of those products was the name-brand label. Because that’s what advertising has told us is the best. Most people wouldn’t even think of buying of store brand. But the fact is, the food that was in the warehouse club’s packing was the same food that was in the name-brand that they were selling. Back at the name-brand factory, they just switch out the containers from Name Brand to Warehouse Club, and continue the filling process.
So, we don’t always know what the best is going to be. But we are definitely led to believe what the best is. And the same thing happens when you look at hiring a virtual assistant. (Pretty cool how I switched from food to virtual assistants, huh?)
If you do a search online for hiring a virtual assistant, or, let’s say we want to be more local and search hire a US virtual assistant, you are going to get a pages upon pages of companies, solo workers, and articles which all talk about the best.
We are the best for you because….
We are better than anyone else because….
We’re so great, we’re featured in….
Pick any site. You’ll see all the claims. But, let’s face it. Everyone can’t be the best. It reminds me of a quote by Syndrome from the movie The Incredibles:
“When everyone’s super, no one will be.”
So, what are you supposed to do?
My research will always start with the website. A website can tell A LOT about someone, long before you speak with them. Are there spelling errors? Are there coding/design errors? Does the website look professional to you? If you’re hiring a web designer and their website is a free Wix site - that tells you A LOT.
Another part of a website I review deeply is the “As Seen In” section. So many people say, look at us, we were in USA Today, or CBS.com. Okay - prove it. There should be a link that connects you to the article on this other site. Otherwise, we could all say, we’re so great, we were featured on the front page of the NY Times. Prove it!
I also like to check out the review or testimonial section, if available. Are there reviews? And if so, are the reviews from credible, named sources? Do they all tout this virtual assistant as the absolute best?
You deserve the best team member for your company. Not just someone that tells you they’re the best. Take the time to do your research and find the virtual assistant that works out the best for you.
If you’re wondering if Your Gal Friday is the best virtual assistant for you, please contact us here at Your Gal Friday and we’ll talk about it!
While there are probably hundreds of different tasks you’d like to offload to someone, and thousands of virtual assistants worldwide ready to help, you may want to focus your attention on just some key items at first to help you gain back some of your time. Listed below are three jobs you should definitely be contracting out to an assistant.
You are the owner of a business. You should not be answering phones, taking orders, sending invoices, troubleshooting for customers, etc. Take a look a just how much time you spend doing these tasks and ask yourself where your time could be better spent. Maybe you spend 20 hours per week on customer service issues. Think about what you could be doing to grow your business if you had those 20 hours in a week.
VAs are great at being customer service reps for your business. Once properly trained, we’re happy to keep your customers happy, answer emails, reply to questions, send out invoices, etc.
Social Media Monitoring/Posting
If you’re going to have Facebook, Twitter or Instagram accounts, you’re going to need to be active on them. What’s the point of having them otherwise? With over 2 billion active users on Facebook alone, having an active social media presence for your business is important. But it’s not easy to keep those accounts up.
You want to make sure you’re posting interesting things that people will share. You have to be responsive to visitor’s comments and questions. You don’t want a negative comment/question/problem to sit out there for days without a response. You want definitely need to share your products and services. And all of this can be time consuming.
A social media VA will set up a posting schedule, create and keep fresh content out there, and respond to your customers (and potential customers).
Depending on the type of business you are involved in, you might be having a lot of meetings or interviews that are recorded. (If you have a podcast, you definitely need to have transcripts available!) You absolutely must get a VA to do this transcription. An experienced one, too!
Transcripts are incredibly important for many business owners, but to do them on your own is completely unwise. Transcribing audio takes a very long time to do. On average, for one hour of audio, it can take about three hours of time to transcribe. And if you do not have the proper equipment and experience, it can take several more hours.
Hand off your transcription to someone who will turn it around quickly and accurately.
Remember, your time is valuable in growing your business. Don’t waste it doing those things that should be handed off to a virtual assistant. Free up your time to develop your products, network with others and grow your business!
If you’re ready to hire a virtual assistant, please contact us here at Your Gal Friday and we’ll talk about the best solutions for your business.
It is hard to hire virtual workers. And I say that as a virtual worker, and as someone who hires virtual workers. You’re going to go through a painstaking process of finding the best worker. You need to know that you’re picking the best person for the success of your business.
However, it’s absolutely critical that you know who is really doing the work for your business.
When you start your search for a virtual worker, you may find yourself looking at various websites of people that tell you all the great things he is going to do for you. And when you go through the interview, you’ll talk to the person whose photo may be on that website, and you’ll have discussions about what he can do and will do.
And you end the conversation feeling good. And you hire this person. But who did you hire?
It’s possible that you hired just one person - the one on the site. But, it’s also very possible that that person is just a face to talk to, and your work is going to be outsourced to someone in another state or country. This is a problem.
You didn’t interview the outsource. You didn’t know the outsource existed. You thought you were hiring a specific person with specific skills. Now you don’t know what it is you’re getting for a worker.
This happens more often than you think in business, especially nowadays when a lot of hiring is done via emails, websites and contract houses. I remember once, when I worked for a major corporation, we were hiring a programmer. A contract house had found someone, and several team members had done a phone interview with him. All was well and he was hired. Unfortunately, the person on the phone was not the person that showed up at our office. The person that showed up could not speak any English. That was a problem!
So, how do you know who will be doing your work? You have to ask. Truly, you need to find out who it is, and then request an interview with that person. It is important that you’re comfortable with that person. I have had several clients ask to speak to my team members - I’m perfectly okay with that. If that team member is doing the bulk of the work, that client needs to be in direct contact (and vice versa).
The virtual work environment needs to be open and honest so that you receive exceptional results every time.
If you’re thinking about hiring a virtual assistant, please contact us here at Your Gal Friday and we’ll talk about the best solutions for your business.
You’ve finally decided that it’s time to get help for your business. Congratulations! You’re growing! And we know that decision wasn’t easy. But now it’s time to to actually do the hiring. You want virtual help - but who? How? What do you do to make sure you make the right decision? Before you start on your hiring journey, take these three things into consideration.
Know What You Want Them To Do
When you’re swamped with work, all you can think to do is get help. As fast as possible. But that’s the worst thing you can do. You really need to take some time to think about what you want your virtual help to do. That means understanding what needs to be done with your business and what you’re willing to let go of.
Is your social media lacking because you’re spending too much time selling your products? Do you spend hours blogging and wish you could spend your time more productively working on new products? Maybe your customers are getting angry because you’re unable to respond to them quickly when they email or call.
Determine what it is failing, or at least, what isn’t working optimally that could if you had someone dedicated to it.
Know What You’re Willing to Let Go Of
You have to decide if you’re willing to let go of work. When it’s all you, when you do everything, it’s extremely hard to hand off the work to someone else. If you can’t delegate work, hiring someone will only cause you further stress because you’ll be doing your work, and then continually micromanaging theirs.
If you have regular, in-house employees, it’s easy to delegate work because you can see if it’s getting done. With a virtual assistant, you can’t tell if she’s currently working on your tasks unless you ask. And the more nervous you are, the more you ask, and your VA won’t get anything done because she’ll be on the phone with you reviewing everything you’ve discussed previously.
Understand yourself and what you can hand off to someone else.
Create an Interview Template
It’s important to be able to have all of your questions answered. Take the time to create a list of everything you want to know about a potential candidate. When you start an interview without questions, you find yourself discussing all of your problems and not asking about her qualifications. You already know what’s going wrong on your end of things! You need to find out about the candidate’s background, her experience and how she’ll be able to help you.
Compare, Compare, Compare
Take your time before choosing a virtual assistant. Compare the qualifications, experience, availability, rates and policies between each of your candidates. Your patience will be rewarded because, rather than selecting the first person to come along, you’ll have chosen the best person for the job.
25+ years of business experience. 12+ years of virtual experience.