Q: How do I find the right Virtual Assistant for my business?
A: This can be a tough question to answer because everybody has different needs and approaches for their business, so I believe this is a very personal thing. I’ve shared tons of tips with you here on the blog about why you need to start outsourcing and how to work with assistants, but I’ve avoided this question so far.
So, here’s my experience and some suggestions on how to find the best virtual assistant for you.
If you search on Google for “virtual assistant”, you’ll find a ton of listings. You can search through those, check out their services and do some interviews. I’d take a shorter route.
Find some other people you trust and ask them who they use and recommend. Then go from there. You’ll do a lot better seeking out recommendations. If you don’t know anyone personally, ask people in your networking groups whom they recommend.
Before you contact anyone, make a list of the types of tasks you’d like people to complete. In most cases, you’ll want to make sure that your assistant has the skills and software to complete those tasks.
I said in most cases, because I think there is something to be said about training your assistants. A couple of the assistants I work with didn’t actually know how to use CustomerHub (the system that my clients use to download their items), when I first started working with them. However, I knew these ladies were intelligent, which was very important, so I trained them. I think it’s nice to be able to train people to complete tasks in the way you’d like them done and they might very well fit into you “business groove” all the better.
If you hire a highly experienced and widely skilled assistant, you may have to fit in with the way they do things. You can also expect to pay a higher hourly rate. You might not be interested in doing a lot of training and just want something to get the job done so this might be the best option for you.
I have seen assistant rates range from $15 per hour to $50 per hour. You just need to find the right fit for your business.
10 Things to Consider When Hiring an Assistant:
1. Find out what software they have available and what skills they have. Again, people can be trained, if they are willing. You can also purchase software for your assistants. You may find this more cost effective than paying a new assistant a higher rate to use the same software.
2. Find out if they expect payment in advance of service or after service has been delivered. I prefer the latter as I have lost a bit of money by doing the former.
3. Ask about how they like to be paid. Can you use a credit card, PayPal or check?
4. Ask about how they like to communicate with their clients. If you are a person who likes to discuss things via telephone, make sure they are willing to spend time on the phone with you. If you prefer to communicate through email, ensure they are comfortable with that. If you are going to use a project management system (I recommend Basecamp), ensure they are okay with working that way. Communication is going to be your biggest asset in working together, so ensure you have good communication.
5. Find out how they track their hours and how they ensure you’re aware that projects are completed. If you use a project management system, you can automate this process.
6. Make sure they are willing to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) before starting work for you. This means they will keep all the information about your business and the work they do for you, confidential.
7. Some assistants will give you a price break if you keep them on retainer for a certain amount of hours each month. You may want to ask about that.
8. But before you jump in, you may want to “test out” an assistant by offering him or her a small project to start and see how well you work together.
9. Ask for and check references.
10. Whether a virtual assistant has a certification or not probably doesn’t matter. There are a number of valuable virtual assistant organizations that certify and train virtual assistants. I have worked with assistants who are certified and mostly with assistants who are not certified. I don’t find it makes a difference in their work.