Steps to a healthy, productive partnership with your Virtual Assistant

Kimberly is a Virtual Assistant that started her own business last year. Having toiled away in corporate jobs for many years, she longed to be able to work from home so she could make all of her children’s extracurricular activities and have more quality time with her husband. During a monthly meeting of the local chapter of her administrative professionals association, she heard a presentation about being a Virtual Assistant. Deeply intrigued, she dove into research about this field, and decided this was something she wanted to do. With the full blessing of her family, she laid the groundwork and started her business.

It wasn’t very long before she found a client. A non-profit organization saw her profile on a freelance job site and reached out to her. After a few conversations, the agency hired Kimberly.

Things went well for a while. A single point of contact with the agency would communicate with Kimberly about the tasks that needed to be completed, and Kimberly would take care of them. The agency had suggested the pay rate, and Kimberly quickly found out they were significantly over-paying her. The tasks were quite elementary and took very little time to complete. Kimberly worked along, planning to build a rapport with the agency before suggesting other things she could do to help the agency.

About a month into the working relationship, Kimberly reached out to her contact to inquire when she could expect her first payment, as the previously-agreed to date had passed. The contact realized someone had dropped the ball and quickly arranged a check to be sent FedEx. To Kimberly’s horror, the check was returned unpaid. This began a series of back-and-forth conversations that failed to resolve the issue. Finally, a series of checks arrived in the mail. But, these were also returned by the bank, which said they were counterfeit. At this point, the agency’s contact cut off communication with Kimberly, who had to take a significant loss on the venture.

In hindsight, Kimberly found five things she could have done that would have either prevented the partnership from forming, or could have stopped bad things from happening to destroy the partnership. She will apply them to future negotiations with clients, and clients can use them when hiring a Virtual Assistant as well.

Here are 5 things to consider when hiring a Virtual Assistant:

  1. Know what you want and need. If the single most important factor for you is paying the least amount of money, that is OK. Keep in mind you will attract potential Virtual Assistants with less experience who will often be less proactive, needing more direction than more experienced Virtual Assistants that will request a higher rate. If you desire a specific skill, make sure you communicate that clearly in your ad or discussion with a potential Virtual Assistant. Being clear in what you need and expect will make negotiations go more smoothly.
  2. Be more specific than you think you need to be. In Kimberly’s case, the initial contract needed to specify not only the pay rate, but the payment method as well. Will it be a check in the mail, a third-party application such as PayPal, direct payment options like Zelle? (Zelle is a payment option where each party sets up a profile on their bank’s website, then allows you to send money just by entering the receiving party’s phone number or email address. The transfer occurs in just a few minutes.)
  3. Follow up regularly. You and your Virtual Assistant should have regular conversations to assess the partnership, preferably weekly. Use these review sessions to discuss what is working well and what needs improvement. It is also very important that you and the Virtual Assistant…
  4. Remember that it’s not personal. Both you and your potential Virtual Assistant need to cover everything that can happen in the contract. No one is paranoid and no one is accusing anyone else of being a crook. The more questions a potential Virtual Assistant asks, the better that Virtual Assistant is going to be – it shows the proper attention to detail and professionalism.
  5. Be a person of your word. Just as you want your Virtual Assistant to complete everything you ask of him/her, make sure you honor what is spelled out for you in the contract. Pay on time and by the agreed-upon method. Give the Virtual Assistant the tools and resources needed to complete the tasks.

Would you like to know more about hiring a Virtual Assistant? Contact me to discuss how a Virtual Assistant could help you make your business even better.