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Hiring The Perfect Assistant

Five Essential Questions To Ask ...

Posted by Jacqui Frost on 15/03/2012

Hiring a Virtual Assistant for your business has become more popular in recent years. For the small business owner a virtual assistant can be a life saver, freeing up time without losing out on essential tasks. But handing over work to someone else is not always as easy as it sounds ...

ensure you ask the right questions when hiring your perfect assistant

ensure you ask the right questions when hiring your perfect assistant

How can you be sure that the work will be completed to your standards? You are overloaded with work, but what exactly should you be outsourcing? Are you afraid of not knowing what is going on in your own business? There are so many questions and uncertainties when it comes to handing over parts of your precious business. Here are our 5 top hints for creating a relationship with a VA that will benefit your business:

  1. Do they have a positive reputation in the Marketplace?

    By checking out your potential VA's reputation you can have confidence in their abilities. It is easier to track down opinions these days as many VA's use social media to promote their business. You can track down the articles they have published and see what comments their competitors and customers have made on them. But a good old fashioned honest conversation with other business owners will tell you more as you can ask detailed questions.

    Remember you are entrusting your business into the VA's hands, picking the right one can be the difference between your business soaring to new heights or being run into the ground.

  2. Can you work with them?

    The great thing about VA's is that they provide you with support virtually, but in the first instance nothing beats meeting them face to face. You will quickly get an idea of whether you trust this person and whether you could work well together. They say it takes all sorts - and certainly each of us has our own preferences.

    The important thing when choosing your VA is setting up the expectations at the start. A good VA will recognise when their style is unlikely to match and will let you know as they don't want a difficult working relationship any more than you do.

  3. Are you looking for specialist work?

    Many VA's will offer correspondence, diary management, audio and copy typing services, but if you are looking for support beyond these areas here are some points to consider. It is not a good idea to outsource your Book-keeping to a VA that struggles with keeping their own books! Conversely it is probably not best to give the reworking of your marketing plan to a VA that specialises in Book-keeping and statistical research. However, you might find a VA who you gel well with who works with other VA's for those tasks they are not good at themselves.

    It is ultimately your decision whether you wish to directly manage the work or whether you are happy to hand it to your VA and have them manage the VA who is actually doing the work.

  4. What will you be outsourcing?

    This is probably the most important question for a business owner. Are you going to ask them to do research for you, send out mailings, maintain your database, help you with your marketing plan or social media? It is important to be clear on those activities that you as the business owner should be doing and those which are taking up too much of your precious time. Be clear on the tasks you will consider outsourcing and whether your VA could handle them.

    Many VA's are multi skilled with experience in a variety of areas. You may not be comfortable with outsourcing everything in the beginning but as the trust and respect grows you may find yourself looking to offload more tasks.

  5. Can you afford a VA?

    As with any contract for work, the negotiation of a price is all important; not only the price but also the perceived return on the investment. You will need to weigh up the costs against the benefits. Before you begin the discussions, it's advisable to research the charges from a number of VA's so you know whether your contract is right. Remember if you are using a specialist VA for work you couldn't necessarily give to any VA then you cannot expect a standard price. Also remember to set realistic expectations of how long it will take to complete your tasks.

    If you get scared by an invoice here's a handy hint. Calculate your hourly rate as a business owner, multiply that by the number of dedicated hours the VA has put in and multiply again by 1.5. Ultimately your time as the business owner is more important and more expensive and you are usually juggling too many things to spend dedicated time to tasks. It would have cost you more if you had done it, but those figures will never appear in your books!

The Office Genie offer a bespoke Virtual Support Service. We know that most business owners don't really know what they can outsource, so we offer a consultation to discuss your business needs before we submit our proposal. Our team of PA's each have their own specialist areas so we can offer a truly bespoke service. Call us on +44 (0) 845 901 1803 to find out just what we can do for you.

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