I may sound a little biased, but most Virtual Assistants (VAs) I know are super-talented! They are usually well-grounded, organised and fully committed to not only their business, but that of their clients. But because a Virtual Assistant works virtually, clients may often mistakenly see us as ‘mythical creatures’ who magically get their work done!
But I’m here to tell you that VAs don’t have crystal balls and most VAs aren’t mind readers…
For an outsourcing relationship to work it’s important both parties are on the same page and are a good fit. The relationship may not always start off this way but if both parties are really wanting it to work, there are simple things to ensure there is a better chance that it does.
Here are 7 tips to encourage a good partnership when outsourcing to a Virtual Assistant:
1. Have documented procedures
Even though you know how your business runs, you can’t expect your VA to. It’s a great idea to have procedure manuals in place. If you don’t have time to do this yourself, perhaps consider this a task you set your VA. This can be developed over time.
2. Establish clear systems and processes
Every business has certain systems they use, or processes they follow. Although you can find a VA with previous knowledge of your business systems (i.e. CRMs, etc.), be prepared to spend a little bit of time showing your VA how your system works, and the processes you follow.
3. Establish clear boundaries
This goes both ways! If you prefer phone calls than emails, say so. If you prefer to only be contacted at certain times, say so. If you don’t want to be disturbed on weekends or after hours, say so.
4. Give clear instructions including deadlines
If you need something done in a certain way, and in a certain time-frame, make sure you specify this. Think of it this way, a surgeon wouldn’t be simply told – ‘Sometime over the coming week, cut open this patient and see what’s going on inside’. Be specific!
5. Read and reply to emails (thoroughly) and in a timely manner
Generally, your VA will email you for clarification or to let you know a task has been completed. Make sure you read what your VA is saying before you act. E.G. Don’t call to run through a task if your VA has already received and read your email, completed the task and let you know by return email! (Yes, this happens quite often)…
6. Keep communication channels open and use what’s available
Don’t go incognito on your VA! Most VAs will not continually ‘bug you’ but they will need to contact you for certain tasks. There are so many communication methods: Phone, email, Skype, Viber, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
7. Respect that the VA is an independent worker
It’s important to remember that your VA is not your employee; they are an independent business owner who, more than likely, has many clients. I have no doubt that your VA will do everything within their power to accommodate you and your requests, however bear in mind that they are also human, often operating as a solo business, and will have many demands on their time. Sometimes a little flexibility will be needed.
Taking a little bit of time at the start to establish a good working practice, will lead to years of a healthy Virtual Assistant/Business relationship. Once you’ve developed a working style with your Virtual Assistant, you’ll find yourself handing over more and more work. It’s a win-win for all!