This article helps you find and hire the right virtual assistant by identifying your needs and expectations, establishing clear communication, and using a thorough vetting process. Look for candidates with relevant experience, cultural alignment, and a willingness to learn. Set up a defined period to evaluate their performance and provide regular feedback. These tips can help establish a successful working relationship with your virtual assistant.
What Do Virtual Assistants Do?
A virtual assistant often referred to as a VA, is a career-oriented professional with proven industry and educational experience. They work remotely on any task that doesn’t require an in-office presence and can be done from anywhere with a computer and high-speed internet. This can include but is not limited to; administrative assistance, virtual front receptionist, customer service and support, social media management, sales support, and more. With the growing acceptance and expectation of hybrid business models that include employees working from home, outsourcing specific tasks and roles have gained popularity. Many professional virtual assistants have been providing this service for growing businesses since long before the pandemic changed the way many of us do business.
Types of Virtual Assistants
There are many different types of virtual assistants available for businesses small, medium, or large. From behind-the-scenes roles doing assorted busy work to lighten the load for your more specifically experienced employees, to front-line customer-facing roles to improve the customer experience. The pool of available virtual assistants is so robust and diverse, that there truly are professionals for just about any role in any sized business. If a job can be done from a computer hooked up to the internet, then there is likely a virtual assistant somewhere doing that job. Here are just a few specific examples of types of virtual assistants.
They can handle a wide variety of “busy work” tasks local experts often prefer not to juggle with their more specific, higher-end responsibilities. For example; filing paperwork, inputting data, managing inboxes, coordinating meetings, transferring calls, document review, etc. By lightening the load for your local professionals, you free them up to focus on high-value tasks and the customer experience. Meanwhile, everything is still getting done, even more efficiently than before.
The world of advertising and social media management benefits greatly from a virtual assistant because they can often do it from anywhere. As well as during the hours your local staff is often not present. They can handle things like responding to comments and messages, posting scheduled content, and tracking and reporting analytics. Nowadays staying on top of social media efforts and your online communities is more important than ever. With two VAs, you can have someone moderating your online presence all day, and all night too.
A virtual assistant can be great for sales support as an inside sales agent. From phone prospecting tasks like warm and cold calling, lead screening, client follow-up, and lead nurturing too. As well as analytic tracking and reporting. Your local sales experts can have more time to focus on making connections with hot leads, while your assistant works on cold and warm lists. They set them up, you knock them down.
Real Estate ISA
Much like with sales, a virtual assistant can benefit real estate brokerages and agents as a remote ISA. Tasks like lead generation and nurturing, data input, document review, and even coordinating and scheduling appointments can all be done remotely. All while brokers are serving their clients up close and personal. Real estate is a 24/7 job, so it’s extremely helpful to have assistants who can be available 24/7 as well. These kinds of assistants for real estate brokerages are extremely common, as the value is undeniable.
Customer Service and Technical Support
Many of the above areas of expertise can be combined into general service and support with a virtual assistant. With excellent English speaking skills and reliable loyalty, a virtual assistant can be invaluable for customer-facing roles. They can respond to client inquiries, provide tech support, schedule appointments, transfer calls, manage inboxes, and so much more. Because just as important as customer service is, so too is the customer experience. And with a dedicated assistant overseeing that experience while you’re busy growing revenue, you’re set up for long-term success.
How to Hire a Virtual Assistant
There are several ways to go about hiring your own virtual assistant, or assistants. The traditional method of putting out an ad and screening your own applicants is always an option. But for more efficient results it pays to go through a dedicated network or service provider. Freelance websites like Fiverr offer access to an infinite pool of individuals seeking contract-based work. The most reliable and secure method of obtaining a proven virtual professional is via specific providers, such as MyOutDesk. We’ll explain the three methods of hiring a virtual assistant below.
Virtual Assistant Provider Services
There are many virtual assistant providers available. MyOutDesk is the largest virtual assistant provider in the world, serving over 7,500 clients, including several Fortune 500 companies, for over 15 years. Combine that with over 800 verified 5-star reviews, and it’s clear why growing businesses of any size come to MyOutDesk for support in a variety of industries. MyOutDesk also goes beyond what typical virtual assistant services offer, by offering extensive background checks and interview processes for all hired assistants. As well as guaranteed full-time availability, flexible hours, and even proprietary tracking software for managing your assistant.
Talent networks and communities
Fiver is a popular service for finding contract-based virtual assistants, typically for one-off projects. If you need something short-term, or just one assignment, Fiver is often a decent solution for hiring off the cuff. Due to the professionals there all being individual contributors, there are inherent risks and uncertainties to be aware of before hiring. It is very much a “get what you pay for” business model.
Individual Job postings
There are more people now than ever, seeking work they can do from home. Providing virtual assistant services is an easy way for them to secure that opportunity. But again, it comes with risks and uncertainties. A local freelancer has no company to vouch for them or hold them accountable. By hiring someone this way you put your work and your business at their mercy. If you’re going this route to hire help, then you’re likely not in a position to take unnecessary losses in your efforts. This practice is better accustomed to one-off, low-importance tasks. But for sustainable success, you may want to look to a service provider instead.
What to Look For in a Virtual Assistant
Experience and Skill
It’s important to find professionals with relevant experience before handing over your precious business to them. Anyone can say they’re good with customers on the phone but then buckle under the pressure when faced with a difficult situation. This is where service providers like MyOutDesk excel because every virtual assistant is thoroughly interviewed for experience and skillsets, as well as undergoes FBI-grade background checks. The better fit they are for your industry as well as the role, the faster they can hit the ground running and provide value.
When you hire someone in-house, they’re in your domain and they typically use the preferred equipment you provide. Hiring someone remotely means relying on their own workspace and existing equipment. You need to ensure that they have everything they need to be successful in the role you hired them for. This means a comfortable, distraction-free environment. As well as a reliable computer and high-speed internet. Another benefit of going through a virtual assistant provider such as MyOutDesk is that these things are all verified and handled upon recruitment. We ensure our clients are set up for success with their virtual assistants, by ensuring everything is in order before placement.
Personality and Culture Fit
You should always include your virtual assistant as part of your company culture. This helps them stay efficient, happy, and reliable. It also helps them fit in with your local hires who look to your assistants for support. So it’s important to ensure that your virtual assistant fits in like any other member of the team, with a friendly and cooperative attitude. They need to be able to work autonomously as well as under specific directions, without issue. Just because they are somewhere else shouldn’t mean they don’t have to adhere to your usual expectations or the company vision.
3 Tips for Onboarding a Virtual Assistant
Don’t rush training.
It can be tempting to set your newly hired virtual assistant free with the tasks given. After all, you did hire them to save yourself time and money. But the less time spent preparing them for their role equals more time wasted down the road, via mistakes, repeated questions, and misunderstandings. Take the opportunity to establish training protocols and guidelines, and utilize them with your virtual assistant to expedite and improve the onboarding experience. This includes giving access and guidance for all the necessary platforms and tools of the position. More time spent ensuring they are ready for takeoff means better and longer-lasting results in the long run.
Maintain consistent communication.
Just because you can’t walk down the hall to check in on your virtual assistant is not an excuse to give them more space than your local employees. If anything you should be in even more regular contact with them, so as to stay on top of expectations and progress. In the first few weeks of hiring especially, you should schedule regular check-ins via video conference. Use these times to ask and answer questions, provide feedback, check in on goals, and get to know them as a person.
Set schedules and goals.
Having a clear understanding of what to do and when to do it is imperative, especially at the start of any new position. You will greatly benefit from having a clear schedule mapped out for your virtual assistant, so there are no surprises regarding start and stop times, breaks, and regular meetings. In addition, clearly defined goals and expectations will ensure your assistant knows how to execute to your expectations. The better the roadmap your assistant has, the better chances they have of providing the value you expect. MyOutDesk has proprietary software available to every client for tracking and managing their assistant more closely.
Benefits of Virtual Staff
Support your non-virtual employees
Decrease the workload for your local talent, freeing them up to focus on higher-value, dollar-producing tasks they are more accustomed to. Keep your local experts happy and supported, and reduce burnout.
Save a lot of money
Save up to 70% on typical employee costs, by spending less on wages, benefits and insurance, PTO, and office overhead. The quality of work and efficiency remains the same if not improved, and you pay less to achieve it.
Have more time for yourself
Buy back your time with a virtual assistant, by delegating anything that can be done remotely. Freeing yourself up to focus on whatever you want to do. Be that growing your business or having more time with your family.
Once upon a time, “outsourcing” was a dirty word. But for as long as that’s been the stigma, businesses have been practicing it nonetheless. Because the benefits of outsourcing specific tasks to a more affordable but equally capable professional somewhere else are simply undeniable. For example, we wouldn’t take our car to a mechanic down the street if we knew there was another shop just a few blocks further, which does the same quality of work for much less. Sometimes a minor inconvenience or learning period is worth the benefit, especially when that benefit is consistent.
MyOutDesk has been providing experienced, proven virtual assistants to businesses small, medium, and large since the recession in 2006. We survived by helping other businesses not just survive, but thrive. And many saw such great benefits of leveraging virtual assistants that they are still with us, today. Some have entire departments operated by our professionals and have seen dramatic increases in their yearly revenue. This is a result of delegating the busy work to virtual assistants we brought them to choose from. They took the time to properly train them on their procedures and systems and watched their ROI grow as our people hit the ground running for them.
So if you are at all curious about if our business model is a good fit for you, please use the link below to request a free consultation. We won’t bug you with unsolicited phone calls or endless emails. We take the time to hear you out and understand your business and its needs, and then we pitch a plan involving one or more of our virtual assistants. Hand-picked to relieve your pain points.