This week I’m really pleased to be featuring a some top tips from Valerie Jennings of Your Virtual Assistants about hiring your first VA. Getting help with your business when the time is right is something I think is so important, but sometimes it’s hard to know how to find the right person and what to pass on. Here Valerie shares her best advice to help us out. Take it away Valerie!
Like any employee, a when you are thinking of hiring a VA, it will be important to do a few things before you finalize your decision.
Interview all of your candidates for the VA position.
During this call you should talk with the VA to ask the following questions:
What skills they are comfortable with
What they like to do?
What hours do they work?
What time zone are they in?
How do they take payment?
What is the payment schedule?
Do they have late fees?
Do they have guarantees?
How long does it take them to turn over their projects?
How many clients do they currently have?
Is there a retainer? If so, do they roll over unused time?
Spend at least 1 hour on the phone to make sure that they are going to meet your needs as well as be a good fit to your personality and brand. Read over their contracts and make sure you agree with their clauses.
It is perfectly ok to narrow your choices, and request a 2nd or 3rd interview as you are narrowing your choices. Remember, this person is going to be responsible for representing YOUR brand and company- if is important that you are comfortable with the person before moving forward. If you are not sure- ask about trial periods or discounted project prices. Most Vas will give a trial period discount to try them out.
Once you find the VA that you want to hire – schedule a call to discuss what goals you have for them.
It is also important to talk about your overall business goals for the next few months.
If you want a proactive VA, you need to decide how proactive they should be. Do you want them to let you know when they can step in and help you out? Many times VAs can assist you with meeting your goals, allow your VA to be a valued member of the team instead of just being paid to complete tasks.
It is also important to discuss what YOUR responsibility will be to the VA.
Do they have to wait for approval? Can they reply to an email? Can they automatically edit content when they see a mistake? You would be surprised by how many people want to be in complete control and do not want their VA to touch anything or do anything other than what is asked for.
Next you want to go over what tasks you want the VA to complete for you and by when.
Make sure to set up times to check in with your VA. Set up procedures on how the VA will contact you if they are waiting for something or going to be late on a deadline. Remember – the VA is not a mind reader – we need to know where and how to best help you.
There are so many ways a VA can help you – it will be up to you to decide when and where the VA is to step in. If you are paying for the hour – make sure you ask up front – how many hours are they expecting to complete the job? This will help you better track your budget. If they are going to take more hours – make sure the VA knows what your procedure is – do they complete the job? Or discuss first with you about the overage in hours?
Next step is measuring progress of your VA.
Do you have a project manager? Are you going to do weekly calls? Maybe you want a daily progress report via email. Whatever you work out with your VA – STICK to it. It is all too easy for both of us to get out of step and get lost in the work and forget this step. The easiest way to track progress is via an online project manager. There are a LOT of them that are extremely easy to use and allow you to both track hours and projects. If the thought of a project manager still scares you – maybe you want to set up an excel spreadsheet and share it with your VA and have them track their progress from there.
Lastly make sure you follow up with the VA at the end of the project/task.
Talk about what worked? What didn’t? How can you make the system better? Set goals and tasks for the next project or month or week. Ask questions to make sure the VA is still comfortable with the action plan or are their recommendations to make the process work smoother. Did both of you walk away happy with the working arrangement?
To close, we want to mention that your working relationship with a VA will be a work in progress. If you are not 100% sure about working with a VA- then maybe you want to start small. Start off with 1-2 hours a week. Let the VA prove their value to you. As you become more comfortable with your relationship, increase those hours and increase their responsibilities.
VAs are a great way to free your time and allow you the time freedom to grow your business. If you are a starter coach, a VA can be a perfect way to free yourself from having to do tasks like social media and newsletters. Just in those 6 hours that you do not have to do those tasks for the month allows you 6 more hours to market your business, make discovery calls and focus on getting your client base.
If you’re an established coach, you want to think about hiring multiple VAs to focus on different parts of your business. It’s common for coaches to have 2-3 VAs on their team. If that is the case, make sure you have regular team meetings so that each member of team is comfortable with each other and can reach out to one another just in case someone gets sick, has an emergency, or is on vacation. Also make sure you discuss who will back up who and whether you need to be notified. If you have an OBM – what will their role be to the team? Are they the ones the VA contacts if there is an Issue? Communication is really the best thing. Make sure you have channels in place and I am sure you VA will have you wondering how you lived without them and why did you not hire a VA before.
Valerie Jennings was an Advertising Director for a test instrument company in Miami, Fl for over 7 years. She was responsible for all manual writing, package design and adverting placement and designs. She has won many awards from many of the trade magazines for her Advertising Designs. In 2000, she founded Computers 101. This company was a small computer repair and sales company with nearly 1000 clients. In 2010, she and her business partner, Johnna Londen, founded Your Virtual Assistants. Valerie has certifications in CompTia A+, Social Media Marketing, Internet Marketing and Business Writing and Online Business Management. She also has a Paralegal Degree. She currently lives and works in Central Mexico and is fluent in Spanish.
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