10 Hacks To Get The Most Out Of A Virtual Assistant
A Virtual Assistant is no longer just your personal services assistant or virtual secretary. Today’s incarnation is capable of doing much more than filtering e-mail, taking your calls, setting your appointments and managing your calendar. The virtual assistance industry has grown exponentially to accommodate more skills, talent and competencies in response to demand from businesses that want to streamline operating costs. If you want to grow your business, optimize your Virtual Assistant. Here are a few hacks to get the most out of your Virtual Assistant.
1. Establish a Strategic Partnership
A Virtual Assistant is an entrepreneur like you. She runs her own business that provides virtual assistance services. You will not be her only client; she could have four or five more clients from various industries.
This means she shares the interest as you to grow her own business. Despite having multiple clients, she will not compromise her service to you because she is desirous of expanding her client portfolio.
Establish a strategic partnership with your Virtual Assistant where shared interests work toward accomplishing a common goal.
2. Encourage Greater Involvement in the Process
Encourage proactive behavior in your business. When your Virtual Assistant feels she is more involved in the business process, she becomes more confident and focused in accomplishing her tasks.
If you are in the real estate business, expand the scope of work of your Virtual Assistant from updating the CRM to following up with good prospects or existing clients.
You can find many virtual assistants who have the experience and expertise of communicating with clients in real estate and bringing them slowly through the sales funnel.
3. Create a Process Improvement System
Constant communication is vital in every organization even if you are transacting through the virtual world.
When you are working with virtual assistants, same space collaboration will not be possible. This is important for you to stay on top of the different facets in the business.
A good option would be to institute a Process Improvement System whereby you and the Virtual Assistant can go over pending issues, matters and problems in the business. This is also done to discuss the performance of the Virtual Assistance using benchmarks and other metrics.
You can do this once a week and have a quarterly business review. The purpose is not to critique your Virtual Assistant but to find ways in which business and performance can be improved upon.
4. Consult with Your Virtual Assistant
Most virtual assistants have had myriad work experiences not just with other clients but as 9 to 5 employees. They have knowledge, experience and expertise that you may not have. Their core competencies could be in areas that you are not familiar with.
Take some time to consult with them. For example, you could ask them their opinion on how to improve the existing operational work flow in the business. They could recommend better Project Management and File Sharing programs.
You could also ask them their inputs on your industry because many virtual assistants have been immersed in research work.
5. Organize their Scope of Work and Responsibilities
To avoid any misunderstanding and reduce the incidence of mistakes, always make sure the scope of work and responsibilities of your Virtual Assistant are organized and updated.
This is another reason why a Process Improvement System should be in place. It provides the venue to discuss changes in project details and scope of work. As the business owner, the onus of getting the scope of work done accurately falls on you.
6. Encourage Close Collaboration
If you have a virtual team, encourage them to work closely with one another even if each person manages a different task.
A virtual team consists of virtual assistants that have different but often interrelated functions. For example, your customer service Virtual Assistant should collaborate with your accounting Virtual Assistant because many inquiries are on accounts reconciliation.
Close collaboration will also help bring the team together and establish conditions for a productive work environment.
7. Set Realistic Goals and Objectives
Goal setting is a great way to keep your team focused. But make sure these are SMART goals.
SMART is the acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timeline. When you set goals and objectives for your Virtual Assistant these must be based on their current abilities and with respect to where your business is right now.
For example, if you are managing an e- commerce website and hired a Virtual Assistant to improve lead generation, set a realistic goal. A 250% increase may not be realistic. Check on her previous history on lead generation and extrapolate from there.
8. Moderate Expectations
While hiring a Virtual Assistant will definitely streamline your cost, improving the level of productivity will be another matter.
You should expect your Virtual Assistant to turn things around within a few days, weeks or months. The success and profitability of your business does not solely rest on your Virtual Assistant’s ability to perform.
Moderate your expectations and keep an open mind on the performance of your Virtual Assistant.
9. Create an Office Environment
Just because they are working from home does not mean they should approach work less professionally. Create an office environment to put the Virtual Assistance in a better frame of reference.
Use time keeping software such as Time Doctor so you can monitor the level of professionalism of your Virtual Assistant.
In fact, there are some clients who require their virtual assistants to dress up as if they are working in an office. The idea is to keep them zoned in the work that must be done.
10. Respect the Learning Curve
It doesn’t matter if your Virtual Assistant has a 10 year experience in Insurance. Every industry is different and markets are changing constantly every day.
It will take the Virtual Assistant time to learn new skills and be acquainted with new people. Be patient and do your part in guiding the Virtual Assistant through the learning curve.
A Virtual Assistant is not a miracle- worker but she could be the shot in the arm your business needs to get it going up the next level. Managing a Virtual Assistant can have its challenges in terms of logistics. But if you can learn to look beyond the collaborative limitations, hiring one or assembling a team would be the best option for your business.