Can you get Quality Work done with a Cheap Virtual Assistant?

When you see the words, “Cheap Virtual Assistant” would you question the quality of service?

The word “cheap” conjures images of substandard products, of commoditised services that offer bargain basement prices just for the sake of making a sale. Business, after all is organised for the purpose of profit. So when we see the word “cheap” as the adjective, profit margins come to mind. In fact, in this day and age of digital technology where the strategic use of keywords is paramount to the success of a post or an advertisement, “cheap” is often replaced by more image-friendly synonyms as “affordable” and “competitively priced”.

In truth, when the word “cheap” is used it refers to pricing. Food retailers use the term “value meals” to promote meals but packaged with other items to increase its value. Furniture makers may introduce limited promotions that sell brand new items as “cheap” but these are meant to encourage people to buy within the prescribed time period. The strategy is to increase volume of sales to offset the amount of the discount but the furniture items are sold unused. Likewise, wholesalers offer volume discounts to encourage bulk purchases but the quality of the items remain uncompromised.

So “cheap” is not bad! As a descriptor, it does not mean the quality of goods or services are substandard. It is merely used to encourage increased patronage.

How about in the case of a cheap VA?

In selecting a remote assistant, the primary consideration of prospective clients is pricing. A Virtual Assistant is a person who works in the virtual world contracted to perform specific tasks and duties that are defined as non-essential to the business. These include secretarial work, personal assistant services and even specialised job responsibilities. A Virtual Assistant is hired to allow the business owner or the main decision makers in the enterprise to focus on matters that contribute directly to business growth. The cost savings when hiring a Virtual Assistant or VA is significant compared to a regular office employee.

A VA is paid on a fixed rate per hour. As a freelancer, VA’s can accommodate other clients and are not considered full-time employees and thus, are not paid benefits. By comparison, a regular office employee’s total compensation includes basic salary, government mandated and company benefits plus remuneration for overtime work and holiday pay. The actual cost of a regular office worker is estimated to be double his or her basic salary. In real terms, hiring a VA will cost you $7 to $10 per productive hour while a regular full-time employee who starts out at $19 per hour will eventually cost you $38 per hour.

On the basis of pricing, it should not be discouraging to look for a cheap Virtual Assistant.

Taking the cost metrics further, hiring a VA from a remote location as the Philippines or India is even cheaper. A VA from the Philippines or India will range from $4 to $10 per hour.

Will quality be compromised by pricing?

As with any recruitment process, the prospective client must conduct due diligence work on each and every virtual candidate. The due diligence process should include the following procedures:

1.       Submission of pertinent job requirements:

a.       Curriculum vitae
b.      Character references
c.       Job Portfolio
d.      Work samples

2.       Online interview via audio-video conference

3.       Testing protocols:

a.       Limited period test run
b.      Tests on basic job skills
c.       Psychological profiling through analogic reasoning and word association tests

4.       Actual check on character references

5.       Behavioral profiling: Can you work with the candidate?

The factors that comprise the pricing points which calculate the cost of the VA is not indicative of the quality of work and service to be rendered. The underlying principle of a cheap Virtual Assistant is to remain competitive or within the acceptable cost parameters in the industry.

A Philippine-based VA will be considered cheap in comparison to those sourced from other more developed regions but determining quality will depend on the due diligence process and ultimately the actual work experience.