There are many, many articles and blog posts on the best way to work with a Virtual Assistant or Administrative Consultant, and a lot of them have great tips, procedures, software and web based applications they recommend, etc. Now that you’ve decided to make the leap and hire an Adminstrative Consultant, you might be asking yourself what the next step is. Whether your business is Interior Design or something else, here are some things that you should really spend some time considering in order to make the process smooth for both of you.
If you do not pay much money for something, it is probably of poor quality. I suppose this one technically should be something you considered before hiring your VA, but it still bears mentioning. You hired your VA to save you time (and therefore, money), but think twice about going with the very inexpensively priced VA. Remember, you get what you pay for. Good Virtual Assistants are professionals, often with many years of administrative and executive assistant experience behind them. Going with the cheapest option may ultimately lead to frustration, higher costs and wasted time.
Know ahead of time what jobs you would like your Virtual Assistant to do for you. This probably sounds like a no-brainer, but it will save you both time if you have thought through carefully, and written down, the specific jobs you would like your VA to handle for you. Vague thoughts such as “my email is a mess” and “I am overwhelmed” won’t help him or her know what you need. Do you need your VA to check your inbox? Do you want them to respond to all inquiries from your website and schedule calls on your calendar for you to speak with clients? Do you want them to take over sending out invoices or placing orders with your vendors? Do you want them to manage all of your Facebook posts on your business page?
Consider the possibility that you will want more than one Virtual Assistant. You’re probably thinking that you just came around to the idea of hiring one VA, and I must be crazy to suggest you might want more than that. But consider that though there are VA’s who handle general admin work, there are also many who specialize in a specific area. Some of them do graphic design, bookkeeping, SEO, Web design, etc. It may make sense to have a VA for your general admin, and another to manage all of your bookkeeping for example.
Remember that in working with new people there is an adjustment period. This is true whether you are hiring an employee, or contracting with a Virtual Assistant. There will be a learning period while you teach him or her your systems and processes, and you get to know each other’s working styles and personalities. Don’t assume that anyone can hit the ground running as though they’ve worked with you for years.
Remember that your Virtual Assistant is used to working remotely, though it may be a new experience for you. Often, people who have never worked with a VA before are nervous: how will you know your VA is actually working and how much time he or she is really spending on your projects? First, I would ask you to keep in mind that Virtual Assistants and Administrative Consultants are professionals who own their own businesses. They have a vested interest in working with integrity with their clients, and developing trusting, long term relationships. (This is in contrast to a temp from an agency who you may never see again after a project ends). Some VA’s use some type of time-tracking software and many will quote you a price based on the project. You can also consider having set deliverables or, in the beginning, asking your VA for a progress report, and many VA’s will utilize project management software such as Basecamp which allows you to see when items are crossed off a to-do list. You will soon find that your VA is working hard for you and you have nothing to worry about.
Remember that as business owners themselves, your Administrative Consultant likely has other clients and therefore must manage his or her own time and schedules accordingly. This is important, because in so many articles on the Internet these days, those working with Administrative Consutants are told to “manage them as you would any other employee.” I cannot stress enough how inaccurate this statement is. Administrative Consultants are not employees, and as I stated above, they must schedule their time accordingly in a way that works for their business. That is why you will need to be prepared for your consultant to let you know that he or she has specific days of the week or times set up for calls with clients. Some prefer to communicate only via email. Some only check emails at certain points during the day to avoid constant interruption. What this means for you is that though you may not get an immediate response, you can rest assured that when it’s your project that is being worked on, your Administrative Consultant is also focused and not dealing with distractions.
If you have thought these things though, I am confident that you and your Administrative Consultant t together will be able to find a working style that suits you both, hopefully while forming a long-term working relationship. Are there any other worries that you have about working with an Administrative Consultant? Or, if you’ve hired an Administrative Consultant before, what was the experience like? I’d love to hear from you!