There are lots of horror stories going around surrounding virtual assistants. Have you heard any of these?
My virtual assistant took my money and never did the work
I don’t know why I hired a VA because I just have to do the work over again
I never hear from my virtual assistant. He/She just fell off the planet one day
They said they could do the work and didn’t know how to do it and took my money anyways. Now I have to pay someone else to fix the mistakes.
These stories hurt and I hate to see this happen to people. I would hate it if it happened to me. When I have contracted out work for myself I have a strategy I use and I hope it works for you too.
This DOES NOT have to happen to you. You only hear about the one horror story. You most likely did not hear the hundreds or even thousands of people who love their VA. Negativity speaks the loudest. They may have praised him/her and you never heard about it. These negative stories are a very, very small handful of the virtual assistant community and should not represent all of us — myself included.
There are ways that you can decrease the chances of this happening to you. There is no 100% foolproof way. Ever heard about the stellar employee that just stopped coming to work? Or the person who lied on their resume to get a job that a qualified person should have had? It happens everywhere and sometimes without reason or any of the telltale signs. The process to a good fit will take a little time and effort on your part, but would you rather spend that time now or later after they have run off or ruined your project?
Word of Mouth – Going on the internet and just searching for someone could potentially lead to problems. I know when I pick someone to clean my gutters, fix my furnace etc., I will ask for a referral. This does not mean that my job is finished and should just blindly choose them, but it helps to narrow down my options. I’m starting off with knowing at least one person who has used their service. This is also a great lead-in to a conversation to build that rapport.
If you can’t find a referral and even if you can….
Stalk the VA – No, really I mean it. Go to their website and check out their personality and see if they seem like a good fit. Take a look at the services, but don’t take that at face value. All of a person’s abilities/services may not be listed on their site so always ask.
Now, go check them out on social media. This can also aid the decision making process. Let’s say you need social media graphics and someone lists it as a service and you don’t see a link to a portfolio. Go on their social media and look for their branded images. You will know right away if you don’t like their style.
Same with social media. Let’s say you want someone to start taking over your social media because it is too daunting. Wouldn’t you be more inclined to hire someone who does a good job on their own and would want that same quality of work done for you? Or would you want the person who has social media that is neglected? It would be like looking for a dentist, seeing their photo and they have rotting teeth. They don’t practice what they preach.
The line that a VA is ‘too busy with clients’ to take care of themselves is an excuse. That’s like the dentist saying he works too much and neglects his own teeth. Think on that for a minute. Think of a VA as any other specialized service provider.
Visit and Test – Now that you have checked the VA out, check their response time. Go talk on a few social media channels. Ask a question and see if they answer you. What’s the response time like? You can also fill out whatever contact form they have and start the conversation. Do they answer your email in a prompt manner or are you waiting around and feeling ignored?
Break it down: Once you make your choice, clearly define the levels of communication, time frames and expectations. If you send an email Friday night at 7PM and you know your VA stops work Friday at 5PM and off the weekend, don’t be alarmed if you don’t get a response til Monday.
These methods cannot prevent something from going wrong, but it can help lessen the chances. There is always a chance that someone that started out great can go wrong. Many people think being a virtual assistant is easy and all you need is a computer and internet connection. Sometimes the stress breaks them, they panic or don’t take their business seriously and quit answering their clients. Whatever the reason is, it is still not the right thing to do.
Don’t be afraid to take the chance. Try these steps — or talk to me. I’m more than happy to help you.
Heather Santo is a certified Virtual Administrative Consultant with over 15 years of customer service experience. She also spent time in corporate America as a Human Resources Manager performing generalist duties and specializing in recruiting. She now enjoys using her talents to serve her clients and help them to operate their businesses efficiently. She specializes in Aweber, Pinterest, WordPress Thesis, Gratitude Concierge Work and social media content graphic creation.
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