Choosing a virtual assistant: how to select the right service
Every choice you make about your business strategy is an important one, but few aspects of your business are as influential as the handling of administration. All those things that seem mundane, boring and tiny are, in fact, the lifeblood of your business. Choosing a virtual assistant, should you choose to go down this route, therefore is a weighty decision.
Consider yourself a customer, and then ask yourself – would you expect your customers to be happy with anything less than the best you can provide? Could you expect them to choose your service if you were providing one that was subpar? Of course not; you expect them to want the best. So why shouldn’t you?
Why getting the right VA is key
Whether you hire a full-time or part-time assistant, this is a person who will be dealing with some of the most fundamental, private and sensitive aspects of your business. That is why it’s so essential that you can put your complete trust in the virtual assistant you choose to hire. You won’t be able to delegate without worry if you don’t trust that the job is going to be dealt with appropriately.
A good VA service will allow you to grow and evolve your company, secure in the knowledge that you are completely supported, and the day-to-day tasks are being taken care of. Full-time virtual assistants can maintain and expand your online presence, manage your bookkeeping, organise your travel plans and generally enable you to meet new challenges with complete ease. Have a look at our blog, “How can a virtual assistant revolutionise your business,” to learn more.
In addition, it inevitably takes time for new people and services to become a seamless part of your business, so it’s in your interest to make the right choice first time round.
How to choose the right service for you
There are a few things you can do to improve your chances of choosing a virtual assistant that’s right for you, first time round. Here are our top tips:
1. Depth of knowledge
‘Virtual Assistant’ is not a one-size fits all job title. Exactly how virtual assistants work and what they are able to do, depends on their particular skills and experience. To choose the right VA for you, it’s key that their skills and knowledge fit your business needs for today, tomorrow and a year from now. Knowing how to format an Excel spreadsheet is one thing, but knowing how to use pivot tables, vlookups or de-duplication functions is quite another. Similarly posting a tweet is quite a simple process, but being able to support the development of a digital marketing campaign across various digital platforms whilst underpinning them with solid SEO knowledge and increasing engagement is something else. Having the right level of experience in the partner you outsource to is crucial. It will save you the time it would take you to do it, but also the chances are that an experienced VA could do it a lot quicker, and at a lower hourly rate than you are worth to your business elsewhere.
2. Breadth of expertise
Now, it’s all well and good finding the perfect fit for right now. But what about in a year’s time? As your business grows, so will your support requirements, so it makes sense to look for a virtual assistant service that specialises in multiple disciplines. If your immediate need is someone to do your bookkeeping and credit control, but you have plans to utilise online marketing to grow in the future, finding a company who has the scope to offer both, will save you time, effort and money. The skills and experience required for each are very different, and will rarely be found in one individual freelancer, whilst a service provider will be able to tailor a package of services that meet your budget and needs, so you get exactly what you need at a price that is affordable to you. Being ‘future-fit’ is not just about financial plans and projections – it’s about your working environment, capacity and resource, and this is where a competent VA service can really help your business grow.
3. Team vs individual
And that brings us onto our next point. Whether you employ or outsource it will take some time to bed-in any kind of new resource. If you decide to employ someone, you are stuck with the skill set they bring with them, unless you invest significantly in training. The same applies with a fixed skill outsourced service, and then training is not even an option. Outsourcing to a flexible team will ensure they are capable of accommodating your evolving business needs. If you don’t want to have to go through the selection and bedding in process again and again, it’s probably best to select the most flexible resource that you can find at the outset.
4. Communicate your expectations
Clear and concise communication is paramount in all areas of business, but being clear about what you need and want from a virtual assistant is especially important. Writing a job specification is a great way to start. By doing this the VA organisations under consideration will be clear about what you expect and it will also help clarify the position in your own mind as well. This way, you avoid wasting time with services that are inadequate, or ill-fitting. For example, if you need someone that can maintain your website, alongside call handling and administrative duties, but you didn’t specify this skill before making a hire, you will likely end up disappointed. Look for a service that will create a tailored package designed to meet your business needs. As mentioned before, this is not a one-size fits all solution, so a company who offers a bespoke service will be worth its weight in gold in the long-run.
5. Packaged or next available VA vs tailored VA
Likewise, it’s worth considering whether a packaged or ‘next available VA’ service is going to work for you. Every business has its own individual culture, specific industry influences, working practices and processes. For any outsourcing service to be successful it needs to respect each company’s individuality and tailor the service it provides to fit on a case-by-case basis. Would this level of bespoke service be possible from a package provider who simply gives you the next available attendant? Unlikely. So it’s worth shopping around for a service that is going to invest the time to completely understand your business needs and then find the perfect solution for you. This means that the support service you ultimatley select can become an integral part of your team, albeit one that works remotely and doesn’t create any additional HR burdens for your business!
6. Follow proper procedure
Would you hire an internal staff member without interviewing them? No, of course not. So why would you hire a virtual assistant without following the same process? Showing due diligence in this area could be one of the most rewarding choices you make. You’ll not only be able to thoroughly check that they possess the right skills and expertise, but you’ll get the chance to see if they make a good cultural fit and have the work ethic you would expect from any other staff member.
7. Know your deal-breakers
Before you approach any VA organisation we recommend that you make a list of five things that are non-negotiable. These can be qualities or skills, but they should be the things that are most important to you and your business. For example, it might be hugely important for the organisation that you work with to have all the necessary confidentiality and data protection compliance in place.
If you take these tips on board you could soon find yourself with your very own virtual assistant service to keep you on track and keep your business ticking over nicely while you focus on creating, networking and evolving. If there is a better reason for hiring the right virtual assistant, we certainly can’t think of one!
If you’re looking for help choosing a virtual assistant to keep your business running smoothly we offer a free consultation to help you decide if our virtual business assistant services would be right for your business. If you’d like to know more you call us on 0800 994 9016 or click to request a free consultation.