I just read a blog post about someone's bad experience hiring a virtual assistant. The subtitle of her blog post is "When Your VA goes Gone Girl". Her experience has inspired me to write this post for two reasons:
- To help those looking for a virtual assistant avoid this type of experience.
- To help virtual assistants not to become a "Gone Girl" VA.
Looking for a Virtual Assistant?
Judy wanted to hire a VA. Her friend had suggested it because she had a good virtual assistant. However, the friend was unwilling to share her virtual assistant. This really surprises me. Most virtual assistants have allotted their work time so they are able to handle more than one client at a time. Perhaps this friend's virtual assistant really didn't have time to take on another client. However, she might have been able to help Judy find another virtual assistant that was reliable.
If you have a reliable virtual assistant, please share their information with others. The virtual assistant community is very open to referring others if they cannot take on the work themselves.
Judy also spend nearly a month training her new virtual assistant. Of course a VA may need some training. However, an experience, successful VA shouldn't require a month of training - and particularly not on most computer programs. A successful VA will already be quite familiar with most computer programs and how to answer emails.
When you hire a virtual assistant, make sure you have a written contract of some sort stating the work to be done, any time frames, payment arrangements, the VA's availability, and a confidentiality clause.
To recap, if you are looking for a reliable virtual assistant:
- Get a referral from a reliable source such as another successful virtual assistant.
- Make sure your virtual assistant is familiar with basic computer programs.
- Get a written contract detailing work to be done, payment arrangements, availability, etc.
Don't be a "Gone Girl" VA
Virtual assistants need to have the right mindset. You are not an employee - you are a business owner. Take your business seriously! If you really don't have time to take on another client, don't. It's very bad business form to start working with someone only to find you really don't have time and then can't get the work done. There is nothing wrong with referring a prospect to another virtual assistant. The VA community is worldwide and we should be helping one another out - not selfishly trying to keep all the work to ourselves.
Keep up-to-date with a basic knowledge of computer programs and tools a client may use. You should be familiar with how to use Word, Excel, Google docs and spreadsheets, manage email, and use basic social media sites. Take time to build your skills by taking online courses. You shouldn't expect clients to pay for your time to train yourself on programs you should already know.
Most important: I say this over and over - COMMUNICATE! If, for any reason at all, you cannot do something you've agreed to do, tell the client up front. Don't wait! A client will be so much more understanding if you let them know up front about an issue than if you wait and they find out on their own that you just didn't do what you said you would. There is just no excuse for not communicating with your client when there are so many methods to do so - text, phone, email, Facebook message, Skype.
To recap, here are a few things you can do to be a reliable virtual assistant:
- Be willing to refer a prospect to another virtual assistant.
- Keep up-to-date with basic computer programs and tools a client may use.
- Communicate and keep your word!
Let's educate clients so they don't work with "Gone Girl" virtual assistants, but find reliable virtual assistants they love and work with for many years.