If you're new to working with someone virtually, working with a Virtual Assistant (also known as a VA) for the first time can be a little daunting. You might be thinking "I know I need help but I just don't know where to start." Don't worry, this is common. If this is you, you definitely want to be sure you hire a VA with some experience so they can help you navigate this process but you also want to be sure you start your working relationship with them on the right foot.
Here are some tips to ensure you have a successful working relationship with your virtual assistant.
1. Set up a professional working relationship with your VA
Don't make the mistake of thinking that just because you won't see them in your office that this isn't a professional relationship. Right away, you'll want to make sure that you have a formal working agreement between the two of you. This protects you AND your VA and can serve as a guiding document if there are any questions that come up along the way. An experienced VA is likely to have their own agreement so be sure to get the paperwork signed off right away as this establishes an immediate respect of your working relationship together.
2. Agree on a communication method
Your VA will usually work for several people, they may work for 5 to 15 people at any given time, and will generally have a preferred method of communicating with clients. As a way to ensure that they are able to service all of their clients they will often time block parts of their day for specific tasks, including communication. You will need to let your virtual assistant know what your preferred method of communication is and when the best times are to contact you. This allows your VA to factor that in to their working schedule to ensure that you are both happy with how and when you catch up.
Communication is a key factor in a successful working relationship with a virtual assistant.
3. Set up expectations and guidelines early
Next, you'll want to set clear expectations on what you expect and how you want your service delivered. You'll need to set guidelines on how you expect your VA to respond to tasks assigned. If you want them to email you to acknowledge that they've received assignments, then let them know. If you have a specific deadline for a task tell them when you assign that task to them. You'll also want to be clear about how you expect work to be returned to you. For example, do you want it emailed to you, added to Google Docs or to a Dropbox account? There are many different options, you just need to be clear about which one you prefer. If you are unsure then your VA will help you work out the best option for your business.
4. Provide detailed instructions
When you first start working with your VA, it's important to give them details on how you prefer tasks to be handled. This will likely change as your working relationship develops but you'll want to be clear from the beginning on what you want them to do and how you want things done. Don't just "wing it". If you are able to provide step by step instructions for how you want a task to be done, then nothing will be left to chance. Give them a finished example so they have something to refer to. Assuming that your VA will be able to anticipate how you want a task to be done will only leave you worried about what they are doing and disappointed if it isn't completed the way you expected. If you set your VA up with the right instructions you will be able to relax knowing that the task will be completed as you have instructed.
5. Be willing to give up some control
When you run your own business it is hard to let go of things and trust that others can do it as well as you. Often people will think "it's quicker to do it myself". However, as a business owner you need to be focussed on the high level (profitable) work in your business. Initially, it may take a little longer for a virtual assistant to do a task than it would take you but with the right guidance and training from you, they will be as efficient as you would be and it will free up your time to concentrate on the profit making side of your business. It is hard to let go but once you do and you see the benefit that this brings to your business, you won't regret that decision.
These tips will help you get started on a successful working relationship with a virtual assistant but remember that like any relationship it will take time and work to be successful. As we all work differently you need to find the right VA for you, someone who fits well into your business. If you feel that the relationship isn't working with your VA it could be that you are not a 'good fit'. Don't despair, it just means that you need to look again for the right VA for your business. If you would like to see if PA Excellence is a good fit for your business, contact us for a complimentary 30 minute consultation call to discuss your needs.