Choosing your Virtual Assistant
You’ve finally decided to hire a Virtual Assistant – Congratulations!
But how do you ascertain if they’re going to be a good fit for your business? Here are a few questions you might want to include when you speak with them for the first time. Their answers should give you great insight in to their knowledge and experience along with a sense of how well matched they are to your specific requirements.
How long have you worked as a Virtual Assistant? This will tell you how much experience they have. If they have set up their own business they will understand your needs not only from an assistant’s perspective, but from a business point of view as well.
What’s your background, experience and do you have a specific skill set? Details of their previous employers will provide a wealth of information on the types of company they are familiar with. If you’re looking for someone to work within a small start-up, an Assistant who has only worked within large corporations may not be the best fit. They may also have a particular set of specific skills which would be of great advantage to your business. Whether you need someone with design experience, 20 years within customer service or an expert in medical transcription, asking what their specialisms are, will be of major help if you are after something particular.
Can you give some examples of the work you’ve carried out in the past? If you need them for specific tasks, it would be good to have examples of similar work. Do bear in mind though, it might be difficult to provide this information if the Virtual Assistant has signed a non-disclosure agreement. They may well be able to describe the types of work carried out without divulging any specific detail so it’s up to you whether this is sufficient.
How many clients do you have? This is to ensure that they have enough time for you. A Virtual Assistant who has a full quota of clients and not enough hours in the day is going to struggle to offer the appropriate support for your business.
What are your working hours? If you need someone available from 8am and the VA in question normally starts at 9am, you need to know this! It may be they would be willing to work from 8am, but will charge a higher rate. Get clarity from the beginning to avoid frustration or disappointment further down the line.
What are your main communication methods? If you prefer liaising by telephone but the VA prefers email, then it’s not going to be the easiest working relationship. Find out what methods are available to determine if they are suitable for you too.
May I have details of a work reference I can contact? Most Virtual Assistants will be able to provide you with a number of work references. Again, they may be restricted because of non-disclosure but it’s up to you as to how many previous clients you wish to speak with. It’s important that you are confident that they are reliable, professional, and trustworthy.
What is your hourly rate? You need to know what the Virtual Assistant charges per hour and if they offer package prices. Do remember that a Virtual Assistant is a talented, self-employed individual with a specific set of skills and usually industry qualifications to match their position so their rates are reflective of this. Most Virtual Assistants are transparent with their rates and will usually include them on their website. Hourly rates usually range from £20-£50 per hour (depending on specialist skills) and charges for telephone calls, post etc are usually industry standard.
What’s not included in your fees? It’s easy to overlook this one but certainly worth checking because if you need your VA to do lots of phone calls, or posting, and neither are included in their rates, your costs will be higher.
Are you willing to sign a non-disclosure agreement? Depending on your particular business, you may require your Virtual Assistant to sign a non-disclosure agreement. Most VAs’ shouldn’t have a problem with this, but it’s worth confirming before appointing.
Once you’ve asked all your questions and are happy with the responses, you might want to appoint your Virtual PA on a trial basis to start with. Don’t forget that both you and the Virtual Assistant want to forge a great working relationship so this works well for both parties.
Hopefully, once the trial period comes to an end, you’ll be amazed at how happy you are with the Virtual Assistant’s work and wonder why you didn’t find them sooner.