In my last blog post, I highlighted the tops ways to leverage your time using tools like virtual assistants, phone answering companies, or technology. Since the topic of leverage can be quiet involved, I wanted to give you a little more insight into the inner-workings of hiring and managing a virtual assistant.
Unfortunately, I speak to way to many investors who have had terrible luck hiring Virtual Assistants to complete a few tasks or jobs for their company. When I ask about the hiring and training process they went through to see what might have gone wrong, I’m typically met with a look of confusion and a response of “what do you mean how did I hire and find them? You know I found them on (fill in your terrible VA platform here). I didn’t really train them it was just (insert task here)“.
If you want to get a fantastic VA working for you and without you, then you have to take the time to find the right virtual assistant and more importantly train them for their job! We currently have two VA’s that do a variety of weekly tasks for us, including but not limited to; property research/tape scrubbing, calculating CMV and ARV, sending emails to sellers, fishing the internet and MLS for leads, editing excel spreadsheets for mail campaigns, and marketing when we get a deal under contract. Having awesome virtual assistants didn’t “magically” happen. We spent months creating, revising, and perfecting our VA training program (that you an see by clicking here) and are excited to share some helpful tips and tools for hiring and training a virtual assistant!
Where to Find Your Virtual Assistant:
There are a number of platforms that allow you to hire a VA without the overhead of legal issues and payroll. My platform preference is ODesk because of their size, management capabilities and pay system but there are a number of other platforms that offer similar benefits and qualified virtual assistants. Elance.com (same owner as Odesk and VERY comparable in what it offers), VirtualAssitants.com, Freelancer.com, Staff.com, Guru.com. With ODesk, I can manage my virtual assistant using a time log that requires them to take snapshots of their work randomly as they are clocked in. This ensures I am able to track their work simply by logging into Odesk. There are also millions of qualified virtual assistants from across the globe at various price levels and skills experience, which means I can sift through potential assistants and chose the best candidate for my team.
This is an important piece if you are searching for a VA in a different country than your own. If you’re interested in branching out of the US or Canada, you will want to find a VA who is fluent, meaning they can both read and write without grammatical errors and are able to easily interpret data and articulate their ideas to you.
That is completely a personal preference. Keep in mind when hiring the time difference, I love areas that are on the opposite schedule. My work gets done when I sleep! What more could I ask for?
You can get really qualified and experienced VA in the $4 – $6 price range. That may seem shockingly low to you, but remember their cost of living and currency value may differ dramatically to what you are used to. Research the average cost of living in the region your potential VA lives in, and make sure you are paying them satisfactorily for their time and effort. Yes, you might be able to pay $3 an hour, but with a simply dollar increase to $4 an hour you’ve increased their income significantly, and in result they will do a higher quality job, faster, AND want to stay with you because they’re making more than they could anywhere else.
Once again this is by preference. You want a VA who is a problem solver, takes initiative, attentive, and manages time well. If you provide ample training you can hire a great VA with no prior experience and still see them succeed. If you prefer a VA with past experience in your area, look around until you find one that fits there are PLENTY skilled workers out there. Here are some pointers that may help you candidate.
- Look at their feedback from past jobs
- Look at their example portfolios
- If desired, ask them to complete a small “test” related to the job as pre-qualifier to the interview process.
Before the interview I like to assess their initiative and problem solving skills by giving a small task to complete prior to the interview or to bring to the interview. A common one, is to tell them to go to your website and describe what your company does or is. Review their resume and task submissions. Once you’ve narrowed down your top 5 candidates, schedule a phone interview via Skype or google chat. The interview process will allow you to assess their fluency in the language and to get to know them better. You may come across a VA that is SUPER qualified, but you just don’t click with. Hire a VA that you “connect with”. They will be working closely with you so being able to build a relationship with them is important.During the interview ask them questions like…
- “Why are you interested in my position and why do you think you are qualified?
- “When is a time in a past job you had to solve a problem that was not initially explained to you?”
- What is your availability to work with our company (time schedule)
- What are you current resources (computers, internet, phone – if applicable)
Training your Virtual Assistant & Giving Feedback
This is one of the most important parts of hiring a Virtual Assistant. You may have found an awesome VA but you haven’t given them to the proper instruction to complete your tasks correctly or efficiently. Hands down the best way to train your personal assistant is by using videos with an audio recording linked to the video. This allows them to actually see how to properly complete the task you want them to do! It also allows you to use the same videos for any additional virtual assistants you may hire now or in the future.
I like to provide additional documents of frequently asked questions, website links, step by step guide, or requirements/rules for certain tasks as reference pages for my VA’s. This helps them complete their job without 1 million emails to you! Give them as many resources in one location (such as a website), so they can reference them as much as they need during their initial training.
Remember, that it’s going to take time for them to figure everything out and typically takes a few “trial and errors” before they are 100% independent at your tasks. As with any new job, they need time to learn the routines and tasks, practice them, and get feedback.
Checking their work is key in the first few weeks. I like to provide my VA’s with 2 – 3 “test runs” (for example tapes I have previously scrubbed) to compare their results to mine. I also ask what questions came up when they were going through the process and create videos to help clear up any confusion.
We understand that not everyone is willing to put forth the effort that is required to really get a smoothly running system with a virtual assistant. That’s why we are so happy to share our virtual assistant training program at www.tapetechs.com. We realize sometimes it’s easier to just plug and go and that’s why we allow investors to use our “plug and go” VA training system OR they can submit their REO or Note Tapes to have our highly trained virtual assistants “scrub” (complete due diligence on). We sacrificed the time and months it takes to create a system as effective as this one. We’ve done the hard work for you and are happy to share our success with you. Maximize your potential, free up your time, and give yourself the freedom to focus on what’s important to you.
Training a virtual assistant is no easy task and requires a lot of time, planning, and organization. If your willing to put forth the time and effort to create a system for your virtual assistant you won’t regret it! I can honestly say I have more time on my hands than I know what to do with and am able to do more of the things I enjoy and want to do!