Although Virtual Assistance has been around for more than 20-years, it’s been an education to help prospects understand the value and benefits of outsourcing their tasks to someone they may never lay eyes upon.
People still struggle with the concept and with the wide range of options available, from all corners of the world, making it difficult for the industry to provide consistency and overall value because of the wide spectrum of industry offerings.
Here are three reasons why people may hesitate using a Virtual Assistant (VA).
1. The Do-it-Yourselfer. Many people believe they can do it better themselves, or with their current in-house staff. The down economy has opened many doors for VAs, but in many cases, the owners or managers pick-up these tasks as they feel they are menial or can be done with little to no skills.
I think of this as if everyone did their own taxes instead of using a CPA (which in many cases is an independent contractor, like a VA), or had all their IT support handled by someone in their office without much training or advanced knowledge about technology and networks. This could be disastrous to your company, on many levels, and what almost always happens is they end up spending three to four times as much having to bring someone in, after the disaster, to clean up the mess it’s created. Smart entrepreneurs don’t run their businesses this way – they get it!
The Do-it-Yourselfer may not know the true value of their own time and how they can best benefit the organization. Incorporating these tasks into your daily routine, or those of someone else who already has a full plate, simply hurts every aspect of that person’s work, and ultimately the organization.
VAs are trained and skilled in many levels of support and can truly partner with entrepreneurs to keep them abreast of the latest technologies and innovations, while keeping them competitive within the marketplace.
2. Letting Price Be Their Guide. Over the past 20-years, I’ve seen several shifts in thinking. The importance of price being put above that of quality and service, and then back again to quality and service over price. Don’t get me wrong, I’m always looking for a good deal, but when it comes to running my business, quality and service definitely take the number one spot over price.
It’s difficult in the VA world when prospects look to compare VAs from all areas of the world, to offshore options that can be found in the $3-10/hour range. Many times things get lost in the translation or are more difficult to communicate from the start. This can prove to be much more time consuming in the long run for the client who has to micromanage the VA, or take oodles more time in getting a particular project completed.
I don’t actually consider these providers to be my competition. The client who is looking for someone in that price range isn’t looking for the type of support I’m able to provide, or the partnership we offer to increase client success. That’s not a bad thing; it’s nice that there’s something for every budget and need to be found in the VA industry, we just need to be sure we make the right choice for our own business needs and growth.
I also believe that some clients look at the amount of time it takes THEM to complete a project rather than a VA who does this type of thing day-in and day-out at a much quicker pace. I recall several years ago a prospect indicated that it took him five hours to create an electronic newsletter. Once I’d gotten him to show me a sample, and he told me he provided almost all the content, I told him I could do it in about 30-45 minutes. This allowed him to take a look at his cost on a real-time basis, rather than think that he had to pay me for that same five hours that it took him.
I encourage prospects to look at things from a ‘return on investment’ (ROI) aspect. Here’s a recent example. Someone contacted me about creating a database with hundreds of business cards they had collected over the past year at networking events. They needed them added to two databases, one online (Constant Contact), and one they would use for US Mail pieces. Based on 800-business cards, and the necessary creation, the total investment would be $675.
The plan was to drip on these 800 leads twice a month, once electronically (by Constant Contact) and once by US Mail (a postcard). If done consistently, the minimum return would be 1-2% within 90-120 days. That would mean that my client would get 8-16 new clients over the next 3-4 months. We calculated that each new client to her business would generate a minimum of $500 in commissions, meaning that the $675 investment would be easily covered within a short period of time.
We exceeded the 1-2% return over the first four months and she continues to benefit from setting up this valuable data in a format that keeps her marketing consistent and her business growing.
Plus, once the list was established, adding new contacts is much easier and less costly as she moves forward and grows her list.
3. Having a Bad Experience. As I mentioned earlier, Virtual Assistance is an emerging industry. Not unlike just about every industry, you can find good and bad providers. I believe that because of the ‘virtual’ nature of the business, because some VAs model their businesses based upon up-front payment, and simply because there are scammers everywhere, over the years, clients have not had good experiences with their VAs. So much so, that they hesitate ever taking another look at this being a viable option for their needs.
Sometimes it’s simply because there wasn’t a good fit between the client and VA that causes the issue. Like making sure that I have a good fit with my doctor, or car mechanic, you need to make sure that the VA you choose has similar business practices to yours, has the skills and training needed to complete the task, and generally shares a similar personality.
While it is different than a traditional in-house employee interview, you should have an interview and reference check process in place when looking for a Virtual Assistant for any area of support.
So if you’re on the fence about using a Virtual Assistant (VA), and you fit into any of the three areas above, I hope you will take the time to reconsider finding the talent and expertise you need in order to run a more organized and profitable business. When the relationship is a good fit, the possibilities are endless, and rewarding.
Jeannine Grich, CVA, MVA, EthicsChecked™, provides marketing and social media support, training and consulting to busy entrepreneurs. For information about finding a VA, download her FREE 10-Step Guide to Finding the Right VA, or to learn why Social Media should be an important part of your marketing plan with her FREE Report, Social Media Marketing Benefits, visit: https://accbizsvc.com, or contact her at Jeannine@accbizsvc.com