The Pros and Cons of a Virtual Assistant
Minimum investment, maximum return ...
Posted on: 16/09/2013 By: Jacqui Frost
Obviously as the owner of a company providing Virtual Office services, I am pro the virtues of Virtual Assistants for the small company owner. But I will be the first to admit that you need to be clear about what the VAs job is and you should always set the expectations and limitations upfront so the relationship is going to work well and achieve what you want it to ...
a virtual assistant offers minimum investment for maximum return
Often the comparison for both Call Handling and Admin services is "do I need to hire someone full time to do that?" It's at this point I like to talk about the benefits of using a Virtual Assistant or Virtual Receptionist.
If you bring someone into your home or office you need equipment (computer and phone) and at the very least a chair or desk. If you are working from the smallest bedroom at home this is often not easy to achieve. If you are only using them part time it can be a lot of hassle for only a few hours each week. With a VA they will work from their own home or office using their own equipment saving you the cost and hassle of buying and rearranging things!
One of the joys of using a VA is that you don't have to have a set number of hours each week. Which means you don't have to rush around on Tuesday evening making sure everything is place for Wednesday 9am when your part time admin help is at work!! It also means if you are busy doing the things that make you money, you don't have to stop immediately to get everything ready, you can just forward it to your VA when a suitable break appears!
Different VAs work in different ways. Some can be retained for a specific number of hours each month to guarantee availability, others are quite happy to accept ad hoc work on a per job or per hour basis. Discuss with them what you are looking for and find the way which will work best for you. Remember a VA is supposed to be easing your work load not making it more difficult!
Most VAs own their own business, so they know what it's like to be self-employed and will understand the pressures you are under.
A VA works as a consultant, not as an employee. Therefore, you won't have to pay employment taxes or benefits for your VA. More importantly, this means that you can approach them for advice and their opinion on things without damaging your position because you are a client not a boss!
It wouldn't be fair to give you all the benefits without mentioning some of the drawbacks. Like all businesses, not all VAs are created equal. There has been an influx to the industry in recent years and so some are new to the assistant business and have a lot to learn about helping those who are self-employed.
There are some VAs with excellent technical skills and still others who are struggling to update to the modern world of computing, gadgets and apps! There are some who have leapt straight from the customer service industry, but equally there are others who will struggle to keep in touch with you about the status of your projects.
Many VAs have set up in business to allow them a better work life balance or to fit around their children, so they may only work part-time or are only available for limited hours per week. Remember when choosing a VA you need to interview them and ask probing questions to see if their skills match your needs.
Some VAs are taught that they should be a 'partner' with you in your business. Whilst it's a bonus to have someone who wants to be as involved as you and is as enthusiastic as you are about your business, there must be boundaries. There have been horror stories about VAs who did things without asking permission - from modifying website text to changing established brand images. You must draw the lines clearly so that both you and the VA know what can be done without your permission.
You may prefer that your VA takes time to consult you before sending anything out on your behalf which will ensure your brand and reputation remains in your hands alone. After all, you are not looking for someone to run your business for you, you are looking for a professional to assist you with specific tasks. This should mean that your VA doesn't take your criticism personally but understands that they are doing work that represents you and therefore must live up to your standards!
As Genies, we are flexible enough to adapt to meet your needs whether you are looking for call handling, correspondence, audio typing or event management on either an ad hoc or contract basis.
Call us on +44 (0) 1604 529170, click here to ping over an email or check out our website to see the advantages of having your own Office Genie!
Until next time ...
THE OFFICE GENIE
I had a successful 20-year career as an office manager and personal assistant; however, my job was no longer focused on the customers and became all about the numbers. My customer-focused background began when I was 12 in my father's independent carpet showroom. I had a spell with Marks & Spencer before I moved into office-based jobs. I have worked as a training administrator, a PA and PA/office manager in a variety of industries from manufacturing to the IT education sector.
Meanwhile, my husband Ian, a successful Northampton based Master Decorator and owner of Rainbow Frost, was losing out on work due to missed phone calls. When he was busy, callers were getting his voicemail but weren't leaving messages. I knew how to fix that problem!
I quit my job and took on Ian as the first client of The Office Genie in November 2005. Word quickly spread with the second client coming on board just one week later. The majority of our clients since have come to us through word of mouth recommendations and networking referrals. Over the years, I have become well connected in Northampton and Milton Keynes.
Outside of work I enjoy swimming, roller skating, the theatre and my cats and dogs!