Virtual assistants can help businesses lighten the workload of their workforce. If your team is already overwhelmed with tasks, it can be hard for them to take on another task. This is where a virtual assistant can come in handy. Rather than hiring another full-time employee, hiring a virtual assistant can also help reduce your operating costs. Studies reveal that VAs can save you as much as 78% in operating costs. In addition, a study by Stanford University found that hiring virtual assistants could cut attrition rates in half.
Finding a virtual assistant to work with is not that difficult. Platforms like Upwork and Freelancer are great places to start for finding VAs. When looking for virtual assistants, you could easily make costly mistakes which could impact your bottom line. In this article, we look at the common mistakes to avoid when outsourcing virtual assistants.
Common Mistakes In Outsourcing Virtual Assistants
- Not Doing Due Diligence
- Lack of Communication with VA
- Unclear Scope of Work
- Not Setting Clear Goals
- Not Properly Vetting The VA
- Not Having SOPs and Documented Processes
- Paying Your VA Too Little
- Not Having Proper Planning
- Not Identifying The Real Need for VA
9 Common Mistakes When Hiring Virtual Assistants
Hiring a virtual assistant saves you time and money and also helps boost your team’s productivity. When done right, it could make a huge difference in accomplishing non-core tasks while allowing your team to do what they should be doing. However, there are some common mistakes that can keep you from achieving success. Let us take a look at the most common mistakes you need to avoid when outsourcing a virtual assistant.
1. Not Doing Due Diligence
There are many virtual assistants to choose from and it is tempting to hire the first VA or agency that you come across. This is a costly mistake that could have serious consequences on your business. When outsourcing a virtual assistant, you need to research the individual or agency before hiring them. Doing your due diligence is a must for the safety of your company.
Before hiring a virtual assistant, do a thorough research first. You do not want to end up with someone who is unreliable or even a scammer. Check out their terms and conditions, which should be fully accessible on their website. Look for client testimonials as well. Check for Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google reviews. You can also call previous clients and customers to ask them about their experience with the VA.
Doing due diligence will provide relevant or useful information about the VA which can help you decide whether the VA is the right partner for you. You may think of it as additional work on your part but something that is worth investing in. It will also keep your business from being vulnerable to any potential risks.
2. Lack of Communication with VA
Another huge mistake you should avoid when outsourcing virtual assistants is not communicating with the VA. This could really be an issue if you will do offshore outsourcing wherein there could be language barriers and cultural differences. You could be working with a virtual assistant whose first language is not English.
Lack of communication with a VA can have detrimental effects on your business. It could lead to potential miscommunication and misunderstandings which could lead to inaccuracies and delays in the completion of tasks. Although the VA should also do their part in communicating with you, being clear with expectations and what needs to be done helps reduce the chances of the virtual assistant making costly mistakes.
There are many project management and communication tools available at your disposal. For the former you can use Asana, Trello, or Basecamp while for the latter, there is Skype, Zoom, Viber, Whatsapp, and others. These tools can help you better delegate tasks to the virtual assistant.
3. Unclear Scope of Work
While you can hire virtual assistants to do any task for you, they still need to be oriented and instructed on what you want them to do. They are skilled in what they do but if you are not clear with the instructions and keep them guessing, you will not get desired results. They can help you achieve your business goals. Never assume that you can leave the VA to do the work only by themselves without knowing the scope of their work in the first place.
Virtual assistants can work independently but you also need to be clear with what you want them to do. You can give them the freedom to accomplish their task in whatever way but make sure that you provide them with the information they need. VAs do not know everything so it is your job to make sure that everything is clear to them. Otherwise, they will be at a loss and will not be able to effectively do the task you delegated to them.
For the VA to be effective, you should not have a “set it and forget it” mindset. You do not want the outsourced provider to spend several hours on a task only to find out that the output was not what you expected. It wastes both your time and money. Providing the VA with a clear scope of work can help them understand what the project is all about.
4. Not Setting Clear Goals
Not having clear goals is just as bad as having unclear scope of work. Before hiring them, make sure that the VA fully understands the goal you want to achieve. You want to make sure that the virtual assistant is on the same page as you. By clearly communicating your goals to the professional, you can avoid future headaches and wasted time.
The success of the virtual assistant lies in them understanding what you want to achieve. Do you want to increase your revenue? Are you aiming to increase lead generation? Whatever your goal, you need to put the VA in the loop because they can help you achieve your goal. Without clear goals, any outsourcing partnership can become misaligned. Setting clear goals will help the VA ensure they are headed in the right direction.
Virtual assistants can be your partners in achieving your business goals. It helps them stay efficient and ensure timely completion of tasks. Not having a clear goal is like driving a car without a destination. You will only waste gasoline and money for refueling. That is why it is important that the VA meets you eye-to-eye in achieving business goals.
5. Not Having SOPs and Documented Processes
The challenge with working with virtual assistants is that you do not see them face-to-face. This makes having SOPs and documented processes crucial for avoiding delays in the delivery of tasks. They can help eliminate the constant back-and-forth on project details and make communication more efficient. Without standard operating procedures and processes, you cannot expect timely submissions of the delegated task.
Every company has standards to follow and you should make sure that the VA you plan to hire will adhere to these standards. It is essential for them to strictly follow your SOPs for the safety of your company and employees. They are usually based on industry best practices and regulations. VAs also need to follow this for the safety of employees and to ensure efficiency. Not having SOPs can make the VA prone to commit mistakes that could be detrimental to your company.
You want the virtual assistant to be on the same page as you are and SOPs help them do just that. SOPs and documented processes can help the VA perform better and produce consistent outcomes. Also, this will help them determine the next steps in case they encounter some problems along the way.
6. Paying Your VA Too Little
Many businesses fall into the trap of looking at virtual assistants as another expense on their part. This is another huge mistake that you should avoid at all costs. Yes you are hiring the virtual assistant to save money but being stingy when it comes to their fees will have a boomerang effect on your company.
When hiring a virtual assistant, you should give them a pay that is commensurate to their experience. Remember this: you get what you pay for. This means that you cannot expect the virtual assistant to be as motivated as they would be if given a fair wage. Get them the pay they truly deserve, In return, you can expect them to do their best.
Think of virtual assistants as an investment and it will pay off handsomely in the future. Do some research about how much the industry pays virtual assistants and pay the VA you plan to hire accordingly. If you pay them below industry standards, it could backfire on you in the form of negative reviews.
7. Not Training The VA
When it comes to skills, you have nothing to worry about virtual assistants because they can deliver results. However, if you plan to hire them, you will still need to train them on your company processes. They are skilled and knowledgeable in their field but you still need to train them on the specifics of your business.
If you are using certain tools, you will need to get them acquainted with how to use it. Do not assume that they already know how to use the tool. If you need to introduce them to team members who they will work with, you must do so to help them accomplish their tasks quickly and more efficiently.
The VA training should also include the key metrics you will measure, turnaround time, mode of communication, and others. Onboarding is usually part of the VA training so you must make sure that they go through this process. You cannot just make them work without giving them proper training.
8. Not Having Proper Planning
Hiring a virtual assistant requires careful planning on your part. Not having one is like going to battle without ammunition. ay you have a scope of work and you have identified your goals and communicated it to the VA but what if something goes wrong? It is not enough just to have a Plan A, you need to have a Plan B as well.
Things will always never go as you planned so you need to be prepared for worst-case scenarios. For example, what happens if the VA you hired suddenly got sick and had to leave for a long time, will you be able to replace them right away? In cases you like these, you can work with agencies that can provide replacement VAs to fill in until your hired VA reuters.
Emergency situations can be stressful and it is very important to have a plan to help you get out of the situation. Create a backup plan to prepare you for any untoward incidents that may happen. Nothing beats proper planning and it will be the key to achieving a successful relationship with the VA.
9. Not Identifying The Real Need for VA
Virtual assistants can be a valuable asset to your business. They can help you with various tasks from administrative, sales and marketing, customer support, and others. However, when hiring a virtual assistant, you should first have a reason for working with a virtual assistant. You may have read an article or given a suggestion to try a virtual assistant but you should not do so because you read about it or someone suggested it.
Just because virtual assistants work for other companies does not mean it will also work for you. You first need to understand your business goals and needs before deciding whether to outsource a virtual assistant or not. Hiring a virtual assistant for the wrong reason can have long-term consequences on your business.
Evaluate your business first before hiring a virtual assistant. Do you have the resources and technology for virtual operations? It would not make sense if you hire a virtual assistant just because your competitor in the next building is doing it? Surely you will benefit from a virtual assistant but if you did it for the wrong reason, it would eventually not be beneficial to your company.
Virtual assistants can help reduce the workload of your in-house staff. You can focus on the core tasks and let the VA handle the non-core ones. However, hiring a virtual assistant can become costly if you do not avoid the hiring mistakes above.
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