Selecting a VA, either personally or through a company, cannot be taken lightly. After all, this is an investment that will affect your startup’s immediate future. If you choose wisely, you will see a positive impact as the VA makes great contributions on your business process. But if you choose poorly, the ensuing missteps and kinks will take time to work out, and that costs money – at worst, you may have to go for another VA or agency and spend even more. So to ensure your selection process goes as swimmingly as possible, here are some best practices in hiring a VA:
Assess Working Conditions and Environment
A VA may be full of pluck and knowhow, but if the work environment isn’t right then there may be hurdles beyond the control of either you or your VA. If the workplace is akin to a factory and treats the VAs like machines, then even the best ones will end up overworked as they juggle multiple clients. Or if the VA is working from home, there may be connectivity issues or he or she might get too relaxed, resulting in diminished work output and quality.
On the other hand, if the VA’s office is relaxed and the team is tight-knit and overseen by understanding but responsible supervisors, then you’ve hit the jackpot. A work environment that’s conducive for a VA’s performance and development is a treasure – a real keeper!
So ask both the VAs and those in charge about how they do things. Find out what’s valued in the workplace. You want to invest and encourage in individuals and workplaces of high quality, and avoid dubious or even exploitative setups.
A Sense of Community
On that note, aside from the individual VA, if you look into the rest of the workplace, not only will you get a sense of the support systems in play, but if your startup grows and expands… you’ll also know where to get the rest of your future virtual staff!
A workplace that’s also a healthy community, with colleagues who are willing to assist your VA if ever he or she needs time off or is on vacation, can be a valuable resource you can leverage in the future.
On the other hand, if the workplace is atomized, if the VA isn’t supported by the rest of the team, or if the person you’re hiring is going at it solo at home, then there may not be much potential for expansion.
Consider the Filipino VA market
Outsourcing, but unsure about foreign VAs? Then go Filipino. It’s a safe bet since unlike other demographics, Philippine society has prolonged exposure with America and the West. There are historic ties, their education system was modelled after America’s, it’s a popular tourist destination today, and Filipinos are quite familiar with US pop culture.
So a Filipino VA has a more neutral accent, or one that’s not as thick as others’. Aside from a fun time chatting about your favorite Netflix shows, he or she will be able to get figures of speech, expressions and such,decreasing the risk of misunderstandings.
Think Twice about Low-Rate VAs
If you pay peanuts then you know what you’ll get. If you want high quality VAs, then you’ll have to pay for that service. Experienced and seasoned VAs know their worth. Whereas low-rate VAs are either newbies who will accept any terms just for a job, or black sheep who are desperate because no one else will hire them.
You deserve the best. And you don’t want to incentivize questionable practices.
Watch Out for Lowballing VA Companies
On that note, companies that offer suspiciously low hourly rates – like $2 per hour – without adding a markup, these are dodgy operations. Firstly, the rate is inhumane and may mean that the VAs are in a Virtual Sweatshop. You don’t want that on your conscience. And if their finder’s fees are outrageous, then that means they are trying to make a quick buck from that initial sell and care less about the VA’s long term performance or profitability.
Reputable VA companies that charge a markup have to do so because they are there for the long haul and are investing on their VAs’ performance. After all, VAs are people, and individuals need engaging workspace, benefits, skills, supervision, employee support, and so on.
Try to get a feel of the VA’s character when you interview them. Ask questions relating to that. For home-based VAs, you’ll want someone who gives off a strong sense of self-motivation since they won’t have any oversight around them, no one to prod them if they doze off.
Or get an office-based VA who will have people overseeing their work and offering support on your behalf. And even then, character matters, since client-VA rapport is key in building relationships. Want a chatty VA who will engage with you, a creative type who’ll give you advice on your company logo’s colors, or someone who’ll just nod and reappear to present the finished work, like Batman?
The VA world is an exciting one, with lucrative opportunities that startup owners and entrepreneurs can leverage. So remember the best practices, keep on the lookout for positive indicators as well as warning signs. With this as a guideline, you’re on your way to getting the virtual assistant, or staff, that’ll take your enterprise to the stratosphere!