As you may have discovered by now, not all service providers are created equal. While this may not mean that they provide bad service, you just may not be the right fit for each other. The same holds true when it comes to finding the right virtual assistant for your business. You and the virtual assistant really need to have the same working style in order to make the relationship a success. Below are some topics to discuss with the virtual assistant when you’re considering working with him or her.
Office Hours. Not everyone keeps the same work hours. Be sure and ask if the virtual assistant has set work hours. Keep in mind the time zone as well. For example, if you’re on Eastern Time and the virtual assistant is on Pacific Time, he or she may begin their work day three hours after you do. Also be sure and ask if the virtual assistant responds to e-mails or calls outside of their scheduled office hours.
Vacation/Out of Office. Hey, we all need a break every now and then and virtual assistants are no exception. Be sure and ask the virtual assistant how he or she handles their out of office time. Will you still receive service? Are there other virtual assistants or team members who will cover for her in her absence? Will they notify you well in advance prior to their being out of the office?
Computer System. Learning the type of computer system that the virtual assistant has is vital. Ask if they work on a Mac or a PC and what version of software they have.
Internet Tools/Software. If you have a particular Internet tool or software that you would like for the virtual assistant to have some experience in, be sure and ask him or her if they have experience using it and if so how they currently use it.
Turnaround Time. What is the virtual assistant’s average turnaround time for tasks? This one is vital, as this can vary for many virtual assistants. The best way to handle this area is to tell the virtual assistant what you expect when it comes to turnaround time. If you would like to things to be completed within a 24 hour time frame, explain this to the virtual assistant, then allow them to comment on whether or not they can accommodate that time frame.
Communication. How will the virtual assistant communicate with you? Will it be primarily by phone or e-mail? This may seem unimportant, but if you’re a heavy phone person and the virtual assistant prefers e-mail, it could become a problem. Also, do they have a system set up to check in with you regularly just to see how things are going? If not, you should definitely do this on your end. Ask the virtual assistant how he or she would feel about a weekly touch base phone call. If the virtual assistant isn’t open to this, you should keep this in mind when considering your decision about whether or not to work this with virtual assistant, as communication is very important in a successful virtual relationship.
Conflict Resolve. Ask the virtual assistant how they handle conflict when it arises in the working relationship. Do they just send you an e-mail or do they pick up the phone and discuss the issue with you? It’s important to discuss this because as in any relationship, conflict is bound to arise at some point and you want to know each other’s preferences on how it’s handled.
Price/fee structure. Of course, you will want to ask how and what they charge. Do they work on a project basis or retainer only? Please keep in mind that fees vary, but like other things you shouldn’t base your decision solely on price. Be sure to keep in mind all of the other topics above, especially if the virtual assistant falls within the industry range in pricing.
How to get started. Say that you like what you’ve heard so far, of course be sure and ask them what the next step is in order to begin working with them.
Finding the right virtual assistant is vital to the success of your business. I’ve given you a few questions to help you get off to a good start when speaking with a prospective virtual assistant; however, if you have additional questions that you’d like to ask, be sure and do so. If you find the right person with whom you develop a great working relationship with you will notice value right away. So, don’t delay, begin your search for the prefect virtual assistant.