A virtual assistant can take your business to a higher level thanks to the fact that they cost less money than regular assistants in the Western world due to insurance costs and low hourly rates. It’s too tempting to think that virtual assistants are the solutions to all your problems. I’m sorry to break the bad news to you but simply trying to save money by hiring a virtual assistant might actually cost you more money down the road.
If you train your virtual assistant wrong, or you picked the wrong virtual assistant with the wrong skill sets, you might actually be wasting your hard-earned business capital. You might simply be flushing your hard-earned dollars down the toilet.
Make no mistake about it, hiring a virtual assistant is like deploying a tool. You have to use the right tools for the right jobs so you can meet your objectives. If you fail to do this, all sorts of problems may arise. At the very best, you lose money. At the very worst, you damage your online brand. When it comes to making money online, whether you’re trying to make money as an affiliate, a content seller, or a service provider, you need to develop a solid online brand.
As mentioned above, the right virtual assistant can help you develop a solid brand. The problem is it’s too easy to pick the wrong kind of virtual assistant or to fail to train your virtual assistant in such a way that your VA can actually help you. I’ve seen it time and time again. People spending really good money we’re talking hundreds of dollars every single month on a virtual assistant based out to the Philippines, India or elsewhere and they have very little to show for all that money that they’ve spent at the end of every single month.
If you don’t want this to happen to you, you need to focus on one thing and one thing alone when it comes to your virtual assistant. You need to focus on productivity. That’s right. You have to get as much productive labor out of every dollar you spend on your VA, otherwise, you’re just wasting your time and money.
Here are five ways to make your virtual assistant more productive. These techniques are completely actionable. They make sense. They are easy to implement. You would be a fool not to use all five of these techniques.
Tip 1: Hire Based on Results
Just as you make your money with real estate when you buy not when you sell, you make your money of your virtual assistant when you hire not when the work starts coming in. In other words, you have to win from the get go. You have to basically select the right people and engineer the relationship from the beginning in such a way that you can make money.
I’ve seen it time and time again on many outsourcing platforms where business people would set up the relationship in such a way that they end up losing. How do you end up losing with a virtual assistant? Pay that person based on hourly work. That’s right. When you pay on an hourly system, you are giving them all the incentive in the world to drag their feet. Think about it. If you are getting paid by the hour, it is in your best interest to drag things out as long as possible. It is not a surprise that many of the top virtual assistants offered by many outsourcing platforms racked up thousands of hours every single year. What do you think they’re doing? It’s not like they’re completely dumb and can’t work in a very efficient and timely manner. You really can’t blame them. They’re just playing the game set by the customer.
Don’t shoot yourself in the foot. Set deliverables instead within a given time frame. Get the virtual assistant to agree that he or she will deliver a set number of deliverables. If that person doesn’t deliver the require amount, you don’t have to pay them, or you get to pay a very discounted rate. If you set up the game this way, they’re given all the incentive in the world to produce much faster to hit quality guidelines and to do a good and thorough job.
Tip 2: Record a Step by Step Video Using Jing
Jing is a free video capture tool that allows you to narrate the actions happening on your screen as you do things on the screen. This is very important free software you can use when training a virtual assistant. You can basically guide the virtual assistant on a step by step basis using video. This way, the virtual assistant will be clear on all the steps needed to do a particular task. Make it easier for yourself by breaking things down into as simple steps as possible. Break down the steps in such a way that a monkey with half a brain can understand what you’re talking about.
Don’t assume that the virtual assistant is a genius. Don’t assume that they’re experts in the English language. Explain in clear, simple and plain English all the steps that they’re going to go through. Break down the steps in extremely simple bite-sized portions. Otherwise, you can kiss productivity good-bye because if the virtual assistant is very unclear or gets confused with your instructions, things can drag out for a long time. It can take them a long time to learn. You’re not exactly there looking over their shoulders. You’re not exactly on the phone explaining things to them. Even if you were, it will still take a lot of time. This is why you need to use the power of video to make sure that the process is as simple as you can make it.
Tip 3: Explain WHY Before you Explain HOW
People are not dumb. People are very objective oriented. We often become confused if we don’t think that what we’re doing really contributes to a specific outcome. In other words, it’s easy for us to get lost if we don’t have our eyes fixed on the destination. This applies to you. This applies to people all over the world. This is why it’s always a good idea to explain the objectives of a particular task to your virtual assistant. That way, the virtual assistant can see the complete picture and adjust his or her actions based on the objectives.
This also prevents the assistant from coming back to you with all sorts of questions because the objective often explains the context of the project. This allows the virtual assistant to use his or her creativity and imagination and resourcefulness to solve little problems instead of bugging you by emailing you or calling you or getting you on Skype. That can drag out production time that can torpedo productivity.
Tip 4: Focus on Quality not Price
This is where many American business owners really trip and fall. They just get too excited about the fact that you can hire somebody in the Philippines for five dollars an hour or ten dollars an hour. They know that getting a college-educated labor in the United States can set them back upwards of twelve to fifteen or even thirty dollars an hour depending on how complicated the work is.
It’s too easy to salivate at many of these virtual assistant job sites based out of India or the Philippines that offer out virtual assistance at the rate of four dollar or five dollars per hour. The bad news is that there are too many cheap virtual assistants out there. The worst news is that they cannot produce work. It’s not that they don’t want to. It’s that they’re unable to. Due to just bad training, bad attitudes, bad mindset, or just bad circumstances, they just can’t seem to get it together. That’s why they’re cheap. That’s why they’re at the bottom of the barrel. You have to understand that you cannot escape the iron law of economics. The iron law of economics says that the reason a particular region’s wage rates are so low is because the productivity is very low.
Make no mistake about it, there’s an open market. If the productivity is worth a higher price, then that labor will be worth a higher price. Do you see where I’m going with this? Don’t focus on the price. Focus instead on the quality. It’s perfectly okay to pay somebody out of the Philippines ten dollars an hour if that person delivers the kind of work that you are looking for at the kind of quantity that will push your business forward. Otherwise, you are really wasting your time, effort and resources paying the lowest amount of dollars to somebody that is going to produce utter crap. The worst part of it is they’ll even gonna give you a lot of crap. It’s just a very little small trickle of crap that you paid for. Again, you get what you pay for. Don’t focus on the price. Focus on the quality instead.
Tip 5: Take the Time to Write Clear and Quality Guidelines (and Even Rules)
You’d be surprised as to how many business people from the United States, the United Kingdom and other countries take the time to come up with an instructional video but don’t take the time to write quality guidelines. You have to understand that instructing somebody how to do a job is not the same as spelling out what separates a good job from a bad job. Do you see what I’m getting at? Simply describing the job gets people to do the job, but they might do a very bad job. You have to spell out quality guidelines. You have to clearly explain what separates a well-done job from a low quality or lousy job.
Make no mistake about it, a virtual assistant can take your business to a much higher level of productivity and free up more leisure time for you. However, you need to follow all the tips above. Otherwise, you are basically flushing your hard-earned dollars down the toilet by hiring a virtual assistant. Nine times out of ten, it’s not the virtual assistant’s fault that they have low productivity. You either picked the wrong person, or you were just very unclear regarding your instructions. Regardless, you only have yourself to blame if you fail to make money with your virtual assistant.