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The 5 things you really should be asking your new VA

So you think you have the definitive list of questions to ask your potential VA? Well I’m willing to bet that you probably missed some of the key questions without even realising!

Yes, you’ve got availability, price and experience on your list, but have you got the things that really get past the basics and tell you if this relationship will work for you?

 What do I mean? Well let’s look at the 5 things that most clients never ask and really should.

1. Can you grow with me?

To me, this is a no brainer – if you’re going to create a great working relationship and rely on a VA for support, you need to make sure they have the capacity to really grow with you as your business expands.

Whether this means more hours, different skills or more VAs, you don’t want to be let down just as your business is poised take off.

Imagine you’ve spent all that time showing your VA the processes and culture that make your business unique, only to find out they actually can’t offer you any more hours and you have to start all over again with another VA.

Now let me tell you a secret - I’ve been running a VA business for 12 years and last year is the very first time any potential client has shared growth plans with me and asked if I have the capacity and hunger to grow with her business.

The answer was obviously yes!

But can you really say the same? You don’t ever want to be in the situation where you’re losing valuable business opportunities because your VA doesn’t have a spare hour until tomorrow afternoon! 

So while it might not seem urgent to you now, I’m amazed that more business owners don’t ask this and so it’s definitely my top question to ask.

2. What happens if I need something more?

There are some great VAs out there working alone, in partnerships and in teams. Now let’s face it, some will be a whizz at social media, others stronger at copywriting and if you’re lucky, you might find a pretty good all-rounder.

But what happens if you need something that your VA just can’t do? And I’m being completely honest here – nobody is good at everything!

Or what happens if your VA is ill or decides to go on holiday for 3 weeks?

These are the things that you need to consider early on, way before they cause a problem to your business and your clients.

Part of the reason I was so keen to build a team rather than just work alone was to cover just these sort of issues.

I have a fantastic team of VAs and allocate jobs based on skill, not availability. And if one of the teams’ clients need access to a different skill set for a job, the team works together to get this done for the client. They all pitch in if another VA need more hands to get an urgent job finished and are happy to offer holiday cover too.

If your VA can’t say the same, are you leaving your business exposed?

3. Is my VA really my VA?

Now that might sound an odd question but bear with me.

We’ve established that there are benefits to be had from accessing a range of skills in a team of VAs but there is sometimes a downside to this.

Part of why I love the concept of being a VA is the chance to develop a great working relationship – learning the business, being available to your own clients and really growing to be their right-hand man or woman. That’s how I run my business and how other great VA businesses work too – personal attention is key.

So it really annoys me to see that some of the industry’s bigger players (and no, I’m not naming names!!) are pushing the idea of a dedicated VA when it couldn’t be further from the truth.

Unless pools of workers bidding for jobs in a first come first served fashion and never working for the same client twice is your idea of a dedicated VA, you might do well to steer clear!

Yes they’ll tell you that you have your own VA but dig deeper and you may find it’s only a named point of contact and they never actually do any of the work.

Worse still, if jobs are taken by the fastest on the buzzer system, how on earth do you get the right person for the job? If I sound frustrated, it’s because I am!

Best practice is to match the job to the skills of the VA and anything less just isn’t fair on you.

4. Why are you more expensive than outsourcing abroad?

If you’ve searched on the internet for admin support, you’ll undoubtedly have come across the many sites that have sprung up for outsourcing jobs to VAs, both at home and abroad.

Now one of the things that VAs hear all the time is that UK prices can seem high compared to those abroad.

And yes, I can see that at first glance they sometimes do. I’m also aware that depending on where you outsource to, there are some areas of the world which specialise in things such as great customer service or high level technological skills.

So I guess if your bottom line is price and you are less worried about value, you might see this as a great deal.

If that’s you, you can skip this next bit and go straight to question 5!

If you’re still here, let me explain.

For every great experience with outsourcing abroad, there are countless issues that people don’t talk about. From the time difference causing communication problems to more serious issues such as lack of insurance cover and difference in data protection rules, things often end up costing more when you factor in delays, misunderstandings, problems and missed deadlines.

I’m a firm believer that you really do get what you pay for so if you’re looking for a long-term relationship with a VA, here or abroad, make sure you’ve done your research and know exactly what they offer. A great VA will always be happy to discuss what they can do to save you money anyway, so you may find the savings even out in the end!

After all, you don’t want this type of money saving to end up costing you far more.

5. What other skills do you have?

My final tip may seem obvious but it’s often the case that clients start working with a VA on one type of job and then assume that’s all they can do for them. I’m always amazed at the different skills that VAs offer so never assume that someone who is a great bookkeeper, can’t also excel at copywriting too.

And if you’re using a VA for one area of your business, it’s likely that they already know all the things that make you tick, how you like your business to run and everything else that is unique about how you work.

So it really is a smart move to take some time out and really have a serious think about what else you could hand over to make your day easier and let you get on with the more important tasks.

After all nobody else has the vision and skills that got you to this point but they can help you reclaim the time to use them more wisely!

So there we have it –  the 5 questions that make sure you get the right VA for you, your business now and your business in the future. Choose wisely and it’s a decision you’ll never regret!