Decisions, Decisions. Or, how to get it right.

Written by: Penny Cooke | Posted on: | Category:

There are still a few of you out there who have never heard of Virtual Assistants. There are a few of you out there who have heard of Virtual Assistants, but you’re not quite sure what they do. And from that last few, there’re some that think that maybe you need one!

Where do you start? Yes, there are websites where VAs will bid for your work. They will bid low, if they want or need the work. Some of them may live in parts of the world where good jobs are scarce and the cost of living is low, and thus bid a fairly reasonable price which will represent a pretty good living wage.

Let’s say you put a task on one of those sites. In a very short while, you’ll perhaps have hundreds of emails waiting for you. From Italy. From the Philippines. From Outer Mongolia. And there will be a few from the United Kingdom, too.

How might you go about sorting the wheat from the chaff when their work experiences all look pretty much the same?

Some of their rates will be half of what someone else from somewhere else will bid. Some even lower than that.

Should you go for the cheapest option? Hmm. Maybe not… you get what you pay for, right? So maybe someone in the middle of the range.

What next? Give them a fairly simple task. Something that wouldn’t – shouldnt – take too long… maybe proofreading (it wouldn’t take me long – just saying…). If English is not their first language, it may or may not be what you were expecting.

Teething problems. Give them another chance, another task. Something simple like arranging flights and hotels. Oh, and airport transfers. And please check for visa requirements. And maybe your scheduled meeting overseas is in three or four days. (All the above, of course, is all pre- and post-Lockdown.)

What happens? Well, you could get exactly what you were looking for, flights organised, preferred seat booked, taxi to take you to the airport and meet you at the other end. And a nice hotel booked.

What’s missing?

Off you go to the airport, in good time for check-in requirements. Except you don’t have a visa for the country you're visiting. Or it’s a tourist visa when you're clearly going there on business. Most airlines, by the way, check visas before they allow passengers on the plane, as they must bear the cost to return said passengers to the country of departure if that person doesn’t have the right documentation (I didn’t know that – did you?).

You don’t get on your flight. You lose the cost of the plane ticket and hotel reservation. Your business meeting doesn’t go ahead. You’ve potentially lost both reputation and work.

But let’s say none of the above happens. And you wait for your VA to get back to you. And wait. Because there’s a public holiday in her country, which you didn’t know about, and your VA didn’t mention it. Factor in a possible time difference, and you will still be waiting. And by the time your VA gets back to you, prices for those flights and that hotel will have rocketed.

Who’s to blame?

Your new VA? Not necessarily. Not all, at any rate (communication is key – in both directions). Or you? Because you didn’t do your research. A little of both, perhaps. Think about it. Would you offer a job to someone who you met on the internet, that you exchanged half a dozen emails with? Perhaps a Zoom or Skype call might’ve helped clarify at least the potential language difficulties.

Have you given up yet on working with a Virtual Assistant and vow to carry on doing all those “little” time-consuming administrivial things like booking flights, hotels, proofreading documents?

Don’t. You can work with a VA who’s on another continent, in another hemisphere, just as successfully as with someone 20 miles down the road. But do your “due diligence”, do your homework. Check their social media, perhaps. And their website or Facebook business page. Schedule that Zoom call so you can at least “look ‘em in the eye” and perhaps this will be the beginning of a mutually advantageous and successful business relationship.

Getting a VA but, importantly, the right will save you time and money. So, do your research. You really do get what you pay for.

So. What should you do next? Give me a call. See what I can do for you – help you focus on what you do best, and leave the rest to me.

Image by Peggy und Marco Lachmann-Anke / Pixabay

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