4 Signs that Show You Need to Get Rid of Your Office Assistant
Entrepreneurs generally hire Office Assistants as one of their first employees. This is because as their business grows, they realise that they need someone to help with the workload. Office Assistants are a perfect choice because these employees can do it all. From running your errands to filing your documents, there is not much that’s off the charts for these dynamic workers.
Nonetheless, there are certain instances when Office Assistants are no longer relevant and one may need to end the relationship. Here are times when an Office Assistant may not be the best choice for your business:
1. You have a ‘shoestring’ budget
If you’re really struggling to get your business off the ground or you’re a startup that needs to save on costs, don’t hire an Office Assistant. Hire a Virtual Assistant instead. In so doing, you get the same or even better quality of work without having to worry about paying for office space, hardware and software to get her going. You also don’t have to worry about employee benefits such as pension funds, travel allowances and medical funds.
In addition, you only pay for the hours worked. This way, you avoid unproductive employees.
The exception to this rule would be if you really need someone at your premises to pack goods or ship certain items. In that case, an Assistant is necessary, but if you can do everything virtually, that will save your business on employee costs.
2. You need a flexible employee
Entrepreneurs are super busy, and I’m sure you are too. As expected, there may be times when you need some urgent work done and can’t call on your Office Assistant because she only works set hours.
Virtual assistants offer that flexibility. You can hire one when you need and as you need her.
3. You like your space
Introverts are known to appreciate their space, but there are also other personality types that enjoy working on their own. If you prefer your own space and the thought of sharing an office frustrates you, it is a sign that you must get rid of your Office Assistant and opt for a Virtual Assistant instead.
4. You’re making losses
Granted, an Assistant is not meant to generate sales, but their presence should lighten up your workload and give you more time to close more leads. If your Assistant has become more of a liability than an asset, it may be time to let her go.
5 Questions You Need to Ask Before You Delegate work
We’ve all heard the quote that if you want anything done, you’ve got to do it yourself. While it’s true that you are more than capable of getting things done by yourself, it may not be in your best interests. Studies show that business owners spend way too much time on tasks that don’t contribute to their income. To succeed in business, you’ve got to learn to delegate these tasks so that you can focus on more important things.
When delegating tasks, it’s easy to assume that everybody is as smart as we are and so we delegate according to how we would want work to be delegated to us. What I’ve learned in my years working with other people is that delegation is not as simple as just handing over tasks. Here are five questions that you need to ask yourself.
1. When does a task need delegating?
There are certain tasks that you must absolutely delegate, and others that you shouldn’t. Apart from helping you get free time to focus on more important tasks, here are other reasons for delegating a project/task:
- You need to meet a tight deadline
- You require extra resources and skills that you don’t have
- To build skills in team members and foster continuous professional development
You should not delegate a task when:
- To avoid accountability. You should never delegate a task simply because you want nothing to do with it. Accountability remains with you because as much as you won’t be intensely involved in the fieldwork, you will still be responsible for overseeing the work. People who delegate tasks to avoid responsibility often fail at overseeing the work too. Don’t fall into this trap.
- If a client requests your work specifically. We all have those demanding clients that request a little something extra, and they’re willing to pay for it. If a client requests that you do something yourself and you agree to it, don’t delegate the task to someone else.
Make sure that you delegate tasks that are not critical to success if you’re not sure of the person doing the job. I know executives who hand over everything to their VA’s because they’ve worked with them for multiple years, but if you’re not sure of the work quality, rather do critical tasks yourself.
Delegate almost all your admin work. Answering emails or filling in forms is something someone else can do without causing too much havoc in your business.
2. Who should I delegate to?
Think about the skills you need for the job. Start by writing down a list of skills, traits and characteristics needed to complete the job successfully, then look for the suitable assistant.
If your project is running smoothly, you can look at delegating to someone with less experience, but if your project is not going well, make sure that you get an expert for the job.
3. What do I want to achieve by delegating this task?
This question is important and it ties back to question 1. Besides time-saving, you must identify the goals of delegation. The pros of delegating versus the cons of not delegating.
4. Will my assistant need any tools to complete this work?
It doesn’t help to delegate a task and not empower your virtual assistant with the right tools to complete it. First research on what tools, apps or programmes your assistant will need before you even choose the right candidate. If you don’t, you may find that the person you delegate to costs you more money because you have to purchase extra programmes.
5. How would you like the work to be delivered to you?
Of course, you must know in which format the work must be sent to you. Don’t expect your assistant to assume that you would like an update every day if you haven’t asked for it. If you don’t set the right expectations from the beginning, you run the risk of a failed project.
21 Ways to Use a Virtual Assistant
Here’s a list of 21 tasks you can outsource to your Virtual Assistant:
- Scheduling appointments. Let your Virtual Assistant schedule and manage all your appointments for you. You just view your diary every morning and show up to every appointment prepared and let your VA do all the admin work.
- Managing events. Managing a corporate event can be stressful, especially if you’re inviting international delegates. What’s even more stressful is handling the queries from each delegate. Outsource this task to your VA to ensure a successful event.
- You can outsource your general reporting to a VA. Make sure you take your VA through adequate training before expecting him/her to produce accurate reports.
- You can get your VA to do basic bookkeeping tasks such as updating your journals or cash book.
- Running errands. Do you have personal errands you need to run but no time to do it? Let a VA do that for you!
- Cold calling. You’ll have to be careful with this one as not everyone is good on the phone. If you hire a VA to make cold calls, make sure he/she has sales experience.
- Blog writing. You can send a list of blog titles to your VA and have him/her write your blog posts. Regular blog posts will not only keep you connected to your audience but also get more traffic to your website through search engine traffic.
- Social media management. No time to manage your social media accounts? Let a VA handle that for you Just give him/her the posting schedule in advance so that he/she will know what to post.
- Editing and proof-reading of written content. Editing written content can be time-consuming especially for people who are not professional writers. Let a VA edit all your documents so that you may have more time for other tasks.
- Managing emails. Most entrepreneurs have a mailbox full of emails that they can’t get to. This leads to missed opportunities. Outsource this function to a VA.
- Chat support. These days customers want to hear from you within 24-hours of sending a query. If not, they go to a competitor. A VA would be a perfect match for this type of role as you can pay him/her by the hour.
- Transcription of audio/video content. If you’ve got audio and video content that you need to transform into written content, outsource it to a VA.
- SEO/web developing. Let your VA search for popular keywords in your industry so that you can add them to your blog posts/content. Also, your VA can develop your website or landing pages.
- Building databases. If you need a database to start calling for appointments, a VA can build it for you by searching the internet.
- Travel arrangements. Flying for a business meeting? Let your VA handle that for you!
- Sorting online files/documents. A virtual business may not have physical files, but the online files can get just as crowded as physical files. Have your VA sort all your documents in well-labelled folders so that you and other staff members can easily find information.
- Online research. If you need to research a specific topic, let your VA do it for you.
- Creating forms and templates. If you require templates to send emails, guide employees and onboard new employees, let your VA handle it for you.
- Creating and sending email marketing campaigns. Email marketing campaigns are successful in increasing your sales, let your VA create and send them to your clients.
- Designing visual content such as images, logos, banners and headers. Need a graphic designer but can’t afford one? Let a VA design your visual content and pay only for each completed project.
- Managing teams. You can hire a VA to manage other team members. This is great for a small business because you can have him/her work for a few hours per day and pay by the hour.
If you are currently hiring a Virtual Assistant we would love to hear more about the kinds of tasks you outsource in the comments below!
How to Make Your Customers Feel Special
It’s a scientifically proven fact that the human nature is to want to feel important. Your customers are no different. As much as you may have other customers to attend to, each customer wants to feel like they’re your only concern.
It may sound selfish but it’s true. Think about, when you order a meal and it gets to you a little late, what do you do? You probably get frustrated and question the company’s customer service priorities. You may even head over to Hello Peter and leave a horrible comment.
In the same way, you must make each customer feel special so that you may keep them. Here are ways to do that:
- Send a thank you card. A simple thank you goes a long way. A customer will appreciate the fact that their presence makes an impact on your business. Many people are spending less due to the economic instability, but if they feel your appreciation for their business they may just come back for more.
- Send a birthday card. A customer will feel special if you send them a card on their special day. It will remind them that you’re constantly keeping track of them. You can send a card via email or post. To collect birth dates, ask for date of birth when your customers first sign up for your offering and then schedule an automated birthday card to be sent when their birthday arrives.
- Send a random message. This is an expensive way to make customers feel special. All you have to do is send a message via phone or email on any random date just to thank your customer and to ask whether they are still happy. You can even schedule these messages using a bulk messaging service.
- Buy a cup of coffee. Purchasing a cup of coffee and having it delivered to your customer is a great gesture of kindness, especially on a Monday morning. This also works well for long-distance customers that you don’t see often.
- Mention them on social media or a newsletter. You can mention a customer every month on your platforms, it will make them feel important.
That’s it! Five simple ways to make your customers feel special. Best part you can outsource this admin to VA Connect and our skilled team of Virtual Assistants. You don’t have to use all of them, look at the list and pick one or two methods that would work well for your business. For example, if your customers are in a different timezone, the coffee and mention would work well for them.
We want to know, have you used any of these methods to make your customers feel special. What other ways do you show that you care for your customers?
5 Great Ways to Get Started with Your Virtual Assistant
So, you’ve just hired your first Virtual Assistant, congratulations!
Now, because you will be working together virtually, there are a few steps you must take to get your assistant up and running. Although you won’t have to worry about office space, you must spend some time setting him/her up with the right tools to do the job.
Here are five great ways to get started with your Virtual Assistant:
1. Training and Development
Due to the nature of the work (online and not in person), giving clear instructions and expectations is essential.
Training material– Develop training material, how to’s and step-by-step instructions on how your Virtual Assistant should do his/her job. Remember the reason you employed a Virtual Assistant is to save you time, therefore, make sure he/she is properly trained to work independently.
Expectations document– Outline what work you expect daily. Do you require him/her to send 10 emails by 5 pm daily? Make sure it is clearly outlined in this document.
Performance measurement– Describe how and when you will measure your Virtual Assistant’s performance. Remember to tie KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) to the expectations document. Also, make sure KPI’s are realistic. You can determine this by getting feedback from your new Virtual Assistant. Ask him/her if they agree to the KPI’s and work together to set a good way to measure performance.
Of course, your Virtual Assistant must be paid. You can set up a payment method that works best for the both of you. Consider extra charges with the method you choose. Popular payment methods are PayPal, Skrill and Payza.
3. Apps and Tools
To work effectively, your Virtual Assistant will need the following common tools:
- CRM (Customer Relationship Management) Software
- Emailing Platform
- Messaging Platform
- Accounting Software
- Meeting Platform
- Document Management System
There are certain apps that can make working virtually seemingly easy. Read our blog on five apps and tools that every virtual business should have.
4. Virtual Phone System
Since you’re running a virtual business, you will need a virtual phone system that will allow your Virtual Assistant to make calls without using his/her private phone while giving you the opportunity to monitor calls.
Setting up a virtual phone system is easy. All you have to do is:
5. Shared Calendar
Finally, the best way to know what your Virtual Assistant is busy with daily is to setup a shared calendar. You can use Google Calendar which can be easily synchronized with Outlook. This calendar can be edited in real time and accessed via your PC or mobile, making it a popular alternative for small business owners.