What You Need to Consider Before Hiring Either.

Over the past five or so years, outsourcing to a VA or virtual assistant has boomed, particularly within the SME market, due in part to the publication of the 4hr work week by Tim Ferris. But, it goes much deeper than that.

Outsourcing can literally shave hours from your work week by letting you focus on what’s most important for your business (ie: what clients pay you to do or getting out and selling more) rather than getting bogged down in all that other ‘stuff’ that comes with being a business owner.

Did you know that the average person spends 61% of their day trying keeping up with their emails, and only 39% of their time contributing to the important tasks*? Yes, really.

The more you can delegate and outsource time consuming tasks like:

  • bookkeeping
  • data entry
  • email management
  • sales admin
  • phone answering

the more sane your work life will be. And, really, wasn’t life-balance one of the reasons you started your own business in the first place?

So if you’re wanting to grow your business or at least wrest back some of the time you’re spending on unimportant, but necessary tasks, you might well be considering hiring a VA.

But there are a few things that you need to consider before hiring one.

Cost:

You’ll roughly pay between $30-$50/hour here, whereas overseas you might be paying as little as $10US/hr. Now, whilst it might seem more expensive to hire an Aussie assistant than an overseas provider, when it comes to VAs, as with all other things, you get what you pay for. Do you really want to spend an hour or more of your time each time you have to brief your VA on a task so they get it right and/or face hours of corrections on their work – which let’s face it, isn’t the point of having a VA. You want to be able to essentially set and forget and just have your tasks looked after quickly and efficiently.

Written and Spoken Communication:

If your VA is answering your phones or emails or setting appointments, you want them to have a great grasp of the English language (or whatever language you’re conducting your business in). You want them to be able to spell, use correct grammar and be able to string a well constructed sentence together.

There’s nothing worse than having your customers get the feeling that they’ve been syphoned off to a call centre in Asia somewhere where no-one is really going to help them or care about them. Think about your last experience with that large organisation’s customer service centre – do you really want your customers feeling like that? Enough said.

Speed and Skill Sets:

We had a client that spent a good couple of hours of her time, talking to potential overseas VAs who were going to handle some data entry. Not a single one of them could actually type faster than 35 words a minute (and she thought that was rather an overpromise on their part when they actually started work). Whilst her job got done eventually, it was a lot slower than she’d anticipated – read: she paid for a LOT more hours than she’d expected.

When we suggest a VA for our clients – we’ve checked their skills. They’ve done tests for user skills on Microsoft platforms and they type at speeds well north of 65wpm. Plus they often have other skills from previous roles under their belts that might also come in handy for you. If you ask them to send a gift or flowers to someone, chances are they have a supplier they’ve used before who’s work they know well (or they’ll have a mate who knows someone awesome). As opposed the OS VA who has to do a general google search and cross their fingers for the outcome.

The Ability to Think Through Solutions and Act as a Part of Your Team:

Now this might seem really politically incorrect, but so many times clients have told us that whenever they’ve employed OS VAs, every time they hit a snag or didn’t know what to do, they stopped and waited for help – read: lost lots of time and made the business owner stop what they were doing, to spend time helping them.

Australian VAs are more likely to look for a solution to move forward with and either keep going or send the solution to the client for approval. And that’s what you want – someone that you can rely on to find the quickest and most effective way forward on any task.

Time Zone Efficiencies:

Unless your business is a global 24×7 kind of business, you’re more likely to need your VA to be available at similar times to you – so that you can check in when necessary or discuss something urgent. It’s hard to get something done urgently when your VA is in India and they don’t come online/start work until 2 or 3pm your time.

A local VA will generally get to know your business, your clients and over time, will develop knowledge on your industry. And at the end of the day, having an Australian VA is likely to be much easier on you, your customers and your business on so many levels; same time zone, easy to reach and it’ll be much easier to form a relationship – people like people like them.

Outsourcing can be a big move for a small business, but it can be a move that pays off. Delegating those dreaded admin responsibilities will free up your time, help manage stress and be cost effective in the long run.

At SOI we offer customised admin, virtual assistance and phone answering packages to suit a wide variety of business needs. So if you’d like to learn more, or if you have any questions, please give us a call on 9994 8000 or send us an email.

*http://www.smh.com.au/it-pro/business-it/workers-spend-61-per-cent-of-their-day-lost-in-email-and-information-20120730-23957.html