Things you should and shouldn't do when hiring a VA
Updated: Aug 4
Can you believe it - there are still people who don’t know what a VA is? If you don’t then panic not, I’ll be covering what a VA does and how to work with one.
What’s a VA?!
Put simply they are experienced individuals who typically work alone or in a small team to provide admin support to multiple businesses. The point here being multiple. VA’s don’t tend to work with just one company, it isn’t like having an employee that supports only your business. This hugely benefits small to medium companies who may only need admin support a few hours a week or month.
Do your research
If you have decided to get a VA onboard – well done! It’s not easy to decide to hand over control to someone else so firstly I’d advise you to do your research. If you had a leak in your house you wouldn’t call the first plumber you googled (or at least I’d hope not), you’d look at their ratings, if they were on check-a-trade etc and check they look ‘legit’. Looking for a VA is no different, check reviews, make sure you like the look of them and then get in touch. Although there are no official industry regulators, you can pick from a huge list of ‘Approved Virtual Assistants’ on The Society of Virtual Assistants Website. To become an approved VA you must have insurance, a website, answer emails/calls within 24 hours and have relevant terms and conditions in place.
Make sure you find a select few VA’s who you like the look of, try not to email 20 different people – its more admin for you. To save you some time, VA’s typically charge around £20 - £35 an hour.
Don’t ask for a CV
Working with a VA is not an employed position, I see so many adverts on various sites from businesses requiring a VA and posting an entire job description with an ‘apply here’ or ‘send me your CV’. Unless you’re going to put them on payroll, pay national insurance, tax, break times etc they aren’t your employee.
All you need to know is that the VA you’ve chosen can do what they say they can and will do it to a good standard. If you’ve done your research you’ll hopefully have seen great reviews and a decent website. If you really must know their work history just have a look on Linkedin (everyone’s got a Linkedin by now I hope?).
Be prepared to agree to their terms
Working with a VA is a business transaction just like any other. We provide a service and then we get paid at the end of it, or upfront, dependent on the VA’s terms. It’s quite normal for you to be asked to agree to their terms or sign a contract. It helps to cover us and you as a business to ensure we get paid and you get the service you expect – it benefits both sides.
What’s the Virtual bit about?
It's not as fancy as it sounds. The typical working environment for a VA is home based or based within their own office. They work remotely to your business. Virtual means lots of different things to different people so make sure you talk this through with your VA. You may need to work with someone locally so you can drop off or collect paperwork. If you’re completely online then you could work with a VA based anywhere in the country.
Can I have a discount?
I mentioned earlier that VA’s on average charge anywhere from £20 - £35 an hour. If you ask a VA to work for any less they’ll likely (politely) respond no. There’s a reason it costs that much and it’s down to having correct insurance in place, experience, ICO registration, software subscriptions etc. Truth is you’ll probably be able to find a ‘VA’ based abroad for around $4 an hour which is outrageous. There are a few things you need to be aware of – if you use an overseas VA there is no guarantee that their insurance (if they have it) covers your UK business for any mistakes they could make, you should also be mindful of where the data is being stored and how it is used – will it be compliant with the ICO (Information Commissioners Office)? There are many risks to handing your data over, really think about using a ‘cheap’ VA before doing it.
What sort of jobs can I ask a VA to do?
The list is endless, some VA’s specialise, and some provide general admin. I have listed some of the common jobs they do to give you an idea.
· Diary Management
· Inbox Management
· Website Design
· Credit Control
· Market Research
· Social Media Scheduling
· Data Entry
· PA Services
· Running your CRM
There are usually two ways in which you can work with a VA, you can either pay to ‘retain’ their time each week or month or you can use one on an ad-hoc basis. If you pay to retain their time this means you have a guaranteed spot in their schedule weekly/monthly of which they devote to supporting you. This is a great way to make sure you are getting constant support when you need it. If you just need a small project or holiday cover you can usually arrange for the work to be done as and when you need support. This sort of work is not usually prioritised as the retainers get first dibs on the VA’s schedule.
It’s easy to forget things from time to time, if you need to ask your VA to do something extra just be mindful of your agreed working days. Remember that VA’s work with multiple businesses and cannot be there for you at all times. If you need someone on hand at all times it may be wise to consider an employee instead.
What do I need to provide?
This is one of the best parts about using a VA (apart from them actually doing your work!) – you don’t need to provide them with anything. VA’s have their own computer, their own software subscriptions and office equipment. If their computer dies or something unspeakable happens, it’s our problem – not yours.
There may be some additional charges for things like printing and storage if required, check with your VA on this.
The great thing about this industry is the variety you get; we all work in different ways and there is usually a VA out there for you! If you do sign up with one and decide it’s not working out we rarely have long term tie in contracts, it’s not how we like to roll.
Make sure you have a consultation first before signing up, most VA’s offer this. Good Luck!
The Society of Virtual Assistants have put together a great pamphlet on working with a VA that you can download here.
If you’d like to chat about working together please book in with me here for a free no obligation 30 minute chat.