I recently connected with someone on LinkedIn about them potentially hiring support for their business. It was a very nice gentleman, a small business owner and he was asking if I knew someone who could come to his place of work.
When I asked why he needed someone with him, he said that he had tried going along the lines of hiring virtually but it just didn't work out. These stories often peak my interest, and I asked him what happened.
It turned out that he found that he wasn't really using the person he had hired, he was carrying on doing everything himself and the person being hired, from what I could gather, wasn't being very proactive in supporting him delegating. Now the issue wasn't the fact that he didn't feel he could delegate, in fact, he seemed quite confident if someone was sat with him, he'd be awesome at it, so in these cases you have to take people's word for it, but I believe his experience would have been very different if two things had happened...
#1 - The client was consciously prepared to delegate.
The best way you can encourage a client to become consciously prepared to delegate is to advise them that instead of going about their day, doing their tasks, they need to consciously consider each and every task and then ask themselves, could this task be written out in step-by-step instructions, or could this task be recorded on a Screencast start to finish - if the answer is yes, they need to either not do the task and spend the time instead writing out the instructions, or what might be easier, is to do the task and at each step, write out the instructions or record it on a Screencast. By doing this instead of being stuck in the loop of doing the task, they would have stepped off the hamster wheel, and they'll be prepared to hand that task over.
#2 - The VA was more supportive and encouraging.
There are various types of Virtual Assistant (VA), some pro-active, some re-active, some experienced, others not. The fact is we all have to start from somewhere, but this VA, in this case was not a good match for the client, because the client was not already in that state of conscious delegation - and when a client is not in that state, a different type of VA is required. This is one of the primary reasons why VA/Client relationships fail, it's the lack of compatibility for filling the client's individual needs. This is not a downfall of the client, not even of the VA, but a result of the combination of the two, like when you're cooking, you can have 2 flavours which taste great on their own, but when combined, they won't be as good as if they were combined with a different ingredient.
Could The Client Have Been Retained?
Quite possibly yes, what the VA could have done to retain this client would be to provide resources, tools and advice from the offset on how to delegate, what they need to do, where and how they do it, and then follow up regularly to make sure they are on track, this will then ease the client into a state of conscious delegation, building up a momentum like a plane to the point where it lifts off the ground and they're flying. You can't just wait for the client, you need to actively work with them to almost train them into delegating, and help them find a way to delegate that works, and above all is convenient for them.
What to do.
If you have recently taken in a new client, and they seem a little slow at delegating, or you feel they could be doing more with you, practise easing them into a state of conscious delegation and you'll find the relationship progresses along at a quicker pace. You should have clearly defined processes and systems on how you want the client to delegate to you, and it's important to communicate these from the offset.