Here are the guidelines I have created for my virtual assistant company, Virtual Miss Friday.
1. Be Honest.
Never ‘lie’ to the client about who is processing the work. If you’re hiring sub-contractors to help you, then it is courteous to inform your clients of this, ideally in the service agreement. If they don’t ask you, then you may feel it’s okay not to tell them, but if they do, and you mislead them, it could bite you on the bottom one day.
If you’re sub-contracting on a small scale, then you could simply adjust your service agreement explaining that in order to provide a quality service you may at anytime hire independent contractors to assist you in the provision of services to your clients.
I always state very clearly in my service agreement that I hire a team of professionals who assist me with the provision of services so it’s transparent up front. Passing work off as your own when it isn’t can lead to questions, which could back you into a corner, or worst case, lose you the client, particularly if you don’t posses the skills yourself to have done the work.
2. Match Skills With Tasks.
I only hire high quality people who specialise in specific sections of the business and assign tasks to the most appropriate member of the team.
For example, writers should do the writing, designers should do the designing, of course there are people with a variety of talents but take the time to get to know the strengths and weaknesses of the individuals in your team, and base decisions on assignment delegation by who is best suited to the task. If you need to, use multiple members of your team to provide the best quality outcome. One of the perks of having a team is having so many excellent resources available to you, just be strategic in how you work with them.
3. Match Culture With Clients.
If you would like to directly pair a VA with a client from a different culture, discuss this with the client first, the client may have a specific reason they hired you, it of course may not be purely a cultural reason, but it could be part of it.
I only have native English speakers or Europeans who speak fluent English dealing directly with native English or European clients, this goes especially when we are also working directly with clients of our clients. There are many cultural differences between East and West, I have come across them first hand working with a variety of VA’s from different cultures, and to make life easier for my clients, my ‘customer facing’ team is from a western society, because my clients are, and they have hired me, a western VA. I do have some members on my team from around the globe and we work with a variety of cultures at Virtual Miss Friday, and although myself and the members of my team are very experienced in working with non-native English speaking team members, it’s important to keep in mind that your clients may not be, and because of this, it’s best to match them with team members from the same culture as you. After all, they hired you, and you are from a particular culture.
This also works both ways, if you’re a VA for example in Brazil, and your clients are also in Brazil, then ideally having a native Portuguese speaking virtual assistant who can clearly and accurately understand and communicate well would be best in the long term.
4. Pyramid The Team.
Small teams can be created within teams, thus allowing a more focused, reliable service for the clients.
The pyramid technique for developing a team is best for both you and the client, particularly if you are providing retainer services on an ongoing basis, or for any clients or tasks that required daily or weekly management and maintenance.
You basically have at all times 2 or 3 people with the ability and knowledge to carry out the task, rotating, so that they can provide cover on holidays or during absence. This is a contingency, and will give both you and the client piece of mind that there won’t be any disruption to service.
Click here for further information on how to use this technique.
5. Don’t Micro-Manage.
If you’re managing more people than is reasonable, structure in managers to compensate or have a second in command and allow them to make decisions and have management responsibilities.
Micro-managing has several disadvantages, it takes a lot of time, it’s a hassle, it could leave you open to missing important things due to a high workload, it gives you less time to handle clients, and will burn you out if you’re managing too much.
There is also another important point to consider as your business expands — do you ever want to take time off? Because if you do, then you’ll need someone to hold the fort, otherwise you’ll be in a position where your team won’t have anyone to go to when they need assistance, and your clients won’t know who to contact in your absence.
Outsourcing isn’t complicated, but it does require a very high degree of organisation, you need to have the ability to select people who are right for your company and your clients, you need to have systems, guidelines and procedures in place to ensure that everyone is on the same page and that consistency will also demonstrate to clients that you have created a wonderfully efficient and effective service.