5 Absolute Must-Have Resources to Onboard a VA by Connor Gillivan July 28, 2020

VA, the short term for a virtual assistant, is someone who aids business owners in their daily operational processes.

Compared to a traditional assistant, VA’s typically cost less and work from a remote location. Virtual assistants are essential in today’s technologically advanced industry for many reasons. Having a virtual assistant can reduce costs, enhance productivity, enable flexibility, and improve efficiency.

Virtual assistants have been part of the global business for years, outsourced in different parts of the world like the Philippines. Virtual assistants offer organizational services, customer service, administrative work, and much more. Because of their beneficial factors, many companies resort to hiring virtual assistants for certain positions instead of hiring full-time employees.

When should you hire a VA?

Any business can hire a virtual assistant, regardless of how small or big it is. If you want to assign extra workload or need someone to do administrative work, consider hiring a VA.

Essential Steps To Take Before Hiring a Virtual Assistant

1. Financial Plan

Every business transaction requires the presence of capital resources. It acts as fuel to keep the operations going and determines productivity. The same process goes with hiring personnel that would unload extra work for you.

When hiring a virtual assistant, you need to know the basics of pay rates. Commonly, the average rate for a starting VA ranges from $5-$10 per hour. The price is undeniably lower than hiring a traditional full-time assistant. Although it requires less, you will still invest cash on it. That is why a budget is one of the essential resources needed before you hire your virtual assistant.

Depending on the working schedule that you have set with your VA, the pay varies. The two common types of working schedules are the project-based/fixed price work and hourly scheduled work. For project-based work, the payment corresponds to the outputs your VA renders. While in an hourly work setup, you need to set an hourly rate and pay your VA according to the number of hours he/she has worked.

Set a financial plan accounting for the onboarding process, the actual hiring of the VA, maintaining the VA, and paying them as they work for your business.

Financial plans ensure that you will not go beyond your budget and find a person that agrees with your offer. However, some virtual assistants require specific service rates. They are more experienced in the job, thus providing quality work. The decision relies on both parties; you either compromise or find another one that will suit your preferences.

2. Stable Network Connection

Virtual Assistants work from remote locations and are usually outsourced in other countries like the Philippines. So, the means of relaying information requires a stable internet connection. In the hiring process, you need to reiterate to your potential VAs the significance of a stable internet connection in this type of work.

You need to ask for assurance that a stable internet connection will not be a problem and also if they could present a backup plan if ever a connection problem might come up along the way. Make sure to secure this to prevent any delays in communication and information dissemination.

3. Communication Strategy

Set up your communication channels before you hire a VA. Communication is crucial in business; it is the line that will connect you with your VA even though you may live on opposite sides of the world. It enables the dissemination of company information, business transactions, emergency messages, and client queries.

Setting this up early on relieves the hassle of getting a VA that would not be able to cope up with your means of communication. You need your personal communication platform to establish a deeper connection with your hired VA and to transmit information faster.

There are hundreds of available channels you can utilize for communicating. You should not miss three of the important ones: e-mail, live chat system and an emergency system. These serve different purposes and levels of urgency that you need to tell upfront to your potential VA.

E-mail

E-mail is useful in dealing with client queries, dissemination of memos, essential data, and transactions. It needs to be cleared at the start of the shift and has a fixed time of response. You can use something like Gmail for all email communication.

Live Chat System

A live chat platform is ideal for urgent matters that require a response right away. Utilize the platform to get daily updates from your team or VA as well. You can use apps like Slack and Skype.

Emergency Communication Channels

Emergency channels are platforms that are accessible anywhere or are present in your VA’s mobile phone. Examples of emergency systems are Facebook messenger, Viber, and WhatsApp. This means of communication is faster and could be your last resort to communicate company emergencies that need resolutions.

Besides the given communication channels, having a platform where you can connect with your VA is also helpful. Devise more ways on how you can create a connection within your team to secure efficacy and efficiency.

4. Company Culture

Company culture is the set of values, beliefs, traditions, and expectations you share in your company. It includes a series of ways you want your business to function and the mindset you want to share with your people to attain organizational goals.

Virtual assistants can come from different parts of the world, and every corner has a different culture. It would be best if you established a company culture that will work well with your diversified beliefs and one goal. Building a company culture brings clarity and creates a connection.

Present your company culture to your potential VA in the interview and onboarding process to assess if you share the same beliefs. Having people who do not share the same values as your company can spark misunderstandings. So, it is vital to have your company culture laid out before hiring a VA to prevent conflicts within the organization.

5. Contingency Plan

Create a backup plan. The future is uncertain for all businesses, but being proactive can mitigate impacts. A contingency plan is your tool to prepare for uncontrollable circumstances that may arise involving issues with virtual assistants.

Having an already set backup plan will save you from unexpected events that might come up. Disappearing VAs, communication problems, personal issues, and technological barriers are examples of these. With a contingency plan, you can swiftly address these issues and resolve them.

Along with this contingency plan are fixed rules you should present to potential VAs in the hiring process. Emphasize the importance of accountability even before you hire any person. One way to apply your backup plan is to communicate with them effectively.

A virtual assistant will play a vital role in your company, which is why you have to examine and choose them carefully. Take note that employee turnover can be costly and might negatively affect your business. So, it is just right to be meticulous in finding a virtual assistant than face a bigger problem in the future.

Onboarding is not an easy task. You need to establish the right system of hiring to come up with an effective process. Take the time to educate yourself with available materials online. Check on the many outsourcing resources to guide and provide you with the right system of onboarding a virtual assistant.

Connor Gillivan Founder and Owner, Outsource School
Connor Gillivan is a Founder and Owner of Outsource School. Outsource School is a platform teaching businesses how to build and scale remote companies by hiring and running virtual teams. Connor was previously the CMO of the FreeUp Marketplace before it was acquired in 2019. His insights on hiring and outsourcing can be found on over 250+ blogs on the Internet. He currently lives in Denver, Colorado.
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