Our thanks to Tracey Hayes of Purple Haze for a Virtual Assistant’s take on how you can help them best:
We don’t like making excuses.
Seriously. We don’t. But if a client doesn’t trust us to be a competent and efficient Virtual Assistant, we don’t have much choice.
‘I’m very sorry, madam. Of course we’ll tell him you called. But I’m afraid I don’t know if the scintillator valve on your SP193 has a bifurcating dongle…’
So it’s great when clients trust us – and give us full access to their systems.
Recently we covered for the owner of an executive courier company who was going on holiday.
He gave us the details of his four drivers. Forwarded his phone calls to our office. Even handed over his business mobile – and gave us access to his email accounts.
And he also gave us every piece of information we could conceivably need.
We’d regard that as Trust with a capital T.
So while he was away we answered all his phone calls. We responded to emails on his behalf. Raised quotes for him. Took bookings for him. Dealt with his drivers and gave them their instructions. Even made courtesy follow-up calls to his clients.
As a result the only people who knew the boss was away were his own drivers. So he could enjoy his holiday in peace.
(And we had his business mobile. So there was no risk it’d get thrown in the pool by a frustrated partner…)
It’s all about process
If we took you on as new client we’d want find out as much about you as you’re willing to tell.
Your contact details (all of them). Your client details (including which are the most demanding and which need to be handled with – shall we say – particular care…): ‘Please be aware that if you use the word ‘cheese’ in a conversation with Tom H**** he will immediately scream, jump up onto his desk, and sing the Marseillaise.’
We also like to know what software you use. What services you provide, and what they cost. Who your ‘go-to’ people are: ‘Please pass any calls about the SP193 to Mrs Slocombe. She’s the only one who has the first idea what it does. Or how it does it…’
And we’ll take the time to understand how your business processes work. Plus making a note of any password or login details we need to make sure they do work.
Then we write up everything we’ve learned in a document. We call it your Standard Operating Procedure. And (if you want us to) we’ll hand a copy to you.
It’s a valuable document. And yes, it’s yours.
Because real trust works both ways.
So if you’d like to know more about the way a ‘proper’ Virtual Assistant works, feel free to give us a call on 01638 741079. Or take a peek at our website…
And no, we don’t supply scintillator valves. Or bifurcating dongles. Sorry.
So. When you’re ‘working’, what do you actually do?
Let’s face it, ‘working’ means different things to different people. But if you’re running your own business, then ‘look busy, the boss is coming’ will certainly not apply.
Even so, there may be things you’re doing – even necessary things – that aren’t making the best use of your time. So your mission – should you choose to accept it – is to decide which is which.
And in this case you might want to involve your Secretary (if you have one) very closely, so they can’t disavow all knowledge of your actions later on.
Do, Delegate or Dump?
When it comes to deciding what you should (or should not) be doing there’s a simple but effective litmus test you can use.
- Do the things that only you can do.
- Delegate the things that someone else can do as well as (or better than) you.
- And Dump the things that really don’t need doing at all.
The first and last seem pretty obvious. It’s the delegation that usually causes a problem. Especially if you don’t actually have a person to whom you can delegate things.
Now it is, of course, just possible that your life partner absolutely loves – and is good at – all the jobs you hate. You also have a perfect relationship where he or she has enough time on their hands to dive in and help when SS Your Business seems to be heading for the rocks.
But back in the real world it’s more likely that your better half (even assuming you have one) will have other things to do. Usually at precisely the time you need their help. And – again in the real world – their idea of heaven will not necessarily include filing the Tower of Babel that used to be your paperwork. Or, for that matter, chasing six-month-old invoices you’ve inconveniently forgotten about.
Worse yet, even if they do these things – perhaps out of loyalty to you – they may not be very good at doing them…
However, there is an answer. You can outsource the problem to a specialist. Because – believe it or not – there really are people out there who enjoy those things. (And enjoy them even more if they can prevent them happening in the first place…)
But you can’t just throw them a bag full of paper. (Well – you can, but you might get it thrown right back.) You have to do your outsourcing properly…
So what does that actually mean?
Well, put yourself in the other person’s shoes for a moment. If you were taking on that kind of work for someone else, there are a few questions you might want to ask them:
- What are you delegating – what’s included, and what isn’t?
- Why are you delegating this work? Is it to free up your time? To reduce costs? Or some other reason? (There could be many more.)
- To whom are you delegating? If it’s ‘someone you know’ have you checked their qualifications and their CV? As carefully as you’d check those of a future employee…?
- When do you want the work completed?
Successful outsourcing depends on asking – and answering – those questions, and ensuring that the person doing the work understands precisely what you are asking them to do.