Quantifying Virtual Assistant Services What makes a VA perfect?

By
Services for Real Estate Pros with VirtuAllin Administrative Services

It's Friday and as an interlude, I wanted to do some quantification. I've been reading "The E-Myth Revisited," by Michael E. Gerber which discusses taking your small business past the "Technician" stage, whereby there is no real business, only YOU - to a place where you have systems and processes in place to the point where someday if you stepped out, your business could go on without you.

Today, I'd like to learn your thoughts about Virtual Assistant's and get your ideas on what makes a good Virtual Assistant and the experiences you've had (if any) working with a Virtual Assistant.

So, feel free to add your comments to this post at my website blog - include your website and you'll get a link back to your site for the effort!

Questions:

1. Have you ever used a Virtual Assistant?

2. Have you worked with more than one Virtual Assistant?

3. Where did you hear about Virtual Assistants?

4. Where did you find your Virtual Assistant?

5. How many did you interview before you chose yours?

6. What are the biggest benefits to working with a Virtual Assistant?

7. What are the biggest drawbacks to working with a Virtual Assistant?

8. Have you had a bad experience with a VA? Please describe (and if its' me, feel free to detail!)

9. What qualities are important in your Virtual Assistant?

10. What Virtual Assistant services are most appealing?

11. What Virtual Assistant services are the least appealing?

12. A perfect Virtual Assistant would...

13. You prefer your Virtual Assistant to be A. a trusted advisor or B. Strictly a technician

Thank you so much for your thoughts and feedback - I'm sure others will find your input as valuable as I do. Have a terrific weekend!

Comments (26)

Mary Warren
Las Vegas, NV
Hi Catherine and Gena...seems like we have something in common!
Jun 03, 2007 10:53 AM
Gena Riede
Riede Real Estate, Lic. 01310792 - Sacramento, CA
Real Estate Broker - Sacramento CA Real Estate (916) 417-2699
Oh hi Mary, yes we certainly do, don't we?
Jun 03, 2007 12:09 PM
Mary Warren
Las Vegas, NV
Interesting that Ms Allin replies to comments made regarding this subject on another blog by another person but gives no feedback on it here.  See also: http://activerain.com/blogsview/113026/The-Obsolete-Employee  He wrote a great article about the same time this one came out.  Some of those who commented here commented there.
Jun 05, 2007 02:39 AM
Gena Riede
Riede Real Estate, Lic. 01310792 - Sacramento, CA
Real Estate Broker - Sacramento CA Real Estate (916) 417-2699
Yes, it is very interesting Mary. Makes one ponder, doesn't it?
Jun 05, 2007 02:43 AM
Mesa, Arizona Real Estate Mesa Arizona Realtor
Homes Arizona Real Estate LLC - Mesa, AZ
AzLadyInRed
Hi Mary and Gena........sounds like we all have experienced the same problem when using and trusting a VA to do what they say they will do in a timely manner and not holding us hostage unless we throw in that extra $$. Believe me, I will have TONS of Realtor referrals before I ever use a VA again.
Jun 12, 2007 07:22 AM
Gena Riede
Riede Real Estate, Lic. 01310792 - Sacramento, CA
Real Estate Broker - Sacramento CA Real Estate (916) 417-2699
Amen to that Teri.
Jun 12, 2007 02:05 PM
Laura Monroe
Inman News - San Francisco, CA
Dir. of Industry Engagement & Social Media

Mary, Gena, and Teri~ I hope you don't mind, but I'm very interested in the comments made here about VAs. Not in a defensive way, but I'm truly curious about what the heck is happening out there with some VAs. Would any of you mind elaborating..? Is it a question of not being able to complete jobs, no dependability, or are there VAs out there really ripping agents off? I've heard this more and more lately, and its terrible.

Mary, you and I spoke briefly about it, but what are VAs doing to create such a  disdain..?

Cheryl, I'm hijacking your blog in hopes of enlightenment, sorry;)

 

Jun 14, 2007 03:48 AM
Cheryl Allin
VirtuAllin Administrative Services - University Place, WA
Laura, not a problem - hijack away, but just take whatever you discover with a grain of salt.  As you undoubtedly know, some clients attempt to take advantage of the VA.  Some have their VA create a masterful work, say it's perfect then suddenly request a total redo at no charge.  Other's expect the VA to be "on-call" as if they were an employee.  Some are even dastardly enough to do a charge back or stop payment after a project has been fully completed.  Thus, VAs also have to be very, very cautious in whom they choose to work with and clarify expectations in advance. Not all VAs are truly bad - and not all clients are truly "good."  
Jun 14, 2007 04:17 AM
Gena Riede
Riede Real Estate, Lic. 01310792 - Sacramento, CA
Real Estate Broker - Sacramento CA Real Estate (916) 417-2699
Laura, some will say whatever they can to weasel their way out of a situation that they themselves have induced. So, once again, numbers are the name of this game. When there are several people who have had a negative experience with an individual, it is in the best interest of the hiring party to listen objectively and determine if they wish to go down that thorny path.
Jun 14, 2007 04:25 AM
Laura Monroe
Inman News - San Francisco, CA
Dir. of Industry Engagement & Social Media
Hi Cheryl~ yes, I have found that out as well:) There are both sides to every story. It just sucks when you try hard to provide a great service, and for those individuals it doesn't work for, all of a sudden the whole VA community is in on it..and are all terrible. Getting your take on it is helpful, you are a VA ICON:)
Jun 14, 2007 04:28 AM
Laura Monroe
Inman News - San Francisco, CA
Dir. of Industry Engagement & Social Media
Gena~ Thanks for commenting. Am I reading you right, that you are talking about an individual VA? If so, then I misunderstood you, especially if you all shared the same one.. It's all very interesting food for thought. 
Jun 14, 2007 04:33 AM
Cheryl Allin
VirtuAllin Administrative Services - University Place, WA
Laura, A VA Icon???  Wow! You just made my day!  Thank you, thank you!  Now, if I only had a clone, hehe.  Being a VA is rewarding and energizing, but also a hard slog sometimes.  Negative experiences, while difficult to deal with in the moment, often provide the best insights into how you can improve your methods, your communication and your procedures.  You start to hone your instincts to avoid problems and how to structure internal processes to create the best results.  And networking with other VAs who share your passion is vital and  immensely helpful - they can help you keep your head on straight and learn from situations rather than succumb to negative thinking. 
Jun 14, 2007 04:37 AM
Laura Monroe
Inman News - San Francisco, CA
Dir. of Industry Engagement & Social Media
Cheryl, That's exactly why I was asking, because as a VA who is still honing what works for my business model it helps to have insight in the best ways to communicate, provide support etc. I always come to your site for your great articles and knowledge...but I'm sure you already know that;)
Jun 14, 2007 04:49 AM
Mesa, Arizona Real Estate Mesa Arizona Realtor
Homes Arizona Real Estate LLC - Mesa, AZ
AzLadyInRed

Brother!!! Laura, I have had two separate VA's that I've had problems with. Because AR is not an adversarial group, names are not mentioned. That said, know that in the future, I would only rely on those that have used a particular VA before I used him/her. There are more than the three of us on this very venue that have dealt with this particular VA.........there are more, but suffice it to say, ALWAYS check references personally. Just because he/she puts a link of their work on their website, contact the one that the work was for. Not by just emailing, but by calling. It's not about ALL, but just some.........

I'll list just some of the problems: misquoting prices for doing the work, not available by phone or email for days at a time, not finishing the work to the satisfaction of the one hiring the VA even though they - on their website - promise that it is to the satisfaction or refunds will be made. Yeh, right!!! While the VA we are speaking about might be talented and knowledgable in some areas, I think that he/she far overbooks and thus cannot deliver as promised. I finally gave up, paid him/her, and then went elsewhere to get things "fixed," to some degree. I will be looking for another VA - through referrals - to get things to where I want them. Hopefully this explains a bit more to you Cheryl and to you Laura...............

Jun 14, 2007 05:28 AM
Laura Monroe
Inman News - San Francisco, CA
Dir. of Industry Engagement & Social Media
Well, I guess I inserted my proverbial foot in my mouth, which was not my intention in anyway. I apologize to all parties involved as that was not my intent. I should have left it well enough alone. I was just trying to learn a thing or two;)
Jun 14, 2007 05:32 AM
Mesa, Arizona Real Estate Mesa Arizona Realtor
Homes Arizona Real Estate LLC - Mesa, AZ
AzLadyInRed
Laura, it's all good. I'm sure my comment sounded a bit strong, but believe me it was not intended to be at you. I just wanted to clarify any cloudy questions you may have had. It's not about all VA's, but some have made it more difficult for the ones that are honest, that do finish their work as promised, etc.
Jun 14, 2007 05:45 AM
Gena Riede
Riede Real Estate, Lic. 01310792 - Sacramento, CA
Real Estate Broker - Sacramento CA Real Estate (916) 417-2699
Laura, I'd say you did learn a thing or two.
Jun 14, 2007 05:45 AM
Laura Monroe
Inman News - San Francisco, CA
Dir. of Industry Engagement & Social Media
Oh yes, learning more everyday! I appreciate the clarification with the issues, as it will only help me understand more, and hopefully help me to get better at what I do~ and what all VAs try to do:)
Jun 14, 2007 05:53 AM
Catherine Myers
Windermere Bay Area Properties - Walnut Creek, CA
Walnut Creek, CA Real Estate
Laura, there is nothing so true as the saying "under promise and over deliver."  Treat your clients with respect and respect their time and their expectations and you will go far.  Its easy to get caught up in it all , but handling more clients than you can reasonably service is not the way to build future business.  Be realistic with your time.  Some VA's have some clients that are seemingly more favorite than others.  When hiring a VA it is vital to know how they deal with competing demands.  Of course we know that we aren't that VA's only client, but if you can't get a job done, or can't contact a client for many days and say it is because another one of your clients demanded more time... well... how do you think that makes your put off client feel? Make all your clients a priority and have reliable, trained, and knowledgeable back up available.  As Realtors we juggle many clients every day.  We try to make each client feel special.  And if we're lucky , we succeed.  If we're not, we make unhappy clients forever.  You know what they say... an unhappy client will tell many more people about their experience than a happy client ever will.  Stay honest, be up front, admit mistakes and guarantee satisfaction... you will go far Laura.
Jun 14, 2007 05:55 AM
Mary Warren
Las Vegas, NV
I've been in class all day and away from 'the action"....I just want to say that i've had a couple VA's that were 'issues'....one used my AE card without authorization (my fault for giving her the number and trusting her too soon)....another refused to return phone calls/e-mails for 10 days (that's when I told her to forget it). This was not a realtor expecting someone to be 'on call'...not after waiting 10 days.   I have documentation on both of these event, in the form of e-mails and CC charges and reverse charges.  I am currently working with a VA and have had her for 15 months.  She's great...I've never had any issues.  I think VAs are GREAT....I did not mean to imply that...I think you should look at some of my other posts...I've mentioned it before.  BUT ONE HAS TO BE CAREFUL AND CHECK REFERENCES, and also get opinions from others as the VA who they are interviewing will only give them good references, not the bad ones.  I've heard from others on this...there are 4 here...but I know of at least 2 others.
Jun 14, 2007 04:03 PM