I increased my efficiency by hiring a Virtual Assistant

Home Builder with The Flooring Girl

Yes, it's true, and it was one of the smartest business decisions I ever made!

virtual assistantTwo and half years ago, I started to get really busy, and I couldn't keep up with all the phone calls.  Many of them would happen while I was in appointments with customers (and I didn't want to answer then), and I would find my voicemail would constantly fill up.  Then, if it was full, I was always in this dilemma...should I answer (and interupt the person I was with) or let it go. If it was a private number, I wouldn't even be able to call them back.

The other issue I had is that I used to have many paid leads (coming from places like Service Magic), which required calling someone right away - within 5 minutes.  (although calling within 60 seconds was much better).  I couldn't be present everywhere, and I found this frustrating and stressful.

So, I was contemplating hiring an answering service.  I had one previously, but at the time, it just didn't seem worth it as I wasn't getting enough calls to justify the cost. But, now things had changed and I really needed help.  And, I needed more than what a typical answering service could provide...I needed someone to answer the phones + call the leads + set up appointments.

So, what did I do?

hardwood flooring kitchen with border westchester NYI took a risk and hired a Virtual Assistant!  I figured I would try it for 2-3 months and see how it worked.  I did the math to figure out how much extra business I needed to justify the cost and it meant a bit less than one incremental appointment per week, and this to me felt very achievable, so I gave it a shot..

The person I hired was actually someone I knew who had the right sort of phone voice, professionalism and can do attitude.  She's a mom who had some extra time and wanted to do a bit of extra work, but she would not be available to be in the office (given her kids).  And that was fine.  At the time, we guestimated that the time spent on the phone would be 5-8 hrs per week altogether.  The calls would come at all different times, so it was spread out, and this seemed to work.  We got her a cell phone (we split the costs because she needed a cell phone so it saved us both money) and this allowed her to answer the calls wherever she was (without spending time and gas coming to the office) and it allowed me to have someone being available for the majority of the week.

We forwarded the office # to her cell.  (We can do this online since I use optimum online and I can even swith it to my cell during holidays).

Well, this worked smashingly well.  Within a week, she was already booking more appointments for me...and she was freeing up my time, so I could be more focused on closing sales and focusing on the customers.  It was amazing and worked out much better than I imagined.  We booked an incremental 2 appointments a week - more than double the goal + my close rate improved +20%.  It was a true win win.

As I started to close more sales, I then had more work that was needed and more money that I could pay an assistant.  (Previously, that money had not existed).  So, we later moved her extra hours to 10 per week, then 15, then 20...and now it's around 40 hours a week

It has really been a virtuous relationship.  My customers love her and she does an amazing job.  I've been able to delegate more and more work to her which has been excellent.  As we go along, I train her more and more...and vice versa (she gives me plenty of advice, too).  She is now great at sizing up the customer - understanding what they need, where they are in the decision making process, what they're looking for.  She now helps set me up for success with the appointments and this has really helped.

I'm so glad I took this risk.  And, now, looking back, it doesn't feel like it was really a risk at all. 

This is a submission for the March contest: Eliminating Inefficiencies In Real Estate - A Contest. You can enter, too.


Re-Blogged 2 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Grant Schneider 03/02/2012 09:28 AM
  2. David Farrell 03/02/2012 09:41 AM
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Fernando Herboso - Broker for Maxus Realty Group
Maxus Realty Group - Broker 301-246-0001 - Gaithersburg, MD
301-246-0001 Serving Maryland, DC and Northern VA

Leveraging your business is a great concept. .I have at any giving time between 3 and 5 VA's all over the world working with me. . and the key is to have easy to understand instructions. . .from A to Z . .plus it helps if you speak their language

Mar 02, 2012 08:32 PM #63
Debbie Gartner
The Flooring Girl - White Plains, NY
The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers

Anna - Thank you so much.  Yes, I need to try more of these calculated risks.

Christine - Thx and yes, you should give it a try

Sharon - Yes, you're right and I think I need to find an additional one real soon.

Scott - Thx so much, and hopefully this idea will help you soon when you are ready.

Lori - Yes, you are very lucky and that is a huge win win.  good for you.

Mar 02, 2012 09:20 PM #64
Barbara-Jo Roberts Berberi, MA, PSA, TRC - Greater Clearwater Florida Residential Real Estate Professional
Charles Rutenberg Realty - Clearwater, FL
Palm Harbor, Dunedin, Clearwater, Safety Harbor

Wonderful move and exactly what I am doing with my daughter who wants some extra money but  would love to stay home and do the work at home.............a win win for everyone!

Mar 02, 2012 09:24 PM #65
Melissa Zavala
Broadpoint Properties - Escondido, CA
Broker, Escondido Real Estate, San Diego County

Sounds like a virtual assistant worked out really well for you in your business. It is something I have been considering.

Mar 02, 2012 10:42 PM #66
Sandy Acevedo
951-290-8588 - Chino Hills, CA
RE/MAX Masters, Inland Empire Homes for Sale

Hi Debbie, this is a great situation all the way around because your assistant is happy working and still being available for her kids and yet she is really helping you out. Perfection!

Mar 03, 2012 12:26 AM #67
Debbie Gartner
The Flooring Girl - White Plains, NY
The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers

Janet - Thank you.  You are so super sweet.  Now, let's hope that some of my future moves work out, too.

St Cloud - Thx so much.  Yes, when you have the right person, it can make a huge difference.

Ginny - Good for you.  There are many more things all of us can do to better focus on larger income generating activities.

Fernando - Wow, good for you.  Sounds like you have a great model working and I need to expand.  I agree w/ you on easy to follow instructions and that is definitely an opportunity that I can improve on.

Barbara Jo - Good for you, that is a true win win win.

Melissa - yes, it has and I hope you do give it a try.

Sandy - Yes, it really does work out well for everyone.

Mar 03, 2012 12:57 AM #68
Margie Kopp Sorrell
Coldwell Banker Lake Oconee Realty and Lake Country - Greensboro, GA
Lake Oconee Real Estate

I love jobs like this that give Stay at Home Moms a chance to make some extra income without manipulating all of their time. Best of both worlds for both of you guys!

Mar 03, 2012 01:44 AM #69
Debbie Gartner
The Flooring Girl - White Plains, NY
The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers

Margie - Yes, it's a great way to help many stay at home moms.

Mar 03, 2012 05:47 AM #70
Sandy Fenton
Keller Williams NY Realty * Licensed Associate Broker - Mount Kisco, NY
ABR, ASP, CDPE, GRI -Westchester NY - Condos to Luxury Homes

Hi Debbie - what great news!  You must be so relieved to get so much off your shoulders.  I am very happy for you.  :-)

Was great speaking with you today - I so appreciate you and your bubbly enthusiasm.  Wanna help me with my taxes???  LOL  ;-)  (just kidding, of course . . .)

Mar 03, 2012 05:54 AM #71
Kevin A. Guttman Author, Reverse Mortgages
NMLS#384936 - Colorado Springs, CO

This is great! I have often wondered about virtual assistants and if they can be productive and take some of the load off me. I appreciate your post!

Mar 03, 2012 06:11 AM #72
Michael S. Bolton
Michael S. Bolton,Inc. - Zimmerman, MN
MN Appraiser

Hi Debbie~I'm glad to hear that it worked well for you. I like the Brit humor, "smashingly well." LOL I'm probably in the same position you were when you trying to justify the expense. I truly could use some help for a few hours a week, although I'm not sure a virtual assistant could fit the bill.

Have an AWESOME weekend!


Mar 03, 2012 06:11 AM #73
Debbie Gartner
The Flooring Girl - White Plains, NY
The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers

Sandy - Thx you are so sweet.  I hate taxes, too.  One of my least favorite things to do.  It was great talking with you, too.

Kevin - Yes, they really can and it sounds like others here have also had great success.

Michael - Yes, it's always hard when you are in that middle area.  but, give it a try and see if it works.  or try it in a few months when things get busier.

Mar 03, 2012 06:59 AM #74
Cheryl Dukes . . . . . Intown Atlanta
Solid Source Realty, Inc. - Atlanta, GA

We have a lot of time-consuming work that needs to be done. Every time I do it, I wish for a VA. The key is in finding the right person. Congratulations on finding her.

Mar 03, 2012 09:30 AM #75
Jerry Newman
Brown Realty, 210-789-4216,www.JeremiahNewman.com - San Antonio, TX
Texas REALTOR, San Antonio Military Relocation

Hi Debbie, I saw this Featured post the other day, and didn't have time to comment, but I know business is doing well when you have to hire an Assistant. I have heard nothing but great things about Virtual Assistants. I am sure it frees up some value time for you to be with your clients. Great Assistants are hard to Find!

Mar 03, 2012 09:39 AM #76
Debbie Gartner
The Flooring Girl - White Plains, NY
The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers

Cheryl - I agree, the key is finding the right person - one who picks up things quickly and continues to learn & grow.

Jerry - Yes, it can make a huge difference, esp if you find the right person.

Mar 03, 2012 05:43 PM #77
Jane Peters
Home Jane Realty - Los Angeles, CA
Connecting you to the L.A. real estate market

That is great news, Debbie.  I wish I had enough business to afford one.  While I am away I have someone handling things and love it.  But I can't do it full time :)

Mar 03, 2012 10:42 PM #78
Angie Nwanodi
Evergreen Realty & Associates, Inc. - Rancho Cucamonga, CA
The ACG Group, Realtors®|Standard, Short, HUD, REO

Congrats on your feature!  I've looked into it and just hired my first, but for a temporary project.  I believe I will have one that is more permanent as you've described by May 1.  Thanks for sharing your experience.  I've interviewed several companies and most of them have staff based overseas. Nothing wrong with that ... I was raised abroad, but I know from recent trainings that in the REO sector, some government sellers frown upon or flat out prohibit the use of offshore VAs.  I also like to hire locallly and domestically when possible.  Any suggestions for my list of interviewees?


Mar 04, 2012 05:33 PM #79
Captain Wayne - Rowlett Real Estate School
REcampus Fully Accredited Florida ONLINE & Classroom Training in Destin, Pensacola Florida - Panama City Beach, FL
Rowlett Real Estate School / Owner and Instructor

Debbie, you made a very smart decision.  Congratulations on finding such a great assistant.

Mar 07, 2012 08:53 PM #80
Karen Crowson
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Rancho Bernardo, CA
Your Agent for Change

Like hearing this Debbie. That's in my plan for next year. Have too many other 'big rocks' on the plate already.

Mar 08, 2012 10:58 AM #81
Debbie Gartner
The Flooring Girl - White Plains, NY
The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers

Jane - I'm sure soon enough you'll be able to.  You can always start w/ someone part time.

Micahel - Thx.  That is great to know and I hope the info comes in handy for many.

Angie - Good for you.  I also prefer to hire locally when possible.  I'm not the best resource for where to find people, but there are several others who have commented here with suggestions.

Captain Wayne - Thank you so much.

Karen - Good for you.  Oh and yes, I have a bunch of rocks to sor through, too.

Mar 08, 2012 06:23 PM #82
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Debbie Gartner

The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers
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