"An assistant should be your number-one most important hire because they are freeing up your time..."
Brandon Turner, Real Estate Investor and VP of Growth at BiggerPockets.com
In today's business world, there are many options when it comes to leveraging a virtual executive assistant.
Do you know what to look for?
Many virtual assistant companies claim to provide the best, most updated and techie services on the market. They promise to take dozens of items off an executive's or business owner's plate to free up their time for more revenue generating opportunities.
Sounds great! But is this really the case?
How do you know you aren't overpaying, or worse...not getting what you're paying for?
Here's how to figure out if you're getting the best value for a fair price...
1. Start with your need
You're looking for the best virtual assistant services, but what do you need a virtual executive assistant to do for you? We've created a very thorough How to Find the Right Virtual Executive Assistant infographic (decision tree) to help you navigate to the right company and service.
2. Decide what your need is worth
For an executive or business owner, the most conclusive way to go about this is to consider the costs of hiring an employee, which often deter businesses from hiring someone in-house despite increased business growth. That's because the business must pony up the hard costs for advertising, screening, interviewing, hiring, training, benefits, taxes, IT infrastructure and support, facility costs, a work computer, and more while also absorbing intangible costs such as reduced productivity and lost opportunity.
Generally, when you hire a virtual assistant, your costs will only be 50-75% of what it takes to hire an in-house employee.
The best virtual assistant companies will cover the costs associated with hiring, so you save both money and risk.
3. Don't buy into the hourly rate lingo
Nearly all virtual assistant services out there charge by the hour. This can be extremely confusing, since it's difficult to compare one company that charges $6.98 an hour (e.g. Tasks Everyday) with another that charges around $28 to $33 an hour (e.g. Zirtual). Even if you're willing to pay the highest hourly price, you aren't guaranteed reliable service -- considering what happened with Zirtual.
Confusing. Difficult. Time consuming.
The hourly pricing leaves you with the responsibility for managing your usage and assessing the value of each hour. Who needs that hassle?!
4. Pay a flat rate for a dedicated, managed assistant
Marketplaces provide a space for people to connect. Beyond that, you must do everything from searching and interviewing to onboarding and managing. At their best, Elance and ODesk are great examples of virtual executive assistant marketplaces that can work to the advantage of consumers.
A few dollars an hour may buy you help with setting up a restaurant reservation or trolling for a good buy on Craigslist, but if you're truly busy why would you even consider putting this amount of extra work on your plate? It certainly won't save you time, which means you'll be leaving a lot of money on the table just to nickle and dime yourself.
Managed service providers are the best choice for intricate, relationship-based virtual executive assistant services that require an intimacy of knowledge and trust, which are in direct opposition to the anonymity of a marketplace.
A flat rate will go farthest for those busy professionals who simply don’t have time to slow way down to figure out what they can meaningfully delegate.
Managed services like Prialto are passionate about helping members (e.g. clients) who know that the cost-effective flat rate is well worth the time we save them, which translates to new revenue generation and a much needed work-life balance.
You aren't getting the most for your money when you're charged extra for every process, project, and/or task that you'd like to delegate. You shouldn't be charged extra by virtual assistant companies to customize processes for you. Period. Neither should you be pigeonholed into using systems that don't serve your specific company's needs.
A flat rate should provide a consistent quality of service, back-up assistance, well defined best practices, and customized processes.
5. proof is powerful - reviews tell all
"I’ve had the pleasure of working with Prialto for nearly two years now. Sales are up, pipelines are full, and follow ups are well managed. It’s worked so well, that we’re actively looking at ways to grow our Prialto relationship company wide."
Ed Casey, Vice President, Global Payments, AscendantFX Capital Inc.
The best virtual assistant companies will provide a fast-paced executive with the following for a flat rate:
- An all inclusive onboarding process with a foundational executive workflow offloading period along with personalized manuals that are constantly updated by your support team as a quick reference guide to let you know what's initiated, ongoing, pending, and completed.
- A dedicated assistant for direct communication and follow-up during normal business hours. Some companies (like Prialto) offer 24/7 assistance as well.
- An organized and structured managerial team that includes a project manager, service center manager, and supervisor for your dedicated assistant as well as a personalized backup assistant to ensure your service is consistent. You shouldn't experience pauses or disruptions in your service. You should always be able to rely on a quick and effective turnaround of your projects and tasks.
- A daily personalized summary sent to you with the ability for you to rate your service and provide feedback -- depending on what you'd like to change, tweak, or continue. All of this should be received at a managerial level, cascaded down appropriately to your assistant, and rolled out with minimal effort or time from you.
- A variety of optional software tools to enhance your current processes and make you more effective. The best companies will adapt to your system, and work with what you have in your current business arsenal.
So much goes into your decision to find the right amount of support and quality of service, but two things are clear: your time and tasks should be top priority.
The best virtual assistant companies will amplify your professional life, provide you with a much needed work life balance, relieve your stress, and help you focus on what matters most in your business so that you can grow it!
Are you looking to hire a virtual assistant that can save you time and money?