When it comes to hiring a virtual assistant (VA) it can be normal to feel overwhelmed at first. For those who haven’t done it, this sounds incredibly daunting. Honestly, I felt the same way at the beginning. I was under this impression for the longest time until one of the students in our course mentioned to me how amazing his VAs were doing.
He asked about our VAs and I told him we didn’t currently have any, but I was curious about what his VAs worked on for him. He actually showed me the VA worksheets that his company uses and I was floored at the level of productivity!
It was at that point I knew we simply had to have our own VAs. It was time for us to get over the hump! We set out blindly to hire them, train them and ultimately work with them as the new members of our team. Through trial and error, we learned a lot about the hiring and training processes involved with employing someone who does not physically work with you.
I can honestly say that our VAs became an incredible part of our team. We don’t really think of them as VAs anymore, more along the lines of incredibly important and vital members of our team. They add value to our company, they work with our team to make them more efficient and they contribute ideas daily! Our team is amazing, and hopefully I can tell you how to identify amazing members for your team as well.
In terms of hiring, we did our hiring off of OnlineJobs.ph. We bought a membership, looked through possible applicants, and developed a list of possible candidates we wanted to interview. When it came to hiring. the things we cared about were computer proficiency, English language proficiency, and the ability to use spreadsheets.
If you notice – we did not target people who had a working knowledge of sourcing on Amazon. There are many reasons that we didn’t want to hire proficient sourcing agents, but first and foremost we didn’t want to retrain them to our metrics and to think like we do. Also, it is far less likely that they would share SKUS among other VAs for other sellers. We don’t want our VAs to work with other people. We want them to be dedicated members of our team.
Our interview process is relatively simple. We told them about our company, our growth, our goals and our Core Values. Then, we focused on asking them things like:
- What is your motivation for doing a great job, beyond money?
- Do you like feedback? What type of feedback do you like about your performance?
- Will you work American Eastern Standard time hours?
- What do you think is the most important characteristic of any team member, and why?
- Do you have any familiarity with Amazon.com? If yes, have you worked for someone who sells on Amazon? If yes, what did you do for them?
- How important is the role of a team to you?
- How do you learn the best?
We don’t focus on any skills. Recently, one of our course members said they ask them to perform a task based on their “claimed skills”, which I think is genius. It’s a short task, but effectively lets you know if the VA is claiming they can do things they cannot do, or are not proficient in.
All of our interviews were conducted with them over Skype at set times. Our current staff is exactly 12 hours different from our time (e.g. 6PM here is 6AM there).
Things we have learned about VAs, in general:
- How much they request to be paid is NOT indicative of performance – start out cheap and give them raises or bonuses. We pay our VA’s a base rate of $1.50 per hour. After 90 days, we give all VAs a review and, if they’re staying on, a raise, normally an additional dollar an hour.
- We also sometimes award bonuses based on performance, such as excelling at sourcing. Many of our VAs are from the Philippines, where a “13th Month” bonus is traditionally given at the end of the year.
- Keep record of how much you pay your VA’s – you can write this off on your taxes as paid labor (check with your CPA to see exactly how).
- We did live training via Skype and recorded the sessions with Camtasia (you can use something cheaper like Jing, CamStudio, Screencast-O-Matic, IceCream Video, Screencastify, or Snagit). That gave us videos to reference and a working library to train new employees. Keep these training videos short (generally 4-7 minutes). You don’t want them to have to wade through a ton of material to find what they are looking for.
- You pay your VAs via Paypal. Send it as Goods & Services, as per Paypal’s terms of service.
- Being a part of a team really does matter to your VA. Team cohesion is also very important. If one of your VAs has a problem working with another one, they’ll be sure to let you know it.
- Knowing that you care about them means the world and creates reciprocity. I make sure to wish our VAs happy birthday, and talk to them about non-work related stuff from time to time. I cannot stress this point enough: when they do a great job – TELL THEM SO! Any employee loves to know their work is appreciated, and our VAs will take a compliment and wrap themselves up like a comfy blanket.
Our VA’s have contributed greatly to our growth and success. We have sourcing VAs and account specialist VAs. Our account specialist handles our Amazon cases, customer correspondence (through templates), deals with bad feedback, reconciles shipments, reconciles returns, tracks our inventory to make sure Amazon has not lost anything or miscounted anything after receiving among many other tasks.
This has given us additional free time to focus on the growth of business! If you don’t think you have the time or skills to adequately hire and train your own VA, there’s another option. The people at FreeeUp.com have spent countless hours searching out dedicated, hardworking individuals who are then trained in a multitude of skills and to handle many tasks. They offer a wide range of services from hiring your own personal VA, to even just someone temporary to handle a specific task you’d like to outsource. They’re definitely a viable option for those of you looking to save even more time. Click this sentence to check them out!
What are some things that VA’s could do for you? Have you ever considered hiring a VA? Let us know!