Virtual Assistants can get overwhelmed and busy, just like our clients, and when this happens the next step is to get some help from other VAs. Having some more people on your team will also allow you to work more ON your business instead of just slaving away doing all the do there is to manage. Likewise, when you’re starting out in business one of the most effective things you can do to build up a professional portfolio of work is offer your services to already established VAs who are looking to grow their business.
We recently asked you for your top tips for working with subcontractors and here are some of the responses:
- Sign a confidentiality, non-disclosure and especially non-pinching of clients agreement. How technical or legal this document is worded is up to the Associate, the VA, and depends on the business environment. It is an essential first step though, in whatever form it takes.
- Set out the rate of pay. It is irrelevant what the contracting VA charges their client, nor is it an Associate’s business, as long as the rates of pay and timescales are mutually acceptable.
- It is important that VAs give their Associates clear instructions on what they want, and the way they would like it done. VAs know their business intuitively but it isn’t always easy to communicate that to someone else over the phone or a computer.
- Associates should always remember that their client is the other VA, and treat their work with the same respect, confidentiality and due diligence they would give any other client. Except it is much more fun to be working for a fellow professional who knows exactly how things are, because they are in the same business as you.
I enjoy the rapport I have with my fellow VAs and am delighted when they appreciate me, as one of mine did last Christmas with a spectacular bouquet, chocolates and wine. I secretly didn’t think I deserved them, but hey, I was happy.
Alicia Helman, Your Secretary
Give Associates a small trial first and maybe on something for yourself rather than a client.
- Bring deadlines in quite a bit in case work is not returned in time and you need to do it or rectify.
- Have tests in place that Associates need to complete.
Lyndsey Gilchrist ASAP Admin
- Do your research. Find established VAs and get a little background on them and their business. Make sure you can offer complimentary services, or perhaps you specialise in a service they aren’t providing so could approach them with a proposal from that angle.
- Construct a unique introductory email. No two VA’s are the same, so don’t contact them as if they are. Make each piece of communication unique to them and their business, mentioning the reason why you’ve contacted them. Of course they’ll know you’re likely to be contacting other VAs as well, but by not sending out a generic email shows you’re serious, professional and interested in working with them.
- Respond immediately. When you get a response back from a VA, whether they’re interested or not, make sure you respond immediately. Once you become established yourself you’ll realise how few moments there are in the day to do anything other than client work. So let them know that you appreciate them taking the time to reply. If they’re interested propose a time for you to call them to discuss your skill set and what you can offer. If they aren’t interested now they may be at some point in the future, so remind them of that and ask them to keep your details on file.
Clarify. When you start working alongside other VAs’ it can take a little time for both of you to become familiar with how the other one works. So to start simply clarify everything – the requirements, the timings, if you’re supposed to respond directly to the client or not, usernames & passwords etc. Regardless of the urgency, it’s much better to take this time upfront to be clear, than complete the task incorrectly.
- Timing. This one is simple. If there’s a deadline and you agree to take the task on, make sure you complete it within the given timings. In the unfortunate event of something unforeseen happening, make sure you give as much advance notice as possible. You may not be dealing with the client, but she/he will, so they need to decide if they can push back on timings with the client, or if they need to complete the task themselves. But a word of warning, do this too often and you’ll find very little work coming your way. It’s vital that you’re reliable to other VAs’, if not then it’s hardly surprising that you won’t be on the associate list any longer.
- Service. Always remember that your client is the VA. So just because you may not be sending the completed work through to the end source (their client), doesn’t mean you can get away with doing a less than perfect job. The VA you’re supporting will want to know they can rely on you. To start they may check aspects of your work, but over time they will hope that the need for that will diminish as your working relationship grows. So before sending anything over, make sure it’s up to your own high standard by checking and double checking. This will prove invaluable in the long run.
Subcontracting can be a great way to gain new skills, become established in the VA world, and increase your own workload, particularly whilst starting out. But what I particularly enjoy is the feeling like you’re not alone. Working alongside other VAs’ makes me feel like part of a team and if I’m ever stuck on something I know I have a little support to fall back on. And of course if you decide to grow your own VA business in the future, being a subcontractor yourself at one stage will help you manage that relationship more effectively.
Sarah Begley Virtual Miss Begley