The reasons we hold back can vary from person to person, but one of the most common is that we’re not really sure what we’re looking for.
You know you need help if you want to grow and expand your business, but you haven’t had the time to sit and think about what that help might look like.
Maybe you’ve got as far as deciding that you need a virtual assistant, but what’s next?
We’ve put together this list of the top 6 qualities to look for in a virtual assistant.
It should help you get a clearer grasp on what’s important when you start your search.
6 qualities to look for in a virtual assistant
1. Do they have experience?
You have to expect that there’ll be a bit of a learning curve, but you need a quick transition if you want to keep things running smoothly.
The more time you have to spend hand-holding, the less productive you’ll be.
If you can find a VA with a good chunk of all-round experience (or someone who specialises in the type of support you’re looking for), you’ll be off to a strong start.
When a virtual assistant knows the systems, has worked on similar businesses or processes, and has a good understanding of what your key goals and challenges are, you’ll really feel the benefit.
How to check experience: Review testimonials, speak to past/current clients, interview the VA about their knowledge and skills. Trust your instincts – do you feel confident that they’re up to scratch?
What to watch out for: Less experienced virtual assistants tend to charge less, and this can be tempting when you’re on a budget. Think long-term. If you surround yourself with the best, your chances of success will soar.
2. Are they capable of adapting quickly?
Your business moves quickly. You’ll need someone who reacts well to change if you want to keep making progress.
Learning to manage change comes with experience. Those who do it well have developed processes and organisation strategies that help them cope.
Another key skill here is assertiveness.
A less-experienced VA (or one without storng boundaries) might have a tendancy to over-commit themselves.
While you’re looking for someone with a can-do attitude, your VA should also be able to manage your expectations around how quickly things can be achieved.
Most of us overestimate what can be done in a day, but underestimate what can be achieved in a month or a year.
It’s unrealistic to expect miracles overnight, but a little progress everyday will soon add up.
How to check for adaptibility: Ask for examples of how they cope with sudden changes. Speak to past/current clients to get a sense of their performance. Have a trial period before you commit. Test their boundaries – are they people-pleasing, or do they have a realistic sense of what can be achieved?
What to watch out for: Be wary of a virtual assistant who has lots of clients at once. Too many spinning plates can quickly lead to overwhelm – throw regular changes into the mix and you’ve got a disaster waiting to happen.
3. Do they have strong communication skills?
How do you prefer to communicate?
Do you want regular in-peron meetings? A weekly video call? Concise written updates?
Will your VA be on the frontline interacting with clients? Do they have good manners, grammar, and the ability to adopt your tone of voice?
Finding an all-round communicator is your best bet.
You should also look for someone who isn’t afraid to ask questions or challenge things. No one knows your business like you do, but sometimes you’re so far in that it’s hard to see the wood for the trees.
How to check communication skills: Interact with them in a variety of ways to get a feel for how they handle different situations. Be clear about your expectations regarding client contact and reporting back. Recognise that it’s a process – give them constructive feedback as they adjust to your methods.
What to watch out for: It’s hard to change someone’s attitude. If their tone, approach, or personality doesn’t sit right with you, cut your losses. Your VA should respect and adhere to your brand values.
4. Are they reliable?
This is where it gets scary. What if you make the commitment, pay the invoice, assign the work… and then nothing happens?
What if things go well for the first few weeks or even months, but then start to taper off?
Do you really have the time to micro-manage? To be on someone’s back all the time chasing them up?
Any virtual assistant who takes themselves seriously knows that reliability is absolutely key. Their clients are depending on them and their reputation is built on positive reviews.
Because of that, you can expect to receive a reliable service from most VAs. Although – like anything – there are exceptions.
How to check for reliability: Review testimonials and reviews, speak to past/current clients. Run a trial period – don’t commit long-term until you’ve built up trust.
What to watch out for: If things were to slip, you should try and consider their point of view before you make any rash decisions. Were you clear with your instructions? Did you give them an opportunity to ask questions?
5. Do they take data protection seriously?
When you’re sharing your clients’ personal data with a virtual assistant, it’s your responsibility to make sure that data is handled securely.
Finding a VA who’s registered under the ICO (Information Commissioners Office) for Data Protection will give you the peace of mind you need to know they take it seriously.
How to check for this: Ask for evidence of their registration, and ask them about thier responsibilites and processes. Do they have a strong grasp on how to handle personal data securely?
What to watch out for: As we mentioned above, it’s your responsibility to protect the data your business holds. Be clear with your VA about your own processes, and make sure they understand what you expect from them when it comes to handling sensitive information.
6. Are they proactive?
One of the qualities that separates a great VA from a good one is that they’re always thinking ahead.
When your virtual assistant works proactively to anticipate your needs and seek out new solutions, you’ve got more than an assiatnt; you’ve got a teammate.
Someone who’s proactive will save you time, money, and stress.
Of course, no matter how much initiative a VA has, there’ll always be a learning curve. It’s going to take them time to get to know your business and how you work.
Choose a VA who’s proactive, though, and by the time you’re a few months in, you’ll reap the benefits.
How to check for initiative: There’ll be signs from the very beginning of your interactions. Do they ask smart questions? Do they make their own suggestions? Have they thought of things that you hadn’t?
What to watch out for: Even the most proactive among us need clear instructions. Don’t expect your VA to be a mindreader. Give them a chance to get to know your business well by checking in regularly and giving them plenty of chances to ask questions.
So you know what you need, now what?
The Assistant Quarters is a ready-made team of virtual assistants and social media specialists.
One of the best things about working with us is that we have a pool of talented VAs, each with different specialities.
We recruit based on attitude and values, so you can be sure that we all work to the same high standards.
Call us on 0208 064 1969 or book in for a discovery call for a chat about how we’d handle your needs.
Prefer email? Ours is firstname.lastname@example.org