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4 Common Pitfalls to Avoid When Working with a Virtual Assistant

Leily Zhu
,
VPM Staff
Last Updated
June 11, 2021

Your business is picking up, and you’re thinking it’s time to hire some helping hands. You need someone who can assist you with more tedious and repetitive tasks that keep your business running so you can focus on the bigger picture items for your company. And you’re considering hiring a virtual assistant.

A virtual assistant can be a great addition to your team given that the virtual assistant is competent, communicative, and delivers quality results on time. The hard part is, how do you, as a small business owner, ensure you hire someone who meets all those criteria and fits the bill?

Before hiring a virtual assistant, read this article to avoid the common pitfalls of working with a virtual assistant.

Issues to Avoid with Your Virtual Assistant

Here are some of the most common and biggest issues you can run into when working with a virtual assistant plus tips on how to navigate them.

1. Competency

There are a few problems when it comes to the competency, or lack thereof, with a virtual assistant.

A virtual assistant might not have all the right skills, experience, and knowledge to complete all your tasks in the way you want and need. Depending on what you need done, whether that is social media marketing, bookkeeping, data tracking, etc., you might not get what you’re expecting if you hire someone who doesn’t match the experiences on their resume. For example, you might hire a virtual assistant who has no bookkeeping skills, but that’s what you need.

Even if you hire someone with the correct skillset, you will still need to spend time training them to perform the tasks in the manner you want. Not to mention, training should continue throughout the job to encourage consistent growth.

How to avoid this issue: Test them with small tasks, and then progress to more difficult tasks if they continue to perform well.

For example, give your virtual assistant (who is tasked with accounting work) one bookkeeping task for month-end finance tracking. You can also give them the responsibility of managing your invoices. If they perform well without mistakes and prove that you can trust them to complete their work with accuracy and in the way you want it, begin delegating more work and scheduling consistent tasks for them to complete.

Another roadblock you may run into when hiring and working with a virtual assistant for the first time, is the adjustment period in which they don’t know how your company operates and you don’t know how they work. How do you both define and deliver quality for each other?

How to avoid this issue: Ask for portfolio examples, where applicable, and ensure your virtual assistant is qualified by checking their certifications and past performance records.

For example, if you hire a virtual assistant for website or graphic design, ask to see their portfolio to make sure their style fits your business brand.

If you want your virtual assistant to perform marketing work, which could include email content, social media postings, copywriting, or blog writing, then ask to see writing samples. You can tell a lot from a person’s writing and whether or not their voice and writing quality will fit your audience.

Require your virtual assistant to show proof of passing or scoring a specific score on the CPA exam before hiring them to do bookkeeping and accounting for your company.

Another tip is you should ask for references that you can reach out to. If the virtual assistant is good, there should be clients who are willing to vouch for them.

How TruAssist Ensures Competency

VirtualPostMail’s (VPM) TruAssist helps you bypass a lot of these checks with a qualified team that works for VPM (no outsourcing). VPM will ensure the competency of this team in the following ways:

  • Internal quality assurance checks for consistent task output, meaning tasks will always been done correct and in the same manner
  • TruAssist will continue to train the team so that employees’ skills are refined and experiences are made to stay updated
  • Match the right skills and experiences based on the customer tasks, so if you have a more difficult or tedious task, TruAssist ensures that the most appropriate individual with the desired qualifications is assigned to the task

2. Communication

There are a variety of situations or complications that could impede communication between you and your virtual assistant. A virtual assistant might not have the proper processes in place for effective communication, or you may struggle with time zone differences or language barriers/differences if they are in another country. Worst of all, you might not ever be able to reach your assistant in an urgent manner because of all of these existing barriers.

How to avoid this issue: Set proper expectations like communication frequency and preferred channels.

For example, you might want to have weekly virtual calls (Zoom or Google Hangouts) every Monday to discuss priorities and ongoing/pending project updates. Or do you want your virtual assistant to send follow-up emails after each meeting? Tell them that. Set an expectation for end-of-the week email updates each Friday if that’s what you want. Within those communications, you can ask questions such as: “What did you accomplish?” “Do you have any questions?” “Were there any challenges?”.

It is also important to establish a preferred method of communication on how your projects are managed, that is efficient for both of you to collaborate and share the status.

Some helpful software for communicating tasks and other responsibilities are Asana (project management), Slack (instant messaging for teams), and the Google Workspace (Google Docs, Google Calendar, etc.).

How TruAssist Ensures Project Communication

TruAssist task managers stay updated on the progress of task completion and ensure it is on track to meet your specified deadlines. Task managers do the progress tracking and perform all communications between teams and you so that you don’t have to.

You can just assign your tasks and designate a deadline, and then the task managers will facilitate the necessary communication to make sure your tasks are progressing and completed with accuracy, speed, and timeliness. If a task is not complete you’ll be notified where it is and the reason why. Plus, you can always reach out with any questions and expect to receive a response from the task manager.

3. Timeliness

Spoiler alert! When you hire a virtual assistant, you are not the only business/individual this virtual assistant is working for. A virtual assistant who is working for multiple clients and needs to prioritize whose tasks get worked on first can't ensure timeliness for you.

What happens when your virtual assistant is sick? On vacation? Or just disappears for weeks on another project? Do you have a backup plan? Do you have a way to access different areas of your business if you get shut out? It can be scary to put so much power in someone else’s hands.

How to avoid this issue: Ask for more dedicated time from your virtual assistant. This may mean that you have specified hours each week that the virtual assistant designates to work on tasks for you.

Again, a helpful tool may include a project management system, like Asana, that specifies tasks and deadlines. These tools are also great for including notes on the status of the project, so in the case that your virtual assistant goes MIA, you know where to pick up if it is an urgent matter. It’s also recommended that you utilize a shared calendar with your virtual assistant, so you know their schedule and know when you can reach out to them and communicate with them.

How TruAssist Ensures Timeliness

VPM uses project and time-tracking tools to manage the work done by virtual employees. By specifying tasks and deadlines through these project management tools, TruAssistants and task managers can maintain steady progress on tasks and meet deadlines.

TruAssist task managers assign work to the qualified person who is available and has the expertise to do the work. This may not always be the same person. In this way, tasks can be completed sooner and get completed no matter who is out on vacation or sick.

4. Cost

Each virtual assistant varies in prices, and the price you pay will depend on their services. Some virtual assistants even distribute work to others, which means your costs will be higher because the pay will need to be split among the distributed workers. In this case, you’re paying a higher price for the work to go to entry level or someone with less experience and skills.

How to avoid this issue: Give very clear instructions on the outcome that you're expecting from your virtual assistant. This way, there will be fewer back and forth between you and your virtual assistant, and you will get what you need. You want to make sure you are happy with the quality of work that is done, define what you believe is a “job well done”, goals, and what you expect to achieve at the end of the task since you are paying for it. Be specific in your requests, and make sure the virtual assistant knows what is expected of them.

How TruAssist Ensures Costs Equal Expectations

With TruAssist, you don't get billed at a higher rate, and then have your task given to a lower rate assistant with less experience or skills to do the work. The quality of work completed will match your specified instructions, and the individuals performing the tasks will have the expected expertise to ensure the tasks are done with the correct level of skills, experience, and knowledge of your task. This means that you get what you pay for.

Conclusion

A virtual assistant can be ideal for getting a helping hand to grow your business. However, you need to take precautions and be vigilant about avoiding the common pitfalls of working with a virtual assistant: low competency, lack of communication, faulty deadlines, and unfair costs. By taking the tips on how to avoid these pitfalls or using TruAssist from the start, you can protect yourself from these pitfalls and instead get your tasks done with efficiency, accuracy, and on time.

Ready For Your TruAssist Team?

Avoid the pitfalls of a virtual assistant altogether, and get VPM’s TruAssist. Save yourself the time, money, and headache from the start, so you can focus on the higher value parts of your business.

Let TruAssist be your remote back office team with the right skills and experiences plus the processes in place so you can get your tasks done right and on time without worrying about delegation, training, or time away from what you love - join the waitlist for TruAssist today!

https://www.virtualpostmail.com
Leily is a corporate journalist at VPM with expertise in the topics of remote work, small businesses, and startups. Her writing style is in the art of conversational marketing with a journalistic approach. She has experience from writing for her university newspaper and freelancing writing.