A virtual assistant is someone that is hired to handle a variety of duties for a business owner. The VA can take on many responsibilities and can be utilized in a variety of aspects in the business.
Virtual assistants are generally hired through a third-party company, and many of them work from home, or otherwise work remotely.
With the prevalence of automation, companies will continue to seek virtual assistants as a cost-effective and time efficient solution compared to hiring an employee on site.
However, as the VA industry grows, there is a chance that people will take on the responsibilities of a virtual assistant without being hired by a third-party company.
Today, let's take a deep dive into the world of virtual assistants. We will go over everything you need to know to understand why virtual assistants could benefit your business!
The Future of Customer Service—Virtual assistants
Many business owners are already familiar with virtual assistants but are still unsure how to utilize them in their business. While the VA industry is still in its infancy, the growth that has taken place in the last decade is staggering.
In today's world, business owners are looking for the most cost-effective ways to maintain their business and personal activities while time resources are depleted. And as time resources grow scarce, so does capacity for proper customer service. There are only so many hours in the day, and therefore only so much time to focus on tasks that directly affect business growth. Consequently, business owners are more open than ever to using a virtual assistant to perform specific tasks while they spend more time on the most important things that help to retain customers or clients
Eliminate or Mitigate the Cost of Employee Turnover
The days of a business owner simply hiring an employee that comes to the office are changing. Executives need to be more discerning about the types of positions in which they need to hire a full-time employee. Employees require more resources to hire, train, manage and potentially let-go if they are not a good fit. There is far more friction to taking action and less flexibility overall. Utilizing VA services can be the spark that jumpstarts business growth.
The evolution of the internet has allowed business owners to search for ways to cut back on overhead costs and these “soft” expenses. One of the best ways to do so is by hiring a virtual assistant that can be dedicated to a select set of tasks right from the start.
In simple mathematical terms, If a business currently has two full-time employees, the company can likely be run with only one full-time employee and/or one virtual assistant. This is all because a virtual assistant will be able to handle a majority of the business' administrative tasks without the types of barriers that come along with a full-time employee with benefits.
Virtual Assistants are More Cost-Effective
While many business owners are still hesitant to hire a virtual assistant, they are more receptive to the idea than they were just a few years ago. A virtual assistant can handle a larger workload at a lower cost than on-site employees.
This means that if a business owner hires a virtual assistant, they would be able to free up more of their time to work on areas of the business that require their attention. This is especially attractive to small-businesses looking to grow, but are struggling to find the resources to hire full-time employees immediately.
A VA is a great interim option for this scenario, as it reduces risks and allows some flexibility and potential for being more selective when the time comes to hire a “rockstar” employee to handle more complex aspects of the business.
The fact that virtual assistants can be utilized as a cost-effective solution to hiring an employee is a huge selling point. One of the most common misconceptions people have about hiring a virtual assistant is that it will cost an arm and a leg. While this may be true for some virtual assistant services, many operate at competitive price ranges.
Of course hiring a VA will be more expensive than not hiring one, but as with any time and resource saving service, you essentially make your money back by being able to dedicate the extra time to tasks that you excel at and are more profitable.
As stated before, it is often cheaper to hire a virtual assistant than to hire a full-time employee if you are forced to make a choice either way.
There are Many Types of Virtual Assistants
Virtual assistants can be used in several different ways. As stated above, they can be utilized to handle administrative duties, write marketing content, and even work on your social media presence.
While there are services that provide many different types of virtual assistant services, there are two general categories that they fall into.
Administrative virtual assistants are the most popular type of virtual assistant. Administrative virtual assistants are hired to perform clerical work, such as answering emails, updating databases, creating and distributing invoices, returning phone calls, ordering office supplies, scheduling appointments, organizing calendar appointments, and so on.
Social media assistants are also a commonly used type of virtual assistant. A social media assistant will work on your company's social media accounts, updating them with new content, responding to customers, and much more.
Administrative virtual assistants are the most common type of virtual assistant. They are used across a wide range of different industries but are most popular in the following industries:
- Real estate
- Management consulting
- Banking and finance
- Human resources
- Information technology
- Customer service
Using a virtual assistant to handle office duties allows business owners to focus their time on generating revenue for their company. If a business owner is looking to grow their business, this is an excellent way to offload tasks that distract from business building activities.
In addition to using a virtual assistant for administrative work, a business owner can use a social media assistant to help manage their social media accounts. This is an effective way for business owners to connect with their customers while not having to spend large amounts of time responding to social media inquiries, publishing posts or managing ad spend.
Different Capabilities of Virtual Assistants
Virtual assistants can handle a wide array of different tasks for businesses. Many services can offer their clients a customized solution.
This is due to the fact that virtual assistants can be utilized in a large number of different ways. For example, if a business owner wanted to hire a virtual assistant to help their marketing team, they would be able to provide their VA with specific tasks geared towards marketing. This could include monitoring and adjusting advertising spend, writing or editing written content, scheduling social media posts.
With a customized solution, it is also possible for a business owner to hire a virtual assistant for a specific period. For example, a business owner may want to hire a virtual assistant for three months to help get their marketing strategy up and running. This can be especially beneficial when taking on large one-off projects where a flexible workforce can make a big difference, without needing to hire a permanent position.
Whether a virtual assistant is hired permanently or for a temporary period, the cost will be relatively comparable. As the industry continues to grow, there are likely to be more services available that can provide a customized solution.
Finding the Best Virtual Assistant for Your Business
While the benefits of hiring a virtual assistant are substantial, it is essential to find a suitable VA for your business.
The best way to do this is to conduct extensive research. If a business owner is looking to hire a virtual assistant to help with their marketing team, the first step is to make a list of every task and expertise that will be needed to make a meaningful impact on marketing related productivity.
Here are some examples of marketing related tasks and skill sets that could be delegated to a VA:
- Helping to organize market research
- assisting with promotional activities
- writing or editing reports
- Data analysis through CRMs or Web
- Writing or editing social media posts
- Writing or editing blog posts for content marketing
- Creating simple graphics
- Market or competitor research
- Data entry
Having a full scope of tasks to start with, helps narrow down the field to a few different tasks which can then give you a list to work from when considering VAs. Getting specific in this way can help to guarantee a productive and meaningful outcome, with clear expectations.
This can also provide the foundation for a modular approach to using virtual assistants. Where one VA may be able to handle a majority or subset of the tasks you have outlined, you can then narrow down the remaining tasks and find a separate VA to fill the gap.
How to Manage a Virtual Assistant
Once you find a virtual assistant that is a good fit for your business, there are a few things you can do to manage them effectively.
The first thing a business owner should do is provide their virtual assistant with a detailed job description. This should outline what tasks the VA is responsible for and your expectations for their performance.
It is best to conduct an in-person meeting before hiring a virtual assistant so that you can check their references and have a conversation with them. You will also want to review their resume.
If you have any questions about their resume, you should ask them during the conversation. For example, if you see a gap in their employment or a career change, you should ask them about it.
Another important thing for a business owner is to provide their virtual assistant with all of the necessary tools to complete their tasks effectively. For example, if you hire a virtual assistant to help your marketing team, you should provide them with a marketing plan, relevant marketing material, and company branding details.
In addition to providing your virtual assistant with the necessary tools to complete their tasks, you should also give them a time frame that you expect those tasks to be completed.
After the virtual assistant has completed their tasks, it is important to provide them with ample opportunity to present their work to you. They should do this in a formal meeting, where you can ask them any questions you may have regarding their progress.
The Benefits of Having a Virtual Assistant
A virtual assistant can bring many benefits to a business owner. These benefits include the following:
Save Time and Money
A virtual assistant can save a business owner time and money. The fact that they can handle a majority of the office's administrative duties means that they allow business owners to focus more of their attention on growing their business.
If a business owner wants to improve their productivity, it makes sense to hire a virtual assistant. This is because a virtual assistant will give them the freedom to focus on the areas of their business that are most important to them, they’re customers, and to the bottom line.
For example, if a business owner hired a virtual assistant to help manage the office, they would be able to focus more of their attention on growing the business through client outreach.
One of the greatest benefits of hiring a virtual assistant is the flexibility it offers a business owner. With a virtual assistant, business owners can operate their business whenever they want, from wherever they want.
A virtual assistant can provide a business owner with a greater ability to work flexible hours. There may be times a business owner may need to take care of family matters or other personal appointments. This allows business owners to set their schedules more flexibly and work when it is most convenient for them.
The Bottom Line
In today's economy, every company is under pressure to cut costs while still attempting to grow its business. If you find yourself in this situation, it makes sense to consider hiring a virtual assistant to help you.
As stated above, virtual assistants can be used in various ways. They can be used to help handle your marketing efforts, administrative tasks, and more while also performing a wide array of office duties.
If you are interested in hiring a virtual workforce, we can help you. Pena4 provides virtual employees for health information management, revenue cycle, medical coding, IT management, virtual staffing, and virtual assistants. You can count on us to help build the best team for your business. Contact us today to learn more and get started!