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How To Train a Virtual Assistant in Three Easy Steps

by Mike Nelson on January 23, 2014 · 14 comments

  
Train a Virtual Assistant

A virtual assistant can be an irreplaceable member of your real estate team. Virtual assistants can help with every aspect of your business, and they also have the potential to one day access your passwords, your bank account, and a plethora of private information. Picking a virtual assistant (VA) and training him or her may be one of the most important tasks you perform as a real estate investor. Follow these tips to maximize your VA training experience.

Outline Your Expectations  

Damage prevention beats damage control any day. Try to prevent problems from popping up in the first place by holding an orientation that clearly outlines his responsibilities on the job. Skype works well for this. Go over the policies and procedures for your business, including response times, how you’d like your assistant to handle inquiries, and the types of things they should come to you first about.

This is also the perfect time to lay out expectations for their employment in general – will they be working part time? Full time? How many hours? Your VA needs to know the number of hours expected for him to work every week so he can fill his time – and yours – efficiently.

Finally, walk through the sites and the tools they will be using, and answer questions as needed. Does your VA know how to use Microsoft Word? Excel? Screen flow? Google Docs? Any and all applications you need for your business, go over them briefly and let him know exactly what you expect.

Manage Your Expectations

After your VA is orientated to his job and to your expectations, he might still need a refresher on how to use certain applications from time to time. A good strategy for keeping your VA refreshed is to create individual videos for how to perform each task for your VA. Keep these videos in a centralized location such as youtube or google docs; this way, your VA can watch these on his own time and use them if he needs a refresher for certain aspects of the job.

Your VA is helping you with your business, but remember – it’s still your business. Create templates that help your VA perform exactly to your standards. Create scripts for phone responses so your VA can properly and professionally handle clients. Write up a template for e-mails or other professional correspondence so your VA can copy, paste, and move on.

Schedule a conference call once a week, preferably in the beginning of the week, to check in with your VA and keep him on task. Summarize what happened every week and what you expect for the week to come.

To sum up? Communication is absolutely essential for training your VA. Whether you’re checking in via Skype, writing an e-mail template for him, or creating a video for a specific task, it’s crucial that you communicate clearly and leave no room for interpretation.

Lower Your Expectations

Finally, be patient with your new virtual assistant. Handling a business from a distance is no easy task, and like every other employee, it may take a while for him to get acclimated to all the responsibility. Try to avoid giving away too many tasks at first so as not to overwhelm. Ease into your business relationship with your VA by testing out the relationship first before handing over more responsibility: How are his response times? Does he seem trustworthy? Hold off and build your relationship before giving him tasks like bill paying, or giving him information like personal passwords.

In all, be careful, make yourself available to answer questions, and expect that your VA will likely mess up from time to time. Try to be patient and don’t overreact to little mistakes. Lowering your expectations – and bracing yourself for small failures – will prepare you and your VA for bigger wins in the future.
Photo Credit: TORLEY

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Lisa Phillips January 23, 2014 at 7:35 pm

Lol, this is soo funny appropriate. I just started using VAs this past 2 weeks. Its been AMAZING, but don’t underestimate the value of a trial run!! Now I know how hiring managers feel :-) Good article.

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Mike Nelson January 24, 2014 at 2:47 am

Thanks Lisa! I’m glad to hear you’ve been happy with your VA so far. :)

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Seth Williams January 24, 2014 at 8:23 am

When dealing with human beings, I’ve found it almost always helps to take my initial expectations and lower them… and then lower them some more. :) What seems like “common sense” to me, is completely different for someone who hasn’t spent their entire professional life doing exactly what I do.

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Mike Nelson January 27, 2014 at 7:07 am

Tell me about it, Seth. I know exactly what you mean. :)

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Kimberly H. January 24, 2014 at 7:31 pm

I am intrigued by the idea of outsourcing some work since I am drowning in paperwork over here and am in the middle of 2 rehabs, and am new to the idea of hiring a VA since I had never heard of such a thing til a month ago or so…can you tell me where you find your VAs, and what types of tasks you have them do initially, and then later on? How are their hours tracked?

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Mike Nelson January 27, 2014 at 7:17 am

Kimberly – I usually find them at odesk.com or onlinejobs.ph. I am not affiliated with them. I just personally prefer those sites. I have 2 VA’s right now. 1 is calling Wholesaling leads, setting appointments, doing follow-ups, etc. My other VA helps me with my social media and marketing efforts.

I used to track their hours using either agent guardian or time doctor. But for these 2, since they’ve been with me for almost a couple of years now, they just submit to me their worked hours every payday and I go by it. They can work as much as 40hours per week each. I can see they appreciate the trust I give them and works hard to make sure it remains that way. :)

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Kimberly H. January 27, 2014 at 7:48 am

thanks!

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Bob Davidson January 26, 2014 at 3:03 pm

Kimberly,
Two of the more well known sites are Odesk.com and Elance.com The key is to take the time to very specifically detail what you want them to do, e.g. your specifications. Do not expect creative thinking as they believe they are doing a good job by doing exactly what you tell them to do.

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Kimberly H. January 27, 2014 at 7:49 am

thanks!

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Jessica Fisher February 13, 2014 at 3:08 pm

Kimberly – I would be more then willing to discuss working as a VA for you. I have helped a handful of business owners get the ball rolling with a VA for their first time. I have a few clients I have worked with for 2+ years and there is nothing better then having that long-term business relationship. Once you find the right fit you can’t live without them, or at least that’s what my clients tell me. But finding the balance and list of things that you need addressed can be a little bit harder then some might think. I’m not sure how to share my contact info on here but you can search for me online “Jessica Is Your Virtual Assistant” Or maybe Mike would be nice enough to send you my email attached to this comment! Good luck Kimberly and Great article Mike!!!

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John Hoening January 26, 2014 at 4:35 pm

I’ve been working with VA’s for the past seven months, and the biggest problem I encounter is finding someone of stays with the task, and then I share a Yahoo email account with the va to work out of, always having to reset passwords issues, yahoo sign in alerts. Have you experience this issue and how did you resolve it. I tried using a gmail account they’re just plain, shut down the account. I did sit on the phone the other evening for 50 min on hold never talked to anyone at Yahoo.

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Mike Nelson January 27, 2014 at 7:23 am

John, I always prefer Gmail to Yahoo. It’s easier to collaborate and share stuff using googledocs. Plus, we utilize googlevoice. I can’t pinpoint it one by one but Google just never stops to amaze me with the new things they come up with. I’ve also noticed that Gmail accounts are less likely to be hacked. I’ve had to reset passwords many times with yahoo. Try to get yourself familiarize with Gmail and learn to use it more. You’ll see for yourself. :)

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Josh February 22, 2014 at 9:24 am

Can anyone recommend a good place to look to get a VA? I am looking to add one in near future just wanted to see if anyone had any recommendations.

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Nina April 28, 2014 at 1:34 pm

Hi Josh, I was on a webinar where he gets his from the Phillipines. manila,craigslist is where u can go put in an ad,,,u can hire a college graduate from $10-$14 a day

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