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.
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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