Disclaimer #1: The post you are about to read is not the norm for me. I try to provide insight into the Virtual Assistant industry and educate business owners, entrepreneurs, and real estate agents on the services we provide, and what you can expect from working with my company, Virtual Assistant Chick.
You’re not going to get that today, because today I am irritated by my industry. Disclaimer #2: I am not irritated by the entire industry, there are many, many, many fabulous examples of stellar Virtual Assistant’s who provide top-notch support. This is not about them.
Allow me to back-track a teensie bit first to give you the basis of my rant. I own another company, ENTRE|LEVERAGE where I help women entrepreneurs build businesses around their lives. I offered a free Business Performance Review on my site and in my newsletter which gave me the opportunity to speak with 17 amazing women. Of those women, 6 were not or had not been in the VA industry. All 6 of them however had hired VA’s before and it didn’t work out. In all 6 cases, the VA’s who were hired caused the business owner to do MORE work instead of less, and to LOSE more many than they were making.
Now before you accuse me of ranting against an industry based on the complaints of 6 women, let me tell you that every week I speak with potential clients who need administrative support in their businesses. They understand that they can’t do it all themselves, they know they need help, and so they get on the google and are hit with an onslaught of VA websites that say:
Hire a VA, we’ll do it for you!
Hire a VA, we’ll save you money!
Hire a VA, we’ll save you time!
But it doesn’t always work out that way. Why is that?
I’ve hired (and fired) a few dozen VA’s myself that I trusted to help me with what they touted themselves as “experts” for. Real Estate Virtual Assistants, Bookkeeping Virtual Assistants, Techie Virtual Assistants, Social Media Virtual Assistants, the list goes on. In so many cases, the ball was dropped and I, or worse, a client was left in the cold.
Last week I was in a consultation with a Real Estate Agent in Las Vegas who was speaking to me about various parts of her business, asking if I could help her. I told her I could, and she then explained to me that I am exactly what she needs, but she is fearful of hiring a Virtual Assistant due to the incompetence of one she had previously worked with. I wish I could tell you I was shocked by this.
Not only was I not shocked, but I also already had a response prepared because I’ve had to use it SO MANY TIMES.
I am so sorry to hear that you were treated that way! I can assure you that you would never receive that lack of service from me. You see, this is my business. It’s my livelihood, and it’s not a hobby or a side-job for me. I have protocols in place just like I’m sure you do, to make sure your work doesn’t slip through the cracks or gets pushed-aside. Taking care of my clients is my top priority during my working hours, and I have plenty of happy clients that can vouch for that.
In this day and age, any person can pop up a website, give it a clever name and call it a business. Hell, I help people do that every single day but I am hoping that they have the intention to serve their clients the way that their ad copy says they intend to. I hope that they have the same integrity that the guy sitting in the office down the street (you know, the guy with all the over-head expenses?) does. Having the privilege of working from home in your PJ’s around the schedule you create for yourself doesn’t mean you have the right to do a half-ass job, or call yourself something that you’re not.
So what set off my rant for today? Laziness. Laziness, or a complete lack of services in this person’s business, but I’m pretty sure that it was laziness. And to make matters even worse, she was showing another VA that it is okay to be lazy too.
Here’s how it went down:
In a LinkedIN group, a newbie VA (or so I assumed) asked what she could do to help her client, a Realtor®, market his listings better besides mailings and social media. Simple enough question from someone new to this industry. I don’t think she should be calling herself a Real Estate Virtual Assistant if she doesn’t know how to market listings, but we’ll save that for a different blog post.
The response from the more experienced VA (according to her LinkedIN profile only, as I couldn’t find her website via Google) was to either put a picture of the property and a brief description of it on his fan page, or post it on Craigslist. “Hope this helps”.
I am not going to bash this VA for trying to be “helpful”, but I am going to say this: If you aren’t prepared to completely WOW your clients (and colleagues) with your expertise, your business savvy, and your ability to be innovative, then please do me (and the hard-working, kick-ass VA’s who rock) a favor and call yourself something else. I am tired (so, very, tired) of having to spend extra time CONVINCING my prospects that I’m not a deadbeat like some other VA’s out there. The question of “what happens if I pay you and I never hear from you again” should NEVER come up in a consultation. EVER.
What can be done?
First of all, if you’re a Virtual Assistant and you know you need more training, please get it. There is a great Real Estate Virtual Assistant training course that I happened to co-found with 2 Amazing VA’s that will teach you everything you need to know about working with Real Estate Agents. If our course isn’t for you, there are others out there, but you’ll have to find them yourself. 😉
If you’re a VA who doesn’t want to work with Agents but needs training I would suggest The VA Apprentice Program or any of Michelle’s teachings. She has helped me make huge strides in my business, and I think she can help anyone in any type of online business.
If you’re a business coach, real estate agent, or entrepreneur who is looking to work with a Virtual Assistant and I just scared the bejeezus out of you, please understand that there really are great Virtual Assistant’s out there. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and find out what they really know. Read their testimonials, email their references, listen to them when they speak. Do they sound confident and knowledgeable, or do they sound insecure and like they’re making it up as they go along?
And finally, I want you to know that I didn’t write this post to offend anyone. It’s meant to be somewhat educational and informative, and to shed some light on what this kind of practice does to our industry as a whole. </rant>