Hiring a virtual assistant is an incredibly smart move for your business.
A skilled VA can help you get more done, grow your business, and improve your bottom line.
When it comes to hiring a virtual assistant, consider starting your search in the Philippines. This Southeast Asian country is known for producing highly skilled and well-educated virtual assistants who offer a superb level of quality and customer service.
VAs can serve many different types of people, from CEOs to executives to founders to sales and marketing teams. A VA can also offer an advantage for real estate agents, mortgage brokers, business coaches, and almost any type of business owner.
To help you with the process of hiring a Filipino virtual assistant, we’ve put together this helpful blog post. Keep reading to learn more about hiring the right virtual assistant and getting the most of their services, so you can enjoy the benefits to your business.
What is a VA?
VA stands for Virtual Assistant. The “assistant” part means that this person offers support services to a business or an entrepreneur, such as executive support, accounting, bookkeeping, recruitment, calendar management, customer service etc. The “virtual” part means they do their work online from a remote location.
So, in other words, a VA is a highly skilled professional providing support services to business owners remotely.
Typically, most VAs are university-educated and English speaking, and they may have a range of skills including marketing, graphic design, research, accounting and more.
There are many different types of VAs and finding the right one is a matter of figuring out where you need help within your business and seeking out someone with the right skills.
Each VA is different. There will never be a magical unicorn VA who is perfect at every skill and can do anything you ask of them. You wouldn’t expect your bookkeeper to build you a website, would you?
However, there are many great VAs out there who have valuable skill sets that will be a great fit for your business.
What are the Different Types of VAs?
You might be wondering, “Who is the right VA for me?” The perfect VA for your business will depend on what your company does and what sort of tasks you need assistance with.
Virtual assistants have a wide range of skills and talents. Here are some examples of the different types of VAs available to hire and the tasks they may be responsible for:
Administrative Assistant: Keeps the company organized and manages files, documents, and internal and external communications. May also provide research and manage projects.
Executive Assistant: Supports CEOs and Company Founders. Provides facilitation for executive teams and assists with board and corporate governance.
Marketing Coordinator: Responsible for conducting market research, analyzing marketing surveys, preparing promotions, writing press releases, etc.
Social Media Assistant: Develops social media strategy and manages a calendar of social content, including curating posts from other channels and creating original content.
Real Estate Assistant: Handles client communication, confirms appointments, researches properties, and promotes open house events. May also design and post brochures and listings for properties.
HR & Recruiting Assistant: Assists with all stages of the recruiting process, including creating job descriptions, posting them to job boards, screening candidates, scheduling interviews, assisting candidate skills, and assisting with onboarding new employees.
Customer Service: Responsible for answering customer questions, trouble-shooting issues, creating help database resources and much more.
Of course, these are just a few examples of different types of VAs. There are many options for VAs out there, in a wide range of diverse businesses.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Hiring a Virtual Assistant?
What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of having a Virtual Assistant? Let’s look at the pros and cons of hiring an assistant virtually:
Hiring a virtual assistant can be an incredibly smart business move. There are many benefits, such as:
There’s no need to provide them with office space, supplies or a parking spot.
You can hire a virtual assistant via an all-inclusive company like Doxa7. Your VA will be part of a local team in the Philippines and all benefits, computers and internet subsidies will be handled. You simply pay a flat fee.
Also, a company like Doxa7 will handle all the recruiting, testing, and interviewing, which will save you even more time.
Rates are quite affordable and you can free up your expensive time.
Most VAs are highly skilled, which means you likely won’t have to give them much training.
VAs are experts in certain skills and processes your business may be lacking, so they can help you grow.
You’ll have more time to concentrate on what matters and focus on high value areas of your business.
You can free up time for your current executives or other team members, so they can focus on other things.
You’ll enjoy more flexibility to multi-task across other different areas of your business.
It is a cost-effective way to scale up your business efforts.
You’ll be able to check those tasks off your to-do list that you have been unable to get to.
You’ll be able to work less and avoid burnout and exhaustion.
When you hire an assistant virtually, you won’t be limited to your local talent pool. You can choose the person with the best skills for the job – no matter where they are located.
What are some of the drawbacks to hiring a virtual assistant? Here are some of the limitations and disadvantages:
Since your virtual assistant is not located in your area, they can’t perform in-person tasks like picking up your dry cleaning or hosting an event in your office.
Sometimes managing your virtual assistant remotely can be challenging. It’s even more important to set expectations and communicate clearly.
Time zones can make things difficult – although many virtual assistants in the Philippines will be willing to work to your schedule.
It can take a lot of work at the start to screen, hire and train a virtual assistant. You’ll need to show them how to do specific tasks within your business. You might feel frustrated at first, because you’ll feel like it’s easier just to do something yourself.
Why Choose A VA from the Philippines?
There are many reasons why the Philippines is such a popular place to find virtual assistants. First, 500,000+ new college grads are produced in the Philippines every year. That’s a bright, young, well-educated, technology-adept generation with a ton of great potential.
Also, the Philippines has a significant cultural connection and relationship with the United States. There isn’t as much of a culture gap as there might be with other countries, and you’ll be able to connect more easily with your VA team.
Another thing to keep in mind is that The Philippines is globally acknowledged as one of the largest English-speaking nations in the world, with English as an official language. So, language barriers won’t be an issue when you are working with a VA team here.
Plus, the cost of living is very low, which paves the way for foreign companies to offer excellent career opportunities to the local community while also enjoying cost savings.
How to Hire a VA
Wondering what the steps are to hiring your VA? Keep reading to get an idea of the hiring process.
Step One: Make a List of Your Needs
To find the right VA, you first have to decide what you will ask them to do. What are the tasks you will outsource to them?
Make a list of the tasks you need completed and you’ll start to get a clear picture of the type of VA you want to hire. To work more ON your business than IN it, you’ll need to outsource the tasks that are not unique to your skill set.
If you’re not sure about what a VA could help you with, spend a week making a note of everything you do. Afterwards, look over your notes and ask yourself:
What am I doing that I love?
What am I doing that I hate?
What are you doing that you shouldn’t be doing?
What are you NOT doing because of the tasks in questions #2 and #3?
Then, see if you can delegate the tasks from question #2 and #3 to your virtual assistant.
Step Two: Decide Your Budget
Before looking for a VA, you should have a clear idea of how much you can spend on their services. Are you able to hire someone full time, or simply for a few hours per week?
You may be tempted to pay the lowest rate possible, but remember that higher quality, skilled VAs will charge higher rates. You often get what you pay for and hiring a quality VA will offer you much more value.
Also, while a part time VA will be cheaper, a full-time VA will have more time to learn your software and systems and develop relationships with your team members and customers. This will allow them to offer you more value and will help you grow your business. Integrating a VA into your business as a regular team member will be a strategic move to really drive growth, rather than simply outsourcing the odd task here and there.
A company such as Doxa7 can save you a lot of hassle when it comes to figuring out your budget. Rather than having to think about hourly pay, you simply an all-inclusive flat fee for VA services. That way, you can plan ahead and predict your outgoing expenses in the future.
Step Three: Write Your Job Description
Now that you’ve determined what you want your virtual assistant to do and how much you want to pay them, the next step is to write a job description.
Writing a complete, clear, and specific job description will save you time in the long run. You’ll have fewer applications to sort through from VAs who are not the right fit.
In your job description, you can ask applicants to tell you about how they helped other clients with similar tasks in the past. You can even ask for examples of their previous work, or testimonials from past clients.
Step Four: Choose a Hiring Method
The next step is to choose the method via which you’ll hire your VA. The two main ways are to hire a freelance VA, or to use the services of a Business Process Outsourcing company. Here are some of the pros and cons of both options:
Post your job description on a freelance marketplace, where freelancers can respond to the listing if the job description interests them. You can then sort through the replies and choose the best fit. Upwork, Task Rabbit and PeoplePerHour are some examples of these types of sites.
It’s very easy and fast to post your job description and you’ll start getting applicants right away.
Most freelance platforms have messaging features that make it easy to communicate with applicants.
Some freelance platforms, such as Upwork, allow you to pay your freelancer within the platform.
You can sometimes get way too many applicants, making it difficult to sift through them and find your VA.
Freelancers can be less liable and may move around quickly, with little notice.
Sometimes freelancers are working multiple gigs at a time, which may make it difficult for them to manage their time. This can result in slower service for you.
Many of the applications will be poor quality, irrelevant and copy pasted.
Your freelancer may be working from home, so if their power or Wi-Fi cuts out, they may not be able to contact you or perform your tasks.
A freelancer will take time to learn about your company, systems, brand, audience, etc.
Another option is to use a Business Process Outsourcing company to hire your VA. There are a few different types of BPO staffing methods to choose from. You could have a fully dedicated VA or share a VA with other businesses. Or, in some cases there are VA “pools” where you buy a subscription for a number of hours and any of the VAs might complete your tasks.
The BPO will take care of hiring, vetting, training, and managing staff, which saves you a lot of time and effort.
The BPO will also handle sick days, benefits, insurance, and other employment details.
You also won’t have to worry about handling performance management, payroll, and HR.
You’ll always have a point of contact to reach and won’t have to worry about your VA not responding to your messages.
You will usually pay a flat fee per month, which helps you to plan your budget in advance and manage your expenses.
A good BPO will only hire the best VAs, so you can rest assured that you are getting great quality.
The VAs working for a BPO will be much more connected, as the company provides a sense of culture and community.
You’ll have targeted recruiting for your specific needs, whether that’s marketing executive, legal or admin.
You may be limited to the arrangements for employment offered by the BPO company. If you want a more bespoke agreement with your personal VA, it will be better to hire someone independently. (However, this isn’t always the case.)
The hiring process with a BPO may take a little longer, as they will be completing many of the recruitment steps for you.
This may not be the cheapest option. You will probably be able to hire a part-time VA for a lower hourly rate. (Although, as we mentioned before, you may get what you pay for.)
What Does a VA Cost?
The cost of hiring a VA will depend on many different factors, including their experience and skills. Someone who has years of experience and is proficient in multiple software programs will charge more, because they are skilled and efficient at what they do. A virtual assistant who charges higher fees may work faster, have more applicable knowledge, deliver higher-quality work, and likely provide more strategic benefits for your company.
Virtual assistant rates can also vary depending on area of expertise. For example, a VA who handles administrative work, data entry or clerical work may charge between $9-$12 per hour, while a VA who offers customer support, marketing or bookkeeping might charge between $13-$15 per hour.
If you are hiring a VA to handle high-level business tasks such as preparing business proposals, project schedule management or planning company events, you’ll likely need to pay more for someone with the right skills.
The qualifications of your VA will also affect how much they charge. For example, someone who is a qualified accountant will be able to charge more for their services.
Also, some freelance VAs will charge by the project, while others will charge by the hour. Dedicated VAs will always charge a flat monthly fee via a BPO, which is typically all-inclusive.
Hiring the cheapest VA might seem like a smart move, but it may actually end up costing your business. The VA may not complete the tasks to your satisfaction, and you’ll have to spend more time fixing what they did wrong.
One of the great things about hiring a virtual assistant in the Philippines is that you can hire someone very skilled and talented for a lower rate than you would pay for someone with the same set of skills in your home country. Since the cost of living is low in the Philippines, local wages are low too and you get great value for your money.
For example, according to Salary.com the median salary in Seattle for an Executive Assistant is $76,000 and an Admin Assistant is $46,000. However, you’ll need to pay around 25-30% MORE for employment taxes, benefits, 401k and other costs. So, you’ll end up paying closer to $100,000 and $62,000 respectively.
When you compare those costs to a flat rate of $2000 per month, hiring a VA from The Philippines offers an amazing value.
Tips for Hiring the Right VA
Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind when it comes to hiring the right VA for your needs.
Don’t sacrifice quality for cost. You may be able to hire a VA very cheaply, but will they provide you with all the services you need? Sometimes it’s better to spend a bit more for the right VA.
Carefully define the role and your expectations. A clear job description will increase the likelihood that you’ll find someone who fits your needs perfectly. It will also reduce any confusion or miscommunication.
Interview your VA yourself. It’s an important opportunity to get to know them and determine whether they will be a good fit for you.
If possible, contact their previous clients and ask for their honest feedback. A good VA will have glowing testimonials from their past jobs.
Don’t forget to specify the time zone you will need your VA to be available in.
Talk about specific goals with your VA and give them clear instructions on what you need them to do.
What Tools Do VAs Use?
The tools and software your VA uses will depend on the particular tasks they are working on (such as bookkeeping software, design software, etc.) However, you may also find the following software options helpful for communication and organization. Many of these tools are “freemium” products, meaning they offer free accounts for a basic level of access.
Microsoft Suite/Google Suite: These “productivity suites” allow your VA to create documents and spreadsheets, keep track of email, organize and store documents, and more.
Slack: With robust instant messaging and calling features and lots of great add-ons, Slack is a powerful and convenient way to communicate with your virtual assistant.
Skype: Skype offers both instant messaging features as well as video calls, so you can easily check in with your virtual assistant.
Zoom: Zoom is one of the most popular video conferencing apps, and it’s a great way to chat face-to-face with your overseas VA. Plus, the easy screen sharing feature makes explaining things so easy.
Trello: Trello is a collaboration tool that allows users to manage and organize projects into boards. This allows users to see what is being worked on and by whom, what’s queued up, where something is in a process, etc.
Calendly: Calendly is a scheduling software that integrates with calendar systems to automatically pull availability for users. This allows for seamless meeting scheduling between individuals and groups, without the hassle of emailing back-and-forth.
Buffer: Buffer is an application that enables users to schedule social media posts to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. Additionally, it provides analytics on posts to help users better understand community engagement and performance.
Doodle: Doodle is an online calendar tool that allows users to request specific availability for meetings or events. This minimizes the effort required for organizing availability across individuals and groups.
LastPass: LastPass is a secure password manager that saves, stores, and organizes passwords and logins for your frequented websites. This enables users to save all their information securely in one place. When you visit a website to log in, LastPass will enter your information for you. Your information in LastPass is accessed via one master login and password.
Canva: Canva is a graphic design platform that allows users to create presentations, posters, documents, graphics for social media, and more. This tool enables users to fairly simply create content and edit photos without needing extensive editing experience.
Vimeo / YouTube: Vimeo and YouTube are the two most popular video hosting platforms that allow users to post video content to large audiences.
Dropbox: Similar to Google Drive, Dropbox is a simple cloud file storage solution that allows users to upload, transfer, share, and store files with anyone.
Training a VA
Have a solid onboarding plan for your virtual assistant. If you can set them up and train them well, this will get them started on the right foot and save you money in the long term.
It’s a good idea to start them off with a small, simple task so you can get used to working together. Give them plenty of guidance and feedback, and always be there to answer their questions.
Remember that your VA can’t read your mind! If you want them to do something, you’ll need to tell them. A good VA will learn quickly, and you’ll only need to tell them once. They will make notes on how to do each task, and then they will be able to handle those things independently.
However, they may always have questions and require clarification from you, even if you’ve worked together for years. This is a good thing! If you take the time to communicate well with your VA, you’ll give them what they need to serve you better and you’ll reap the benefits.
Tips for Managing a VA
When it comes to managing your VA, here are some important things to remember:
Regular check-in meetings (such as once per week) can help you make sure your VA is on the right track and clear up any confusion.
Consider using a project management app such as Trello or Asana, so your VA can easily see the tasks assigned to them.
Encourage your VA to offer suggestions on how to do things. They might just come up with a solution that makes your business run more efficiently!
Create a culture of honest and constructive feedback. If your VA does something wrong, tell them how they can do it better next time.
With patience and great communication, you can build a positive relationship with your VA and their skills and expertise will help you grow your business.
Want to learn more about how DOXA can help you find the perfect VA for your business? Contact us today!