The discovery call is key to finding out if you and the VA are a good fit and establishing basic ways of working.
Here are 6 key questions you should be asking when you outsource your admin.
No matter what support you're looking for you need to make sure that the VA you hire can fulfil the brief. If you're looking for a VA to help with a specific task such as social media marketing or bookkeeping then do some research and ensure they offer this service before you set up a discovery call. If you're looking for traditional admin support services make a high-level list of tasks you want to outsource and include this in your initial enquiry before you get to the discovery call stage.
2. What software/equipment do they use?
Do you work on PC or Mac? Do you need your assistant to work on the same system? Do you need an MS Office/365 expert? Or someone who can use Canva? You might already use a tool such as Asana, Trello or Airtable to share tasks or manage projects and need the person you hire to be familiar with the system.
These are all questions to cover in that first call. The VA's response will tell you a lot about their approach to work, for example if they don't use Asana but have used similar software and are confident they can learn it quickly then it's probably not a dealbreaker.
3. What are their areas of expertise?
Leading on from the previous point, it's worth asking if your potential VA is an expert in anything. Are they an Excel whizz or a PowerPoint aficionado? Even if their expert area doesn't overlap with that high level wishlist you compiled earlier it might help you to identify other ways they could help you.
4. Do they have support?
What happens when your VA is on holiday, sick or looking after a poorly child/dog/budgie? Do they outsource to another VA and if so how does this work? You may be happy to work around holidays and sick leave or you may want support 365 days per year. Either way you need to know what the setup is to inform how you're going to work together.
5. How does payment work?
VAs work in a variety of different ways. Some work on an hourly basis and invoice you for what you've used at the end of each month. Others sell retainer packages - you buy a bundle of hours at the beginning of the month and the VA works to fill them. Your VA may work on a project or package basis - calculating a fixed monthly fee for a set of tasks but without specifying an exact number of hours.
This needs to be clarified during the discovery call so that you are both clear on how you will work together going forward.
6. Data security - what is the approach?
This is one that tends to get missed. You will almost certainly have to share login details for some of your systems and you need to consider how these will be kept secure. For example, does the VA use a password manager or keep all their shared passwords in an easily accessible spreadsheet?
How about files and documents? Where will they be stored? How secure is this system? Does the VA perform regular backups?
All the above is important to get a feel of how seriously the VA takes their and your data security.
Finding the right virtual assistant for your business is a crucial decision that can significantly impact your productivity and success. When preparing for that first conversation remember to enquire about services, software, their areas of expertise, the availability of support, payment structure, and the commitment to data security. By asking these questions, you'll establish a firm footing for a harmonious working relationship.
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