Updated: Apr 16
You've finally taken the plunge and hired a VA, well done! But now you need to make sure you aren't getting caught up in the excitement of having your very own assistant, and make sure you're keeping your eye on the budget.
Most Virtual Assistants work to an agreed time and use some method of timing when working on your tasks. If you send them set tasks and nothing more in between, chances are your agreed time will stick at just that and there's no need to worry about your budget at all.
However, there are some things you could end up doing that will see your time running down super fast and landing you in a position of having to make a decision about whether to add more funds to your account, or wait until the next roll-over period.
Nobody likes surprises, especially ones that cost us money. So an email from your VA telling you that your time is up, right when you were about to send them a 40-page spreadsheet to organise, could leave your shirt collar feeling a bit tight. It's not like you can blame your VA either, generally, they won't be in the business of letting the clock run whilst they hit the gym, just to keep the pounds rolling in. No, Virtual Assistants will usually do everything they can to keep their clients time in check knowing that they would rather that solid monthly income than a client jumping ship because their costs are suddenly too high.
Having said that, sometimes, it's just out of a VA's hands. Clients sometimes forget that every time they interact with their Virtual Assistants, they are on the clock. Time is money people! So what can you do to avoid going over your agreed time and keeping within budget?
For the first month with your Virtual Assistant, try to ensure you have the jobs you want them to do already planned out with a rough and realistic idea of how much time they will take. Let the month run and see if the timing works. If it does, and your budget is happy, perhaps that's how you keep it going forward. BUT, if you add extra jobs here and there, you can't expect the price to stay the same. The time will increase and therefore, so will the budget.
If you have other people that work with you and who have access to your VA, make sure they run it past you first if they want to delegate a task, remember, those additional jobs cost time and money.
If you realise that actually, there is extra work here and there you would like to offload, talk to your VA about how much extra time they think they might need to complete such tasks. Maybe there's a way to add a few extra hours here and there where needed, or maybe it's time to think about upgrading your agreed time.
Avoid calling your Virtual Assistant every time you think of something. Whenever you make that call, your assistant is starting the timer. It's much better to schedule a call on a regular day of the week for you to catch up, which in the long run, will save you a lot of money.
Your Virtual Assistant will always work to the last instruction, which means they will keep doing any jobs you set for them until the time runs out. Ask them to send you a reminder when you have a certain amount of time left in the bank, that will help you know how to spend that last bit of time wisely. It's important to remember that your VA isn't trying to rip you off. They can only do what you ask them to do and it isn't fair for you to make extra, un-scheduled calls, ask them to do work not usually in their schedule, and expect to pay the same price.
Most VA's spend a lot of time off the clock, particularly at the beginning of a relationship with their client when they are researching any new software or technology they might need to use to get the job done, or getting to know the client first. The timer only really ever starts once everyone is confident it's time to get started. Make sure you've organised your own thoughts and have your own plan for what you want from your Virtual Assistant. It will save you money in the long run.