Every business owner knows that it is easier (and cheaper) to retain customers than it is to find new ones, but be honest, do you focus as much time on this as you ideally want to? It is often too easy to let this slip when your time and energy is being pulled in different directions.
It can be quite alarming to think of the consequences of not continually building your relationship with your existing customers. Let’s not dwell on that thought, but let’s look at how a Virtual Assistant could improve your relationship with your existing customers.
Let’s say you have clients who subscribe to the product or service you offer, or are part of a membership scheme, or have purchased an ongoing service. They are probably happy as they are continuing to pay you, but do you actually know that? Is there a chance they have forgotten about the benefits of your service and are perhaps not getting the best value from it?
Could you send them an email each month to 'check in' with them? Even better, could you give them a call to see how they are and if there is anything you can help them with? In today’s digital world, nothing replaces human interaction. As digital devices have taken over our daily interactions, the opportunity to speak to a human being, even over the phone, is becoming a novelty. Can you remember the last time someone took the time to phone you and ask how things were? If you are lucky and can answer yes to that question, how did it make you feel?
Does it have to be you who makes that phone call? If you are clear with what you want to achieve with the phone calls it would be easy to brief a Virtual Assistant who could make the calls on your behalf. If the Virtual Assistant speaks to a customer who is ready to upgrade to a higher value service you offer, the VA could schedule a call for the client with you or send them a link to your appointment booking system. If the Virtual Assistant speaks to a customer who tells them something that is happening in the future, for example, that they are moving, the VA could add a reminder in your diary. If the Virtual Assistant identifies any useful information during the call, they could add this to your CRM system.
This example has focussed on phone calls, but a Virtual Assistant could help with customer relations in lots of ways, such as ensuring regular communication with your mailing list, keeping your CRM up to date or monitoring your social media accounts.
Don’t run out of time or let the relationship with your existing customers slip. Outsourcing to a Virtual Assistant could help strengthen your relationships and even identify new opportunities.
Many businesses hire Virtual Assistants to support their work and to free up their time. Because Virtual Assistants can help in many different ways their services can be suitable for many different businesses. Virtual assistants are increasingly hired by freelancers and entrepreneurs as well as large business owners.
There are other reasons for hiring a Virtual Assistant including freeing up time for strategic thinking and planning, when you have work that doesn’t yet require a full-time employee or just to give yourself a better work/life balance.
In large companies, the impact of hiring a Virtual Assistant is the same. That is cost savings and productivity gains. Google, Nissan and Marriott have all hired Virtual Assistants.
So, it really doesn’t matter whether you are a large company, an established business or a sole trader. Essentially if you have tasks in your business that need doing, but don’t necessarily have to be done by you, your business may need a virtual assistant.
If you are comparing the rates Virtual Assistants charge, you might have noticed that the pricing structure can vary from one VA to another. I want to explain the different pricing structures Virtual Assistants offer and the benefits of each to help you decide which will be best for you and your business.
Hourly rate/pay as you go
All Virtual Assistants will have an hourly rate. This is the simplest pricing structure. The Virtual Assistant will have set their own rate based on their experience, the services they offer and if they do any specialist work. As a guide, the average hourly rate for a Virtual Assistant based in the UK is currently £28 per hour (Society of Virtual Assistant's annual survey).
Some Virtual Assistants will just offer an hourly rate, although there may be a minimum number of hours you need to commit to initially. However, this is usually in the region of one to three hours.
‘Pay as you go’ is exactly as the name suggests, you just pay for the hours the Virtual Assistant works for your business. The VA will track this and you will be invoiced for the hours worked. This option is great for small, ad-hoc tasks, such as audio typing the transcription of a meeting or the creation of a feedback form. If you don’t need regular administration support, but want to pass on tasks now and again knowing they will be done quickly and to a high standard, this would be the best option for you.
Many Virtual Assistants will offer retainer packages where you can purchase a number of hours. These packages are perfect for businesses that require regular administration support, whether that is for social media scheduling, telephone answering or email inbox management. Purchasing a retainer package means that you know your Virtual Assistant will be available to you for the number of hours purchased. Clients on retainer packages will be given priority over pay as you go clients and ad-hoc work.
In my business, I offer three retainer or ‘bundle’ packages. The middle one of these is a 20 hour package in which these hours can be split over four weeks. This means you will get one hour of Virtual Assistant support each day over those four weeks.
You are likely to find that retainer packages offer a discount on the Virtual Assistant’s hourly rate.
If you have a particular project you need support with, such as planning and hosting a conference or event, you might be able to negotiate a bespoke or project rate with your Virtual Assistant. This option is recommended if you need your Virtual Assistant to be available at specific times and days as they will need to have sufficient notice to plan their other work around this.
The key to selecting the right package for your business is having a clear idea about the administration support you need. A Virtual Assistant can obviously help and advise you and you may find your need for support changes over time. But having a clearly defined task or planned outcome will ensure your working relationship with your Virtual Assistant gets off to a great start and you know you are getting the best value for your business.
Please contact me if you want any further information or advice on what package is right for you.
Have you come to a point in your business where you realise you cannot do everything? You might still want to do everything, but you acknowledge that for your sanity, health, relationships, clients, family and friends, you need to outsource some work.
You have heard that a Virtual Assistant could be a good way of outsourcing specific tasks. They are flexible, reliable and professional, but where do you start looking for one who will help your business grow?
If you run your own business, you will undoubtedly have a network of fellow business owners, so this is a great place to start. Ask your network if they currently, or previously, have worked with a Virtual Assistant. Even if they haven’t worked with a Virtual Assistant themselves, they will probably know a Virtual Assistant through their network, so might be able to tell you a bit about them.
When asking your contacts, you might get lots of recommendations along the lines of, “such-a-body I know is a VA”. However, you will find the quality of the recommendations is better if you can be specific about the type of tasks you want to outsource. In fact, being clear about the type of work you want to outsource before you start to look for a Virtual Assistant will make the process much easier.
There are virtual assistant agencies you could contact as well as freelance marketplaces where you can post a job and receive proposals, but you might be better starting with the Society of Virtual Assistant’s ‘Find a VA’ database. The Society of Virtual Assistants is the largest organisation for UK based VAs. Their database lets you search by the skill you are looking for, or by location, in case you prefer working with a Virtual Assistant who is located closer to you (there can be advantages to that).
Most Virtual Assistants will speak to you upfront for free, this might be called a discovery call. As you would with hiring a builder or a gardener, it is usually worth speaking to a couple of VAs. This will let you get to know the Virtual Assistant and if you get on with them. It will also give the Virtual Assistant chance to get to know you and the type of work that will be required.