Here are my top takeaways for effective communication with your VA and building a successful and long-term relationship:
✅Speak to or meet them before you start working with them: We have all met people with whom we just don’t “click” however great they are on paper. A positive working relationship requires mutual understanding and respect. I have had potential clients email me detailed spreadsheets and send me a list of tasks by email before we have even spoken on the telephone! It’s important for both of you to find out a little about them and their professional experience before you decide to work together. I offer a 1 hour free meeting or call precisely so that we had explore whether we are the right fit. I appreciate for a one off task you might just want someone to do something without a lot of fuss, but for an ongoing relationship take some time to check they are the right VA for you.
✅ Know what you want and communicate it: Be clear from the start about the expectations you have for your working relationship. What exactly do you want them to do? How many hours do you need a week/month? By when do you need work to be turned around? VAs are great but I have yet to met one who can read minds (at least at the start, although as time goes by you do start to predict and pre-empt what needs doing!). Being clear about what you need and by when makes it more likely that your VA will be able to achieve what you need them to achieve in the right way.
✅Discuss and agree your preferred communication method: I always ask my clients this. Most do not want a deluge of emails and prefer a text or a Whatsapp for quick or urgent queries. Some like briefing notes with multiple links others just a short note with a conclusion. Again, as you get to know your VA over time you will trust them more and this will change but think about how best they can contact you. A couple of my clients like a quick check in before say 9am whereas for other clients this is a golden hour when they don’t want to be disturbed.
✅Don’t micromanage: it’s fine initially to want your VA to run things past you and send you lots of drafts, but you do need to trust them to carry out the work that you have asked them to do. If you have done your research they will be experienced at carrying out the tasks you have asked them to do without being closely managed by you every step of the way. If it is a task that they haven’t done before, or it is their first project with you, speak to them at the start and agree parameters and then trust them to get on with it. It may be that they have a better/faster way of doing something! Most VAs come from a business background and have other clients so will have seen how the same task can be done in different ways so be open to their ideas. Having said that if you have established systems in place honed by trial and error it’s fine to expect them to do things your way – it’s all about communication and trust.
✅Build in regular reviews: set aside some time each week/month (depending upon how much your VA is doing for you) to touch base, discuss how things are going and build on your relationship with them. This means you can address any issues quickly and that your working relationship is as positive as possible.
✅Ask for help when you need it: One of the reasons that you are likely to need a VA is to get help with a task that you are not comfortable/skilled at, or hate doing. No-one is brilliant at everything! If you have asked a VA to help with a certain task, do ask them if you need assistance when you are trying to carry out some of that work yourself. Two heads are often better than one. The likelihood is that they have done that before themselves or know someone else in their network who is an expert, which could save you hours of time. One of the added benefits of a VA is that they come with years of experience and knowledge plus their own contacts so do tap into all of that.
Working with a VA can help you to increase turnover and take your business to the next level but, like all relationships, only if you invest some time and energy in developing it.