Many executives understand that today’s advanced collaboration tools and hyper-connectivity allow them to work with people from anywhere in the world. But they still sit on the fence about whether or not to hire a virtual assistant.
Executives wonder such things about virtual assistants as:
- Will it be difficult to get started?
- Will they have the time to scope what needs doing, and understand me and my business?
- Will my confidential business and/or personal financial information remain secure?
- Will there be a true cost savings, especially when you factor in the cost of investing in training and dealing with turnover?
- Is this more of a commitment than I care to make?
Broadly, you can bucket these concerns into five basic roadblocks (in the form of objections) that an executive must overcome to delegate successfully.
These roadblocks/objections are:
- I'm too busy to hire a virtual assistant let alone train and manage them
- It took me forever to hone my processes and systems, so it'll take even longer for a virtual assistant to get up to speed
- Working with a virtual executive assistant doesn't sound secure
- Hiring someone is a big financial investment
- I can't commit to something if I don't know it'll work
Below, I'll break down each objection and provide answers.
1. I’M ALREADY TOO BUSY TO HIRE, TRAIN, AND MANAGE AN ASSISTANT
You, the executive, fear that making your relationship with a virtual executive assistant work will require a lot of detailed, hands-on, and up-front management.
“I don’t have time to slow down and scope out what to delegate,” you tell yourself.
Indeed, you may be stuck in that vicious cycle of unproductive output: you don’t have any time to invest today so that you can save time tomorrow.
How can you break that cycle when you have an overwhelming amount of work to do as it is?
It’s totally normal to feel additional stress just thinking about the time it will take to find, hire, train, and manage a virtual administrative assistant.
But the bottom line is that you know you need to delegate a variety of ongoing tasks and processes to someone so you can focus your efforts on the tasks that only you can accomplish in order to fill your pipeline well into the future.
Indeed, it is nearly impossible to overcome this roadblock through the most common channels for hiring remote workers. Most individual executives hire a virtual assistant through a listing service, a placement company, or through an online labor marketplace.
Each of these channels will match you with an executive assistant, but you’ll be left scoping your work, training, and trying to keep the worker engaged, focused, and inspired.
This sets you up to deal with a perpetual time drain, which isn't ideal.
Getting started can be much easier to do with a company that comes to the table with best practices and an understanding of the common use cases you’ll confront. Such companies are called managed service providers, and they provide the best virtual assistant services.
At Prialto, we help executives to be more productive from day one, since our virtual executive assistants are highly trained and supported by managers, backup virtual assistants, and a company culture that takes care of them.
Executives don't need to handle their assistant’s sick days, vacation plans, or find a replacement for them when they wish to move on.
We take care of all that.
2. THE SCOPE AND CONTEXT OF MY NEEDS MAY BE TOO DIFFICULT TO DELEGATE
Even if you had time to scope and document the details of what you want to delegate, you fear that your virtual executive assistant just won’t get it.
"It is hard enough to manage someone in-house," you tell yourself. "How will I delegate to someone outside our walls or even across the world?"
Most companies that provide managed virtual assistant services stress the promise of a balanced life without actually getting much into how their service is delivered. That means every executive is charged with the burden of a self-serve offering they must define for themselves without any concrete guidance.
The best virtual assistant companies should understand the broader context of your admin pain even better than you.
At Prialto, the executives we serve want default practices they can customize only when necessary. That’s what we deliver.
Today’s executives and founders need to be hyper-focused on doing a few things very well. What are the handful of activities that add the most value to your business that only you can do? Once you know that answer, delegate everything else to an executive assistant.
The best virtual assistant companies will ask you questions about your workflow before you’ve even thought to ask them yourself.
Creating context is exponentially more difficult with independent workers serving you from their home office. On the other hand, a virtual personal assistant in a service center can learn from their coworkers.
Regardless of whether that service center is in San Francisco, Denver, or Manila, the executive assistant will have an easier time grasping the context of your work because they will have colleagues sitting next to them who are serving executives with problems much like yours. The best virtual assistant companies provide assistants with management oversight and other benefits that make work meaningful, such as a cohort and a professional esprit de corp.
The best virtual assistant companies will also be sure to document everything they do for you, even down to the most granular level. In addition, they will make sure that you are served not just by one individual, but by several (via backup training).
These managed service providers will find the balance between the individual with whom you have a personal connection and overall team support that provides you with reliable and lasting redundancy so that your support never goes down.
3. HIRING A VIRTUAL ASSISTANT DOESN’T SOUND SECURE
Security is of high priority for everyone these days, especially with the influx in hacker activity across the web. As such, making sure that your virtual executive assistant is trustworthy and abides by security best practices should be on your mind.
In today’s business world, we interact with others remotely via phone, email, and video conferencing tools (Zoom, Skype) every day. You have colleagues on the road, or be on the road yourself. You connect with colleagues in other buildings or even in other cities and countries.
Everyone is connecting remotely at all times.
Some of your most sensitive data (credit card information, various email and site logins, passwords) must be given to virtual assistants. If this leaves you feeling less than certain about leveraging a remote worker, rest assured that there’s a secure workaround: give your virtual executive assistant tiered access to data you’d like to keep secure.
At Prialto, we believe that successfully maintaining client confidentiality is a three-step process.
- Create and transmit a clear security policy This policy should be communicated to both clients and members of the remote workforce such as your virtual assistant, their backup, and their managers. It’s important that you carefully document the differences between types of information, and outline how they should be handled. Make sure to include the process for remediation as well.
- Train Your Remote Employees We ensure that all our personnel are carefully trained on these documented policies. We reinforce written materials with instructor-led case study discussions and a series of quizzes. The training outlines clear procedures on how to deal with gray areas, and how to escalate problems to more senior management. Specifically, we point out procedures to be followed in cases of a security breach. Theft generally takes place when a culture of honesty is weak. In light of this, we’ve established a strong culture for protecting information by clearly outlining policies, by establishing a strong training program, and by ensuring that management leads by example.
- Keep the Parameters Under Constant Review No set of information security policies should be stagnant. First, the landscape is always changing. Social media platforms are always changing their policies and your company should also continually review its policies. By doing this, you’ll stay current, reinforce that this security is a priority for your company, and be sure to keep everyone on heightened awareness. You can calendar the review so that management and the board reviews all breaches, even if minor, every quarter. This helps keep a finger on the pulse of what is working and what is not working. A larger, more complete review can also be done each year.
Being virtual is no longer a hang up. At least, it doesn’t have to be thanks to advances in both technology and perceptions of remote collaboration.
Why not leverage talent from elsewhere when it could open up a world of possibilities?
4. IT MAY NOT BE COST-EFFECTIVE TO HIRE A VIRTUAL ASSISTANT
Most seasoned executives have experienced the high cost of employee turnover.
You tell yourself, "If I invest in detailing the work and training a virtual personal assistant to do that work, all that investment will go down the drain when my assistant leaves for other work."
This cost can be even higher for an employee managing personal admin work than it is for a more technical worker. Technical workers tend to drive work that is more easily documented and to come to the workplace with common framework from which to begin. However, personal admin work is nuanced, and the workers who help with it come from varying backgrounds of education and expertise.
Consider the costs of hiring someone in-house, which often outweigh the benefits. Those costs can deter businesses from hiring new employees despite increased business growth. Even when current staff is begging for more help, a business may not want to bring on an in-house employee if it means taking a hefty financial hit.
When a business loses a salaried employee, the business must pony up the hard costs for advertising, screening, interviewing, hiring, training, benefits, taxes, IT infrastructure and support, facility costs, a work computer, and more.
Additionally, a business must absorb intangible costs such as reduced productivity and lost opportunity, which is why it takes 6 to 9 months’ salary on average to replace a salaried employee.
Generally, when you hire a virtual personal assistant, your costs will be 50-75% of what it takes to hire an in-house employee. Since virtual assistants (or the service providers that manage them) cover the costs associated with hiring, you never have to shoulder those costs. So, the risk factor to hire a virtual assistant is considerably less than if you were to hire an in-house employee to do the same job.
Bottom line: when you hire a virtual assistant over an in-house employee, you’ll save on both money and risk.
5. IT'S A HUGE COMMITMENT TO HIRE A VIRTUAL ASSISTANT
The reality of this statement depends on what you’re talking about.
For instance, if you are planning to use a marketplace like Upwork to hire a virtual personal assistant, then you will need to commit quite a bit of your time finding, interviewing, onboarding, and getting your virtual assistant up to speed. Additionally, if you use a marketplace, you’ll need to manage your assistant indefinitely.
That's a ton of commitment, so it's understandable if you've developed an allergy to this kind of commitment.
It complicates things further if you sign a one year contract, since you’ll need to honor the length of that contract even if you’re not happy with the results.
That’s a lot to consider. And yes, that’s a lot of commitment.
Even if you hire a virtual administrative assistant from one of the best virtual assistant companies, you’ll still need to commit to delegate tasks, communicate with your assistant, and commit to achieving results together.
At Prialto, we have found a comfortable go-between. We ask that new clients commit to two months of working with a virtual assistant in order to give us the full opportunity to show you the value of what we can do for you. After that, there’s no contract. Our service is month-to-month.
For better or worse, human beings aren’t like software. You don’t necessarily want to try them out in the same manner that you’d sign up for a software trial, because an assistant needs time to prove themselves and their ability to handle the processes you send their way. How long did it take you to perfect these processes (if you ever did/have)?
Clearly, you wouldn’t be reading this if you weren’t up to your ears in administrative tasks that keep you from accomplishing bigger goals for your business. You need admin support, because your loss of productivity is costing your business dearly.
But if you or your company do not have in-house expertise in managing administrative workers, you’ll likely find yourself stuck on a treadmill of constant training and retraining. The promise of support will remain a mirage, and you’ll join the chorus of folks who have become skeptical of remote workers.
Unless...you hire a virtual assistant from a managed service provider.
A professional, managed service can overcome each of the key objections above.
What could you do to advance your business goals if you weren’t so overwhelmed by admin tasks?