Are you planning to hire a company that offers virtual assistants for small businesses? That’s a great idea. When choosing virtual assistant services, it is important to judge all candidates against a set of qualifications, so you can hire a virtual assistant who is completely aligned with your business needs. In this article, we’ll look at the checklist you need to use when evaluating companies that offer virtual assistants for entrepreneurs.
criteria to evaluate when selecting a virtual assistant for small business
Type of support offered by the virtual assistant services
Your virtual assistant requirements will be completely different from what another small business may need. While some companies require end-to-end support, others may need specialist help for individual tasks. Paying for services you don’t need is not a wise decision.
So, before you hire a virtual assistant, it’s important to determine what type of support you would like from your virtual assistant services provider. When we talk of support, we refer to what assistance a virtual assistant for small business offers. This includes:
A virtual assistant for entrepreneurs offers dedicated support if they are completely dedicated to your company for your start-to-finish business operations. Here’s the great news – 59% of all virtual assistants are dedicated to delivering a specific service and will have the experience working for a niche. You can be sure to find a person who will support your company as per your service needs.
In part-time support, your virtual assistant will work with you for a portion of the day and then work for another company when they’re not supporting you.
If you require specialist support for a specific task/project, you can select a virtual assistant who has extensive experience or certification in that task. For example, SEO.
Onshore virtual assistants are those who come from your geography. So, if you live in North America, your virtual assistant will also be from North America. The benefit of hiring an onshore assistant is that their language, culture and time zone will likely match your own.
When you hire a virtual assistant, who hails from outside your geography, you hire offshore support. For example, you are from North America, but your virtual assistant is from India. Often, offshore support brings you immense cost savings, making them highly budget-friendly. Additionally, offshore virtual assistants often have immense experience working with clients from across the world and will have a diverse, global skill set.
This is one of the most important evaluation criteria you need to consider when hiring a virtual assistant service company. When it comes to services offered, you need to consider two things:
- Type of services offered.
- The complexity of support in each service.
Here are some of the services you need to look for when hiring a virtual assistant for small business support:
- Administrative tasks
- Scheduling/appointment management
- Travel & itinerary planning
- Excel & data entry/processing
- File/document organization
- Email management
- Recruitment & staffing
- Team management
- Project management
- Audio & video files management
- Content development
- Social media management
- Lead generation
- Email marketing
- Sales cycle management
- Customer support
- Bookkeeping & accounting
You need to check which of the above services the companies you are vetting offer. You need to check what type of sub-tasks they offer virtual assistant services for within these services.
For example, let’s take “Audio & video file management”. Will the services under this include only:
- Basic image/video photoshoot
- Basic audio editing
- Removing background noise.
- Adding intros and outros.
Or, if it will also include:
- Adding transcripts/meta.
- Remixing of audio/video files.
- Ad creation or podcast generation from existing files.
- Sharing content on social media.
Similarly, in “Administration support”, you need to verify if this virtual assistant for entrepreneurs offers only basic backend admin support or offers specialized C-suite level support.
The greater number of services the virtual assistant provider offers and the more nuanced these services are, the greater scope you will have to outsource your tasks. You will then have a lot of freedom to focus on your core tasks and build your company.
Time zones supported
How do you think companies like Amazon ace their customer service game? Through 24X7, 365 days customer support, of course.
While you may not have the ability to replicate their service right now, you can offer robust support through a 24X7 virtual assistant. If you are serving a globally diverse market, you need to hire a virtual assistant who can offer multi-time zone support.
Experienced virtual assistant services providers will have a large team of professionals who come from different countries. Depending on your unique time zone needs, different people will be charged to handle your operations at different times of the day/night. So, you can be assured that you will always benefit from the coverage of a 24X7 virtual assistant.
Software/hardware support & expertise
Each company has its preferred hardware/software tools they use. When you hire a virtual assistant, check if they know how to use the technology you use in your business.
If they don’t use those tools, it can become difficult to work in tandem and ensure that your documents and projects are in the format you prefer.
But these days, a few of the best virtual assistant services ensure their professionals are trained on all of the key tools that most companies use. For example, Google Drive, Dropbox, Hootsuite, Buffer, DocuSign, MS Office, Canva, Calendly, Wave, FreshBooks, TimeDoctor etc. This way, you never have to worry if the virtual assistant service company you choose is compatible with you or not.
Onshore virtual assistant services will most likely always offer the language support you require. For example, most virtual assistant providers in North America will offer support for English and Spanish.
But these days, many offshore virtual assistant providers from India or the Philippines also offer multi-language support for companies. Offshore companies which offer virtual assistants for small businesses support a wider list of languages than onshore companies.
Your choice of the virtual assistant services provider must depend on which markets you serve and whether its predominantly local or global.
Virtual assistant services company SLAs
When evaluating virtual assistant services for their packages, remember to also discuss their Service Level Agreements and contracts. When it comes to SLA’s you need to consult them about the following:
- Working hours and days for virtual assistants.
- Fees to be paid and mode of payment.
- Additional non-financial benefits/holidays offered to virtual assistants.
- What services will be offered through the contract?
- The turnaround time for each task/project/service.
- Mode of delivery.
- Communication tools & collaboration tools to be used
- Nature of contact with the company and internal team.
- Degree of access to the internal database that is given to virtual assistants and location of data.
- Type of support offered to internal & external stakeholders.
- Processes to ensure adherence to quality.
- Penalties for non-performance or low performance of tasks/projects.
- Escalation procedure.
- Reporting mechanisms.
- The legality of IP/Copyright ownership & regulatory compliance
- Non-disclosure clause & indemnification clause.
- Additional clauses are about the scaling of the company’s virtual assistant needs.
Once you get a sense of what each virtual assistant service company’s SLAs will contain, you will be able to make an informed decision about who to choose.
Fees charged by the virtual assistant services company
The fees charged by a virtual assistant for small business will depend on the type of services & support they offer you. A virtual assistant services company that offers specialized services or 24X7 virtual assistant support will cost higher than those that offer simple support and single time-zone coverage.
Some of the best virtual assistant services providers also offer discounted charges if you choose to hire specific services or draw multi-year contracts with them. You can consult the virtual assistant services providers to find out where you can get the most optimal deal.
Tips on evaluating and selecting the best virtual assistant for small business
1) Map out your business growth and needs for the next 6-months & 12-months
When you plan your progression for the next 6-12 months, you will be aware of the virtual assistant requirements you will have in the future. You will determine what support you require and ensure you pay only for those services you need.
2) Identify what you are willing to outsource and what you aren’t
Some companies are open to outsourcing all their routine or back-office tasks to a company that offers virtual assistant for small business. Others may not want to give this much access to an external company. By identifying your needs for data privacy and control over operations, you’ll be able to personalize your contract to the exact way you need it to be.
3) Check the virtual assistant services company’s experience
When you hire a virtual assistant, be sure to check how much experience they have and specifically support companies in your industry. This will help you know if that company is capable of supporting your needs as your business grows.
4) Determine and discuss your expectations from the virtual assistant services company
It’s really important to be open with the virtual assistant services company before signing the contract. Once you clarify your expectations, you can ensure that you draft the ideal contract/SLAs, which allow you to succeed.
Vgrow – Your best choice for 24×7 virtual assistant support
At Vgrow, we have more than a decade of experience working with start-ups and SMEs, empowering them to succeed through 24X7 virtual assistant support. After a stringent qualification and background check, we hire our employees, ensuring you are paired with skilled and experienced people who can help your business grow.
Our virtual assistant services are highly customizable, and we offer very budget-friendly packages. Contact us today to discuss the virtual assistant services packages we offer.