Updated: Dec 30, 2021
When you hire a Virtual Assistant you are likely to find yourself on a Discovery Call where you will discuss your requirements and get to know your potential VA a little better. These calls are useful for both parties but it’s easy to get distracted and lose focus on the important points you need to know. With that in mind, here are my top tips for what questions to ask during that all-important Discovery Call:
1. What experience do you have?
Most VAs will have spent years working in an administrative/supporting role, before they embark on their VA journey, so this question won’t stump them. They will likely be skilled in the basics such as MS Office (Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Outlook) but you will want to dig a little deeper. For example, if you are a Solicitor you may dictate your letters and file notes, and you’ll want to know that your VA can transcribe.
2. Do you have a specialist area?
Depending on their background, many VAs will specialise in specific areas such as Finance, Human Resources, Social Media Management or Website building for example. Getting a VA to talk about the areas they are experienced in will help you establish whether they are a good fit for your organisation and how they can assist you.
3. How will we communicate?
A VA should build planning time into their services, including a regular update meeting which can be conducted either by phone or video call. As the nature of a VA is remote, it is unlikely, but not altogether impossible, that you will have regular face to face meetings with them. At the start of your relationship you would want to have more frequent meetings, becoming less so as your relationship is established and you get used to working together.
4. What are your working hours?
A lot of VAs have chosen the job partly because of the flexible lifestyle it affords. This means that whilst your VA may work “full time”, they may not do this within usual 9 to 5 office hours. You should consider whether this will be practical for you and how this will impact on your expected turnaround and response times. It’s important to establish working patterns that are convenient for both parties.
5. How will you track your time?
Being a freelance consultant, your VA will likely work with clients other than yourself. It is important you agree early on how time will be managed. There are many methods your VA can choose to track their time, such as Toggl Tracker, where time can be recorded against specific clients and projects and reports generated on a weekly basis which can then be sent to you as a client.
6. How do you store confidential information?
It’s likely you will need to share passwords and possibly credit card details with your VA. You will want to ensure they are using a tool like LastPass to store this information securely.
7. What tools do you use to get the job done?
Your VA will be working in a remote office, probably based at their home. You want to ensure they have the right “tools of the trade” in order to assist you. For example, using the audio transcription example again, your VA will need the right software and equipment – such as ExpressScribe and a foot pedal.
8. How will we share files and track outstanding tasks?
You should hear terms such as “file sharing” here, by way of GoogleDrive, DropBox, OneDrive or similar. They will be able to advise you how to use any of these if you are unfamiliar, and you should choose an option you are both comfortable with. Other business tools such as Trello, ClickUp, and /or Asana will allow both of you to manage tasks.
9. What are your rates and how do you invoice?
Some VAs charge solely by the hour, some have an hourly rate or retainer packages where the hourly rate decreases the more hours are pre-booked. Personally, I like to establish a long term relationship with my clients whereby a set amount of hours are booked each month – payable 50% in advance. This gives stability to both the VA and the client.
10. What is your availability?
You would hope that if you are at the stage of having a Discovery Call with a VA that they have availability for you – however it’s always worth asking the question. They may not be able to start work immediately and you will need to agree a mutually convenient start date.
11. Are you GDPR compliant and registered with ICO?
Since 2018 the requirement to be GDPR compliant is mandatory for all businesses. Your VA should have their own policies in place, as well as being able to advise you on compliance should the need arise. Registration with ICO is another mandatory requirement and your VA should be able to furnish you with their registration number.
Finally, whilst you have established you need a VA for some essential support, you may not have a clear idea about what that support looks like. Hopefully asking the questions above will help to focus this objective in your mind. A VA will be experienced in many areas and will be able to offer you advice and guidance on the various areas they can assist, building a long term relationship with you and becoming a valued business partner.
If you need support with any aspect of your business, My Office Fairy are here to help so just get in touch.