How a virtual assistant can help time-strapped agents

by Julie Broad01 May 2015
Do you find that scheduling meetings with new clients, booking the photographer for property shoots, answering the phone, replying to standard email questions, updating your Facebook business page, following up with people, and other administrative tasks are taking up half of your day?
 
These are all important things to stay on top of, but they aren’t marketing and sales hours – which is what grows your business and brings in the paycheque.
 
Then, when you consider that you probably want to do other time-consuming things – such as sending clients birthday cards, welcome-to-your-new-home gifts and other client-retention gestures – you just might feel overwhelmed at times.
 
You need help. The problem with getting help can be that you don’t have the space or money to bring someone in to your business full-time, or even part-time.
 
That’s where a virtual assistant can make all the difference for you.
 
My virtual assistant, Krish, has been working with me for more than three years. She used to live in the Philippines but has now moved to India. My clients never know she’s not in Canada unless I tell them.
 
She has an Internet phone with Vonage so my calls are forwarded to her, and she has a local number that corresponds to where I am in Canada so she can return clients calls. Everything else she does for me is via the Internet, including sending birthday cards through website services like SendOutCards.com.
 
For $1,500 a month I have a full-time assistant who handles almost all of my administrative tasks for me.
 
This could be the perfect solution for you too, but there are some important things to consider before you set out to find a virtual assistant.
 
1 – Do you repeat the same tasks weekly or monthly?
If you answer the same questions from clients, other Realtors, or potential clients on a regular basis and a template answer could be created, that is something that you don’t need to be involved in. Additionally, things like booking appointments, updating your CRM system, data entry, following up on documents you need, and organizing online files are all things someone else could do just as well as (or better than) you. Basically, if you can create a step-by-step process that could be followed, if it can all be done online or via phone, and if there aren’t decisions that need to be made by you in the process, then it’s the perfect task for outsourcing to someone else.
 
2 – Could your business grow if you focused on growth and not administration?
If you spent more time meeting people, speaking at local events, or mining the market and your past clients for potential deals you could probably grow your business substantially this year. However, if you find you don’t have time to do that maybe help with day-to-day tasks will be the best solution. 
 
3 – Are there tasks I have to do that I really dislike?
Hate data entry or booking appointments? Me too! I also don’t want my phone to be ringing constantly when I am in meetings or trying to focus.
 
I want my clients to feel like I am there for them without having to actually be the one they reach out to all the time. If that is you, or there are things like social media that you dislike managing, then having someone help with that could be a great relief.
 
If you answered yes to the above three questions, a virtual assistant is potentially a good solution, but you must also consider the following two points before starting to hire someone.
 
4 – Can the work be done virtually?
I just held a two-day workshop. I had to go to Staples and get all the materials printed and then put the binders together myself. That’s a low-value activity for me and if I held more regular events, it would be one reason why I would not want a virtual assistant. I also have to file my own documents in my office, which is a task that can take hours sometimes. If you need someone who can be face-to-face with clients, handle your paperwork and filing, or physically take parcels to the post for you, then you will not want a virtual assistant.  Basically if the task can’t be done over the Internet, you’ll have to consider carefully if a virtual assistant is the right solution for you.
 
5 – Do I have enough of the same kind of work to justify help?
You may write articles, edit your blog, do sales calls to get listings and be able to create a great CMA along with everything else you do to sell homes to your clients. This is a diverse range of skills. Your virtual assistant is highly unlikely to have the same skills as you. In fact, they will usually fall into one category. Typically you’ll find someone who is a writer, or an administrative assistant or a website person – not all three. Before you hire a virtual assistant make sure you really have enough admin work for that person to do to make it worth your investment in their time. Make a list of ongoing duties as well as project work that can be done by someone virtually. Often you think there is a lot for someone to do but until you actually write down your list, you may find there just isn’t enough ongoing work to justify hiring someone else.
 
A virtual assistant could be a good solution for your business to free up your time for the highest value activities that grow your business and delight your clients, but it also can be the right solution applied to the wrong problem. It is really important to consider carefully what work you need help with and make sure that a virtual assistant is a good fit for helping you with that. 
 

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