You know you need a virtual assistant when you’re self employed and missing phone calls. Assume your average cost per massage session is $100. Let’s say you miss 1 call a week. That’s $400 dollars month. $4800 a year.
Virtual assistants save the day
A virtual assistant is as the name suggests, an off sight helper. They can:
- Manage an appointment book.
- Answer phones.
- Make calls.
- Enter data.
- Email management.
- Collect payments.
You name it, they can most likely do it for a fraction of the cost.
Hiring a Virtual Assistant
There are a few ways to go about hiring a virtual assistant. Google virtual assistant and you’ll come up with a number of options. Select the ones that look the best to you and give them a call. Questions to ask are:
- What do they do?
- Are out going calls, emails included in their virtual assistant fee?
- What happens if they miss a call?
- If you are having them book appointments, do they use their software or do they log into your account?
- Do they charge if you go above what’s included in the fee?
- What hours will they be working?
- Do they give you a virtual mailbox or forward your calls during after hours?
- Do they check the mailbox the next business day or is that your responsibility?
- Can you give them a script to use when answering calls?
- What are their fees?
- Is there a contract?
- What are the penalties of leaving the contract early?
Every business is different so you’ll need to ask additional questions around your business structure. These are questions that I’ve learned to ask from experience.
In My Experience
I have used a virtual assistant for the last 6 years. I’ve used two different companies. One was a national company I found through a google search while the other (and my current) is a small local company that I found on Craigslist. They both cost roughly the same $100/month for 5 hours of time each month. Each additional call is $2/call. Note: I’ve never gone over my time. Nor does my time roll over. They answer calls, run my waitlist, make cancellation calls when I’m sick, book my appointments M-F 9-5 and forward all after hour calls to me.
Here’s a review that I wrote for my virtual assistant several years ago:
Intelligent Office is a Must Do for Any Entrepreneur
I started with Intelligent Office (IO) about 18 months ago and haven’t looked back. In the past, I worked with other virtual assistant services who just couldn’t get it right. I needed someone to competently answer my phones or else I’d lose business.
I’m a solopreneur and there’s just absolutely no way to do it all alone. If I am in a session with a client then there’s no one to answer the phones. As they say, an unanswered phone, is lost business. Meaning that person is going to call the next business on their list. I just couldn’t let that happen.
IO has helped me tremendously. They answer my calls, they book my appointments, they help me reschedule clients in cases of when I am sick or weather conditions. They do all of this with a smile over the phone. My clients have nothing but positive things to say about their interaction with IO which makes me feel that they are treating them with respect and kindness.
If IO has questions, they don’t hesitate to ask me through email or with a call. They have even taken the time to learn about my business. Because of their help my business stays busy. I am happy to have found them. They’ve been an asset in my creating and maintaining a thriving massage practice.
Felicia Hayes, Licensed Massage Therapist
I think that sums up how I feel about using a virtual assistant.
A word of caution
Pick a virtual assistant who is as inquisitive about your business as you are theirs. The virtual assistant should be friendly, patient, and have a strong desire to learn about your business. They should also be confident and well educated on their own business and customer service.
Although I paint a beautiful picture of the service, it took work and still takes work. I communicate with my virtual assistant at least once a week about tweaking the way they handle calls, updating policy or what to do in certain situations.
Be clear this isn’t a talk to them one time and you’re off doing your thing. If you do that, things will surely fall through the cracks. It is a working relationship. Like all relationships you have to work at them to be successful. They are your employee. Just be mindful that you must guide them in the direction you need them to go in.