KEY POINTS IN MAKING A VIRTUAL ASSISTANT-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP A SUCCESS
COMMUNICATION/BE AVAILABLE TO TALK
TRUSTING THE VA
COMMUNICATION is not just giving time to call the VA to talk about daily tasks, activities and work related projects or issues. Proper communication is also about making time to give the VA what she needs to complete tasks.
From day one, Summit VAs are taught the importance of timelines and due dates. They are taught that timelines and due dates don't mean completion "on" that particular date and time but "BEFORE". When VAs work on a project or a task and are not given all information that they can't get from being resourceful and thorough research, that task will wait until clients get back to them. They will be following up and will be pushing to have what they need but there are times that they're not given what they need, which could cause a delay in the process. Be there for them to be effective and to get more from them because they can do more if you let them.
Being a Transaction Coordinator for example is tricky if the VA doesn't have access to the client's email. There may be documents sent directly to the client while the VA sits and waits for that document to be sent to her. She will email the client to request for information; If the client received the document or if the client has heard back from the other party regarding the document. To avoid this, during the start of the transaction, the VA should be endorsed formally and immediately as the person they will be working with on the transaction. There should be no confusing the other parties as to who they should be emailing and communicating with.
PROVIDING FEEDBACK is very important and should not be one sided. The VA needs to know if she completed the task correctly to avoid repeated mistakes. If the client sees a mistake and corrects it without informing the VA, the VA will think that everything was done correctly and will be following the same procedure in the future.
On the other hand, If a task is done correctly but the client thinks it can be improved, then the client needs to inform the VA as well. Discuss expectations and work with the VA until expectations are met. VAs work hard to help their clients grow and would want to grow with them. Providing feedback will allow the VA room to innovate and think of ways to improve.
The client can get more from the Virtual Assistant by getting feedback from the Virtual Assistant when it comes to the task completion and her role. The Virtual Assistant works the task and may have ideas and suggestions in improving the process and saving time to increase productivity. If clients listen, Virtual Assistants can give more than what are expected from them.
TRUSTING THE VA will not be immediate. We understand client's reservation but there's a turning point. A Virtual Assistant not given access to all the systems in order to learn the company flow and standard operating procedures is being limited to just the "Listed Tasks" for the day, the week or even the month. Giving a Virtual Assistant the gateway to learning your operations and procedures is opening the doors for the Virtual Assistant to learn different ways to help you improve on the way you work.
During the start of training, we tell them as a Virtual Assistant of Summit, they don't dwell on the job description or the list of things expected from them during the hiring process. That list is just the beginning. There is a reason why they are taught not only what Real Estate is all about, they are taught the "General Flow". It's not to pass a licensing exam, it's to be an effective Executive Assistant by learning how Agents operate their offices from pre-list to closing of properties. Every step from leads in prospecting to getting representation to actually listing properties to properties getting offers, execution and closing the transaction. In between these processes are packages and tasks related to the whole flow and where they fit. The "WHY” the tasks and steps are done and "WHY" in that particular part of the flow are being discussed. The 160 hours of training is all about "running" operations in Real Estate office. It's all about what are on an "Operations Manual", step by step. With this knowledge, limiting a Virtual Assistant's access to the client's systems is limiting the assistance and help they can get from the VA. These Virtual Assistants have a lot to offer if given the chance. With their training, the skills they have before the training and the support provided by Summit, they can assist a client from end to end of Real Estate.
If they ask to be given a chance to do something they saw needs doing, give them a chance as long as it's clear that it is for approval first. Trust that they are loyal, hard working and have your best interest not just the time they log in until they log out, but from the time you hire them until the time they see your business growing and able to see them as partners instead of a Virtual Assistant. Your success will be their own because they share your goals and aspirations.
CONSISTENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY should be considered when it comes to "responsibilities" to make this work. Confusing your team on who is accountable in the different aspects of your business is going to bring chaos and will not help your business. The key to organizing your operations aside from having systems in place is providing "clear" roles for each team member for accountability and effectively in playing that role. Clear roles will also tell a Virtual Assistant who they need to talk to or ask for help from when stuck in the process. This will save your team time and will up productivity.
This doesn't mean each team member shouldn't know how everything work, they should know so when a team member for some reason can't perform or work, the other can step in and do the job. Training materials representing everything on the Operations Manual should be in file and ready for use any time but having a clear role when starting will help the Virtual Assistant function with the team during transition.
WORKING TOWARDS THE VIRTUAL ASSISTANT'S INDEPENDENCE WHEN WORKING TASKS AND HELPING THE TEAM
- Checklists - If you have checklists in place, this can be a start in making sure nothing is missed and everything is done according to your expectations.
- Email Templates - For email management when working transaction coordination or managing leads, every office has specific ways on how they want their company represented. Having email templates that they can tweak or edit as needed will help you avoid time wasted in approving emails before emails are actually sent.
- Document Templates - Virtual Assistants know about the packages but in Real Estate, there are required and then there's recommended or office required only. Having document templates ready if a client doesn't work with any system or tool will help the VA know what documents she needs to prepare when preparing a package. A checklist can be added to the template.
- Standard Operations Procedure (SOP) per task will be helpful even if there is an operations manual. If your office doesn't have separate SOPs for each task in the flow, requesting the Virtual Assistant to create the document as they work one task to the next will help not just to help the VA retain the steps and give better understanding but will also help you and your team see if there is something not clear to the Virtual Assistant and leave a room for revision until everything is clear when it comes to your expectations on how to complete the said task.
- End of Day Report (EOD) - We recommend that this be completed by the Virtual Assistant and submit to client before they log out. This will help the client and other team members the work with everyday know where they are on a certain task, project or transaction. This provides transparency and accountability. On the EOD will be information on what they did, where they are regarding the task, what they are waiting on in order to complete or what they need from you to complete the task.
- Start of Day Report (SOD) - Is recommended if the Virtual Assistant is managing the client's calendar. This will give the client a look on all meetings, calls or responsibilities before the client starts her day. An update should also be given to the Virtual Assistant so notes can be posted to know where they are on a certain lead or transaction (as needed).
- Logins for access to make sure the Virtual Assistant can navigate and learn as they are very resourceful. Training on certain tools are appreciated but the Virtual Assistants can learn from videos, support links and mostly from actually doing a task because they learn faster through application.
- Talk time in the morning before everything gets busy will also help to discuss status or updates as needed on transactions, projects, results of calls from day before for posting, etc. The morning call can also be the time where questions or additional instructions are given to the Virtual Assistant. Answer questions the VA may have regarding certain task instructions or providing feedback on anything or everything. It doesn't have to be a long call. Communication is very important to make this partnership work and the morning or before shift end calls will play a big role in making this partnership work.
- Be willing to delegate. We can be control freaks sometimes and we worry because we believe that to make things happen, we need to do it ourselves. It's not easy to let go but a Virtual Assistant's job is to work on doing everything the way you want things done. Providing clear instructions and setting expectations when delegating will make this happen.
- GET WITH US when something is not right as that is what we're here for. We will work with you and your Virtual Assistant to make transition seamless and smooth. If you need something resolved, let us know so we can help. If you have questions, email us and we'll get back to you immediately. Just, "LET US KNOW" if you need assistance.
As the Virtual Assistant work with you, the VA will learn "how" to work with you. The VA will also learn how you want things done and how you see the VA's role is with your company. The goal of the VA is to work with you long term so she can grow with you and your business, be able to assist you and be part of your success. Be open and transparent with your Virtual Assistant and you will get not just their loyalty but their best in working your business as a "partner" because that's what they do; "They treat your business as their own."
Written by: Bernadette Canero - Vice President of Operations, Summit VA Solutions