There are a few common questions that we’ve noticed people ask in real estate networking groups and forums regarding Virtual Assistants (VAs):
- How to hire a VA
- How to train your new VA
- What tasks to outsource in your real estate business.
At Outsource Hub, we understand the overwhelm a newbie real estate investor may feel about this topic, as we were once beginners ourselves and have been through all of the struggles associated with this process. And it is the good, the bad and the ugly of working with Virtual Assistants, using agencies to help us source candidates and constantly running into bad hires that inspired our team to put together our own strategy of scouting for great candidates. But before we let you into it, let’s quickly think about what are some tasks that we as real estate investors need help with on a daily basis (here we’ll just talk about tasks that can be done remotely, as there are obviously some tasks where you’ll need local/on-the-ground help).
- Online lead generation
- Property marketing
- Outbound calls
- Social Media marketing
And here is what we found:
VAs are human! Surprise surprise… What I mean is that they can’t be good at everything you might need done in your business, so we put together this infographic for our categorization of virtual assistants as it relates to real estate industry-related tasks.
We are showing just 3 categories here because these are the essential tasks that most real estate investors are doing. Of course there are other categories that may be important to your business, such as web and graphic design, article writing and so on. Our goal is to share our knowledge and experience about virtual assistants in the real estate niche.
Now lets talk about the actual steps to hiring your virtual assistant by yourself. We say ‘by yourself’ because there are agencies that offer to do it for you and there are a couple of structures that are out there. First, when they just provide you with a candidate and you take it over from there, and second, where they actually stay in the middle and help you manage your VA to some extent. It is up to your personality and current situation to dictate which option will work best for you. But first let’s break down those steps of hiring a great VA.
STEP 1. Post an ad on one or few of the following sites:
- EasyOutsource.com (will cost $20 but you get a wide access to Filipino VAs only and the rates can start from $1/hour *good for beginners, to try and outsource data entry tasks while still learning. And it doesn’t mean you get a bad person, the VA can be a beginner him/herself and still be a fast learner and very bright person)
STEP 2. Read resumes:
- Of people who are applying to you
- Of those who have their profiles on the site already – yep, don’t forget about those guys, as you might miss a great candidate that is already working for others and not actively looking to add more hours, but will take them on, if you offer. Like Odesk allow you to search by people by ‘Job Success’ – which means The percentage of a freelancer’s jobs that resulted in a great client experience. Cool, right? So do not miss those candidates!
STEP 3. Give test tasks:
Do not just blindly hire someone because they have an awesome resume! Believe it or not, people lie. We see it way too often when an applicant claims to have experience in Social Media marketing and all that means to them is posting what you told them to post on Facebook… in my book that is NOT experience nor a skill! On the other hand you have those saying they have experience working with real estate investors. This does not mean that you don’t need to train them and explain what you are looking for!
My favorite question is to ask them to describe to me in details what they mean by each experience and skill they claim! But that’s just me.
But back to the tasks! I suggest 2 types of test tasks:
- Business related. Meaning that it’s exactly the task you’ll want them do for you: give the candidate your instructions and have them work for you for one shift. See how they grasp the task, what kind of questions they ask, if they are bright, involved and hardworking, or the opposite? Yeah, you don’t want the opposite.
- Non-business related. Let me explain, I want people who are working for me and with me to think outside the box, because… well, because you can’t fit my brain and ideas in a box and sometimes I ask my VAs do things that have nothing to do with their direct tasks but are important for me personally. So I would ask things like recording a video of them doing something. This really helps me to see how well we can communicate and how responsive my candidates are.
STEP 4. Hold interviews:
Note this comes AFTER you have tested their skills. Because most people will fall out after Step 3. So you only talk to 3-5 people who passed your test.
Here are a few technologies you might want to consider to be more efficient with organizing these interviews:
- If you have a busy schedule and do not have time to go back and force trying to set a time for appointments, setup a Calendly account and invite your candidates to see your availabilities and make an appointment with you.
- Use Skype or Google Hangout to meet your candidates ‘in person’. Both service are free, so if you don’t have an account, it’s free to sign up. Make sure your potential VA knows you are having a face-to-face call and makes sure to have a working web camera. We find it very important to let people know, because many simply don’t have a webcam on their computers. But if you let them know ahead, they will borrow one from friends and you will have a nice face-to-face chat.
- Google Spreadsheet – if you don’t have a CRM (Customer Relationship Management software), you can just create a simple spreadsheet with few columns with most important things for you so you can keep track of your conversations and your opinion about each candidate. Trust me, it’s easier to take notes as you speak, then try to recreate them later or try to remember what you liked or disliked about one or another candidates. Do they have good eye contact? How are their verbal skills (if it’s important for your task, e.g. Category B of VAs). And simply their name and contact info so you don’t have to go back to the sites you got them from. Include link to the resume for future references.
STEP 5. Hire and start training:
Now we won’t talk about specifics of the training here because that’s a whole other topic. But I would like to make sure I tell you everything I know you’ll need for this step. So pay attention!
- Choose ONE candidate! Chances are you’ll like 2 or 3 people and will want to keep them all. Set your priorities straight and only take on what you can take on right now! DO not feel obligated to hire all the good guys, keep their info on file and come back to them when you are ready to grow your team, so choose just one for your first time!
- Discuss payment method. If you are using Odesk, this problem is already solved for you. We use PayPal. Also make sure you discuss WHEN and HOW OFTEN you pay your assistant and stick to it! Sometime that $100 every two weeks seems like a drop in the ocean for an American, but if your Filipino VA is supporting a family, trust me that money is huge for them and they need it on the day you promised, as they get spent before they come in the door! Don’t ever delay your payments!
- Start by telling your new hire about your business. Who you are, where you are located, what you do, how you do it and share your goals so the VA knows what to expect from you. If you are a real estate investor, you might want to make sure your VA understands also the industry you are in! Give him/her our VA Quickstart Guide to study and test how they understand terms most applicable to their tasks. The VA Guide is FREE, so download it now and use away. We made it for you and your team 🙂
- Use screensharing tools like: Skype, Google Hangout and Join.me to train your assistant. Or record a screencast (Check out a free tool called Jing or go further with Snagit – that’s what we use and love).
- Communicate well and check performance daily! This is essential especially in the beginning to establish the rules and make sure your VA knows you are watching him/her and doesn’t think about slacking. Have them send you clock-in/clock-out emails, request to record video showing how they do task (no more than 2-5 min, so you can see and make sure they are doing it right).
- Stay on top. Never neglect your VA, respond to their questions quickly so they can do their best work. Use online chats for that (again Skype, Hangout or even Facebook messenger – whichever you always have on).
Outsource this whole hiring process and go back to money-producing activities. As the example below shows, it takes a couple weeks and in excess of 10 plus hours to hire that one VA. It is up to each business owner to decide where his/her time is best spent.
Our team is offering our services in scouting for your ideal virtual assistant, so you can save time and go straight into the training and not worry about screening and testing candidates. Our promise is to provide you with 3 best candidates we could find that fits your ideal VA description. Your job is to pick one and move on to the training process. As simple as that! Check out this 3-step process infographic to see exactly how our service works! Just order, tell us what you are looking for and pick your VA. We do the rest! If that sounds like a service that would be beneficial to your business, order it here and Virtual Talent Scout Service team will be on it’s way of making this happen for you.
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