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Is a Virtual Real Estate Assistant the Right Fit for Your Scaling Strategy?

July 07 2021

zurple virtual assistant right fit scaling 1Taking the leap from real estate agent to broker isn't easy. If it was, everyone would do it and succeed. Scaling a real estate business takes time, energy, and money. It'll take time to assess your business to find opportunities for growth, it takes energy to vet and hire staff, and it takes money to purchase new technologies to support your business's growth.

1. Is the Timing Right to Hire A Virtual Assistant?

Timing is everything. So before you start hiring staff and buy new software, you must determine if it's the right timing for you. Let's take a look at Valorie Ford's Agent Insights post. In this post, the real estate agent from Richmond, Virginia talks about the perfect timing for hiring a virtual assistant.

Here's Valorie:

zurple virtual assistant right fit scaling 2This isn't the first time that I've discussed the importance of having virtual assistant as part of your staff. The amount of time you can save can make a huge difference in your daily life and provide you the opportunity to do more important tasks like meet with clients. It has occurred to me, however, that hiring a virtual assistant at the wrong time can be a big mistake.

Why do I say this? Here are three reasons:

1. Have a Game Plan

One thing that many people overlook when hiring a virtual assistant (VA) for the first time is the fact that you must have a game plan for them to follow from day one. Without proper planning, your new VA will not know what to do and you will end up paying for a lot of wasted time and energy. Assuming that your VA will simply "jump in" and start performing miracles is not very realistic. Remember, most VAs are telecommuters and will not be sitting next to you in the office. You need to provide them with a definite strategy and details on exactly what they need to do.

2. Have a Proven System in Place

This means that you must have a proven system in place before hiring someone to take on those particular duties. It's time to hire a VA when you are already doing their job for them. If you are spending too much time answering the phone, posting blogs, placing ads, doing administrative tasks and so on, that is the time to hire a VA. Your new assistant can be taught exactly how you want these things to be done and you will then have more time to deal directly with clients and do the things that you do best. More time with clients can translate into more business, and isn't that the ultimate goal?

3. Don't Expect Miracles

You need to give your new VA the time to adjust to your specific needs and goals. Be picky when hiring your new assistant. You wouldn't hire any other employees based on a five minute Skype interview, right? Then why do this with a VA? You might be surprised to hear me say that, in many ways, a virtual assistant is the most important person in your company. Does that sound strange to you? It shouldn't. A well qualified VA can do something that other employees can't—they can increase your productivity time.

What is more important than having enough time to keep your clients happy and to respond to their concerns quickly and efficiently? I can't think of a single thing because even the most efficiently run business is obsolete without clients. A VA can literally change your life if you take the time to hire the right one and train them well.

2. The Pros and Cons of Hiring a Virtual Real Estate Assistant?

If it's the right time for you to consider a virtual real estate assistant, then you must consider the pros and cons of hiring one.

Pros of Hiring a Virtual Real Estate Assistant

  • Saves Time - What's more precious than time? Delegating tasks to a third party gives you time to manage face-to-face elements of your business while still being able to enjoy friends and family. This balance is critical to a healthy work-life balance.

  • Decreases Your Workload and Stress Level - Hiring a virtual assistant can reduce your weekly workload by 25-40 hours—time you can reinvest into building your business and nurturing relationships. Having more free time also decreases your stress level, which has its own set of health and relationship benefits (just ask your friends or significant other).

  • Saves Money - In many cases, virtual assistants are significantly more affordable than in-house administrators. Costs vary widely by a contractor and company, which gives you the freedom to seek out a real estate virtual assistant who meets your budget and requirements. Just keep in mind, the most affordable option is not always the best option. You're often better off investing a little more for a well-qualified employee.

  • Reduces Learning Curve - Do you find yourself constantly frustrated with ever-changing social media, marketing or tech trends? The truth is, it's not possible to be awesome at everything. Instead of putting hours into trying, stop spinning your wheels and hire someone who specializes in areas you struggle with to lend you a helping hand. It'll save you time (and will be good for your sanity!).

  • Provides Flexibility - Virtual assistants often have flexible hours and work on a contract or month-by-month basis. If you hire someone and realize a few weeks in that their performance isn't up to par, you can easily replace them with someone who is a better fit for your business.

Cons of Hiring a Virtual Real Estate Assistant

  • Challenges with Industry-Specific Tasks - One of the biggest challenges with hiring a generic virtual assistant is that many tasks you tackle on a day-to-day basis require at least a basic knowledge of the real estate industry and how transactions work. Because your work is so highly regulated, it can cause challenges when bringing new people on board, especially when they are remote. Your best bet is to have a well-defined job description and a training packet ready to go for your new hire to reference so you can reduce the learning curve.

  • Work Monitoring is Difficult - You can't glance over at your assistant's computer screen and see them typing a blog post or updating contact info in a CRM. If you're someone who likes to have control of every task, this may be a deal breaker for you—but you have options. You can require that your contractor use a productivity tracker that shows you what they're working on or you can ask them to submit an itemized time sheet. If you decide to do so, track your own hours on various tasks and add a buffer to accommodate a learning curve before you hire an assistant.

  • Unable to Meet Face-to-face - Some meetings and conversations are just better face-to-face. You can use tech tools like Skype or Facetime to work around this issue, but lunch meetings just aren't quite the same over a tablet screen.

  • Connectivity Can Be an Issue - If your assistant's internet goes down and they're tasked with handling urgent projects, it can cause big problems. In many cases, you can take the reigns and make sure whatever task is at hand gets done, but you need to be able to communicate with your assistant. Make sure you have a backup plan in place so they can communicate with you if this ever becomes an issue.

  • You Must Trust Your Assistant - Chances are, your assistant will be interacting with your most precious asset—your clients. Before you start introducing lots of client-focused tasks, have your assistant start out with more administrative duties and see how they do. Getting a feel for the way they communicate via phone and email will build trust.

The bottom line is, there are lots of things you need to consider prior to pulling a trigger on a virtual assistant hire. If you decide it makes a good financial sense to bring a helper on board, make sure you have a clearly defined role in place before you put an offer on the table so you get the most out of their time and your money.

3. How to Hire the Right Virtual Real Estate Assistant

A. Determine What Level of Experience Your Assistant Needs to Have

The saying, "If you think it's expensive to hire a professional, wait until you hire an amateur," definitely holds some clout. That's why it's so important that you spend adequate time defining what "type" of professional you need in terms of experience before doing anything else. If you're looking for someone to help with basic administrative tasks, a college student looking for part-time income could be a great fit. On the other hand, if you need someone who can help you manage closing paperwork, it's time to seek out a licensed candidate with industry experience. Once you decide what you need, list specific experience requirements and detailed responsibilities (particularly those that require unique skill sets) in your job description to attract the right type of applicant.

Pro Tip: Consider automated solutions when available - More often than not, a software or app is going to be less expensive than in-house labor. When it's reasonable to do so, consider implementing automated systems to take care of busy work that doesn't need to be managed by a person. (We've got some of that – learn more about our automated lead conversion software.)

B. Be Prepared to Provide a Reasonable Income

As you decide what level of experience you need your assistant to have, be sure to consider whether or not a competitive wage is something you can afford. Underpaid employees typically have lower job satisfaction and less motivation to do well—and for good reason. It's frustrating to work hard and not feel like it's paying off. To avoid this pitfall, research average pay rates for your area and be prepared to offer a competitive income before you post a job opening.

C. Phone Screen First

Don't start your vetting process by spending time coordinating a bunch of in-person interviews. Instead, narrow your applicant pool by phone screening your top five to ten applicants. Set aside 20-40 minutes and have a list of key questions ready to go that will help you decide whether or not this person will be a good representative of the business you worked so hard to build. Doing so will allow you to choose your top two or three favorites, who you can then bring to the next step of the process with in-person interviews.

D. Always Consider Business Needs and Cultural Fit

As you determine the best fit for your role, make sure the business pains you want to address with this hire are at the forefront of your decision making. If you are established but are so busy that you're drowning, experience is critical—because even if it comes at a cost, the long-term payoff will be well worth it. On the other hand, if you are just getting started and have plenty of time but not as much income, a fast-learning self-starter with lower salary requirements could be your perfect assistant.

The biggest favor you can do for yourself is to spend enough time with your potential assistant to determine whether or not they fit your culture; that is, whether or not you will enjoy working with them day in and day out. Bad cultural fit is not a fixable problem.

To view the original article, visit the Zurple blog.