Profit Growth Strategy # 11 For Virtual Assistants
Selecting the Right Clients
Dozens of books have been written on the selection process for employees. The experts recommend a variety of tactics and strategies that ensure the prospective employee has the skills for the job and is the right fit for the culture of the organization. One less than stellar employee can damage the team. For a small entrepreneur, one bad employee could destroy the company’s reputation.
Many of the same reasons a bad employee can harm a business are the very same reasons a poorly chosen client can damage or destroy a small business. In most cases, when a virtual assistant reports that she chose the wrong client, she will also admit that it did not feel right from the start. Usually, there are issues of self-doubt, tight finances, or over confidence on the part of the virtual assistant. No matter what the cause, often the results are the same.
By the end of the first project, both the client and the virtual assistant are angry with each other. They blame each other for lack of communication, wasted efforts, and inadequate vision. Both experience a decline in energy and often they infect members of their teams or even their clients. Before long, the relationship is severely damaged and one party initiates a painful separation.
Although much has been written about employee selection practices, there are few resources to help a virtual assistant choose the right client. Here are a few tips:
Start with a small project and no future commitment so you can test the waters;
Develop a standard questionnaire to understand your prospective client’s desired communication medium, times and frequency;
Always start with the project vision clearly recorded. Conference call lines are great for this and provide replay and archival functionality. A few hours invested now will save many hours of wasted effort later;
If the initial interview and subsequent discussions cause an uneasy feeling—the feeling you get when you know the relationship is not going to work—don’t move forward; and,
Always behave in a graceful and professional manner. One of the most common complaints I hear from client’s who have worked with VA’s in the past is that once the working relationship began to go sour that they simply could not reach their VA. Phone calls were not answered and emails were not responded to. This is one of the worst things a VA can do in a professional relationship. If your client, or even a potential client is not someone who is a good fit, or the work involved is out of your scope or range of skills, offer to refer them to somebody else. Make the introduction and be done with it. You will maintain your online reputation and not have a bitter (and vocal!) client on your hands.
Establish your ground rules for the relationship up front and stick to them regardless of your circumstances or who the client is. If you need help, have a few members of your mastermind team or trusted members of your network on the first call with you. It is likely that you will be contacting some of these same individuals anyway to refer business to them. Get them engaged at the beginning.
Denise Griffitts is a nationally recognized Virtual Assistance Industry expert, thought leader, VA coach and mentor. She is also a Web Developer and serial online entrepreneur who believes that any person with the knowledge, skills, ideas, drive and the ability to mobilize resources can create a high impact business.
Denise is the Founder and CEO of Your Office On The Web, a website design and development company specializing in high-end WordPress platform website/blogs, Your Virtual Assistant, a multi-VA firm of highly technically savvy and highly sought-after Virtual Assistants/Online Business Managers and Web Developers.