Clarification: Companies refer to them as Va’s (virtual assistants). I feel that their value to our industry and country is equal to my other employees, therefore we refer to them as VE’s (virtual employees). You don’t know what you don’t know and hiring a VE is not like hiring any other employee. There are unique challenges that occur when using VE’s So what things should you research and what questions do you ask when hiring a virtual employee company? Let me start by telling you the good news….. In 2014 I was in the same position. My agency was overloaded with tasks that didn’t produce revenue and hiring another licensed person was lighting a match to more money. I, like you, knew there had to be another way, so I turned to “offshore workers/virtual employees” as an option. The good news is I have been where you are and I didn’t have the resources you have now. Making a good decision on what company to hire is not hard, you just need to know the things to ask. My goal is to give you those resources and questions.
Research the virtual employee company
In 2014 there were only a few VE companies out there. Now there are over twenty that I know of personally and just like an auto policy, one is not like the other. The best thing you can do is ask other agencies what company they use. Also, ask them if they tried other companies before the one they had. You can try to do your research online, I even wrote an article called, IMO the best VE companies are… In that article, I tell what companies are the best and why. Reading it will help you narrow your research. I also did a podcast called, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Virtual Assistant Companies where I lay out in more detail everything there is to know about VE’s. I know it can help you, It has helped many others.
The Three Areas of Questions
The virtual employee has been sold to us, the IA, as cheap labor and there is nothing further from the truth. Accepting that as truth will be a headache for you and create a poor standard of living for the virtual employee. The questions you ask can prevent both of these from occurring. There are a lot of questions to ask, but let’s break them into three areas.
- Their People
- Their Process
- Their Protection
Nearly all the questions you should be concerned with fall into those categories
Questions about Their People
From the beginning, we learned that the virtual employee is the single most important factor in this being successful. Just like anything, quality people with great skills require good pay. The VE’s pay might be half of what it is to pay someone in America, yet that pay needs to be twice as high in their country to hire the best. If the VE company hires poor talent for you, you will waste time finding this out after weeks of training and frustration If the VE company pays the talent little money, for the slightest amount more, the talent will leave your agency wasting your time training them in the agency. The virtual employee you will find is crucial to you being successful. Below are some questions to ask.
- Who are the virtual employees?
- How are they selected?
- Background checks
- Criteria to qualify for the position
- Process for selection
- Can you be involved
- Resume or video interview
- How much is the VE paid?
- A rough idea should be able to be given
- What benefits are provided to the VE?
- Health insurance
- Are they paid as an equivalent to a W2 vs 1099?
The quality of the people found will be in direct proportion to the success you and your team have with a VE. They need to have good experience with solid pay.
Questions about Their Process
Bringing on a new employee can be a challenge, but with a proven process it’s not. This is why the onboarding process should be an area you ask a lot of good detailed questions. You can find the best VE ever, but if they are not educated, trained, and monitored during onboarding it’s not going to work out too well. You need a process that allows for insurance education, specific agency training, and continuing help during the onboarding process. Ask these questions:
- What is the onboarding process?
- How many weeks or months
- Detailed timeline
- Once selected what type of training is given, specifically
- Insurance knowledge
- Technology knowledge
- Agency Knowledge
- How are they trained to work with your team
- Are they trained in your processes
- Are they trained in your software
- Are they trained in cyber security
- Once placed into the agency
- Is there any ongoing training
- What happens if the VE does not understand
- What if we want different tasks taught, who does that
- Will you take the VE from me after placed in my office
- How often can they raise the monthly price
- How much can they raise the monthly price
Remember as you ask these questions and you get a bunch of yeses, ask them for examples and ask to explain in detail these answers. I promise you, no one else has asked this many questions. Ask the questions now, don’t waste your time later.
The good news is I have been where you are and I didn’t have the resources you have now. Making a good decision on what company to hire is not hard, you just need to know the things to ask. -JASON CASS
Questions about Their Protection
As the owner of a three-location agency, with clients all over America and team members all over the world, security is paramount to this whole thing even happening. Many VE companies don’t invest in this area as they should because the cost to keep everyone secure costs a lot of money. You don’t have to be a security expert, just ask these questions.
- What technology protection do you provide?
- Where are the VE’s located?
- Home or in the office
- If from home what security and protocol are in place
- Allowed to use WiFi or just ethernet cable
- Personal use computers or work owned
- Does the company have control of the computer
- Can employees download and save to a computer
- Can the company lock the computer down or VE out
- Do you use a third party for security protection
- If not a third party who and what software do you use
- Some VE companies create their own (bad idea)
- Are VPNs and encryption between computers provided
- Some put that charge on the agency
- Does the company provide real-time monitoring of the PCs
- Does the company have cyber insurance
- Does the company have errors and omission coverage?
As I said above, security is paramount. With the data we are dealing with daily and the security approvals that login and passwords give, you have to have tight security and processes to make sure all is done that can be done.
Ask Yet Verify
Asking questions is great but make sure you verify by asking to call some of their current clients. Make sure they just don’t give you their best clients to call either. The best VE companies don’t just allow you to call their best clients, they show you a list of ALL their clients and allow you to call who you want. Questions to ask the current client:
- How long have you used the VE company
- Did you use another VE before this VE company
- If so what was that like
- Verify the things they told you
- Security measures
- Quality and skill level of VE
- Ongoing training
- How good was the onboarding process
- Was the VE trained well on insurance
- If they had a magic wand and could change something what would it be
- Would they use them again for another VE
I hope you now have a little less anxiety and a little more knowledge on what to ask when looking at hiring a VE company. As I said before the process is not hard when you know what to ask. If you would like to know more feel free to take 20 minutes on my calendar Or reach out to me at 618.545.9840, or email me at email@example.com.