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					 How can we avoid virtual assistant performance
 pitfalls? How can we protect ourselves and the
            virtual assistant when hiring?

cloud storage
 In my last article, Virtual Assistant-Hiring Pitfalls we explored the
common hot water items companies face when hiring virtual assistants
and how to avoid them Now it's time to talk about possible performance
pitfalls and how we can protect ourselves and the virtual assistant when
hiring What's really most important when hiring a virtual assistant is doing
your due-diligence before you make the hire Just like anyone else, virtual
assistants come with their own personality, life issues, and family
situations Making sure they mesh with what you need are paramount to
ensuring smooth sailing after you've finally agreed to work with the VA
Virtual Houdini - The Virtual Assistant Disappearing Act Yes, it can
happen Back when you worked in the retro bricks-and-mortar world, how
often did someone simply not show up for work? They quit, right?
Unfortunately this can happen with virtual assistants as well Perhaps not
as often as in the bricks-and-mortar world but it does happen Why do
virtual assistants quit, disappear, and move on? They do, for the same
reasons they quit, disappear, and move on in the bricks-and-mortar world
 Maybe they needed more money Maybe they became ill and could no
longer work Maybe a better offer came along Maybe they didn't like the
 You can't entirely avoid the situation itself but there are things you can
do to minimize the damage if and when it does Protecting yourself ahead
of time for when it does and realizing that it could happen is your best
defense Online files Not only does putting your files (Word, Excel,
PowerPoint, etc ) online facilitate working virtually, but it also protects you
if and when a virtual assistant leaves Simply change the passwords then
she's locked out and you don't lose any files or have to go hunting them
down Check out or speak with your website administrator about putting
your files up via ftp Pay withholding Why not put something in your
contract with the virtual assistant that says you reserve the right to
withhold pay until work files are returned? Passwords As soon as a
virtual worker leaves or is let go, remember to change your passwords on
everything he or she had access to! What I Say Versus What I Can Do
Would you hire someone to watch your children just because they say
they're capable of doing so? I didn't think so Then why would you hire a
virtual assistant (or anyone for that matter) without first finding out what
they can do and if they can do what they say they can do? I recommend
several steps be taken to test a new virtual assistant contractor before
contracting with them These steps are modeled after our own company's
interviewing process, which has evolved over the years It's a lot of work
on your part but very worthwhile
 If you don't want to take all of these steps then look for a good virtual
staffing agency, like Team Double-ClickSM who does all of the work for
you However, be absolutely sure that you send the virtual assistant a
1099 Miscellaneous Income tax form (in lieu of a W2, which employees
only receive) each year Job posting In your case you'll either need to
make a posting on a job board, such as CareerBuilder com, Monster
com, or Craig's List Or you can search those boards for virtual assistants
looking for work Typing test You want to know your new virtual
assistant can type accurately, right? Send him or her to and ask for the
results back
 Look for a high level of accuracy coupled with high speed Computer
skills test Again, you want to know your virtual assistant can use Word
and Excel Send her to , ask her to take the free Word and Excel (and
any others you want to know about) tests and send you the scores First
interview Agree on a time and date for cloud storage the first telephone
interview Then give the potential virtual assistant your number and have
her call you Have your questions ready Did she show up on time? Did
she answer your questions to your satisfaction? Do her skills still fit?
Work personality You simply must know if the person you are about to
contract is honest, has a high level of integrity, is a team player, and so
on We recommend , where you can ask the potential virtual assistant to
take such a test Now this one costs a few bucks
 It's up to you whether you want to pay for it or require the virtual
assistant to pay for it Just remember - if you ask her to pay for it and you
don't hire her she's not going to be a happy camper Second Interview
The cool thing about Total Testing's work personality tests is that they
give you another set of questions to ask the candidate during a second
interview Have a friend, spouse, or colleague interview this person the
second time Compare notes How does each of you feel about this
person? Will she work out? Contract If you're ready to contract this
person it's time to pull out the non-compete, non-disclosure contract we
discussed in the last article Send it to the virtual assistant for review and
signing Be absolutely sure this is signed before putting him or her to
work EIN and W9 We also discussed, in the last article, requiring the
contractor to obtain a (free) EIN (employer identification number) to
further protect you from possible employer/employee claims later on
down the road
 Now's the time to ask for this, along with a completed W9 form This is
the abbreviated version of our process We throw in a few things like
setting up a company email account, and we have a review process,
which each virtual assistant goes through A team of three HR pros
discuss each candidate and determine if a contract will be offered
Because we're a staffing agency, your screening process will look a little
different from ours Give Me All You Got Never send a virtual worker a
ton of materials (letterheads, envelopes, brochures, etc ) It's just a
safeguard While it is very rare that someone would leave and not return
those materials to you, if they did, how much money would you have tied
up in replacing all of those expensive printed materials? It's just better not
to do it in the first place Send a virtual worker slightly more than what
they need to perform the task at hand The Five Finger Discount - Identity
Theft/Credit Card Number Theft One of our clients' biggest concerns has
always been identity theft and credit card number theft In all the years
we've been staffing virtually, we've never seen this happen
 It may be that the work personality profile is weeding out the people who
might be tempted and our HR department is further ferreting out those
who are less-than-desirable, but the other half of it is the contractor
mentality of a virtual assistant as opposed to the employee mentality of
an employee! You can minimize your risk by not giving out your credit
card information to a virtual assistant If you need to give the virtual
assistant a credit card number for ordering products or services on your
behalf, get a separate card that is used for nothing but items the virtual
assistant orders for you It's much easier to check over your bill for
erroneous charges this way Hours Availability When hiring a virtual
assistant, not only do you need to make sure their skills and abilities
mesh with you and your business, but you must also be sure the virtual
assistant has enough time to take care of your needs Very simply ask
the potential virtual assistant how many other clients she has, how many
hours per week she is working, and how many hours she has to devote to
you Does it work with what you need? If not, move on The Rate I don't
know about you, but I've never bought something without first knowing
what it was going to cost Important questions to ask before contracting a
virtual assistant: What is the rate per hour? Are there different rates for
different tasks? If so what are they? Do you round to the nearest hour or
the nearest minute? To the nearest minute is the most desirable Is there
a start up fee? If so, how much? Is there a termination fee? If so, how
much? Is there a minimum usage? If so, how much? Can you work
within my budget? In other words, if I can only afford 10 hours per week,
what happens when you've reached 10 hours? How is that handled?
What are your future plans? How long do you intend to be a virtual
assistant? Is this a career for you or a short-term venture for some extra
cash? My philosophy when hiring anyone, virtual assistants included, is
to hire slowly and fire quickly
 Trust your gut If you don't feel that a virtual assistant is working out, let
her go immediately and don't look back Your gut is probably right But do
take your time hiring Go through the paces to determine if he or she is
the best fit for YOU; it'll minimize the risk that he or she won't work out for
you later Note: Please look for another article in this series titled
"Avoiding Virtual Assistant Performance Pitfalls" Team Double-ClickSM
provides virtual assistance for small and home-based businesses Visit
Team Double Click's Web site at or phone 888 827 9129 Â to receive
your free report, 101 Ways To Work With A Virtual Assistant           Article
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