Improve Efficiency, Cut Costs: Benefits of Virtual Assistants

What do you do if you’re a sole operator or independent professional/executive in need of professional, confidential admin support, but don’t want to go to the expense and hassle involved in hiring your own staff?

What if you don’t have the space for staff, or necessary expertise to complete a particular job?

Your best office support staff member goes off on maternity leave and you think your only alternative is to hire an expensive and unmotivated temp?

Think again!  Virtual Assistants (VAs), also known as Virtual Office Professionals or Virtual Business Operators, more recently Online Business Managers, provide an alternative, cost-effective staffing solution for businesses of all sizes, including sole operators.  They are not temps, but small business owners themselves, with a vested interest in the success of their clients.

You can think of a VA as a “remote” or “home-based” secretary.  They are independent contractors who provide a range of personal assistant and office support services for clients – or they might specialise in a particular niche. They are called “virtual” because they provide these services from their own offices – rather than using the office space and equipment of their clients – and because they utilise the technologies made available by the internet and the myriad apps now available.

Many people have difficulty grasping the concept of a remote assistant, so it is not surprising that understanding the benefits poses a problem. 

So what are the benefits and what’s in it for you?

VAs provide profound cost-saving benefits to the businesses and individuals they partner with, and have an important role to play in today’s business environment. For a cost breakdown of a VA versus on-site staff see our article here: The Cost of Staff

VAs can perform the same services as office-based employees but without the associated costs such as payroll tax, worker’s compensation, superannuation, sick and other leave, or training.  There are no equipment costs as VAs utilise their own equipment, and there are none of the associated costs of wear and tear, office space, lighting, power, telephone etc.

Cut expenses, boost productivity, and elevate your business efficiency

In addition, the VA is available out of normal hours, on weekends, and public holidays – usually at no additional cost. 

How much do you lose, both in monetary terms and in terms of productivity, on office politics and staff chatting in the coffee room? Clients pay only for time on task when they partner with a VA so there is no time or money lost on these typical office behaviours.

VAs partner with clients, which means that a longer term relationship can develop in much the same way as one would with an onsite personal assistant – yet clients do not have the associated costs of an employee mentioned above.

Over and above cost savings there are the less obvious benefits. These include:

  • Instant marketing support across timezones and countries.
  • Symbiosis – the VA has a vested interest in your success.
  • Commitment – the VA is committed to you and your business.
  • Productivity – as mentioned above time isn’t wasted on office politics or breaks.
  • Flexibility – the VA works only when needed.
  • Confidentiality – your intellectual property is safe as the VA works alone.
  • Industrial Relations – no risk of unfair dismissal, harassment or discrimination claims.
  • Access – the VA may work after hours or during holidays at no additional cost.
  • Skills – clients have access to skills in-house staff may not possess.
  • Technology – the VA may have technology the business owner does not wish to invest in but needs to utilise.
  • Foreign presence – if you need a foreign presence, partnering with a VA in the country needed can provide this for you provided regulations and local laws are complied with.

So why wouldn’t you just use a temporary staffing agency to “fill the gaps” in your administrative support needs? 

Temps do not always offer the most cost effective solutions for clients as on-costs are still factored into the hourly rate by the agency. 

In addition, when clients partner with a VA they get consistency of support – not a different person each time they need assistance, necessitating training of each new temp in their business procedures. 

Clients have access to specialist skills that may not be available through a temp agency or serviced office, as well as access to latest technologies.

As mentioned, a VA has a vested interest in helping clients succeed in their own business goals – a temp does not have the same interest, and as they know they’ll be in a different workplace next week – or even tomorrow – they are disinclined to do more than the bare minimum required of them, and are certainly not interested in learning about your business in any great detail.

This partnership with clients and vested interest in their success are two of the areas that differentiate Virtual Assistants from other freelancers you may find on platforms like Upwork, Fivvr or Air Tasker – and definitely differentiates them from companies found in India, the Philippines or China.

VAs offer a wide variety of office support services including secretarial support, personal and executive assistance, word processing, database management, transcription services, mail outs, bookkeeping, web design and maintenance, desktop publishing, presentations, spreadsheets, customer relationship management, e-newsletters and e-mailouts, and more.

Download our ebook for a list of services a VA can support you with.

So doesn’t that mean that being a VA is as easy as knowing how to type and “drive” a PC? Absolutely not! Not everyone can be a VA. A colleague recently put it best when she said:

“The myth is that anyone can be a virtual assistant.  Being a VA is more than just proclaiming ‘I am a VA’, logging on to a computer and creating a web site. Professional VAs transition years of office administration experience and specialisation from a corporate setting to running their own successful business. Those experiences can include enrolment in advanced training courses, managing offices and supervising large numbers of personnel – all while acting as the assistant to the owner. Others had responsibility for local area networks (LANs), creating and maintaining corporate web sites, planning major events, etc. These are just a few examples of qualifications that help make a VA a ‘professional’.”

Agreed! You can find some more thoughts on why not everyone can be a VA at my post on the Evolution of the VA Industry.

As Michael Russer puts it in The Obsolete Employee:

“Any time you do something outside of your core competency you pay top dollar for amateur results.”

Michael Russer

Are you ready for professional results? Get in touch to find out more about how a professional VA could be the answer to your productivity prayers!

© Lyn Prowse-Bishop

Other articles you might find interesting:

The Real Cost of Staff – for a breakdown of an on-site employee versus a VA

How Do You Value Employees – for reasons why businesses employ staff and why they might consider a VA

105 Things a VA Can Do – and the 1 thing they can’t – ebook

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *