What Is a Virtual Assistant and How Can They Help Your Business?
A virtual assistant is an outside contractor who works online to complete off-site administrative tasks for small businesses.
Hiring one can help you free up time and scale your business operations without having to bring in a full-time employee.
But what do virtual assistants do? How do they work? And how do you hire one for your home service business? Keep reading to get the answers.
We discussed virtual assistants in the Jobber Summit 2023 session “Why and How to Hire a Virtual Assistant.” Watch the session recording now.
What is a virtual assistant? Everything you need to know
What are virtual assistants?
A virtual assistant provides remote support services for your business. Some assistants focus on admin work, like scheduling jobs and following up on invoices, while others have broader skills like bookkeeping and marketing.
Virtual assistants are a good option if your business needs an extra set of hands for support tasks, but you can’t hire an admin or office manager due to limited space or budget.
READ MORE: Hiring your first employee: when and how to do it successfully
What does a virtual assistant do?
Virtual assistant tasks can include any office or admin work that you would normally take care of yourself, like:
Quoting and follow-ups
If you have a straightforward service pricing strategy, your virtual assistant may be able to create and send out estimates for you.
They can also send quote follow-ups to customers you haven’t heard back from to help you win the work and collect an upfront deposit.
FREE TOOL: Send professional-looking quotes with our free estimate template
Scheduling and setting up jobs
Virtual assistants can accept new work requests, coordinate with clients to book services, add new jobs to your schedule, and order any materials you need to complete those jobs.
READ MORE: Client intake forms to onboard clients and kick off new jobs
Once they have a good understanding of your business, a virtual assistant can handle customer questions and concerns via email, or even over the phone if you have call forwarding in place.
Invoicing and payments
Don’t have time to send invoices for past work or follow up on overdue invoices? A virtual assistant can send reminders, accept payment, and help keep your business’s cash flow healthy.
FREE TOOL: Send invoices faster with our free invoice template
A virtual assistant can help keep your business financially healthy by tracking expenses, managing your budget, and handling your accounts payable and receivable.
READ MORE: Bookkeeper vs. accountant: what’s the difference?
With the right field service CRM in place, your virtual assistant can easily maintain accurate, up-to-date client information, including names, addresses, service needs, and billing details.
Social media management
Connect with customers on your social media with the help of a virtual assistant. They can post content, answer comments, and respond to messages from potential customers.
Processes and procedures help employees do consistently great work. A virtual assistant can write down your standard operating procedure and share the document with your team.
Pro Tip: Use your process documents to create job forms that you and your employees can reuse during every job, making it easy to remember every step of every task.
READ MORE: The Home Edit shares 22 tips for organizing your business
If your virtual assistant has marketing experience, they may be able to update your service business website, run email campaigns, design flyers, or manage other parts of your marketing strategy.
Even if they don’t have this experience personally, a VA can find and work with freelancers who can complete that work for you.
Personal assistant tasks
It’s hard to find time for personal tasks when you’re spending every spare minute running your business. Your virtual assistant can handle tasks like booking appointments, managing your calendar and phone calls, and even ordering lunch.
How does a virtual assistant work?
Many virtual assistants provide their administrative services as independent contractors, whether it’s through their own business or as part of an agency.
Instead of hiring them as an employee, you sign a contract with their company. You can access their services part-time or full-time, depending on what your business needs.
Virtual assistants can work from anywhere in the world, so you don’t need to provide an office or equipment. This keeps your overhead costs low and your productivity high.
And because they aren’t a business employee, you also don’t have to worry about taxes, payroll, or benefits.
How does a virtual assistant help my business?
What can a virtual assistant do to help your business succeed? Simple—they handle all the tasks involved with running your business so you can invest your time in growing the business.
This means you can expect to:
- Save money by only paying for the time and services you need
- Reduce the stress of managing your daily, weekly, and monthly to-do lists
- Get tasks done quickly and at a high quality level without breaking a sweat
How to hire a virtual assistant
Ready to hire a virtual assistant? Just follow this quick and easy process to start taking back your time:
- Make a list of tasks you do with your phone or computer, then see which of the most time-consuming tasks you can pass off to your virtual assistant. Remember, you can always add more tasks to their to-do list later on.
- Write down instructions for the tasks you need completed. Include details and deadlines. This will help your virtual assistant do the job properly, consistently, and on time.
- Set a budget so you know how much you’re able to spend within a certain period of time. That way, your virtual assistant will be able to give you the most bang for your buck.
- Decide who will manage and communicate with the virtual assistant, whether it’s yourself or another employee.
- Look for a virtual assistant on Google, ask for referrals from other home service providers, or write a job posting and share it on a freelance website like TaskRabbit or Upwork.
- Review applications and work samples from potential assistants. Then call or video conference with your top candidates to talk about your needs and see if they’re a good fit before signing a contract.
- Pick the best virtual assistant for your business needs and share your to-do list and timelines with them.
- Check in regularly to make sure the work is getting done and answer any questions your virtual assistant might have.
Virtual assistant qualifications to look for
Anyone can become a virtual assistant, as long as they have the education and experience needed to provide top-notch services. So while your assistant doesn’t need special training, you might want to hire one with:
- Skills with computers, business technology, and field service software
- Several years of work experience as a virtual assistant, admin assistant, or office manager
- Experience in any specialty areas that are important to you (e.g., bookkeeping, web design)
- Postsecondary education in business, marketing, communications, or another relevant field
How much is a virtual assistant?
Expect to spend $21/hour on average working with a virtual assistant. The exact cost depends on how experienced they are and what kinds of tasks they’re completing for you.
READ MORE: Bonus programs for employees: reward and retain top performers
A virtual assistant helps you free up time and scale your operations by outsourcing your daily admin tasks. Or, use field service software to control your entire operations in one place.
Jobber makes it easy to send professional quotes and invoices, automate customer reminders, schedule work, and monitor your performance.