Thinking of hiring a Virtual Assistant? What you need to know
May 29, 2018
It seems nearly every successful agent reaches a point in their career where they are “almost” able to afford taking on an assistant. But it’s a big leap. You not only have to cover salary, but benefits too.
Then there’s recruiting, interviewing, hiring, and the onboarding process. Finally, you have to spend time training them – and that could take a lot of time. Time you don’t have. Then there’s all the paperwork that comes with having an employee. This is why a lot of agents never take the leap.
Yet, nearly every top producing agent that hired an assistant took a leap of faith. And they never looked back. It was when their business growth began to explode. But not every agent can afford or would want to hire a full-time agent, even successful ones. Still, busy agents need help and shouldn’t be spending so much time on non-income producing tasks.
Fortunately, as the internet began to emerge in the 1990s, a new kind of real estate assistant was born: a virtual assistant. Not an employee, but a contracted worker paid by the hour or a flat rate for a project. You typically wouldn’t even see or meet virtual workers as they were stationed remotely, usually working out of their homes. Email and phones kept them connected to agents they were contracted to help.
That’s still mostly true today, with a few differences. First, many virtual assistants are based overseas, commonly in India or the Philippines. That’s because hourly rates are more affordable ($7.5-$12 an hour) compared to the U.S. based Virtual Assistants ($20-$55 an hour or more).
Let’s take a look at what you need to know when contemplating hiring a Virtual Assistant.
Tasks a Virtual Assistant can take over from you that will increase your productivity and profitability.
- – You need to think about those things that take away the most time from doing the things that make you money. Things a VA can do includes:
- – Entering and updating Property listings
- – Updating your Contact Management system or CRM
- – Managing and prioritizing your Emails
- – Responding to routine email requests
- – Managing your calendar, booking and confirming appointments, sending text reminders before a meeting
- – Answering phone calls when you are meeting with clients, so no calls go to voicemail
- – Handling your mailings
- – Tracking your expenses to full-fledge bookkeeping
- – Managing your marketing placements and tracking reports
- – Assembling your CMAs
- – Ordering Inspections
- – Managing your social media posts and tracking
- – Scheduling photographers/videographers
- – Ordering Yard Sign installs
- – Creating and ordering marketing materials: flyers, postcards, etc.
- – Researching leads (collecting LinkedIn and Facebook info)
- – Logistical support: they can help re-order your day when something major goes sideways and reschedule your appointments
Virtual Assistants that specialize as Transaction Coordinators.
Another option for a busy real agent to save time is using a VA who specializes in Transaction Management. There are VA companies who provide these well-trained folks, which can save agents a lot of time in offices that don’t offer this type of support.
TM VAs manage all the timelines and stay on top of everyone assigned to each task from the day you have a signed around agreement to the possession date. They make sure all the documentation necessary to close has been completed. And they do all the data input, so an agent doesn’t have to lift a finger and can focus on reviewing the forms, not creating them.
The big benefits of a Virtual Assistant.
If you do it right, hiring a VA will make you money. Because it will free you from the things you do that are not directly profitable, it should help you do the things that generate more sales.
Because a VA is a contract worker, you are saving significantly on employment expenses, especially if they are overseas. You don’t have to worry about insurance benefits, or sick days, or paid leave or OSHA rules – all your HR headaches are gone.
You have no infrastructure costs with a VA. You don’t have to pay for their Internet or phone service, and you don’t have to buy them a computer. They are not taking up any of your office space, so you have no overhead expenses.
You also should spend far less time training, as the real estate industry is awash in experienced VAs overseas and in the U.S. They most likely have done many of these tasks before for another agent. That means you should also have more time for you and less time to stress.
A word of caution
You do need to keep in mind that there are some things your VA will be unable to do. While there are some real estate licensed VAs, they are the exception, not the rule.
For example, many states have strict rules around what is considered “soliciting” real estate business, which can only involve someone who is licensed. Other states restrict the answering of specific questions to licensed pros, so check with your broker.
Finally, for most busy agents, hiring a good VA should lead to better business. An agent should be able to up their game.
Companies known for real estate Virtual Assistants include timetc (USA), MyTasker (India), MyOutDesk (overseas), Brown & Brown (Transaction VAs), and Upwork (USA).