8 Steps to Training (and Retaining) a Virtual Assistant
Updated November 29, 2022.
How can property managers transition a new VA into a successful new hire? Once you find the ideal virtual assistant for your role, some critical steps must take place to ensure your new independent contractor becomes a valuable and productive new asset for your team.
Hiring a remote worker can be a bit different than bringing on a new in-house team member for your real estate business. Still, the right VA could be the best new addition to your real estate professionals team and efforts to scale your property management or real estate business. When onboarding a new virtual assistant, these eight steps can help you train (and retain) a long-term VA!
1. Implement Training
Whether you have a training system with manuals and videos or not, it's critical to train your new remote assistant well from the start. Spend time with your real estate virtual assistant during their first few weeks on the job to walk them through processes, software, communication methods, and deliverables for their role.
If you don't currently have a documented training process for your property management business, your new VA can build the training manual and videos for the job role while they train. Doing this enables them to train the next person or other virtual assistants as you build your workforce.
2. Treat Your Virtual Assistant As Part of the Team
Even though they are an independent contractor, integrating a remote assistant into your team helps them feel welcome and crucial to company operations. Include your VA in team meetings, add them to your internal communication channels, include their photo and bio on your website, and listen to their feedback.
3. Establish Communication Protocols
Establishing communication protocols with virtual assistants helps property managers and real estate businesses check in with remote team members. However, having team members constantly on a video conference to monitor work tends to exhaust their local computer resources and can give a "big brother" vibe.
Instead, create a policy that virtual contractors must have their cameras on for video meetings. Utilize Slack or other instant messaging services to communicate throughout the day. Having team members stay logged into these tools can also help see that your virtual assistant is working during office hours.
4. Ask for Feedback
Listening to feedback from your remote workforce helps build a positive relationship that can lead to better success with real estate virtual assistants. It also helps them take ownership over the role and their tasks. Many great ideas and process changes come from team members on the front lines who can give feedback to their managers.
5. Give Them Authority
Once your virtual assistant is fully trained and understands the job role, begin giving them more authority to make decisions and recommendations to processes that they own. By empowering your property management virtual assistant to take ownership, you will be rewarded with fewer escalations, less stress, happier team members, and a better customer experience.
6. Delegate—Don't Abdicate
Companies in the real estate industry must understand the vital difference between delegating and abdicating. When delegating, you give team members responsibility for a task or project, but you stay in the information loop. However, abdicating means you turn over the responsibility, then remove yourself from the information loop. Delegating is an excellent way to remove tasks from your plate while maintaining accountability for tasks and projects. Knowing how to delegate (without abdicating) helps you reduce stress and retain your best virtual assistants!
7. Meet Regularly
In addition to setting up communication protocols, it's critical to meet with your virtual assistant regularly. In addition to your initial training meetings with a new VA to help them learn the job role, your company's core values, and how the company operates, schedule weekly KPI meetings to review deliverables, assignments, tasks, and due dates. These meetings are also an important time to obtain feedback to help your virtual assistant become adjusted and a productive part of the team.
8. Deliver Competitive Compensation
Build a compensation plan that will continue to motivate your team members and pay them at the market or above market price. Many property management industry managers who hire a virtual assistant want to pay the assistant an hourly rate—often very low—while expecting a long-term commitment and success. However, to retain better quality VAs that deliver quality work, the better your contractor compensation plan is, the better chance you'll have for long-term success.
When compensating your remote team member, create a plan that considers:
A competitive hourly rate
If you will pay overtime or not
A bonus structure
An internet or computer stipend
While providing all of these items to your virtual assistant is unnecessary, arranging better compensation can help a property manager attract and keep more quality VAs for the long haul.
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