With the set up of a few simple systems, you can get off to the best start with your virtual assistant. Find out what they are in this episode of Savvy Sessions...
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- Welcome to Savvy Sessions number 26 with Joy and Jo.
- Now, in this episode, we're going to be talking to Lance Jensen of Red Hot Business Coaching and Consulting about his experience using a Virtual Assistant. Not only is Lance a director of Red Hot, but he's also the CFO right here at Strictly Savvy. Thanks so much for joining us Lance.
- Cool, looking forward to it.
- So let's get straight into the questions. So, Lance, before using a Virtual Assistant, how did you get support?
- So we were like a typical consultancy. We had three consultants and we had a full-time person in the office looking after us and supporting us. So she was full-time, but then we had to outsource for pretty much everything else, like designers and all the other skills that she was unable to perform. So pretty, pretty standard typical business model previously.
- Awesome. And how long have you been using a Virtual Assistant, Lance? Roughly?
- You guys probably know better than me? Between five and seven years.
- Seven, wow.
- And so what made you just decide to move to the Virtual Assistant model?
- Partly timing, which was great. We had one of our business partners exiting, we were buying him out, so we had one person looking after two instead of three. So it didn't really make sense for it to be a full-time role. One of my clients had actually met Strictly Savvy and introduced us and as I say the timing was just perfect to try something a bit different.
- Now tell us a little bit about the numbers Lance, like the savings you've made, how that's worked for you from a financial point of view.
- Yeah, I share this quite a bit, even with my clients, because it makes so much sense. So we had a full-time person even back then, probably would have been the best part of $50K that we were paying to have someone be there all the time. Over and above that, we had graphic designers, website developers, the whole shooting match of other services we needed. So we would have easily added $20 to $30K on top of the salary in terms of what we used to spend to run the back-end of our business and our office. After transitioning to you guys we get all those skills in one place and I'm pretty sure our annual bill is maybe $36K total, so well less than half what we used to pay for a very high calibre of services across the board. So absolute no-brainer from from a financial perspective.
- So what do you get your Virtual Assistant to do for you? What are the tasks, what are the responsibilities?
- As much as possible because I don't want to do any of it. So all our back-end... All our back-end functions. So our VA has access to our diaries and inboxes, they run interference on inquiries coming to us, they manage our diaries, they organise our events, they do all our invoicing and bank reconciling, they load all our payments but we still control the actual money. So I authorise the actual transactions themselves but all the heavy lifting's done. Any digital or any any images we need for social posting is created by you guys, you usually schedule and post it as well. Pretty much all the admin functions. If things are going well, I show up, I talk to prospects, I talk to clients, I do what I've promised, but you guys take care of everything else.
- And if you think about all the benefits you get, what's probably the main benefit, the key benefit that you get out of using your Virtual Assistant and supporting team?
- You guys are a lot more organised so things happen when they're supposed to happen, which is great. So nothing's going to be forgotten or missed which is nice. The other thing I'll describe is it's full-time access to a person to support us even though we don't need them all the time. So having someone available the whole week when we need them, but only paying for the time we actually use is a massive plus in terms of I guess, why the cost savings are so good as well.
- And so how do you communicate with your Virtual Assistant?
- I feel bad sometimes... we use lots of channels, but the main one is WhatsApp which is fantastic for me. I hate texting or trying to do messages and I can talk a lot faster than I can type. So WhatsApp's great, I basically push a button, give the instruction that I want let it go and then they can go and deal with it. So lots of short voice instructions is the main way we talk and communicate.
- Brilliant. And when it comes to deciding what to delegate, how do you make that decision, how do you figure out what you'll get your Virtual Assistant to do and what you'll keep yourself? I say, as much as possible. I'm trying to get rid of everything. If it's something that's recurring, administrative in nature or creative I will definitely hand that over to you guys, to the team. If it's specific to the customer, like their data, their numbers or relative to their team, that's where I step in, that's where I obviously have to go and do some work. But I think administrative in terms of organising stuff, we try to hand across you guys.
- Great. What are some of the myths that you hear people talking about when they mention a Virtual Assistant? Or when you say that you have a Virtual Assistant... like what are those myths?
- I'm trying to think back... I've been doing it for so long it's just normal now and people are used to it. I think there is still... it's changing, especially after COVID, but there's a bit of a myth or a stigma that if I can't see them, I can't trust them or I don't know what they're doing. That's probably the big one, which is just an old school way of thinking in terms of their visibility or proximity to someone, but once you've been working in this way for a little while, it's so much easier, so much more flexible. I can't imagine ever going back to be honest.
- So why do you think or how do you overcome the not being able to see your Virtual Assistant, and how do you know that they are doing work for you?
- Like, how have you built that trust? So in the initial stages when I think back, it is just a much higher degree of comms, which you would want to have with any new employee anyway. So... good communication. For a while when we first started out, I would get an update in terms of what had been done and what had been completed so that I had some reassurance that the progress was being made in the right ways. But after a little while of that, it got to a point where, hey, look, I know you know what you're doing, you're over it. Just just let me know if there's a problem or a question. Other things you obviously see, like I can see when appointments are put in my diary, I can see when payments are loaded. I can see that the bank's been reconciled. All that stuff is still quite visible. So it's just a high degree of comms to start and then as things become more normal, they can disappear and we talk when there's a challenge.
- What's changed in your business, and to be fair, your personal life as well, since engaging a Virtual Assistant, obviously you're getting a lot of tasks off your plate, delegating to someone else. How has that changed the day-to-day running of the business for you?
- How honest am I allowed to be?
- Very honest.
- Mark and I would be lucky if we work much more than half time in terms of actually physically needing to be somewhere and show up. We do all sorts of stuff in the background, but we have a lot of time freedom now because we don't have to worry about or do a lot of that stuff. Because we're not worried about someone being in the office or someone trying to keep them busy or anything along those lines either, that's also a lot of mental pressure off what we need to do and what we need to be paying attention to. So huge amount of time, freedom and flexibility and well you've already run the numbers. The return on investment is a no-brainer. We've halved our costs and doubled our output. So, yeah, lots.
- What do your clients say about dealing with your Virtual Assistant? How do they find it?
- I certainly don't hide it. In fact they know very, very quickly that if they have an inquiry that is related to an appointment or accounts or anything of an administrative nature, if they call me, they pretty quickly learn that. I'll say, yep, that's no problem, I'll get Leanne my VA to call you and organise it, so they learn real fast just to call Leanne direct - who's my VA. I train them very quickly to go to the correct source or channel for the right piece of information. So it just becomes normal.
- And how do you find that they deal with the remote working of your Virtual Assistant and they don't get to see them in your office or anything like that? Are there any challenges there?
- No... No. So probably the only thing that we might miss by not having someone in the office and this sounds terrible, but is picking up coffees. Now we've got a coffee shop downstairs and we can go get coffee. That's not hard. Otherwise, no. It seems silly when you think about it, why would I pay someone full-time to be there for for that.
- Yeah, that's awesome. I really appreciate your honesty and taking the time to have a chat with us. It's great.
- Cool, obviously I'm an advocate and a convert. So happy to play.
- Thanks so much. So that is Savvy Sessions number 26 with Joy and Jo.
- And we'll see you next time.
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