Time and money are interchangeable - so at some point in your real estate career, you have probably seriously debated pulling the trigger on hiring a real estate virtual assistant. And why not? If time is money, then you can just pay someone to do all your busy work so you can spend more time with clients, right? Well, sort of. Along with the benefits of having a virtual right hand guy or gal helping you out - there are also some pitfalls you should consider.
A very wise man (my dad) taught me that when you're trying to make a tough decision, it's best to make a list of all the pros and cons, then use that list to guide your choice. While this is a sage advice, I realize that many of you are too busy to sit around making lists. Since its my job to create and share helpful content that makes your life easier, I've made one for you.
Pros & Cons of Hiring a Real Estate Virtual Assistant:
- Saves you time:
What's more precious than time? Delegating tasks to a third party gives you time to manage face-to-face elements of your business while still being able to enjoy friends and family. This balance is critical to a healthy work-life balance.
- Decreases your workload and stress level:
Hiring a virtual assistant can reduce your weekly workload by 25-40 hours - time you can reinvest into building your business and nurturing relationships. Having more free time also decreases your stress level, which has its own set of health and relationship benefits (just ask your friends or significant other).
- Saves you money:
In many cases, virtual assistants are significantly more affordable than in-house administrators. Costs vary widely by a contractor and company, which gives you the freedom to seek out a real estate virtual assistant who meets your budget and requirements. Just keep in mind, the most affordable option is not always the best option. You're often better off investing a little more for a well-qualified employee.
- Reduces learning curve:
Do you find yourself constantly frustrated with ever-changing social media, marketing or tech trends? The truth is, it's not possible to be awesome at everything. Instead of putting hours into trying, stop spinning your wheels and hire someone who specializes in areas you struggle with to lend you a helping hand. It'll save you time (and will be good for your sanity!).
- Provides flexibility:
Virtual assistants often have flexible hours and work on a contract or month-by-month basis. If you hire someone and realize a few weeks in that their performance isn't up to par, you can easily replace them with someone who is a better fit for your business.
- Challenges with industry-specific tasks:
One of the biggest challenges with hiring a generic virtual assistant is that many tasks you tackle on a day-to-day basis require at least a basic knowledge of the real estate industry and how transactions work. Because your work is so highly regulated, it can cause challenges when bringing new people on board - especially when they are remote. Your best bet is to have a well defined job description and a training packet ready to go for your new hire to reference so you can reduce the learning curve.
- Work monitoring is difficult:
You can't glance over at your assistant's computer screen and see them typing a blog post or updating contact info in a CRM. If you're someone who likes to have control of every task, this may be a deal breaker for you - but you have options. You can require that your contractor use a productivity tracker that shows you what they're working on or you can ask them to submit an itemized time sheet. If you decide to do so, track your own hours on various tasks and add a buffer to accommodate a learning curve before you hire an assistant.
- Unable to meet face-to-face:
Some meetings and conversations are just better face-to-face. You can use tech tools like Skype or Facetime to work around this issue, but lunch meetings just aren't quite the same over a tablet screen.
- Connectivity can be an issue:
If your assistant's Internet goes down and they're tasked with handling urgent projects, it can cause big problems. In many cases, you can take the reigns and make sure whatever task is at hand gets done, but you need to be able to communicate with your assistant. Make sure you have a backup plan in place so they can communicate with you if this ever becomes an issue.
- You must trust your assistant:
Chances are, your assistant will be interacting with your most precious asset - your clients. Before you start introducing lots of client-focused tasks, have your assistant start out with more administrative duties and see how they do. Getting a feel for the way they communicate via phone and email will build trust.
The bottom line is, there are lots of things you need to consider prior to pulling a trigger on a virtual assistant hire. If you decide it makes a good financial sense to bring a helper on board, make sure you have a clearly defined role in place before you put an offer on the table so you get the most out of their time and your money. Read this post for more advice on how to find the perfect assistant.