Most business owners who operate a VA company do so for several reasons. They have experienced a measure of success in which they were getting too busy to provide the all the services themselves. They want to expand the services they offer or utilize the expertise of a fellow VA through a structured profit center taking more of a managerial role. They may want to expand their market to a different country through the location of their VA’s or possibly to grow personally and professionally.
The benefit to clients is they have access to a ready- made team of professionals providing a variety of services who produce quality work. The client can decide if they want to be hands on with the associates or not at all leaving the VA company owner to handle the managing of the team. Sometimes the client wants to portray a larger company image and working with a VA company can provide them with that.
Associates benefit from the clients being found for them. For VA’s who struggle with the networking or marketing of their business this can be a solution for them. This allows VA’s to gain experience and in some instances free training by the owner or other associates. In addition the initial interview and assessment of client needs is taken care of by company owner.
Hiring Associate VA’s
When hiring associates for your VA company be clear on what it is you are looking for in an associate. Compile a list of the skills, characteristic and personality traits you want in an association along with any other items of importance to your company and other associates. Have a formal hiring process outlining roles and responsibilities. Be sure to ask for and check references.
You may already have a candidate in mind you would like to bring on as an associate however if not use your networking organizations to find the right VA. This may be an experienced VA however sometimes the best associates turn out to be new VA’s who have a strong desire to learn and develop their skills as a VA. Once you have decided on a VA it is imperative to have a contract outlining the associate relationship.
According to Michelle Jamison, owner of Multi-VA company MJVA & Associates, “Be very, very wary of hiring friends or relatives as they have proven to most likely end in disaster. Be prepared for some of these relationships to not work out. You may believe you have found a perfect candidate only to find out the match is not a good fit either for you, your associates or your clients!”
Structuring a Multi-VA Business – Pros and Cons
There are two ways to structure you can structure your company:
1. Associates work directly with the clients once you have made the initial contact and processed them as new clients.
2. The associates have no contact with client and all communication comes through you.
Listed below are the pros and cons of these two structures.
1. Associate has direct contact with the client:
- Less managing of associates required
- Client is in direct contact with associates and the client develops a relationship with the VA(s) they are working with
- Instructions are coming directly from the client to the VA without you as a go between
- If something is not done correctly the VA will usually be contacted directly
- You as the business owner are not as involved in the VA/client relationship
- Builds more VA loyalty than company loyalty and as a result it is imperative to contact clients on a regular basis so they know you care about their business and are available for them
- You have to trust the VA is doing their job to company standards
2 Associates have no contact with client everything is filtered through you:
- You have total control over the client/VA relationship
- Client deal directly with you for assignments and establish company loyalty
- You manage all work projects and view input/output
- Very time consuming and you not only need to manage the VA but the client as well
- You have to give up your own clients in order to manage effectively
- VA will not grow if they do not have one-on-one relationships with clients
- You, not the VA, is held accountable for client work
In some cases you will find that you will need to combine both structures into your company depending on the client. For instance a client may want to utilize the skills and services of all your VA’s however does not want the interaction with all of them and prefers only one VA manages the projects. This VA does not necessarily need to be you.
Michelle Jamison recommends, “The best way to financially structure a VA company is on an hourly rate. If you have a client on retainer and the VA goes over the monthly retainer you may be out of pocket for the difference unless this is specified in the VA associate agreement. Keep in mind associates are paid quite a bit less than the client is charged given there is no marketing required of them.”
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