Friday, 9 December 2011

Business case for hiring VAs

VAs will tell you they are good value for money and give you a whole string of reasons why, but you should decide for yourself before hiring one. Each situation is different and the importance of intangibles - the things you can't put a cost to - will vary, but here are the main things to consider.

First, be clear about the tasks and skills you expect of your VA, so you can make a like-for-like comparison. For example, an experienced PA costs far more (c.£20,000-24,000 pa) than a Secretary (c.£16,000-20,000) or an Administrator (c.£10,000-16,000 pa).

Then, decide how much time you require. Everyone over-estimates the amount of a VA's time that's needed as it's often far less than you would plan for an employee - try to find a realistic benchmark, ask around.

Once you've compared the direct hiring costs, consider indirect costs, such as:
  • Office Costs ...Providing office space, a desk, PC, telephone, etc
  • Training Costs ...Learning new business skills, PC/software training, etc
  • Management Costs ...Your supervision time, PAYE, sickness/holidays, etc
Now you have the full costs, overlay this with your list of intangibles, such as:
  • How the person sounds on the phone and interacts with customers
  • The quality of work and how the person adds to your professionalism
  • Dealing with employment problems, attendance issues and other hassles
  • Having all the necessary skills, precisely at the time when need them
  • The backup to handle surges in demand or deal with emergencies
  • ... this list really does go on and will be personal to you.
There are negative intangibles to consider too. For example: your ability to work remotely, not "owning" the VAs time, relying on technology, etc. You need to be comfortable with these and any compromises.

So, how does the case look now? I suspect your initial mental assessment is perhaps more convincing than you previously thought. If you'd like to see a case worked through, take a look at VA Comparative Costs.

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