A Virtual Assistant for Every Coach

My recent post on when a coach should hire a VA brought up some follow up questions. To answer your questions, I interviewed an expert — Kellie deRuyter, business & marketing coach for VAs.

Do all VAs have skills in most anything a coach would need help with?

Kellie: A coach shouldn’t expect any individual VA to be skilled in every task or project the coach might need. Like everyone else, VAs have certain skills they’re great at, others they can perform reasonably well, and some things that just aren’t their forte. Many VAs specialize. The key is to find the VA who best suits your top priorities and your work style preferences, who will also offer expert referrals for tasks they don’t do.

What should I ask a VA to find out if their skills match my needs?

Kellie: Well, in a perfect world, all VAs would be able to clearly state their top skills and the type of coach they work best with, but I hear from lots of coaches that’s not always the case — although I am working on that, so stay tuned! In the meantime, ask the VA candidate questions that will challenge them to give thoughtful, informative answers, rather than reply “yes, I can do that!” to any skill you ask about.

  • What are your core competencies?
  • What tasks and projects do you enjoy most?
  • What are you adequate at but not crazy about doing?
  • Is there anything you absolutely are not willing to do or learn?
  • Can you refer me to other expert VAs that handle those things?

What if I want a VA to learn something they don’t know how to do?

Kellie: Is it a set of skills or tasks that you’re willing to teach your VA, or do you want your VA to learn it on their own? Most VAs will learn on their own time if the skill is something they can offer other clients as well. If it’s a skill specific to you alone, it’s likely you’ll be charged for the time it takes to get up to speed. If out-of-pocket costs are involved, such as for training materials or programs, but it’s still something the VA could use with other clients, consider offering to split the costs with your VA. In any case, it’s important not to make any assumptions and to discuss these issues in detail with your VA.

What questions should I ask the VA regarding compatibility issues, such as work style preferences and communication styles?

Kellie: Ask your VA candidate:

  • How do you prefer to communicate? (For example mainly by email? By phone?)
  • How often do you prefer to communicate?
  • What is the typical response time between when I reach out and you get back to me?

It’s not realistic to expect your VA to be there instantly on demand for you. VAs have many clients, just as you do. If you are proactively on top of your business, you shouldn’t need to reach your VA instantly. In fact, that’s a good reason to hire a VA — to help you operate from that proactive position.

To help VAs sort out these details, I created a 12 page VA Coach Compatibility Assessment that thoroughly covers the communication issues and much more. It lists every possible skill a coach might want from a VA. While it’s designed for VAs to use with their prospective coach clients, it works just as well for coaches searching for a VA. If you are interested in using this comprehensive guide to help you hire the VA ideal for you, contact me for a special offer just for coaches.

What should a coach expect to pay for a VA’s services?

Kellie: Most VAs charge between $30 and $55 per hour, with a few falling outside that range. Their fee depends on their skill level. For general admin skills alone it’s usually less. The price goes up with more specialized skills, such as Internet marketing, ecommerce and developing information products. In addition, the price is usually higher for contract work than it is for a monthly retainer. Many require a 10 hour per month retainer, which is a good idea for the coach too, insuring they have a reserved chunk of their VA’s time every month.

How do I find a VA?

Kellie:

  • The best way is to ask your colleagues for referrals.
  • Contact VA schools such as AssistU, and VA associations such as the IVAA, and ask for names of VAs who specialize in working with coaches.
  • Do an internet search on VAs with a coach specialty.

Always look at their websites to see if they have a professional presence and testimonials from clients that are coaches. Find them on social networking sites, such as Facebook and LinkedIn, to get an impression of who they are and how they show up.

Then contact the top 3 to 5 VAs you’ve located to schedule interviews. If you use my assessment, fill out your part ahead of time and ask them to do the same before your scheduled interviews. The information you get back from your prospective VA will be worth its weight in gold and your interviews will be a breeze. Finally, if the interview goes well, be sure to ask for references from other coach clients and call them!

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Thank you Kellie for your sound advice to coaches hiring Virtual Assistants!

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