Owning and operating a Virtual Assistance business has many challenges that need to be addressed. Some may be small and some big, but all help us to learn and grow our businesses.
One of the biggest challenges is convincing prospective, and sometimes apprehensive, clients of the benefits of utilizing the professional services of a Virtual Assistant (VA). And, an additional aspect of that challenge is to project the advantages of VAs in comparison to temporary agencies and their employees… the VA's competition.
With that in mind, we will cover here some of the important differences that you, as an up and coming VA, can outline to those whom are showing an interest in your services but are still unsure of the differences.
1. Temporary employees (temps) are just that, temporary. They're here today and may be gone tomorrow. A VA, on the other hand, is available on an ongoing basis or can be called upon, at short notice, when an extra pair of administrative hands is required.
2. VAs take a vested interest in the success of their clients and their businesses. VAs believe that the absolute best job possible will not only help their own reputation but will also help to build the client's business. The more successful the client is, the higher possibility of more work needing to be done by the VA or more referrals. A temp, however, may look at the assignment as just a means of padding their resume or getting a paycheque.
3. Training and experience is also an issue when comparing VAs to temps. VAs are generally those that have had many, many years of experience out in the workforce. This knowledge, along with any additional training and schooling, allows them to provide a wide gambit of services, all of which they have had many years to perfect. VAs also tend to be more apt to upgrade their skills in order to provide their clients with the most up to date and professional services that they can possibly provide.
Temps, on the other hand, may be those that are right out of school with little or no 'on the job' experience, or those who are simply looking for something to fill their time. Not to mention, when a temp is hired, they have to be trained. Now, if that temp is not available when the next assignment crops up, another temp will have to be brought in and thus more time is needed to train that employee. And so on.
4. Now, let's look at the rate differences. Actually, the two may seem similar in cost but not in other aspects. The rate paid to the temp is actually split between the temp and the agency that contracts them out. Then it must be taken into consideration the time the client needs to spend training the temp, the space used by him/her, and the equipment that is needed and requires maintenance.
A VA's rates, comparatively, help to upgrade equipment, software and skills. This, in turn, allows for more and better services to be available for the client. It also means that the client doesn't need to worry about providing space and maintaining equipment that a temp would need, which can get quite costly when in the hands of an inexperienced employee.
5. The next difference is to look at the types of clients that temps and VAs are most likely to be contracted by. Medium to large companies generally would call in a temp when they have enough work to keep them busy for an extended period of time or when the work involves specific duties that need to be handled in-house (ie. reception). However, these companies may also have a need for the services of a VA when they have an occasional project that requires immediate, experienced attention or when they do not have the training time or equipment available for a temp.
Small business owners and SOHOs (Sole Owner Home Office) are most likely to need and utilize the services of a VA as opposed to bringing in a temp. The projects are usually varied and may be far between or not enough to keep an employee busy in-house. The completion of the project may also be hampered by the lack of space and equipment that would be necessary if a temp is brought in. It is unlikely they will ever use the services of a temp and they are more receptive to the idea of contracting a secretarial service.
6. VAs charge for the actual work they do, hour for hour, whereas a temp is paid for time worked and any time they sit idle, waiting for more work or another project to do.
7. And, unlike a temp who has loyalty to the agency they are contracted through, a VA is usually an entrepreneur and works with and for the client. As a fellow small business owner, a VA has a vested interest in the success of their client's business.
Although temporary agencies are more visible to the public, due to their increased size and marketing budgets, they are not the only answer to help alleviate the administrative overflow for both small and large businesses. Working together, we can all help to educate potential clients on how we, as VAs, are the best answer to their office assistance needs.