In early 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic forced many businesses to alter their operations. At best, this meant converting brick and mortar offerings into virtual options. At worst, it meant shutting down until stay-at-home orders were lifted. But now that restrictions are being lifted, some are still finding it hard to get back to “normal” so to speak. Well, an option that might help one achieve that normal could be a virtual assistant.
What is a virtual assistant?
A virtual assistant (VA), as the name implies, is an assistant that helps and supports your business virtually. This does not mean that the person is a robot or some type of computer. It simply means that the person is based at a remote location and not within your office. A VA is trained to assist you, and your business, when called upon.
Advancements in technology, the presence of the internet, along with document-sharing and other business-related software, makes it easier for people to work remotely. Because many businesses no longer “need” people to physically be present at the same location for them to work, VAs could be a good option for some.
What services does a VA offer?
Depending what needs your business has, a VA can assist with almost any and every work-related task. Some of the most common tasks that a business will allocate to a VA include:
- Operational and administrative tasks
- Phone management
- Event management
- Managing calendars, appointments and emails
- Preparing reports
- Personal tasks like booking hotels and restaurants
- Social media management
- Content management
- Simple digital marketing tasks
- Community management
- Website design
Take one of our clients for example. Edmond Virtual Assistant Services offers VA services here in the greater Chicagoland area. Their offerings are centered around four areas/groupings:
- Executive Support
- Marketing & Social Media
- Special Services
In addition to the above, companies can hire role-specific VAs to handle specialized duties as well. In these scenarios, VAs have a specific skill set that only allows them to tackle just one operational area. For example, the person could only work on tasks associated with sales and marketing, public relations, or customer service.
How can a VA help you survive Covid-19?
Many businesses have had to try and retool their operations in the wake of Covid-19. If you’ve had to close your brick-and-mortar location, but still have the ability to sell your goods virtually, a VA could be a key addition. Even if you are still operating a physical location offering something like curbside pickup, a VA could function remotely to help take customer calls, schedule pickups and coordinate orders. With that said, here are some additional ways that a VA might be able to help you weather this storm.
Reduce operational costs. Since VAs work on their own from a remote location, businesses can save money related to their own location and equipment costs. Furthermore, since the concept of a VA states that the person would be providing their services on a contract basis, VAs have an unsaid understanding with companies to not expect payment unless they are actually working or producing deliverables.
Access to needed skills. One of the foremost reasons why small businesses and solopreneurs hire VAs is to get easy access to skills and expertise, which otherwise would either be too costly to hire for or too time-consuming to do by ones self. Remember, most entrepreneurs are good at what they trained or went to school for. Administrative tasks don’t always fall within their wheelhouse.
Imagine you’re an entrepreneur running a small restaurant that only offered in-person dining pre-Covid-19. Now you are going to offer carry-out as well as curbside pickup, but you don’t have the technology structure in place to make that happen quickly nor seamlessly.
While you can choose to do so by going the long route of hiring a person or technology firm, the option of hiring a hit-the-ground-running “tech” VA could be the more beneficial route. This enables you to quickly get things in place in no time in a much more cost-effective manner.
Maintain Quality service. The simplest reason for most companies to hire VA is to have efficient business operations in place. Hiring a VA enables businesses to employ reasonable resources to fulfill tasks that internal employees either don’t have the time for or aren’t qualified enough to tackle.
Let’s say that your business has had to reduce staff levels to try and survive financially. You’re operating with a limited skeleton crew or worse, you simply had to let people go. Some of those people, might have been really talented workers or those with years of expertise. Now your stuck trying to “limp along” until things get better. This might even mean the business owner doing things they don’t really know how to, nor want to do. Furthermore, they could find themselves simply doing too much, which leads to increased production times, order fulfillment or decreased customer satisfaction.
Having a VA in place to assist with some of the mission critical operations at this time could be just what is needed.
Decreasing the owners workload. Have you found yourself in a situation lately where you missed your kid’s activity (e.g. school e-learning Zoom) because you were either too busy handling “things” or because “something came up” at work?
Saving time and decreasing your workload go hand-in-hand when it comes to outlining the benefits of hiring a VA. Having a VA who can handle those “things” or tackle that “something at work” can help you find more time and therefore reduce your increased workload.
Time management. Hiring VAs empowers businesses to utilize their time more efficiently. For example, would you rather waste four hours a day doing tasks like cleaning out your inbox or spend those four hours conceptualizing innovative strategies to help your business survive?
That’s a no-brainer, right? Having a VA working for you to handle such tasks that could potentially eat up your time, helps you regain lost time that you can invest in working on your business rather than in it.
Promote your ability to service customers during Covid-19. There are many businesses that are NOT open for “business as usual” as a result of this pandemic. Getting a VA on board can help a business focus on multiple advertising tasks at the same time to let customers know that you ARE open and ready to accept customers business.
This may include promoting availability on social media, running online campaigns, or submitting stories to newspapers. Having someone dedicated to keeping consumers up to date on a businesses’ sometimes “ever changing” Covid-19 operations, could just be the difference between staying open in the long run or turning out the lights for good!