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Virtual assistants have exploded in popularity over the last few years with Entrepreneurs using them to build their brands and businesses.
One of these entrepreneurs is JR Rivas.
“I came from humble beginnings, I grew up with a single mother who never made more than $25,000 in a single year and managed to give 2 children a pretty decent childhood. At a young age I realized that leverage was the only way I was going to build something great” says JR Rivas of Instantleverage.com & JRrivas.com
So what is a virtual assistant?
A virtual assistant is simply that, someone who works for a wage, virtually.
Typically entrepreneurs look to countries like the Philippines for these virtual assistants because the hourly wage ranges from $2-$4/hour.
I know what you’re thinking…
“Isn’t that human exploitation?”
Well, here’s what JR Rivas has to say about that “I get a lot of crap from people for hiring in other countries and paying $3/hr but here’s the reality of it…The economy in the Philippines works very differently than in the US. A lot of jobs there only pay $6-$9/day. To provide some contrast of the opportunity, companies like Royal Caribbean hire people in these less developed countries and require them to work 70 hours per week for $1.80/hour with no overtime pay for months on end. We pay a bit more and they get to work from home so it’s a pretty solid opportunity.”
What can a virtual assistant do?
Anything and everything that can be done virtually. A few months back JR was starting a podcast and rather than hire a $20/hour audio engineer he hired a virtual assistant instead and put them through a podcast editing course. The results have been great in terms of work quality and efficiency. Typically, JR looks for virtual assistants to do “revenue generating tasks” for example, if you’re in real estate he’ll train them to work expired listings or prospect For Sale By Owners, if you run a marketing agency he’ll teach them how to book you more appointments through prospecting on various platforms like Linkedin, Facebook, Instagram etc. JR personally uses VA’s for accounting, video production, hiring, etc.
This all sounds great but how good do they speak English?
The Philippines teaches English at a very young age & the VA’s JR hires typically have experience working with US based companies. Of course they’ll have a very minor accent but that’s never been an issue with JR or any of his client success stories.
Okay okay, but how do I find and vet one of these VA’s?
Well, this is where everyone goes wrong. They’ll go out on a job board website and try to find a virtual assistant but then when it comes to hiring them most entrepreneurs struggle due to lack of structure.
JR uses a 5 step process to vet and hire the top 1% of virtual assistants available.
“Just like when you’re looking for a job you want to work for someone who’s credible and is going to be around for awhile. VA’s look for the same kind of security. So first, you need to have a legitimate opportunity for growth and advancement within your company. The role has to be exciting and fast paced. That’s how you attract top talent.”
“When it comes to vetting I screen for the things that are important to me. We check for English ability (written and verbal), internet connection, ability to follow directions, competency and problem solving ability. I usually give them some kind of test task to perform and see how many questions they ask, can they use google to find the answer? Or do they need their hand held? Lastly, I screen for attitude and personality. In our company we don’t tolerate drama at all, our team needs to be united and moving towards a common goal that’s really important to me.” Says JR.
Look, virtual assistants are people. They have goals, dreams and desires just like anyone else. If you treat them with respect they’ll return it and work 5x harder for you.
JR typically provides paid time off for any major US holidays. Christmas is especially important in the Philippines so JR usually recommends his clients give their VA’s off from Christmas Eve to New Years Day to rest and recharge.
JR gets tons of questions about company culture. How do you build a culture when your entire company works remotely? Here’s JR’s thoughts on this…
“We run a daily huddle. Monday thru Friday at 10:15AM EST we meet as a team. We’ve never missed one. We discuss wins of the day before, metrics, priorities for today and anything they’re stuck on. It creates a team effort to accomplish a common goal. This has made our company like a family and has allowed every member of the team to feel involved and important to the outcome.”
Tracking and monitoring performance
There’s plenty of tools out there for monitoring remote workers. Anything from screen capturing tools to daily check ins, JR uses a slack channel where the VA’s report what they’re working on every thirty minutes. This keeps everyone on track and allows him to monitor their productivity.
“I believe when employees and contractors are happy, they’ll work hard for you. So our productivity is driven by happiness. I lead from a place of love and allow people to make mistakes without worry, my team really appreciates this.”
So next time you’re looking for a hire consider a virtual assistant for the position.