Welcome to the Tipping Point. Listen into this bite sized learning series as part of the Vacation Rental Success podcast, or watch the video version on the Vacation Rental Formula Business School's YouTube channel. This episode is brought to you by the kind sponsorship of Pricelabs, who will help increase your revenue and occupancy with their dynamic pricing and revenue management tools.
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Get ready to fire up your business. Here's your host, Heather Baier.
Welcome back to another episode of The Tipping Point. The podcast designed to help you succeed in the fast paced world of vacation rentals. I'm your host, Heather Beyer, and in today's episode, we're going to discuss a topic [00:01:00] that's crucial for success, but often riddled with pitfalls, and that's hiring a virtual assistant.
You know, over the years in my property management business, we hired numerous VAs and we got it wrong way more than we got it right. Some lasted longer than others, but until we really nailed the process, it really wasn't a good track record. We made a bunch of mistakes. I want to make sure you don't do the same or you will end up wasting the time, the money and the effort that we did.
Anyhow, here at the Vacation Rental Formula Business School, we have a social media hub. Manager, that's Carolina and Hannah, who is my executive assistant, so both virtual assistants. Hannah lives in the Philippines and she's been with us for around eight, maybe nine years now. She worked for Cottage Link Rental Management, my property management company, until a few months ago when I stole her back and I'm so happy.
She's a treasured part of our team again. So, [00:02:00] hiring virtual assistants can be a game changer, but it's really essential to do it right. So we've put a list, we've put together a list of the seven most common mistakes businesses make when bringing a virtual assistant on board. In this episode, we'll uncover these pitfalls so you can avoid them and make the right decisions first time.
So, mistake number one is neglecting the why. The first big mistake is hiring a virtual assistant without a clear understanding of why you actually need one. What happens usually is that the business becomes overwhelming and you decide you just need someone to help you. without evaluating the real reason that you're feeling snowed under.
Are you looking to have more time for yourself and your family? Do you feel the need to improve the guest experience? Maybe you're in a growth phase and want to scale your business. Without a solid why, it's easy to misalign expectations and miss out on the full potential of that virtual [00:03:00] assistant that you eventually find.
So mistake number two. is lack of a clear task definition. And I remember so well doing the knee jerk thing of hiring a new person because we needed someone today, but failing to define the tasks we wanted her to handle. And without a clear understanding of what you need help with. Your virtual assistant may end up doing tasks that don't actually contribute to your goals or you're spending time trying to find tasks for them to do.
So take the time before that knee jerk comes into effect to outline the specific responsibilities and expectations that you have of your VA. And this will go a long way to ensure a productive working relationship. Mistake number three is ignoring skill set. requirements. One size doesn't fit all when it comes to VAs, and managers often make the mistake of overlooking the specific skills required for the tasks that they, they want [00:04:00] to delegate, that they want to hand down.
You might find someone who's great at using chat GPT and creating articles, but if they don't have the writing skills to put a human touch on them, it's a waste of their time, and more specifically yours. As you'll have to complete the job in the end. So make sure you identify the skills needed, whether it's excellent communication or technical proficiency or industry specific knowledge, way before you start that hiring process.
Mistake number four, and this is a really important one, unrealistic budgeting and looking for the lowest hourly rate. Budgeting is so crucial when hiring anybody, but hiring a virtual assistant is so important because many managers underestimate the costs involved. Setting an unrealistic budget can lead to compromises in the quality of work or there's going to be dissatisfaction on both sides and people aren't going to be prepared to talk to each other about it.
So be prepared to invest [00:05:00] adequately in the skills and expertise you require. Hiring someone because their hourly rate is low I was going to say it could be a false economy, but it is a false economy because they probably won't be able to output work at the standard that you expect. They've gone for the minimum hourly rate possible for a reason, uh, probably because They don't have the clear skills to make them feel confident that they can charge more.
So mistake number five is neglecting time zones and availability. And this really bit us a number of times. You know, in a globalized world, time zones are such a significant factor when working with VAs. And managers often fail to consider time zone differences. And that leads to communication delays and missed opportunities.
So, you've got to ensure the sufficient overlap in working hours for seamless collaboration. I mean, in my case, I, I'm a very, very early riser. And I [00:06:00] go to bed pretty early. So, if I get up really early, then I'm able to have a good chat with Hannah, uh, before it's her time to go to bed. Because there's about a 12 hour time difference between us.
So, if you're looking for someone to work for, say, 10 hours per week, don't forget they're probably working for other employers as well. So, you've got to set your hard boundaries on the times they're available for you. That's so important. So, mistake number six is inadequate communication tools. Because communication is the lifeline of a virtual working relationship.
Yet, often people overlook the importance of selecting the right tools. Because inadequate or mismatched communication tools can lead to misunderstandings and inefficiencies. You might use Asana and Slack and Zoom, but you've got to make sure that these are the right ones for communicating with a virtual assistant.
So choose [00:07:00] tools that... Facilitate clear and efficient communication, and also make sure your potential virtual assistant is familiar with them. Then, set regular meeting times and value their time in attending them. Don't turn up late. Don't postpone them unless it's an absolute necessity. Mistake number seven.
The last one is skipping the onboarding process. Managers often make the mistake of skipping or just rushing through the onboarding process. But proper onboarding and training are vital to align your virtual assistant with your business processes and expectations because if you forget or neglect this step, it just leads to confusion and probably they're not going to perform as well as you want them to.
I've talked on a previous Tipping Point episode about having your written SOPs in place, and that will make things a lot easier for you. And, because that means that your [00:08:00] VA is not left wondering how to do something. So, make sure that you have an onboarding plan. Because what happens if you don't is something that happened to us over and over again is that we almost forgot that we had a VA working for us.
Um, we give them a task and then not get back in touch. And it's so important that, that they understand all your processes and are given. a clear indication of what they have to do next. Because very often, they don't ask the question. They wait for you to come back to them. Okay, so wrapping up. Hiring a virtual assistant can be a real game changer.
But it's essential to be aware of the common pitfalls. So, we talked about neglecting the why. Lack of a clear task definition. Ignoring skill set requirements. Unrealistic budgeting. Neglecting time zones and availability. inadequate [00:09:00] communication tools and skipping the onboarding process. By avoiding these mistakes, you can set the foundation for a really good partnership with your VA.
And to help you be even more successful, of course, we've created a couple of activities for you to complete to discover your why and to identify the required skill set you're looking for. So you can download the Essential Guide to Hiring a VA and you'll be well on your way to getting it right first time.
Thank you for tuning in to this episode of The Tipping Point. If you found this information valuable, please leave us a review and share it with your fellow hosts and managers. And don't forget to subscribe if you're on the YouTube channel. Stay tuned for more insights to help you thrive in the world of short term rentals.
We hope you enjoyed this episode of The Tipping Point. Don't forget to check out this week's sponsor, Price Labs, to help you master... dynamic pricing for your short term rental business. Click the [00:10:00] link in the description of this episode for more information.