“Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.” — Warren Buffett
Domestic, dedicated virtual assistants are at a crossroads. We are constantly having to prove our value is worth the price that clients pay for our services with a never-ending list of alternatives available to the client. That’s exactly how it should be, and any worthwhile virtual assistant (VA) will easily be able to show that value to the client.
The virtual assistant field is changing, and both VAs and their clients have to understand and embrace that. A VA can no longer just serve as an information gatherer, doing data entry, personal research, and other administrative tasks. A valuable VA will strive to learn new and more important skills and software to become increasingly more indispensable to their clients.
I remember that my first client had me doing 5 hours of data entry per week at $20/hour when I started. Now, he could go on Fiverr and pay $20 total per week to get that done, and get it done just as well as I could do the work. You know what? I’d prefer that the client save that money and let me do something that’s more challenging!
If a VA doesn’t want to be challenged to learn new skills or take on bigger roles in the client’s company and life, they are not providing that client enough value. A virtual assistant should be a coach, a teammate, a salesperson, a project manager, an administrator. Why not? We’re supposed to be an extension of the client.
One of my biggest issues with Zirtual when I worked with them was that they told me what services I could and could not provide to the client. That completely defeats the point of being a VA in my mind.
Here is a graphic from the Zirtual website:
That graphic is a recipe for becoming obsolete. Most of that can be done already by virtual assistant software or cheap overseas assistants. And they were charging clients ~$28/hour for this!
Before my 8 months at Zirtual were up a few years ago, I had done all of the tasks on the “What not to Expect” list for clients, because providing a good service to the client was of highest importance to me. That’s also the reason I left Zirtual and started my own virtual assistant firm.
As a VA, my goal is always to:
- Know my client and their work as intimately as possible
- Save my client money in any way I can
- Predict and proactively solve problems (part of #1)
VAs should not be competing with software like Siri, M, and Cortana, or any of the low-cost assistants from overseas, because we should not be offering the same services. Instead, VAs should be working with these technologies and assistants to provide a more efficient and cost-prohibitive service.
In my first years as a VA, I learned many new skills, including:
- Podcast production (from booking guests to publishing)
- Ghost writing (emails and blogs)
- Basic Photoshop and video editing
- Hiring processes and overseeing hiring of over 50 new employees for a client
I was taught, or taught myself all of these skills because the client needed it. Not because I charged any more for these services (I don’t), but because I wanted to provide the best and most helpful service I could.
You’re not going to get that from just any software or cheap assistant.
I have so many clients come to me after having tried to work with cheaper assistant alternatives, but it is so difficult to make that situation work. There is a reason they are cheaper — English may not be a first language, they may be in a timezone that’s not compatible, they may not having the training or background to be helpful assistants, they may not understand the client’s lifestyle and needs.
A VA is like a therapist in a way — we can often see and diagnose problems that a client is facing when they don’t realize it. Virtual assistants necessarily need to be voracious learners and teachers. Being neither will make the VA obsolete very, very quickly.