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Going Virtual: Sharing the Adventure- Part One

For virtual assistants like myself, I believe one of the most common problems in landing that first client is the fact that many business owners are skeptical that their work can be done from a home office.  They can’t wrap their heads around the concept of being ‘paper-less’  or having their work done by someone they may never get to talk to face to face.  And until a start up virtual assistant has some first hand experience, it’s not always easy to explain in detail just how well virtual assistance can mold itself to the client’s individual needs.  What do you say when a potential client says, ” I don’t see how this job can be done outside of my office.”?  Ok, so maybe you can’t say, “I have a client with a similar set up and this is how we do it.”  But what if you could say, ” I know another virtual assistant, like myself, who has a client with a similar set up to yours and this is what they do.”?  That’s why, in the interest of helping and educating others, I’m going to share a bit of my experience here. In as many installments as it takes, I am going to tell the story of my first retainer client, what I got right and what I got wrong.   Part One goes like this…

Before starting my virtual assistant business, I worked in the mortgage industry as a title processor.  It is a job that many title professionals might see as ‘impossible’ to do virtually.  Loan processors have been working remotely for years, but title processors bring so many different pieces of information together in order to prepare for a closing, even I was a bit skeptical about the ability to do the job on a virtual basis.  My first potential retainer client knew about my title processing experience and was willing to give it a try. My virtual assistant experience at the time consisted of two or three mailing projects and excel spreadsheets, nothing even remotely as in depth and detailed as what I was about to embark on.  My client understood that this was new territory and agreed that we would sign an agreement that included the possibility of needing to make changes along the way. Because they were just starting out as well, we worked out an arrangement that would equal out to the lower end of my rates even though the work was more specified and would normally be at the top.  This with the understanding that as the business progressed and became more successful, this would change.  With both parties satisfied with the agreement, we signed the contract and work got underway.

We started out by setting up an e-phone system through OneBox that allowed the business to have a toll free number with extensions.  That way, the extension for the title processing department would be transferred to my home office phone.  The bonus for my client was the the other extensions could also be set up to ring into whatever phone an employee might need it to. If they were on the road, it could ring into their cell phone; in the office for the day, it could ring in there and if they wanted, it could even ring into their home phones.  Plus, voice mail messages were delivered directly to individual e-mail addresses in .wav format as well as providing fax services. Oh, and another bonus for my client?  It was much more inexpensive than having a fancy phone system installed by the local telephone company that wouldn’t be nearly as versatile.  Score one for the virtual team. We were off and running…

About TMarieHilton

Tina Marie Hilton provides online technology services to forward thinking businesses. She writes on her Tips from T.Marie business blog to share insight and information with other small businesses and entrepreneurs. It also makes her feel like that certificate in creative writing isn't going to waste completely.

2 Comments

  1. rjcartw on January 29, 2008 at 3:04 am

    Tina, you always have excellent series. I followed your series at Home Office Warrior. If clients can get used to the concept that they really don’t have to see us in order to work with us, would be beneficial for us VAs.

    Tina, share some fun stuff about you with the rest of us VAs. Consider yourself tagged with this meme: http://rjcartw.wordpress.com/2008/01/28/i-have-been-tagged-7-random-things-about-me/



  2. rjcartw on January 28, 2008 at 10:04 pm

    Tina, you always have excellent series. I followed your series at Home Office Warrior. If clients can get used to the concept that they really don’t have to see us in order to work with us, would be beneficial for us VAs.

    Tina, share some fun stuff about you with the rest of us VAs. Consider yourself tagged with this meme: http://rjcartw.wordpress.com/2008/01/28/i-have-been-tagged-7-random-things-about-me/



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