Let’s be honest, if we could afford to employ local staff, with all the encumbrances, on-costs and legal mumbo-jumbo that’s involved, we would. But sometimes it just does not make sense to do so, especially when there are other alternatives available.
I will tell you how I started with my first Virtual Assistant. I was working 6-7 days a week running an ecommerce business that was the largest seller of video games on eBay in Australia. Called Dungeon Crawl, we sold approximately 1,000 video games online each week. During new release season, it would climb to as many as 5,000 units per week. The video games were Xbox and Playstation games, and we posted them out within 24 hours of a sale being made.
What was particularly difficult about this business was that the customers were very needy. They would email us before during and after the buying cycle. I estimated that we would get 1 email for every item shipped out. That’s not necessarily 1 email from every customer, as some customers would send 10 emails, and others would send zero, but it’s an approximation.
In a normal week, we’d get 1,000 emails, and in the busy season, if we sold 3,000 items per week, we’d received approximately 3,000 emails per week, and at times it would be as many as 5,000. That was crazy!.
And I was doing the customer service all on my own.
So in the quiet period, I would answer approx 50 emails in the morning, 50 at lunchtime, and 50 in the evening – and that was in quiet period. Can you imagine how crazy it gets during the busy season? On weekends I would wake up, answer emails, go out with my family, and if I did not clear the emails by lunch, I would have 100 emails by the evening, waiting for a response.
You know that little hamster that gets on the wheel, and runs? That was me.
Hiring A Virtual Assistant – The Turning Point
Then one day, while complaining about my lack of balance in my life, my business partner says: Why don’t you get yourself a virtual assistant? I had never even heard of the concept, and so I started to do my research, just as you are doing now. Of course, I followed through, and within a month, I had my first of many virtual staff members. Find out more about our process.
The moment when it all clicked for me was by about day 3 of training. I expected I was going to have to spend about 4-6 weeks training him, and by day 3, he was training me. How was this possible? Well, I am not trained in customer service. I fell into it, so I did it, but it’s not my area of expertise. It was his area of expertise, so he started to show me a few things, that I had not realised. That’s when I knew it was going to work for me.
Within 4 weeks, the monkey was off my back. He would answer all customer service emails, and my weekends were mine again. What an amazing feeling to be able to read the weekend paper again. I was also able to go away on holidays without having to spend hours each day working. It not only helped my family life, but it allowed me to spend more of my time working on other aspects of the business, and ultimately we opened 2 other ecommerce businesses.
We had teams of virtual assistants doing work for us As it was an ecommerce business, the roles were easily defined. We had customer service staff answering over 1,000 emails daily. We had web developers, software programmers, online researchers, database managers, graphic designers as well as personal assistants. None of these staff would have been available to us locally, due to cost as well as the additional resources required, such as office space etc.
It helped us to focus our energies back into the business, and generate additional revenue in more creative ways. It allowed us to take on more channels of business, and it also allowed us to have more time with our families.
So if you want to get work done, using virtual assistants, start to think of ways they could help you. Start to consider what tasks they would do for you, that would free up your time, and allow you to re-focus your energies – be it on your business, family life, hobbies, or travel.