Solo Virtual Assistant, Or VA Agency – Do You Need A Middleman?
We've all heard the term "cut out the middleman," but sometimes a middleman is just what you need. Once you've made the decision to work to a , you will need to decide how much time and supervision you are willing to invest in following up with the VA, and what the consequences to your business might be if she/he fails to deliver your assignments as promised.
Generally speaking, an independent VA may be a more economical choice than an agency, as an agency's fees include their own commission. The benefits of agencies include that the VAs they represent are screened, well qualified, and specifically assigned to a project based upon her/his skill set.
In addition, should the VA assigned to your task fail, another can take on the job and complete your assignment satisfactorily. This is not to imply that independent VAs are not highly skilled, but in the event that her/his work is sub par, there is no other VA to whom your task could be re-assigned. You would have to find another VA, or attempt to resolve the problem satisfactorily.
A contributor to the publication "Outsource Outtakes" presents an example of a situation in which an agency, or better investigative interviewing, might have served his needs more efficiently.
In this scenario, the client contracted with an independent VA specializing in website updates to add some new links to his website. Giving the VA a "soft" deadline, he left the professional to his work, and did not check in until that deadline was upon him. The VA did not return phone calls or e-mails, so the client solicited help from a friend to complete the task. When the VA reappeared, he claimed that he had done the work, but had just not submitted it. They settled on a price to resolve the matter.
What the client learned was that he had no backup plan when he contracted with the VA who failed to follow through. Unable to complete the task himself, he would have had no updates for his website had his friend not helped him out.
He realized that in the case where a task is critical and requires specific knowledge, an agency or simply more advance investigative interviewing would have served him better. Had he used an agency, he would have had a manager with whom to communicate.
Had he obtained references, he might have learned that the VA he chose might not have been an ideal candidate for meeting deadlines. He strongly suggests that if you choose to work with an independent VA, that you check references, and check in frequently to assess progress, rather than waiting until a deadline is approaching.
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