Hiring A Real Estate Virtual Assistant: Do’s and Don’ts
Can you imagine Warren Buffett, Sam Zell, or Donald Trump spending their days posting their own Craigslist ads, doing their own real estate photography, and fielding yard sign inquiries? If they did, you wouldn’t even know their names.
Of course we all know that hiring and training can be difficult. So how can outsourced virtual assistants effectively upgrade your business?
Outsource and upgrade your earning potential
Sheri Jaggon, owner of Shield Investment Property Management, uses virtual assistants so she can focus on the big picture stuff.
“[Virtual assistants] will take away from bogging you down with tons of paperwork!” says Jaggon. “They can do the little things that take up valuable time, so I can have move time for meeting clients than being a paper pusher! Doing advertising, preparing files, preparing lists to call and cross checking, a lot of admin stuff.”
Focus your time on the 20 percent of the workload that produces 80 percent of your income and let assistants handle the rest. Sadly, many real estate brokerages don’t really offer great, if any marketing assistance. Years ago you may have taken the DIY approach: taking on a hefty overhead of an in-house support team of your own. Now there are specialist firms, apps, and outsourced experts for that.
Anything which doesn’t absolutely require you to do it, can be and should be outsourced, including:
1. Writing and publishing blogs, ads and press releases
2. Social media management and engagement
3. Ad design and scheduling
4. CRM and contact management
5. Data entry
6. Screening incoming leads
7. Cold calling
Check out outsourcing platforms
Try Upwork.com—the world’s largest freelancer marketplace. It offers a pool of 10 million freelancers. Upwork offers easy screening of applicants, the ability to track work remotely with screenshots of workers screens every 10 minutes, and automated billing and 1099s.
So how can agents find the best help among 10 million choices?
1. Write detailed job ads
2. Review freelancers’ feedback rating, work history and real estate expertise
3. Test freelancers’ expertise with small paid projects at first
4. Hire the best you can afford
Pro Tip: Don’t forget that your job postings and who you hire are a direct reflection of your brand.
Stay within your budget
Pay rates for freelance help can vary incredibly widely depending on the tasks, quality of work, and experience level. However, Payscale reports the average virtual assistant wage at $16.06 per hour in the United States.
You can find decent virtual assistants that will work for less either within the United States or in other countries where minimum wage is a lot lower. Keep in mind that if you choose to hire offshore or someone that will work for less that you might have to deal with loss in translation or a less experienced worker. Pay attention to their work history, interview answers and command of the English language and you might be able to find a great employee for an affordable price.
Bring on an inexperienced worker to do complicated tasks
However, if you need a virtual assistant to do tasks beyond basic admin, be prepared to pay up. Workers with more skills or advanced degrees will want to be compensated adequately for their time.
“There’s a very large gap in kind of what your needs or what you’re going to pay,” says Carrie Gable, President of real estate virtual assistance company Real Support. “It’s more about really finding the right fit for what you need. For example: if you’re looking to outsource overseas it might just kinda be very admin you know data type tasks… If [agents] need something more high end, you know more strategy, they’re going to want someone that has experience and has a team behind them.”
Hire without giving a virtual assistant a test project
This is a great way to assess a virtual assistant’s skill level, speed at which they can complete projects and how well they work with you. You should pay the virtual assistant for this test project but having this information on their potential is a good investment. Often times, virtual assistants might flake at the beginning of their hiring period. Testing their abilities is a great way to find out if they’ll be in it for the long run and whether or not this work relationship is a great fit for both of you.
Hire without having a plan for managing
The biggest challenge for realtors is avoiding getting trapped in managing a small army of remote workers. If you spend all your time hiring and micro-managing, you aren’t spending time closing deals.
Three ways to avoid this trap may include:
1. Have someone else in your office manage your online team
2. Choosing a brokerage which really provides all your marketing needs in-house
3. Opting to hire a company that specializes in real estate virtual assistance that can provide you with a team of assistants
Sean “Sensei” Gilliland founder of real estate consulting firm Black Belt Investorsrecommends having a plan for clear communication when managing virtual assistants. “It’s vital to communicate clearly,” he says. “Most virtual assistants I use have English as their second language. After interviewing the virtual assistants, Black Belt Investors will first describe the job duties by using an outline and bullet pointing tasks… We want the virtual assistants to complete all tasks with success. If they don’t more than likely it was due to lack of communication.”
Luxury real estate professionals that want to unlock their maximum potential outsource and leverage others to assist with their marketing tasks. Almost everything can be outsourced virtually today. The key to success is finding the best help, at the optimal rates for the best ROI, and ensuring a streamlined management process. For some this may be choosing the right brokerage to work for. For others it is recruiting a general manager or team leader, or just a great outsourcing platform. For some it will be finding hyper-effectiveness in delegating marketing needs to a quality turnkey service provider.