Today’s guest contributor is Kellie Daab of iDo Collective, a boutique virtual management company for wedding professionals. Kellie’s background as the owner of a luxury wedding planning and design firm, manager of a high end hospitality business, and event producer for a multi-million dollar catering company, has given her the experience to know what it takes to grow and operate a wedding industry business. iDo Collective recently launched to provide services to wedding professionals including social media management, client care, administration, media and content writing, and creative graphic creations.
In this technology driven world, it’s becoming easier to outsource many of the daily tasks required to operate a successful business. In the corporate market, we’re seeing a huge shift to more employees working virtually. This shift has brought rise the profession of virtual assistant or VA. This role allows businesses to work with a contracted third party provider who handles any part of your business that is housed online. A virtual assistant often works from their home office, a coffee shop, or anywhere wifi is available.
Virtual Assistants exist in all areas of expertise. Even the wedding industry. However, since wedding businesses require a special knowledge and understanding of the industry, finding a virtual assistant to meet the needs of your business can be a challenge.
Like most wedding business owners, you have watched your baby business grow and mature to the point where you know you need help in the day to day operations of the business. You are intimately connected with the soul of your business and it’s often difficult to enlist your baby to the care of someone you don’t know.
Here are 5 ways to prepare yourself and your business for a virtual assistant:
Find The Right Person
Just like the connection you make when booking a new client, a personal connection needs to exist between you and the VA you select. Meet with them via telephone or Skype. Discuss the needs of your business. Ask them about their skills, qualifications, and industry experience. Get a feel for the other wedding industry professionals they’ve worked with and what types of services they are providing for them.
Ask them if they work solely as a VA or if their business has several channels. Be sure that there is no conflict of interest. It’s not uncommon for wedding professionals to tack on VA services while running their own wedding business. This type of relationship is not ideal and makes it difficult for you as the client to ensure that your proprietary information and creative ideas are confidential. If you need a task completed on a Friday and your VA has a wedding that Saturday – your task will likely fall to the bottom of the to-do list.
Once you feel like that person “gets it” and they get you, then you know you’ve found the right fit.
Start Creating Processes
If you don’t go about the operations of your business the same way every single time you need to begin creating processes within your business before bringing on a VA. These processes don’t have to be set in stone, but if you can’t explain to your VA exactly how you’d like something done then they cannot be successful in assisting you. Where are all of your account passwords stored? What is your client care process? Where can your VA find your email templates? Where do you keep your social media content?
Are you terrible at creating these processes? Bring on a VA with the express purpose of helping you create systems within your business. Use their expertise to help you get a firm foundation for the growth that your business can expect from an expert working behind the scenes.
Some tasks, like cleaning out your inbox, will always be monotonous and insignificant to the overall growth of your business. We’ll call those $1.00 tasks, they produce little to no revenue. Other tasks, like brand design and marketing strategizing, require your heart and vision as the business owner. We’ll call those $100.00 tasks, they will turn around the most revenue for your business. For one day, write down each task you do in order to operate your business. Now assign a value to that task. Don’t get too caught up, do it quickly and follow your initial instincts. Look at that list and now order them by value. Those tasks that fall to the bottom of your value lists are exactly what you need to outsource to a virtual assistant. This will allow you to free mental space and invest more time and energy into those $100.00 tasks and ideas.
Create Shareable Accounts
Your VA will need access to many of your documents, forms, and accounts. If your VA will be providing any client care they will also need a business email with your company’s name. That might look like assistant@ or hello@ or info@. You are the main holder of the account and your VA is provided with the access for that account. Gmail is a great platform for project and document sharing. You can also create a parent account in Outlook that will allow you to share a to-do list, calendar, and email access.
If you don’t feel comfortable using your regular passwords. Don’t be afraid to go with something a little more generic. Then change them if the relationship with the VA terminates.
We like to be nice. Nice people are well… nice. But what do you do when you’ve selected a VA, begin giving them tasks, and you hate the results? As a VA, we do not want a dissatisfied client. We want you to love everything we do for you. We’re supposed to be here to make your life easier and allow you to grow your business. But, we cannot read your mind. Don’t be afraid to ask for a revision to that graphic we created for your blog. Also, don’t be afraid to say, I don’t care for the copy you’ve written for social media. There’s a good amount of give and take that happens in a relationship with a VA – especially in the beginning.
The more honest you are about your expectations the happier you will be with the work your VA provides. Working online is very different that working in an office environment. There are no social cues, no lunch dates, and certainly no side eye for us to catch onto. You have to give constructive criticism — as well as listen to the struggles of the VA — in order to create a smooth running team.
This is the hardest muscle to flex for many wedding industry professionals. Our business is our baby. We don’t want to leave it with just anyone. How do I know that I can trust someone? The truth is… you can’t fully know until you try! Trust that you’ve hired the right person for the job. Trust that you’ve given them the right tasks for your business. Trust that they are hard-working and care about your businesses success and doing well for you. Then let them be the best they can be. Once you get the hang of this, many of the everyday concerns of operating your wedding business will begin to melt away. You know you’ve put those tasks in trusted hands and you can be concentrating on ways to increase your revenue and reach.
With a little forethought, a good amount of cooperation, and a lot of trust – incorporating virtual assistant who specializes in the wedding industry will only prove to be a benefit for the success of your business and your work-life balance.
Thanks for the insight, Kellie! Wedding Pros, what do you think? Have you used a virtual assistant before? How did it go? What else do you want to know about virtual assistants? Please share a comment below.