Some clients need to hear your voice or see your face for their comfort level. #vatip Gotta Tweet!
Don’t feel like you have to be available every time the phone rings. #vatipGotta Tweet!
Evaluate how things are currently flowing and decide what works best for you. #vatip Gotta Tweet!
Should you work based on how your client works or how you work? Here’s what I mean. Let’s say you prefer email to the phone and your client prefers the phone. Before we dive into this, we’re not talking about the initial meeting. We’re talking about after an agreement has been made to start the project. So agreement’s been made. You’ve already had the initial contact.
At the beginning you may need a phone call whether you like phone calls or not. It may be a Skype video call, whether you like being video or not, at the first initial meeting because your client is a complete stranger to you and you are a complete stranger to them, and having that either face-to-face or voice-to-voice contact is important for comfort level. Some people need that. Some people don’t. Clients who do a lot of things online and are used to outsourcing will not need that as much, even though some will. But we’re talking about after that, so after that phase.
If you are an email person, you prefer to get the information through email, but your client prefers the phone. How do you handle that? What should you do? As a business owner, this is where you can either detail the importance of having things in writing, or do both.
What I recommend is a scheduled call. If your client prefers a call, a scheduled call and timeframe, letting them know when you have time on the schedule to do a call. By you having a set calendar, set day, set times that you talk and providing that to them, making the schedule, it’s an automatic that you’re not available every single time the phone rings.
Now, if you do calls strictly based on a schedule and you maintain that, know in advance some clients won’t like it, some will be frustrated by it, and that’s okay. If you want to stick to being able to be focused on work when you’re working, be focused on a call when you’re on a call, the only way to do that is to have scheduled appointments. Not an open timeslot like, oh, you can call me anytime between 10:00 and 1:00. No, you want to have focused time.
You don’t want to have it open to where you’re focused on a project and the phone rings and you have to answer it because you said you have an open slot, and surely you won’t just be sitting somewhere doing nothing because there’s an open slot. So scheduled appointments.
Now, yes, somebody will get frustrated by it. A few somebody’s will be frustrated by it, and it’s good that they are because they’ll stand out like a sore thumb and let you know they are not a good fit for your working style. You don’t want to be able to just be available on the phone or on Skype at any time.
The nature of our business requires us to be focused on projects, different projects at different points in time. If you leave the gate open for anybody to come though whenever, when will you be able to get your work done? The work that you’re stopping and starting and stopping and starting, it’s going to take a lot longer.
How do you handle the people that get frustrated by that? In a professional way, letting them know the reason why it’s scheduled. If they don’t understand that it’s so that you can give the your undivided attention at their scheduled appointment, then what can you do? Nothing. But let them find someone else that is a better fit.
If they’re the type of client that wants to be able to pick up the phone and dial you and you answer and that is not your style, you want to let them go and let them go find someone else who does. It doesn’t matter how much you’re being paid for the project. If that is not how you are set up, how you like to work, the anxiety and stress won’t even, you know, the money that they’re paying doesn’t even equal that amount of stress and anxiety that you’ll have if that is the case.
Just the thought of that gets me riled up a little bit because how many professional places do you call and get somebody on the phone right away? Can you call your CPA and they’re answering the phone? Let’s say during tax season because that’s their busiest season. On the off season you may be able to get them on the phone, but most likely you’re going to get the receptionist and the CPA will call you back later. During tax season, you’re definitely not going to get that. So it shouldn’t be expected on our end, and it doesn’t matter what kind of service you’re providing. So you want to have boundaries in that way.
Even if a client prefers the phone, you want to get the instructions and details in writing. This ensures that what they want is put in written form to make sure that you’re both on the same page.
I let clients know if we’re on the phone and they’re giving guidance and direct instructions – I let you know, “This is great. Send it to me in an email.” This way, once it’s done, we can go back. We have a checklist that we can go though. Some clients, that’s how they are anyway, so it works our perfectly. It ends up being a perfect match.
I don’t know if you prefer the phone to email. I’m just going to say in most cases most virtual assistants prefer the email because you can read it. You can go back and use it as a checklist. I haven’t met a VA yet that prefers phone over email, so I’m not going to even do the reverse. If that is you, then contact me, ask me the question, and then I’ll cover that. But the flip-flop of that, I’m just thinking that’s not even out there because the nature of our work requires us to have virtual communication.
In fact, it may be a little odd when someone even questions us being virtual, especially when you’re working with local clients. They may think that you come into the office for meetings or come into the office to do work. You want to be very clear, and we covered that in a past episode talking about mobile versus virtual and we’ll be sure to link that up in the show notes in case you didn’t get a chance to listen to that, or need a refresher to help in that way to understand the difference between mobile versus virtual.
Let’s talk about your preference for being paid.
Obviously, we all prefer to get paid, period. What happens when your client wants to send you a check, but all your other clients up to this point have send you payments online? So you’re like, well, I get my payments online. If you’re working with nonprofit organizations, it’s highly possible that they don’t do online payments. They’re going to send you a check, so weigh the option when that comes.
I don’t have an open policy of, yes, I’ll take checks, credit cards, whatever. No, it is PayPal is how I receive payment. Now, I worked with a few nonprofits and both of those instances were checks, and I was okay with that because it’s a nonprofit organization. They handle things a little differently than, say, a coach that’s doing some things online. Totally different, plus the whole online concept and world is new to them, maybe different for them. Just the fact of working with you as a virtual assistant may be a whole new concept, so decide how you’re going to handle that. Of course, you want to have a business account if that’s the case.
It’s so funny, years ago I didn’t even have a business account set up because I was doing all PayPal and one client in particular, and this is when my rates were way too low, her check was $13. I had a $13 check and I probably held it almost a month because I needed to open a business account. It was made out to Virtual Hired Hand, and I needed to open a business account for this $13. Fortunately, I was able to find a bank that didn’t have a minimum requirement or anything like that, and I was able to set up and start my account with that $13 check. Let’s see, so checks versus payment online. So that’ll be the biggest thing.
Of course, if using PayPal, clients can use their credit or debit card. They don’t have to have that PayPal account. Now, there are fees with that, with using PayPal. But if you’ve been taking online payments, you know their fees and maybe you factor that into the rate that you charge. I don’t know. That is totally up to you. But how would you handle if a client wants to pay you a check? That is something that you want to think about when comparing how you work, how you prefer to get paid, online versus a check.
Well, clearly I work from home. I record my podcast from home. Oh, the doorbell in the background, just too funny, and I will just leave it in. I won’t even edit out the sound in the background because life happens, right. It does.
Let’s talk about if your client is in a different time zone.
Again, we’re all virtual. We’re online, so that is going to happen. A client is going to be maybe in a different time zone. What if there is a big difference? What if there’s a 5-hour difference in your time zone, or a 12-hour difference in your time zone? It may or may not affect the project or the working relationship, but that is something to think about, especially if it’s a client that wants to schedule calls. If they are 12 hours ahead, that may be a difficult situation.
I think it’s Australia that has that big time difference and there was a prospective client that I had and we were trying to work out times and it did not work because at 8:00 in the morning for me was 8:00 at night for her, and it was such a big difference in the time zone. It could have worked fine if we were going to be email only.
I have worked with subcontractors on my team and when it’s night for me it’s day for them, and it never affected it because we were talking to each other through email or Asana or something like that or Basecamp, so it wasn’t a big deal. But if you’re working with a client and this is their first time working with a virtual assistant and they need more of a touch, a voice, or a face, then a huge time zone difference may be a problem.
At the beginning, that’s probably a good question to ask and they may have already looked at that. If they’re looking at your profile or they’re looking at your hours on your website for a time zone, they may already be aware of that. But it’s just something to bring up, especially since we’re discussing how you work versus how your clients work.
The other thing is about recurring billing. If you have things working to where maybe it’s on a monthly recurring basis and maybe you have a client that would like to be billed recurring weekly. Now, this is one of those things where I think you would adjust quickly. If a client wanted to pay weekly versus monthly, you would adjust quickly.
Now, what about the flip-flop of that if you like doing weekly payment or getting a recurring every two weeks and you have a client that is monthly? How do you handle that? What will you do? Will the rate be that same? Will it be different? That will come up.
These are some things that – especially with the recurring payment, the time zone difference, and the check versus online payment. Those are not going to be things that you run into often, but it’s good to be aware of the possibilities ahead of time so you can start thinking about how would you handle that. It’s also good to learn as you’re working, not just what you like to do as a service, but how you like for things to work and how you like things to run in your business.
The faster you learn what works best for you, then it makes it a little easier in how you handle situations that arise that may be a little different.
By you having structure in place, and when I say “structure,” I don’t want you to think that it’s fixed, like it’s not flexible. Structure is I do scheduled phone appointments. Structure is I do social media management for clients and it’s billed on a recurring monthly basis or it’s billed on a recurring two-week basis or whatever it is. There is a system already in place. Otherwise, every time a client comes along, they will be able to sway you their way and before you know it you’ll be going in five, ten different ways because you haven’t set up a solid structure, system for yourself and for your business.
Start thinking about that. Think about how you’ll like things to go. If you’re just getting started, you may not fully know. You may be kind of flowing a bit based on the clients that you’re working with. Evaluate how that is working and decide what works best for you.
Know that what works best for you right now today may change five months from now, ten months from now, a year from now. It may change, and that’s a good thing because it means you’re growing in your business. You’re getting stronger. You’re getting a clearer understanding of your business and who you are in that business and how you like things to flow.
As always, I appreciate your time and thank you so, so much for listening. Whether this is your first time listening to the show or you’ve been with me for all 50 episodes, I am so honored and grateful that you’re listening.
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