How To Hire A Virtual Assistant [Professional]

This discussion is really for growth-minded people that either have a team right now or are thinking they want to build a team eventually. At least, their desire is to hire help. The first hire could be a virtual professional in your business to really make you take that next step.

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At the 34-minute mark they ask “What’s Lori Doing?” – Content Marketing of Course!

Our Virtual Assistant is a key team member. She shows up every day and does the work. We couldn’t image working without her. She’s as much a part of us as our local team members.

I’m Lori Ballen of Lori Ballen Team Real Estate in Las Vegas.

I’ve been building teams and working through leverage since I was in elementary school and recruited my first team members to my candy bar sales team. 

Today, I own 3 companies, and all 3 have given up the bricks and mortar offices to work virtually. 

What is a Virtual Assistant?

A virtual assistant, or as My Out Desk calls it, a virtual professional, is someone that works for your organization from another location outside of your office. In my case, they are out of they country. 

In many cases, as it is with MOD, the company I use, the virtual assistant is actually an employee of the company that hires and trains the assistants wherever they live such as the Philippines.

In other words, we are hiring the company as a subcontractor rather than hiring the virtual professional as an employee. The company handles everything from taxes to health insurance, and we simply pay the standard fee based on the amount of time we have chosen to book that assistant for. 


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Selecting Your Virtual Assistant

The company charges a finder fee to help select potential candidates for you. They have talent that can be used for everything from marketing your listings (real estate), to database entry, to cold call prospecting, to blogging and more. 

Once you submit your request for candidates and pay your start-up fee, the company will select several individuals for you to interview. The standard DISC personality assessment is offered up for each candidate. 

The interviews are done virtually over a computer where you can see each other and have a normal conversation like you would in person. 

You can ask interview questions, ask for work samples, test their critical thinking skills, listen to how well they communicate in various languages and so forth. 

It’s for someone that thinks that they could be doing something more valuable with their time getting on the phone, talking to their past clients and could use just a little bit more leverage in their life.

The Leverage Conversation

Bob:

I want to talk about what I think the way I envisioned leverage in my life or especially as it relates to a business.

This is something that I’ve learned, you know, immensely from Ben Kinney. My mom is an agent now on Ben’s team and I’ve gotten to watch her over the last year and a half really utilize leverage in her business.

I think back to like 2000, 2003, four when the mortgage thing was blowing up.

Everybody was getting a mortgage and anybody could get a mortgage and they had option arms at that time. 

I remember hearing a pitch from a mortgage broker about how the option arm was such a great vehicle for somebody. It allowed you to save a bunch of money each month on your mortgage payment.

Then, you could take that money and you could invest it somewhere else and you would end up over this long period of time having a much better return because you’d had that extra money to be able to invest somewhere else.

What ultimately happened in the mortgage crisis as people didn’t take that money and invest it somewhere else, right? They took that money, they went out and bought a new car. They bought new furniture. They didn’t invest that money back into their livelihood.

When I think of leverage, I think of it in this terms. It’s basically allowing you to get back your time so that you can take it and invest it somewhere else, right? Some were more profitable for you.

And by the way, there’s some of that time you want to invest back into your family and your kids and your relationships. Because that’s going to make you a better person. But the majority of that time you get back from somebody like Noel (Virtual Assistant), at least for me, has to be invested back into the business to really see the dividends of having brought leverage into my life.


How do you see leverage?

Daniel:

For me, leverage can be a system, a process or a person. In my world, all three of those things have freed me up to do more.

When I say a system, it can be technology, like what you guys do (at Activerain); and it could be a process, meaning we’re going to have a faster way of converting leads into money now.

[For Real Estate] This process is proven to take the time it takes to close a deal from 90 days to 60 days for example. We provide virtual talent to the top talent across the country. We have been in business with some for almost a decade, which is really cool because I’m serving companies and helping them grow 100 percent.

Leverage helps professionals get to the next level.

Bob:


We talk about talent our in our office all day, every day. It’s really all we talk about [with Ben Kinney]. His job as our CEO is to go find talent.

I think for any entrepreneur looking to grow their business, their job is to go out and find talent.

Why hire a virtual professional versus hiring in-house? 

Daniel:

Well, I just can speak from my own experience. I’m a real estate broker, licensed for 14 years and when I hired my first virtual professional, I was swamped. I had hired an assistant in-house and we’d had a team but I needed more help and I just couldn’t find enough fast enough.

Imagine having that problem, having more business than you can handle. I was working seven days a week, not because I wanted to, but because I had that many people calling me. I realized that if I didn’t get help, I was going to drop some balls, and never going to see my family, have vacation time, work out, and my health was going to suffer.

That’s why you might consider virtual professionals. You can hire one person to singularly focus on that one thing that you need in order to get to the next level.


Bob:

Okay. So let’s dig in here a little bit.  I’m going to speak on behalf of Ben’s team. I’ve been around his team for eight or nine years now and really ingrained in it in the last three years. 

I’m also going to speak from a perspective of my mother who started as an agent in September of 2016 and in 2017 did 79 transactions as an individual agent. Now, she wasn’t out there all by herself. She had a lot of leverage in the Ben Kenny Organization. About three months in, she went to Ben and said, I need a virtual professional.

She was getting to the point where she was getting so many listings and had so much stuff going on. She basically went and said, I need my own. I need a dedicated professional for my business.


Daniel, talk to me for a minute about some of the ways that a virtual professional can help a real estate professional with that Admin side of the business, That side that’s not necessarily out there selling and finding new clients, but that stuff that kind of you “got to do.”

Danile:

That’s perfect because that lines up with my story. So I was selling a property in northern California and it was a brand new neighborhood, but it was a high fire neighborhood. The fire chief had to do an inspection. It’s like a weird new rule in wilderness areas. 

Well, we failed the inspection and I’m selling this house and my virtual professional coordinated with the fire department, coordinated with the city because we had to get a permit coordinated with a contractor coordinated, you know, enter the listing in the MLS, got the fliers created.

She did all of that work and at the end of it I got a thank you card addressed directly to my virtual professional because the agent on the other side, the buyer agent, he had no idea she wasn’t actually in my office.  

Other than me taking the listing it was a hundred percent handled by our virtual professional. And that didn’t happen overnight. I mean, we’ve got to be realistic here, you know, we had to put what you said systems and processes in place, but literally, I mean I have the thank you card over here.

The reality is everything that isn’t a dollar productive activity, everything that isn’t hunting talent and everything that isn’t growing your net assets should be given to a virtual professional.

Daniel Ramsey

Bob:

You can sign that listing. That’s a process, right? There are certain things that have to happen. The CMA has to be generated, the listing presentation has to be generated. Maybe you doctor it up with some images of that person’s house or whatever, right?

There are certain things that you do every single time you do them. What happens by the way, if you don’t have a process, is that you end up one time doing eight of those things and the next time you do three of them and the next time you do six and your wildly inconsistent and so you get wildly inconsistent results.


Daniel:

I’ve got a friend of mine. I’ve known him forever and we travel around together from time to time. He calls me last week and he says, Ramsey, I need a virtual professional. I’m like, okay, cool. What’s going on?

He’s got 30 years in the business, he’s had a database of 5,000 people and he thought every morning he was sending them Monday morning coffee with him [newsletter]. It turns out his in-house assistant was pushing the button, but around 4,000 of the emails were either bad or bouncing or not getting sent.

And so he thought he was sending emails to his past clients. He wasn’t sending them and the system didn’t report it. And his assistant didn’t do it, so he’s hired us to come in and this is another admin job, right.


Bob:

On Ben Kinney’s hub team, they’re undertaking this process of database management. It’s cultivating and weeding. When we get a bounce-back email and we have a phone number, we reach out and say “Hey you, we were trying to send you an email and it bounced back. Do you have a new email address?

It’s those kinds of things where you’re down in the weeds where it gets messy. 

I get from agents around the country, inviting me to their open house. They need help managing their database because they should know that I’m in Seattle and they’re in Maryland. I should be tagged appropriately in the database.

On my Mom’s team, two days a month, one of the virtual professional, will go through that entire database. They might not get through it all each month.  They just keep going and they’re just weeding through it and they’re looking for, for blanks: “Oh, do we not have an address for this person? But we have an email and a phone number.”

You know, as a real estate agent, you shouldn’t be entering it into your database. You shouldn’t be the person that goes to LinkedIn and requests a connection. You shouldn’t go to Facebook and request a connection.

Those aren’t jobs that drive revenue or, or hire talent. That’s a virtual assistant job, a virtual professional job. 

Let’s say that I’m driving around, and i’ve got buyers with me.

We will literally text our virtual professional and say, here’s the address, here’s the offer, and here’s the condition that the buyers’ want.

They will compile the offer, put it in a docusign or brivity, a system, and send it back to me. And so I’m right there at the property. And my buyers are saying, yes, yes, yes. And then signing. And then my virtual professional can deliver it to the listing agent. Then she or he will text me the cell phone number of the listing agent so I can call and just say, hey, but I just wanted to let you know you’re getting a really great offer from a really great couple, and they’re preapproved. I super hope the sellers are excited to get their property sold.

When people get into real estate, they think they are getting into real estate because there’s tons of flexibility. They don’t realize they’ll be canceling dinner with the in-laws because they have to be doing all this “stuff” that agents do. 

So lead generation is one of those things where you can spend a lot of time. Craigslist is a great example. And for years, you know, craigslist had these ebbs and flows where lots of agents are on there and then they do something like take away the links and then there are very few agents on there.

It’s still successful for the agents that are on there. Craigslist is a great example. My mom’s VA posts their eight to 10 craigslist posts every day and every day they get a couple of leads that come in from craigslist and she doesn’t have the time to do that stuff.

In my mom’s world, her virtual assistant feeds all of those social media animals for her. She doesn’t just abandon Instagram. The interaction with Instagram is the fun stuff she likes to do – Kids, grandkids and all that stuff. 

When you go to MOD and you say, I want to bring a virtual professional on, you get to interview these people. You get to check out their resume, they give you writing samples left.  I didn’t go in blind hiring Noel [who blogs] thinking, man, I hope this kid can write

He writes all kinds of blog posts on activerain right now.  I’d seen his writing samples and they were really good. We’d get on a zoom call just like this. And I’d say, “here’s what I’m thinking, man”. And he’d take notes. Let’s say I wanted to say this, this, I’d maybe to send them a couple bullet points written out and I’d say make that, make that piece of content. And he would do a better job than I would. 


Daniel:

The first step is to make a plan. There’s a plan that says that “these” posts go into Instagram. There’s a certain post that goes on to linkedin. There’s a certain posts in facebook, there’s a strategy for each.

There’s a different strategy when you write a blog, there’s a different strategy when you send an email, there’s a different text message strategy, Video text message, you know.

So if you’re, if you’re thinking I want to do content, you’re going to have a strategy. Do you know anything about that, bob?

Bob

Yeah, we don’t. We know a little bit. I totally agree. You have to have a strategy now. It doesn’t have to be your strategy.

We have a concept in Ben Kenny’s world called R and D and we do a lot of it. We rip off and duplicate.

There’s a lady, Lori Ballen, she’s a great content person. We might go out and say, what’s Lori doing? Let’s just watch her for a little bit. Okay, we’ll do that. [Lori is amused at this shout out which inspires this blog post]

Lori Ballen is in her car
Lori Ballen has a Real Estate Team in Las Vegas and generates all of her business from the web including search engine optimization and social strategies.

There’s a guy named Dusty Baker who’s a really great instagram guy and so we, we feed a lot off of the stuff that we see him doing and we’re like, oh man, that’s a really great way to go on instagram and talk about your business. Like he’ll always post these photos from, you know, his listing and it’s not like, Hey, here’s my list.

Getting Started

  • We’ll let you know if, if we would be a good fit
  • We’ll create an outcome that is measurable.
  • We’ll spend 20, 30 minutes together and maybe we work together and maybe we won’t.
  • We’ll do a future org chart.
  • We’ll talk about the outcomes to grow your business.
  • We’ll talk about what the constraints are to grow your business.
  • We’ll talk about what talent looks like for you 

Biggest Challenge

Daniel:

First of all, there’s this, there’s this j curve, and anybody that’s listening that has a math background or a finance background or an engineering. You’ve heard of aj curve, right?

So in the beginning, Bob, it was work to get Noel to understand the business. The biggest mistake that people make is thinking they are going to hire somebody and then never going to have to deal with that again.

That might be true three years later, two years later, but in the first six months, you have to pour love, attention, and detail. You have to provide a vision and be a coach and a mentor to this person because they want to win with you. They want to be successful because your success is their success and you’re tied together. 

When’s the last time you were able to get 10 qualified applicants to interview in 24 hours? If you think about how much work it takes to even get 10 people to come in and interview, you’ve got to go through 100 applicants. We remove all of that work for somebody as a business owner you require to grow your business. Right now.

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