HOW TO HIRE A REAL ESTATE VIRTUAL ASSISTANT
If you have stumbled upon this post, congratulations! You are probably super busy and feeling overworked in your real estate business. At the same time, you are wondering how in the world you can get your head above water. If you’ve read books on increasing productivity like the “4 Hour Workweek”, you probably have come to the realization that all you need is a virtual assistant or two and you’ll be back to watching Golden Girls in your pajamas at 11am just like you did during your first 6 months after you got your license. Unfortunately, incorporating a Real Estate Virtual Assistant is not so easy and before you decide who or what is the right fit for your business, you first have to determine where in your business you need the most help.
Let me disclose that I have hired a few different virtual assistants, for my real estate team, from different companies overseas. I have also hired domestic assistants and converted physical employees into virtual employees. So I have had my share of ‘Lessons Learned’ and have become much more savvy when it comes to anticipated the best uses for anyone in the virtual space for a real estate business. Below are my tips to make sure you pick the right kind of assistant for your business and avoid the mistakes I made.
Domestic versus International
$2 per hour – you can technically hire an english speaking assistant who knows Top Producer for $2 per hour. This is probably super tempting but I would caution you from doing this. A lot of international virtual assistants come from several South American or Asian countries and with their geography come pitfalls that you won’t fully realize until you have started the onboarding process.
Pitfall #1. Make sure you take into account the time zone of your assistant. I once hired a virtual assistant who had a full time job during the day and was doing my work throughout the night. When did they sleep? I have no clue. But I’m sure I wasn’t getting someone in the most productive state of mind throughout the week.
Pitfall #2. Bridges collapse. There would be times when my virtual assistant didn’t show up for work for 3 days. One time I learned this was due to a bridge collapsing. Until you’ve worked with your virtual assistant long enough, you may not realize how fragile their country’s internet service or transportation really is. Should you work with an assistant from a rural location, be prepared for these events to occur. (PS – asking your assistant to purchase a canoe for future bridge outages does not go over well)
Pitfall #3. If you plan for your assistant to communicate with your clients or transaction parties, make sure you vet them for both proper English speaking skills as well as English written skills. There is no faster way to get a bad reputation than forcing your clients into a relationship with a stereotypical overseas support person.
Overall, overseas virtual assistants for your real estate business can be super valuable as long as you don’t get bogged down by these possible pitfalls. If you can’t fully rely on your assistant, make sure to only give them tasks that aren’t specific to keeping a transaction together or being in compliance with the MLS/Brokerage. Social media or general marketing activities are great, non-vital activities that a real estate virtual assistant can do easily.
There is nothing better than a domestic virtual assistant for real estate as long as you can afford them. Having someone with a similar culture, working hours, internet reliability and same first language will open up the opportunities available for you and your brand. One of the hardest parts of hiring a virtual assistant is training them on your business. For most, you’ve never actually trained someone on your business and lack systems and documentation on how to effectively participate in your business. There is a TON of work ahead of you so connecting with someone who can make that process as easy as possible is a massive benefit.
If this is your first assistant hire, I would recommend you find yourself a great domestic assistant who will likely help to develop the foundation of your business.
Full/Part Time Dedicated vs Task Based
Full/Part Time Assistant
Having a full time assistant is awesome. They are focused solely on your business and you are not competing against anything (outside their family/friends) for their focus. The downside is that you are now responsible for someone’s entire day, 5 days a week. For most agents, filling that much time in the beginning will be difficult. The additional accountability that an agent now has to pre-plan an agenda every morning to ensure their assistant has their priorities in order will be a challenge.
One benefit most people don’t think of when it comes to having a full time assistant is that they force you to work “on” your business, not just “in” it. Real Estate is very seasonal so during those slow winter months, it forces an agent to think beyond the daily tasks in order to keep their assistant busy. This is a perfect opportunity to work on personal branding and update those marketing, listing, and lead systems that will make each upcoming year better.
The downside is obvious – cost! Not only are you the sole income for this person but you also may feel pressured to offer benefits, paid vacation and other perks to keep your assistant happy. At the same time, you will become so dependent on this person who has lovingly taken on all those tasks you hate that the thought of losing them would be a nightmare!
I have had 6 personal assistants in 9 years of real estate. 2 of my assistants got their real estate license and jumped into sales. After all, I made it look easy (they didn’t last.) I had to let the other 3 go within the first 30 days as they just weren’t a good fit. To prepare for an inevitable transition, it’s important that you document everything so that if your assistant exits your company, a new person can easily pick right up!
Task Based Assistant
If you aren’t ready to commit to a regular assistant, the next best option is to hire a Task Based personal assistant. These assistants charge you a fixed amount to perform a series of activities. For example, you could hire an assistant to coordinate only your closings or launch your new listings on an as-needed basis. The upside to this arrangement is that it’s more affordable while also alleviating your need to fill to plan a daily agenda.
The downside is that you have to share this person with other agents, typically, so you may not be their top priority. The other problem with task based assistants is that you may have to conform to their style of work or use their perferred tools instead of imposing your own.
Hiring a real estate assistant is a HUGE step but one you will come to realize is the best decision you can make to grow your business. The other best decision you can make is to incorporate Nekst into the processes used by your assistant while keeping costs down. Nekst combines process efficiency with transparency to ensure that you are maximizing the effectiveness of your assistant. At the same time, Nekst is the perfect tool to protect your business should you need to transition from one assistant to the “nekst”.