How to Deal With Difficult Virtual Assistant Clients

How to Deal With Difficult Virtual Assistant Clients

Do you have any VA clients that you kind of dread dealing with?

You know the ones. The ones who give you anxiety when you see their name in your email inbox or on your phone. The ones whose work you do because you need the money but you really wish you had a different client.

To figure out how to deal with difficult clients, let’s first talk about what kinds of clients might be considered difficult:

• Constantly gives you work to do on short turnarounds or deadlines, or changes their mind often
• Treats every task like an emergency
• Sends an email or calls you every time they have a thought
• Complains or scrutinizes your invoice and billable time
• Constantly tries to sneak more things into a defined (or undefined) scope of work
• Speaks to you like you are an employee, or is mean, aggressive or rude to you in any way

Wow that list could have kept going!

There are a lot of difficult clients out there. As service professionals, it’s natural for many VAs to want to be helpful and do whatever the client needs. But it can create volatile relationships between the VA and the client – and many times things go from bad to worse fast.

So what can we do to deal with difficult clients?

Well, first you need to analyze what the problem is. It’s not personal – we need to act like business owners in every aspect of our businesses, and that includes identifying why the client is behaving in a way that we think they should not behave.

How is your behaviour contributing to this problem?

With clients, you teach them how to treat you. So how are you letting your clients treat you?

Short Deadlines

If you are actually doing the work when they send it to you late, or allowing them to do countless revisions, you are teaching them that you will get it done no matter what. Or if they treat everything they send you like an emergency the same thing can happen. Instead: Give the client firm lead times and tell them that they need to abide by them in order for the work to get done on their deadline.

Communication Issues

If you pick up the phone or respond to every email the client sends, you are teaching them that you are putting their schedule ahead of your own. Instead: Schedule a regular phone call (weekly) with your client so they can have your undivided attention. Make sure all other project or task requests go through your project management system or whatever communication policy you have set up.

Critiques Your Invoice

If you are providing detailed billing for your clients, you run the risk of them scrutinizing every point on the invoice. Instead: Your clients are paying you for your expertise – and yes, to get the work done – but you may want to revisit just HOW detailed your billing is (consider detailing the tasks completed on your bill instead of the minutes).

Scope Creep

If you keep saying yes every time a client asks you to do something, you will soon be doing more than you agreed to, probably for the same amount of money. Instead: Define what tasks you will do within the agreement you have with any client. If something new comes along, address it immediately with your client to discuss how to fit in into their work – and address additional billing if necessary.

Aggressive or Rude Behaviour

If your client is speaking to you in a tone that you don’t like, that is absolutely not okay. Of course business is business, and it’s not personal, but some clients do cross this line. If they consider you to be their employee, some clients will speak to you like you are beneath them. Instead: Assert yourself as the client’s equal – and fire the client if necessary. You are not their employee and there is never any reason for aggressive language or behaviour.

In a service based business like a VA, our personalities need to fit together properly in order to get the work done in a professional manner. If you have any clients that you consider to be difficult, first assess why this is happening.

Try to identify if there is anything you can do to make adjustments to the behaviour by reinforcing boundaries or policies, or having a discussion with the client to make things right.

We are in business for the long term, and part of that is finding clients that we love, and that love us!

If you are dealing with a difficult client and you aren’t sure how to handle it, I invite you to reach out to me for a complimentary Cut to the Chase call with me: www.canadianava.org/15-min. I know what it’s like to go through something like this and I’d love to help you push through the fear of handling it.

How An Accountability Partner Helps You Grow Your VA Business

Did you reach the last goal you set in your business?

Good Virtual Assistants set goals, just like all good business owners. It's how we grow, and it's how we get better at what we do.

Whether it's business or marketing related, there is nothing like achieving a goal you set for yourself to help you celebrate your success!

But if you are setting goals and then just not reaching them - then, honestly there is no point in setting them. You have to do what you say you want to do!

However, all is not lost!

All you need is someone to help you stay on track - an accountability partner.

An accountability partner is someone you choose to partner with in your VA business, that becomes your confidant/e, your cheerleader, your butt-kicker, and even your strategist.

When you start a partnership with someone else, you help each other with moving ahead in your business - and helping you to get done what you say you want to get done.

Just like we do for our clients!

Our own VA business 'stuff' often gets left by the wayside as we focus on client work - but our business can't grow if we don't nurture it.

Here are a few tips for you to find and work with an accountability partner:

Find an accountability partner. 

Look for someone who understands the VA industry or business. You don't want to spend your time explaining everything all the time. Ideally another VA might work - but it's not necessary, as long as your partner understands how the VA industry and role works. You can look in CAVA for one - just reach out to your colleagues!

Build a partnership with structure.

Don't keep it casual. You want to have a structure - a regular check in call is going to be essential to your success. Figure out how you keep your records of what your goals and actions are (I suggest a shared Google Doc you can both access and update). And be sure to schedule and structure your phone call so you both stay on track for reporting your updates.

Help each other build better habits and routines.

The hardest part of getting things done in your VA business is thinking you have more time than you do. We are all busy, so that's why we don't get things done to begin with. Try to help each other move slowly but surely. If a goal is too lofty (ie get 10 new clients in a month), you won't reach it. You want to set goals that you can reach (especially in the beginning). If you think your partner's goal is too big, challenge them to break it down so it's more manageable.

Set each other up for success.

Make sure that you are both at the same place in your business - both committed to doing the work to help yourselves and each other. Commit to being present and supportive on your check in calls. Schedule them and be honest with what you have done and what you haven't. Your partner can't help you if you are not being honest. 

Accountability is an essential piece of your business. Getting a partner is simplest way to get started. If you want support from a group, be sure to have a look at my Inspired Action Mastermind Group for VAs - a low-cost, high value coaching program centred around monthly goal setting and weekly accountability. 

Get more details here: www.YourVAMentor.com/inspired 

Dealing with Difficult Clients

Do you ever say yes when you really would prefer to say no?

We spend so much time in our Virtual Assistant businesses trying to find clients, we rarely stop to think about what we do if they aren't that great.

You know who I'm talking about ... the clients who make you cringe when you see their name on your phone or in your email.

Our support professional persona almost always contains the 'people-pleaser' gene, and we never really want to say no to people when they ask us to do something for them.

We might put up with behaviour from clients that is not really acceptable - if those clients think of us as their 'help', or their 'staff'. It's not fun.

But who wants to turn away clients and lose the revenue, right?

Dealing with difficult clients is a necessary thing to learn how to do well in your business. It will help you attain longevity and be in business (happily!) for a long time.

You teach people how to treat you.

And it's up to you to teach them to treat you well!

So what is a difficult client? Here are a few behaviours that might be defined as difficult:

Breaks your boundaries.

If you have a preferred method of communication (email) and the client is constantly messaging you or calling you instead, they need to be taught the right way to communicate with you. Don't respond using methods that are not allowed. Tip: If a client texts you, email them back and let them know you got their message but to please use your communication channels so you can keep your paper trail of their work all in one place.

Micromanages your task list.

Your clients are hiring you to help them in their business because of your expertise. You should be the one managing your tasks and your schedule. You get to say what gets done and when - not someone else. You need to work with lead times and deadlines with your clients so that everyone has enough time to fit the work into their own schedule. Tip: Be proactive and communicate well. If a client sends you a task request, acknowledge it and let them know when you will complete it. Part of micromanaging comes from the client not knowing if you got their request, or not knowing when you will do it. So tell them!

Last minute work

We mentioned lead times above but last minute work is really important to address. If your clients are constantly sending you their newsletter the morning it needs to be sent out, you need to stop it. Let them know what lead time you need to get it done properly, and then hold them to it. When you consistently do last minute work, you are developing bad habits that clients will find hard to break. Tip: The easiest way to stop this habit is to simply refuse to do the work. Rush fees rarely speak to clients. But when their work does not get done because they are not organized enough, they will find a way to get organized.

Difficult clients are often just clients that have been allowed to creep boundaries or work scope. Not always, but often.

Don't let anyone treat you the way you don't want to be treated.

Act like a business owner. Treat the clients with respect. Set rules for them and hold both of you to those rules.

Everything will be clearer and your communication and your work together will improve vastly. Promise!

3 Tips to Use Your Schedule to Get More Done Every Day

Why The Calendar Should Be a Virtual Assistant’s Best Friend

Being organized is a quality that a lot of Virtual Assistants bring to the table in their work.

Keeping client tasks organized and getting things done is even a common part of our service offerings.

But sometimes it’s not the way we run our own business.

Or, sometimes when we bring on a number of clients to work with at once, it becomes more difficult to make the decisions necessary to properly prioritize each client’s tasks and get things done.

Are you struggling with getting everything done in a day?

If so, I recommend using your calendar as much as possible.

Keeping a schedule makes all areas of your business better. It not only shows you what you need to get done, but it also helps you to manage your time around each thing.

Here are a few easy ways to use your calendar to get more done:

1. Schedule your business hours

Make sure that your clients and your family know when you are supposed to be working. Having regular business hours can really help everyone. For your family, it lets them know when not to disturb you, and for your clients, it tells them when they can expect to hear back from you. Business hours don’t have to be super long every day (you could have your office open just a few hours a day), but it helps communication with everyone around you, and it makes things run smoother for you.

2.  Schedule blocks of time for work

Use your calendar to block out your day. Jumping from task to task interrupts your brain’s signals too often. If you want to really focus on what you are doing, and become more efficient at it, schedule a block of time anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes to work on something specific. That may not sound like a lot of time, but when you are focused during that time you will see just how much more productive you can be. Short blocks also help you to move things around as necessary if you need to. Try it for a week!

3. Schedule your distractions

I know what you’re thinking – how can I schedule something I don’t even know about? I recently came across an awesome suggestion to deal with distractions – it’s called a Distractions List. When you are in the middle of a task, and something distracts you, simply write it down on a piece of paper or in a notebook that you keep beside your computer. Then, schedule time in your calendar to handle the items on that distractions list. If you find that you have a lot of things on your list, you might book in distraction time a few times a day – mid morning, midday and mid afternoon works. Cross the things off your distraction list when you have looked after them, and get back to work!

Bonus tip: When you are scheduling your time, be sure you have a start and end time, so that you know when you are supposed to STOP working on something. If you have ever gone down a research or social media ‘rabbit hole’, you’ll know what I mean. Set a stop time, and stop then. Assess whether you completed your task on time or if you need to adjust the schedule for future.

When you work by yourself like so many VAs do, managing your time is really important. Productivity is really essential to run a profitable business, to practice excellent time management every day. 

Don’t feel that you need to jump when a client (or a family member) needs something. Hold yourself to your schedule, and advise them when you can look after what they need. Put them on your distractions list!

And remember that short blocks of time are more manageable - instead of jamming something new into the middle of your day, see what you can move to another time slot.

Simply put, scheduling works to get more done. Try it for yourself!

For more tips on time management for your VA business, check out my free Virtual Assistant training videos on my Youtube channel.