Do These 3 Things Before You Create Virtual Assistant Packages

Do These 3 Things Before You Create Virtual Assistant Packages

Creating packages for your VA services is a frequent topic in the VA forums. But if you don’t have a few things in place to start, you will have trouble developing packages that work for you.

I hear VAs talk a lot about creating packages. But there is often confusion around what that actually means.

The first thing you should consider is why you want to create a package to begin with.

If you think it’s because you can make more money than charging hourly, you are not technically wrong, but that’s not really the best reason to create packages.

The way to make more money in your VA business is to get better at delivering awesome services to your clients, so you can get more work from your existing clients, and you can get more clients, period.

But packaging your services is a great way to do a few things, such as:
• Control the profit in your business by setting rates that are fixed, with profit included
• Avoid scope creep by defining exactly what it is you do for your clients
• Clearly communicate to your clients what you will do for them, and how much it will cost them
• Earn more money per hour by getting faster / better / more efficient – instead of less money because you stop billing by the hour.

Packaging your services takes a lot of grunt work to begin with (if you do it correctly!), but it can be a great way to start to build and grow your business.

You must know (or have) 3 things before you offer your clients package pricing:

  1. A complete list of services you will provide for your clients.
  2. Procedures for each task that is included in those service offerings.
  3. An accurate estimate of time that it takes you to do each task.

Talk about grunt work!

If you don’t have these things in place right now, then you are not ready to create service packages.

But the good news is, you can start getting these things ready right away – by tackling one task at a time, you can start to create the list and the procedures, and add to it every time you do something new.

List of Services

To put together a package for your clients, you have to define specifically what you are going to do for them. This is usually a combination of things that go together, usually by category (ie communication, or marketing tasks) or by specific task (ie client care – handling contracts, payments, emails, scheduling, etc).

Do it now: Start to make your list. You must define exactly what you can do for clients, before you can build a package from it.

Procedures

Yes, this is the grunt work! But really it’s just writing down what you do and when you do it. Doing a newsletter for someone in Mailchimp? Write down the steps to do it. Step 1, Step 2, Step 3. Don’t leave anything out. Procedure documents help you to free up brain space when you go back to do a task a second time – to make sure that you do it the same way, every time, and that you don’t leave out any steps. Procedures are very important when you are bringing in subcontractors – and if your business grows quickly, you won’t have time to do it then.

Do it now: Start with the next task you complete. One at a time – slow and steady wins the race! You’ll be surprised how much brain space you free up, and also you can build a procedures file pretty quickly!

Time It All

The most important part of creating packages is to get the pricing right. To do that, you must calculate the time it takes you to do every single task in your business. That sounds daunting I know, and it should be! You probably do a lot! But it’s essential. So take those procedure documents and add up the time it takes you to do each step, to get your billable task time. It’s also a good idea to add in 20-25% of extra time to allow for tech issues, or other problems. Speed is not the key – consistency is!

Do it now: Time out everything you do. Be sure to eliminate distractions when you work so that you are focused on the task at hand. Multiply your time for each task by your billable rate to get your ‘per task rate’.

Creating packages is a great way to grow your VA business and provide clear services to your clients for a fixed amount.

Everyone loves clarity, and packages – done right – gives both of you that clarity.

If you need help with creating packages for your VA business, look no further than your VA community! An annual membership in CAVA is the answer. CAVA is a professional association for Virtual Assistants in Canada. We provide community, visibility, resources, connections, training, client opportunities and so much more. Check out our full list of benefits here: https://canadianava.org/join-cava/

About the Author: Tracey D’Aviero is a Virtual Assistant Coach, Trainer, Speaker and Author. After operating a busy VA business of her own since 1996, Tracey began teaching others to run their VA businesses in 2010 through Your VA Mentor. She also owns CAVA VA association and now teaches and coaches VAs exclusively. She has a vast amount of experience working in many different industries which helps her to offer her students and coaching clients a unique perspective and sound advice. She is a proud advocate of the Virtual Assistant industry. Learn more about Tracey’s journey in the VA industry here.

5 Smart Ways to Specialize Your Virtual Assistant Services

When you are deciding what Virtual Assistant services you can offer clients, how do you start that brainstorming or thinking process?

Often we think about the things we know how to do based on our last job, or VA services we are currently offering clients.

We come up with a list of services that we can confidently do, and then we piece those together as the client needs them or asks about them.

Maybe you are good at doing data entry or bookkeeping or social media updates.

And maybe you love doing those things every day.

But maybe you also wish you could raise you rates and do something different. Something that gets you excited to start work most days.

If you change the way you think about your service offerings, you can actually create a specialized list of services for clients that you love to work with.

I’m not talking about packages, though that certainly could come into the conversation at this point.

I’m talking about focusing your services for a particular industry or service so that you can level up your expertise, and help your clients get more value from working with you.

Here are a few smart ways to level up your virtual assistant services for your clients:

1. Social Media

Social media is a really popular service offering for VAs. Many VAs, however, provide ‘just the posting’ type of service.

What if you could expand your offerings to include reporting insights for your clients, or creating images, or even curating content from others? It’s a means of increasing your expertise in this area and bringing more value to your clients.

By taking a bigger role in your client’s social media activity you become more invested in their business and you actually help them more than just publishing their weekly content.

Lots of business owners don’t even look at their analytics. It’s a great place to add value for them – and increase your level of expertise at the same time!

2. Customer Service

Customer service is very much an in-demand service required by business owners. Every business needs clients, and every business needs to look after those clients.

So maybe right now you are handling customer service emails for your clients. What if you could also help your client with the onboarding procedures, run reports for the payments or membership numbers, and help them maintain their follow up systems or nurture those clients?

Once again, it’s about offering more value for a line of services that you are already providing for your clients. You will also bill more time with each client, and become more invested in their business – which builds solid, long-term VA-client relationships.

3. Event Management

If your clients organize online or in person events, this is a great area to level up your virtual assistant service offerings.

Instead of just setting up and managing the registration lists, consider helping with checklists for all event details, liaising with event staff, and follow up for the attendees. If the events are online, you could do the same thing – checklists, liaise with the event guests or guest speaker, manage follow up.

Growing your responsibilities if you like doing event management is a great way to help business owners with the pieces of the admin that they often don’t do well (or take too much time to do on their own).

4. Speaker Support

When you think of services, it’s not always just about what you are doing. It could be who you are doing it for.

Consider a speaker. What kinds of VA services do they need? Research for speaking gigs, connection and follow up with event planners, speaker one sheet preparation, audio or video transcripts and editings, and so on.

So sometimes if you choose who you want to work with, your specialization goes there. Imagine only having to network with one type of entrepreneur. You could become the go-to person for something like speaker support easily.

5. Project Management

Project management takes a level of skill that not all VAs have. If you do it well, you could explore offering it as a service.

Even VAs who run teams need project managers. If you use a particular system like Asana very well, this could be the service that you offer your clients. You also have the option of running one-off projects or ongoing ones.

Maybe these examples speak to you. Maybe they don’t quite. It’s about reframing how you think about specializing.

It’s not always about building packages for clients. It’s about doing tasks that you do well, and that your clients need (especially if they are not doing them now!)

Specializing doesn’t always mean moving to packages. It’s about grouping tasks that are related to a project together to create new work, and better work flow.

Think about the services you are currently offering your clients.

Are there areas that you can add more value and more responsibility to take more off their plate for them? Have a look at yours and see where you can specialize!

For help with your services, consider registering for my Getting Started as a Virtual Assistant self study program. It walks you through step by step all of the things you need to have in place to open or grow your business properly – including your rates and services! www.GetStartedVA.com

About the Author: Tracey D’Aviero is a Virtual Assistant Coach, Trainer, Speaker and Author. After operating a busy VA business of her own since 1996, Tracey began teaching others to run their VA businesses in 2010 through Your VA Mentor. In 2016 she purchased the CAVA and GAVA VA associations and now teaches and coaches VAs exclusively. She has a vast amount of experience working in many different industries which helps her to offer her students and coaching clients a unique perspective and sound advice. She is a proud advocate of the Virtual Assistant industry. Learn more about Tracey’s journey in the VA industry here.

5 Things to Consider When Setting Your Virtual Assistant Rates

How much money can you make as a Virtual Assistant?

This is a very popular question among new VAs. The answer is very simple. You can make whatever you want.

I know that sounds like a really basic answer but it’s the truth!

When you are a VA, you are a business owner. You can set your own rates and your clients can choose to pay them (or not!).

But make no mistake - no one gets to set your VA rates but you.

Here are 5 things that you need to consider when setting your VA rates:

1. Your Level of Expertise

It goes without saying that the higher skill level you have for any task, the higher your rate can be. When VAs set their rates, they often undervalue themselves because they think they don’t have enough VA experience.

Even if you don’t have a lot of experience as a VA yet, it is your experience as an administrative professional that counts. Let me say that again: VA experience is NOT required to start your business, or to set your rates. ADMIN experience is what is important.

If you have taken some skills training, you can also charge more than someone who has just picked up the skills on their own (think social media services).

2. Your Revenue Target

How much do you need to earn every month? This is a key place to start when you are setting your rates. You need to set rates that will allow you to earn what you need to sustain your business.

Rather than picking a number out of thin air (that’s what I did -- cringe!), or a number that you feel comfortable selling to clients (I did this too -- ack!), you need to base your rates on actual numbers.

Use this rate calculator to figure out what you need to earn, and how that can break down into an actual hourly billable rate for you. When you know how much you need to bring in every month, and how many clients you can work with, you will be able to set a solid rate for your services.

3. Billable Versus Non-Billable Time

Calculating your rates sometimes also brings up the question of billable time versus non-billable time.

What is the difference? Simple…

Billable time is the time that you spend working on client work – the time that they are actually paying you for.

Non-billable time is your own admin time - doing your billing, seeking out new business, onboarding new clients – these are all things that are not billable in your business, but your time has to be accounted for (and covered) by your client rates.

Some business folks call this overhead, and it is, but it is often a variable expense that changes, the more clients you have.

But make no mistake – whenever you are doing work for a client, that is billable time, and you should be charging them for it.

4. Your Business Setup

Do you work on your own or do you have subcontractors (or do you intend to have them at some point?). If you have subcontractors, your rate needs to be able to cover that expense. Don’t start your business and then try to accommodate subcontractors – you need to plan for it and charge accordingly.

What about your expenses – do you anticipate a spike in your expenses any time soon? Many VAs go into business not thinking about what they might put out – or worse, then they start to panic over normal business expenses (like credit card fees), because they haven’t accounted for them when setting their rates.

Your rate needs to be able to cover your overhead and your plans and still leave you some profit. After all, you are in business to make money, so be cautious not to send back out everything that comes in.

5. Your Target Market’s Budget

How much can your clients afford to pay you? You need to take this into account when you are considering who your clients will be – and this is where their budget comes into your planning.

For instance, if you work with non-profits, your rates might differ from someone who works with lawyers. Sometimes this is also related to your expertise, but for sure there are certain clients that are accustomed to paying more than others.

If you are setting up rate packages, consider this point in particular. Create different levels of client service packages that can accommodate different budgets.

Setting your rates is one of the most important things you need to do well in your business (other than the actual VA work!). If you don’t set them high enough to start, you won’t be able to maintain your business well.

Do it right from the start and you will be able to get clients, build your business, and be happy!

For help with getting your business foundation in place, consider registering for my Getting Started as a Virtual Assistant self study program. It walks you through step by step all of the things you need to have in place to open or grow your business properly – including your rates and services! www.GetStartedVA.com

About the Author: Tracey D’Aviero is a Virtual Assistant Coach, Trainer, Speaker and Author. After operating a busy VA business of her own since 1996, Tracey began teaching others to run their VA businesses in 2010 through Your VA Mentor. In 2016 she purchased the CAVA and GAVA VA associations and now teaches and coaches VAs exclusively. She has a vast amount of experience working in many different industries which helps her to offer her students and coaching clients a unique perspective and sound advice. She is a proud advocate of the Virtual Assistant industry. Learn more about Tracey’s journey in the VA industry here.

What Housecleaning Has to Do With Your VA Service Offerings

Why do household chores remind me of your Virtual Assistant services?

Do you like vacuuming? I really don’t like it. I tend to do it quickly to get it overwith so it makes me all hot and sweaty.

Vacuuming is simply probably my least favourite household chore. I do a decent job but I often take shortcuts because I just dislike it that much.

I also don’t like ironing, but I’m good at it, so there’s that. I tend to iron as we need things though, instead of doing it all at once like my Mom used to do. I remember her setting up the ironing board on a Saturday morning and ironing everything in the house while we watched cartoons. She taught me how to iron shirts properly! (but I digress LOL)…

I do like dusting. I have this amazing furniture polish that I really like. It smells great and it really does a beautiful job. And it leaves the wood furniture and my upright piano nice and shiny!

And I quite enjoy doing the laundry. I get into a groove in the evenings or the weekends, washing, drying, folding and putting away. (My husband and son wash and dry, but they don’t fold and they rarely put away – how about yours?!)

So what does any of this have to do with business?

Well, your household chores are much like the tasks you do for your clients. Some you like, some you don’t. Some you are good at, some you aren’t.

Think about your daily tasks that you do for your clients (or for your own business).

Can you classify the things you do every day into the following categories?

  1. I don’t like to do it. Hate it.
  2. I’m good at it, but I don’t love it. I do it when I need to.
  3. I like it, there’s not a lot of need for it, but when there is I take pride in it.
  4. I love it. I could do it every day. I have a great system to get it done well.

Who knew housework was so much like business, eh? 🙂

Look at your daily or weekly task list.

What is it that you really like doing? Do your clients even know what you like to do? Are you just doing everything they ask you to? You don’t have to. Look at the last month of things you have done for your clients and categorize things as above. What do you see?

Are you a task-taker?

Some clients treat us like ‘the help’. And we let them. Are you doing everything that your clients ask you to? We are support professionals, yes, but we do get to make choices. Especially if we are doing things we don’t like to do, or are not good at. It’s simply not a good use of their money.

Remember you are running your own business.

You are the owner of your business. You get to decide what you do. What services you offer. Not the client. We are not their employee. Part of the beauty of being your OWN boss is that you get to decide. We have the right to determine exactly what it is that we love to do, and we have to be able to tell people ‘I don’t do that, let’s find someone else to look after that for you.’

How can you make some changes in your business that will help you get to where you want to be?

Getting back to the housecleaning, several years ago we hired a housecleaner. This was a huge step in our family. We dreamed about it for a long time and thought ‘if only we could afford it!’

But it turns out we could – because we determined the tasks we needed her to do, and what our budget was – and that’s what we pay her to do. (She does the floors, the bathrooms and the dusting every two weeks!) Hmm doesn’t that sound just like a client sales conversation?

She told us that she does not clear ‘knick knack’ shelves to clean them so we remove things from shelves if we want her to clean them. We each set the expectations and it’s great. We would never be without a housecleaner anymore.

And although she doesn’t do the ironing (she might if I paid her to, who knows!), the vacuuming gets done very well every two weeks – way better than it did before we had her.

It’s the same with your clients.

Make some definitive decisions about what you love to do, and what you are GREAT at, and then approach clients for that work.

There are plenty of options for clients to work with more than one person to get all of their ‘stuff’ done.

If you want to be in business for a long time and make the money you want to make, you must act like the head of the household (or the CEO).

I promise you, these types of decisions will be the most impactful things in your business.

Do what you love, charge properly for it. Voila. Amazing business that you LOVE.

If you are stuck at how to build your list of what you love, book a free consultation with me here. We’ll talk about what you love to do, what marketable skills you have, and what your next step should be to put it out there for clients to see!

About the Author: Tracey D’Aviero is a Virtual Assistant Coach, Trainer, Speaker and Author. After operating a busy VA business of her own since 1996, Tracey began teaching others to run their VA businesses in 2010 through Your VA Mentor. In 2016 she purchased the CAVA and GAVA VA associations and now teaches and coaches VAs exclusively. She has a vast amount of experience working in many different industries which helps her to offer her students and coaching clients a unique perspective and sound advice. She is a proud advocate of the Virtual Assistant industry. Learn more about Tracey’s journey in the VA industry here.