7 Things a Virtual Assistant Should Include In Their Contract

7 Things a Virtual Assistant Should Include In Their Contract

Virtual Assistants should never work with clients without a signed contract. There are important things that must be agreed to before any work begins.

If you are working with clients without a contract, you are not protecting yourself or your VA business.

Now, we are not referring to VA clients you find on Upwork or any of the other job service boards.

When you work with clients through those, there are terms that you each agree to, before you start working together, so you are covered by those. (quick side note – if you are working there, make sure you go over the terms very carefully so you know what you are agreeing to!)

In this article,we are talking about working independently with VA clients - just you and them. It’s essential to have a signed contract in place before you begin working together.

A contract does not have to be complex, and you can put it together yourself with normal everyday language (instead of legalese), but either way, you should have your lawyer look it over before you start using it.

What should your Virtual Assistant contract include?

Client Contact Information

Make sure that you have the right company name, address, phone number and email address on your client contracts. You can leave this for them to fill in, or you can pre-fill it before you send it to them. Of course you also need a signature line for them to sign at the bottom of your contract.

Description of Services / Scope of Work

The main section of the contract is where you detail what you will do for your client. Be sure you get as specific as you can in this area, so that what you will do is clear to both you and the client. You may need to refer to this area time and time again, so clarity is good to achieve now.

Communication

Letting a client know how they should send you work, or contact you regarding their tasks is great to include in your contract. You should also indicate your response times for the various communication methods. Communication is something you will always be managing with your clients, and outlining your expectations here is a good decision.

Payment Terms

Payment terms must be included in any contract. In addition to what you will do for your VA clients, detailing how you will be compensated and when (and what happens if they do not pay) is the next most important thing to include in your contract.

Business Hours/Boundaries

You may want to include some policies around boundaries like when you work. Since the contract is something that the client will be signing and agreeing to, letting them know when you are available is an excellent section in any contract.

Confidentiality

Some clients will provide you with a Confidentiality Agreement of their own to sign, which is usually fine (read it first), but you should also cover this in your own contract. Write a short paragraph that talks about how you hold and manage their work, and how you will ensure confidentiality of their company information, strategies, and so on.

Dissolution

The final section of your contract should indicate how either of you can get out of the agreement. At the very least, include a timeframe for giving notice to stop work (usually 30 days), and you can also even include language about stopping work due to late or non-payment if you want to further protect yourself.

Putting together your contract is an important piece of your Virtual Assistant business set up. You can find many contracts online, and you can adapt one to suit your business, but you should have a lawyer look it over.

Don’t start work with any client that will not sign your contract.

It’s an important piece of protecting both of you before you begin working together.

It should provide a clear outline of what you will do, how you will do it, what the compensation agreement is, and how either of you can get out of it – and that’s all very important stuff when working as a VA.

It will also show the client a level of professionalism that not all Virtual Assistants provide. Get yours in place today, so you will be ready when that next client comes along!

If you are setting up your Virtual Assistant business and want more information about what you need to have in place to do it right, download our free Start Your VA Business checklist here. You will also get a complimentary Community membership in CAVA so you can see what we are all about.

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.

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.

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!