5 Steps to Productive Meetings with Your VA Clients

5 Steps to Productive Meetings with Your VA Clients

Do you find yourself spending (or losing?) a lot of time in meetings with your Virtual Assistant clients?

A lot of VAs I talk to get trapped in a corporate type of working relationship with their clients. What I mean by that is that clients get into the habit of wanting meetings for every little thing they need.

This might seem innocent, but it’s a really bad habit that can get out of hand easily if you don’t handle it correctly.

When a client asks you for a meeting, the very first thing you need to figure out is if it needs to be a meeting at all.

It’s up to you as an independent contractor to put policies and boundaries in place for how clients request work to be done, and how they should communicate with you about it.

Not all work requests need to be meetings. In fact, most of them don’t.

In the event that you do need to meet with a client, here are 5 tips to help you make your meeting as productive as possible:

1. Schedule the Meeting

Make sure that you always slot meetings into your schedule when it’s convenient for you. Don’t do last minute meetings with clients – it’s a hard habit to break once you start it. When a client wants to meet with you, put it on the calendar. Set a start and stop time for your meeting - the shorter the better.

2. Take Charge

When you let the client take charge of a meeting, you run the risk of wasting more time than necessary. For all meetings, make sure you are the one leading the meeting. Come prepared with your objectives and run the meeting.

3. Follow an Agenda

Most meetings run longer than they need to. With every single meeting you host, create and follow a simple agenda. A meeting should be held for a specific reason. If it’s about one topic, cover that topic and then end the meeting. If it’s a weekly meeting and you have a number of things to discuss, continue to hold to the agenda and time limits as necessary.

4. Stop at your Designated Time

Always end a meeting on time. When you allow a client to ramble on for hours, it’s a waste of everyone’s time. Be clear about the objectives of the meeting at the top of the call, and stick to the agenda you created, and the time you allotted.

5. Charge the Client for the Meeting

I can not tell you how many VAs tell me that they do not charge the client for meeting time. It’s billable! Anything the client needs you to do for them – including the communication between the two of you – is billable to them. They have to pay you for your time. When you charge the client, not only are you more aware of how much the meeting time is costing them, but they are too.

As I said, not all conversations need to be meetings. To keep your VA business productive and efficient, use the steps above to run faster, more efficient meetings when necessary.

You may need to adjust your other communication methods to make shorter meetings work in your business, but once you do, you’ll wonder why you ever spent hours in meetings with your clients to begin with.

Your VA clients are paying you to get their work done. So don’t spend it in meetings, spend it doing their work!

If you need help with procedures, boundaries, or improving communication with your clients, 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. 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 Many People Is Your VA Business Helping?

How many people do you help in your Virtual Assistant business? I’m not talking about how many clients you support. It’s a bigger question than that.

I was recently at a networking event and I spoke with a fellow who is in MLM. I’ll call him Bob, though that wasn’t his actual name.

Bob was a nice enough guy. I don’t buy any MLM stuff at this point in my life so I wasn’t quite sure what we could possibly have to talk about, but he engaged me at my vendor booth so I obliged him.

We talked about what each of us did. Bob told me that the reason he was involved with the company he works with, is that he has philanthropic interests that are very important to him, and that the business he runs helps him to support those interests.

Hmm. That made me think for a moment.

I often talk about working hard at your business because THAT’s the thing you love.

I never really thought of it as using your business to fund something else that you love. Very interesting perspective.

We chatted more.

Bob asked me what my bigger vision was.

I am in a growth period in my business, and my big vision, although coming near, is not established yet.

My mandate in my VA training business has always been that I want to help people to build and grow successful businesses. I don’t have a specific number of people I want to help do that, so that’s where the big vision is not quite in focus, but I do know that I love what I do.

I love having the impact on other’s lives that I am able to have, by teaching them, by helping them to do better with their business.

The impact of that is spiritual of course, but it’s also economic.

You’ve heard the saying, ‘When you buy local, you are helping to support a kid’s piano lessons or dance lessons.’ And other sayings to that effect.

It’s really true.

And this is where my conversation with my friend Bob went – what is the impact that we, as VAs, have on our client’s businesses?

Well, there are many.

We can help them free up their admin time so that they can go and find more clients to work with. That means more money for them.

We can help them to bring in new processes so that their existing clients can become repeat or long-term clients. That also means more money for them.

But looking past the financial pieces, what else do those things do for them?

It helps them to live a better life. It helps them to sit down at the dinner table with their family or friends and feel less stressed.

They may even be excited to have the details handled so they can free up much-needed brain space to do some planning for their business.

And if they work with their own clients, that also means the work we do also impacts those clients, who might get better energy from our clients. Or maybe better service offerings, or better products.

Sounds a bit like an MLM after all, doesn’t it?

Think about how many people YOU are helping - impacting - by doing good work in your business.

You are affecting your clients – their families and friends – and their clients. And it goes beyond that, in a web effect. It’s quite amazing when you sit and think about it.

And of course, the more work we do for them, the more money we make. And the more money we make, the better it is for our family and friends to be around us, and it’s better for our clients too.

I suggest getting really invested in your clients’ businesses – figuratively, of course – so that the work you do really helps them to grow.

When their business grows, yours does too.

If you ever need to lift your attitude or your outlook on why it is you do what you do, look no further than this quick little synopsis.

You are important, you are valuable, you are impactful. Every single day!

If you need help with getting mindset boosts and shifts like this, 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. 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.

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! A paid membership in CAVA includes access to all kinds of forms and documents, including a contract (and tons of other benefits too!)

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.