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Should you Hire an Employee or VA for Your Interior Design Business?

What is the Virtual Assistant Structure? Hiring a VA vs Hiring internally

Virtual assistant services are relatively new to the mainstream platform. In fact, often when I explain what I do, people don’t quite understand. As with anything new, there can be some fear and hesitation. Hopefully that’s what I can help you with today.

There is a ton of value to having a virtual assistant. For example, you are not nailed down to hiring one person to multiple tasks that they may be “okay” at doing. You can hire several or even just a couple VA’s to perform tasks and skills they are great at and are eager to do. As an added benefit, it helps to make your business more efficient. When I worked with an interior designer in house, there were many times we hit a slow period and there was nothing for me to do, so we essentially did housekeeping. Housekeeping isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but if it occurs often as the only available task, it definitely impacts the bottom line in an undesirable way.

A virtual assistant serves many different purposes and can be involved in your business as little or as much as you want. Typically, the VA runs their own business, meaning they bring with them their own tools and experience. Typically there will be no need to purchase another in office computer, pay for unplanned time or invest a ton of time in training, unless you are asking them to take on a task they are otherwise unprepared for.

In regards to pricing, that is where things can get … tricky. There are a lot of different options. For example, With my own services, I offer one off services at $40.00 an hour. For designers who find themselves behind and need help in a pinch, or just needs some help here and there, that is typically the option they choose. I also offer packages in 5,10 and 15 hour increments that equate to a reduced rate of $30.00 an hour.

Purchasing a package typically means the virtual assistant is able to set aside dedicated time for your project. Choosing the hourly option can mean that there are times the VA simply can’t take your project on at that time.

Hiring in-house certainly has it’s advantages. Communication with VA’s does often take a little more planning since they aren’t right there by your side whenever the thought or need arises. Obviously a VA can’t go pick up samples from the local showroom, oversee an install or run local errands. Finally, if there are large gaps between projects it might require some time for the VA to re-familiarize themselves with your brand’s requirements and the projects overall.

Here are some easy questions to ask yourself to determine if a VA is right for you?

- Are you in a position where you need help, but don’t yet have the budget or need for full time help?

- Do you have specific tasks, such as rendering, sourcing, presentation , email management that are value adds to your business, but take you longer to do then necessary?

- Are you losing time to invest in your business and gaining new clients because you are stuck doing tasks that could easily be handed off to someone else. Especially think about your routine and repeated tasks that you could easily describe to another person.

- Are you comfortable using email and/or a project management system as your primary form of communication?

If you think this might be the right move for you, I have some SUPER easy things you can hand off today!

- Email management- I use this in my own business and it is a GAME CHANGER. Have you ever had that morning where you wake up and there are 50 new emails in your inbox? You open your email, start to scan through and see what’s important and immediately start feeling the overwhelm. Now imagine starting your morning and looking at your email to see everything organized by the response time needed, then categorized by project so you no longer have lost emails. It’s pretty great.

- Blog Writing- If you are looking to hand it off completely, there are some amazing VA’s out there ready to write blogs according to your style and preference. I have done this for some designers with just suggested blog topics. Another option is the blogging templates provided by Ochre and Beige. Use her templates to guide you through suggested blog topics (and check out her offer in the MDA exclusives section).

- Social media management- I Know many of you are feeling the pressure on this one. If Social Media isn’t your thing, let the professionals do it!

- Renderings and Floorplans-If you have been looking for a way to elevate your client presentation, or if you find this is just taking you way longer than you would like to do, then hand it off!

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