Way to use a Virtual Assistant, VA

I have owned and managed mobile home parks for 17 years. I have 5 small parks and currently use Rent Manager. However I do all of the paperwork, office work, tenant screening, ect. I “run the office”

I am very intrigued about the concept of VA’s but I am not really sure what I would have them do. I’m not sure whether it would be efficient for me to explain things to the VA, make sure they do it, review the work, ect. Small tasks I could do quicker then explaining it to someone, and most the tasks I do are small.

I am sure some people out there use VA’s and have good processes. Does anyone mind sharing their experiences?

@mobilehomepark I had the same mind set as you. What I found is that it forced me to write everything I did done step by step and I what I found is that what things I thought were small tasks I had forgotten 5 of the steps because I was so used to it.
And explaining to a VA should be done via videos so that they can watch them, stop them and reply them until they understand the task you are asking them t do. Break tasks down into small bits and then record you doing it.

IM me if you need more,
Pat

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What Pat said

Also, don’t be scared off if it takes significantly more time on the front end to include a VA than just doing it yourself. The goal is essentially train someone to make your life easier down the road.

Also, one thing I’m only now appreciating is it may be worthwhile to pay more for someone who has better judgment and independence. If you find someone who can understand the concepts and the goals well, it can make your life easier by requiring less micro management.

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Setting up a video for a VA is a brilliant idea.

There is a great program for this (the basic version is FREE) at http://www.loom.com (They also have a trial period where you can experiment with their paid version).

The other nice thing about setting up videos is that you can use it for managers and others. In the Marine Corps each person had a “Turnover Jacket” for his position that included all of the important information on doing that job -Daily duties, points of contact, emergency procedures etc… (it helped when someone new took over your job or if you got shot :wink: Recording a well thought out video could be used again and again to get people (managers) up to speed quickly, without having to spend all “your” time teaching this to a new person.

Training is close to my heart being a former instructor. I am reminded of the saying, “If you think it takes too much time to train someone, add up all the time it takes to clean up the mess made from lack of training.”

Just my thoughts.

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I was like you and did everything. Of course it was always just as I preferred. After a bit of growth, that was impossible so I hired a US based VA and an overseas VA and life is so much better. Plus I can now focus on company growth and strategy and not the mundane.

What really helped was an operations manuals. It has taken over a year to write and I tweak it every day. Every task that I did was documented in the manual. I even recorded audios and videos on topics varying from “preparing leases” to the most mundane like “document scanning and filing.” The first 5 pages of the manual include a task schedule for 1) daily tasks (e.g. check voice mail), 2) weekly task (e.g. check PO Box), 3) monthly tasks (e.g. mail statements), 4) quarterly tasks (e.g. prepare income statements), and 5) annual tasks (e.g. send rent increase notices). Every task is scheduled to a specific time. Now, when somebody asks me how to do something I say to look at the manual and if they don’t understand, we tweak it until they do. See partial image of schedules.

The overseas VA does everything from taking phone calls for the whole company, bookkeeping, taking applications, taking customer service requests, emailing prospects from Craigslist, Zillow, etc., scheduling showings for park managers, and handling level 1 sales inquiries (simple things like explaining home inventory and rent amount). If I could say there are a few big things that were best to outsource I would guess they are 1) phone answering, 2) bookkeeping, 3) tenant customer service, and 4) accounts payable.

The US VA is also a park manager and she schedules maintenance across all parks, handles level 2 sales (more complex questions), and prepares leases.

To organize all of this, we have a NAS server that is web-enabled with file folders and various permission for various users. Almost every document we receive is scanned to a virtual inbox on the NAS and the VA organizes and processes the files as needed.

You will find that tasks take longer, don’t always get done the way you would do them, etc, but in my opinion, that is a cost to doing business and necessary if you want to scale.

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I am in the same boat and also have been thinking about offloading tasks to a VA. Thanks for such awesome replies everyone.