Virtual Assistants

(Sarah Martin) #21

Here you go if anyone is looking at getting VAs but not sure what to do with them! I had no idea what to give Shine when she first joined us!

(Adam Hooley) #22

Thanks for sharing @sarah that’s a great list. Thanks for sharing

(Terri Handy) #23

I quite often use Trello for workflow with VA’s. Because it is such a visual tool, I find this much better than something like Basecamp or Asana. I also have the onshore team use it and it is a simple matter of shifting the cards back and forth. The date and time stamping feature are very useful, as is being able to add labels, due dates, attach documents, links, etc. Some of the integrations are pretty cool too.

If email is the only source of communication, it doesn’t take much to clog up inboxes and apart from the rise in everyone’s stress levels, the risk of something being missed also increases.

(Despina Raei) #24

Hi Sarah

Intrigued to hear details about ‘creating Trello card’. I have been wanting to incorporate Trello into my business but interested to hear how you do it?

(Terri Handy) #25

HI @despina

I think Sarah has some “templates” already set up in Trello which her VA utilises at that point in the workflow.

Here is a snapshot of a part of an Approved Tenant Trello Card that another office is using with their VA. This particular Trello Card moves from PM to VA to Reception several times throughout the process. I think there are around 50 separate steps.

Hope you find this helpful.

(Sarah Martin) #26

Yes we have a template board like this:
PMs or VAs create the cards and then they float around the office!

(Ashley Giles) #27

This is awesome guys, I think the key to the success of a VA is the organisation and communication behind the scenes. Great work on setting up these systems, Wendells are starting next month so lots of work to get it as fluid as you have done! Great job, and great topic to discuss and learn from.

(Celeste Lim) #28

We have been using VAs for over 2 years now. They work for us, not contractors, meaning there is accountability. I have personally been to their office twice in the last 2 years to train and recruit them.

VAs are great help, when trained and briefed properly, freeing up valuable time of the property managers to engage with our owners, doing what they should be doing - building lasting relationships.

(Adam Hooley) #29

Hi Celeste, great to hear. Are yo using a tool to manage workflow like the Trello board or do you have another method of sharing and tracking work?

(Ashley Giles) #30

Thanks Celeste,

Welcome to the forums, thanks for being here & Contributing. Can I ask, with your VA’s have you had the same ones for 2 years? I am curious as to the turn over rate for VA’s, as this is a consideration of how many to hire etc.


(Terri Handy) #31

That sounds great @celestel. We all have questions for you about VA’s - sorry about the bombardment :roll_eyes:

I’m keen to learn how your team embraced utilising VA’s. Sometimes there is some resistance from different people within the office.

Did you appoint a “Designated Driver” or did everyone get involved in rolling out the tasks? How do you handle changes to your processes?

(Cameron Ewers) #32

Hi Guys, Cam here from Pure Leasing in Subiaco, Western Australia.

We’ve been using a VA for the past 3-4 years now, and we’ve never looked back! She’s an integral part of our team.

She takes care of all of our invoice entering, file smarting, she also runs proactive initiatives that we have in place like sending the PM’s their monthly KPI Reporting, daily arrears spreadsheet/SMS’s to tenants in arrears etc…

Her email etiquette is absolutely exceptional as is her attention to detail.

She is very much a part of the team, and the way that we welcomed/integrated the VA into the team was;

  1. Explained to the team her role, position, potential strengths/weaknesses along with the few cultural variations so they could understand her values/culture to ensure they don’t accidentally offend, along with how the communication aspect works ie. team viewer/skype meetings etc…
  2. We went around the table and wrote a list of the tasks we felt the VA could help us with and conduct for us.
  3. Based on the strengths of the team/who enjoyed what tasks, each team member selected or was allocated a task that they become responsible for, and in the first two weeks of her joining us, each team member had to set aside a morning to engage with her and teach her the topic/task that they’d been allocated.

This worked really well as it instigated contact with each of the team members, so they could all establish a relationship with the VA, it also taught the team ‘how’ to teach a task to the VA, so that if they came up with another task they’d like to delegate to the VA, they knew how to go about doing it.

In my opinion, a VA is an essential in the industry and conditioning your team to embrace them is paramount!

(Terri Handy) #33

Thanks so much for sharing @cameron. This is great and I love how you involved your team right from the start.

It is such an important skill that we often neglect to develop in our team - how to “teach” the next person. Well done!

(Celeste Lim) #34

Hi Terri,

We had voluminous paperwork and I guess everyone was just happy that there is finally some help! There was a little getting used to in the beginning. Managers have had to now be trained for accountability as well and be reminded to follow up on instructions given to the VAs and not just forget about these instructions after handing them out. Vas are also trained to seek out instructions from managers whenever they encounter any doubts/issues/ questions from clients. The managers are still responsible for attending to those queries and return those phone calls, which forms part of their response KPIs). Managers also now cannot use the excuse of too much paperwork thus they were unable to return those phone calls or emails.

We still have hits and misses, and new managers have to be trained in the work flow, but they all appreciate it eventually as they do not have to worry about catching up on paperwork. It is good training for the managers to be ‘real’ managers, as they learn delegation, and accountability. My words to them as part of training to be an effective manager is ‘plan, lead, organise and control’. Many people can plan, lead (?), organise, but lack control. If they can master control – to always check back on instructions to ensure they are clear and correctly carried out – they are on their way to being effective managers.

The process IS the process itself, as we constantly tweak it to suit the business needs and emerging technologies. Group feedback from everyone involved in an open forum is also a good way to ensure everyone is onboard, as is the willingness to try out plausible ideas from team members.

Someone asked me if we were using workflow management system. I might start to explore that now to facilitate information exchange!

Sorry for the long-winded response. I hope it has been helpful.

Have a good weekend!

(Terri Handy) #35

This is great @celestel. I appreciate you taking the time for such a detailed response.

I think we are always very curious to see how the communication occurs between the onshore and offshore team. I like Slack because this reduces the number of emails clogging up everyone’s inbox and Trello to help with the workflow.

I can tell you are in Victoria. For the rest of us, our weekend doesn’t start for another day! Enjoy the break :smiley:

(Despina Raei) #36

Thanks Terri, yes that is very helpful to start the ideas flowing!

(Adam Hooley) #37

Thanks for sharing @cameron I think its great how you have divided up the tasks and each person is acting a champion to train and upskill the VA. Great idea.

(Jodie Stainton) #38

Hey @sarah on the growth side, I have a VA. She completes the following tasks:
Entering in properties into the CRM and adding appropriate trails (don’t have all sources api fed yet)
Completing trail tasks that aren’t calls for eg, otm rentals, otm sales, 12 month anniversary cards etc
Completing the form 6 and adding it to Docusign for the PM including the email addresses so the PM can send when ready
Sending calendar appointment for appraisal including pre-listing kit
Diarising the PM to do the introduction call
Sending ‘thank you’ email on behalf of Director
Sending NPS surveys
Arranging photos & signs
Following up on required documentation
Adding photos to CRM for advertising ready

Here’s an image of the checklist that we’re refining now.

Nerizza is great - she says good morning and goodnight every day! :smile: . We currently do 2 sprints per week to go through new tasks. Takes about 1 hour each time. She’s been with me only 4 weeks so far, but is motoring through the tasks. It’s my mission to get uniformity across the BDM team and she’s helping me do this. One of the biggest benefits I’m finding at the moment, is that the sprint sessions are helping me to implement and it’s now how I will approach implementation with my team…For eg we get online together, I run through the task - she records it and then writes it up - it’s so efficient! Such an easy way to build a procedures manual if you want to.

We use Microsoft Teams and Trello integrated within that, but I’m pretty sure that I will be able to move the checklist into the CRM so no need for Trello.

We have another VA that I don’t have anything to do with that completes adhoc work like audits or jumps into lease renewals for example.

(Terri Handy) #39

@jodie.stainton Thanks for sharing. I don’t think many offices are really making the most of how a VA can assist with the growth side of things. Can’t wait to see how this develops for you. :smile:

Are you using Microsoft Teams as the only way you communicate with Nerizza?

Once those tasks are rolled out and implemented, it is also so easy to update any tweaks and improvements you make. I will often just create a short video using UseLoom to show the change to the team and then the VA updates the manual accordingly. So simple!

(Jodie Stainton) #40

Yeah, that’s awesome @terrihandy. Yes, that’s how we’re communicating - she does get the leads via email but the rest of the communication is via teams.