Your business is doing well.
No, scratch that - it’s doing pretty damn good!
Client numbers are booming, demand is rocketing.
Your business is officially ready for take-off.
It’s time to shoot for the stars!
But before you do that, you’ve got one problem:
How are you going to keep up with your demand?
You might have dreamed of this moment - haven’t we all - but who thinks of the reality when you finally reach it?
I know I didn’t…
3 years ago, my client's marketing company wasn’t doing too badly either.
They were sailing through with steady revenue growth, and were ready to dock as a medium-sized business.
Hello bigger clients, hello bigger demand ...hello bigger stress.
That was until I guided them to virtual assistants and they stumbled upon Sam - their go-to guy for everything administrative.
Read More: Wikipedia on virtual assistants
He could tick off those time-consuming tasks at speed, and leave my client to get on with keeping their ship afloat.
He scheduled their workweek, he remotely answered the phone - he even handled any angry customers.
And they still hire him 3 years later!
Sounds good, right?
But as much as I loved helping them find Sam, the search wasn’t easy.
It took me 3 days - yes, 3 whole business days - to work out what virtual assistants were, choose a package that was right for their business, and then finally pick a virtual assistant!
But I found that the toughest challenge was working out the pricing and payment of these VAs.
That was, until I worked out what retainer packages were.
They could have a VA on backup, and budget how much they spent on Sam.
It put their stressed business brains at peace.
Lucky for you, I’ve decided to save your work week by helping you skip the search.
This article will take you through:
- What virtual assistants are
- How you pay for virtual assistants
- Why you should choose a retainer package
- Our top-rated retainer packages
And if you still aren’t convinced by virtual assistants - nor are sure about the financial side of things - I’ve included some Frequently Asked Questions to help bust those queries wide open.
It’s in the name!
Virtual assistants are assistants that are virtual.
Okay, fine. Here’s a better explanation:
A virtual assistant - or VA - is someone that can do any job you send their way, and they do it whilst working remotely.
And by any job, I really mean any job.
From administrative tasks, to being your resident expert in *insert field of your choice here*.
The most popular tasks outsourced include:
Making Travel Arrangements
Researching Industry News/Trends
Filtering, Unsubscribing & Clearing Out Email Inboxes
On the note of what they can do for you, there are actually 2 types of virtual assistant:
There’s the General Virtual Assistant who can take on those daily tasks that contribute but don’t help to grow your company (e.g. managing your email or schedule).
Take our Sam - he was a General Virtual Assistant, and stuck to the administrative tasks that he could do in a flash.
It finally meant that I didn’t have to function as both our director and our in-house secretary - which was a slow and painful process anyway.
I didn’t know how to best organise our admin!
That’s not my job, I’m a strategy girl.
And who wants to waste their time where it’s not best put to use anyway?
Then there’s the Specialised Virtual Assistant who will have specific skill sets perfect for the jobs which require a little more professional know-how.
These more expensive VAs typically do jobs like customer service, video editing, SEO etc.
The main difference between them, however, is what you outsource to them.
General VAs receive tasks , such as scheduling your next month on the calendar.
Specialised VAs on the other hand typically receive outcomes, such as increasing your social media following by 1000 subscribers.
If you want to find one of these virtual assistants, they can be found through several methods. You could:
- Post an advert on a relevant industry job board
- Research them using social media and online marketing
- Or even use an agency or freelance marketplace to compare and decide on any future hires
Unless you’re new to the world of business - or rather, new to the world - you’ll know that money matters.
Making it, saving it, and spending it are important things to keep track of to ensure business success.
That means knowing how to pay your virtual assistant is pretty important information.
In fact, working out all the different payment options took up a large portion of my research time.
And how long did that take?
Let’s just say far too long.
And it’s for this reason that I’ve decided to give you the lowdown on everything to do with paying for your virtual assistant.
First things first: there are three basic methods of contracting and paying your virtual assistant.
1. By “Standard” or “Flat” rate
This is when you pay your VA for services on a one-off occasion.
Typically this type of set-up is done using a set hourly rate determined by the VAs themselves.
My client started off our virtual assistant journey by just paying for a few hours a month to test the water.
Then they took the plunge and started looking at packages!
This is the most common way to contract VAs.
And if you have a set budget, or will need ad-hoc support, this is an option for you.
This is also advised if you want assistance with specific projects.
Typically there is a wide variety of packages to suit different businesses, from your size to your specific needs. Often you can choose the amount of hours you need, thus, you can work out the amount of support you require, and go from there.
You can even purchase packages for a specific project, such as web design, ensuring that you get the results you need and can visualise it within your budget.
My client used this method for polishing and perfecting our website.
After the amazing results, they were hooked on virtual assistants…
3. Retainer Schemes
If you require regular support throughout the month, and would rather have said support on a guaranteed-basis , retainer packages are for you.
Retainers are invoiced monthly and are paid in advance of the month.
Any unused time is non-transferable, and will not rollover to the next month.
(Psst - this is my client hired Sam!)
For all of these methods, VAs can set the rate themselves, or it can be set or controlled by the agencies they are contracted by (for example, VAs have to include the additional fees within their prices).
So, now we know the basics behind paying for your virtual assistant.
The question now is: what makes retainer packages so special?
Read on to find out...
To recap - retainers are packages from which you pay for a set amount of hours for a VA every month in advance.
So, if you need a VA like, right now, they can be there to do what you need - instantly.
They are the constant support that all businesses need now and then.
And if you own a growing business, having that support there - and within budget - is one less worry.
So, what are the benefits of choosing a retainer package?
You can budget using a Virtual Assistant
We get it.
We can’t stop talking about the wonders of taking your assistance virtual, but we also can’t shut up about the importance of saving money!
So how can we balance spending money with, saving it?
Aside from telling you all the ways VAs are great value for money and can actually help you earn more, there’s a little secret we want to let you in on:
When you decide to choose a retainer scheme, you have to consider your budget, right?
That means if you need a VA you won’t accidentally go beyond your budget - it’ll already have been paid for.
So, when you have a tight month, you can factor in a retainer package first, and then move the other costs around it.
You won’t have to worry about last-minute panics
My client doesn't have to worry about work-emergencies cropping up last minute, and better yet, they don’t have to pay frivolous fees to fix them.
You can enjoy your VA, and save money - it’s win-win!
You can get cheaper rates
Speaking of saving money...
Retainer packages offer cheaper rates because they are being contracted for guaranteed hours.
It’s a bit like buying things in bulk at a wholesaler.
We would always do the same for buying our paper and printer ink.
That’s why my client decided to do the same for hiring Sam.
So, if you’re going to hire a virtual assistant anyway, might as well take advantage of the constant support on hand and the lower prices.
You will see an improved relationship between your VA and you
Communication is king when it comes to hiring a virtual assistant.
How else can they know exactly what you want done and do it well?
And when you have a VA on retainer, it’s the same one, ensuring the must-have consistent contact.
Once they’ve gotten to grips with the ins and outs of your business, they can really start to apply the care and consideration you put into your business everyday.
This is why my client rates Sam so highly.
After 3 short years, he knows every nook and cranny of their business.
And this means one thing: high quality results that you can trust!
So what do you think?
Could retainer packages make their way into your monthly budget?
Or would you rather hire for a one-off hour when things get tough?
So you’ve heard the details.
You know that virtual assistants are a great business tool - for multiple reasons!
(Sam transformed my client's business, I don’t care if I’m biased!)
And you’ve heard our verdict on retainer packages.
Thing is, how do you go about actually finding a VA and a retainer package?
First up - if you decide to hunt a VA down through social media, you’ll notice that most of them have retainer packages on offer.
This is because they need the guaranteed work and steady payment that retainers can offer.
But packages aren’t just limited to social media.
Some VA agencies also have retainer packages.
You already know that I’ve spent far too much time picking apart packages and researching retainers myself.
So I’ve decided to compare the agencies and what their packages have to offer. You know, just to help make your decision a little bit easier...
|VA Staffer||SwitchFox||NB: Virtual Assistant|
Reviewers loved the wide range of tasks on offer that could be done for just about any type of businesses!
Reviewers loved the personal attention provided by SwitchFox.
Reviewers loved the clarity of the site and how easily they were navigated through their options - from services to spending.
One-off Hire Price Per Hour
Minimum rate - for lead generation - is ||$||14||$|| an hour.
||$||32||$|| an hour
||$||44.91||$|| an hour
Minimum retainer is ||$||250||$|| for 25 hours work - this comes to ||$||10||$|| an hour.
That’s a saving of more than ||$||3||$|| an hour!
The minimum Bronze package is ||$||307||$|| for 10 hours - that’s ||$||30.70||$|| an hour.
For the best value retainer, you can pay ||$||750||$|| for 30 hours, coming to ||$||25||$|| an hour.
You’ll be saving more than ||$||6.42||$|| an hour!
Their minimum retainer - the Bronze package - is ||$||38.49||$|| an hour.
The best value retainer - for their Gold package - is ||$||34.32||$|| per hour.
You can save up to ||$||10.59||$|| an hour!
They provide SEO support, marketing, web design and social media support.
They provide project and email management, social media assistance and content creation, design work and website design.
They specialise in secretarial and administrative duties for your business.
We get emailed, tweeted, and asked questions about virtual assistants everyday.
So I thought it best to compile the most important questions about finance and virtual assistants, and answer them!
What kind of business suits retainer packages best?
While any business can benefit from virtual assistants, retainer packages tend to suit growing businesses better.
Retainer packages can help you save, but are expensive upfront.
So, bigger businesses with bigger budgets will suit these packages more, particularly as they will require the greater amount of support on offer.
What happens to the hours of the retainer package I don’t use?
Typically these hours do not rollover to the next month or cannot be transferred within a retainer package.
Think of retainers like a back up, or emergency stash of support for your business.
That means you should always try to get your money’s worth and use up those hours!
What happens if the rate of my virtual assistant changes?
This is only a cause of concern if your virtual assistant doesn’t use an agency, and markets themselves. Agencies often stick to consistent rates.
Virtual Assistants may change it due to a higher quality service they can offer, or personal changes that require a higher income.
And if they do happen to change their rates, they will inform you of the price change with a 1 to 2 month notice period.
From there you can reconsider your budget, and calculate your next step.
And there you have it - the basics of virtual assistant finances and the reality of retainer packages.
As I always take the time to mention: virtual assistants changed my client's game.
So how can they change yours? Could retainer packages be an option for you?
You should now have all the info you need to nab yourself your perfect VA on retainer.
You can’t have Sam, though. He’s ours.