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elastigirl

Cheap outsourced VA businesses

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Hi there,

 

I'm in the process of setting up a multi-va business catering mainly for online business owners. I'm at the very early set up stage, setting up packages, rates etc.. I was just wondering for those of you particurarly with multi-va businesses how you are finding new " cheap" VA services affecting your business. What I mean is services like asksunday.com and bpovia.com where you can sign up for packages as low as $10 an hour they are all based in places like India and China but targeting western businesses. Has this had an effect on you? and how do you handle it ?

 

tks

 

 

 

Edited by elastigirl

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Here's my story:

 

One of my former clients (who has since moved into a partnership with two other people & have a full time office staff) used one of the services you mentioned (I won't name which one). They didn't comprehend that there were certain ways you had to do things here.

 

He's local to me, I met him at a networking event, and he had just had a really bad experience with them, and he spent most of the time talking to me about his issues. He told me how much he paid for what he got and I thought, at the time, there's no way to compete with that. Monetarily - if someone's watching the bottom line - you can't. But how you can compete is through SERVICE.

 

Skip ahead 3-4 weeks, I get a frantic call from him (he was not my client at the time). He's flying from Michigan to California to meet with several people. He's a real estate investment advisor, so he meets with people with M.O.N.E.Y. and its very important that things go a certain way.

 

This overseas VA company had done the following:

 

1. Only allowed him one hour between appointments, in other words: Appointment with Mr. Smith at 10:00 a.m.; appointment with Mr. Jones at 11:00 a.m. And the problem is: Smith and Jones' offices were an hour apart! Leaving no time for travel!!

 

2. Had scheduled his last meeting almost 2 hours away from the airport, an hour before his flight was to take off.

 

3. And that last meeting was with people that had major M.O.N.E.Y.

 

Client called me from the airport in Phoenix, clearly distressed. Now remember - he had only met me once. We had talked for about 30-40 minutes, tops, and had exchanged emails a couple of times after that. We had no client-VA relationship at all, hadn't even talked about it, really. He called me because he was trying to start his company on his own, watch his money, and had no support. He had my business card in his pocket from meeting me weeks previous.

 

So I asked that he fax me all of his paperwork - itinerary, phone numbers, anything he had and I told him I'd do what I could to straighten things out.

 

Already long story short: I got all of his meetings fixed & organized the way they need to be. Got him on another flight (which ended up being direct, rather than 2 stops), so he got back home earlier.

 

And I did not charge him for this. He did send me a really wonderful gift basket from Ghiradelli chocolate, and he refers anyone and everyone to me that he meets that could use a VA.

 

We ended up working together for about 6 months until his company was merged with another, and they put an office staff in place. I still see him (and his partners) at functions, and he introduces me as his "Life Saver".

 

So - no, you can't compete with the cheap prices, but you CAN compete with the service.

 

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Dana, great story and a perfect illustration of the potential pitfalls when hiring an overseas VA company.

 

It sounds as if you most definitely went above and beyond and gained a valuable supporter, nicely done! :thumbup:

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Excellent story, Dana, thanks for that!

 

I've been concerned about those "VA" places too, thinking, "How the heck would I ever be able to compete with $xx/hr??" But Dana is right, you compete with service and what YOU offer. There are more people than not who engage that type of service for their assistance needs and walk away after a few weeks or months having learned that you really do get what you pay for in those situations.

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Excellent case study Dana!

 

It is Dana and Tawnya and everyone else. Very well written and it highlights a very important concept 'Service'. We must remember to continually value 'service' whether we receive it or provide it. :angel_not:

 

Michele

 

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Dana -thank you so much for adding your experience here. I am getting my VA business off the ground after subcontracting for years. Thank you for opening my eyes to a much better angle on this situation! And "way to go" on how it turned out!

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It's just not the same service - a bit like comparing a cordon bleu meal to mcdonalds - sure they are both food, but they certainly aren't the same thing.

 

Using offshore VAs you really have to break tasks down into simple steps and then micromanage them. The amount of time that takes, I might as well do it myself. They are great at really simple, repetitive brain numbing stuff. And VAs can probably use them for those sorts of tasks to save their clients money whilst charging for their own time in managing the task.

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Hi Caroline,

 

I'm one of the "offshore VAs", being from the Philippines. I hope that you wouldn't generalize too much coz there are also a number of us who need not be "micromanaged" nor be limited to "repetitive, simple brain numbing" stuff. I do have to agree, though, that there are those who have the audacity to call themselves VAs when they cannot even write coherent sentences (referring to article writers/spinners, who have elevated themselves to VAs).

 

To address the concern of elastigirl, I don't think we, offshore people, can even make a dent to supply the demand that's going around for VAs, especially since we cannot actually take in more than 4 clients at a time, at least as far as I'm concerned. And of course, it's a no-brainer that we, as responsible VAs, should not even be taking projects that we have no competency for. With Dana's example, I think the client should have also considered the fact that a VA from India or China would have very little knowledge of US geography (add to that the lack of imagination)to realize that travel time from one place to another takes more than 5 minutes. Plus, maybe since there were phone calls involved, it could have been easy for a heavily accented Asian to be misunderstood.

 

Just this morning, I received an email from a potential client regarding his interest to get me on board as a writer for his blog, and to search for county records in Atlanta, Georgia. Had to say no, coz I simply had no idea where I'd start searching for cash purchase records in Atlanta, online.

 

So anyways, maybe we can also offer sit-down, 5-course dinners to hungry business owners. Even from offshore, it doesn't always have to be fastfood fare.

 

Best regards.

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Hi Caroline,

 

I'm one of the "offshore VAs", being from the Philippines. I hope that you wouldn't generalize too much coz there are also a number of us who need not be "micromanaged" nor be limited to "repetitive, simple brain numbing" stuff. I do have to agree, though, that there are those who have the audacity to call themselves VAs when they cannot even write coherent sentences (referring to article writers/spinners, who have elevated themselves to VAs).

 

To address the concern of elastigirl, I don't think we, offshore people, can even make a dent to supply the demand that's going around for VAs, especially since we cannot actually take in more than 4 clients at a time, at least as far as I'm concerned. And of course, it's a no-brainer that we, as responsible VAs, should not even be taking projects that we have no competency for. With Dana's example, I think the client should have also considered the fact that a VA from India or China would have very little knowledge of US geography (add to that the lack of imagination)to realize that travel time from one place to another takes more than 5 minutes. Plus, maybe since there were phone calls involved, it could have been easy for a heavily accented Asian to be misunderstood.

 

Just this morning, I received an email from a potential client regarding his interest to get me on board as a writer for his blog, and to search for county records in Atlanta, Georgia. Had to say no, coz I simply had no idea where I'd start searching for cash purchase records in Atlanta, online.

 

So anyways, maybe we can also offer sit-down, 5-course dinners to hungry business owners. Even from offshore, it doesn't always have to be fastfood fare.

 

Best regards.

Sorry if I offended - there is indeed a world of difference between someone offering a quality service and someone hashing something together to make a quick buck. I guess I'm an offshore VA too since I'm in the UK!!

 

The term "offshore VAs" does seem to typify low-cost, non-skilled assistants - possibly but not always in a company-type arrangement.

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Well said, Candy. Let's just get to work and worry about something different. IMO, virtual assistance is french for outsourcing no matter where you are on located on the planet.

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With Dana's example, I think the client should have also considered the fact that a VA from India or China would have very little knowledge of US geography (add to that the lack of imagination)to realize that travel time from one place to another takes more than 5 minutes. Plus, maybe since there were phone calls involved, it could have been easy for a heavily accented Asian to be misunderstood.

Because I didn't want to make my story longer than it was, I edited, but let me clarify:

 

1. When he asked the VA company if they could do this, they assured him that yes, they could. When he asked if they could use Mapquest, or a similar mapping function to organize the meetings and so forth, they said yes.

 

2. He requested that only one person work on the project. They ignored his request and gave it to at least 3 people who weren't even in the same building.

 

3. He requested that the VA they furnish be lightly accented, which they ASSURED him they would do (and is written into his contract)

 

4. When he asked that they take care of rearranging the mistakes they made, they said they could for a "premium fee", which was not covered anywhere in the contract, the website or any marketing materials. He asked what that fee was, and they said, "$500, American" (to me, seemed unprofessional).

 

5. When he paid the invoice, they very kindly said Thank You, and still, to this day, continue to solicit him for more business even though he's requested many times to remove his name from their contact list.

 

 

That being said, ethical offshore VA companies, which I've been in contact with on occasion recently, provide excellent service. My main problem is the almost VA warehouses that seem to be popping up - where they have banks and banks of people working on computers and phones in a big room, like telemarketers. There's no one-on-one, there's no personal interaction in that system. THAT's what makes a VA a VA - the personal relationship with the client.

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Sorry if I offended - there is indeed a world of difference between someone offering a quality service and someone hashing something together to make a quick buck. I guess I'm an offshore VA too since I'm in the UK!!

 

The term "offshore VAs" does seem to typify low-cost, non-skilled assistants - possibly but not always in a company-type arrangement.

 

Thanks for clarifying, Caroline. And I'm sorry, too, if I came on a bit too strong, reacting to your post. I guess I'm just as frustrated as you about the reality of this topic.

 

There are very few of us here in the Philippines who have direct clients. The majority of work-at-home professionals are also employed by big companies from the US, Canada and UK. So it goes without saying that they are getting paid a lot less than what is actually being charged to the client. Plus the fact that with currency conversion, the employer can really get services at a bargain. Imagine your US$1.00 being converted to Php46.00. We really need to factor in economics also.

 

So anyway, I hope I have not also offended others here. I'm really, really, really praying that I can raise money for the convention next year. It will be awesome to get together with you guys. We have lots of experiences (and maybe heartaches) to share.

 

Marge

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