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Guest Jeanette B

Getting Prospective Clients to Understand a Multi-VA Company

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Guest Jeanette B

I've had a multi-va company for almost 7 years now and it has worked out well. I am now in the position (after erroneously working with only 1 client for the past 2 years and having to dissolve that partnership) of explaining to prospective clients exactly how a Multi-VA company works and the benefits. They don't seem to understand that in most instances they will have communication with 1 person - either myself or one of my project managers - and that my existing team will be working in the background, so to speak.

 

Does anyone have any pointers on how to make this model more understandable so prospective clients actually get it?

 

If it weren't for the fact that my team has been so great these past few years and have shown their loyalty to me, I might just go back to being a single VA business. :(

 

Thanks in advance for any advice!

Jeanette

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Jeanette,

 

I work with a couple multi - va firms and I also have some VAs working with me, so have had experience on both ends. The multi VA firms I work for, I do deal directly with their clients. The same way happens when I take on clients who will be using one of my sub-VA's services. They speak directly with the client - It all goes thru my basecamp so I view everything happening the work/tasks/communication and manage it that way. Except in the case of a new VA I have who is learning - then I deal directly with the client and assign work to the VA (there is a learning curve happening now) they do not speak and I am the face of the work/tasks/accountability to the client in those cases.

 

 

Having it all go thru me (or you) actually takes more time to manage and makes it hard to get your firm making money since you spend lots of time assigning, sending notes, getting completion back and notifying the client - in addition to the time your are paying the sub VA.

 

I also have a good trust relationship with the VAs I work with and do not ever feel they would 'take' my clients.

 

Not sure if what I am doing is good or bad, right or wrong - I just feel if the client knew of the other VA then they may wonder why can't I speak to them? Which is why your clients are probably wondering why they cannot speak to the person doing the work.


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Jeanette,

 

I don't have a multi-VA business but I do work with a number of them. For 99% of the work I do, I do have contact with the clients. I email them, call them or have contact with them via a system like Basecamp. I do, however, keep the multi-VA owner and/or the PM in the loop at all times so that everyone knows what's going on with various projects.

 

If the clients know that you're a team, I'm sure that they understand your team has their own businesses along with being team members.

 

Hope that helps a bit.


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Jeanette,

 

I don't have a multi-VA business but I do work with a number of them. For 99% of the work I do, I do have contact with the clients. I email them, call them or have contact with them via a system like Basecamp. I do, however, keep the multi-VA owner and/or the PM in the loop at all times so that everyone knows what's going on with various projects.

 

If the clients know that you're a team, I'm sure that they understand your team has their own businesses along with being team members.

 

Hope that helps a bit.

 

Maybe you are offering the clients too much information. A client wants to know the person they work with is part of your team. I doubt if the clients really want to know much more than that. It doesn't have to be secret. But, I can't see where the off-team practices have a place in conversation. I don't talk to clients about other clients, even. When we are corresponding, they need to see that their stuff has some level of priority. I might use reference to clients when I'm trying to fend off a request to be a volunteer VA to reinforce that I am a business, not just an informed neighbor.

 

I would suggest doing everything you can to make each client feel like an 'only client'. Maybe asking the team member who has contact with a client to use an email reflecting YOUR practice. That makes them part of the team. Then, if they have their own practice, they can correspond with clients with other emails.

 

Edited: a re-read indicates that you aren't having an issue with the individual side practices of your team. But, again, I would go in using the WE terminology and carry on with your history/reputation that you are a team. And not answer questions from clients that aren't asked. TMI can really distract them.

Edited by VA-Judy6

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Guest Jeanette B

Thanks for the input everyone. I realize that maybe the model I've been using for my practice isn't the right one after reading what you wrote here, and then some other info I have. Right now, everyone on my team is actually ON my team - they don't have their own businesses. I was using the Project Manager position as a one-point-of-contact so clients WOULDN'T have to keep up with a separate VA for each project or task. Clients I've worked with in the past have wanted 1 person to deal with, and then it was up to that person to dole out the individual tasks to the best qualified team member and follow-up. If it was necessary, the clients could connect with anyone on the team so things didn't get lost in translation.

 

So, now I'm wondering if that's the wrong model to use, and if I need to reword things on my website, etc. I do use WE in a lot of my copy, especially since I don't like being referred to as "the boss" or make it seem like my company is all about me. :P

 

My initial reason for posting was to see if anyone had a better way than maybe I've been doing to explain the benefits of working with a multi-va company. So far the main comment I've gotten from prospective clients is they don't feel they need an entire team.

 

Jeanette

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Jeannette, do these potential clients think they can get a better price if they don't hire a team? Otherwise, why would they care? It seems like the problem might not lie with your business, but with some opportunist clients who are looking for an excuse to get lower rates.

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We did it both ways - early days we had one VA working on perhaps 2-3 clients work and when they went on holiday they had to handover masses of notes, lists of instructions and it almost always went badly wrong. Because let's say there are 3 of you and you all work one-on-one with 3 clients. When one of you goes on holiday three clients get their workload split between two people who are unfamiliar with the work and who already have their hands full with their own clients.

 

Next scenario is more a day-to-day thing - it's what happens if one of your clients has bucketloads of work and you get overwhelmed? The other two clients get their work pushed further and further back... What happens if that VA is on the phone when you call for an update? Or what happens if they don't have the skills you need?

 

So I tell clients what our experience of having clients work exclusively one-on-one with an assistant was. It wasn't a good thing. What the clients seem to enjoy is having one person who knows what they like, who can be one point of contact, who ensures that all the work is up to the required standard. I'd push this aspect of it.

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I have had some issues with having a Team as well. I always let clients know they are not just hiring me, but I have a Team to help me. This has been a Godsend with my husband's recent cancer diagnosis - if I need to be gone, work continues. ;)

 

However, the biggest issue I have encountered with the Team concept is that because I'm the owner of the company, and phone rings into my home office - I am the one clients (and potential clients) speak to first. It's my knowledge and expertise and "people skills" that get them on as clients. That's not a bad thing - but I've had a couple clients that got upset when someone else on the Team started handling their work. They apparently wanted, or assumed, that even though I have a Team - it would be me doing all the work. :blink:

 

So communication - and reminding clients of previous communication - is absolutely essential.

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Traci - just a tip... ringcentral.com - If you call my office line, you'll hear options to go to the directory. That will take you to the team listing and their extension numbers (which they use in emails and other correspondence) and it rings through to whatever number they have set up (or takes a message)

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