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"Reduce Your Costs and Increase Your Bottom Line—Virtually!"


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Gayle Buske Photo
6/1/07 Interview with Gayle Buske

Team Double-Click
W10530 Airport Road
Lodi, WI 53555
Biography

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The Basics on Virtual Assistants

  1. A virtual assistant or "VA" is an administrative assistant who works remotely from his or her home to accomplish the kind of work traditionally done by an in-office assistant; VAs are generally paid on an hourly basis.
  2. Real estate VAs are more versed in what goes on in the real estate industry, including the lingo and the day-to-day work of an agent; a real estate VA is capable of coordinating appointments and managing transactions.
  3. Agents should consider delegating administrative tasks that take time away from being in the field; typical VA tasks are making phone calls, sending just-listed and just-sold cards, and answering email inquiries.
  4. The limitation falls with work that requires a license-most real estate VAs are not licensed because of the challenge of meeting requirements in multiple states.
Why Agents Should Use a VA

  1. Top-producing agents concentrate their time on the productive activities that generate revenue; less successful agents often get bogged down in administrative follow-up; delegating the routine tasks to a VA is a solution.
  2. If they hope to grow, agents need to give up the idea that only they can adequately look after the details of their business; holding onto a comfortable routine can be a way for agents to avoid putting themselves on the line for new business-they need to push themselves out of their comfort zone.
  3. VAs specialize in detail and are likely to do a better job than agents themselves; because VAs tap into best practices of other clients, they can be a source of ideas for doing new things or doing old things better.
How to Get Started

  1. Start slowly by sending the VA the tasks you feel most comfortable giving up; gradually expand tasks so that both of you have a chance to adjust.
  2. It is a mistake to relinquish too much at the outset because that overwhelms the VA and makes mistakes more likely; seeing initial mistakes tends to confirm an agent's reluctance to trust someone else.
The Advantage of Dealing with an Agency

  1. If a VA decides to stop working for an agent, the transition to someone new is much easier when an agency quickly and smoothly finds a replacement; Team Double-Click has a pool of more that 18,000 VAs.
  2. Team Double-Click tries hard to retain its VAs by offering them regular coaching support and mentorship programs; coffee chats are held to help with the isolation factor of working at home; still there is some turnover -sometimes because a happy client buys out a VA's contract.
  3. The agency pairs US clients with US-based VAs; about 90% of the Team Double-Click pool is in the US.
Strategies for Sending Gifts

  1. Sending gifts is a personal gesture that agents can use to impress clients; a VA can be assigned to physically pick out appropriate gifts, wrappings, etc. for the agent's approval and then follow through on getting them sent.
  2. Another approach is to have the VA utilize online resources, such as Ghiradelli Chocolate and other vendors (wine merchants, florists) that will supply gift baskets and packages for any occasion; Buske sends flowers for occasional blunders.
Satisfaction with VAs

  1. A recent response from a client whose goal was to have more family time was "Thanks for giving me my life back;" the client commented that he had not lost any income by employing a VA.
  2. Many clients find that VAs accomplish the work assigned to them in much less time than the agents spent doing the same thing; clients save their time and pay for many fewer hours than they expected.
How to Find a VA

  1. If hiring on your own, look for someone with integrity, experience and the right skills for your work; Buske suggests having more than one interview with a person to test whether responses are consistent.
  2. Bring the VA on as an independent contractor not an employee; have a confidentiality agreement as protection when the VA leaves; a contract should spell out the relationship, including pay rate and term.
  3. An agency will do the preliminary work for you; Team Double-Click screens with skills tests, work-personality assessments and three interviews (interviewers must be unanimous about hiring); you contact the agency to request the kind of VA you need, and the agency assigns a match.
  4. You have direct contact with the agency VA however often it is necessary to delegate tasks.
Web Resources for Virtual Outsourcing

  1. Buske's company site offers content about hiring and using VAs and also provides virtual staffing consultants to help you.
  2. RingCentral.com is a virtual alternative to a traditional switchboard; it operates as though you were using an in-office phone system.
  3. Packetel.com and eFax.com are good online fax services to use in combination; eFax is great for outbound, but Packatel is much cheaper for inbound (and does inbound only).
Trend in Virtual Outsourcing

Virtual outsourcing is becoming more mainstream; in 5-10 years, the majority of small businesses, especially real estate agents, will rely on VAs. Contact Information for Gayle Buske:

(v) 888.827.9129
(f) 262.364.3022
(e) gaylebuske@teamdoubleclick.com
(w)www.teamdoubleclick.com


Real Estate Sites & Tools in this Briefing:

Team Double-ClickSM: www.teamdoubleclick.com
Ghiradelli Chocolate: www.ghiradelli.com
RingCentral: www.ringcentral.com
e-Fax services: www.Packetel.com www.eFax.com