Success depends not only on your productivity, but also leveraging of other people, technology and systems. In this episode I go into detail explaining how I’ve effectively hired virtual assistants for Tim Francis Marketing.
Specifically you’ll learn what I’ve found to be the most effective way to do online job postings, my # 1 favorite place to find Virtual Assistants, and how to write an ad that will quickly reveal the best applicants (thus saving you a LOT of time). Listen below and scroll down for notes too.
At Tim Francis Marketing we operate on systems.
The difference between McDonalds and a Mom & Pop restaurant down the street are the systems McDonalds has in place. Why is it that a multi-billion dollar empire can be run by pubsecent kids who can’t finish their own homework? Systems. In fact, McDonalds even has a step by step system for mopping the floor.
Yes there’s such a thing as too many checklists (that become burdensome), but 99.5% of small businesses would seriously benefit from an additional 50 – 300 procedures in their business.
Systems are only successful if staff are using and following them. Because of that, one of the top characteristics I’m looking for in a virtual assistant is attention to detail.
To hire and train an assistant, you’ll be spending money and time. You have to make sure they are the right fit, so you aren’t wasting valuable hours or coin.
Jim Rohn produced a video regarding sowing and reaping in regards to people. You can view this video and my synopsis by clicking here.
The basic concept Jim Rohn points out is that people are “soil”. They will fit your need at either a 0%, 30%, 60% or 90% level. 0% is a trainwreck and 90% is a rockstar.
A 90% fit will be a person who is a “dark rich, deep soil”. It almost doesn’t matter who is investing into that person, 90% seem to always produce a fruitful harvest. They care and invest an A+ effort in most areas of their life and you’re lucky they’ll be doing the same for you.
That said, a winning, systemized business doesn’t RELY on 90% people. That’s a losing mindset.
Instead of counting on winning people, you want winning systems that are so good they can be run by fairly average people. You’re goal should be a 95%+ system run by 75%+ people (numbers approximate).
There’s a LOT of 75%+ people out there who are affordable to hire, and have a genuine interest in doing well.
You absolutely can NOT get caught up in why someone isn’t a exactly who you want them to be. Don’t waste your time trying to turn a 30% person into a 90% person. People are who they are.
Actions speak loudest, which is why I have personally adopted the following as my (Approximate) guidelines for hiring virtual assistants.
Favorite Place to Hire a Virtual Assistant
I have found the talent of applicants on this website is outstanding. Most of the applicants have previously worked professionally and have a university education. Most of them are leaving the professional field to stay home and be a mom, but still want to contribute to the family finances. But they are looking and/or need flexibility and the ability to work from home.
www.HireMyMom.com is a free website for business owners.
Writing the Ad
In writing an effective ad, I want to see the applicant’s actions speak loudly. That is why I test them and see how they respond, right from the beginning.
1) Have A Specific Headline:
Slightly-OCD, Tech-Comfortable Mom Wanted to Help Marketing Company
2) Add a Personal Touch:
Give information regarding you and your company – this gives your potential applicants something to bite into: goals, hours of the week, paint picture for what you hope will happen.
3) Request Specific Equipment:
– Reliable high-speed Internet access
– Great computer capable of handling media files
4) Request Specific Personal Characteristics:
– Detail oriented
– Deadline obsessed
– Canada or USA based
– Tech comfortable
– Average to above average english, both written or spoken
5) Request Bonus (although not required) Skills:
– basic knowledge of HTML & WordPress
6) Provide Job Details:
Explain the tasks and what you will expect from them. Include projects they will be involved in and anything that they may be needed to do.
Provide a timeline regarding when you are expecting to bring someone on, what the pay rate will be and the number of hours a week they will be needed.
7) Possibly Give a Disclaimer:
Out of respect for your time and the applicant’s time, add a disclaimer regarding what you do not want and the type of person that would not fit your company. This may make you sound like a jerk, but it will save you time, money and headache in the long run.
IMPORTANT: Give Them Application Instructions – BE SPECIFIC:
Create a custom email address so you don’t get distracted looking at applications as they roll in.
This is possibly the MOST EFFECTIVE tip for hiring virtual assistants – request a specific subject line: “Slightly OCD Mom from (insert your city / town) interested in Marketing Job”. If the applicant can’t nail this one simple step, don’t even open their email. Remember – attention to detail is of paramount importance.
By screening applicants just on their subject line, you’ll sort through all applications as quickly as possible.
Also ask them to send you a specific email. Tell them the first paragraph should be in blue, size-12, courier font. And the second paragraph should be in red, size-14, Arial font.
Perhaps this sounds ridiculous, but I’ve had outstanding success in using this strategy.
Hi my name is Tim Francis, and I own a Marketing company in Canada. I help small businesses generate more leads and sales in their (usually) brick-and-mortar businesses. Things are going well, so I’m looking for someone to help me.
Currently I only have part-time freelancers helping me. I’m still too small to have full-time staff or full-time contractors.
I am looking to expand in a slow-but-steady kind of way. This job averages only 5 hours per week to begin with. Some weeks might be more, some less, but average is 5 hours per week.
If things go well between us, and you’re interested, the opportunity may exist to increase to more hours per week/month. Obviously I’d like to grow alongside the winning applicant (you?) to offer as much employment as you’d like, although we need to walk before we can run. If you prefer to stay part-time all along, that’s fine too. You’ll see that I’ve got a business “machine” being built so plugging in more people will be relatively easy once we’ve got a proven model.
The winning applicant (possibly you?) must absolutely have the following equipment:
– reliable high-speed Internet access
– fairly strong computer capable of handling media files (probably a Mac that’s 4 years old or newer, although non-crashing new PC could do too)
The winning applicant (possibly you?) must absolutely have the following characteristics:
– very detail-oriented
– Canada or USA-based
– average to above-average English, both written and spoken
Bonus (although not required) skills include:
– basic knowledge of HTML such as: embed images, embed audio players, embed youtube videos, hyperlink text, basic text formatting such as bold, underline, italics, paragraph breaks, h1, h2, h3, etc.
For our company to grow, everything must run on checklists / working procedures. You will be expected to:
– follow step-by-step procedures that already exist (follow them *exactly*)
– make suggestions to me on how to improve checklists (when you see legitimate
improvement opportunities – I may say yes or no)
– possibly create step-by-step checklists for other staff to follow
Projects you’ll be involved in include:
– publishing webinar videos to our members-only area of our website
– publish Podcast episodes to iTunes
– format & publish blog posts to my website
– sending out email reminders to our Meetup.com members (I’ll write copy, you send)
At this time, other possible tasks I foresee could include:
– occasionally format & publish videos to YouTube
– calling (at my cost, via Skype) members of my marketing club to remind them of upcoming events
– this position will be filled as soon as I find a qualified applicant; next few weeks would be nice, although I’m not going to rush the process. I need the right person in this position
– 30-day trial to begin; if we like each other we’ll continue after that
– first month (paid) at $15/hr
– each week may fluctuate somewhat, but average of 5 hours per week
NOTE: I know I’m going to sound like a jerk for saying this, but I really respect both you and I’s time, so I’ll say this bluntly: if you dislike rules, checklists, guidelines, and/or pride yourself in being a “free spirit”, anti-authority, counter-culture, wildly creative, or super-alternative, this job is not for you. I’m looking for someone who will work within the current business “machine” I’ve built, and is eager to help me make it bigger, stronger, faster by embracing the checklist mindset. Following checklists is imperative. For the sake of your time and mine, do not apply if you feel bogged down by checklists. Thank-you.
If you’re interested…
In the subject line please write:
“Slightly-OCD Mom from (insert your city / town) interested in Marketing Job”
In the body, please write me a 14-sentence email including:
• Three sentence opening salutation that says: “Hey there TF, what’s happening up in Canada? My name is _____, I’m slightly-OCD, am comfortable with technology, and love checklists. I’d like to apply for the job you posted on HireMyMom.com”
• Reason #1 why you think this job is a fit for you. (black font, Courier, 3
• Reason #2 why you think this job is a fit for you (blue font, Verdana, 3 sentences)
• Reason #3 why you think this job is a fit for you (red font, Courier, 3 sentences)
• Two sentence closing including: the name of three blog posts you saw on my website, and a closing salutation including your name, email address, and phone number.
• Note: Please do NOT attach a resume; if you are shortlisted I may ask for one later.
I know the *right* applicant will really like this job. Maybe it’s you!
– – –
Let Their Actions Speak Loudest
Yes, you are asking for them to jump through a lot of hoops, but when they follow all that you’ve requested, they’re proving they’re a fit (or not) really quickly, which is a big time-saver for both you and them.
Onwards & Upwards,