When you’ve indulged in aspirational dreams about your real estate career, you may have envisioned yourself as the head of an office full of sharply dressed agents and their streamlined, uber-efficient assistants. Most agents probably don’t daydream about hiring a virtual assistant to help them manage their business, but even if a virtual assistant isn’t part of the vision in your head, hiring one can be an excellent way to get a few low-hanging tasks off your plate without completely breaking the bank.
But when is it worth it to hire a virtual assistant? Are you ever better off skipping the virtual step and going straight to hiring an assistant who can work with you side-by-side and learn your business backward and forward? Here’s what you need to think about before you decide to hire a virtual assistant.
What do I need to be done?
Virtual assistants are going to be much more effective and efficient at handling some tasks than others. And it’s quite possible that you might not need a human assistant at all for some of the things you’re trying to delegate in your business — for example, if scheduling is a big headache for you and you’re constantly forgetting to put things on the calendar, there are plenty of digital assistants (like chatbots) that will handle scheduling new appointments for you, even emailing the recipients of your calendar invitation as if the email is sent from an actual assistant. The company x.ai is providing this service now with “assistants” named Amy and Andrew who can schedule appointments for you.
On the other hand, if what you really need is someone to help show your buyer clients twenty new homes this weekend or someone to host an open house for you, then a virtual assistant or even a real live unlicensed assistant won’t work — you need a full-blown licensed real estate assistant for those tasks.
Consider the different things on your plate that you would, ideally, like to delegate, and then prioritize them according to what you really want to stop doing first. If the items at the top of your delegation list are all (or almost all) marketing, database management, or other administrative tasks, it’s very possible that a virtual assistant would be a good first step toward building your real estate empire.
An assistant or a product?
Another option besides hiring a virtual assistant is to subscribe to a service or a product that will complete your task for you — for example, a marketing automation business that promises to fill your blog post with content and your social media feed with engaging posts, or a gift-giving system that will send out your post-close gifts to buyers and sellers without you having to do anything.
The question you have to ask yourself is whether you want to piecemeal together several different products and services to accomplish what you want to be done, or whether it would be more efficient and affordable to have one person handling all of those things for you instead.
How far away should your virtual assistant be?
Just like the internet has made it possible to hire virtual assistants in general, it’s also made it possible for those virtual assistants to be located literally anywhere on the planet — including on the other side of the globe from you. In many cases, this can be a best-case scenario. Outsourced work from overseas can get a poor reputation, but the truth is that there are a ton of highly qualified, very talented virtual assistants who have extensive real estate experience and who happen to be living in another country. If you don’t actually need someone who understands the nuances of your local market, then this can be a good consideration for you.
However, many agents truly do require a virtual assistant who has at least a rudimentary understanding of the geography and market where they are operating. If this is the case, then you’ll want to look closer to home (and potentially pay a little bit more) for your assistant’s help.
What can you give your virtual assistant to do?
In most cases, your virtual assistant is going to be most helpful in removing all of the tedious little things that, when accumulated together, take up hours and hours of your day that would better be spent working with clients. For many agents, these tasks include:
Scheduling an appointment help
Social media posting
Marketing assistance: Writing and publishing blog posts
Creating marketing materials
Produce slide presentations
Update your CRM or customer database
Mail fliers or other items to your sphere
Respond to certain emails
You can hire your virtual assistant on either an ongoing regular basis, contracting with them for a certain number of hours every week and feeding them work accordingly, or you can consider hiring a virtual assistant on a project-by-project basis. This might be especially beneficial for agents who need help with creating marketing materials or slide presentations for buyers or sellers — once a virtual assistant has put in the work to create a template, that may be all you need. Or perhaps you want to post some evergreen content on your blog for a year or so and see how it goes; in that case, a virtual assistant might be a good way for you to experiment with blogging and marketing without taking too much time away from your core business.
Some virtual assistants are also qualified to be inside sales associates (ISAs); these types of assistants can help you with responding to leads quickly and efficiently. Be careful about assigning a virtual assistant any duties that an ISA or a licensed assistant would ordinarily tackle, though; not every virtual assistant will be qualified to do everything that an ISA or license assistant could do unless they are also equivalently qualified.
Hiring a virtual assistant can be an excellent way for a real estate agent to start scaling and growing their business intelligently. As your virtual assistant is able to take different tasks off your plate and allow you to focus more on clients, you may find that your business grows and you have a need for another type of assistant.