You knew what you were getting into when you started as a real estate agent: Always answering the phone, working nights and weekends—whatever it took to grow your business.
And now, you’re there: Doubling or even tripling the amount of transactions per month compared to just a few years ago.
But success is now starting to catch up to you. Despite everyone having the same 24 hours in a day, you feel like there’s just not enough time to get everything done.
If that’s what you’re experiencing, it might be time to bring in some outside help with a virtual assistant.
What do you need to know about virtual assistants? How can they help you grow your real estate business? And how do you decide if they’re right for you?
What exactly is a VA?
A virtual assistant (VA) is an independent worker who cares for tasks remotely to provide technical, developmental, or creative assistance. They may be independent freelancers or part of an agency that is hired to provide a flexible workforce.
VAs typically work with other small businesses to help take some of the workload off their plate. They especially shine at caring for repetitive, recurring, or administrative tasks that often take up a lot of a business owner’s time.
A major draw for teaming up with a VA instead of hiring an employee is their flexibility. Anyone running a successful small business knows that the workload can ebb and flow depending on the week.
That’s where a VA can shine: Bring them on for 40 hours one week, and then only 20 hours the next. Because they’re an outside contractor, they don’t require a set number of hours per week as employees often do. Rather, they can adapt to your business needs for a given period of time.
Their contractor status leads to another huge financial benefit for businesses: Since you’re simply contracting out work instead of hiring an employee, no insurance costs or employee-related taxes need to be paid.
Combine this with not having to provide extra office space or equipment as you would with an in-house employee, and the benefits of having a VA become too good to pass up for many small businesses.
What should you look for in a VA?
Not all VAs are equal. Some have general abilities and training, while others are highly-educated, vetted individuals who provide expert assistance in a specific industry. Not surprisingly, those with superior training and abilities will command a higher price.
What qualities and abilities you need from a real estate VA really depends on what tasks you need to outsource.
For example, you might need administrative help or other simple, repetitive tasks cared for. These can be assigned to a more generalist VA with some knowledge of your business.
However, you might need to hand off far-weightier aspects of your business to someone else. That’s when you’ll want a dedicated real estate VA: Someone who can handle the entire spectrum of responsibilities involved with running a successful business.
Want to know what you’ll need from a VA? Let’s examine some common tasks assigned to them to get a clearer picture of what’s possible.
What real estate tasks can go to a VA?
As we just learned, some tasks are more general while others require a more in-depth knowledge of the real estate industry.
We’ll start with the broader tasks and then work our way towards others that demand a greater degree of real estate expertise.
Even though these are much more standard tasks that are commonly cared for by a personal assistant or secretary, don’t think they’re less important. Your business would quickly grind to a halt if admin tasks aren’t cared for regularly and promptly.
Many VAs can lighten your load by simply allowing you to stop doing these time consuming admin tasks. Offloading these simple duties will allow you to focus on matters that will have a greater impact on the growth of your business.
Common admin responsibilities for VAs are:
- Receptionist duties, such as answering phone calls or caring for correspondence
- Managing and prioritizing your calendar/scheduling your appointments
- Recording and cataloging details from meetings
- Managing your email inbox
- Following up/managing client inquiries
- Managing contacts
In order to stay on top of deadlines, keep projects moving, and coordinate your schedule with others, you’ll need a VA that knows more than just a thing or two about the real estate market.
A VA that handles operations effectively can be your secret weapon behind-the-scenes, letting you focus on matters that only you can handle. Best of all, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that these important matters are being handled by a capable professional instead of waiting for you back at the office.
Operations tasks that a VA can handle include:
- Document management
- Scheduling showings, services, etc.
- Recruiting and onboarding new agents
- Data entry and management (MLS, CRM, etc.)
- Client follow-up
- Listing preparations, updates, etc.
Here’s where you might start to feel nervous. Because sales directly impact revenue, you might adopt the ‘If you want something done right, do it yourself’ attitude and avoid delegating aspects of the sales process.
However, there are still a lot of tedious, time-consuming tasks that you can hand off to a capable VA who’s knowledgeable in real estate. Doing so can supercharge your sales process, giving you more time and energy to care for clients and focus on growth.
Here are some of the best sales tasks for a VA to care for:
- Sales and performance report preparation
- Updating your CRM with lead information
- Researching and pursuing new buyer and seller leads
- Nurturing existing leads
- Monitoring real estate trends
- Preparing seller performance updates
Staying on top of your marketing efforts is a constant battle. Your business has to continuously handle a wide variety of marketing tasks to attract clients, promote your brand, and highlight your value.
Fortunately, assisting with marketing is exactly where a skilled, experienced real estate VA can really shine.
A real estate VA can help with these marketing tasks:
- Plan, research and strategize content ideas
- Schedule blog posts
- Update content on your website
- Assist with graphic design for digital and print media
- Oversee your social media – including creating and updating posts
- Schedule emails
- Manage website SEO
- Create presentations and packets for clients
How do you decide which tasks should go to a VA?
As you can see, a virtual assistant is capable of handling more than just sending an email or posting on your social media account. But don’t assume that you can pass off everything listed above, unless you’re ready to hire four or five VAs.
Your task priorities need to be set. It’s good to start with the end result you desire and work your way back.
Ask yourself these important questions:
- What tasks take the most time?
- What do I struggle with the most?
- What outcome am I looking for?
Once you know the answers to these questions, you’ll be able to make a confident decision regarding what you’ll want to have a VA oversee.
How can you prepare for onboarding a VA?
Here’s where you’ll first need to invest a portion of time to make sure everything is in place so your VA can hit the ground running.
- Are there clear systems and processes in place for your VA? Or will they have to figure out how you run your business on their own?
- Have you clearly outlined responsibilities and expectations? Is there an agreement written that documents these for both parties?
- Are the resources that they will need organized and ready for them?
Take a moment to put yourself in their shoes to understand what will make their initial efforts more successful. Thinking about what you would want to know and have available if you were to be your assistant can avoid stress and make things easier for everyone.
What will you need from a VA?
Taking what you learned from the section above, it’s time to establish what you will require from your VA.
Level of experience
As we learned from establishing all of the tasks a VA can care for, there is a huge range of duties they can help with. Some require more skill and knowledge than others.
For example, simple admin tasks might not even require real estate specific training. Handling phone calls, managing a calendar, and detailing meetings can be handled by a generalist VA.
Contrast that with the insight needed to help with marketing, such as successfully strategizing content and assisting with the design of your mailers or website. You will definitely want someone with a greater degree of real estate experience to help with these higher-level tasks.
If greater ability is needed, it’s best to start with a single project to make sure they’re a good fit and that they’re able to meet your expectations. From there, you can either choose to regularly have them help out, or you can keep looking for a better match.
Scope of work
How do you know what sort of a commitment you’ll need from them? Pay attention to how much time it takes to care for the tasks you want help with over a period of a few weeks. Doing so will help you know the amount of commitment you’ll need from a VA.
The nature of the work will also affect the scope. For example, admin or operations can be much more constant than sales or marketing, which can be influenced by what season you’re in.
Depending on what you decide for the scope of work, you’ll know how to approach the amount of time you need from your VA. The last thing you want is to take them on full-time, only to struggle with finding tasks to keep them busy.
So start with either part-time or project-based help. From there, you’ll either know that less is best, or you’ll realize you can’t live without having someone else handle these tasks.
What are the best VA resources?
By now you can see there is no one-size-fits-all VA; rather, different tasks require different levels of skill and experience. Different resources will give you access to different skill levels.
As we did earlier, we’ll start with a broader approach and work our way down to the sources for specialist VAs.
These two sources of freelance help will let you examine each candidate's skills, experience, and knowledge. They can be great sources of affordable, generalist VA help, with thousands of candidates available at a moment’s notice.
If you’re looking for a VA that has received a bit more vetting, then Virtudesk is what you’ll want to explore. Their support staff makes sure you find the right fit by matching agents with someone that’s pre-qualified to fully meet your needs.
You might want to directly find someone that’s a real estate specialist. If that’s the case, then look no further than ClearDesk to find hand-picked VAs who know exactly how to help your business. They are ready to help with marketing, sales, or anything else you might need.
For expert-level assistance and support, MyOutDesk will deliver a VA who’s fully trained to handle any real estate task. But as is always the case, expert help is not cheap. So be sure you're ready to invest in a highly-specialized virtual assistant.
Virtual assistants can handle a wide variety of tasks, from entry-level to expert.
However, you need to make sure you know what your business needs are. You also need to have the systems in place before you onboard for a VA to truly give you an advantage. Doing so will let you focus time and energy on providing your clients with an experience that exceeds their expectations.