Outsourcing is a part of everyday life. We outsource work to a builder to build an extension, a cleaner to spruce up the house, or an accountant to do our tax. In doing so, a lot of people are driven by budget but we also want to ensure that we get someone who will do a quality job.
With the introduction of the internet and the plethora of technological advances, more and more Australian businesses are now outsourcing their business administration support as well. What a great idea – to free up your time spent on administrative tasks so you can spend it earning more money and growing your business!
However, in recent years there has also been an increase in the number of offshore Virtual Assistant companies employing cheap overseas workers. There are people out there advocating for this type of service who we hear talk about how cheap it is to get this support. But is it really cheaper than using a professional Virtual Assistant? Whilst the hourly rate is a lot lower than that charged by an Aussie VA, sometimes the length of time it takes to get the job completed properly can outweigh the total cost.
Partnering with a professional Virtual Assistant as opposed to a call centre employee adds value to your business. Professional VAs are also business owners and understand the importance of building relationships with their clients. By developing this relationship and having continuity and trust, your VA can be as valuable as an employee, without the ongoing expense of one. One of my clients loves the fact that I am ‘one of his team’ even though I am not his employee.
There are a lot of other benefits of using a local VA some of which include:
- Speaks/reads/writes (Australian) English therefore less possibility of communication issues
- As business owners they know and understand tax and legal requirements as well as Intellectual Property
- Ongoing support from a professional who has a vested interest in the business
- Understands the Aussie lingo
- Same time zone
- Same currency
- Cultural understanding
- Less stress and frustration for business owners.
I heard from two business owners recently who had employed the services ‘offshore’ and neither of them had a stress-free experience. One mentioned the advantage of the different time zone as he got the work done while he slept – but the reason that stood out to him was because he had to send the job back three times to get the finished product. Three times in a different time zone – so over three days from when he first received it – how stressful would that be!
Another story is from someone who decided to try an “offshore” transcription service. “Firstly, within 15 minutes of putting the job lead up on the website, I had 95 applications clogging up my inbox!! By the time I worked out how to close the ad, I ended up with 117 applicants to go through! It took me hours to sift through them all. I ended up with one that looked ok and went with her. She was cheap, she said that she was fluent in English and experienced with transcription. When I got the work back, it was full of gaps with the transcriptionist apologising saying that she had trouble with ‘the extremely broad Australian accent’. It took me another couple of hours to go through the transcription and correct all the mistakes and fill in all the gaps.” She then went on to say “I will never use another offshore transcriptionist again when I have such amazing people right here in Australia to use!!”
The Australian Virtual Assistant Association (AVAA) has a list of Australian VA Networks you can use to either find an Aussie VA or post a joblead. Another great way to find a VA is by referral – you ask people you know for referrals for certain trades whereby the recommendation outweighs the cost! So why not do the same thing to find a quality Virtual Assistant to outsource your admin to? If that Virtual Assistant can’t undertake the work for you, you’ll often find they’ll be able to refer you to another VA or an Australian VA network to meet your needs.
AVAA have created a survey asking ‘How did you find your Virtual Assistant?’ If you’ve engaged a Virtual Assistant (either local or offshore) , please take a few minutes to complete this survey. We’d love to hear your feedback – and not just from Australian businesses!
As Aussies, we are proud to be Australian and of all things Australian-made, so next time you think of outsourcing your business support needs, hire an Aussie VA and keep it local!