Virtual Assistant Hopefuls – Listen Up

A note from a reader a couple of weeks ago pointed out that we didn’t have a blog or page about TeamDoubleClick ®, the largest home-based virtual assistant company in the country. I said to myself, “no, that can’t be.” Well, it turns out that it can be. While we covered them in our book, Undress For Success, and have come to know the owner pretty well–at least, virtually well–we somehow neglected to include them on our web site. So I grabbed the phone and asked Gayle Buske to tell me all about herself:

How did you get started?

TeamDoubleClick ® actually started as an accident.   I was working part time as a virtual assistant when a gentleman asked me if I’d put together a magazine for him.   He wanted everything from the design and focus to distribution.   The only thing I had to go on was “I want to compete with USA Today”.   I couldn’t say no to what promised to be such a lucrative deal so of course I said “yes” first and then went about figuring out how to do this.   I decided that the first thing I needed was writers.   So I placed one small (free) ad on a writer’s forum board, asking for writers.   I had hoped we’d get “a few” inquiries.   Instead, we received over 500 resumes via email and mail.   We had grocery bags of resumes scattered around the kitchen and didn’t know what to do with them all.   As we looked them over though, we were amazed at the talents and skill levels in those resumes.   We didn’t get just writers — we got PhDs, MDs, people with Bachelor’s degrees, administrative assistants, graphic designers, you name it — it was in those grocery bags.   The light bulb went on at that point…there were thousands of people with great skills who wanted to work from home.   So we decided to figure out how to put them to work.   The magazine deal was a total failure.   We worked at it for a couple of months and then found out the guy who’d commissioned us didn’t have a dime to his name.   But that was okay — it let us focus on putting these folks to work.   So, using our marketing and sales expertise, we started marketing the skills of those folks and set up a website to accommodate more people as well as potential clients.   Those 500 people and that one ad soon grew to a couple thousand people and then more and more and more…just by word of mouth.   For years, we never had to put out another ad.   We do now, of course, when we have a need for obscure skill sets, etc.

TDC logo

How many Virtual Assistants do you have?

There are 60,000+ virtual assistants in our pool of   virtual assistants.   Many of them haven’t taken the initiative to go through the skills testing or interview process, however.   We have about 200 — 250 that are fully interviewed, trained, and working.

What does it cost to become a TDC Virtual Assistant?

At Team Double-Click ®, nothing.   Our services are free to our virtual assistants.   However, earlier this year, in response to a poor economy and to clients who didn’t want to pay for full-service virtual staffing at Team Double-Click ® we set up a self-service matching site called VirtualAssistingUSA (www.VirtualAssistingUSA.com) and there is a small monthly fee at that site.   But our virtual assistants over there have found the minimal fee is well worth it for the access they gain to new clients.

What’s a typical day in the life of a Virtual Assistant?

Well, I don’t know if you could call any day in the life of a virtual assistant typical!   Ours do such a wide variety of tasks and speak to so many different people on a daily basis that it tends to keep things interesting.   The common threads though are the extensive use of the internet, instant messaging, telephone, email, and fax.   Most virtual assistants work for several clients simultaneously so their tasks throughout the day are varied.   One minute they may be working on a low-priority spreadsheet for one client and the next minute another client may call with an urgent request to set up travel arrangements so the spreadsheet gets put on the back burner for a while.

What skills are needed most?

A good attitude and self-motivation!   Seriously.   Most skills can be taught and learned, but you can’t teach an upbeat attitude and you can’t make someone work who really doesn’t want to.   Those are the top two things we look at when we interview.   The best skills in the world coupled with a sour attitude or rudeness won’t land a job here.   But, we most often find clients looking for internet marketing skills, good typing skills, pleasant phone voice, and good general administrative skills (typing, MS Office products, internet savvy, and so on).

How much do VA’s make?

Generally between $10 per hour to $30 per hour depending on the job description.   General administrative work usually pays on the lower end while things like medical transcription or graphic design pays on the higher end.   At VirtualAssistingUSA, however, virtual assistants set their own pricing so they can charge whatever they want!   Then it’s up to the client to decide whether they want to pay that rate or not.

Is it full time or part time? What’s the average number of hours?

It’s both, actually!   At Team Double-Click ® we ask our virtual assistants, during the interview process, what their availability is and we work around that.   Some ask for just 10 hours a week and others ask for 60 and 70 hours a week.   So we try to accommodate that.   At VirtualAssistingUSA, the owner/operator chooses their own amounts of work.   If they’ve reached their own comfort level for client capacity, they can turn clients down.   Conversely, if they find the need more work, more money, or more hours, the can accept more clients.

What kind of training do you provide?

It’s a long list!   Real Estate Virtual Assistant, General Virtual Assistant, Real Estate Transaction Coordination, Time Management, Internet Marketing, Social Media Networking, other industry-specific training, plus we offer links to other types of training — some are free and some are fee-based.   All of ours at Team Double-Click ® are free.

What equipment do I need?

A good, up-to-date computer, a telephone (separate line preferred), access to a fax (either hard line or eFax type product), high-speed internet connection, printer, a positive attitude, and a willingness to work!   Other nice-to-haves:   a headset, notebook for taking notes as you chat on the phone with clients, calculator, quiet work area, desk, etc.

How do I apply to become a TDC Virtual Assistant?

For Team Double-Click ® just go to www.teamdoubleclick.com and click on “need a job?” at the bottom of the screen.   The site will walk you through the rest.   For VirtualAssistingUSA just go to www.virtualassistingusa.com and click on “Candidates:   become a virtual assistant free” on the bottom of the screen.   Again, the system will walk you through the rest.

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BTW, I’ve seen TeamDoubleClick’s ®   training program. It’s extensive. It covers everything from how to send a gorilla-gram to what a real estate virtual assistant is legally allowed to do.

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