In this episode, Barbara and Barbara Turley discuss:
- Outsourcing administrative tasks to trained virtual personal
- Five reasons having a virtual assistant doesn’t work
- The Lemon Squeeze technique
“What you want to have is a great process, a great tool, and a great person trained effectively to run an effective system.” — Barbara Turley
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Connect with Barbara Hales:
Show website: www.MarketingTipsForDoctors.com
Interview with Barbara Turley
Barbara Hales: Welcome to another episode of Marketing Tips for Doctors. I’m your host, Dr. Barbara Hales.
Today, we have with us, Barbara Turley. She is the founder and CEO of the Virtual Hub, a business that exploded in the space of 12 months to become one of the leading companies that recruits, trains and manages virtual assistants for businesses who need to free up time and energy so that they can go on to the next level. With a strong focus on customized training and ongoing career development, Barbara ensures that her team is trained in cutting-edge programs like Hubspot, Ontraport, etc. to best meet their needs, of the client’s, in digital marketing, social media, personal assistance services and administrative support. Welcome to the show.
Barbara Turley: Thanks so much for having me, Barbara.
Barbara Hales: What is special today is that you are broadcasting all the way from France.
Barbara Turley: I am. Yes.
Barbara Hales: I understand it’s snowing out there.
Barbara Turley: It is. It’s been. I live in the French Alps which is a beautiful part of the world and we have a lot of snow at the moment but unfortunately, we are shut for the ski season because of the current, as we’re recording this, pandemic that we’re all going through which is making life interesting.
Barbara Hales: No skiing either.
Barbara Turley: No. The lifts are closed. You can’t get off the mountain. You can tour up. You can hike up. But you can’t take the ride up the mountain.
Barbara Hales: Yeah. You would think that with the fresh air that it wouldn’t have been affected as much.
Barbara Turley: Yes. I think it’s the closed cabins that you go up into the mountain in. So that’s probably a problem.
Barbara Hales: Oh, I see. Well, with the pandemic going on and people doing most of their work virtually, having connections with people that are normally part of their team may be a problem or they may need just some little extra help that is for the moment but they may not need it all year round. So, having a virtual assistant really seems to be a great answer. How do you recommend successfully hiring a virtual assistant to scale your business?
Everyone’s Remote Now- Here’s How to Capitalize on It
Barbara Turley: Yeah. Look, the funny thing at the moment is that, you know, the outsourcing world and getting virtual assistants has been something, has been a thing for a very long time. It’s a 15-, 20-year sort of industry at this stage. But the pandemic that we’re currently going through has meant that it has accelerated the numbers of businesses that are all of a sudden saying, well, now everyone’s remote. So actually, I now get that having somebody remote in another country is really no different from having somebody remote in the next street.
Because of COVID, everyone’s remote. So that’s been fantastic. Hiring them is a whole other game. I mean, you know, you can go online. There’s a lot of places that you can go to hire a great virtual assistant. Usually, the problems that you face are if you go direct online you can get a very cost-effective strategy doing that but you might get flooded with hundreds of applications and having to sift through them and, you know, figure out who’s who and whether someone’s any good. And then, of course, there’s an agency like ours which we’re called the Virtual Hub. We recruit, train and manage our own VAs and then they go into work on client accounts and we help to service the client accounts with our VAs basically and our account managers and our whole team. So that’s the kind of two ends of the spectrum that you can do to recruit a VA.
Barbara Hales: Well, that sounds like a tremendous advantage in that you are helping to train them and you are servicing the account even though the virtual assistant is working there. So, you have that extra backup. I think that sounds wonderful. In terms of having a lean business model for people that may be just starting out or hurting financially, why do you feel they should outsource with virtual assistants?
Barbara Turley: Yeah. One of the main things that, you know, you find — In businesses, I mean, the last 10 years in particular with digital transformation and things moving into the cloud, everything has become a lot more efficient. We have automation working.
You know, you can have online booking calendars and systems and stuff like that. And most small businesses have gotten on the train with this concept. But one of the things that’s like the last inefficiency I think that is left to deal with in business is the amount of time being spent by either the business owner and/or the team that the business has doing administrative tasks or process-driven tasks that could be easily delegated to somebody in a place like the Philippines in a much more cost-effective way and thereby freeing up the time of either the business owner or the business owner’s team on the ground locally to grow the business or just to have more time, freedom if that’s what you’re actually looking for. So, it is a very cost-effective way to free up the time being used currently to do, it’s not necessarily inefficient work or low-value work, it’s just work that’s easily delegatable and therefore should be done in a lower-cost way.
Barbara Hales: What would be five reasons that having a virtual assistant just doesn’t work and how can you fix that?
Barbara Turley: Sure, yeah. That’s a great question because so many times it fails. And people, you know, get frustrated because they think, oh, I’ve read about all these VAs and businesses are using them and I tried it and it didn’t work for me or it didn’t work for my friend. It’s not as easy as people think. So the first step is to say to yourself if you’re about to embark on this, it is a great strategy that can work for any business. But like anything, it’s something that you have to learn and master and figure out, right?
Now, there are companies like ours that help you to do that but you have to — Accepting that it’s not just a set and forget or hit a button and go strategy is a great start. The next thing is — And that’s a mindset as well. So understanding that you have to have the mindset that this is a great strategy, I’m going to learn this strategy and I’m going to find a way to make this strategy work the way many other businesses including large corporates have made this work and solopreneurs.
Every type of business has made this work. So it’s getting your mind into that frame is very important in the first instance. Because if you approach it with doubt or, you know, thinking, well, this probably isn’t going to work for my business, then it probably wouldn’t. That’s the truth.
The second step then is to have a focus on the concept of delegation. We all think it’s easy to delegate but it’s actually not again as easy as people think. We’re natural-born delegators. We’re naturally born wanting to offload work but how to do that in an effective way is difficult for the majority of people. The reason it is is that you have to unpack.
The thing you’re trying to delegate, you have to unpack it out of your head into a video or on paper and then somehow communicate it effectively to the person that’s now going to do it. And of course, what happens is what I think I have said and what that person may have picked up can be two very different things. And our tendency is to blame the person, not the process or the system that we’re using.
And of course, the third big thing is communication. Like that’s a massive thing. Many marriages have fallen apart because of a lack of communication or misguided communication. And the same applies in a team structure whether that’s with a virtual assistant or a local person or an employee of any type. That is amplified when you move into a remote, virtual-type working scenario. Whether the person is in the next city or in another country, it doesn’t really matter. It’s just amplified. So, you need to have more of a focus on learning how to do this properly and spotting the holes.
The Lemon Squeezer
So those are the top three. The other two, I call one the lemon squeezer. So what I mean by that is when someone thinks, well, it only takes me two hours so I only want somebody for two hours a day or two hours a week. And then what you’re trying to do is you hire someone for maybe four or five hours or 10 hours a week and then you end up overloading them with a task list that realistically is for almost a full-time job. And I see that happening all the time. And people have misaligned expectations as to what’s possible especially when somebody new is coming into your business even if they have experience.
So you know, those are — If you really focus on those things — And of course, recruiting is a whole other thing. But if you’ve noticed, those things all apply to you as the business owner or your team or whoever is doing the delegating. It’s not really up to the virtual assistant to nail those things. That’s your job. And if you put those things in place and get those things right, then putting someone in becomes awfully a lot easier and delegating.
Barbara Hales: I see. Well, if you’ve done all that and you think that this particular VA is just not going to work out or is not working out, how do you let them go?
Barbara Turley: Yeah. Again, how do you have the tough conversation? I actually — Shameless plug for my own podcast. I actually have a podcast called the Virtual Success Show and we did a three-part podcast series on this topic because it was such a huge topic to tackle, the whole communication piece. And you know, the start of how do you let someone go is always saying, well, let’s set it up correctly in the first place. And the reason you want to do that is that if you’ve done the other steps that I just mentioned what ends up happening is it becomes much easier to see if somebody is a wrong fit or if somebody is doing the wrong thing because you know that your processes and your systems are there.
So, the conversation becomes much more about why are you missing the targets or, you know, discussing, the first step is discussing together where there might be holes in the process because their understanding of the process might be different from yours. So, you go there first and you try to work together to get the outcome that the process or the system or what you’re trying to achieve.
Once you’ve done that and it’s still not working, the next question is you’re going to ask yourself, is this a skill issue or a will issue? When it’s a skill issue, you say to yourself, is it trainable, right? So maybe the person isn’t trained effectively enough. Maybe they’re a great person with the right attitude, the right personality mix for you and you get on great but they’re not trained enough. If it’s possible to train them more, you might go down that route and maybe not get rid of them because you don’t want to start churning through people. But if it’s a will issue and it’s a behavioral issue, I think it’s time then to have the tough conversation and just be clear.
You don’t need to be overly emotional about it. You can just say that it’s not working out and that you feel that this is the wrong fit for you and for them and politely sort of agreeing to part company, I guess and encourage them to move on. If you have those tough conversations though, you might find the person will choose to deselect themselves because they’ll realize the game is up kind of thing, you know, that they’re not going to get anywhere. That’s my advice there.
Barbara Hales: So, for people that are listening and thinking, well, yeah, I really hadn’t considered a VA before but this sounds great, what type of system would need to be in place? They may be thinking, I need a system? So you know, how should it be structured?
Barbara Turley: Yeah. The first thing to do, the first very important thing to remember is that a lot of smaller businesses see themselves as small businesses. Like, let’s say you’re just a solo operator. The thing is to remember that it doesn’t matter what size the business is. If you’re a billion-dollar company or you’re like just one person doing sort of a part-time job selling some stuff on Etsy or whatever you’re doing, that every business has little departments.
You know, there’s the marketing. There’s the sales, product delivery. There are all the little bits and pieces. And within each department, there are recurring tasks that need to happen on a daily, weekly, monthly basis in order to keep this engine of this business moving forward. Most of those things are process-driven. And if you just think about it and jot the points down, you’ll actually develop a little process there. That’s the first thing you have to do. That in itself is a system of what am I actually going to delegate to somebody else.
Once you have your buckets and all your tasks and the little processes, you’ll know what ones do I need to stop doing in order for me to move this business forward or in order for me to reach my goals, whatever they may be with this business. So that’s the first kind of major, I guess, a system that I would say you have to map out. And once you’re clear on that, it’s much easier to then go and get somebody, plug them in.
The other little systems come into things like, you know, do you have a system to get paid? So it could be — You know, are you using Xero? Are you using — You know, is there a software that you’re using, etc.? So each of your tasks and your processes may have a tool attached to it. And then what you want to have is a great process, a great tool and then a great person trained effectively and put in to run that system. That’s kind of where it is. So that’s the simplest way to explain it in three minutes flat.
Barbara Hales: Yup. That makes a lot of sense.
Barbara Turley: Yeah.
Barbara Hales: So you do you have any additional tips for our listeners regarding VAs that you’d like to impart with us?
Barbara Turley: Yeah, sure. I mean, I think a lot of it I’ve already said but I would just reiterate that communication is really key, right? So, establishing a meeting rhythm and a communication rhythm. And this applies whether you’re hiring a VA or whether you’re hiring anyone. So, a communication rhythm is important to establish particularly for people in your industry. They might be dentists and doctors who are actually seeing patients all day every day. They don’t have time to respond to questions that a VA might have through the day.
So, therefore, if a VA was going to be like pinging them on WhatsApp or Skype asking questions all the time, that would drive them insane. But unless you establish that with a VA at the outset to say, I’m not going to be available. So, therefore, what I suggest is we meet for 10 minutes every day at this time, run through your questions. And that establishes your communication rhythm and then your meeting rhythm. So you may want to have — I’m a big fan of the 10-minute daily huddle, the quick, you know, get to the questions, get things answered, and then maybe a once a week catch-up to stay aligned into what actually needs to be done and where this person is going. So that’s the simplest way. That’s my big tip to get it right.
Barbara Hales: Yeah. I think that makes a lot of sense. And you know, I think that’s a great tip. Well, how can our listeners get in touch with you?
Special Page for You
Barbara Turley: Sure. So we actually have a special page for you guys listening. We have — If you go to thevirtualhub.com/mtd for Marketing Tips Doctors, of course, MTD, we have, you can download our free mini-guide which is the five reasons people fail with VAs and how to fix it. So if you want to recap that, we have a little mini-guide there.
We also have a seven-part email course. It is quite short. It’s just the scalable business success formula and it’s just more about what I’ve been discussing here, some of these points. And finally, you can book a call with one of our consultants to discuss if our model is right for you and how we might be able to help you. So those are the three things on that page.
Barbara Hales: Excellent. Well, thank you so much for being here with us today. I’m sure that our listeners found it very engaging. This is another episode of Marketing Tips for Doctors with your host, Dr. Barbara Hales. Until next time.