I remember the days when most executives had a personal assistant who helped screen phone calls, reviewed incoming mail, organized calendars, and did hundreds of other little things that allowed executives to concentrate their time on what they do best.
The electronic world has allowed us to do more of these activities ourselves. As a result, most agency owners no longer have executive assistants. Now may be the time to consider bringing the executive assistant role back to your agency. And it’s easier today than ever.
When you are able to delegate repetitive tasks it frees your time to concentrate on creative work and allows you to do a better job of interacting with clients and prospects.
The world has changed. You don’t need to hire a regular full-time or part-time employee. You can leverage a virtual assistant (VA) for a fraction of the cost of a full-time person. This personal assistant doesn’t even have to be local. In fact, he or she can live on the other side of the country (or the planet). In many cases, it might work better to have a VA that isn’t in your time zone.
I have several business friends who have made this move and wouldn’t consider going back.
What a virtual assistant can do
Just to stimulate your thinking, here are seven activities that a virtual executive assistant can do for you:
- Book appointments—Producers are busy. A VA is able to schedule prospect meetings, phone conversations with underwriters, and meetings with agency staff. With full access to your calendar, a VA can make sure your time is spent on high return activity.
- Handle all correspondence—Yes, a VA reads your email. He/She is the first line of defense in managing your email. How many times have you said you are buried in email? They make sure the important messages get to you and others do not. A VA would also have their own agency email address so that they are “part of the organization.”
- Prepare newsletters—A good VA could help create your own email newsletter. Content marketing can provide great benefits but it’s often a time-consuming task. This alone could save you an hour each week. This is a good example of a repetitive task that a VA can take off your to-do list.
- Reach out to companies—When you want to partner with companies, your VA can do all initial inquiries. Again, he/she directly represents your brand.
- Compile information—Prospecting work is a good area to have your VA take off your plate. As Thompson explained above, having someone help compile information can be a huge savings in time. This allows you to focus on high dollar activities like prospecting and networking.
- Manage deadlines—A VA can help you keep track of what you need to do by when, such as getting back to a prospect, making sure applications are submitted to the carrier, following up with an underwriter, or any other item you need to follow up on.
- Make decisions—As you begin to trust the capabilities of your VA, he/she can make decisions on the tasks they handle. You identify the situations you want to be consulted on, but otherwise a VA can keep you out of the mundane by making prudent decisions on the issues you really don’t need to be involved in.
Places to hire virtual assistants
- eaHELP is an example of a firm that specializes in assistants who are part of your organization, not a distant outside entity.
- IVAA.org is a website that allows you to search for virtual assistants based on your specific criteria. You complete a request for proposal, review the responses, and select the individual whom you think will work out best.
- Elance.com is a very popular site for finding individuals to complete specific projects versus an individual who will become an assistant to you over time.
Anson Thompson, an agent in Indiana, summed it up best when he said, “The value of virtual assistants in today’s world is amazing. Taking small project tasks and having them outsourced to the right firm can save your firm time and money.”
Have you tried using a virtual assistant? Please tell us about your experiences.