Going the Extra Mile for Your Client

going the extra mile for your clientHaving trouble with client retention? Go the extra mile!

Too often I find virtual assistants with the mindset of doing tasks assigned for an hourly rate. A Chief Virtual Officer has the mindset of a business owner and understands the importance of client retention. It means going the extra mile for clients – exceeding their expectations.

When you and your client first start, you both sign a contract stating expectations on both sides. That’s very important. But periodically, do something unexpected for your client – exceed their expectations. You’ll find you have happier clients, more client referrals, and a higher client retention rate.

Here are a few ideas for going the extra mile:

  • Create quotes from their blog, newsletter, or other marketing materials and add to images to post on Pinterest and Facebook.
  • Do you see something they could improve? Don’t be afraid to speak up. Share your thoughts with your client.
  • Periodically email or call your client to schedule a 15-minute phone conversation to brainstorm other ideas you could help them with.
  • Create a new Pinterest board and add content. Perhaps a “Tips” board based on some of their favorite tips they provide to their clients.
  • Look for a blog post relevant to their industry and send them a link encouraging them to comment on it.

What ideas do you have for going the extra mile? Please share them with everyone here!

Client Expectations from a Virtual Assistant


Do you know what your clients expect from you? This is vital for a successful, long-term relationship.

A few client expectations are:

  1. Your ability to meet their specific skill requirements
  2. For you to work within a reasonable budget
  3. A Contract outlining in detail expectations, money matters, and confidentiality requirements
  4. For you to be a pro-active partner with them providing feedback, suggestions, advice
  5. Timely responses to their inquiries
  6. Reliability, trust and someone they can count on for the long haul

Next time we will discuss what a Virtual Assistant expects from a client.

© Pemotret | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

Take Three Steps to Get Your First Client

The #1 challenge new virtual assistants have is getting that first client. You know that if you could get just one client and wow them with your work that they will in turn recommend you to their friends. But how do you get that first client?

There are a variety of things you could do. Today I’m going to give you three different steps you can take to find that first client.

Step #1: Subcontract for an established virtual assistant. Find an established virtual assistant and build a relationship. Some virtual assistants need additional help from time to time and if you’ve established a relationship, they may call on when they need extra help. Be aware, though, that the rate as a subcontractor may be significantly less than the rate you would charge a client directly. This is to be expected since as a subcontractor you did not go out and find the client and are not directly managing the project.

Subcontracting is a good way to gain experience and make a little income. I strongly suggest you have some sort of written agreement or contract clearly defining expectations and rate of pay. I know virtual assistants who only do subcontract work and don’t want the additional responsibilities that come with managing the client directly.

Step #2: Trade or barter services. Especially in difficult economic times, many solo professionals are willing to trade or barter services. I’ve know life coaches, business coaches, massage therapists, chiropractors and other service providers that were willing to provide their services in exchange for a virtual assistant’s time.

If you could use one of these services, find out if they would be willing to barter. Again, this is a great way to get experience and may result in good word of mouth referrals. If the client is happy with your work, this is a great opportunity to ask for a testimonial to use in your marketing materials.

Step #3: Offer an hour or two at no charge. I know you’re wondering right now if I really just told you to give away some of your time without getting paid. Is that what I meant? Yes! However, I did not say you wouldn’t get anything in return. Let me explain.

You are brand new, just set up in business and have no clients, no testimonials, no proof you are good at what you do. So why would anyone want to hire you or retain your services for five or ten hours each month? But if you could get even one client, a glowing testimonial and begin your portfolio, then there’s a reason for someone to consider using your services. So how do you get that first client? Offer an hour or two for free.

Of course you still want to have a contract detailing the work you will do in that one or two hours. Be sure that both you and the client have the same clear expectations. Let the client know up front that you’d like them to provide a testimonial – if they are truly pleased with your work.

If you provide excellent service, you will find that the majority of clients who you gave an hour or two of time at no charge will want to continue using your services and will gladly pay your fee. I have never been disappointed with my return on investment when I’ve done this. I’ve found it’s very rare that a client uses their free hour or two and then never comes back.

Since many small business owners are still reluctant to use a virtual assistant and aren’t sure what we can do for them, offering a small amount of our time can break the ice. In my opinion, this is not much different than a business coach who offers a free report with the hope that you’ll then pay for the more extensive eBook or even pay for his business coaching.

If you’re reluctant to offer free services to someone you don’t know, you may find a friend or family member that you can do some work for to gain some experience. Of course, this can have challenges of its own.

So what step will you take to get your first client?

Reluctant to Hire a Virtual Assistant Due to Past Experiences?

Are you reluctant to hire a virtual assistant because your last virtual assistant…

  • billed you for time beyond the contracted amount?
  • did not communicate regularly with status updates?
  • did not ask enough questions?
  • failed to meet your expectations?

As your Awesome Assistant, I will:

  • Never surprise you with a bill for work done beyond what the contract states.
  • Keep you updated on the status of your project(s) in a timely manner.
  • Let you know as we’re nearing completion of the time you’ve contracted so you are not surprised when you need additional work only to find out you’ve used up all the time you retained.
  • Ask questions to clarify your expectations.
  • Put in writing costs, timeframes, expectations and other necessary details so there are no surprises!

Several of my clients were at first reluctant to contact me because they had unpleasant experiences with other virtual assistants. One client was upset because her last virtual assistant had charged for hours beyond what they agreed on, without the client’s authorization and without informing the client before proceeding with the work that additional charges would be incurred.

This client also felt that her previous virtual assistant did not have clear expectations and was disappointed with the resulting work. Asking lots of questions and clearly communicating expectations would have alleviated this challenge.

Another client wanted their virtual assistant to do more than just complete assigned tasks. The client wanted a virtual assistant that could guide and advise them on what was best for their business. I was able to help this client accomplish the task – after advising him of a different tool that would grow with his business rather than the tool he was currently using and would shortly outgrow.

Though reluctant at first to hire another virtual assistant, these clients did choose to do business with me based on the recommendations of other happy clients. They in turn are now happy clients and recommend my services to their associates without hesitation.

If you are reluctant to hire a virtual assistant due to past unpleasant experiences, read the testimonials of my many happy clients, talk to them about how I’ve helped their business, and then give me a call so I can show you how the right virtual assistant can help you grow your business.

Tell me about your unpleasant virtual assistant experiences and let me tell you how I would have handled the situation.

Effective Time Management: Set Realistic Expectations

When I first started working as a virtual assistant and had just the one client, time management wasn’t much of an issue. When the client clled or emailed requesting a task to be done, I could immediately jump right on it and within minutes or an hour, depending on the task, I could let the client know the task was complete.

As my client base grew to two, three and more, it was still fairly easy to immediately handle an incoming task. Not only were clients impressed by the quick turn around time, they now had the expectation that anytime they called or emailed, their task would get done – immediately.

Now, I do want each of my clients to feel special and important. They need to know that when they send me a task it will get done in a timely manner. But is it realistic that each task will always be done immediately? Of course not! The expectations I set at the beginning of my business were not realistic and did not allow for the growth to 20 plus clients. Time management now became an issue. Imagine if even six clients called or emailed within a fifteen-minute period and requested a task and they each needed it within the hour! What if I was already in the middle of handling an urgent task needed within the hour? It just is not feasible to think that each client could get their task handled immediately.

As my business has grown, I’ve adjusted my work flow procedures and my client’s expectations. They still expect a timely response and quick turn around. It’s just a more realistic expectation. Instead of having to learn this the hard way for yourselves, here are suggestions, based on my experience, for effective time management and setting realistic expectations.

1. Decide early on what your working hours will be and include the information in your contract. Recently my clients were informed that my working hours are 10-12 am and 1-4 pm (PST) Monday through Thursday and that Fridays are for administrative tasks. This allows me one day to handling billing and bookkeeping and prepare the plan for the following week. This helps me be more productive.

2. Create an email policy and inform your clients. I just instituted a new email policy as follows: Another step in effectively managing my time is to respond to emails at 10 am, 1 pm and 3:30 pm. Should your matter require more immediate attention, please call my cell (XXX) xxx-xxxx. Thank you for your understanding.

3. Make sure you clearly inform your clients of your turn around time. My clients know I will respond within 24 hours to their request, excluding weekends. My response will indicate when I expect their project or task to be completed. If for any reason it becomes necessary to extend the timeframe, let the client know as soon as possible.

I recently informed my clients of my new work flow procedures and timely responses to emails and other requests. Each has responded in a positive manner, understanding the need for managing time effectively and still promptly handling their projects.  Some of their responses are:  “Love the new schedule!  Thanks for letting me know.” “I certainly will honor your new schedule and hours.”

What have you done to manage your time effectively and how do you set realistic expectations?