As a wedding business owner, you understand how valuable every minute is. You’re constantly juggling tasks and trying to wear all of the hats, and you’re frequently overwhelmed and overloaded, this is where a Virtual Assistant can help a lot. If you’re considering hiring someone to help you take care of some of your admin tasks or social media schedule but don’t know where or how to start, this is the episode for you.
Most of us in the wedding industry have never seen a busier season than 2022, and 2023 appears to be even busier. In order for us to achieve our goals this year and scale up our wedding business for the next, we want to make sure our business will run more smoothly.
In this week’s podcast episode, I am going to talk to someone who has made a difference in my business in the short time that we’ve been working together. Ashley Hughes is the owner of FreeUpVirtual, a company that helps you free up your time by offering exceptional, efficient, and personalized virtual assistant services including administrative & managerial support for your business.
Ashley is a Virtual Assistant who understands the demands of busy wedding pros and knows the daily struggle, especially what it’s like to be stuck. The thought of having someone, like a Virtual Assistant, support you by taking on some of those time-consuming administrative tasks, is definitely a superb way to let you focus on what’s important – running your business.
What is a Virtual Assistant and what are the tasks can they do for you?
A Virtual Assistant is a contractor you can hire for your business instead of hiring a full-time employee, and you simply pay for the hours they are working on your business.
Some of the services that a Virtual Assistant could offer you would be social media management, content creation, scheduling, or hosting. They can also help you with customer service-related tasks like answering emails for your clients, drafting contracts, and accepting payments. They can even help with event planning or just regular administrative things such as data entry, calendar scheduling, and just following up with potential clients. There’s a wide variety of services that Virtual Assistants can offer to help ease your worries and help you grow the business you love.
How Ashley Became a Virtual Assistant & Landed her First Job
Ashley’s career started when she started working in retail as a Store Manager for a company called Swatch Group Canada. After some time, she was eventually promoted to work in the Head Office. During her stay there, she did a lot of retail training and retail store opening. She also did administrative tasks, she did a little bit of everything.
Four years ago, when she went on maternity leave, she had an inkling that she wasn’t coming back to that line of work. Her retail job was in Toronto and they were exploring the possibility of moving outside of the city. They ended up moving to Guelph and saw the Facebook post about a job opening from one of her friends, Paje, who owns the hair and make-up company Honor Beauty.
Paje was looking for a Virtual Assistant and since Ashley knew that aside from this was within her wheelhouse, very similar to the customer service and admin task that she was already doing at Swatch, she also knew that there was a chance she won’t be going back to her retail job. She responded to Paje by telling her that she was interested in filling up the opening for a Virtual Assistant. Since they were friends since college, Paje already knew Ashley personally so it was an easier transition for them than if she was to hire someone she never met before.
How A Virtual Assistant Can Help Your Wedding Business
Based on Ashley’s experience, as someone who has a wedding business client like Paje, she started off with the task of answering generic emails. This includes forwarding information packages along with the different package prices for their hair and make-up services.
As Ashley continued working with Paje for the past 4 years, she eventually took over the back end business-side so Paje does not need to check her inbox anymore. Aside from answering emails for Paje, she is also in charge of dealing with booking her team of freelancers.
Consisting of 20 hair and make-up artists, they all work with Paje on her 200-plus weddings a year. Ashley does all the scheduling for Paje’s team, deciding which artists are going to work for each wedding. She also does the client inquiries, doing contracts, invoicing, and pretty much everything on the back end while Paje focuses on building some of her other side businesses.
As for me, Ashley helped me onboard my new clients. I decided to explore this possibility because I like the idea of replicating the process that worked well for my clients so I just have to train only once and since Ashley works well with this kind of mindset, it wasn’t all hard for us to just run with it.
Since I was also mindful about making sure it would be a smooth flow for Ashley, I also provided detailed videos on how to do things step by step so it can be used as the main resource when it’s time to execute the tasks that need to be done. This gave me more confidence that Ashley would have all the tools that she needed to complete the job successfully.
What are the Steps for Hiring Your Next Virtual Assistant?
As Ashley noted, the very first thing to do is take a moment. To take a step back to look, and see what can you successfully hand off to someone else. When Ashley and her team onboard a new client, they spend at least an hour on a zoom meeting and go over everything that needs to be done and discuss the concern on access and passwords. Usually, these are reminded in advance. But then when they are in the actual zoom meeting, this part rarely gets done.
So instead of spending time talking about all the important things that should be discussed, they spend their time trying to find and collate all the access and credentials they need for the tasks. That’s why it is very important to collate all the credentials first so the handoff will be much easier.
The next aspect to consider is going over the list of different apps and software that the client wants to use and getting together the usernames and passwords. Most of the time, Ashley needs more time to restart everything on the back end before they can get access to the client’s accounts and play around to take a look. According to Ashley, it would be more efficient if this will be provided beforehand. Especially for tools that Ashley hadn’t used before, this gives her a chance to explore and navigate around the tools first so she can prepare as well before the actual meeting with the client.
Lastly, Ashley highly recommends not handing over everything all at once to your new Virtual Assistant. You have to be with the Virtual Assistant from the start. You have to go along with them with the transition period until it gets to the point that the Virtual Assistant can finally manage it on their own. This is so you can have that much-awaited undivided focus on your creatives and marketing your business after the adjustment period is over. Building a relationship with your Virtual Assistant by getting to know their strengths and edge helps you figure out the skillset that would fit best in your business.
6 Questions to Ask When Interviewing your next Virtual Assistant
- What other clients do they currently have? Ask them what industry they are working in and what kind of tasks are they doing. Ask about their background, and what are their favorite things to do. Chances are, the tasks you hate will be the tasks they love doing.
- How many clients do they currently have? This is to make sure that you won’t be working with a Virtual Assitant that has too much workload or is too booked to give you the attention that you need.
- How do they organize themselves? What kind of tools or software are they using?
- What does their schedule look like? How many hours per day are they available to work with you on your business?
- Are they okay with setting expectations right from the start? Make sure you have a clear set of instructions and expectations for one-off tasks and when you need them done.
- Is your Virtual Assistant a one-man team or do they have their own team? If they said yes to the latter, make sure you know who are the people working with you on your business
When is the right time to hire a Virtual Assistant?
Most people think that you need to be making six figures before you can hire a VA, but the truth is, you want to hire a VA when you really want to delegate things that you dread doing. Aside from this, if there are things in your business that takes up too much of your time, you should get someone that is good at those tasks so they can do them more efficiently while you spend the rest of your remaining time focusing on achieving goals and scale up your business.
The number of hours would be solely dependent on the scope and limitations of the tasks, you will only be paying for the hours based on what they are working on so this is so much better than hiring a full-time employee.
If you are an entrepreneur or a wedding business owner who is overwhelmed with doing too much, doesn’t have the time or money to hire a full-time staff, and has a business that is growing quicker than expected, FreeUpVirtual is here to lighten your to-do tasks and free up your time so you can focus on growing your business.
Ashley offers a 30-minute free discovery call where she talks to potential clients, with no strings attached, just to check what kind of help they need for their business and how she can further help them to also realize if the partnership is a good fit.