How to Use a Real Estate Virtual Assistant to Grow Your Business

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If you’re like most rockstar agents, you’re BUSY.

Despite the constant glamorization of “the hustle”, the best, most lucrative businesses don’t require you to put in 60 hours a week, or miss important time with your family. And there’s no better way to make more money in less hours, than by using an awesome real estate VA.

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Here’s Why You Should Consider a Real Estate Virtual Assistant

In the game of business — and life — it’s all about growth.

Which means the ability to leverage your time is crucial.

Here’s how Daniel Ramsey of MyOutDesk puts it, “Once you delegate a task and create a process and a procedure, you are able to recover your time. And get this, since you have now developed a repeatable process that someone else can handle … you get that time back for the rest of your career!”

If you’re stressed out or stagnating, it’s time to let go of the idea that it’s somehow easier, or more cost effective, to “just do it myself.” It’s not.

Think about it. What could you do with all those mornings or afternoons spent scheduling meetings, organizing paperwork, or updating your listings? How many calls could you make? How many follow ups could you do? How many more deals could you close?

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Using a VA helps you win back your time so you can focus on the high-impact work that brings in revenue for your real estate business. Fact is, VAs are the best-kept secret top agents use time and time again to get to 7 and 8-figure status. But you’ve got to be able to do it right.

Before you rush off and hire your first full-time VA, you need to have a genuine need for a VA and a step-by-step process laying out with crystal clarity on exactly what it is you need them to do.

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What Real Estate Tasks Should You Assign to a VA (Hint: Not Just Phone Calls!)

For the record, when we talk about real estate VAs, we’re NOT just talking about ISAs.

Of course, if you want help with lead response you’ll definitely want to go with an expert ISA. (And if you already have an ISA and want to make sure you’re using them effectively, click here to see how rockstar agents do it, and get ready to DOUBLE your production.)

But for most agents, you’re better off starting with an admin guru who can take the small, death-by-flea-bite tasks off your plate and help get your workflow locked down so you can focus firmly on rainmaking. Once you see a tangible uptick in transactions (say 30 deals a year or $200k in annual revenue), now it’s time to get creative and start exploring the full spectrum of VA talent.

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Here are some of the many things a great virtual assistant can do to help you scale your real estate business:

Marketing

  • Create buyer’s packets and powerpoints
  • Send mailers to your spheres of influence
  • Graphic design for digital and print assets
  • Schedule (or even write) blog posts
  • Schedule email
  • SEO updates
  • Post, update and advertise on social media

Operations

  • Transaction management
  • Data entry
  • Listing presentations, coordination and updates
  • Research buyer & seller leads
  • Update your CRM with notes on leads
  • Collecting feedback from your clients and team members
  • I&E and P&L tracking

Sales

  • Follow up with leads

Admin

  • Responding to emails
  • Setting up meetings
  • Managing your calendar
  • Personal admin (holiday cards, organizing family events, etc.)

Best Practices When Hiring a Real Estate Virtual Assistant

How do you know if you’re really ready for a VA? Which VA should you choose? And once you’ve found your VA how do you know if they’re really working all the hours they’re billing you for?

The answer to these questions begins and ends with clear outcomes. It’s imperative that you get your house in order first so you can set your expectations clearly from the beginning. If you’ve done that effectively, it will be easy for you to check the deliverables and make sure they’re on point. If you’re ever in doubt, many outsourcing tools have software on the back end to track exactly how your virtual assistant is using their time. But when the right expectations are set, you shouldn’t need to big brother.

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Start by getting your own business system and process in place, then assess where the key bottlenecks are and tease out the exact tasks and outcomes that would help remove those bottlenecks, and get more deals flowing in. Then write up a job description with clear outcomes and idea of what success looks like in this role.

One way to set up a system that works is to simply model what winning agents are already doing. And of course, we’ve got your back on that. Want to see step-by-step how Preston Guyton of CRG Companies doubled his production using a team of ISAs? Click here. Or if you’d rather learn how the “grandfather of lead conversion”, Mitch Ribak uses a power combo of CRM + ISAs to close 80% more deals (with his exact call schedule and stale lead follow up template), go ahead and check that out here.

How to Determine the Cost-Benefit When Hiring a VA

There is a wide price range for virtual assistant services.

Depending on who, what and where you’re looking, fees can range anywhere from $5 per hour to five-figures a year. While it’s tempting to settle for the cheapest option, it’s better to think about this cost in terms of what your business really needs and the value you’ll be getting for your investment.

Here are some of the factors to consider.

US-based vs. Overseas VAs

There are a ton of misconceptions about hiring overseas help, and these misconceptions can cost you. Never underestimate the talent you can find overseas. Not only is overseas outsourcing more affordable, but there are talented VAs all over the globe, who are skilled at various aspects of running a business and more than comfortable delivering results across time zones. Plus, when you hire overseas help you don’t have to settle for whoever’s available in your market — the entire world is your oyster.

But of course, there is a place for local talent. Especially in real estate. For example, if you need to outsource a high volume of client-facing work, it might be useful to go with someone US-based, or even locally based, who has a better understanding of the nuances in your market. This usually makes the most sense when you need full time, client-facing help, or will want to meet with this person face-to-face. For example, if you someone to help with fieldwork, open houses, etc.

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Level of experience

Some agents recommend going with a jack-of-all-trades, others recommend finding an expert in the type of work you’re looking to outsource, and many VA service providers are experts at matching you with a VA who has the right educational background and level of experience for your needs.

But of course, real estate-specific experts with awesome experience will have a price tag to match. If you’re taking your first step with outsourcing, we recommend starting with a VA who’s more of a generalist, but who has demonstrated an ability to communicate clearly and shown that they’re comfortable with the list of outcomes and expectations you’ve provided. Some agents recommending trialing the VA with a project-based project, then moving to a set hours per month agreement when they’re sure they’ll be happy with the work.

However, if this isn’t your first rodeo, and you’ve got the revenue to justify it, it’s definitely preferable to go with an expert, as these guys can get some of the bigger, juicier tasks of your plate, which will help you accelerate your growth even more quickly. Many expert VAs will even have experience and ideas that can create revenue opportunities for your business that you might never have thought of.

Scope of work

We said it before, we’ll say it again: Outcomes are crucial when outsourcing.

You must know exactly what you’ll be outsourcing before you get going. Think long and hard about where you really need the most help, and how much work you actually have to keep your VA busy. If necessary, try tracking your time for a couple of weeks to a month to gain some real clarity on where your time goes each day. Pay special attention to the parts of the day you’re most productive. What are the tasks and distractions pulling at your focus during those hours?

The small tasks that definitely don’t drive sales but can take up an entire morning are the perfect tasks to outsource to a VA (who by the way, can probably do them better and faster than you ever could anyway).

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Part-time, Project-based or Dedicated VA

When you’re just getting started, contractor or project-based VA will work best. By using a VA for some one-off help (say, helping you get through January without sacrificing your personal life), you not only get some freedom in your workday, you also get a chance to test the waters and see how much work you actually need to outsource and get an accurate read on whether or not to extend your agreement with the VA to a long-term contract.

If you find you can’t live without the VA, go ahead make the jump to ongoing part-time help before you go all in with a full-time employee. The last thing you want is to waste time scratching your head trying to find things for your VA to do, or worse, waste money on hours unused.

Where to Find Your Perfect Real Estate Virtual Assistant

As with who you hire, where you source your real estate virtual assistant will have everything to with where you are in your business. While there are many real-estate specific companies to choose from, many agents getting started with a VA have found great talent on Upwork or even Craigslist.

Where you find your perfect VA is not nearly as important in being clear and confident about the outcomes and job description you’ve put together. Having said that, here are (just some) of our favorite companies and websites to help you narrow your search.

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Upwork – Best for Your First VA or One-off Hires

This is the freelance-sourcing site we’ve all heard of. You can find pretty much any kind of contract-based talent under the sun on Upwork. Many agents new to outsourcing have found dream VAs to help them with things like organization, admin and marketing on Upwork.

Timeetc – Best for Flexible, US-Based VAs

Like Upwork, Timeetc is a great source for generalist VAs who can help with a range of admin and operational tasks. Unlike Upwork, they do most of the hunting and pre-qualifying for you (using a process outlined by Richard Branson’s former Executive Assistant – how cool is that?) which can be a huge help if you’re extremely strapped for time.

MyTasker – Best for Quality, Affordable Overseas Help

If you’re questioning whether you can really afford a VA, MyTasker is a great way to start. Their VAs are based in India and are experts at helping you figure out which business and personal tasks to outsource.

MyOutDesk – Best for Agents with More than 200K in Revenue

Ready for some serious boss-level systems? MyOutDesk has a rigorous process for selecting their overseas help and they actively train their VAs to become true experts who can cover the full spectrum of real estate tasks and activities. For expert-level help, this is about as much bang for your buck as you can get (but it WILL cost you so make sure you’ve got the revenue to make it worth it).

Brown & Brown – Best for Transaction Management VAs

Maintaining compliant transaction files is definitely a major time drain, and the VAs at Brown & Brown are true pros in getting it done quickly and correctly.

InsideSalesAgents – Best for High-Octane ISAs

We know there are a ton of ISA companies to choose from, but we love InsideSalesAgent — and not just because Mitch is our client, but because he’s a rockstar agent who knows exactly how to use ISAs to close more deals. In fact, he’s done it himself to $127 million in transaction volume in 2015.

Wherever you decide to start, make sure your VA successfully fills the right holes in your business and can be seamlessly integrated into your workflow. For example, many VA providers require you to have another tool like Vulcan or Mojo before you can get set up with them. Know what you need, and make sure your house is in order, so that you can spend more time at your actual home without sacrificing the value you provide to your clients.

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Who are We?

GrowthHouse is where ambitious agents and teams come to learn strategies and tactics to grow their real estate businesses.

The team behind GrowthHouse also runs Follow Up Boss, a sales driven CRM dedicated to helping agents and teams focus and follow up for more appointments and sales. Click here to learn more about how Follow Up Boss can help you accelerate your growth.