Bolton Remote

Founded 2013, Bolton Remote is an offshore staffing solution based in the Philippines. They’re not so much a virtual assistant company as they are a simplified way to build a remote support team for your business.

The team is led by Patrick Linton, an entrepreneur with experience in helping Fortune 500 companies expand and improve their global operations. When I spoke with Patrick, his team had already grown to more than 80 full-time members, working out of their modern office in Manila.

Bolton Remote Services

bolton remote reviewBolton Remote is positioned as an alternative to hiring staff at any level locally or work from home freelancers.

They’re aimed at both high growth startups as well as more established businesses. If you’re suffering from talent shortages in expensive hiring markets if you’ve been burned by freelancers or other VA companies in the past, Bolton may be worth a look.

The value proposition here is the ability to find a wide range of talent all under one roof, and quickly on-board your new remote staff onto your team. Among the specific skillsets available are marketing, sales, SEO, social media, writing, customer support, graphic and web design, software development, and more.

In each case, you get a full-time virtual employee and Bolton’s model allows you to scale up as growth necessitates. Many customers end up adding 5 team-members or more, though single hires are OK too.

VAA Exclusive: Get 5% off your remote team for the first 6 months with this link!

How it Works

One thing that’s cool about Bolton is instead of inundating you with resumes that all start to look the same after a while, they actually show you their candidates, with high quality pre-recorded “video resumes.”

After you review the videos, you can set up interviews with those who look like the best fit for your team and make your hiring decision.

Team members work in your time zone and you are free to collaborate with whatever project management and communication tools you like.

Bolton Remote customers are also assigned a dedicated point-of-contact on their 24-hour Customer Happiness Team, and first-time remote staffing clients will appreciate the built-in teambuilding coaching and support.

Plans and Pricing

Rates begin at $9 an hour, or $1440 per month. Experienced staff members and those with higher-level expertise command rates in the $2000-2500 per month range.

As far as the “virtual assistants” in the Philippines go, those rates are quite high relative to many of the other companies. But a couple things to keep in mind are the overhead of the office and support staff, and the location in Manila, where the cost of doing business is higher than in some of the outer provinces.

VAA Exclusive: Get 5% off your remote team for the first 6 months with this link!

Bolton Remote Alternatives

With their focus on long-term relationships, an in-office work environment, and investment in infrastructure, the most similar company may be VirtualEmployee.com in India.

In the Philippines, TaskUs and Prialto run similar operations aimed at startups.

Your Turn

Have you worked with Bolton Remote? If so, please be sure to share a quick review of your experience below to help others with their decision.

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HourlyNerd

HourlyNerd aims to revolutionize consulting by matching qualified professional and top MBA students to your business. The Boston-based company was founded in 2013, and describes itself as “the future of consulting.”

Founded by 3 Harvard MBA students, the goal was to fill a void in the marketplace dominated by “old school” and high cost consulting firms.

About Hourly Nerd

hourly nerd reviewIn the way Elance matches you with qualified freelancers, Hourly Nerd offers a similar service for consultants.  In just a short time in business, they’ve already landed big name clients like Microsoft and American Apparel.

The “nerds” are rated on their communication, timeliness, work quality, and more. That helps keep the system transparent, similar to other virtual jobs platforms.

This is not a “virtual assistant” service in the traditional sense of the term, but instead gives small business owners a chance to get qualified expert help on an on-demand basis.

In most cases, your consultant will not be local to your business and you will communicate with them remotely.

How it Works

You post your project and students from the top 20 business schools in the country and select international institutions bid on the work. HourlyNerd takes  a percentage of the project fee. There are more than 500 MBAs on the platform, and the number is steadily growing.

The service is aimed at small business owners who may not have the budget to hire a “full-fledged” consulting firm or an entire team of analysts.

HourlyNerd gives them access to bright young minds at affordable rates. On top of that, the students/consultants have the opportunity to gain real-world business experience and earn some money at the same time.

HourlyNerd Intro Video

Pricing

The competitive bidding system keeps rates affordable, with even the top-pedigree consultants topping out around $100 an hour. Depending on the type of project you need done, you may find rates as low as $10 an hour — and everything in between.

Compared with the hourly rates of McKinsey or other “brand name” consulting firms (think $300/hr and up), you can see the attractive value proposition made by HourlyNerd.

With all Hourly Nerd projects, your funds are held in escrow until the project is completed to your satisfaction.

HourlyNerd Alternatives

Aside from Elance (mentioned earlier), a couple companies offer similar services. MBA & Company helps match MBA consultants with smaller companies for one-off projects, while SkillBridge also links independent contractors to companies in need (though an MBA is not required).

Have you worked with HourlyNerd? If so, please be sure to leave a quick review of your experience below to help others with their hiring decision.

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How to Use Google Docs to Share Processes With Your Virtual Assistant

This is a guest post by Korbett Miller, a virtual manager extraordinaire.

If you need help turning your business systems into a well-oiled machine, check out his book De-Mythify: Finding Freedom in Your Small Business.

I know I have had some great experiences with hiring a virtual assistant.  I know I have also had some horrible ones as well.  When I started to create Forms and Checklists with systems I have had a great results from the people who work with me.

This reminds me of a great story from a friend of mine named Thomas. His first job was cleaning police cars in the small town where he grew up.

His instructions were minimal:

“Clean the cars and whatever you do, not get the car wet.”   

What that really meant was do not get the radio equipment wet on the inside of the cars. But when Officer Bob came back and saw that Thomas had only lightly dusted the inside and outside of the cars, he was unceremoniously relieved of his car-washing duties.

We make assumptions about our descriptions and instructions of work for our staff.

Nick’s Notes: I was definitely guilty of this with my first VA hires. I’d been doing certain tasks for years and couldn’t comprehend why my brand new hire just wasn’t getting it!

When we take the process of creating our systems very clearly for our virtual staff, it may take more time on the front end, but the time savings for you over the long haul will help immensely. Investing in your process documentation may not be the most exciting activity, but it’s one that will certainly pay off many times over.

One of the most useful ways of creating a system in your business is using Google Drive. Anyone can get a free Google Drive account with up to 15 GB of storage, which is more than enough to create  very clear standard operating procedures with pictures, videos, charts, and checklists.

The system is accessible from anywhere with an Internet connection and can be easily shared and edited amongst team members.

So what are the qualities that make up a good system?

A Good System is Teachable

A system is useless unless it is taught to others. If you make it so easy that it can be taught to someone in elementary school, it has the best chance of succeeding in the long term.

It’s almost like creating a perfect recipe. You must be able to measure the results, change the process when needed, and always be on the lookout for better ideas.

I recommend to the readers of my book to use the free Camstudio program.  I think there are some more elaborate options, but for most people Camstudio will allow them to record tasks and train their VA or staff members.

Nick’s Notes: I use Jing for videos up to 5 minutes, and Screencastomatic for longer videos.

You need to learn how to use the screen capture program. CamStudio is a free program that is available for download. All you do is record your YouTube video by creating a movie of what is going on your screen and giving a voiceover narration of the steps you are taking.

Nick’s Notes: You can set your YouTube videos to “Private” or “Unlisted” to limit who has access.

A Good System is Predictable

Are you getting the results you envisioned for your efforts?

Be very careful not to confuse activity with results. When creating a system, you should have the outcome in mind. What are you expecting the process to accomplish? You should be able to see your workplace clean, cupcakes made to specifications, error-free payroll, or whatever it is you expect.

If you are not getting the results you seek, go back to the system.

Nick’s Notes: After a few weeks of errors and “unexpected results,” I had to revisit my process documentation and teaching. I actually had my virtual assistant explain to me their system as they understood it, and filled in the gaps from there.

In my profession, I have trained police officers. When interviewed after being shot or when trying to resolve some unbelievably intense situations, almost all of them responded, “I just fell back on my training.” Amazing.

You need to create training and accountability systems to ensure that all work done in your business has predictable results.

When you delegate work to your staff, they should feel responsible for the segment they are in charge of.

Nick’s Notes: Indeed, cultivating a culture of responsibility is really important, even in a virtual team. You’ve got to find some way to make your VA care about the end result of their work and how it fits in the big picture.

A Good System is Reliable

A system can be wonderful, but only when it functions properly. Just as the phone needs to be answered appropriately and a customer complaint handled in a particular manner, systems are created for uniformity and reliability.

How do you ensure this?

Training is a crucial step that ensures the reliability of a system. In fact, when a new system is created at work, even the existing staff will need training. The role of ongoing training in the business world is enormous.

Reliability is achieved from the capacity to perform a task.  This happens only when you make sure that everyone understands the system and you have proper accountability practices (checklists) in place.

From my 18 years of being a business owner, it seems that the more cumbersome a system is, the lower the chances it gets executed as intended.

1. If it’s difficult for your staff to know when a system should be triggered, there is a low probability that it will be consistently ran.

Google Docs allows you to assign the forms to be ran by placing them in a folder.

Another way for you to make sure that the system is run consistently is to have a staff member create a bookmark for the form.

You will first need to view the live form to get the link address. Note that the staff will not be able to modify the form, unless you give them that permission. I will show you how to do that in the next section.

The live form should look like this:

google docs form process checklist

Once I have created the live form, I would copy the web address.

I would have your virtual assistant create this system of folders and bookmarks to organize their tasks. (We are going to work from within the Chrome Browser for these examples, but any other browser will work as well.)

From the Chrome menu, I choose Bookmarks, then Bookmarks Manager.

chrome bookmark menu

I then create the TO DO folder under the Organize tab.

Adding a To Do folder

Once this folder is ready, your VA can drop the web address for your Google Doc Form.

For example, when your VA now opens the link in their browser, they will see the “Clean the Bathroom” instructions.

Several other strategies can be implemented using that folder.  You could create “Monday-Friday” sub-folders in “TO DO” if you have different tasks for each day of the week:

creating bookmark folders in chrome

2. If there is not a way for you to check at a glance the output from a system, it will be difficult to follow up with the systems.

  • You can monitor checklists remotely from your computer or tablet.
  • You will be able to see if the system was run.
  • You can check everything even when traveling.

If you want to check if the checklists were run, choose “View responses” from the toolbar:

view responses in google forms

When you open the form, you will see the responses in a spreadsheet. You can pan left and right with the mouse or cursor to see the responses. The first Column A is a timestamp as to when the form was submitted, so that you can see when the system was run.

google forms responses spreadsheet

I have one challenge with this though. Every time a form drops the responses in this table, it puts the new response at the bottom. I get around this by manually sorting all the data in the sheet by the timestamp column “Sort sheet Z-A.”

In teaching you how to create systems using various features, I may have inadvertently made the responses lengthier than they need to be. For most of the tasks that you ask someone to do, a simple yes or no response is perfect. It helps you get a load of information by just scanning the document. If I need the question ‘why’ answered for anything, I chat with that staff member. It’s a simple way to monitor. For each 20-step checklist, it should take your eye 5 seconds to see if there is a problem.

Your Turn

What systems or software do you use to communicate your systems and processes to your virtual assistant?

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Assistant Match

Assistant Match is a staffing agency that matches business owners with pre-screened US-based virtual assistants to help them manage details of their company in a flexible, cost-effective way.

The company was founded in 2007 by Katie Gutierrez Miller and has a management team spread out across the country. (Practicing what they preach in remote work!)

Katie explains their service targets “small businesses and entrepreneurs who need help with administrative tasks, bookkeeping and marketing plan implementation.”

About Assistant Match

assistant match reviewAssistant Match provides a recruiting service businesses and individuals in need of professional administrative assistants, executive assistants, project coordinators, marketing assistants, editors, sales assistants, social media assistants, and client relations assistants.

These remote team members will work from their home offices and report directly to you.

One big advantage is there is no ongoing commitment or minimum hours requirement. You can have you assistant work 10 hours one week and 2 hours the next, with no penalties.

Services

How it works is you submit your job requirements and let their team find the qualified talent to fill your position. They do all the legwork of screening applicants, doing initial interviews, and checking references before they present you with the best of the best matches for your role.

Assistant Match can help find American virtual assistants with a wide range of skill-sets, including organization, accounting, marketing, customer service, transcription, personal assistance, and more.

They’ve helped fill hundreds of virtual staff positions over the years, and provide skills-training and best-practices to both the VAs and the employers.

Plans and Pricing

The company charges a one-time match fee of $395 ($95 of which is required as a deposit to begin your search). Beyond that, the hourly rate really depends on the job you’re hiring for.

For example, basic administrative assistance starts around $28 an hour, while more skilled tasks like writing, editing, or online marketing might run $40 an hour or more.

Assistant Match also handles the time reporting and invoicing, billing you directly for the hours your assistant works. They promise to take care of any tax questions and even find you a new assistant if/when one is needed.

Assistant Match Alternatives

In terms of the US-based competition, there are definitely plenty of choices. Assistant Match aims to set themselves apart from traditional in-house recruiting or even freelance searches by offering a “done for you” model.

It’s a flexible work model that allows you to scale up or scale down the hours as needed. If you have a more consistent workload, you’ll probably find some cost savings through a service like Zirtual.

However, you may not be able to find those advanced skills.

Your Turn

Have you worked with Assistant Match? If so, please be sure to leave a quick review of your experience below to help others with their decision.

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FlexJobs

FlexJobs is a leading jobs board for telecommuting and work-from-home jobs. The company began in 2007 to provide a central hub of scam-free, personally reviewed remote job postings.

Although headquartered in Boulder, Colorado, FlexJobs practices what they preach and have team members spread out virtually throughout the country.

About FlexJobs

flexjobs reviewFor job-seekers, FlexJobs features a wide variety of employment opportunities from companies large and small, and for those seeking virtual workers, the platform is an opportunity to reach a broad and motivated applicant pool.

The company was founded by Sara Sutton Fell, who began looking for flexible work arrangements while she was pregnant with her first child. Almost immediately, she discovered how challenging it was to find virtual jobs that were legitimate and in-line with her career.

Knowing that good flextime and telecommuting positions did exist, Sara decided to create a clean, professional, well-designed job site dedicated to providing only the best, most legitimate telecommuting, part-time, flextime, and freelance jobs.

FlexJobs Intro Video

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=049WTZH0YuI

FlexJobs Services

Employers can post their virtual assistant positions to FlexJobs and browse the resumes, work samples, and skills tests results from qualified applicants.

Job postings are hand-screened by a team of researchers to make sure that each listing on the site is from a legitimate employer. Expect to have the FlexJobs crew write their own description of your company and give some scrutiny to your position before it goes live.

There are more than 50 career categories and you can find virtual workers in a broad range of fields, including customer service, marketing, IT, accounting, graphic design, and more. The focus appears to be more on ongoing employment, rather than on short-term freelance hires.

Plans and Pricing

FlexJobs is free to post job listings for qualified work-from-home positions, both full-time and part-time. Premium job posts promise extra exposure for $99.

After you make your hiring decision, the company takes no ongoing fee or margin; you negotiate and pay your new employee directly.

The company makes the bulk of their money by charging an access fee to the job-seekers: $14.95 for a month, $29.95 for 3 months, or $49.95 for a year.

The fee includes unlimited access to their hand-screened virtual jobs, email alerts when new jobs are posted, professional job-hunting tips, and more.

FlexJobs Alternatives

FlexJobs aims to differentiate themselves through their employer vetting and job curation process, which is good news for job-seekers. And since the talent is paying to view your job listings, you can generally expect a more motivated application, or at least a pool that is taking their job search seriously.

But you can post your virtual assistant position on any number of sites, including the big freelance marketplaces like Elance and oDesk. You might cast a wider net (for better or worse), and open yourself up to candidates from all around the world, if you’re open to that.

Like FlexJobs, both sites are free to post your openings, though they are more geared toward short-term freelance work and one-off projects.

Similarly, for full-time hires you might try WeWorkRemotely.com.

And especially if you’re a larger employer, you might consider the traditional job sites like Monster.com, CareerBuilder.com, and even Craigslist. After all, there’s no rule that says you can’t post virtual jobs there.

Your Turn

Have you hired through FlexJobs? What did you think? Leave a comment below to help others with their decision.

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VirtualAssistants.com

VirtualAssistants.com is a jobs board and directory listing specializing in virtual assistant positions. The company was founded in 1999 by Belinda Stringer in response to the rising tide of dubious “work from home” scams online.

(I had a feeling they’d been around awhile given the choice domain name!) They pre-date The 4-Hour Workweek and The World is Flat by at least 7 years … helping people find virtual assistants before the term even went mainstream.

virtualassistants-com-reviewIn fact, the company was one of the first “virtual” job boards and has helped connect thousands of home-based staff with employers across the country. VirtualAssistants.com maintains an A+ rating with the BBB.

The service is headquartered in Ohio and the virtual assistants are nationwide — US-based only.

How it Works

With VirtualAssistants.com, companies and individuals seeking a US-based VA can post their job for free and receive proposals from the qualified members of the site.

One cool thing is you can select how “virtual” you want your candidate to be — meaning you can elect to only see applications from candidates within a certain radius of your business.

Services

As a prospective employer, you can use the site for either ongoing or project-based work. Around 200 jobs are posted each week, and the company pre-screens them before they hit the board to make sure both the role and the employer are legitimate.

That screening process is one element that attracts a quality pool of virtual assistant talent to pull from.

I asked Belinda if there were any service areas they were particularly strong in, and she explained, “Our focus is administrative; customer service, website help, social media, transcription, etc. But we have extremely talented VAs with experience in telemarketing, research, editing/proofreading, writing, medical coding/transcription, tech support, accounting, and more.”

As with any jobs board, the range of experience and qualifications will vary, but you have the freedom in your job description to spell out the exact role you envision along with the desired skill-sets.

Once you collect the applications, you are free to screen candidates, schedule interviews, negotiate rates, and make your hiring decision. From that point on, you’re working directly with your VA in a virtual-employee relationship and paying them directly; there is no markup or management cost from VirtualAssistants.com.

Plans and Pricing

VirtualAssistants.com is free for employers. They collect a membership fee (regularly $15 a month) from the VAs so they can get access to the job listings.

From the employer perspective, that barrier to entry — however small — helps improve the overall quality of your applicants. You know that the virtual assistant applying on your job has at least made a small investment in his or her business and takes it seriously.

The typical hourly rate for a qualified US-based VA can range from $12-50/hour and up. In this case, it’s up to you to negotiate salary terms, hours, and conditions directly with your new VA.

As an employer, you may get fewer applicants than on alternative directories or the big freelance sites, but in general you should expect a higher caliber of candidate on VirtualAssistants.com.

The VAs like it because even though there’s competition and always will be, there’s not the sense of it being a race to the bottom on price like you might elsewhere.

Your Turn

Have you hired anyone through VirtualAssistants.com? If so, please take a minute to leave a short review of your experience below.

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It’s VA Time

It’s VA Time (ItsVAtime.com) is a virtual assistant company in Bangalore India. They’re relatively new to the scene (late 2013 / early 2014) with their own platform, but have been serving clients on a variety of freelance networks for several years.

The company primarily targets busy individuals and small business owners worldwide, with a full menu of services including administrative support, data entry, research, SEO, design tasks, and more.

How it Works

its va time reviewIt’s VA Time runs a similar model to 24/7 Virtual Assistant and VMG BPO (other VA companies in India), where you have a dedicated point of contact but access to the whole team of assistants for specialized expertise.

They make an effort to fully understand your needs and anticipated usage to find a package and assistant that will be a good match. In terms of communication, ItsVAtime offers support 24 hours a day, 5 days a week.

It’s VA Time Review

[leadplayer_vid id=”531F6ED1C6562″]

Plans and Pricing

At the moment, their pricing packages are very cheap, even for overseas VA standards (I told them they need to raise their prices).

For instance, a 5-hour a week plan is available for only $190 per month ($9.50 per hour). A 10-hour per week plan is just $340 per month ($8.50 per hour).

Exclusive: Mention referral code VAA for 10% off your first month of service!

Full-time support, 160-hours per month, is just $720 ($4.50 per hour!?). I’m not sure how long these rates will last and if you’ll be grandfathered in if you sign up now, but they are definitely among the most affordable I’ve seen.

It's VA Time pricing

A no-obligation pay-as-you-go plan is offered as well, for just a $10 membership and then $14 per hour as needed.

Note: SEO, web design, and weekend support are extra.

All plans are eligible for a free 7-day, 5-hour free trial (with no credit card required), which I was happy to take advantage of.

At this time, unused hours don’t rollover month-to-month, and payment is only accepted via PayPal or wire transfer.

It’s VA Time Alternatives

Their small team of freelancers is headed up by Steve Young, who explained the competitive advantages of It’s VA Time include:

  • Their years of experience working with a wide variety of clients
  • Their affordable rates
  • And their commitment to quality.

Of course they’re not the only game in town, and competition for clients is stiff among other VA companies in India. Among the best-rated are 24/7 Virtual Assistant, My Tasker, and VMG BPO.

Your Turn

Have you worked with ItsVAtime? If so, please be sure to leave a quick review of your experience below to help others with their decision.

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My $5 IT Department: My New Go-To Resource for Website Fixes

This week I discovered a couple embarrassing bugs on two of my websites.

In the first case, the sidebar was mysteriously not showing up on certain pages.

Ugh, how long has it been like that!?

In the second case, the pagination was messed up. When you would click on “Older posts”, the URL would advance to “page-2” but the content would be the exact same as page 1!

Ugh, how long has it been like that!?

Now in the past, I’ve recommended a service called Tweaky.com for small website fixes like this. But they’ve been getting hammered in the reviews lately and apparently are re-branding into an entirely new company — Elto.com.

So I thought I’d try a different angle:

Fiverr.

(One of my favorite places to start for any outsourcing project.)

I searched for “wordpress fix” and sorted by “high rating.”

I found a couple sellers with excellent feedback to test out:

  1. wordpress_seo
  2. tremonty89

I was impressed!

Literally within minutes, my sidebar problem was fixed, and a few hours later, my pagination error was gone too.

Total cost: $10. (vs. what would have been a $78 minimum over at the-website-formerly-known-as Tweaky).

My new recommendation?

Check Fiverr first.

Have you had any success (or other experiences) w/ Fiverr? If so, please be sure to stop by the Fiverr page at VirtualAssistantAssistant.com and drop in a quick review!

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Noon Dalton

Noon Dalton is a virtual assistant and business process outsourcing company in India, with call center support in the Philippines and a front-end sales offices in Florida and New York.

The company gets its very-non-SEO name from its two co-founders, Jehan Noon and Edward Dalton. With extensive experience in consulting and outsourcing, they founded the company in 2009, and it has grown to nearly 200 employees occupying a 30,000 square foot facility.

Noon Dalton Services

noon dalton reviewNoon Dalton focuses on outsourced business and admin support for small and medium businesses. In particular, their college-educated virtual assistants specialize in real estate, financial services, recruiting, and social media.

If you have processes in place and need help executing, or have things you need to get done but don’t have time, these guys want your business. The company aims for low-turnover, long-term relationships, which keeps both the agents and clients happy.

Each client is assigned a dedicated VA, and their work is managed by an on-site quality assurance team. You interface directly with your VA, but have management and process-support accessible should the need arise.

Noon Dalton is excited about their new facility in the Philippines, built specifically for phone-support virtual assistants.

Plans and Pricing

Although the company is a little coy about pricing, I was able to get the inside scoop from Jehan. (These are ballpark figures, and subject to change.)

You can choose from either a full-time plan or a half-time plan, and can select your preferred working time zone as well. The full-time plan includes support 6 days per week, Monday through Saturday, totaling around 200 hours per month

An entry level VA (perfect for routine admin tasks or data entry) is $1250 per month, or just over $6 an hour.

A more senior-level VA with more client-facing experience or advanced skills is around $1700 per month, or around $8.20 an hour.

These rates are similar to what you’ll find at other virtual assistant companies in India at the entry level, which is what most firms advertise. Even at the higher end, which might be at a premium relative to the competition, it’s still kind of crazy to imagine being able to hire a college grad full-time, 6 days a week for $8.20 an hour.

What value could that deliver for your business?

Noon Dalton offers a 3-day free trial on personal plans, plus there are no long term contracts; everything is month-to-month.

Virtual Assistant Assistant Exclusive: Mention referral code VAA to extend the free trial offer to 5 days!

Businesses are encouraged to start small, especially if it’s your first time outsourcing, to get your feet wet with delegation and management — and then ramp up the engagement as growth necessitates.

For an inbound or outbound calling VA in the Philippines, the rate is around $1750 per month for full-time help.

For part-time (half-time) help, please contact the company directly for a quote.

Notes

Noon Dalton won the 2013 New York Enterprise Report award for Best International Operations, and was recognized on the 2013 SmartCEO Future 50 list.

Your Turn

Have you worked with NoonDalton? If so, please be sure to leave a quick review of your experience below to help others with their decision.

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AssistU

AssistU (AssistU.com) is a virtual assistant training and certification service, that also allows prospective would-be employers to tap into their database of pre-qualified VAs. The company was founded way back in 1997 by Anastacia Brice, back when the term “virtual assistant” barely existed.

AssistU focuses on the provider side of the business, rather than the client side. You’ll notice most of the offerings are aimed toward current and prospective virtual assistants.

Services

assistu reviewThere are 2 primary levels of service: a self study program and an intensive 16-week Virtual Mentoring Program. Both of these culminate in a 3-day pass/fail final exam, with the VAs who pass earning the title of Certified Professional Virtual Assistant.

From the client side, the benefit of hiring through AssistU means getting paired up with someone you know takes their business seriously enough to invest in the training and certification. Their preparation in their own business readiness makes them all the more qualified to handle your business tasks.

The primary customers for AssistU are coaches, consultants, realtors, info-marketers, and other professionals and solopreneurs.

How it Works

AssistU offers two options for customers looking to hire a virtual assistant. The first option is the free DIY method, in which you fill out a detailed questionnaire of the kind of service you’re looking for, your delegation experience, and more.

You can filter by time zone, certifications, desired hours per month (it would be very rare to request more than 30 hours a month), and even computer platform. Virtual assistants who meet your criteria respond directly to you and you hire and pay them directly. AssistU has no involvement and doesn’t do any payment processing on an ongoing basis.

The second option is Registry Gold. In this option, you work one-on-one with Anastacia and she plays virtual matchmaker for you. The cost for this service is a one-time $750 fee.

If you’re looking for a long term VA, as most AssistU clients are, the recruiting cost is somewhat negligible.

Plans and Pricing

Although AssistU has VAs from all over the world — and there are more than 300 in their database at the moment — the majority hail from the US and Canada. Naturally, that means the rates are higher than you’ll find overseas, through a freelance platform, or even than through many of the US-based VA companies.

On the low end, you might expect to pay $35/hr, with $50 an hour being closer to average. For senior virtual assistants or those with super-specialized skill-sets, you might be looking at north of $100/hr.

All AssistU VAs are bound by a code of ethics agreement and can have their certification revoked if they’re found to be in violation.

AssistU Alternatives?

The virtual assistant candidates you find elsewhere will probably not have the extensive training and certification as those found through AssistU, but that may not matter to you in your business.

If you’re looking to hire a VA in North America but are looking for a little more management oversight, I would consider eaHELP or Longer Days.

For a slightly lower price point to start, you might check out Zirtual or even post your job to Elance. I’m always surprised by affordability of the bids I get back on that platform from candidates in the US and Canada.

Your Turn

Have you hired a VA from AssistU? Please share a quick review of your experience below to help others with their decision.

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