Things are starting to pick up speed. It was slow going at first. It took you a while to build your private therapy practice, but now you can finally see the fruit of your labor. You’re booking clients, bringing in more revenue, and making your mother proud.
The only problem is you can’t keep up with the rate of your growth. There are more calls coming in than one person can handle. You can’t do callbacks while doing sessions while doing bookkeeping.
Success is a happy problem to have, but you should address its associated problems sooner rather than later.
If the above sounds like you, or if you just feel like you’re always behind in the day-to-day functions of your private practice, this is the post for you. Below, we’re going to discuss why a virtual assistant may be the solution to your business dilemma.
What is a Virtual Assistant?
A virtual assistant is a person who provides support to another person or business. This support can be administrative/clerical, technical, or creative.
Virtual assistants generally work from their own homes and do not physically work inside your office. They don’t have to live in your city, your state, or even your continent. You can hire a virtual assistant who lives and works on the opposite side of the globe.
The benefit of hiring a location-independent worker is that you aren’t limited to your geographical location. You can find the best worker in the world, quite literally. If she lives in Timbuktu and you live in Tucson, it can still work as long as she has a private computer with a dependable high speed Internet connection.
How Will a Virtual Assistant Help My Private Therapy Practice?
As mentioned earlier, there are several types of virtual assistants. Let’s take a closer look at how you can use the services of a virtual assistant in your private therapy practice:
Your virtual assistant can take on the traditional role of a secretary. He or she can help you:
Manage and organize tasks
Coordinate travel plans
Return calls and provide voicemail management
Offer customer service
Provide email support
Provide chat/ online support
Your virtual assistant can also help manage your private life such as:
Buy gifts for family and friends
Provide personal shopping services
You can also hire a virtual assistant to perform the technical tasks that you don’t know how to do (or just don’t feel like doing), such as:
Set up a website
Set up systems and processes
Perform monthly maintenance on your website
Transcribe your audio files into text
Set up an email newsletter
Set up email auto-responders
Remember to maintain your passwords, though. If you have to replace a virtual assistant, you don’t want to risk being locked out of your website because you don’t know the password.
Design your website
Create content for your website
Create articles for guest posts
Do other graphic design work
Market your private therapy practice
Create newsletters (email and otherwise)
Set up Direct Mail Marketing
All things social media (setup, schedule, post, create content, manage, respond)
This is definitely not an exhaustive list, but as you can see from the above, hiring a virtual assistant will free up a lot of time from your busy schedule.
What Type of Virtual Assistant Do I Need?
Using the above as your guide, decide what type of virtual assistant you need the most. You may only need someone to help you with the one-time setup of your email list. Or you may want someone to answer all incoming calls and handle ongoing scheduling requests.
A virtual assistant may offer service in a specific niche with years of experience or he or she can be a hard-working college kid who’s got a knack for social media marketing.
Depending on your needs, you may choose to hire a one-size-fits-all virtual assistant who will help you on daily tasks or go for a limited engagement.
How Do You Conduct an Interview?
When it’s time to interview your prospective virtual assistant, head to Skype, or even Google Hangouts. You shouldn’t interview this person through a series of emails, or even over the phone. You’ll want to do a face to face meeting to get a good idea of who you’re dealing with.
Here you can gauge body language, personality, and Internet connection. If they don’t have a fast enough connection to handle a Skype call, that’s a red flag.
Another benefit of Skype and Google Hangouts is that you can record these video calls for later reference. This is handy if you plan to interview several virtual assistants before making your mind.
Not sure what questions to ask during your interview? Here’s a list to get you started:
What is your experience as a virtual assistant?
How long have you been a virtual assistant?
What services do you provide?
What services don’t you provide?
What is your typical process like?
Do you work by yourself or with a team? If so, who will be my main point of contact?
What hours are you available?
Do you work for other clients?
Do you work as a virtual assistant full time or part time?
Do you have references?
How much do you charge?
Do you charge by the hour, or do you prefer to charge by project?
What is your email turnaround?
How Much Should You Pay?
There’s an old adage, and it’s especially true when searching for the right virtual assistant for your private therapy practice: You get what you pay for.
It’s crucial to consider your budget. How much you can realistically pay someone to do this service for you?
In the US, the median pay rate for a virtual assistant is $16.06 per hour.
Image Courtesy of Payscale
Depending on the agreement between you and your virtual assistant, this rate may slide up or down on the scale. I wouldn’t dream of telling you how much to pay, but I would caution that you compensate for competence.
This is especially important when hiring someone to be the face of your customer service. If you’re looking for someone to represent your private therapy practice to your customers, budget should bow to professionalism.
Prepare the Virtual Assistant
It takes effort and preparation to introduce a new virtual assistant to your private therapy practice. Whether the transition is smooth or bumpy depends on you.
We recommend having processes in place, no matter how basic, to help guide your virtual assistant in their new position.
Have you set the ground rules for what you expect, such as how often you’d like to do a check-in or how often the virtual assistant should check incoming voicemails and emails?
Do you have set email templates you like to send to your clients to confirm or follow up after an appointment?
Do you use TheraNest to easily and securely share information with your new virtual assistant?
Create a checklist or even a video that walks your new virtual assistant through the process. This way, you cut down on the ambiguity of what the job entails.
Ask for a Trial Period
Instead of hiring a virtual assistant straight on, consider doing a trial period of between 30 to 60 days. Use this preliminary period to test if you’re a good fit for each other. While you can always fire someone later, it can get pretty uncomfortable. But if you’ve set up a trial period, both parties know that the end of the period may not result in employment.
Make Communication a Top Priority
When you’re working with someone who doesn’t work in the same office with you, you’ve got to make communication a priority. Think about these questions:
How do you prefer to communicate? Email, phone, chat?
Are you on opposite sides of the globe? Do you prefer to work with your virtual assistant in tandem or does it bother you if your assistant is working when you’re sleeping?
How often do you need to check in with your virtual assistant?
Hiring a virtual assistant may be one of the smartest decisions you can make to grow your private therapy practice while freeing up your time. It’s important to be clear and realistic with your expectations, and remember to pay accordingly.