I finally decided to give the VA services Timothy Ferris describes in his book “The 4 hour work week” a try (see previous post). I contacted YMII who then forwarded me to GetFridady, apparently a sister company that specializes in providing VAs to foreigners (not Indians).
It too us a full week of backs and forth to figure out how many hours a month I’ll need my VA to work and specially for the company to decide which VA to assign me based on my needs. 5 days, 10 e-mails and 3 phone calls later I received an introductory e-mail from my VA.
I read during my research, and was reminded again by GetFriday, that having a successful relationship with your VA is much of a learning process, so I decided to get start by assigning him tasks that were redundant, meaning someone from our in-house team had already done or will do the same tame task to make sure everything was done according to our standards and also to double check the information my VA was sending was reliable.
The first task I assigned was to do a small study of our competition, which in a niche as small as “architecture competitions for students” we already knew from top to bottom. I provided a spreadsheet with a column for each specific piece of data we were interested from each of the competitors and asked him to do a Google search for companies offering these kind of services and fill in the spreadsheet. I told my VA this should not take more than 3 hours.
My first surprise was a reply from my VA telling me it will take him (and his team) 2 days to deliver. Two days for a three hours assignment?
Two days later I received the spreadsheet back with a polite e-mail saying most of the information wasn’t available on-line. I decided to compare the half empty spreadsheet my VA sent with the one we keep and regularly update in-house. Second surprise, not only we had been able to find most of the information GetFriday was unable to but a lot of the information they did provide was wrong. And I’m not talking about anything fancy or complicated, one of the data parameters we asked for was the date the company was founded and suggested they looked up the date the domain was registered in who.is to figure it out (I know the date a company is created and the date a domain is registered has little relation, but for the purpose of this experiment it was accurate enough). They listed our main competitor as founded in 2011, which we know was founded in 2009.
I sent the spreadsheet back to my VA explaining my concern and he assured me his team would revise it and send it back.
Three days later I got the revised spreadsheet. I have to admit there were way fewer empty spaces than the first time, but after seeing they had changed the previously incorrect founding date of our main competitors from 2011 to 2013 (again, they were founded in 2009) I decided not to double check the rest of the information…
A couple other minor tasks were assigned and delivered with average quality and again with a two days delivery time.