Kody Thompson, founder of wodsites.co and lightningsites.com, is the kind of client every virtual assistant wants! He takes the time to understand what his virtual staff needs, wants, and makes sure that no matter where they're located, everyone feels like an important part of the team. The good news for Kody is, building these successful virtual teams has had a HUGE payoff for his companies! Read how he made it happen, and what advice he has for other entrepreneurs who are struggling with growing pains in their business:
What were you struggling with in your business that led you to begin working with a virtual assistant?
There are a lot of repetitive tasks that happen day in and day out in every business, and it was the same in my first design agency. Many of these repetitive tasks are often not income generating and they were quickly consuming a lot of the time. As my agency grew I was being snowed under by a lot of administration tasks such as support emails, invoicing, bank reconciling, project management and more. It was because of these struggles I began to look for someone who could support me as a kind of personal assistant. Beth, my General Assistant became my first hire. And today she is my Executive Assistant and manages our team of 12 outsourced staff.
Tell us a little about what you have delegated and how you work together?
Writing systems has been key for the growth of our business. I am kind of system obsessed! I began two years ago systemizing all the repetitive tasks in my business by creating flowcharts, canned emails and templates as well as productizing all our services so that they could be sold using subscription models rather than time based services. Once these systems are created they are stored on a Google Site which we have set up as a kind of company intranet. This is essentially what we use to train new staff and has made it very easy to scale up the delivery of our services without compromising the quality of our products.
Our team started with all my staff working remotely from their homes in the Philippines, however I had always planned on pulling everyone into an office environment and so I had been hiring all my staff in the same city, Dumaguete. 6 months ago I created a Filipino corporation with my senior staff, took a 12 month lease on a building and we expanded our team to 12 in that office. Every morning I meet with that team on Skype and we use Teamwork Project Manager for task delegation and Teamwork Desk to manage all our client support.
Other apps that help us work collaboratively as a team include Xero, Google Apps, Stripe and Facebook.
How has working with a virtual assistant supported your business, and you personally?
Working with a virtual team has allowed me to provide a higher quality service than my competitors at a lower price. It has allowed us to double our income and profitability every year for the past 3 years. There is NO way we could have done this without VAs. The numbers simply don’t work. I know this because many of our competitors are scratching their heads while we leave them behind.
This growth in our business and the work we did delegating the daily tasks to my team has meant that my wife and I have been able to do 3 months of oversea travel during the last financial year. At first I was terrified to leave my business for months at a time until, once we finally built up the guts to do it, we ended up making more money while I was traveling than we had in the months prior. That really helped me to break that personal arrogance in me, that I thought that some-how without me my team would not work. I found that they were far more capable than I had given them credit for.
What differences have you noticed in your business since you began working with a virtual assistant?
Sometimes we think to ourselves “no-one can do it as good as me.” It’s truly prideful but I think most of us, if we are honest, have thought that in our businesses. We think that if we get other people to do it they won’t do it as well. However, since working with virtual staff I have found that with the right training many of my staff have become better than me at a lot of things and in actual fact, the more we have systemized and delegated the higher the quality of service we have been able to offer our clients. Before hiring virtual staff I was so busy that basic things like replying to email enquiries, remember past conversations with clients and getting work done for clients on time was starting to drop in quality. Hiring virtual staff has been the single most important part of turning this around in our business.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs seeking virtual assistants?
My advice to entrepreneurs who are thinking of getting a virtual assistant would be:
- Do it right now. Don’t wait until you think you have got everything ‘ready.’ Often times friends of mine say things like “I have to finishing systemizing this” or “I have to wait until I finish these projects.” Hire someone right now who can help you to create the systems together or you will always be waiting until you are ‘ready’
- Understand that there is no SUPER VA. Just because they live somewhere else doesn’t some how mean they know how to do EVERYTHING in your business. Hiring a VA is just like hiring a local staff member. Think about what skills you require first and hire for that skill set/personality. Then train them just like you would a local staff member. Most times I hear of people having poor experiences with VA’s it’s because they had unrealistic expectations and they have little to no on-boarding or training for new staff.
- Treat your VA’s as the gold they are for your business. I have the most amazing staff in my team but that’s because I treat them as my greatest asset. The stories I hear from my Filipino staff about the way they were treated in their last overseas company makes me sick. There are too many entrepreneurs who treat Virtual Staff as slaves instead of part of their team. Just because their labour costs are cheaper doesn’t mean they deserve any less respect or love than local staff. All of my staff are valuable and receive the same opportunities for promotion and reward, regardless of their nationality or hourly rate.
Looking to hire your own virtual assistant? Start here!
Kody Thompson is the the creator of wodsites.co and lightningsites.com two marketing and website companies focused on helping customers in different industries build fast, hassle-free websites for their businesses. Connect with Kody on LinkedIn, and keep up with Wodsites.co by following their Facebook page.