Running the day-to-day operations of a pizzeria is hard work. What if you could hand off some of that work to an off-site employee, helping to free up time for more pressing matters?
The idea of having a virtual assistant was almost unheard of a decade ago, but today, its popularity continues to grow as the Internet opens up opportunities for freelancers of all expertise levels to assist busy entrepreneurs.
I recently spoke with Nick Loder, author of Virtual Assistant Assistant: The Ultimate Guide to Finding, Hiring, and Working with Virtual Assistants, and operator of virtualassistantassistant.com, about the ways pizzeria operators can benefit from hiring virtual assistants, as well as his tips for the beginner.
The Pizza Insider: How can pizzeria operators best use a virtual assistant?
Nick Loder: Having another set of eyes is always a good idea in business. Owners can use an assistant for any position that doesn’t need a presence in the pizzeria, such as reservations, bookkeeping, accounting, etc.
The Pizza Insider: For those who have never hired a virtual assistant before, where should they start?
Nick Loder: Before anything, start tracking your time. This will help you define what you can assign to a virtual assistant. If you can itemize tasks that you can delegate, you’ll set both parties up for success. There’s a free online stopwatch called Toggl that monitors how much time you spend on given tasks, which can help you see where you’re spending the majority of your time. For short projects, Elance.com and FancyHands.com are good places to start; you can practice with a few task-based services until you get a feel for it.
The Pizza Insider: What do you think holds some business owners back from using a virtual assistant?
Nick Loder: Having a virtual assistant puts you in a position of vulnerability, which stressed me out in the beginning. You’re thinking to yourself that they may screw things up, or steal your business secrets. However, having a virtual assistant can also save you a lot of time. You have to think of it as sourcing, not outsourcing. Virtual assistants can be another member of your team.
The Pizza Insider: When posting a project on a virtual assistant site, there are often dozens upon dozens of responses. What’s the best way to weed through them?
Nick Loder: I like to cast a wide net and then narrow down the candidates. First of all, check what they write in the job description response. Do they write something personal to you about your job, or just copy/paste the same thing to everyone? Then check the percentage of jobs they’ve completed compared to the percentage of jobs they’ve been rated on. You want most of the employers to have given them a high rating. Once I have it narrowed down to five or six candidates, I ask each of them to perform the same short task (less than 30 minutes and related to job). I also tell them that I’m available for any questions during the task (most don’t ask, which tells a lot). From this narrowing down process, I’m usually able to find a good candidate for my project.
Want more? Check out a related podcast with Nick here.
Have you ever hired a virtual assistant? What has been your experience? Tell me about it in the comments.