Why brick-and-mortar store owners should hire a virtual assistant
Let’s be real—many shopkeepers aren’t delegating enough. As store owners, I want you to be focused on tasks that make $50 an hour rather than $10 or $20 an hour. That’s where a virtual assistant can come in handy!
A virtual assistant provides professional administrative, technical, or creative assistance to clients remotely from a home office. They are generally 1099 employees. They have their own online service-based business and they invoice you for their service or services.
What can a retailer delegate to a Virtual Assistant?
This is the most common question I hear from retail business owners. We are so used to doing everything ourselves that we have a hard time thinking about what someone else could do for us.
Worse are the retail business owners who have control issues and this keeps them from delegating or hiring. This can be a problem for business owners who want to grow and scale their business. You have to let go! If you don’t, you will find that you can’t break a certain threshold in revenue at your store.
If this is you—if you’re wondering why you can’t break $100,000 or $150,000 (or whatever number it may be) and you work alone—this could very well be why.
Every time you open your laptop or hop on a computer to do a task related to your brick and mortar business, think to yourself —could a VA do this work for me?
Here’s a list of tasks VAs are currently doing for retail business owners:
- File and photo management
- Social media curation, creation and/or scheduling
- Email management
- Inventory data entry
- Email marketing
- Setting up & managing online storefronts
- Organizing digital materials on Google Drive
- Calendar management
- Website maintenance
- Customer service tasks
There’s much more that can be hired out to a VA, but you get the picture. Anything that a typical office assistant can do, a VA can do too!
What should a retailer expect to pay a VA?
This is probably the 2nd most common question I hear about hiring VAs.
Someone recently asked this in Master Shopkeepers and it’s not a cut and dry answer. As retail store owners, we aren’t all the same. Our revenue isn’t the same, our comfort levels with hiring aren’t the same, but if you remember what I said in episode #30, my mission with Savvy Shopkeeper is to get you to work less and profit more.
So to answer your question about pay for VA, here are three examples:
1. Hire an Intern
Do a free 60-90 day trial. At this level, you are training them and then hire them if they are a good fit. Rather than investing in dollars, you are making an investment in time.
Training someone to do what you do in your business online, will take time. At this level, you should be prepared to train them on the programs you use, you should be prepared to set up a system (I use a Trello board) and have processes in place so it’s easy to train someone.
2) Hire an entry-level VA or use a current team member
This will usually cost you $10-15/hour—most likely it’s a minimum wage employee. It can work nicely for the employee who wants more hours of work but wants to work from home, is tech-savvy, and has a laptop or computer at home.
The benefit here is that they are familiar with your store, your brand, your customers, your products, and maybe even your voice. There’s less training involved here because they might already have some VA training, or they are already your employee and have been trained in the store.
Between the two of you, systems and processes will have to be set up for the online virtual work that will be done.
3) Hire an experienced or specialized VA
Usually, this is anywhere from $25-50/hour. At this hourly rate, this person should guide YOU by setting up a system. They should work quickly and have experience in their field.
For instance, if it’s someone managing your social media, they should be able to write content using YOUR voice, they should review your insights and provide suggestions/recommendations on strategy. You should also expect them to set up a scheduling software like Later where you can approve posts before they go out.
One thing to keep in mind about the term “Virtual Assistant”
The term “Virtual Assistant” is a very general one these days. A VA can be someone who handles mostly administrative tasks, of course. But there are those who specialize in specific skills, too, like social media managers, copywriters, and email marketers. They all work remotely, so they can all fall under the umbrella of virtual assistants.
If you plan on delegating a specialized task, like social media, you could search for a Virtual Assistant or you could search for a Social Media Manager. Just keep this in mind when hiring and searching.
There are business-related tasks we, as retailers, can all delegate. If you decide to hire someone for VA type services, the less you pay the more training and/or structure you will need to provide. If you budget more for this type of service, the provider should be skilled and be giving YOU structure around the tasks.
I know for a fact that most shopkeepers are not delegating enough. As a retail store owner, you should not be spending your time doing $10-20/hour tasks. YOU should be focusing on work that is valued at $50/hour or more.
So when you’re doing data entry, when you’re in your email inbox answering the same questions over and over again, when you’re scheduling social media posts, when you’re doing work that seems very admin-related and routine, a good question to ask yourself… is this something a million-dollar business owner would do?
It’s not so much about the million dollars, it’s about putting the value of your time and your work as a business owner into perspective.
I also want to add that most Virtual Assistants are providing services and working for online service-based business owners. They aren’t generally familiar with the needs of brick and mortar store owners.
That’s why I’m currently building a referral network of Virtual Assistants that specifically serve retail business owners. If you’re a VA who has experience serving brick and mortar store owners and want to be part of my referral network please use the contact form on my website or DM me on Instagram at @savvyshopkeeper. If you’re a brick and mortar store owner who is currently working with a VA and they want more clients, have them reach out to me too!
In Master Shopkeepers, I’ll be teaching members how to prepare for working with a VA. We’ll cover things like how to protect your login and password information when working with a VA, how to set up a system to work collaboratively with a VA, how to hold them accountable, and how to set up KPIs for them. Some of these lessons and tools will be added to the Shopkeepers Lab, too. You’ll find info about both The Shopkeepers Lab and Master Shopkeepers at shopkeepersacademy.com.
It might seem like a lot of work to onboard a Virtual Assistant and it does take some effort at the start. But once you set this up, you won’t have to recreate the wheel each time!
- Shopkeeper Shoutout: Samantha Previs of Absolutely Southern Designs
- Episode #32: Who Should Independent Retailers Hire for Social Media Management?
- Episode #30: Work Less. Profit More.
- Tools for Shopkeepers
- Master Shopkeepers & the Shopkeepers Lab
- [02:06] What is a virtual assistant?
- [02:44] What can you delegate to a VA?
- [06:18] What should you expect to pay a VA?
- [12:09] Defining the term virtual assistant
- [13:10] Changing your mindset so you can delegate the $10-20/hour tasks
- [15:01] The Savvy Shopkeeper VA referral network