Ep005 – J Hunter – How To Use Virtual Assistants Effectively
Gerri: Hey, I hope everybody is doing all right out there. Welcome to the show.
Today, I have a special guest and actually a friend of mine that I met about three years ago online. Straight away when I was entering this Internet-marketing field, I was reaching out to everyone who could give me information that I was looking for. I really didn’t know what I wanted to do and I looked into this type of business.
His name is J Hunter. Actually, he called me on the phone. I thought, “Oh my gosh! I’ve got this owner of this company to call me on the phone!” I thought that was the coolest thing ever. He doesn’t know it. But now you do, J. I thought that was so cool, and that’s why we’re still doing business today – it’s because he’s personable and likeable and go-getter just like I am, and you’re going to find why, too.
J Hunter has been a project manager and IT administrator for over 10 years. In his spare time, he built a multi-national virtual assistant company with over 40 team members in the Philippines, South America, India, Dominica and the good old United States of America. He consults for over 100 clients, and specializes in digital mediums and inbound marketing.
J made this transition to operate his business full-time on leap day this year, that’s February 29th. He is now fulfilling his true dreams and passions. He travels to the Philippines a few times a year. He has actually just returned back with his family after developing his team for the entire month of May.
Today with J, we’re going to talk about delegating some of the tasks within your business. He’s going to teach you how to use his company. How are you doing, J? Thanks for being on.
J: I am fantastic. Thank you for that. You’re welcome.
Yeah, I think if people took a little more time into their business and be more personable, then I think they’d get some better results. There’s competition in every field. If you can really show them that you are willing to do that extra effort, like you and I, I think that goes a long way.
Gerri: That is another podcast. I’m writing it down right now. That will be the next one we have. I am so about customer experience and being one-on-one, and helping in the whole bits. That’s awesome! We’re going to do that one, too.
Just to get started, let’s get into the middle of this. We’re really going to get some actionable things today and also fundamental reasons and benefits from why you should do what Jay Hunter’s company is doing for you, why you should utilize that. We’ll get started with – Jay, I want you to explain to the audience here why you got into this business. We’re talking about virtual assistants. Maybe you could give us a little idea of what that is and why you got into that business.
J: Sure. Obviously, the one thing that we do not have enough of on this Earth is time. Time is something that is consumed every day. We never have enough of it. We always wish that we had more time.
As a project manager and IT administrator – I call it the corporate job – it was really challenging to manage my business. You have so many e-mails and projects, and spreadsheets, and meetings. You are trying to juggle that. Having someone to actually help you navigate all that and still look professional and stay on top of everything – it is just absolutely critical to any business.
A virtual assistant is basically an assistant who helps you just like an assistant in real life, except it is virtual. With the global economy that we have now, there are definitely some benefits out in the virtual world. A lot of emerging economy is also having high-speed internet now. You can have not just limited to where you geographically are. Of course, that is beneficial from a cost standpoint.
You can get significant cost reduction utilizing the international market. You’re looking at a wage in the Philippines around $7-10 an hour, depending on the types of services you need. Whether it’s the web-development or someone to help you answer phone calls, or just do lead generation for you and finding contacts. There are so many different things that we need to do for our businesses, but it’s so time consuming that our time is better spent elsewhere.
Gerri: And you saw that when you were in a corporate realm. I’ve been there, too. In the corporate realm, you see, I’m completely inundated. I cannot even do my job as well as I could do it, so I need some help.
You saw that you could leverage a little bit of that expertise of someone else on a budget. And you did that. Over that period of time, you learned how to delegate to people and what should be delegated.
At the end of this, I’d actually like to know a few things that we could delegate as solopreneurs, as small business owners, whether you have a brick and mortar, or you are just getting started in the internet realm, and getting your website up, and your social media. Whatever stage, you can still delegate some tasks out.
Let’s get into what ‘delegate’ means. What is delegation, J?
J: Anything that you can come up with instructions for, and you can actually train someone to do, is definitely a great prime candidate to be delegated. For example, every single inbound e-mail that we get at our company vastffer.com is sourced by the virtual assistant team.
Cavika Hughes– she is technically on the project success team, but she is really my own virtual assistant – she gets all the inbound inquiries and tries to filter and see which ones are a good fit for us. It lets me get to the point where I know I have a very short list of things that I need to do on a daily basis. Instead of being overwhelmed when waking up and looking at all these different things that I need to do, I have a very clear and concise agenda for the day.
Things that are able to be delegated are of course things that can be repeatable. They have to make sure that this is a task that is repeatable. For example, I do a lot of consultation for interior designers and internet marketers, and obviously, you work with me with a lot of them, but it’s always good to have fresh leads, people that are potential clients.
One of the things that I used to do on a daily basis is go and actually find people on LinkedIn who are candidates to work with me and could actually be a potential client of mine. Every day I have my team members go on and follow a very specific process to find and validate, and verify potential clients that would be a great fit for us and get their contact information for me. That’s viable to always have fresh leads. That’s an example of delegation.
Gerri: That’s perfect! It’s something like you said that is repeatable, you can train someone else to do it. You can give them the search criteria, and someone can take off with that. And think of how much time…
Number one, hopefully you’re doing lead generation. That will be another conversation, another podcast. But definitely if you’re doing lead generation, you know it takes time to pick through all the people you want to work with or whom you want to come into your virtual doors. That can take tons of time off your plate.
Then what can you do with that? I think the whole purpose of that leveraging is to free yourself up so that you can now do another part of your business, whether it’s lead nurturing now, or maybe restructuring a part of your business, or taking the next step for growth. Whatever that is, getting your own infrastructure down so that you can prepare for that growth. That’s awesome!
We covered why someone would delegate. But can you get a little more into the why and how you delegate? How do you do this? You can get as detailed as you want to – however you want to answer that.
J: I think you have just hit the nail on the head earlier, because there’s a lot of things that we can do. We can do anything. We can do everything, but you shouldn’t because it’s really a huge waste of value of your time.
How much is your time really worth? I know what my time is better spent doing which is revenue generating activities. Those three words put together – revenue generating activities – these things are where the money is. This is having your one-on-one meetings with your clients. These are your consultations. These are the services that you provide. This are going to the meetings. These are the things that I do. This is the thing as internet marketer, or a consultant, or a coach, or whatever type of firm that you have. If you have a brick and mortar business there are things that create value.
Looking at a spreadsheet, copying and pasting names or numbers is not a revenue generating activity. It is definitely not the best value of your time. If you are your own secretary, then you are doing it wrong. You really need to make sure that you are focused on whatever brings in the most money for your business.
Let’s take this from a sales perspective. You are a sales person. And this is something that we do a lot in our company – we do virtual sales assistant, virtual sales agents. Basically, we go out and we find all of these contacts for people, for all these sales agents so that they can actually make these phone calls and try to drive these calls. Or they put them in autoresponder campaigns, they put them in different tools like outreach.io and other great lead nurturing campaign tools.
It’s so time consuming to go out and find these things. It’s not revenue generating activities. Your revenue generating activity is following up on that lead, contacting that lead, calling that person, having a meeting with that person, having lunch with that person. That is what your time is better spent with.
Whatever your business is there are always things that are revenue generating activities, and that’s really the focal point. Every single business has revenue generating activities. That’s what you need to be focused on. And you need to have everything else that is not actively creating you revenue done somewhere else.
Gerri: That’s perfect. Let me hit on something, too. Just in general, this is my experience – your cold traffic, or your hardly warm leads can be handled automatically and by someone else. Your initial lead generation can be handled by someone else. Getting people in the door – that should be a constant stream of traffic coming into your doors, leading people into your sales funnel. That will be another day as well if you’re not familiar with what a sales funnel is.
On the other side of that, now you have the people who are your clients now – they’ve bought from you, they’ve spent money with you – now it’s time to either take them to the next level, or create partnerships, and take that relationship to a different level. Because that’s really when the money starts coming in. And this is something that people don’t know. They sell to people once and they let it go – “It’s okay, I made my money, I’m good”.
But that lead nurturing or that client relationship – the development of that takes a while. You can continue to sell to these people, especially if your business is growing with the people that are already in your funnel.
You don’t stop there. Those people that you’ve already developed that relationship with – you can continue to keep them in your funnel, or further down your funnel, or now at an advanced level to do some partnership, some JVs and move down the road with them. Don’t leave those people alone.
But automate all that other stuff so that you can really get into the more advanced and upper-level parts of your business and make that money. Like Jay was saying, that’s where you need to be.
J: You’re right. If you are really focusing on your company correctly, you will have an automated system before your virtual assistant is engaged. Because your virtual assistant’s time is very valuable.
If you’re doing a very successful business and you’re very busy, you need not have enough people. Automation is key. You want to have it filtered and segmented, so that when people contact you, they have an e-mail automatically sent to them, they are put into a list, that list is nurtured and all you need to do is go in and look at this person, and find out what they are doing.
You and I, of course, using conversion marketing one-on-one, so we know what people are doing on our websites, they are tracked. They have complete automation systems that’s integrated with our websites.
Automation is the only way to cut down manpower. You’re going to have to have a person with brain at some point. So what can you have done until that point? Because the more that you can have done automated until that piece, that’s it.
Let me get into a little bit more about what not to delegate. We talked about what to delegate. We didn’t talk about what not to delegate.
You do not delegate relationships. You are in charge of the relationships that you build. You need to foster those relationships. You should be actively engaging with your current clientele, you should be actively engaging with your potential clientele. That’s really what business is about in any industry.
With that said, one of the things that really does it for me – and I think everybody should have this whole aha moment in their lives – is that there comes a point in time when you realize that you are either working too much. You’re working 18 hours a day, like I was doing, you’re doing 12 hours a day whatever it is. You are not spending time with your family, and there’s also a cost benefit of that.
You can always say, “Look, I can work and do all of that stuff.” Yeah, that’s fantastic. But talk about your quality of life. Can you take a day off? A lot of people can’t take a day off! I was there for many-many years. You just can’t take a day off.
If you genuinely think about your time, you will have to make an investment of your time. And this is a disclaimer I put on everybody ever working with a virtual assistant, or even an in-house assistant. You must invest the time. And you must be ready and patient to invest the time into developing out your team, and your standards, and your processes.
You have to have these processes, because if you don’t actually develop a “Here is – step one – step two – step three”, maybe some screenshots. I like to use a program called TinyTake, which is a video capture service – it’s free, you can record five-minute video clips if you want somebody do something repeatable. And guess what – if that person leaves, or if they have a baby, or need a day of – because yeah, virtual assistants need days off, too – that at a sample in time someone can actually look at these instructions and say, “Oh, yeah, this makes sense”.
I get so many people that come to me, because they’ve gone and hired their own virtual assistant, they’ve spent all these months training this person and then they just disappeared, or they moved on, or they quit, or whatever the reason is. And then they have to start all over again, and it’s so frustrating. Please, do yourself a favor – invest in yourself by investing in your team.
Gerri: That’s perfect. And you mentioned a tool – what was the tool that you mentioned? The video clip tool?
J: TinyTake. Tinytake.com by MangoApps. It’s lovely. You can take screenshots with it, you can make video recording. It takes little five-minute video clips. It’s free. The price is right.
Gerri: It’s perfect. I use ScreenFlow – I’m a Mac user, J is the Windows user. From Mac, I use ScreenFlow.
ScreenFlow is a perfect same thing, and I’ve sent many a video to J’s team for me. Of course, you have one person reviewing it. And then they have a backup. They are reviewing it, and you are not retraining every time. That’s huge.
I come from a training background. I’m a trainer. I’m really-really an advocate of training your people and freeing up your time and having it run on automatic. You’re going to nurture that, too, and you’re going to do additional training, and you’re going to check in and all that. But the value is just incredible.
J: I will definitely give you this, Gerri. I’ve been a project manager for quite some time. And I will tell you this. This is a fact that many people try to deny. A project will consist of a variety of resources, money. But the one thing you cannot change is time. You cannot change the time on a project.
The only way to change the time on a project is to put more money and more people into a project. That’s the only way. The time is the same. The time is always the same. You can’t fast forward it, you can’t rewind it.
You have to look at a cost benefit analysis of what you’re doing right now. If you’re not doing that, and you’re not evaluating yourself on a constant basis at least a couple of months – every couple of months you should be looking at your processes and say, “What am I doing here?”
Because I can tell you this – there will become a time when that indispensable person leaves. As someone who has 40 team members now, I’ll tell you, people come and they go. Luckily, I’ve had a very high retention rate. I don’t have a whole lot of people coming and going. But that’s because I am very patient.
Gerri: Yes, you are.
J: I can tell you this, too. You will invest the time into a project. It will be in the beginning of a project, where you can put your game plan together, and you can put your instructions together, and you can have everything laid out, and ask questions, and your team members can ask questions, and you get it all figured out and everything runs smooth.
Or you can not do that. You can say, “Hey, do this,” and you throw a bunch of instructions out on the wall that just make no sense, and you obviously put minimal effort into it. Guess what – the time will catch up. But it will be at the end of the project when things are doing very badly, and you have to save a lot of grace to try and fix things.
So question is – do you want to spend your time in the beginning of a project with very adequate instructions and tasks? Or do you want to have the time spent in the end of the project fixing all the things that went wrong, because you didn’t give adequate instructions?
Gerri: That is a perfect analogy, and I know it’s used so much in business. You pay now or you pay later. I think everyone is familiar with that. I can tell you from experience – you will not have happy clients if you’re scrambling at the end to have things put together. You’re saving yourself sanity and you’re retaining your clients. Pay it upfront. I promise you it’s going to be best. I’m sure you can get some people to testify to that.
J: Most of my client base, Gerri – they are people like you. They are business owners. They have their own client base. They rely on me and my team to come through and do things for their clients. If my team doesn’t come through, that’s their reputation that’s on the line.
A lot of people have that same exact issue. It’s your reputation on the line. You need to put in the homework. You need to do the very best for your clients. You should over-deliver every time. You should always deliver more what you put in.
Gerri: That’s right. And that’s that client nurturing, and that lead nurturing we were talking about. The follow up, and the “What’s next”, and the “How can I make this better for you,” “How can I meet you where you are now” “Now that we’ve taken you here, what’s next for you,” – those questions that you ask yourself.
This is a little off-topic, but I’m just saying you’re not going to get that in a lot of places. You’re not going to get this at a lot of podcasts that are teaching you about sales funnels and delegation. This is some kind of advanced business wisdom. Hopefully you will take in and really see it. Because this is a mindset and a concept that overarches everything you do. You won’t do any of this if you don’t really understand the big picture.
The big picture is – you can only grow as far as you are. You are one person. If you are a solopreneur, a small business, whatever you are, you can only go so far. You only have two hands. You only have 24 hours in a day, 8 of which you need to sleep if you are healthy. And you have other things to do. Do yourself a favor and leverage some of that time out.
I’m going to ask one more question, Jay. And then I’m going to let you direct them where you want them to go, and then we’re going to wrap up. My last question is – I know there are some people out there that are saying, “Man, this is my baby. I’ve been doing this for twelve years, or for two years. And I’ve built this thing from a ground up.” And there’s the cartoon that says, “I was born here and I’m going to die here!” People are going to hold on to those things even if it kills them.
In your experience, what can you say to those people that say, “I’m not handing that over! I’m not getting somebody to manage that spreadsheet for me, or check my inbox for me.” What do you say to those people? We may have already covered it, but if you could just say one more thing to those people that are saying, “I’m not feeling that good about this”, what do you say to those people?
J: You have a very defined amount of hours that you can work in a day. I don’t think anyone can work a full 24 hours. I guess you could, but then you probably need some sleep for recovery. I will tell you, I’m a control freak, too. I actually relate a lot to what you’ve just said. I hate delegating, believe it or not. I actually despise it, because I like to have full control over my projects. That’s something I had to deal with. Personally I think it’s mainly actually. I think it’s a personality or something with you.
What I can tell you is that I think when someone delegates correctly and they feel that first sigh of relief that they can actually have trust in someone else to actually help them do things that typically they would do. Boy, that first day off, that first couple of hours going to sleep at a good hour, having that extra time with your family – that stuff is really valuable.
I have been able to go back to the entry you gave to me, I have been able to really pursue my passions and spend more time with my family now, and travel. For the first time in my life, this year has felt like a huge burden relief. Because I know that I’m so confident with my team, and I’m so confident with the instructions and delegations that I’ve been able to produce that I know there’s going to be hiccups along the way, that’s just how it works, working with anybody, whether it be a virtual assistant or someone right there in your own office.
But what I can tell you is that my time is worth more. A lot of people really need to think about how much their time is worth. And maybe your time isn’t worth much? Maybe that’s an image problem you have right now for yourself.
I’m not a psychologist, but what I can tell you is that once you find out the things that you do love to do, and the things that you do not love to do. I would start with the things that you do not love to do, and start finding a way to process those and turn them into tasks, so that you can focus on what you love to do.
Gerri: That’s perfect! And you hit an emotional side of it, which is something that we had maybe missed throughout this entire interview. The emotional side of it I think is more powerful than anything.
Because if you want to grow your business, you need to have some help. If you are not spending the time you want with your family, or you just can’t just reach that sales milestone that you want, so that you can send your kid to college, all those things that you really want and why you started this business in the first place. If you are not hitting that, you need help. Don’t let yourself get completely worn out.
The statistic says that eight out of ten businesses will fail. I believe it’s within the first twelve months. I don’t want you to be one of those eight. Get yourself some help.
J has a great deal. What do you offer to clients who have never tried a virtual assistant before, they’ve never been on your website before? And talk about your special as well – we’re going to wrap up.
J: You know what, I don’t usually give a special, because I think what they can really learn here is how to delegate. If you guys really understand how to delegate, you can see that this is something that you want to try out, I’d love to hear from you.
If you go to vastaffer.com/gerri, you will get a little sign up form to download top ten virtual tasks that our clients give our virtual assistants to do. This is something that our clients delegate every day to our virtual assistants. They basically compile the top 10 list of the thing that we do on a daily basis. And people love it.
I’ve got some virtual assistant tips that can really help you in processing what you do in your business. I’ll give you some example of things that you probably shouldn’t do yourself.
Gerri: And the special is that you get me peeking in there every once in a while. You get some awesome team member/project managers that J has in there. You’re going to be nurtured. You’re going to be taken care of, you’re going to be walked through the process. You’re not alone. We’re not sticking you out there, taking your spreadsheet and mangling it all up for you.
It’s going to happen. It’s going to be really beautiful. And like J said, when you take that final sigh of relief, “Oh my gosh, this is off my hands right now. I don’t have to babysit it, I don’t have to do it. I don’t have to spend three hours a week on it.” You’re going to love it.
That’s vastaffer.com/gerri – go there and pick up that tip sheet. It is awesome. I read it. I’m all over it. You go do that.
I appreciate you listening today. We hit on something today that I want to get into. I was very serious when I said I was going to write it down. Customer experience – I’m going to talk a little bit about that in the next episode. So you guys stay tuned.
As always, to your success!
J, thanks so much for coming on with me. Man, this is good stuff. I’ll have you on again. Will you come back?
J: You’ve been a client of mine for three years. You’ve made many projects for me and likewise. This is a fruitful relationship that I’d love to foster.
Gerri: Awesome! Thank you. Bye-bye.