Today we’ll be going over step 5 of the apple pie method. Ending your project and getting the most out of the work your VA has done for you. At this point you have gone through 4 of the 5 steps already. You assessed your need and clearly identified the job, you posted a clear job description, you’ve got some VA candidates, pre-screened them and selected the best ones to do the project for you, you managed the work and you got the most out of the work they’ve’ done. Now it’s time to wrap up and archive the work so you don’t lose it.
Things to Do When Closing the Job
One of the first things you do as the project is being closed out is you provide feedback for your VA. I really don’t like giving a bad feedback. Honestly, I kind of go back and forth between being honest and open and strict because I have pretty high quality standards in my mind on the sort of work that I want done. I go back and forth between holding a VA to that high standard and going easy on them. A lot of times especially when you’re just starting off with a project, you are just as much to blame as they are for confusion or difficulties in the project because you might not know what you’re doing either and so it would seem arrogant if the project doesn’t go perfect and you ding them for something that might not necessarily have been their fault.
The other thing to keep in mind is that a bad feedback can really affect the VAs chances of getting work in the future. This might be the best shot they have in getting a decent pay compared to other options they have so it would really hurt them if you give them a bad feedback. You might see it as just a 2 hour project that you’re shelling out $10 for but for them, they might be an upcoming VA and it is only their 3rd project and if you give them a bad feedback, it would really hurt their chances to get another work and they will struggle to recover from it too.
There was one project of mine where I was not happy on how it was going and what I did was I just took the work but there are things that weren’t right and I didn’t want to take time to correct it so when it came to the end of the project, I said to the VA, “Thanks, I appreciate you work.” But when it came to rating them, I just thought that it was not exactly what I’m looking for so I didn’t give them a great rating. What happened next was the VA comes back at me saying, “You didn’t even tell me what I did wrong. Why are you giving me a bad rating?” That’s when I realized that I really should have communicated with them better. So as you are going along with the project, have the discipline to honestly let them know how they are doing so they wouldn’t be surprised if given a bad feedback or low feedback in the end.
It All Boils Down to Effort
Sometimes I struggle with the standards where I’m going to hold the VA to on a particular project but sometimes it’s really easy to give a feedback score of 5 stars if the VA is really awesome. I think that it all boils down to effort. If the VA is really trying their best then I tend to be more gracious with them and if they’re really not trying then it would be a good idea to give them some warning but if they still don’t care enough to put the effort in then they really do deserve a low rating regardless of what the consequences may be for them.
There are a number of different parameters that the VA will be rated on and these are as follows:
Skills – The overall ability they have whether they are up for the task or not.
Quality – How well the job was done. How thorough the work was.
Availability – How easy was it for you to get hold of them during the duration of the project.
Deadlines – Where they able to meet the deadlines that you set.
Communication – How well they communicated with you.
Cooperation – This is where you can reflect if the VA doesn’t seem to want to listen or cooperate with you.
After you rate the VA with the different parameters, Odesk gets the average of those and the result is the VAs rating. If you’re going along a project and you see that there’s an issue, it would be good to correct it ahead of time keeping in mind these parameters so that the project goes smoothly and without surprises in the end.
Leaving a Feedback Comment
In addition to just giving the VA a rating, one other good thing to do is leaving a comment about how they did. Leaving a couple of sentences about how well they did will really go a long way. It will help them get jobs in the future; it will help them understand how happy you were with them and it will also build goodwill between you and the VA. They will really appreciate the time you take to comment and plug them for future work and it will help you build a strong network that can be useful for your future projects.
Giving Your VA a Bonus
It is also good to be generous and give your VA a bonus for their hard work. A $2 bonus on a $5 job can mean a lot and they would really appreciate it. When it comes to giving bonuses, if it’s someone that I’m going to use on a long term for quite a few projects, my inclination is not to give any bonuses in the first project because I don’t want them to think that it’s the new price or if I can’t afford that price for a number of projects, I don’t want to set their expectations high and disappoint them or feel like you have to give them that bonus every single time. But if it’s a project that I’m just going to do one time and I don’t foresee anything in the future then I might give them a bonus and in some cases, for someone who has worked really well, I might even double or triple the fee that they get just because they did an amazing job.
Now if it’s someone that you might be using in the future or might be continuously using them, it’s okay not to give a bonus in the beginning but it’s good to gradually increase their pay and give them a general bonus after a number of jobs and say thanks for the hard work they’ve done all along. I’m definitely not advocating not giving them any bonus. It’s just that it would help you keep the cost down since you’re going to use them long term anyway to hold off and let the relationship develop and then reward them accordingly.
That has been how I’ve been thinking about giving bonuses with my projects and if you have different views on that, feel free to send me an email or comment. I’m more than happy to hear what other people think about giving bonuses to their VAs.
Integrate What You’ve Done
It is also good to integrate what you’ve done as far as the work you received and implement it. Use it for its intended purpose, don’t let it just sit there and forget about it. If you spent the time to find a VA to figure what you needed and get the project completed, go ahead and make sure that you use that so it wouldn’t be a wasted effort. It is also a good business practice to put it in a place that you can find. If you get a number of VAs and you have a number of projects, it’s pretty useful to make a filing structure so you can keep track on all your projects. It is also good to write some notes about every VA that you hire. Note how the project went, how happy you were, what skills they have, what things they excelled at. Because a lot of times especially when you have a lot of projects, you tend to forget what someone in particular might have done for you especially with a lot of names that is hard to remember.
Evaluate The Project
Last thing to do is to evaluate how the project went. Think about what did you learn and what you can improve for the next projects. Not only evaluating the work that was given but also how you managed the project in general. Take the things that you’ve learned and try to make your next project even better success.
There may be things about the project that you can build on or continue on that would seem to be really great or maybe your VA had some skills that emerged that you weren’t even expecting. Keep you eyes open for the type of work that the VA has done for you and see what they really enjoy doing and where they really excel at. For instance, you might have hired someone to be a researcher and maybe they weren’t the best in picking up information on Google but they did an excellent summary with very good English and very good analysis of the information they did find. In that case you may want to use them for writing projects in the future.
If your projects tend to head off to an unexpected direction or you didn’t quite get the result you wanted. Take a look at what the VA was able to provide and try to find the skill that may not be perfect for that particular project but can be very good to use in other projects. I’m not talking about just trying to make the best out of every bad situation but you’ll see that in a lot of projects, it’s not always easy to tell what specific skills are going to be required or the actual skill sets that the VA you hire has. So if the VA already made it through the process of being hired by you because you sensed that they have a good background, good experience and good feedback then there’s a good chance that they have some skills that maybe you just didn’t utilize or weren’t a perfect fit for that particular project. So if you keep an eye on that and you look at the project and see that the VA really does excel in a particular area and if they really are a hard worker and someone you would enjoy working with, you can try and use them for a different project. I personally had lots of success in this area of finding someone who is good in one area but really excelled in another area. That kind of gets into finding an “All Star VA”, these VAs can do amazing things for you.
Next week we’re going to talk about finding those All Star VAs, which can give you a major productivity boost, and can make all the effort worthwhile. Once you become familiar with hiring VAs, you can start trying to find these great VAs that are awesome entrepreneurs, and can be an excellent asset for your business.