It is not that Simple!
The word assistant sometimes has a stigma associated with it. Some people think assistant means you are less intelligent, not motivated or not successful. Actually, I’m not really sure what they think but somehow they think assistant means cheap labor. When I first became a Virtual Assistant back in 2002 I resisted the word assistant like it was the plague. I said, I am never going to be called an assistant again! I felt this way about the word assistant because of the way I allowed myself to be treated as an assistant when I was an employee. As a Virtual Assistant I was no longer an employee, I was a business owner. I started calling myself a Virtual Business Manager to avoid that icky word. But then I began networking online with Virtual Assistants and realized they were a great group of successful, powerful business owners. I learned it’s not what you call yourself it is the respect you command. Yes, having a name like assistant rather than CEO stuck to your name does require more effort to command respect but it is possible.
I think of a Virtual Assistant as a partner to business owners. We partner with you to bring you success. We assist in your success.
I got a call today from a potential client. In the first 2 minutes of the call I could already tell she had a preconceived notion of what an assistant was. To her the work an assistant did was of less value than the work she did. She said something like, “Frankly, I cannot believe you are charging so much for such simple work. I’ve never paid an assistant that much and really think it is too high for the kind of work you do.” First of all, this woman does not know the kind of work I do. She has never worked with me. She does not know me or any of my clients. She found me on google. How can she decide what my work is worth?
There is a reason I list my rates on my Website and that is to avoid talking to people who think it is okay to tell me I am not worth what I charge. I mean isn’t it kind of rude to call someone and tell them they are not worth their fee? If you don’t want to pay their fee don’t call them.
I told this woman I only do high end, high quality work and I don’t lower my rates. I suggested she contact a local college to find a student who might be willing to do the “simple work” for the lower pay.
I totally understand that small business owners and entrepreneurs are on a budget and that investing in a Virtual Assistant is a big deal. That is why I don’t lock my clients in to a set minimum amount of hours. But I also know you get what you pay for. Do these people tell their doctors they don’t think the 2 minute exam was worth $95? Do they tell their lawyers the 1 hour consultation is not worth $350?
What Virtual Assistants do is not simple work. If it were simple wouldn’t everyone just do it themselves? Yes, probably you could do it yourself but then you wouldn’t have time do what you love. What Virtual Assistants do is important work that needs to be done!
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This is beautifully written – I don’t mean like poetry of course – but it is tactful and direct! I understand exactly where you are coming from. Nice job.
My consultant clients get paid in upwards of $350 an hour to $3500 a day. If they don’t see the value in having me do their operations and backend work then they just don’t understand simple math!
Thanks Sundi. I just had to get the message out there because I hear stories like this all the time and it has happened to me more than once…
Sally, all I can say is AMEN to that! All too often I find people think of a virtual assistant as “cheap labor” when they SHOULD be thinking of us as “partners” in their business ventures.
The thing is that once you’ve been in a business a while, as Sally has, you start to pick these folks out quickly. I can generally tell how I’m going to like working with someone before we get too far in to the quote stage.