5 Challenges when Terminating a VA Contract

Oh Heck! You need to be terminating the contract you have with your Virtual Assistant. (VA) You have had an amazing VA relationship go pear shaped? Or has the impact of covid finally left you within a stable income and you need to lay off people helping you grow your business?

This might be something you will have a struggle with, it doesn’t mean however that it is NOT doable, there are just ways you can go about it to be tactful and maintain a good relationship.

Now if you have found yourself in the wrong spot, you can actually find our free virtual assistant contract template here. It is so important to ensure you have a contract in place that outlines all the details of the contract with the VA, role, tasks, payment and what happens if a dispute should arise.

A Virtual Assistant (VA) is an independent contractor, therefore a detailed
contract should be entered in to at the onset of the business to business
relationship. The written contract should contain how the businesses will
work together and specifically how to terminate the working relationship if
it is no longer viable. Regular two-way communication is key to staying on
track with tasks and maintaining good rapport.

Usually, both parties can tell when a relationship isn’t working and your VA may be grateful that you’re the first person to make the decision on parting ways. A professional breakup doesn’t have to be as turbulent as a relationship breakup as long as both people are respectful.

Challenge 1: When you have to terminate a contact even with no breaches in the contract terms or conditions.

When terminating a contract for reasons that don’t have to do with a breach of conduct or any other obvious reason, you need to be as professional as possible. Speak to the VA via zoom or phone if possible. Ideally don’t do it through email or message. You owe them the courtesy of a straight talk, and by doing this, you will be able to maintain a working relationship long term.

Above all else, engage with tact and empathy. Consider how you would wish to be treated were the situation reversed.

Dan Bailey, President, WikiLawn

If you have done everything you can and you still need to terminate the VA contract, we recommend giving the VA plenty of notice of the termination and explaining your reasons for doing so. Treat them with the utmost respect. By acting in a forthright and respectful manner, you can preserve the relationship and maintain goodwill. That way, if the situation ever changes and you want to bring the VA back on board, they are more likely to be interested in doing so.

Jessica Rose, Chief Executive Officer of Copper H2O

I usually will try to find placement for my VA prior to notifying them that their services will no longer be needed. In my situation, I am in a few Facebook groups where there are small business owners who may be in the need of VA’s. I will typically put a post in the group explaining that I have a great VA that could potentially be looking for more hours if anyone is interested. If the feeler results in any responses, I will incorporate that into the conversation I have with the VA and ask if he or she would be interested in an introduction. Nobody likes to end contracts, especially in the current economic climate, and I find that this approach eases the sting in some capacity if there is one.

Russell Nauta, Credit Card Reviews

Challenge 2: When you have not been clear with your VA directions or instructions

Sometimes it happens that you in fact were not ready for a VA, or that you didn’t have the time you thought you did to dedicate to training and instructing a VA. This leads to a breakdown in communication and at the end of the day you need to take responsibility for your actions and behavior.

Taking responsibility and explaining your missteps can save the VA from getting their confidence ruined. This is assuming that’s true and you were too busy or your instructions could have used improvement. Another nice gesture to lessen the blow is to offer to be a reference for their future pursuits.

Brian Robben is the CEO of the international digital advertising agency Robben Media.

When it comes to terminating a VA contract, it is important to ensure that you have done everything you can to give the VA a fair chance to address whatever is causing you to want to terminate the contract. In many cases, problems can be resolved with simple communication.

Jessica Rose, Chief Executive Officer of Copper H2O

Challenge 3: Your VA is really bad and geninuely sucks

This can be such a challenge! You want to remain professional but they have just used your good will for their benefit and now you are in the poop because of it. You always need to maintain the higher ground and work really hard to remove yourself emotionally from the situation!

If they truly suck, then send an email saying it’s not working out and you’re going to let them go immediately. Before you engage in a difficult conversation, protect yourself by changing passwords and ensuring minimal recourse can occur if the VA wants to retaliate.

Brian Robben is the CEO of the international digital advertising agency Robben Media.

Now this sort of leads us into challenge #4 what if the VA who really sucked decided to do something harmful to the business?

Challenge 4: Potential Repercussions of terminating your VA contact

There have been instances where VA’s or contractors have turned around and said they are employees of a business when in fact they are contractors. This is where it is so important to ensure you have a contract with them in place!

This has occurred two times, where Claims to state regulatory agency they were actually an employee and files for Unemployment. Once, the VA was trying to hurt our business by falsely reporting she was actually an employee. The second time the VA was surprisingly naïve and didn’t realize that by filing for unemployment she was unleashing the State to investigate our hiring practices

Christopher Burgelin, Owner, We Buy Houses Fast, LLC

My biggest tip when you’re terminating a VA is to make sure that you manage the permissions of the accounts they have. You should be giving them the least permissions possible for them to do their job effectively.

I once overlooked this detail and a fired VA sneakily replaced some of my
ad codes with theirs and ended up stealing revenue from one of my digital businesses for 2 months. The saddest part is that I thought we ended up on good terms with this VA.

Colin Ma, Strategy and Operations Manager, Study Prep Lounge

When the termination is due to anything that the VA may take personally
(poor performance, attitude, etc), Christopher also strongly recommends taking the following steps when things have really gone of the rails with your VA and you expect there to be fall out or repercussions:

1. Make an Inventory of all websites and company software the VA has
access to. Include things like social media, websites, subscriptions etc.

2. Prepare a written notification via email that references “Per our
phone conversation”.

3. Schedule a phone call with the VA at the end of a particular day.

4. 10 minutes prior to the call, message them that you may run 5-10
minutes late.

5. In this 10-20 minutes, change all their passwords, and turn off
access to their email.

6. Hold the phone call explaining that you will no longer be using
their services. At the end of the call, casually let them know you must
formalize the end of the working relationship by emailing them as well;
communicating the same things you just discussed.

7. Upon ending the call, send the termination email.

First, review the contract that you have with them, particularly any clauses regarding cancellation of services. Some VAs will allow you to end their contract immediately, while others require a few weeks notice.

While you’re reviewing the contract, you can verify to see if anything
about that contract was broken by them. If so, then you have full rights to
end the contract immediately because they breached their contract.

It’s important to remove access completely when terminating the contract. If you shared passwords via a password manager like Dashlane or LastPass, make sure to revoke access accordingly.

Finally, the best way to make this as easy as possible is to prepare for
it. Make sure you have a separation procedure in place that makes it easy
to revoke access and terminate contracts in a timely manner. Never work
with a VA without a contract and always seek legal counsel if there has
been a breach.

Marian Knopp, founder of Workflow Wonder

Challenge 5: Setting up a contract that is clear to avoid having to terminate a contract!

1. Set goals and expectations in the initial contract with a specific
timeframe (60 days). This will allow you to have clear boundaries with your

2. If you note the VAs lack a certain skill set appropriate to accomplish
your task but note they may be a candidate for an alternative job, offer
them the alternative job.

Give your VA an opportunity to make changes to their work if you think it’s worth giving them another shot. If not, let them know that you’ve decided to go in another direction.

3. VAs understand that some work is temporary. However, you need to give
them notice. VAs are people and have families too! Give them at least a two
week notice before terminating the contract.

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