Creating the perfect VA Contract for your business

Creating a virtual assistant (VA) contract can be draughting and quite overwhelming! You might not know about everything that needs to go into one of these and what snags you might hit if done poorly.

In our previous post on why hiring a VA was a good idea, we touched on the aspects of the contract, and even provided you with a free template. Today we are going to unpick the topic of VA contracts even further.

I reached out to some professionals to talk me through some key characteristics to look out for in contract creation and how to manage a contractor/ staff member for your business.

Below we have created a simple template for you to use that asks all the questions you might need creating a VA contract for service. This sample virtual assistant contract can be used in a variety formats and it is important to tailor its needs to your business

What sorts of things can I outsource to a VA?

If this is your first question or haven’t really thought though what you might like to outsource. If you are running a business or wondering what level of social media you can out source, it is important to first work out what it is you feel comfortable handing over.

The second part of this is understanding what it is that you are handing over. You cannot hand something over, trusting that it will all go well, when you do not understand what the outcomes or expectations are. Lets say for example, you aren’t quite comfortable with Pinterest, and would like to outsource this to a Pinterest Manager. You might get frustrated with the lack of change over a course of 2-3 months, because you might not be aware that it takes some time to get traction on Pinterest.

However you might be comfortable with Instagram and know who you would like to target, companies you would like to comment on and the sorts of organic engagement you would like to develop. So make a list of the tasks you expect your VA to complete for you. Can they send emails? Reply to queries? Manage your instagram comments? Design and develop pins? You need to be clear about these tasks and look for social proof from your VA that this is something they are capable of.

Take a week and write down every single task that you do in your business.
Spent 15 minutes on your lunch break responding to emails or looking for
social media content that you can re-share? Write it down.

By the end of your “observation period,” you should have a clearer idea of
what repetitive tasks you can outsource to a VA.

Who should create the contract?

Is it up to you, or the VA to create the contract that outlines the scope of work? There are absolutely differing opinions on this, where some say that it is best to have the VA manage the contract and some who support the business managing the contract.

Anastacia Brice, Founder of AssistU speaks about the ball being in the VA’s court; here is what she describes;

My take on this topic has never once wavered in the 20+ years since I
created the virtual assistance profession; when working with a professional
virtual assistant, the contract originates with the VA. That’s true because
professional VAs are business owners and not subject to terms and
conditions of hiring by the client.

As is true with any professional relationship, the client is *always* at
choice, and can decide to not work with the VA if anything about the way
she runs her practice doesn’t suit. But this is not a place where the
client really has any clout.

Having said that, I think the client absolutely should expect to see a
thoughtfully prepared agreement. And I think some of the things that are
customary there include how the VA runs her practice and what the client
can expect of her, some type of statement about discretion in the
relationship, something about her fees, how and when she invoices and
expects to be paid, how she expects both parties to behave if there are
problems and/or the working relationship needs to end, and anything else
that the client needs to be aware of in advance that has to do with
creating clear expectations for both parties.

What terms and conditions should go into the contract for a virtual assistant?

A virtual assistant contract should include many of the same items that go
into an employment contract even though the virtual assistant is not an
employee, and sometimes only a contractor or casual worker. The virtual assistant contract is a contract that describes a working relationship for a party that works off-site remote.

A virtual assistant contract needs to, at a minimum stipulate:

  • payment terms,
  • Services to be completed
  • hours worked
  • Holidays and how to manage issues like Covid-19
  • termination
  • clauses,
  • rights and responsibilities of the virtual assistant,
  • anything else deemed important such as confidentiality clauses, restrictive covenants, choice of law clauses
  • concrete deliverables .

The terms of the contract sets out the scope and expectations of the
relationship for all parties and it is the first line of defence if there
is a dispute.

Framing the VA relationship as a contractor relationship

Rebecca White, from Prana Brush speaks about contractor relationships in hiring a Virtual assistant for your business;

Our company has worked with a number of virtual assistants over the years and has generally had great success with it. When it comes to putting together the contract once you have found a VA that you like, you should consider framing the relationship as an independent contractor relationship rather than an employee relationship, as this provides greater flexibility to you as a business and is also simpler to administer.

In addition, give some thought to building in termination clauses which give you the right to terminate the agreement for any reason within a certain initial period of time. The best way to assess a VA is while they are on the job, so make sure your contract gives you the absolute right to terminate the relationship for any reason within the first weeks or months if it turns out the relationship is not a good fit. Otherwise, you risk locking yourself into something for a much longer period of time. 

How do you manage confidentiality in a VA Contract?

When thinking about your business, do you have commercially sensitive information that a VA might be able to use to help other businesses? Or themselves? Confidentiality agreements should be set up to protect both the client and the virtual assistant. Don’t get these confused with non-disclosure agreements as the language of each often makes a confidentiality agreement more protective.

Courtney Underwood, CEO of Kassar Consulting talks us through some of these issues;

When hiring virtual assistants, many businesses overlook confidentiality
agreements and privacy protections, putting their livelihoods at risk. It’s
important to vet references, preferably via phone, with questions that
speak to experiences working remotely and handling sensitive information.

This commentary is mirrored by Dennis Vu, CEO and Co-founder of
Ringblaze;

If you want to hire a virtual assistant, the most important part you need
to cover is the non-disclosure agreement. We have some VAs in our marketing team and for the most part, they do great work so we are not worried that they will do something wrong or that they will stop showing up for work.

The biggest worry that we have is that they will use some of our sensitive information in the wrong way or offer to sell it to the competition somewhere along the line. So, we have a basic contract with a very strong focus on non-disclosure because we want to make sure that what we tell our VAs doesn’t get shared anywhere.

What happens if I need to terminate a VA contract?

Termination is never pretty and we will go into this in more detail on another post.

Termination terms should be set up as well. Something a lot of people fail to include are terms outlining the termination process. No one wants a VA to just inform you one day that they’re done and leave you scrambling to find a replacement.

Likewise, VAs don’t want to scramble to find replacement income if a client abruptly decides to end the contract one day. Including timelines for termination you can protect both parties from this happening be specific on the time lines and the time for notice of termination of the contract.

Additional key elements to think about when hiring a Virtual Assistant

Hiring a VA isn’t just about creating a relationship with a worker or contractor, if you have a heavy workload it is important to consider hiring someone in the same time zone or at the very least a time zone that is
manageable to your lifestyle. The worst thing is having to arrange
virtual meetings in the middle of the night or having to wait hours for
a response from your VA because they are sleeping during your peak work
hours.

To make sure the relationship works, and if you want your VA to be effective and efficient, you have to put in the time to train them. Go through the tasks you’ve identified as ready for outsourcing, and re-trace them step by-step. Record how you want tasks to be handled (and why) and make sure you communicate that to your new VA early and often.

Let us know in the comments below how you have managed your contracts and what has worked for you!

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