Tact and Charm

My parents always told me to treat other people well even if they didn’t treat me well. This is one of the fundamental principles of being a virtual assistant. You ALWAYS have to be tactful and courteous, even though you want to really tell them off.

I just started working with a new client. At first, he was easy to talk to and wanted me to do just certain things. I tried my best to impress as I always do. Apparently, he realizes that I can do more for him, but the catch is, he wants me to do the work for free to see if I can do it. Then he will sign a new contract for more services.

I am not desperate for a client, but this could turn out to be a retainer client. I’m not sure, if that will be the case, but if it did, that would be great.

Another member of his company has called and told me that I should hurry up a little more and if I did, I would have more time to work for them. I tried to explain to her that I don’t get paid “by the hour”.  My rates are value-based and she just refuses to understand what that means.

I’m at the crossroads with these people. It is a fantastic opportunity, but I don’t know, if I want to deal with the drama every month of having to explain my fees to them.

This is one of the pitfalls of being a virtual assistant. Many employers think that the virtual assistant works for them and that they call the shots, but it doesn’t work that way. Even the name of my company, Virtual Colleague, LLC states that we’re colleagues, not employer and employee.

This is one of the most difficult things to get across to employers. They don’t understand that a virtual assistant is actually an independent entrepreneur and that the contract they sign is legitimate.

This company also wants me to “check in” with them once or twice a week. By that, they mean that I would go to their office and work at a desk, so they can make sure that I know what I’m doing.

Another glitch in this business relationship is that they’re from another country and they think they’re living the American Dream. Maybe in their eyes they are, but they don’t understand the cultural differences and that makes it difficult to talk to them or advise them on business issues.

They’re in full control of their lives and this is quite an accomplishment for them, but on the other hand, they don’t understand how Americans work and think, so at times they seem like bullies or worse and totally don’t understand what they need to do.

I was thinking of giving up on this client, but I’ve decided not to.  The reason – when I started this business, I made mistakes. I had to learn from my mistakes and go forward. As I learned, I became aware of other ways to do things and then I went from amateur to professional virtual assistant.

I think this is what needs to happen to this company and its leadership. They need to hear what I have to say and maybe one day, they will realize that it’s good advice and that they should try it. They seem like nice people, but it is difficult to work with someone that doesn’t or won’t see the other side of things.

I’m taking this on as a challenge. I will continue to give them great service, but I will stand firm about taking on more work without a signed contract. I know they barter in their country, but we don’t do that here.

As I continue to grow as a virtual assistant, they will continue to grow their company and adjust to the American way. This is one of the many challenges facing virtual assistants, but it is something that I believe I can overcome and begin to enjoy working with them.

Does anyone have any advice for me?

 

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