You are special.

Your business is special.

You’re looking for a team member who is special too. An exceptional assistant who will treat your business as their own. Someone you can blindly trust and fully rely upon who has the same level of attention to detail that you do. Someone who compliments you in an amazing “made for each other” kind of way.

You want a fairytale. Who doesn’t?

Of course, the reality is nothing like your dream. Many of our contractors don’t meet deadlines and fail to deliver on their promises. Or, they deliver but still miss the critical last 5% of their responsibilities. Some even disappear on us all together.

No wonder we chose to do everything ourselves. (We can do it “faster” or the “right way.”) Or we “babysit” our assistants so we can stay as much in control as possible.

This sounds familiar, right?

I’m talking to you, but I’m talking to me too.  We all do that.

Sure, sometimes things work magically. We find the perfect person and everything clicks and feels effortless. Even if you’ve never experienced this yourself, you’ve likely heard a story or two about a magical collaboration or a virtual assistant who can almost “read minds.”

As inspiring as these stories are, they do us a disservice.

Why? Because we waste our time and energy looking for a “business soul mate” instead of doing the work to create one.

Can you CREATE a dream collaborator? Yes! By becoming an exceptional client.

Now, I know you’re shaking your head in disbelief right now. After all, YOU are paying for their services. It’s their job to impress you with the quality of their service and their level of expertise.

This is true in general, but in reality the situation is not that simple:

  • Chances are any contractor must have other clients to generate an income they can live on. Their work for you is only a few hours of their total responsibility.
  • The needs of other clients (including special projects and crisis moments) can mess up your contractor’s schedule and cut into time allocated for your work.
  • Many contractors work from home – where it’s harder to establish boundaries – and may have a crisis of their own that creates chaos in their availability.
  • Multiple clients means juggling multiple tools. Your contractor may be managing projects in Asana for one client, Trello for another, and Basecamp or something else for a third.
  • Multiple clients also means juggling multiple requests from a variety of directions – project management software plus Slack, email, text messages, phone calls, etc.
  • On top of all this craziness, your contractor must manage operations inside his or her own business which means creating content, client prospecting, and being on top of their billing.

Just imagine how challenging it is to be a GOOD virtual assistant or collaborator.  Think about how challenging it is for contractors to maintain high standards for work and customer service. To stay sane and resilient in the face of all these challenges, virtual assistants must have systems in place.

But do they?  Maybe yes, maybe no. You can’t control their systems. But…

You CAN control YOUR systems.

You can’t control your contractor’s schedule or insist on the quality of their systems. Especially not when you’re only working with them a few hours per week. But, you CAN make your systems so CLEAR and easy to follow that your contractor can’t fail. You can make them feel that working on your stuff is a “walk in the park” because the system you’ve shared in Asana, Trello, or Basecamp makes their job simple.

You can make it easy for them to prioritize your project…and put you first when a crisis arises.

Think about it this way… were you ever in a situation where you sat at your desk knowing you had A LOT to do, but you couldn’t figure out where to start? So, you went to load the washing machine or order your closets. No? Maybe that’s just me. Perhaps you open Facebook or Instagram. 🙂

But, if you have a list of 3 things that need to happen first you have no problem concentrating – even if there’s A LOT to do. Right?

It’s the same for a contractor or virtual assistant. Inevitably, there will be moments when even the best contractor must choose to honor some commitments and postpone others.

The more clear you are about what needs to happen – and in what order and by when – the easier it is for your contractor to meet your expectations.

The easier you make it for them to serve you, the more likely they are to do your work first.

YOUR SYSTEMS is what makes you stand out in their eyes. It’s what makes YOU an exceptional client for them.

And now the secret sauce.

Get to know them. Personally.

Revolutionary, isn’t it?

Ask about their interests and their family. Learn the names and birthdays of their spouse and kids. Show gratitude. (Not sure how to do that? Have them take this free test to help you learn the best way for you to express your gratitude to them.) Send them a handwritten card and/or a gift for their spouse (ninja move :).

Gratitude will make you exceptional in their eyes, and ensure that they (and their family) would do just about anything to keep you as a client.

In other words, show that you care.

CARE, period.

And watch your dreams come true.