Many of you know of my interest in using virtual assistants.

I’ve been actively using VA’s for the last four years. There’s been some trial and error for sure, but the industry has really evolved over time. I now rely on VA’s to accomplish a large portion of my necessary back-office tasks. Increasingly, they’re helping out with more professional, front-end functions as well.

Virtual assistants are people who provide support services to a business from a remote location. The term originated in the 1990s and the industry has grown along with the ability to work remotely because of improved technology and items such as fast internet and document sharing.

When I first started working with VA’s, the learning curve was steeper than it is now. And there were some doozies with mistakes. But I’ve become such a believer in using VA’s, and the freedom it brings me to engage in higher-value tasks that last year I spent around $35,000 on their services.

To give you an insight into what it’s like working with a virtual assistant, here are 10 tasks they helped me with last year:

  • Auditing my CRM system. I hired a VA to make certain that my CRM was synchronizing contact information with my iPhone, desktop, Apple Mail and Constant Contact.
  • Posting newsletters to LinkedIn Pulse, Twitter Feeds and Facebook.
  • Creating client reports. They take information from a project management tool I use on deals and send summaries to a client every Friday at 2:30 p.m.
  • Finding apps. I needed an app to help schedule and organize my family’s mountain house and keep track of information such as who is occupying the house at what given time, names of local contacts, and key items such as alarm codes.
  • Creating a drive time map showing 5-, 10- and 20-minute drives from 8333 Forest Point Boulevard.
  • Research, order and pay for 25 Nooz Optics personalized with my company’s name to give as gifts.
  • Find the best water service for employees in my office and set-up regular delivery.
  • Test drive a new website we were creating for www.askredbird.com. I wanted them to find typos and problems.
  • Transcribe a voice recording interview that I did with a group of people.
  • Find and deliver a specific pair of socks to a friend as a gag gift.

I like working with Upwork.com and Leverage, a company founded by Ari Meisel. Ari is the master of the VA world and we speak from time-to-time. I recommend his book: “The Art of Less Doing” to truly dial-in your VA experience.

I attended Ari’s workshop in New York and we work together on projects. We’ve talked a lot about the advantages of using virtual assistants for entrepreneurs to become more efficient, less stressed, and more productive. Before founding Leverage he worked in real estate and development, and he and I have talked about the value for commercial real estate professionals, specifically, in using VA’s. If one gets the right team in place, it can really enhance their abilities.

For example, I have assembled a team who I now use for tasks such as:

  • Performing development underwriting, following specified assumptions
  • Conducting in-depth market research that goes beyond the usual Internet search
  • Assisting with highly detailed project management

Would you use VA’s in your real estate practice? I’m interested in hearing from my colleagues on the topic. Shoot me an email or give me a call if you want to know more. I’d love to talk.