Not every virtual assistant assignment is straightforward. Some projects begin just fine, but before long you start running into issues. The good news is that while it may seem like you’re going through the worst situation ever, many of these problems can be solved once you know what to do.
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If you’ve never heard of scope creep before, don’t be alarmed; it sounds worse than it is! Scope Creep is when the client asks you to do more work than the initially agreed upon amount, without additional compensation.
Here’s what I mean: you’re asked to create ten social media graphics for your client to post. As you’re working on those, your client then asks you to post them to five social media profiles. Then, they ask you to respond to comments coming in from those social profiles.
You’re gaining more responsibilities, yes, but the money’s the same!
If you’re like me, you may be tempted to accept this extra work without saying a word, but what you should do is renegotiate with your client.
Easier said than done, right? This project might well be from your very first client, and you don’t want to make them mad. But … all those extra hours …
Keep in mind that most clients aren’t trying to take advantage of you when they make these requests. They just don’t understand how much additional time and effort these extra tasks will cause you.
One of the best ways to handle scope creep is to talk with your client. Let your client know that once you complete the social media graphics, you’ll be happy to begin new projects for the other requests.
If you don’t handle the situation quickly, you’ll feel more and more resentful, and this may ultimately cause a break in the relationship with your customer.
Missing Required Materials
You’re ready to start working on your client’s website, but you’re STILL missing login information. Or content. Or any number of items you NEED to begin the project!
A common problem that VAs encounter is not getting needed materials from a client promptly.
You’d think the client would be eager to get the info to you, right? After all, you’re helping them with all those overwhelming tasks. So, why?
The reason is usually simple: the client is busy or distracted.
You’ll have to bring their attention back to you:
- Contact your client to let them know you’re waiting for the information. Allow them a reasonable amount of time to respond. Remember, your client is a business owner and may be caught up doing the 101 things entrepreneurs have to do daily.
- If there’s still no response, send a short message and let them know that you’ll have to charge an extra fee because you don’t have the resources you need. Please give them a clear deadline in your email. Say something like, “If I don’t receive (item) from you within the next week, then you’ll be charged an additional $25”.
- You can set up an easy-to-use client information checklist (see the end of this post for a downloadable example). You’ll want to send this to your client before you start the project and have them complete it and send back to you. The checklist will include all the required info you need from the client such as their website/social media profiles, usernames, a section to add content links, etc. You can also use LastPass to obtain passwords securely.
Most clients will quickly get you what you need when you give them a little nudge.
Extensive Revision Requests
Your client may love your work on Thursday but ask for several major revisions on Friday. Requests for changes are a common problem when you’re working on a project that requires approval from several management levels.
For example, the managing editor may love your graphics, but the marketing team leader wants to change the colors or fonts.
A note here: You should already understand what the client wants from you. If you’re fuzzy on the details of the project, it may be because you haven’t asked the right questions. So, if you’re revising because you didn’t follow directions, the client should never be charged for correcting those mistakes.
However, if you followed all the client’s instructions, you can handle revision requests by communicating clearly. Let the client know you’ll cover the first round of revisions, but after that, you’ll be charging $XX for each hour of work. When clients understand that there’s an additional charge for changes, they tend to limit them.
As a new VA, you might think you should offer free, unlimited revisions. You really shouldn’t. If you do, you risk working on the same project for months to come. Meanwhile, you keep waiting for the end of the project so that you can get paid! Who has time for that?
Truthfully, if a client feels strongly about a revision, then they’ll pay your additional rate without complaint. A professional client understands that your time is valuable and never wants to take advantage of you or your skills.
Some clients drop off the radar for some unknown reason. You try to get in touch with them to ask a question and … crickets.
Why does this happen? Beats me. It’s a common complaint from many VAs. If this happens to you, here’s what you can try:
- Send your client a message and let them know you’re concerned about them. Try every channel you have to reach them without reaching stalker status.
- If there’s still no response, let them know they must respond by a particular time or you’ll have to put their project on hold. This usually produces a reaction.
- Still no response? I’d put a timeframe on how long you’re comfortable waiting and then once that time is up, and there’s still no response, it may be time to move on.
On the other hand, you may have a client who communicates TOO much. Constantly “checking in!” I totally understand clients who act like this. Their business is their baby, and you’re making all these changes to it 😮!
But, this behavior will distract you and can put stress on your client-VA relationship.
Try these steps:
- Gently remind your customer that you understand what you’ve been asked to do.
- Assure them you’re working diligently on their project and you’ll let them know if you have any questions.
- Set specific timeframes for client check-ins. Depending on the scope of the project, you can do this daily, weekly, or even monthly.
No one wants this to happen, but it does. You’ve completed the project, and then your client balks at paying.
What do you do? Honestly, sometimes it’s not worth pursuing, but you still have to try to recover your money:
- Yes, reach out to the client; maybe they forgot or are having trouble coming up with the cash due to some unexpected expense. If you’re able to reach them, work something out with them if you can.
- If you don’t hear back from them and you decide to take further action, you should seek help from an attorney or law enforcement. Be sure the amount you’re pursuing is worth the time, money, and effort, especially if you’re retaining an attorney.
Hopefully, your client had made a deposit for the work. This will at least cover some of the time and effort you put in if you can’t recover the money they owe you.
Related Post: How To Set Your Rates as a Freelance Virtual Assistant
Most virtual assistant client problems can be easily solved with a simple conversation, whether by email or phone. Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself, and don’t let fear stop you from pursuing a rewarding virtual assistant career.
Also, the client issues listed above may never happen to you! You’ll probably have mostly great clients; clients you’ll feel were made just for you.
So stay positive and, above all, respectful.
You can download my example of a client information sheet here.