Chris Cooper: (00:02)
Have you ever thought about hiring a virtual assistant? Today, I’m gonna give you the seven steps to hiring and the five steps to onboarding a virtual assistant in your gym business. My name is Chris Cooper. And if this episode is helpful to you, please hit subscribe on your favorite podcast platform and leave us a five-star review. And if you really, really loved it, you can just always DM me on Facebook. There have been virtual assistants—VAs–around the fitness industry since they first started becoming popular in the mid-‘90s. And over the years, we’ve been approached by a bunch of different VA companies about promoting their service or partnering with Two-Brain, but we’ve never really felt super comfortable doing that. And there’s always been a variety of reasons. Sometimes the VA company wants you to just commit to paying $500 or a thousand dollars a month, renting the VA’s time and then telling them what to do every week.
Chris Cooper: (00:59)
The problem with that is you’ve just got another staff person to micromanage who’s less efficient than your current staff. And you have to tell them everything in explicit detail. In other cases, VA companies will push the gym owner to do something they don’t really need to do because that’s what their VA specializes in. So, for example: “Hey, we’ve got a great VA who’s amazing at TikTok. You should do TikTok.” And so the gym owner says, “Okay, well, I can outsource this.” But you still run into the same problems. And there are other examples, too, of people overpaying for something that they could actually get done locally if they wrote out a job description. And finally, a lot of VAs require a lot of micromanaging. So today I’m gonna go through a couple of different processes with you and provide some step-by-step instructions from our friends at Assistantly.
Chris Cooper: (01:48)
We formed a partnership with Assistantly earlier this year, and I’ll walk you through the process of how all of that works, but it took us probably two years of looking before we finally made this deal. And we’ve tested out these VAs. We have two very specific job roles for them, and I’ll illustrate how that works as we go. So the first step is our no-BS guide for hiring your first VA. And there are seven steps that I wanna walk through with you. Step 1: make a list of everything that you do in your business and organize them into categories like administration, operations, sales, marketing, social media. In the Two-Brain Business RampUp program, you’re going to work through an exercise called “roles and tasks” where you determine exactly all the different hats that you wear in your business and how you do the things when you’re wearing those hats.
Chris Cooper: (02:41)
Before you can delegate anything to a staff person, to a VA, to anyone, even to software, you need to determine exactly what you want done step by step and how you want it done. If not, you hand this off to somebody who isn’t properly trained and you micromanage them, or you hire a VA to do it and you micromanage them, or you look at software to solve your problem and you have to micromanage it. Okay? So the first step is get everything out of your head and onto paper. Determine your roles and tasks. The second thing is you need to determine the value, the replacement value of each one of these roles. So, for example, you wanna replace the roles that are cheapest to hire for first. So cleaner is a great example. You hire a cleaner first. You pay the cleaner for three hours a week.
Chris Cooper: (03:37)
You reinvest your time during those three hours into a higher value skill. VAs can fill some of these lower value roles for you. Absolutely. They’re not gonna fill your high-value roles like coaching. They’re not gonna fill your lowest value roles like cleaning, admin roles, CSM roles, social media. They’re perfect for that. Okay. So now that you’ve got this list and you’ve got what we call the Value Ladder, which is a breakdown of how much it would cost to replace you in each role, you’re ready to go out and hire a VA for the work that you want done. Next, Step 3: you wanna look for somebody that can help you with each section of the business for the stuff that takes you too long, like, you know, pulling your metrics out of Zen Planner or whatever. And the stuff that you hate.
Chris Cooper: (04:24)
Okay. So start with the lowest value rules, then the roles that you hate, and then the stuff that requires way too much of your time. Fourth, make a list of the type of traits and qualities that you’d like in a virtual assistant. And you’re gonna do this by role, too. So our example is client success manager. We broke down the client success manager role. We published that role in the Two-Brain Business RampUp program so you can just download our job description. We published what that role should be paid. So this is, in general, about an $18 an hour or less role. Then we said, “What kind of qualities does this person need?” They have to be bright and sunny from the time they wake up in the morning to the time they go to bed at night. They have to be looking for opportunities to celebrate success.
Chris Cooper: (05:10)
They have to be good at conversation. They have to be very right brained. They think of people’s anniversaries. They see when somebody’s struggling, and they take action on that. Because I am not that person, right? I’m a left-brained, I-wanna-see-a spreadsheet kind of guy. Okay. Step 5 is you take this list of roles and tasks, and you take these character traits to a VA company. And you say, “Who is the best match here?” Now again, the biggest mistake that people do when they’re hiring VAs is they think, “Oh, great. Low-budget talent. I’m gonna hire them. And then I’ll just find enough stuff for them to do. I have so many things that keep me busy. I can just hand them off.” But they don’t start with a job description or a list of roles and tasks or a playbook before they hire this person.
Chris Cooper: (05:57)
And then they wind up with somebody else to babysit and supervise all the time. So you take that list of roles and tasks to a company. Then you say, “Here are the character attributes that I want,” and you let them find the VA for you. Okay? Step 6: You interview the people. You interview some options. It shouldn’t just be like, “Oh, here’s this one person that matches your list perfectly. You’re hiring them.” The VA company should still be able to give you some options based on skill sets and personality types. But Step 6 is you need to spend a week onboarding them. So hiring a VA is a lot like hiring somebody local. You have to train them in the job that you want them to do. Having your playbook is a huge, necessary, critical step of that, but it’s not the only step.
Chris Cooper: (06:44)
Okay. And then finally, Step 7 is to treat the VA like an extension of your team and watch your time start freeing up. So if you’re having a local staff meeting, I would invite your VA. If you’re celebrating your team’s birthdays with a card and a gift, I would do that with your VA. They are a human. They’re not a robot from a different country. You need to treat them as part of your team. But that also means that they’re subject to evaluation, they’re subject to upgrades, and they have to meet the same standard as somebody else local. Remember, paying somebody less does not mean that you’re just looking for cheap offshore labor. What it means is that you’re providing an opportunity to somebody usually in another country who might not be able to make the income that they could make working for you.
Chris Cooper: (07:32)
So even though they earn less than somebody else locally does, they should still provide more value than you would get from hiring somebody local instead of just like the discount labor option. And they should be accountable to the same standard as somebody else. You’re not just buying a service that’s two-thirds as good for half the price. Okay. That’s really critical. So here’s how we did this with Assistantly. We broke down two job descriptions where we think a remote, well-trained professional might potentially do as good a job or better as somebody who’s local to you. The two job descriptions that we worked with Assistantly on are client success manager, because that person doesn’t have to be in your gym to be successful, and social media manager, because, try as they might, a lot of gym owners just struggle to create content. I’ve been telling gym owners for well over a decade they need to create and publish content consistently.
Chris Cooper: (08:29)
They just can’t do it. It has to be done. And so instead of investing their time in this, they can choose to invest their money and just have somebody else do it. So there’s these two roles. We broke down exactly what each role does. To the CSM, we actually added lead nurture. Then we said, “Here is exactly how you do lead nurture.” So we gave Assistantly our sell-by-chat matrix. We gave them videos from our partners like Wodify and Kilo on how to use their software. When they’re doing lead nurture, we added metrics pulling to the CSM job description. And then we said the CSM jobs should be possible to do in under 20 hours per week. And so we built a price for that. It’s a special price for Two-Brain gyms. If you’re listening to this and you wanna hire a CSM through Assistantly that’s trained in Two-Brain processes, trained in a lot of different software packages and trained in lead nurture, you can just go to the Marketplace on our app and click the Assistantly logo.
Chris Cooper: (09:27).
If you’re not in Two-Brain, unfortunately this partnership is not available to you, but there’s still a lot of lessons that you can learn here as you go out and seek VAs on your own. Okay? So the next thing is, after you’ve hired the VA, how do you onboard them? And there are about five instructions here. Five steps that you should take. So the first step is set up permissions. So you need to set up a business email for your VA. You can own this email address, but you wanna have a place for them to come where they can consistently get information from you. Okay? The second is you need to add the VA to every channel or tool that they need to be part of. So for example, if you communicate to your staff with Slack, your VA needs to be in Slack.
Chris Cooper: (10:15)
If you use Kilo, you need to get them set up on Kilo. If you’re using Wodify or Zen Planner or something else, you need to get them access to that. You need to give them your login to the Two-Brain app so that they can take your metrics out of Zen Planner every month and put them in the app for you. Right? That’s a great example of a task that is simple to do, but it takes you way too much time every month, right? That’s something that you could teach a VA to do. The next step is you need to take time to introduce them to your business. And you introducing them means that you have a relationship with them. If you hire them the first day and then just never talk to them again, it’s like hiring a new staff person locally and then sticking them in the closet, having no conversation with them and expecting them to do well.
Chris Cooper: (10:58)
It’s just not going to work. Okay. Step 3—and you can’t skip this step—is they need to know your business goals and your business culture. Business goals are critically important. So I’ll tell you one way when we were doing our tests that we screwed this up: We hired a CSM and we said, “Okay, you’re gonna be doing lead nurture.” And we didn’t say “the goal of lead nurture is to get people to book a No Sweat Intro.” Right? My brain just skipped that step and I assumed they would know. So what would happen is people would get into our lead-nurture funnel and they’d start texting back and forth with the VA. They’d fill out a form on our website. They would enter our CRM, which is Kilo as a lead, and then our CSM would take over and they’d start nurturing this lead.
Chris Cooper: (11:51)
But when I looked back at his texts, it was like, “Here are our prices, right?” We don’t do that. It’s, “Hey, do you wanna sign up for personal training or a group?” We don’t do that. We do a No Sweat Intro. And so it’s very important that you tell them your only goal is to get this client to book a No Sweat Intro. Okay. Or if the CSM is working with an existing client, your only goal is to get them to book a Goal Review. Your only goal is to follow this client journey and reach out at each one of these touchpoints. You need to tell them exactly what the goal is. Not just exactly what to do. Okay. It’s also important that they know your background, your vision and your values and your goals and your policies, because when they’re talking to future clients, they need that context to understand what they should say. And being good at English is not enough.
Chris Cooper: (12:39)
You’re good at English. I’m good at English, but if they don’t have that context of what you’re trying to do, how you’re trying to help people, they won’t know what to say. And the conversation is going to feel really, really awkward. Okay? They need to know your company structure. Who is everyone, and what do they do? They need to know how you will measure success in their role. So for example, a great KPI to give somebody doing lead nurture is calls booked and calls showed. So your goal is to book No Sweat Intros. We will declare your role a success if we’re booking five No Sweat Intros a month. My job is to get you at least 15 leads per month to work with. And out of those five, at least four have to actually show up. So you’re tracking them on set rate and show rate.
Chris Cooper: (13:27)
It’s not their job to sell the client. That’s whoever is doing your NSIs. You have to give them KPIs on the things that they can control and measure their success. Okay. And then finally you need to review their key responsibilities with them. So just like you would do with a regular local person that you hire, you have to say, “You have 20 hours a week. If there’s 25 hours of work ahead of you this week, here is how you prioritize. You do these things first.” And I’ve actually screwed this up. It took us a long time to kind of perfect this system with VAs. And one of the hard lessons that I learned was that their priorities might not be my priorities. And so if I say, “Okay, I want you to spend time doing this. I want you to spend time editing the video, producing the podcast, creating the graphics and posting,” they will prioritize, you know, the graphics maybe when I prioritize posting. So if they ran out of time, they just didn’t post to Instagram, where I would say “post something even if it’s not perfect instead of trying to make everything perfect and not posting.” Okay. So when you’re onboarding, just one more tip is include video and screenshots. So it takes a long time to type out your processes and procedures and put them in a playbook. You should do that. Absolutely. But this VA, whether they’re a native English speaker or not, can probably benefit more from a quick video walkthrough. So, for example, when we’re training our CSM role through Two-Brain and Assistantly partnership, we give them videos showing them “here’s how you use Kilo. Here’s how you use Wodify.” And so now they know where to go to track leads through the pipeline, to move people to booked in an NSI or whatever, to pull metrics out, right.
Chris Cooper: (15:18)
They can watch that video over and over again and just do it side by side. And then we give them a video of how to use the Two-Brain App and the Two-Brain Dashboard, too. So if you’ve never done this before, you can use Loom, you can use Zoom, whatever you want to, but give them actual video instructions, walking them through it step by step, instead of just getting on a call and telling them or getting on a phone call and telling them. Like, give them a recording. All right. So Step 5 is this: set clear expectations. You need to give them feedback there. No VA, no assistant, no staff person is ever going to be perfect right outta the box. You need to help them refine themselves as you go. You need to set deadlines and expectations around them. What happens if a deadline gets missed? You need to set up some quality-control process.
Chris Cooper: (16:07)
You do not want to micromanage your VA and keep looking over their shoulder 24/7, but you need to do have a process with check-ins that are more frequent at first. So what we did is we said “you should send us an email every day at the beginning and the end of the day saying, ‘Here’s what I plan to do today. And here’s what I accomplished.’” After things are going really well, you can move that maybe to weekly, and then eventually, maybe even to monthly. The same way, you wanna also set up expectations around when they should work. Some VAs will think, “Okay I’m gonna work from 9 until 12, my time every day.” But that’s not really when leads come in, right? You want to set them up to work when they are going to be most needed. And you should do that in fractional time.
Chris Cooper: (16:51)
If you can, too, tell them how performance is gonna be managed. Give them a list of priorities. Like “take this first. No matter what happens you do this first.” These are the keys. And again, it’s really like, you need to get any role or job out of your head and onto paper before you hire anybody. Not just a VA. Also, when you’re looking at VAs, you shouldn’t just look at “how can I get the same labor for a cheaper price or what am I willing to sacrifice to pay less for this role?” What you need to do is say, “How can I hire somebody who can do this better than I can or fill a gap that isn’t getting done in my business? And then what should I expect to pay?” In some cases you should pay a virtual assistant what you would pay somebody who’s working in your town, or even more, because you’re still getting value.
Chris Cooper: (17:43)
If they’re providing a higher value service than you can do yourself, or they’re better at it than somebody in your town, then outsource your VA. Hiring a VA is not all about saving money. It’s about acquiring value. You can invest your time and stuff, or you can invest your money and stuff. If all you’re looking for is “how can I get somebody to do admin for five or six bucks an hour?” then by all means, go on Fiver, but you’re not gonna get high-quality labor. Instead, what you need to do when you’re thinking about a VA is approaching this from a value perspective and saying, “What is the best ROI that I can actually get from hiring a virtual assistant? Can I get a better ROI from hiring locally? And if I am gonna go the virtual assistant route, how do I maximize my ROI either by getting very high quality or by getting the same quality at a slightly lower rate?” You never say, “What’s the cheapest I can hire somebody for?” because it’s gonna be more work than just doing it yourself.
Chris Cooper: (18:42)
Okay. So start with the Value Ladder. Do your roles and tasks. Do your playbook onboard properly. Train them in the systems. We’ve done a lot of this for you at Two-Brain. If you’re a Two-Brain client, go to our Marketplace and check out the partnership with Assistantly. I hope this helps you. I really, really think that if you’re running an owner-operator business like a gym, you can probably outsource a lot more than you currently are doing. A lot of roles don’t require local participation or local attendance to work. CSM is one of those roles. Social media manager is another, but do your homework and be prepared to actually bring a real staff member on. Hope this helps. If it does, please leave us a five-star review wherever you’re listening to this podcast and send me a DM to request more.
Mike Warkentin: (19:33)
That was Chris Cooper on Two-Brain Radio. Thanks for listening. Before you go hit subscribe. So you don’t miss a show. Now Coop’s back to close it out.
Chris Cooper: (19:41)
We created the Gym Owners United Facebook group in 2020 to help entrepreneurs just like you. Now, it has more than 5,600 members and it’s growing daily as gym owners join us for tips, tactics and community support. If you aren’t in that group, what are you waiting for? Get in there today so we can network and grow your business at Gym Owners United on Facebook or gymownersunited.com. Join today.