Outsourced expertise is a key element of publishing at scale. Virtual assistants are the best way to grow capacity while managing costs. Until your virtual assistant quits or their company shuts down.
Zirtual is gone.
Like many business owners I woke to news of Zirtual’s demise via an emailed Dear John letter. First, I panicked. The list of immediate tasks my ZA (Zirtual assistant / AKA Virtual Assistant) scrolled like movie credits in my mind’s eye. I feared that my normal ZA managed nirvana was replaced with frantic calls to suppliers and clients.
But…I realized that nothing really changed. I had only one call to make to my now unemployed ZA. My email was simple. “Let’s keep working together.” She said yes. Crisis averted. But other business owners aren’t as fortunate.
Here’s how Zirtual could have handled this situation-
6 “Classy” Shutdown Steps Zirtual Should Have Taken
- Take the financial hit and immediately shut down new signups weeks ago when Zirtual’s leadership realized that operations would have to pause.
- Immediately refund all unused fees to clients. Today, many clients are wondering if they are getting their money back.
- Replace the current website with a page suggesting alternatives. Saying that you are “pausing” operations will not keep clients. Zirtual is dead in its current form, so preserve any client goodwill that still exists by helping them solve their problem.
- Alert ZA contractors before the shutdown. Zirtual contractors were shown the door in the same sophomoric as fashion as clients. Instead, Zirtual should have worked out a plan to: 1) Place its contractors with alternative services, 2) Assist ZAs with contacting their current clients and setting up new payment and independent contractor arrangements. The ZAs could have softened the blow for clients if they were treated like partners instead of a nuisance.
- Keep your social channels open. Deactivating Twitter and going dark compounds client anger, disillusionment, and confusion. My first question, when I learned of the “pause”, was can I legally hire my ZA? I have no way of getting an answer other than the lame catchall email Zirtual offered.
- Write a better Dear John email. Frankly all of the Zirtual branded catchphrases fell flat. My “Zirtual Hole” is taking on a whole new meaning as the day progresses. Zirtual should dispense with the branding attempts and share real information that addresses the crisis they caused for hundreds of clients. I needed to know: My current ZAs contact information, Refunds, Data privacy (i.e. passwords, bank accounts, etc.), Alternatives, and what pause actually means.
Perhaps taking these steps would have enabled Zirtual to truly pause operations without losing clients en-masse.
Consider This Before Hiring A Virtual Assistant
Focus on Process First:
Every aspect of Pushing Social is guided by a process. Our virtual assistants execute the process. Anyone can step in and continue the work with an hours worth of training. Take the time to transfer the knowledge sitting in your VA’s head and transfer it to a checklist. Now a VA change won’t cripple operations. A new VA or team member can pick up the duties smoothly.[tweet_box design=”default”]Creating processes allows you to recover quickly when unexpected staff / team defections happen.[/tweet_box]
Don’t let Zirtual’s demise sour your view of virtual assistants. ZA’s roster of US-Based assistants is stellar. However, make sure that you build a relationship with your VA that can survive hiccups caused by their sponsoring company.
Hire Directly (with one exception):
While I appreciated Zirtual’s assistance with hiring and training my VA, I was always nervous about their middleman role. I worried if my ZA was getting compensated fairly. I also felt that I could be stuck without recourse if they shut down. Unfortunately, my concerns were well founded. Although Zirtual’s competitors are doing their best to pick up disgruntled Zirtual customers, my concerns are stillunanswered.
From now on we will be working directly with our support team similar to how we hire and manage our blog post writing professionals.
But… using a VA-hiring service makes sense if you haven’t hired VAs before. Zirtual provided excellent support and advice for using my VA. This type of assistance can act as training wheels as you learn how to use a virtual assistant in your business.
Here’s a quick list of Zirtual alternatives. Get the full list as a free Content Toolbox member[table id=1 hide_rows=”11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19,20″/]
Are You A Former ZA?
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