Ending any kind of relationship is never easy, even a working relationship. Perhaps you no longer need a product, maybe you have found a better product, or perhaps the person’s quality of work has been weaker lately. Whatever the reason, breaking up with your Virtual Assistant (VA) can be a daunting task, especially if you have worked with them for years.
If you are ending a relationship with your VA because you are dissatisfied with their work, make sure you have documentation and that you have talked to them previously about the poor quality and improvements that were expected. That way, if there is any confusion at all, you can have proof to back up your criticism.
Here is some of my best advice on how to end a relationship with your Virtual Assistant, whatever the circumstances.
1. Check contracts. If you signed a contract with your VA in the beginning of your relationship, be sure to check and make sure what the terms are for ending the relationship. Some VA’s have a fee if you end the relationship before the contract has expired, others require a 30 day notification. Whatever the standards are, make sure you understand them before prematurely announcing you want to end it and possibly creating testy waters before absolutely necessary.
2. Train yourself on what your VA does. I have a client who had a VA prior to myself but due to some misunderstandings, the VA left them before being able to train me on their systems. It left me in a horrible spot because my client did not know what the VA had been doing! They had hired the other VA to run the administrative side of the business and worked with her for four years. Like any good VA, she had created organized systems so that everything ran smoothly, but my client never bothered to learn it, which resulted in a lot of stress for both of us as I had to learn everything on the fly. I cannot stress how important it is to make sure you understand everything your VA does before you end your relationship, which is also why a manual (as I mentioned in my previous article) is also vital for your business. Unfortunately, sometimes endings don’t go smoothly, so being able to understand everything your VA did can save yourself some headaches further on down the road.
3. Break the news with your VA over the phone. Everyone has heard a story where a teenager will break up with their significant other via text. Breaking up with your VA over email is similar, even if that is the way you communicate with them most of the time. Not only is talking about it over the phone professional, but it also helps clear any misunderstanding that could happen over email.
4. Tell the truth to the greatest extent possible. While on the phone with them, tell the truth on why you are ending the relationship, if it’s wise to do so. Be professional about it and try to stay clear of an emotional overreaction. I once had someone work with me for my trial period and then tell me they did not need a VA and that their business could not sustain one at this point. I believed it to be true, but a week later logged onto Virtual Assistantville to see their posting looking for a different VA. Needless to say, I was baffled because he said I had done a great job. After inquiring over email on why my services were not satisfactory, I came to find out that he was looking for a VA in a different niche than what I offered. The uncomfortable situation of calling him out over email could have been avoided had he just been upfront and truthful with me. Whatever the reason is, be professional about telling the truth as it is valuable for your VA so that they can take the proper steps to offering better services in the future.
5. Change your passwords. As soon as it is appropriate to do so, change any of the passwords the VA may have had access to. Perhaps this is after you have trained yourself on the systems with them, and sometimes, it may have to be beforehand. If the VA is unprofessional about ending the relationship, it’s better to change the passwords as soon as you can. Some people take rejection harder than others, and you don’t want to be stuck with a situation where your VA has access to your PayPal, email, or other sensitive accounts. If they had access to your credit card number, be sure to keep a close eye on the account and shut it down as soon as you notice any unusual activity.
In a perfect world, ending the relationship with your VA will go smoothly. If you’re lucky, your VA may have a recommendation for someone more suited for what you need. Even if that is not the case, by following the tips provided, you will at least have a thorough understanding of what you need going forward so that you can continue to run your business successfully without them.
Kiri has been working in the administrative field since she was 15 years old. What started off as a part-time job after high school blossomed into a full-time business when she realized she loved supporting people but wanted more flexibility than corporate America provided. Currently a Virtual Assistant for almost four years, she is constantly striving to figure out ways to make other people’s lives easier. Kiri is a Mount Holyoke College graduate and currently lives outside of Boston, MA with her family. In her spare time she blogs about Star Wars, drinks tea, and eats olives.