Thursday, July 19, 2018

Subcontacting the Ins and Outs

Transcriptionists and Virtual Assistants are using subcontractors. Often when VAs have work that is too large for them to do, or they are busy and need assistance with tasks, or they themselves cannot do the task, they will ask for assistance from subcontractors.
For VAs who are newbie’s in this field, one of the best ways to learn about this business is to contract yourself out to other VAs. It is a great way to learn, and this gives you a good start in the industry as to how things work and the kinds of work that is available for you to do. But while you are contracting out to another VA don’t forget to still do marketing and networking for your own company/business. The aim must always be to get your own clients as you are running a business. You would want to earn your own money and not be paid subcontractor rates.

When a Subcontractor works for a VA that VA is your client, you need to treat that VA as you would a real client. You keep in touch, you need to communicate about where you are with the work, and if you cannot cope with it, you communicate this with your VA and she/he can make a plan. Do not leave communication to the last minute when the work is due back, communicate within plenty of time ahead of that deadline so that the VA will have plenty of time to find alternative routes to get this work done and still meet there deadline, one reason is if you are no longer available to complete the task. Deadlines are important they can determine whether the VA keeps or loses their client.
Guidelines to follow which are important:
1.         The VA you are assisting is your client; they should be treated like clients. This is an important point to remember as often subcontractors don’t think of the VA as their clients.
2.         Follow the VAs instructions to the letter; do not do your own thing. You are assisting another VA therefore you do as you are asked.
3.         Proofread your work: the subcontractor must proof before sending back to the VA and then the VA must/should proof again before sending back to their client. We have experienced subcontractors who do not proof their work.
4.         Make sure you get clear instructions from your client VA if they are not clear ask to repeat what the instructions are and ask for it to be sent to you in an email.
5.         If for some reason you cannot complete your task on time, contact your client and let them know you are running late and ask can you extend your deadline, or ask for assistance. Also let your VA know if you have power failures, storms that mean you must switch off for a period of time, etc. as this can cause delays.
6.         The VA must make sure she has all the contact details available for the subcontractor. Subcontractor, make sure your VA has all your contact details, be available on Skype, messenger, Cellphone, SMS, WhatsApp, Facebook chat etc.
7.         If you cannot perform a task and you know you will not have it ready for the deadline, do not take on the work in the first place.
8.         A subcontractor will earn in the region from 30% to 45% of the actual fee that your VAs, client pays them.
9.         A subcontractor might have access to the client’s business information; you are not to abuse this information. A subcontractor can be sued for abusing client information. You cannot as a subcontractor, now that you have the details go and contact that client, this is a big no in the industry, and you could be sued for doing this, so please note this.
10.      A Contract Agreement should be signed between VA and subcontractor to cover both parties in the event of things happening.
The contract must state payment terms and conditions. It could be a good thing to place wording in the contract to cover the situation whereby the client does not pay the VA then the subcontractor cannot be paid, this situation should be covered in the contract so that the subcontractor will know what the procedure is, if no payment is forthcoming for the job/task. Often with large jobs clients are very slow in making the payment, this fault lays with the client not the VA. All the VA can do is to contact the client nonstop and keep reminding them of this payment.

The VA must communicate to the subcontractor what payment terms will be with each job. The subcontractor needs to know when they can expect to be paid. The norm is that when the client pays their invoice at the end of the job/task then the subcontractor will be paid their portion. Often there is a problem with payments as some clients will not pay immediately on receipt of invoice, this happens a lot, and it can be very often out of the VAs hands, all they can do in these circumstances is to keep contacting their client and asking for the payment. The only way is to pester the client no end, as payment is deserved upon receipt of the work and invoice. Again communication comes in here as the VA must let the subcontractors know when they are having problems retrieving payments from clients.
Another thing that can be done to sort of help a bit with payments is to get a 50% to 75% deposit up front. You provide a rough estimate of your invoice and the client pays you before the job is started, work commences on payment of deposit. This is a good way to go with all new clients, there is no reason why this cannot be negotiated up front with your client, and it can be part of client liaison, terms, and conditions. Payment details must be worked out before any work is started. Do not just take the job on because the clients says it is urgent make sure you work out payment terms beforehand. Nothing is more urgent than your payment at the end of the day it’s all about money.
Everyone at some time or another battles to get payments from clients, when it happens to me I just contact the client nonstop and use the means necessary to communicate. I have not taken other routes like small claims court which can be used in these circumstances.

I have gone over and over on some points here, but it is because those points are important.

Tips from Gaynor:
  •         Communicate
  •         Meet Deadlines
  •         Proofread

 Gaynor Paynter, Follow me on Twitter @TypewriteSA, Email:

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