Example of an Inappropriate Request for Administrative Partnering

We received a submission to our Request for Partnership Center recently that was a good example of what we WON’T post to our members forum.

We don’t do RFPs (Requests for Proposals). That’s why we call them Requests for Administrative Partnering.

And we don’t post job advertisements because you are business owners, not employees seeking positions.

That’s NOT how business is conducted nor the proper mindset and tone for clients to be taking in approaching you.

This recent submission represents everything wrong with how the market has been educated to view virtual assistants as remote workers and substitute employees rather than what they are: independent business owners and experts who specialize in administrative support.

Not only did the person submit a three-page job description expecting daily, specific hours reporting to a supervisor (among other inappropriate and illegal expectations), but they also declined to provide their name.

Since they indicated that the “applicant” would be a community resource to various brokers in their agency, I’m guessing they perhaps thought their particular name didn’t matter. (Seriously?!)

Where to even start. There’s a whole host of things they are not understanding.

First, this is a business-to-business relationship.

Second, the relationship is a one-on-one one. A virtual assistant is not a community resource who is passed around at the client’s whim.

And sorry (not sorry), but if you can’t be bothered to provide your name, we aren’t going to be bothered to assist you.

We do not post anonymous RFPs. If you expect our members to provide you with detailed, personal information, you better be prepared to do the same.

On top of that, I absolutely detest people who try to get one over on the system and take advantage of people. It’s called being dishonest and unethical, folks.

This RFP came from a Human Resources department. They damn well know better. They are just trying to cheat the law and the government and get an employee they don’t pay taxes on.

After consulting with my admins, here is how we responded:

“Thank you for your interest in the our Request for Administrative Partnering Center. However, you appear to be seeking a telecommuter (which is an online employee who is still legally subject to the employment laws and employer tax obligations of the land). That’s not what Virtual Assistants are, nor how they work with clients.

“You also did not include your name as requested in the form. As the submission is not appropriate, it will not be posted to our members forum.  For more information about Virtual Assistants, what they are (and what they aren’t), how they help clients, as well as how they work with clients, our Client Guide will be helpful to you.”

This is yet another good example of why we have ditched the virtual assistant term. Assistant is a term of employment, and when you use terms of employment in a business context, it simply confuses clients and sends the wrong message.

6 Responses

  1. Amy Courser says:

    Hallelujah Sister!

    Sorry for the long comment…just wanted to share. I was once asked to “call-in” the minute I started on a project, call-in for breaks, and call-in (or I guess you could say call-out ) when I was done.

    I was just starting out and really needed the money.

    “How are we supposed to know how many hours you are working?” after I had provided a quote. I responded “It would be on my bill at the end of the month.” I was then asked to speak to their Human Resources Department regarding company policies. The obvious answer was No.

    How disappointing! Could have been my first retainer client but ended up being An Offer of Employment

    I hope ALL new VAs read your post!


    Amy Courser

  2. I love long comments and appreciate the conversation, Amy 🙂

    On the bright side, it was probably a good thing things worked out the way they did with this particular client (if we can even call them that). It gave you the opportunity to realize that there are folks out there who don’t understand the nature of the relationship, and what you needed to do to change your conversation with folks and how you talk about what you do on your website and other marketing collateral. These are the things that pre-educate clients and set their expectations. If we aren’t clear, they will get it wrong. So all these seemingly disappointing encounters are actually wonderful learning opportunities as business owners and chances to improve and make it better.

    I’m willing to bet that slot on your roster that was almost filled with a poor-fitting client who would have ultimately drained your time and energy is now filled with a more ideal client. Am I right?

    All my best!

  3. Margaret says:

    OK why did I just have that same thing happen to me a couple of weeks ago but in a phone call.

    Wanted a VA but wanted me to act like a employee

    Told him “Oh no, Im trying to get rid of my boss, not looking for other one” and ended the call.

    What were they thinking?

  4. A good place to send clients whenever an opportunity to properly educate them presents itself is our Client Guide

  5. I second that post. I have been in business for 3 years, and I have client who in the beginning saw that I was business owner, and then after a year of working with him, he started treating me as an employee. So I had to have a conversation with him to remind him of that fact that he was a client and I was his vendor. He apologized for taking advantage and we continue to have a happy working relationship.

    A little tact and communication can go a long way in this business.

    I love what I do!

  6. Danielle,

    Thanks so much for your hard work in educating the public on the difference between an employee and a Virtual Assistant. I always try to educate when I have the opportunity as well. Just the other day I saw an RFP where they wanted someone available 24/7, and all time away from the office would have to be “cleared” with the “client” first.
    Client, ha! More like Boss :-)))


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