Should Virtual Assistants Charge for Learning Time?
Every Virtual Assistant will run into this dilemma sooner or later: A client you've been working with for some time has asked you to do a new task that falls outside of your skillset.
Perhaps your client has decided to switch email providers and is asking you to learn the new platform. Or maybe they want to automate their Social Media Marketing and have asked you to learn the new program that they plan on using.
When this happens you should let your client know that this task is something you haven't done before. Even if you do decide to learn it, you will likely be slower and (let's face it) probably be a bit of a hot mess at first.
Should You Take on the Challenge and Learn the new thing?
Before you agree to learn ANYTHING new, it's important to consider whether this is a skill you want to attain. In some cases, it may be so completely out of your league or interests, that it would make more sense for your client to hire an expert, rather than having you handle it.
If you decide to learn the new thing...who will pay for it?
In my own Virtual Assistance Practice, I generally use the following rule of thumb when it comes to 'who foots the bill' for learning new things:
- If I'm going to be learning an in-demand skill that I can transfer to other clients or use again for other projects - I will split the cost of learning it with my client. Getting myself up to speed on a highly sought-after skill means I can charge more for my services and find more work...ultimately making it totally worth my while.
- If learning the new program requires me to take paid-training or purchase new software or program, then the cost of the training or program is 100% billed back to my client. True Story: I had a client ask me to take an HTML training course and was given the ultimatum that I had to 'learn it...or lose them as a client'. Since HTML Coding was not something I wanted to learn or to add as a service to my business, I politely declined and moved on from that particular client.
- If learning the new skill is not going to help me in my own business, then the cost of training is 100% billable to my client. For example, if a client insists I learn something that is only applicable to their business or something I will only use once to assist them...then they are responsible for paying full price for my learning time. Keep in mind, your clients always have the option of hiring an expert and not asking you to learn it. If they are adamant that they want YOU to do the task, then they need to be prepared to pay you for it.
Did You Know? I share all the tools I use to run a successful Virtual Assistant Business on our V.A. Tools page. Come back often as we update them regularly!
As a business owner, only YOU get to decide if getting schooled in a new skill or studying a new program is valuable to your business or not. It is entirely up to you how much (if any) of your learning time will be paid by your client. You may even want to outline your learning time policy right in your Policies and Procedures or FAQ's document so your clients are never surprised when the question of learning something new eventually pops up.
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