At APVA, we offer accreditation for VAs that meet our criteria.

In her guest blog, Lucy Messaritis explains why she feels accreditation is important and valuable for virtual assistants.

“Recently, we had an extension built to the side of our house.  The building crew that came with our main contractor fell into two camps:

  1. The guys who I have recommended without hesitation to our friends the minute they mention needing electrics or gas/boiler work done
  2. The guys who, whenever I think about them, give me heart burn and an eye twitch not entirely dissimilar to Herbert Lom, aka Chief Inspector Dreyfus in the Pink Panther

Of these two groups, which do you think are the ones who have a regular recertification or accreditation requirement to keep trading?

Granted, there are plumbers and electricians out there who might actually be very good at what they do but for whatever reason don’t have the right accreditation to be able to officially sign off work they have done which would then cover the homeowner in the event, God forbid, that the worst happens and they have to claim on their household insurance. However, it’s highly likely you’ll probably find a lot of them staring in an episode of ‘Rogue Traders’ on daytime TV.

I for one would much rather pay that bit extra and wait that extra day/week or so, knowing the person I’m getting in to re-wire the house/fit a new boiler absolutely 100% knows what they are doing and just as importantly, values their own worth enough to pay the annual (or in the case of Gas Safe plumbers, 4-yearly) fee to ensure their business is set up correctly so that they can give their customers absolute peace of mind that the work they do is covered, legit and safe.

Sadly, the same cannot be said for some (not all) of the other crew members.

Anyone could, if they wished, learn how to dig foundations, or build/plaster a wall.  There is, as yet, no formal qualification requirement in any of those types of trade.  Yes there is an absolute art to doing it properly, but sadly that’s where the ‘magic triangle’ comes into play:

In order to get a beautiful job done, you have to pay for it either in time or money. Equally, if you want it done fast, you have to pay for it either in money or quality levels.  You get the idea.

We now have the inevitable cracks appear in various walls whilst the building has ‘settled’ which I’m sure could be done tomorrow by a ‘plasterer’ who’s both available and cheap.  But I have no way to find out if they’re any good until they have done the job…and by then it’s too late.  So we’re going to do it ourselves – my husband is incredibly artistic and neat, plus YouTube have some amazing ‘how to’ videos for DIY projects.  Wish us luck!

Conversely, our boiler is due its first service next month.  I’m certainly not going to do a YouTube ‘how to’ search for that one, nor am I going to find a local plumber who isn’t ‘Gas Safe’ registered because hey – they’re cheap and available so let’s get them in and hope for the best. I’m pretty sure every single one of the readers of this blog know, even deep down, that’s a bad idea.

Some jobs need a specialist.  Simple as that. And those specialists need accreditation in order to prove to their clients (and the insurance companies of those clients) that they 100% know what they’re doing. With electricians and plumbers (working with gas), the quality shouldn’t be nearly as hit and miss because they HAVE to be good. That’s what their certificates prove.

Now…in the VA world, again, there is no formal qualification. Anyone with a laptop and a vague idea about how to sort out a diary/write some Facebook content/use a WordPress site can get themselves some online presence and start trading as a Virtual Assistant/On-Line Business Manager/Social Media Manager etc.  They might also have a low hourly rate and an infectious can-do attitude. As a client or VA looking for an Associate, you may even strike gold and find an absolute gem who can hit all three of the ‘magic triangle’ criteria in one go.

As a business owner/CEO, you know you cannot risk spending money on and putting responsibility into the hands of an ‘how hard can it be’ side-hustle amateur with a laptop.

So I ask you – how do you know that the VA you are about to take on to run your diary/social media content/website is set up correctly so that you get value for money and, should the worst happen (God forbid), you are covered?

Yes, anyone can register with the ICO, pay their annual fee and should they wish put an icon on their website/email signature.  Yes, anyone can sign up to and use the logo of a VA group which could, to the uninitiated, look like they are in some way qualified to call themselves a VA.  But does the ICO/VA group ask for evidence of insurance with minimum cover requirements?  Or testimonials of clients to back up the claims of what the VA says they do?  Or evidence of the contracts and/or terms of business they use?  With the exception of one organisation, namely APVA, the answer to that is, unfortunately, a resounding no.

APVA’s Board have put together a comprehensive list of criteria that they believe is fundamental to a VA/OBM business set up and is in line with the expectations of clients who come to APVA looking for top calibre support (as proven by the results of their recent survey).

Once the application is personally checked by the Business Manager and CEO and they agree all criteria is properly met, APVA awards that business with their APVA accreditation for that year, which shows both current and prospective clients and other VAs that they meet the high but base-line standard set by the leading organisation for VAs in order to instil confidence in their set up and business acumen and are required to resubmit their application annually in order to remain accredited.

It draws a much-needed line in the sand and elevates how our industry is viewed both internally and by clients and other industry bodies.

So, one last question – if there is a way to distinguish yourself from the rest of the pack and show your peers and client base you are absolutely serious about your business set up, or as a business owner you want to find someone to support you who mirrors your own values of how a business should be run internally, surely you would go for the best?  And that is what APVA Accreditation provides. It really is that simple!”

If you want to find out more about joining our ever-growing membership of accredited VAs, you can do so HERE.