One of the questions I get asked frequently by VAs is ‘Why is accreditation necessary?’. The truth is that though the vast majority of us are highly skilled and professional individuals who value both their clients and themselves, in every industry there are exceptions to the rule. We predominantly work remotely (particularly this year!) and occasionally may not even speak to our customers in person it is more convenient to keep in touch via email, and for this reason, it’s more challenging than ever before for customers to use their experience and instincts to determine whether or not they should work with us, and to make an informed (and accurate!) judgment about how reputable and professional we are.
If you wanted to work with a plumber, you’d look for someone who was highly recommended by others, or who was listed on an accredited trade site (so that you could check their qualifications were legitimate). The last thing you’d want to do is to invite a random stranger to your property with no plumbing experience whatsoever – you want your plumbing issue fixed, not made worse! So if it’s okay to look for qualified tradespeople in this way, why is it so difficult to imagine that a not-for-profit organisation that accredits VAs who meet carefully considered, business-specific criteria could be useful for business owners looking for VAs? That’s why we have created our ‘Find an accredited VA’ tool, which can be found here: https://findyourva.co.uk/
Yes, some of us have plenty of references and testimonials to highlight our skills and expertise and may feature badges on our websites that state we have appropriate insurance in place, etc. But what about people who are new to the VA world? How can they convey their skills, experience, and professionalism in an increasingly competitive market? For us, the answer is simple – an accreditation process that signals to prospective customers that the VA business in question has everything in place that a trusted and reliable VA business should, from insurance and contracts to website privacy statements and ICO registration, etc. From our perspective, an accreditation system is useful for both VAs AND their prospective clients, helping one to stand out from the crowd (in a good way!) and the other to find a business that they really can rely on.
Not everyone needs APVA accreditation – that’s fine. But everyone needs to meet our accreditation criteria. We think that they should become an industry standard. It’s simple, sensible stuff that is designed to protect you, your business, and your customers, and should be the basic set-up framework that every VA owner follows. We’re an industry of talented, highly skilled business support professionals, and we deserve to be recognised as such rather than tarnished by the actions of a few who lack the skills, experience, and professionalism required to be a good (read: Great!) VA. We’re not trying to be difficult. We’re trying to do our best for the industry and its reputation and trying to support and champion UK, EU, and Global VAs. Will you join us?
If you’d like to find out more about VA accreditation, please visit our dedicated accreditation webpage here – https://www.apva.org.uk/apva-membership/ – to find out more. And don’t forget, accreditation comes as part of our APVA monthly membership, a community designed to support and champion professional VAs, providing advice, key business resources, mentoring, and coaching. For many of our members, accreditation is just the start of their journey with APVA; with support from peers, our core team, and expert trainers, and with the additional visibility provided by our accredited VA directory, many of our members choose to stay with us year on year. Evidence for accreditation has to be resubmitted annually, to ensure the highest levels of professionalism in line with the APVA ethos.
As we have said before, membership and accreditation aren’t for everyone – but if it’s for you, we’re here to help.