To say I am busy with my various online enterprises and a little thinly spread sometimes is an understatement.
Like a number of entrepreneurs, I have been employing virtual assistants for years in order to pick up some of the slack.
However, up until now, I have only used low-cost VAs (based in the Philippines, etc) to cover menial tasks that can easily be outsourced.
As things have progressed I have found myself needing more experienced assistance. In short, VA’s that are capable of taking care of everything from bookkeeping and diary management to writing articles or press releases.
I am aware of sites such as Freelancer.com, and People Per Hour, however, I wasn’t up for wading through lists of potential candidates. Furthermore, I wanted someone on a permanent basis, and have the vetting process taken care of.
So, when a friend of mine suggested I check out Time etc, and explained a bit about them, it seemed like the answer I had been looking for.
Fast forward to 200hrs worth of assistance later, here’s my view on whether these guys can deliver.
Who are Time etc
The story of how Time etc came to be and their track record in the virtual assistance space is one of the major reasons I opted to go with them.
The company was launched in the UK back in 2007 and is now fully operational in the US too.
They only employ UK and US-based assistants, but the services are available all over the world. On their website, they state that they have helped complete almost 2 million tasks and projects so far.
My thought process was simple, with over 20 years in the space, they clearly had to be doing something right.
Furthermore, the vetting process seemed very stringent. Only top talent makes it onto their books. As the Time etc about page explains:
“We seek out the very best Virtual Assistants from incredible companies like Apple, AOL and Virgin. Each one is hand-picked for their experience and put through a selection process so tough that only a handful of the thousands who apply are selected.”
They even have Sir Richard Branson’s former executive assistant, as part of the management team!
I will admit I was getting a bit worried during this stage of my research. All of this was starting to sound expensive. Would it be a good suit for me?
A reassuring fact was that founder Barnaby Lashbrooke set out to create a service for business owners and entrepreneurs that would streamline their processes and give them more time in the day.
Their current home page is a picture of a sleeping child with the note: “Be Home for Bedtime” – if that didn’t speak directly to me, nothing would.
What services do Time etc provide?
After clicking on the “How can we assist you?” menu option on their website, I was basically hooked. The list of tasks that the Time Etc VA’s can take care of was exactly what I was looking for.
So much of it is geared to the online entrepreneur I was sad that I hadn’t come across the company before. I started to get excited about how much free time I would now have for important areas of my business.
Although at this stage I hadn’t obviously experienced what they were like to work with, or even the prices for that matter.
Click the tabs for a taster of some of the services Time etc provide:
A lot of this was far beyond what I could have expected from VA’s I had employed before. However, I did understand that the price was going to be vastly different.
Most Time Etc VAs serve customers from their home offices in either the UK or the US. The cost of living is clearly high in these countries and experienced assistants cam command good salaries. Plus I would need to cover whatever Time etc puts on top.
The next step was to see just how much this service could potentially set me back.
Time etc Plans and Pricing
The price of using a virtual assistant (or multiple assistance) ranges from $21-25 an hour.
The difference in price is set not by the assistant you use or the type of task you are requesting, it is down to the number of hours you are pre-booking each month.
- Ten hours: $250 /month ($25 per hour)
- Twenty hours: $480 /month ($24 per hour)
- Forty hours: $880 /month ($22 per hour)
- Sixty hours: $1260 /month ($21 per hour)
Each of the packages provides you with a dedicated assistant and allows you to send unlimited tasks. You can add assistants if you need, and have the VA work for other users (in your organization for example).
Each package also comes with premium support from Time etc (should you have any issues) and unused hours will always roll over to the next month.
The great thing with this pricing structure is that you don’t have any long-term obligation or contract. You can also change your package as you go, and clearly stop using the service at any time.
After the free trial, I went straight in and opted for the 40hr a month package. Let’s talk about all that now.
My experience using Time etc
The free trial
I immediately liked the fact that the free trial offered $50 worth of assistant services, with no need to hand over your credit card details!
It’s not that I doubt the legitimacy of the company. I would have felt safe handing over payment details, its just that I am useless at remembering trials I have signed up to.
So many times I have checked my business bank statement to see that I am being charged for some online service that I trialed and then forgot about.
If I didn’t like how things worked, I could walk away without any issues.
Signing up and requesting my first taskAfter entering my contact details I was sent directly to a page that asked me to select my first free trial task. (I have set up a new ‘fake’ account in order to produce the screenshots you see here).
In order to claim your $50 free trial you do need to send the task across almost immediately, (within just over 5 minutes) This annoyed me a bit as I was put on the spot first time around.
In the end, opted for a blog post as I always have a long list of content that needs publishing for my websites.
You are able to select from Time etc full range of services, however.After making a selection you are sent to another page where you fill in the instructions of the job. You can add files, and other details too.
Once you press send on this it gets sent into the pool of tasks ready for one of the assistants to be matched with you. They will get in touch with you first before any work is started.
Being matched with an assistant
The process of being matched with an assistant is pretty much automatic. Clients are assigned a dedicated assistant, and your dashboard clearly lets you know when that has happened.
In my case, Helen got in touch within a couple of hours. She sent me a lovely introductory message and a couple of questions about the task.
It should be noted that once you are fully signed up and have purchased a monthly package, you do have the option to match the task to Time etc’s entire team of VAs if you need to find someone with more appropriate skills.
In my case, Helen was able to research and write the short post within the $50 trail amount. She even knew WordPress so I was able to do an additional task of publishing the content with some images that I sent her.
Helen did this within the day too. I was definitely impressed.
So much so, I went ahead and purchased my first month of 40hrs.
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My experiences over the last 5 months using Time etc
I later found that speedy turnaround times are not always the case.
Your assistant can be assigned to a number of clients at any one time. If they are busy on another job you can end up waiting several days for what could be done in just a few hours.
When this happens it definitely annoys me. However, as I only purchase 40hrs a month, I understand that my assistant will be working for others too. Thankfully, hold-ups are rare.
I have also learned to counter them by checking the workload of my assistant before sending any tasks across. If she is too busy, I see what other assistants are available, (assuming instructing someone new isn’t going to cause more issues than its worth).
That is probably my only gripe with using Time etc. Overall, it really has been a game-changer for me.
I actually have more than one assistant that I work with regularly now. They are taking care of a lot of the WordPress publishing duties (including proofreading my external writer’s work) and this has really freed up my time.
I am also using one to completely manage one of my email campaigns. Helen is still with me and she knows the nature of my business well enough to even research my competitors and help me with my content calendar – fundamental aspects of my business basically.
And yes, $880 a month isn’t cheap however my assistants are efficient and were up to speed so quickly, it doesn’t feel like any of that expenditure has been wasted.
The Pros and Cons of using Time etc
After 5 months of using Time etc here’s my summary on the good and bad points of the service.
Overall Time etc is a top-quality service if you are looking for skilled assistants that are pro-active and can take on more complicated tasks with little instruction.
I have used many lower-priced VA services before (and still do for certain jobs); however, knowing I can rely on the assistants I have built relationships with to actually help me run my business, has been a game-changer.
If you want to free up your time for the important stuff in both work and life, Time etc will help you do that. Highly recommended.