1. How will you keep them loyal once they are successful?
This is one of the most important questions to ask when considering whether to hire a virtual employee. Average tenure is one of the biggest indicators as to the health of any recruiting firm. The average turnover in brick and mortar firms nationwide is around 80%. This means if you are an average firm and you hire ten new recruiters this year, you will have two of them left at the end of 12 months.
In a virtual model it is even harder to keep recruiters loyal and inspired. I don’t have any statistics for turnover with virtual recruiters but the experiences I’ve witnessed with my coaching clients leads me to think it is much greater than that of traditional businesses.
If someone is working for you in Los Angeles and your firm is based in Florida, at some point that employee starts to ask, “What do I need them for?” This is a legitimate question. What do they need you for? The answer to that question is one that you must pre-meditate before you hire your first virtual employee.
Here are a few benefits that you can offer:
– Vision, inspiration, and a team environment
– Training materials, seminars, and professional development
– Activity bonus
– Equity or profit sharing
– Salary or draw
– Collaboration, splits, and closing support
– Technology tools, database
– Retirement plan
– Good equipment
– Health plan
2. What kind of accountability will you have?
Danny Cahill has said, “recruiters don’t do what you expect, they only do what you inspect.” This is true when you have a manager hovering in an office and is doubly true when you have virtual recruiters. Rock-solid activity tracking and reporting are vital for a successful virtual firm. You’ll need specific activity goals, a realistic tracking system, daily reporting, and follow-up by management.
3. What kind of database system will you have?
In order to have a solid foundation for communication and data capturing, you will need a robust online database system. Some of the more popular systems available are Big Biller, Cbiz, and Sendouts. Be sure to look for features that are tailored to a virtual model when selecting your system and also look for companies that offer training.
4. What kind of phone system will you have?
Luckily, technology for virtual phone systems has improved greatly over the years. Your phone system is your showroom so you want to be sure that it is as professional and reliable as possible. Features you will want to have are: individual extensions, call hunting, hold music, and if possible, call tracking. You can get these features through several providers such as Vonage.
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5. How will you protect your assets?
Let’s face it, if someone’s working from you from their home office and he wants to steal your database, there’s not a lot you can do about it. However, you must exhaust every option available. Good database systems will give the owner a number of security features and some will prevent users from being able to copy more than one page at a time. You will also want to consult an attorney regarding the appropriate language in your employment agreement to protect your database and to address non-compete issues.
6. How will you pay them?
If you make someone 100% commission, why wouldn’t your recruiter quit and open a competing firm on his own once he starts billing? There are a lot of ways to compensate but if someone is working virtually, generally you would give them less guaranteed money than usual. A small salary or draw is a reasonable approach and you could also integrate an activity bonus as well.
7. Will they be employees or independent contractors?
I’m not a legal expert but my understanding is that there are a lot of potential pitfalls to bringing recruiters on as independent contractors. The IRS wants employees to be paid as employees, not as contractors. Their rules are set up in a way to make it very hard to for our industry to use independent contractor status for recruiters. For instance, if your virtual employee is a contractor, he should be able to do the same work that he does for you for one of your competitors. Additionally, I do not think you can require activity reporting from a contractor. If you want to be safe, hire the person as an employee with a $1,000 draw and you’ll be able to sleep better at night.
The seven questions above are just a few of the many questions you must answer before you think of hiring a virtual employee. Too often I get called in as a consultant after the person has been brought on board and there is already a problem with the arrangement. The virtual model can work well but it requires more forethought, planning and follow up than a traditional brick and mortar business.
Gary Stauble is the principal consultant for The Recruiting Lab, a coaching company that assists Firm Owners and Solo Recruiters in generating more profit in less time. Gary offers a FREE special report, “The Search Process Checklist: a 17 step recruiting tool,” on his website. Get your copy now at www.therecruitinglab.com