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What are the differences between US-based and Overseas Virtual Assistants?
The first and most obvious difference between US-based VAs and Overseas VAs is price!
US-based VAs will cost about 2x as much per hour compared to the equivalent Overseas VA handling the same task.
However, price is only one factor, and frequently is not the most important one.
As both the CEO of REVAS and a real estate business owner myself, I have an insider’s view of hundreds of campaigns using both US-based and Overseas Virtual Assistants. It is from this perspective that I will outline the main differences between US-based and Overseas VAs for your business.
Table Of Contents
- US-BASED: Native English speakers.
- US-BASED: Implicit cultural rapport.
- US-BASED: Higher education level.
- US-BASED: Higher perceived value by clients.
- US-BASED: Summary & Conclusion.
- OVERSEAS: Greater flexibility.
- OVERSEAS: Perfect for repetitive admin tasks.
- OVERSEAS: More used to working Virtually.
- OVERSEAS: Less entitlement.
- OVERSEAS: Summary & Conclusion.
- Telemarketing Example: US-based vs. Overseas.
- Property Management Example: US-Based vs. Overseas.
- Glassridge Private Lending Example: US-Based vs. Overseas.
Understanding The Value Of US-based Virtual Assistants
While US-based VAs cost more, in many contexts it’s definitely true that you get what you pay for.
If your campaign is in the USA, Canada, UK, Australia, or other similar English speaking “1st World” nations, there will be several obvious, and not-so-obvious benefits of using a US-based Virtual Assistant that often will more than cover the added cost.
US-BASED: Native English speakers.
While some of our Overseas VAs have very good spoken or written English (rarely both), it’s still noticeable that they are speaking ESL (English as a Second Language). In certain contexts, this really matters. It can make or break your campaign.
A US-based VA will be a fully capable English speaker & writer. English is their first & primary language, and we already focus on proven communication skills in our Virtual Assistant recruiting & hiring process.
US-BASED: Implicit cultural rapport.
This factor is frequently underestimated (at your own peril). Based on our hard numbers observing hundreds of campaigns, I can say with certainty that there is real, measurable value in having a VA that was raised in the same nation, culture, and socio-economic climate as the Client or Prospect.
Someone from the Philippines, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, etc who has never spent significant time living in the US, Canada, or UK, will just not have the same rapport with your customers as someone born & raised here.
US-BASED: Higher education level.
In spite of its many flaws, the US education system still far surpasses those of the Overseas locations in which we employ & recruit our Overseas VAs.
Our US-based VAs almost always have a better, higher education level.
US-BASED: Higher perceived value by clients.
While it might be taboo to discuss openly in some circles, let’s face it: some (most?) of your US-based customers will subconsciously judge your business for outsourcing Overseas. Offshore outsourcing comes with a stigma to many, especially in certain market niches and demographics.
US-BASED: Summary & Conclusion.
Most of the benefits of US-based VAs could be summarized by simply saying US-based VAs are a higher quality resource, especially when it comes to customer-facing roles & tasks.
Certain activities, like Blog Writing or Social Media Marketing pretty much require a US-based Virtual Assistant for any writing… and that is speaking from significant experience trying many creative ways to get away with using Overseas VAs for these tasks (to no avail).
Understanding The Value Of Overseas Virtual Assistants
The most obvious benefit of Overseas VAs is price! They cost half as much (or less) than employing US-based VAs for the same tasks.
What this basically means is:
Any time you can get away with using Overseas VAs, you should.
In other words, since Overseas VAs are so much cheaper, you really should try to use them whenever possible.
The only problem is that they’re not great for everything, and you can’t (or shouldn’t) always “get away with” using them.
While many of their weaknesses are already outlined above as the opposites of US-based VAs’ strengths, Overseas Virtual Assistants also have several strengths (beyond price) that make them an excellent addition to your business.
OVERSEAS: Greater flexibility.
Believe it or not, being a Virtual Assistant for our staff in places like the Philippines or Pakistan is a pretty good gig! For our more senior VAs working full-time, their income puts them in what would be the equivalent of making $3,000 – $4,000 / mo here in the US.
Our Overseas VAs might not be getting rich, but they can afford a good quality of life and therefore have much more breathing room & flexibility than our US-based VAs (who pretty much need to work nearly full-time at all times just to make a living).
OVERSEAS: Perfect for repetitive admin tasks.
When you have simple online research, data entry, or other basic administrative tasks, it is crazy to pay someone $12+ / hr to handle it when an Overseas VA can do it for half that.
Plus, since these types of tasks are not customer facing (or, if they are, they’re pure Copy+Paste) there is literally no difference in quality between using US-based or Overseas VAs for these tasks.
Same quality, same output, half the price.
OVERSEAS: More used to working Virtually.
Most of our Overseas VAs are career Virtual Assistants. They’ve been working on remote tasks for companies all over the world for their entire job history.
This type of work is much more common in the Overseas countries in which we hire & recruit, so it’s easy to find new Overseas VAs who already understand the logistics of working for an employer they never see in person.
This is rarely the case with US-based VAs, who almost always have at most about 1/2 their work history being “Virtual” from home, and at least 1/2 their work history punching a clock at an office, or running around town as a Listing Agent or salesperson.
OVERSEAS: Less entitlement.
As much as I hate to admit it as a proud American, after reviewing 100,000+ job applicants, resumes, and CVs over the past ten years, it seems in the US we have a bit of an entitlement problem.
It’s hard to estimate how many people in the US feel they are owed a job, and steady income, regardless of whether they’re contributing enough value to cover that cost or yield a profit.
The attitude of entitlement is undeniably widespread.
Plus, as mentioned above, since this Virtual Assistant work is higher on the economic totem pole for the Overseas locations than in the US, it’s not all just unjustified entitlement. Your US-based VAs really do need the work hours more than their Overseas counterparts just to get by, so are likely to seem more pushy & demanding.
While we’re masters at filtering out the bad apples in our Core Values-based recruiting approach, these macro-economic & cultural factors do tend to mean the average Overseas VAs likely has much less of a sense of entitlement than the average US-based VA, and will therefore typically be much more grateful & committed to the work you’re providing them.
OVERSEAS: Summary & Conclusion.
While Overseas VAs have a major weakness in their spoken & written English, they make up for it in many other ways, most importantly: price.
The ideal work to outsource to Overseas VAs is easy to identify:
Overseas VAs are especially perfect for repetitive admin tasks that have been boiled down to a systematic, step-by-step Standard Operating Procedure.
Indeed, these types of menial admin duties are crazy to waste any US-based person’s time on, when they can be done at the same quality for a fraction of the price (most likely below minimum wage: un-matchable by any US-based employee).
Examples From Our Direct Experiences
Telemarketing Example: US-based vs. Overseas.
Outbound Telemarketing is one of our most popular services, and we’ve seen both US-based and Overseas VAs tested with every imagineable variable.
We’ve even seen close to a dozen campaigns that have directly tested 50% US-based vs 50% Overseas, dialing the same exact list with the same exact script on the same exact schedule… and ultimately have seen either option win from a Cost Per Lead perspective. It’s definitely case-by-case.
In general, for Telemarketing, you can assume that a US-based VA is going to be the better bet.
Because even if a US-based VA is tied with an Overseas VA from a Cost Per Lead perspective, that means they are getting leads twice as fast!
Since US-based VAs cost 2x as much per hour as Overseas VAs, the US-based VA has to do about 2x the output as an Overseas VA to be competitive from a dollars-to-dollars ROI perspective… so even in those campaigns where the US-based VAs were tying or slightly losing to the Overseas VAs on Cost Per Lead, it means they’re doubling them on Leads Per Hour.
Property Management Example: US-Based vs. Overseas.
We offer our own Property Management Services here locally in Cincinnati through CincyBuyer. Plus, about 35% of all our REVAS Clients are managing property in some capacity, either as a landlord or property manager.
If you’re a Landlord or Property Manager (or Letting Agent for those in the UK), you can get away with using more Overseas VAs in customer-facing roles than you might be able to as a luxury real estate agent or loan officer.
In our own property management business, and in many of our clients’, we’ve seen success using all Overseas VAs for most tasks related to dealing with tenants, from receiving calls, replying to emails, to even dispatching workers to handle repairs & maintenance.
Whether they’re in Tuscon, New York, Cincinnati, or London, tenants don’t really seem to mind if the person on the phone has an accent, or if your email communication has some typos or grammar issues.
Tenants just want to be taken care of, get rapid response, and receive professional & courteous support. These are all things an Overseas VA can handle with ease.
Some exceptions, where it does make sense to only use US-based VAs in your Property Management business would include things like:
- Dealing with prospective Property Management Clients. These are high value prospects, and therefore worth investing in using only US-based VAs or local staff to communicate with them.
- Dealing with legal documents. While this can be boiled down to a repetitive, step-by-step Standard Operating Procedure that in theory is quite easy for an Overseas VA to follow… it’s also far too important to scrimp and save by outsourcing offshore. Stick with US-based when your ass is on the line.
- Dealing with investors & sellers. This one can potentially be a mix of both, especially if you only use Overseas VAs for fact finding (following a questionnaire), it’s still probably worth investing in the US-based VA. One hot deal or one real estate investment opportunity can be worth the annual salary of a part-time US-based VA, so if you’re in the market & established, going US-based makes a lot more sense than risking a big opportunity to an Overseas person.
Glassridge Private Lending Example: US-Based vs. Overseas.
Earlier this year we acquired Glassridge, a Real Estate Hard Money Loans company. Today, the team is 90% Virtual, spanning the US from Atlanta to Los Angeles, and with some back-office support provided by Overseas VAs in India, Pakistan, Philippines, and Venezuela.
In Glassridge, we use only US-Based VAs for all customer-facing roles.
Whether it’s emailing, DMing, social media, blog commenting, chatting, phone calls, or in-person communication, if it involves any communication with Clients & Prospects (even if it’s just sending a template), Glassridge uses only US-based, native English speaking, well educated, experienced staff.
However, for things like adding new leads to our CRM (Podio), helping create new SEO’d pages based on a simple, step-by-step SOP, or posting ads & doing rote research tasks, we consistently outsource this all to our Overseas VAs.