IMG_7266Have you ever wondered how gift giving affects your clients? The benefits of giving business or corporate gifts are plentiful. These days, giving gifts as Entrepreneurs, REALTORS and Small Business owners to clients are no longer seen as “nice to” but rather as a business imperative. Gifts help businesses to create goodwill, strengthen relationships, enhance your company’s image and create an emotional connection and positive perception of your brand.

Here are a few dos and don’ts for gift giving for the holiday season or any time of the year. There is a distinction between promotional gifts and corporate gifts. Both are valuable marketing tools for specific purposes in business. Promotional items are typically branded items of a lower cost, used as giveaways in large quantities as an extension of advertising efforts. Corporate gifts, on the other hand, are typically higher value items which are given with the intention of showing gratitude and strengthening relationships. They increase brand loyalty and encourage recipients to interact favourably with your brand.

IMG_7273If you are giving a gift to an existing or potential client, do find out what their company’s gifting policy is first. Banks, auditing firms and multi-national companies have strict rules around gifting. Feel free to ask your client upfront if they have a “No Gifting” policy, then at least your client will know that the thought was there. They will probably give you suggestions on what are acceptable ways to show your appreciation. Don’t go overboard with lavish or intimate gifts.

Your heart might be in the right place, but a gift that is excessive or a little too personal can make your recipient feel uncomfortable. Avoid outlandish gifts like jewellery. Try to stick to gift baskets, chocolate and sweets, coffee or wine and their accessories if in doubt. Don’t guess how to spell your recipient’s name. Getting their name wrong on a gift is a no-no. Instead of having warm, fuzzy feelings, your recipient will feel embarrassed or think that you are careless. That’s the opposite of what you are going for. Finally, do have your gift professionally wrapped. Great presentation increases the excitement of receiving a gift. Professional gift-wrapping also adds to your message of how much you value your recipient.

Don’t be shy to add a personal note and a gift card too!

Donna Hartrick,
My Shopping Diva


So, you have considered hiring a Virtual Assistant, otherwise known as a VA?  Maybe you’ve even hired one, and now what?

How does it all work?

Here are 6 steps to a successful partnership with a Virtual Assistant.


Most professional Virtual Assistants offer contracted services to their Clients. A contract is a necessary requirement for most, as it protects not only the interest of you as the Client but also the Virtual Assistant. Be sure to carefully read your contracts and don’t be afraid to ask questions if needed.

Documented Processes

It will be easier to delegate projects and/or tasks if you have clear processes for repetitive tasks outlined. This will reduce the margin for error by letting your VA know exactly how you carry out processes within your business. Once you and your VA are up and running together then you can hand over updating and creating procedures to them. An easy place to keep processes for everyone to access is in programs like One Note or Evernote. These programs allow you to create chapters, sections etc. and that makes it easier to keep things current.


Be crystal clear on your needs and your wants. Decide right off the bat what the best form of communication is for you both. Some VA’s prefer tasks to be added directly to project management software like Trello or Asana. Other’s preferring to receive instructions via email. You as the Client may prefer a phone call, email or even text messages. Whatever the form of communication, be sure to set out expectations.


Further to documenting your processes be sure to provide clear and detailed instructions. Although most VA’s would love to add mind reader to their resume alas it is not an ability we yet possess! If you are not sure how to communicate via writing then be sure to call your VA directly, or do a little walkthrough video. Find a way to give clear instructions in a way that is easiest for you.

Use Technology

There are so many fantastic programs out there that make working remotely and with a virtual team easy. Here are some of the most common ones out there (most of them free):

  • Last Pass – Allows users to store and share access to programs, information etc. in a safe and secure manner without sharing your usernames and passwords.
  • Asana – Project management program that allows you to set up teams, projects, delegate work, communicate, set deadlines and more.
  • T-Sheets – Allows VA’s to track their time by the minute for accurate and honest billing.
  • Screen-Cast-O-Matic – Create videos, presentations, capture your screen as you work to provide a video operation manual. So many great features!
  • One Note or Evernote – use these for online manuals, policy and procedures, store your blog topics and mark them done, create checklists and more.

Hire the Right VA for your Business/Needs

It seems like that is a no-brainer, right? What a lot of people don’t realize is that most VA’s will have a couple of niche areas that they specialize in. For instance, some are designers/creative VA’s, others might specialize in certain fields like real estate, law or medicine. Depending on what you need you may hire multiple VA’s who can work together to get your business where you want it to be!

Ready to get your business organized, free up your time and get new projects started?

Contact us today to find out how we can help get your business to the next level!

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Having been in the real estate industry in one way or another for over 18 years, I can tell you that Realtors® should be viewing an assistant as a business partner and not an employee. A great administrator wears many hats and can ensure that you get back to your income producing activities. You didn’t get your license to sit at a desk all day did you? No. So hire an administrator, better yet save yourself more money and hire a Virtual Assistant (VA).

More Brokerages are going paperless these days and thank goodness! You know how many forms a Realtor® has to fill out from the beginning to the end of a transaction. A lot, too many if you ask me and most of my Realtors®! And more are being added every year. Of course, we all know that they are a necessary evil in today’s world.

90% of a Real Estate Administrator’s job can be done remotely. No need for overhead costs so you save money. Most Real Estate VA’s are experienced and very efficient in what they do which also saves time and money. Another important note is that a local VA should be versed in your Province/State’s real estate law, ethics and regulations which are very important. Having a Real Estate VA, who knows what is legal and what is not could save your license.

A Real Estate VA can handle the four key components of your business that will free you up to be in front of clients or on the phone.


A Real Estate VA can help manage every aspect of the listing process, short of having the clients sign the paperwork (Unless you hire a licensed Real Estate VA).

  • Installation of your sign, book the photographer, home stager, virtual tour company.
  • Coordinate showings, open houses.
  • Input the listing into MLS and upload to websites and social media.
  • Ensure that all the listing paperwork is pre-filled and ready to go for when you take it to the client for signature.
  • Enter listing into Database and update and monitor accordingly.
  • Make sure your clients have all copies of the paperwork for their files.
  • Create feature sheets and just listed cards and coordinate with your printer.
  • Call for feedback on showings and pull weekly reports for the seller. The list goes on.


Real Estate VA’s can also take on the important task of overseeing the transaction from conditional to close as a transaction coordinator.

  • Schedule follow up calls for 30, 60 and 90 days after close.
  • Ensure all documents are signed and that all necessary parties in the transaction have copies.
  • Submit all paperwork to Mortgage Broker.
  • Assist with organization of moving day.
  • Keep in touch with the clients, provide any information such as movers, lawyers, and other important numbers they may require.


The amount of marketing that a Realtor® uses is a personal business choice. Most Realtors® market themselves inadequately. Usually because of poor time management, lack of time, skill or will to do it. VA’s can ensure that you are always putting your best foot forward in the market and that you are well represented and received.

  • Manage your database and all follow-up systems.
  • Create Pre-listing, CMA and Buyer packages/presentations.
  • Just Listed, Just Sold, and other related direct and email marketing.
  • Feature Sheets, Open House Invites and all other marketing related to your listings.
  • Website management and lead tracking.
  • Social media management and more.


Administrative management is where the day to day running the business comes in. Your VA can ensure that your business, regardless of whether you are out with Clients or on a dock at the cottage, runs smoothly. Some of the key items include:

  • Management of all supplies and equipment in the office.
  • Overseeing all administrative tasks for the business.
  • Operations management and office manual creation. Every business needs an operations manual.
  • Create and manage lead generation, follow up and buyer/seller plans in the database.
  • Hold you, the Realtor®, accountable for your lead generation. Help keep you moving forward and focused.

A Real Estate VA, as I said earlier, is a business partner, not an employee. They are an independent contractor just like you and know what it is like to be their boss. A Real Estate VA should treat your clients as though they were their own. I view myself as a direct representation of my Realtors® and guard their reputation in the business, your VA should do the same. A VA is an invaluable piece in your arsenal to building your real estate business.

Are you ready to take your business to the next level?


Virtual Assistant, Support, Travel, Assist


All of us could use a little help from time to time. The great thing about using a Virtual Assistant is that you can use them on an as-needed basis. You don’t have to worry about filling their time, providing a workspace or fussing with payroll.  I am willing to bet there are 10 things now that you could delegate to a Virtual Assistant that would hand you back a chunk of invaluable time. Talk about a return on investment that is almost instant! Time is so precious these days so wouldn’t you like to have more? Let me explain a bit about what a Virtual Assistant is and how they can help.


A Virtual Assistant (also called a VA) is generally described as an entrepreneur who works remotely from home and assists people or businesses with administrative, creative and technical tasks online.


Virtual Assistants are becoming more and more commonly used and are an absolute hidden gem. They can handle almost all the same tasks as an in-house assistant with many benefits. VA’s are typically independent contractors who work on a contract or freelance basis and can give a multitude of services. Some specialize in certain fields such as real estate, technology or medicine. With today’s technology, there is not much that you cannot outsource to a Virtual Assistant. Here is a list of the common tasks that Virtual Assistants typically offer:

  • Database Management
  • Online Email Management
  • Word Processing
  • Travel Arrangements
  • Research – Online
  • Presentations – Conversion to Power Point etc.
  • Calendar Management – Online
  • Expenses and Bookkeeping
  • Social Media Management
  • Marketing
  • Client Care
  • Website Management
  • Desktop Publishing

Each Virtual Assistant will have their own strengths and specialties so be sure to do your research and find the right one to fit your needs and wants. It is also important that you and your VA be a personality match, especially if the Virtual Assistant you hire will be reaching out to your clients. You want them to represent you, your business and your brand effectively.

Could you use a Virtual Assistant? What are some of the items you could delegate today?