GetFriday and the Cost of Success: Exclusive Letter from the CEO

53 Comments

Do you want to get a promotion, make $500,000 per year, appear on Oprah, or have 10x the number of customers?

Be careful what you ask for.

GetFriday, a personal outsourcing firm in India, was thrust into the limelight when The 4-Hour Workweek hit #1 on The New York Times bestseller list, and their client numbers jumped by almost 1000%. Outsourcing your life was now in fashion.

It’s not simple to handle unexpected massive demand, and this was reflected in complaints from new users who were frustrated with waiting lists, response time issues, and mistakes. New personal outsourcing services popped up to fill the demand, and the niche industry of personal outsourcing is now big business.

I asked the CEO of GetFriday, Sunder Prakasham, to explain the problems and address the criticisms. Below is his letter to me, an excellent description of the growing pains many of you will face if you become “overnight successes” or get sudden primetime exposure.

###

Hi Tim,

Here is an analysis of all the negative posts that went on your blog about GetFriday. (attached excel sheet)

As you would see all of them relate to 2007 when there was a wait period and we were playing catch up. And there are going to be complaints if customers have to wait.That is gone since 1st Jan.2008. We are now taking on clients immediately though we have kept a sane ‘within 5 working days’ as the upper limit to take on clients. So that issue is non-existent now. There is a team that keeps collecting feedback information on the web, so that we can address it if the issue is genuine.

Coming to talk about developments at GetFriday and the key challenges we are currently facing:

DEVELOPMENTS

GetFriday has ramped up its manpower and infrastructure at an extremely fast pace in the last 2 months, so much so we are now ahead of the wait curve and can now take on customers immediately. We have invested huge sums of money into IT infrastructure development and a world class CRM system that places us, leagues ahead of any others in the pack when it comes to delivering on any kind of tasks on a large scale. Small teething problems are expected when something new is implemented and some customers are going to bear the brunt of such issues and may go away unhappy. We have tried to keep all our customers informed of all the changes happening internally from time to time, so that they understand that it is all for the better. New office spaces have been added and we have decent spare capacity to be able take on work on the fly. We have a good management team in place that can handle further growth. A lot of development took place in a very short time, just like a lot of growth happened in too short a time. So there are going to be problems we need to contend with, here are some of them.

CHALLENGES

Culture and Relationship

I have reviewed a lot of feedback on the web myself and understand from customer feedback that one of the biggest issues facing GetFriday is that of understanding culture. Now this is a real issue and no matter how much of training I give about the American culture through classroom sessions, reality is that we live in different cultural zones. At no point of time has GetFriday professed that we use Indian assistants who are ‘American’ or any ‘other culture’ ready. We do our best to ensure that we train people and try to set the expectations right with the customer. The basis for a successful relationship lies in understanding at the outset that we are different and then work towards sharing each other’s culture and making ‘work’ work. How successful that will be shall depend on whether the people who transact, the client (American or any other culture) and his assistant (Indian) are open about it. I think the culture thing is being given too much emphasis, because though I may not understand my Israeli client’s culture thoroughly, if I have a good relationship and we are open about diversity then I should be able to understand the pulse of the customer and deliver on the client’s needs. That is fundamental for any cross cultural working relationship. It worked for us when we started GetFriday and I think that is the way we would like to keep it going. And BTW, we should have clients from 30 different nationalies being served by GetFriday at this point of time.

Given the spate of work that has come our way, most of our assistants had focussed on pure delivery of tasks and not much on the relationship management aspect. This we found was the biggest problem for us and hence we have taken steps to fix that problem. Am not giving out specifics of this because we have seen other services blatantly copy everything from tariff to processes to our manuals once it is on the web. ;-)

Quality of Service

Keeping the quality of service really high as we grow rapidly has been a huge challenge. There were some bloopers here and there, which happened in the past. It was really a choice between losing the client on a wait period to taking them on sooner (because they wanted it immediately after reading Tim’s book and couldn’t wait) with a little compromise on quality (because the assistant was not trained enough). Was a Hobson’s choice though we did our best to tell clients that waiting was better. Now with the capacity crunch being handled and well within our control, we have really been focussing on improving the quality of service. A good quality of service needs to meet client’s expectation to a reasonable level. People who have been with us for more than 2 months, stick with us for a long time. There are customers who are as old as 2 years still using our service. It is the initial period that is the most trying, both for client and for the assistant. We have put a fix for this problem as well recently. In order to continuously provide a good quality of service, we take feedback from customers plus we have internal systems that rates the quality of tasks selected on a random basis.

Clone sites

There were many clone sites that started service after seeing the popularity of GetFriday and thought that there was an incredibly quick buck to be made. Some of them whom I don’t wish to name but are referred by users on your blog are sites which are complete clones. I couldn’t help laughing my head off when I came across a site that had copied and put up our user manual verbatim on their site. Someone had used the find and replace technique efficiently, but apparently forgot to remove our support email id. Another one is trying to gain popularity through using our brand name in the headline of all their free web PR releases. They are listed high in google because of the word ‘getfriday’ in it, but I can’t see how customers would bite and try out a service that uses such unethical means.

For the moment, we focus on real feedback on our service from real clients. And we ensure we listen to them and fix them. The rest, we would rather ignore.

On the whole, I think GetFriday is in a lot better position than most others to understand the challenges and tackle them head-on.

If a client is open-minded and willing to invest a little time in the relationship at the beginning, he/she will reap a lot of value over a period of time with GetFriday.

If you have any further concerns, please do let me know.

Regards

Sunder P
###

{democracy:3}

Posted on: March 12, 2008.

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53 comments on “GetFriday and the Cost of Success: Exclusive Letter from the CEO

  1. Hey Tim,

    The concept of outsourcing the time consuming parts of one’s life still fascinates and excites me ever since I read your book several months back. I can’t wait to try it out on something. I am currently trying to find a new job both here in Canada or in Europe. Maybe I’ll try outsourcing job applications. I’ll let everyone know how it goes.

    One question I did have is regarding cost vs. quality. I know you touched on this subject a bit in your book and other previous posts, but I would like to know which company gives you the best “bang for your buck”, both on the high end and on the affordable end.

    Cheers

    Like

  2. Robert Heinlein wrote a story “We also Walk Dogs” (I think that was the title.)

    In the story, he predicted a world with personal outsourcing.

    Like

  3. I used GetFriday for a brief period after reading about it in your book. This was around summer ’07 and the wait time was five weeks before I was assigned to someone.

    I did not have the patience to work through the significant cultural differences or teach my assistance my expectations for responses to tasks. I considered it a test run, to see where the starting point would be and how much work I would have to do to get the results to a satisfactory level.

    Since publishing 4HWW, I would be interested to hear of any U.S.-based VA you would recommend.

    Like

  4. Outsourcing has become an integral part of the way I operate in my life and business. There’s just too much to do in life to spend time doing menial things that I can pay others to do.

    Get Friday is one of three virtual assistants that I use. So far things are going pretty well with them. I didn’t have to wait terribly long to get started. The assistant has been polite and definitely interested in knowing what he can do to best fulfill my needs.

    The only problem I’ve had is when I had him take on something outside of his skill range. I think he was a bit ambitious about how quickly he could figure it out. With any VA there will be a ramp up and training time for things that you want done a specific way.

    But they did a brilliant job doing research for us when we decided to move to Argentina. The information was thorough and well-organized.

    I’m happy to see the success that you have enjoyed from your excellent book and that Get Friday has also enjoyed by association. Thanks for your invaluable insights.

    Like

  5. I signed up for GetFriday, but realized right away they were experiencing growing pains. They were VERY professional and well organized, and I expect I will be using them in the future. However, I decided to try my luck with elance.com, and found it made more sense — in my case — to outsource different tasks to different providers.

    I have since hired a personal assistant (in Michigan), a company to do web research, data entry, and website administration (in India), and a web designer to redesign my website (in India).

    (It’s worth mentioning that I have also had success in the past with web developers and programmers hired through guru.com, and I wonder if anyone has any stories to share about odesk.com?)

    A huge thank you to Tim for writing the 4HWW. My life is changed for the better. I am getting much more done, no longer neglecting the stuff that wouldn’t fit into my 15 hour days, and feeling relaxed and happy. Thanks Tim!

    Like

  6. Dear Tim,

    I am a fan of your work, your thoughts, your blogs and your intelligence.

    Had a few IDEAS which I felt like sharing with you and which could be useful to many people…

    1) What about having a blog/book on any or all of the following topics…

    - The 4-hour study week:
    For youngsters who have a lot of pressure of doing well in exams (especially in India – where we have seen students committing suicide due to exam pressures and coz of the expectations that parents have out of them).

    - The 4-hour knowledge week:
    Strategies for acquiring enough knowledge/experience to get amongst the top 20% in any field, without spending 20-30 years of your life over it.

    - The 4-hour financial week:
    Strategies in Real-Estate/Stock Market etc, which can get anyone financially free within 4 months or so.

    - The 4-hour spiritual week:
    Top 20% spiritual books/leaders/etc. which will give a person 80% of the spiritual knowledge that he requires in life.

    - Speed Reading / Improving your memory / How to give speeches

    2) What about coming out with video DVDs on…
    - Your seminars

    - Capturing your life transformations through video: for example, having a video right from the first day of your workout/diet/etc to the 4th week of the workout / diet, showing the transformation that took place

    - DVDs on some of the topics mentioned in the first point above.

    I will be your first customer and would love to purchase all your books/cds on any of the topics mentioned above.

    Would love to know your thoughts on the same.

    Take care
    Manan

    ###

    Hi Manan,

    Thanks for the comment. I won’t be doing too much crazy line extension, but there will be some good educational modules coming out in the next 6-8 months. I have plans for a few things that should be helpful, all based on user feedback and requests.

    Thanks!

    Tim

    Like

  7. outsourcing does have it’s challenges but when you do find the right person (or company) to accomplish tasks it can really be beneficial. I wouldn’t recommend anyone going into with the assumption that is reduces stress right away.

    Like

  8. Hi Tim,

    I read your book 4HWW a few months ago, and I’m a reader of your blog. I used outsource freelancers even before I read your book, but after reading it it was more clear to me how to communicate with them better. I used freelancers from every freelancers website around the web.
    A few weeks ago, an idea came into my mind: there’s no freelancers translation service that enables web publishers (and actually everybody) to translate in low costs, fast way.
    So – me and my partners invented OneHourTranslation.com.
    I’ll be more than happy to hear what you think of it. Your opinion really matters to me.
    Thank you,
    Yaron

    Like

  9. Oh one more thing!
    I was in the same exact place that you took the header picture!
    I took a 3-day boat to the iceberg, and it was a great thing to wake up in the morning and see all those iceberg pieces floating ….
    Yaron

    Like

  10. Hi Tim,

    I liked Manan’s post and I too have sometimes wondered why I haven’t seen the “Tim Ferriss Secrets” DVDs on here.

    I’m sure you could sell tons of line extension products through this website, but I also like the way you just sum things up in a short blog post.

    People write and sell ebook kits on weight loss diets and bulking up all the time, but you summed up what you found to be the most important parts (the 20% that counts) in about 1000 words. I think that’s great. Looking forward to a post about diet and training while traveling.

    I’d also like more posts on muse creation, if you are looking for reader feedback.

    It’ll be interesting to see what “educational modules” you come up with in 6-8 months. I hope they’re are not too expensive, but I would like more personal guidance on the muse stuff if you can offer it.

    Rich

    Like

  11. Well first if you’ve noticed your newsletter type a bit larger in the past few months that’s because of my suggestion to Tim. It’s a lot easier to read now. I’m a virtual assistant/transcriptionist based in America. I know India offers much better rates but if you paid a full-time employee (40-hours per week) $10.00 plus all the benefits it could cost you well over $25,000 per year. And how much of that time would he or she spend playing solitaire on the computer? Most U.S. based Virtual Assistants (VA) charge anywhere from $35 to $60 per hour. Retainer fees can be set up so you know exactly how many hours they will work each month. There are a lot options available to small business owners in today’s market that it’s easy to acquire the right VA for a lot less than a full-time employee. If I can’t help you, I can give you some resources on where to find a VA. Thanks much.

    Like

  12. Hi Tim

    This is Terri from Hong Kong. I read through your book and it is great – I end up found a good guide on how to get my dream life work out, thank you!

    Now I am planning to develop an internet business and want to outsource the jobs of internet research and information compiling, already contacted BRICKWORK INDIA, while Ithe website will be specially for Hong Kong and Chinese people, hence better to work with someone from China. I would be grateful if anyone can advise the reliable source in China as Brickwork .

    Thank you, Terri

    Like

  13. Hey Tim,

    1) It was great hearing you moderate the Art of Speed panel at SXSW. Great stuff!

    2) In terms of outsourcing, some people are still shaky about dealing with someone who they can’t necessarily hold accountable (i.e.-they are not in the US). One way to overcome this is to to go to a US based company and use them to outsource your work.

    Like

  14. I experimented with outsourcing and actually found $5 an hour services. They did an okay job but didn’t listen as closely as I would have liked which ended in mistakes. They did quickly respond to my issues and did not charge me for the time for the mistakes. I found trying to explain the job was harder than I thought the effort was worth. I probably would have continued if I knew one person was consistently doing the work so I didn’t have to worry about results but that didn’t seem to happen.

    I will be looking into it again in the future.

    Like

  15. Hey Tim,

    Love your book & blog. Like you, I’m a big fan of business, martial arts & travel. I’m having a mental tug of war with the doing business out of america thing. I guess we’ll all eventually get over it – it’s the hippie influence of my Mom who hates calling customer service anywhere & getting India.

    Anyway, thanks for the inspiration & information! When hitting a block in writing (do you get these?) I’d like to hear of this from ya:

    Brainquicken

    What inspired you to write 4hww

    ###

    Hi Lili,

    Here is EXACTLY what I do when I get writer’s block: http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/2007/08/25/the-creativity-elixir-is-genius-on-demand-possible/

    More to come :)

    Tim

    Lili

    Like

  16. I’m currently reading 4HWW and I think that the idea of outsourcing is fantastic. There are just so many things to do that take up so much time, but don’t really seem like they’re worth the time to do yourself. Thanks Tim for introducing us to this idea.

    I haven’t tried GetFriday yet, but I plan to in the future. Does anyone have any tips, learned from personal experience?

    Like

  17. I tried GetFriday (when it was just transitioning from being “Your Man in India”). They blew it – missed deadlines, poor quality work, lack of responses to email and phone inquiries, failing to cancel my account properly when I finally gave up, etc. I’m sure these were acute growing pain-related, and GF might be fine now.

    The one thing I think they truly did poorly is to not know how to say “no”. A “Yes” is an actionable answer, and a promise – “Yes, I can do that project for you”. “No” is almost as good – “No I can’t do the project for you” sets me free to find another vendor. “Maybe” or “Yes, in a while” are terrible answers for a client to hear – it forces me to keep an open loop on my to-do list (“Is my VA firm going to be able to do my work or not”).

    GetFriday might have gotten me back as a client in the future by simply declining my work when they couldn’t handle it – rather than over-extending themselves and effing-up so thoroughly that I can’t imagine trying them again.

    Saying ‘no’ to work can sometimes be the best move for your business…

    Like

  18. Thanks for posting this, Tim. I tried GetFriday for a couple of months (after being on a wait-list), and ultimately had to cancel because of service issues. I wanted to like it, but unfortunately, I received too much feedback from others (who were the recipients of my assistant’s efforts) that I felt reflected badly on me.

    I plan to give it another try when supply catches up to demand!

    Esther

    Like

  19. Tim,

    I have not yet tried personal outsourcing although I have “outsourced” house cleaning and what-not. There is still so much I really enjoy having hands on and as my kids are still small, it makes sense for us to stay in one place rather than travel all the time at this point. Probably in a few years time when they’re old enough to remember the places we’ll travel, we’ll go ahead and do so. And perhaps by then, I’ll have decided to go ahead and outsource more of my life so we can.

    ~ Annie

    Like

  20. Tim:

    It was interesting to see this… I was one of the many people who signed up for GetFriday – in fact I’ve tried several places and had several disasters. GetFriday and Brickwork quite simply didn’t do anything! I posted my progress (or lack of) online about the items on my site.

    What I found most interesting was that my name is not associated with my domain name at all. But suddenly there were comments posted with my full name on them ‘apologizing’ for my erroneous posts. Only the company I dealt with would know that. I traced the IP back to Bangalore.

    I finally posted an ad on Craigslist and found myself a great assistant at a better price than either place charged.

    Like

  21. Folks, I tried both GetFriday *and* Brickwork India. I will say for the record that the problems with these two companies are not due to “cultural differences”. The problems are due to poor business models:

    (1) You cannot do good business when you don’t do your job well.
    (2) You cannot do good business when you don’t manage client expectations.
    (3) You cannot do good business when your staff is overextended.
    (4) You cannot do good business when you have poor quality control.

    I have worked with India a lot over the past year, and I can truly say, go to oDesk or Elance and save yourself a headache.

    I signed up with GetFriday in 2007. My first virtual assistant, S., did a pretty good job. Work was fairly thorough, although I occasionally had to restate things that were overlooked. She was very nice, professional, and suddenly quit her job to get married.

    Her replacement, M., was a disaster. When I sent him a task, I would rarely receive acknowledgment that this task was received and understood. I sometimes spent more time re-explaining a task which was done completely wrong than it would have taken me to do the task myself. And of course I was billed for all M’s time, even when he did things wrong and might as well have gone to McDonald’s and had a strawberry milkshake.

    If I wanted something on Friday, I had to make it due the Tuesday before…I would get it on Tuesday night, then I had to do two or three back-and-forths over three days for M. to complete the task properly.

    M. would e-mail me regularly, stating that I was not using all the weekly hours I had purchased from GetFriday (I think I started with 10/week and moved to 20/week), but when I would give him more tasks, other ones would fall by the wayside, get forgotten, or just get done all wrong.

    I tried to switch VAs. However, GetFriday wasn’t keen on it…their resources were overtaxed (surprise, surprise), and getting another point person to work with me might take some time.

    Of course, when I dropped the company, they were much better about contacting me and re-contacting me until I had to be borderline rude about it…and of course I still got billed, because they didn’t cancel me right away.

    GetFriday, however, was *nothing* compared to the just-plain-horrible work done by Brickwork India.

    I hired their web design team to do a very simple project for a client. Instead of going the easy route of retainer-rest-due-upon-launch, they delayed my project over a week-and-a-half just dealing with paperwork. Contracts, more contracts, revised contracts because they didn’t read my original task list properly, PayPal codes, etc. This was just a 20-hour project, so imagine the frustration.

    I need to learn to trust that little bell that goes off in my head when something like this happens…because their product was worse than their red tape.

    I requested a Flash page header on the site. I *showed* them a full Adobe Photoshop design of the header. I explained it in detail, in writing. Brickwork India then created the very tip-top of the header in Flash and ignored the rest of the header…upon receiving feedback, they said that doing the rest of the header would require more money (7 more hours, if I remember correctly).

    The HTML part of the website was also just plain badly coded…and when I asked for revisions, they were not done. I followed up. No response. I followed up again. No response.

    Essentially, I *wasted* my money with this company. I would give them 0 stars. Zero. Zip. Zilch. Nil.

    Do yourself a favor…don’t work with a company that bogs you down with paperwork, and don’t work with a company that requires you to pay somebody for X hours of work a week.

    Work with a VA/offshore resource who:

    (1) You have the opportunity to interview. Shoot e-mails back and forth. Chat with them on Yahoo! chat, Skype, Microsoft Instant Messenger, etc. Find out how well they speak the language. Find out what experience they have.

    (2) Has excellent, specific feedback from clients who have worked with them on projects. If you use oDesk, only look at people who have had a number of feedback responses, with an average rating of 4.5 or higher.

    (3) Has a good resume/product. If you are looking for a web designer, take a look at the list of their URLs (website addresses). Do they all actually *work*? If you look at a couple of their samples, and the first and third one give me a “URL does not exist” error, bye-bye. How is their design? Does the site function? Etc.

    (4) Enter into a situation in which you feel partially in control. Require acknowledgment of a task. Find out, before your VA starts, how many hours the task will take, and when it can be completed. You will know how much this task will cost you, and when it will be complete.

    (5) Enter into a situation you can end at the click of a button. oDesk and Elance are great for this.

    (6) Hire somebody with a simple payment solution who gets paid either (a) hourly, billed for time worked, with no weekly minimum, or (b) by the job, with a fixed price.

    All my blessings for a fruitful VA relationship!

    Sincerely,
    Erik P.

    Like

  22. Would like to thank Tim for posting my message. Also to all the people who posted their comments here, because this is real and very useful feedback. Will ensure we listen to it and do something about it.

    I am also using this opportunity to post some replies to the comments of some of the users.

    Jay – Thanks for the positive compliments. Am also taking your feedback about being realistic about handling tasks beyond our skill sets.

    Kenn – Thanks for the positive feedback.

    Karl – My apologies. Very useful feedback about being able to say ‘NO’ when it goes over your head. I must admit that my staff may have erred in trying to please customers, the short cut way on some occassions in the past. And I completely agree with you that the results will be disastrous. It won’t happen again.

    Esther – Supply has more than caught up with demand now and we have adequate capacity. Hope to have you with us.

    David – am intrigued by who did this because it is completly unethical. Would be willing to investigate if you can provide us the information. And I have also reviewed the negative feedback on your website. Completly understand the frustation. Wouldn’t venture into asking you to try a fourth time and hence wish you luck with your new assistant.

    Erik – The first assistant was good, but the next one that took over when she left was completly useless. One of biggest strengths as we understand is our ability to ensure clients don’t get affected by attrition, absence or other reasons through our team structure. But apparently it has failed in your case. Am going to be analyzing the reasons for this and putting a fix.

    To all the people who had a bad experience with GetFriday for whatever reason, my sincere apologies. We hope to learn from this and turn the bad experiences of outsourcing into really good and successful ones for our clients.

    Thank you
    Sunder Prakasham

    Like

  23. Just starting a website business, wondering if it is viable to outsource before the business starts generating revenue? How long should you go until you pull the plug and roll up your sleeves again?

    Great stuff and loving the book on audio – interesting choice of reader!

    Like

  24. I will start my own VA business in the USA and in a couple of other countries I am familiar with…so watch out getfriday. and no I will not be copy pasting anything of yours as I my services will be of higher quality. ;)

    Like

  25. Hi Tim

    When I first read the book I immediately contacted Brickwork/ Get Friday and Your Man In India. Initially their response times were slow and prices were huge in comparison to some of the other operators on http://www.elance.com.

    I hired a company called softwebwork (Sandip Saini) and these guys researched over 7000 websites and provided me with up to date leads for my independent record label. Of these 7000 sites around 2500 are compatible with my business plan. This process took around 5 weeks and cost me a whopping $400US :).

    I highly recommend elnace to anybody looking to outsource as there is a huge variety of providers. Also Tim in your book you had a section where you mentioned giving clear and direct instruction. My first round of offers came back at $3000 and with a little refinement and clearer directions I saved $2600.

    There is no way I could have completed this work myself in the time provided and at my hourly rate it would have cost me over $10,000.

    I would recommend outsourcing to anybody who has got tedious AND SIMPLE assignments that can easily be completed with one or two pages of instructions,

    Cheers,
    Dave

    Like

  26. I’d like to respond to the suggestions that Manan about extending the 4 hour concepts. Information about increasing productivity for all these area has been around for a long, long time.

    The following are all “power uses” of your time:

    1. When I was >very< young in 1989, I learnt from Brian Tracy that reading in your chosen subject for just 15 minutes a day will make you an international expert in 7 years (i.e you will be in the top 20% of the top 20% – that is the top 4%) and he was right with no further qualifications and no degree I was consulting internationally before the end of 1997.

    2. Also from Brian Tracy that taking 1 hour per week to sit quietly and without distraction. Call it meditating if you will, but its not what most people would call meditating. Sit in a comfortable chair in a quiet room (NO TV, Radio or Music), or in a field or a forrest, or a view with no or few other people about and wait for your internal dialog to go quiet. This is probably one of the most important “spiritual” tasks that you can schedule each week to help clear your mind of clutter and give clarity of thought. You will be very surprised at the insights you wil gain by just doing this one simple task each week.

    3. Join a master mind group, that is join with a group of people who are in non competing markets/groups and spend 1-2 hours every fortnight discussing with them what works for them and what doesn’t. Remember a problem shared is a problem halved – why spin your wheels when you could have help at hand from a bunch of people who WANT to support you in your endevors.

    4. Even if you don’t agree with it, read Napolean Hills “Think and Grow Rich”. Its an oldie but a goodie, if nothing else it will challenge your field of thought and may help you get of your ass and outsourcing some of your tasks.

    5. Oh one last thing, if you can buy your way out of a problem – YOU HAVN’T GOT A PROBLEM!! In our society solutions to most common problems are for sale (for an example — we have viagra for god sake….), life is too short to spend your life worrying about meaningless shit, fix it or forget about it.

    Like

  27. It would be cool if GetFriday considers hiring Filipino consultants or establishing satellite offices here in the Philippines. Along with India, Philippines is one of the main destinations of outsourcing from US companies.

    The main advantage of Philippines is that the work force grew up in American culture, mostly through movies and books. Everyone speaks English as their second language, familiar with US consumer products and all that. Accent is quite close to Americans’ although professionals are sometimes trained to sound even more informal and dull certain consonants. As to work attitude, given the right training, generally Filipinos are excellent in customer service when they relate with foreigners. It probably stems from them being very innately sociable.

    In call centers I’ve work in, I’ve seen how Indians and Filipinos complement each other. One side enhances the other’s professional/technical skills and the other enhances interpersonal skills…

    Like

  28. I am trying to work with GetFriday but it is pretty slow. There are a lot more cultural issues than I expected, and I actually am a cross-cultural consultant. When asking if something can be done, the answers can be “yes” but with no explanation of the details. To offer to build a website for $1500 is nice, but what about specifications? Shouldn’t getting business requirements be part of the process? So I am having a tough time deciphering “extreme politeness” from “certifed competence”. I can’t tell if they are saying yes just to please me or if they can really do the work. I am trying to work with them but can’t get past the work definition stage. I am sure it will work out in the future, but the ramp up takes a lot of patience.

    Like

  29. Hi Tim,

    I have to add my negative commentary here about your recommended resource Get Friday. I have been thoroughly unhappy with their service for the following reasons:

    1. I sent an email requesting a task that would have taken me about 30 minutes. I was generous and outlined a time frame of 1 hour, and, as per your book, requested a response as to whether this was a reasonable amount of time. I also outlined the specifics of the results I wanted, namely a number article directories that allowed article submissions for home based businesses. I got back in response a spreadsheet not matching the requested number, with many that did NOT accept article submissions and many that were off topic of home based business. I never heard back whether 1 hour was sufficient time.

    2. I requested a redo and explained why. I asked whether the redo would still be within the 1 hour, since they screwed up. Got some more listings, about 50% of which matched my requirements. No response on whether the redo would be included in the 1 hour of service.

    3. Got a bill for $117.98. Hello, 1 hour? Spent the next 2 months disputing this charge, with 2 hours on the phone and various emails. Still disputing the charge, mind you. And today got an email from my credit card saying that the merchant would not refund the charge EVEN THOUGH I HAVE AN EMAIL SAYING IT WOULD BE TAKEN CARE OF IN 100 BUSINESS DAYS.

    I have now spent about 10 hours dealing with this company’s SCREW UPS. I will never ever use them again. I recommend no one touch them with a ten foot pole for you will never get unstuck from the tar baby.

    I have been using Elance for over a year now and their service … baby, no comparison! Love your book, hate this recommendation of yours. No matter what Get Friday dude’s response up top to all the negative feedback, I can say that my personal rep and team leader fell down big on the job. BIG. Got no problem with outsourcing but I do when it takes me more time and money with work with someone on a 30 minute project than it would take me to do 100 of those little projects myself. Me, I’m off to Elance again.

    Honestly,
    Stephanie

    ###

    Hi Stephanie,

    Thanks for your feedback. As of this writing, I’m planning on removing GetFriday from upcoming editions when I have a chance to add some more. Thanks for your candid comment!

    They might be victims of success, but that excuse only goes so far. Agreed.

    All the best,

    Tim

    Like

  30. @Stephanie Yeh,

    Thanks for your feedback. As of this writing, I’m planning on removing GetFriday from upcoming editions when I have a chance to add some more. Thanks for your candid comment!

    They might be victims of success, but that excuse only goes so far. Agreed.

    All the best :)

    Tim

    Like

  31. Hey Tim,

    Thanks for your prompt response! Get Friday continues to baffle me with their assumption that I should trust them. After a promised refund on 3/17, which I never got, I started chargeback procedures with my credit card. Here is the response I got from Get Friday today:

    Dear Stephanie,

    We are sorry for the inconvenience caused to you.

    Our quality team has check and analyzed the work done by your assistant. We do understand that the work done was not up to your expectation and we have charged a wrong amount to your account in the month of March. We will refund the entire amount of $ 118.75 to your account by next week. However we kindly request you to withdraw the charge back request and confirm us the same, so that we can proceed with the refund immediately.

    We apologize for all the inconvenience caused to you due to this.

    Regards,
    Billing
    Get Friday

    So after no refund after almost 2 months they want me to “trust” them all of sudden to process that refund. Called my credit card company and they said “no way, don’t trust them.” The case remains open and I’m letting the card company handle it. Not professional by any standards. In a small business,. $118 goes a long way and I don’t appreciate them tying up my capital, small as it is, for 2 months and then asking me to trust them. Elance has methods for addressing poor service, such as cancelling the job or the escrow service,which I truly appreciate. I am a vendor and user of Elance and I recommend it highly. Just more feedback. Appreciate your personal feedback and LOVE YOUR BOOK. Keep up the great work!

    Cheers,
    Stephanie

    Like

  32. As the leading virtual assistant provider based in China, we got a lot inquiries about the comparison of our virtual assistant service with our competitor from India: GetFriday. BPOVIA virtual assistant team did online research of BPOVIA and GetFriday. With all due respect to our competitor, BPOVIA gains a comprehensive competitive edge against GetFriday.

    We compared the Cost, Signup Process, Payment Process, Cancellation of Service, Refund Policy of 2 companies.

    Please read the full article here by searching “getfriday” on our blog.

    Like

  33. The VA industry has been around a lot longer than many people think. It began to establish in the mid 1990s. There are over 20 professional virtual assistant organisations in the world with many thousands of VAs as members providing professional outsourcing services from even more countries. Rates will vary considerably because of the cost of living in those countries for example, but skill and experience play a big part too. It’s not all about how much work you can done for the cheapest price. It’s about quality of service and long-term working relationships. People really need to be seeking the professionals to get the services they need. My longest term client has been with me for over 11 years and we work together very well. I have other clients that have been with me for between 5 and 8 years. One of my clients, with me for well over 10 years has recently retired. I also have virtual assistant team members who have been with me for more than 10 years. To see a list of most of these organisations, go to http://vanetworknews.com/va-organisations/

    Like

  34. i would suggest dunkar read my post about is time able to compound. this is what would have happened when many small people try to entrepurenualize their time (move from a lower level to a higher level), forget about the law of action and reaction..dont realize the reaction to their action is the de-entruprenualizeation of the company “paying out the interest (just like a bank does)” and by recieving this work or hours and boko insane comoditiy of time move “free-fall” from a higher level to a lower level.
    essentaily last year is company went bankrupt time wise not money wise. bay taking hours of work from all those people and putting it on his company plate he didnt realize it was overflowing with hours like a plate with 5lbs on spagetti, red sauce and meatballs. it gets allover the place is messy and not easy to clean up. but this just proves the time compound post :)

    kris

    Like

  35. Sadly, I tried GetFriday, and had a bad experience. The language barrier aside, (and that was major), they we non-responsive, and slow. After over 3 weeks of signing on and giving them an assignment, they asked me for an assignment. OI. I will not use them again, and have told my subscribers to avoid them.

    Like

  36. Just had to add my two cents here. We decided to try them last week also. They were incredibly slow in their tasks, slow in completing our signup, taking days to do the simplest things. Finally, we decided to cancel before our “trial” was up.

    I would say that I’ve never had such a hard time. By comparison, AOL was polite about cancellation. They’ve ignored our email requests, or replied with form emails. After a long and difficult conversation, they refused to help us cancel. They keep insisting that we wait for one of them to call, but also insist that their “phone lines are down.” How then did we call THEM so easily?

    This company just needs to grow up and treat their customers with some respect. I regret ever giving them a try and would emphatically recommend everyone avoid Get Friday.

    Like

  37. I’ve been using GetFriday for around 3 months and it hasn’t been a pleasant experience. My first assistant was polite and professional, but after all was said and done, I notified them of my cancellation. I immediatly received calls and emails offering apologies and a free week to try out a new assistant. Things turned around pretty quickly, but I still hit some speed bumps along the way.

    My main issue with GetFriday is that they are working during ‘normal’ business hours. As soon as six o’clock hits, I’m just getting started with the ‘tasks’ I need to be done, but I have to wait until the next day. Even worse, come Friday, they’re nowhere to be found!

    It looks like China will be a better fit for me, but time difference aside, the quality of work and price need to be improved at GetFriday.

    Tim, although the experience wasn’t the best, I want to thank you for introducing me to the world of outsourcing. I am truly greatful.

    Like

  38. There are other choices to the VA groups in Asian countries. I guess it’s all about how much you want to spend versus time, convenience, and anything else that is important to you.

    I manage a team in 15 countries, which includes the US, Canada, UK, Australia, and New Zealand and some European countries.

    You need to weigh up whether the time factor (your timing or theirs) is important to your getting the work done. Those in other countries, Joey, are not usually going to sit up in the early hours of the morning, or very late at night, to fit in with your normal workday. The reality of getting someone working virtually with and for you means that they are working virtually – away from your premises, and often outside of your timing. If you need someone in the same timezone to you then you need to look closer to home to outsource. Of course that also means the rates are going to be quite different too – they have the same costs of living as you.

    Like

  39. Is there any additional information available on BPOVIA? Also, does anyone have experience with XceedAgents?

    Thanks in advance to everyone and thanks to Tim for writing a very inspirational and educational book.

    Like

  40. I realize that this thread is pretty old at this point, but wanted to throw in my (hopefully helpful) $0.02 about Get Friday as I only recently stopped using them.

    Perhaps the biggest problem with them was that after putting in my dues to get acquainted with the VA and ‘training’ them appropriately, they got promoted or reallocated and I had to start from scratch. This happened at least 3 times in a less than 3 months. Unfortunately, I can see that happening at other firms as well. It might be tough, but see if you can ask your VA company to commit to the same VA for some period of time (I would have liked 6 months).

    It was definitely an interesting experience which I’ve gone through in different forms with other companies/VAs, and was compelled enough to write about it:

    http://www.untethereddreams.com/advice/2010/01/11/post-mortem-on-getfriday-virtual-assistant-company.html

    Cheers!

    Like

    • try RushMore VA. I have been with them for 2 years now and have 2 backup VA and the SAME dedicated personal assistant. She got promoted but the account still remained with her. Also, during this time whenever she had gone for a vacation, her backup took over seamlessly. worked for me so far!

      Like

  41. Just saw Khalid’s post.

    What you really need is a VA who is self-employed – not employed by an agency. A self-employed VA has the interests of their customers at heart and are not going to be re-assigned to someone else.

    I have clients I’ve been working with for over 10 years, we have a good working relationship and I am, for all intents and purposes, their personal assistant.

    Like

  42. Hi Tim,

    I am a rockstar website designer and developer. I left my last job after reading your book, because I realized that I have the ability to do the combined work of a web designer (including interface design, architecture etc…), and developer (web, writing software etc)… , I also have a business background, except web technology is my true love so I pursued it.

    I’ve spent most of my life helping companies and now I want to be able to run my own design firm because there is nothing better in life for me than to just sit and design and develop and work my own hours.

    My first goal: Selling digital products online (easy and almost done)
    My second goal: Appearing like a large design firm…

    These two goals with provide me with the ability to make money via an online store that sells digital products and the second goal with enable me to work for interesting projects with big clients.

    My question is, how do I appear like a design firm with 5 – 6 employees?
    I can easily rent a virtual office in san francisco for four hours a week to meet with clients… but would they want to meet my team? I am a one woman business (no employees) and I love my work. How do I set up a big impression and be the only contact person to the client?

    I love your book! It changed my life. I know you are a busy man, but I would love to meet you some day.

    Like

  43. I am wanting to try an outsourcing service but I guess I’m definitely not going to be trying GetFriday or Brickwork (Brickwork has never responded to my quote request.)

    Does anybody have recommendations of their favorites? People in the comments above seem to like Elance and oDesk. Does anybody have opinions on them or a better suggestion? I mostly need technical assistance for websites and graphic design, etc.

    Thanks!

    Lindsay

    Like

      • I still haven’t tried any type of VA yet, but I’m going to soon. I’ll either try the RushMore site or a self employed VA. I’ve recently decided that I definitely need a VA. My company is never going go get further until I get one. Unfortunately it’s kind of a chicken and egg situation with the money…

        Like

  44. Lindsay, what’s wrong with the Virtual Assistant Networks? You’ll find several just by putting that into Google. They all have self-employed virtual assistants listed with them and generally they have to meet criteria for a certain amount of experience before being allowed to join. You can place your request with any of these and have several VAs responding with quotes and turn around times. You will find many who do have the skillsets you are looking for.

    Like

  45. I tried brickwork and getFriday and was disappointed with their general inability to support me as a personal assistant consistently. turnaround time and quality of delivered tasks was poor and generally handled with a typical high handedness that gives you feeling of I am small and they are big. Finally, the cancellation process was a shame. Thankfully, i found another VA service (RushMore Virtual Assistants) from India through a reference from a colleague and been working with them since 2007. Somehow they have been able to live up to my expectations. Quality of deliverable has been exceptional. Subject matter expertise has been beyond comparison and they offered me neutral accent call handling support for my business for a great price. All in all a great VA experience since.

    Like