Any successful dropshipper knows that building a team with the right infrastructure is key to scaling to $1 million per month and above constantly. Essentially, they treat it like running a proper business, with the right systems, processes, and SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures). Ultimately, this is what separates the aspiring dropshippers from those doing big numbers consistently every month.
This is why 7-figure per month dropshippers are always focusing on building a team of VAs. It’s because doing so allows them to maximize their revenue without incurring huge operational costs.
One of the most common misconceptions with building a team of VAs is it’s very difficult to hire high-quality people — or what you can call “A+ Players”. It is not true. In fact, at our agency, one of the core services we provide is to help our clients to hire and build a VA team of A+ players.
How does a VA team of A+ players look like?
A+ players are independent, resourceful, and solution-focused in solving problems without waiting for your instructions every time. They have a great sense of responsibility and ownership not only in their tasks but the end outcome of the company. Along with that, they also take pride in their work and consistently overdeliver in their KPIs (Key Performance Indicators).
Furthermore, A+ players constantly find ways to improve on existing processes and SOPs instead of just taking instructions. They are capable of getting the work done efficiently (highly productive), managing themselves autonomously (highly professional), and well working in the system and team (highly responsible). They focus on outcomes and results and automatically do everything that needs to be done to get results instead of just doing the bare minimum.
Ultimately, A+ players love the company, the work that they do and always strive to do their best so that the company can grow quickly.
Does this sound amazing to have a team of A+ players like this?
It may sound too good to be true but the truth is that it’s possible to hire great people and build a superstar team of VAs at just a fraction of the cost it normally takes, in just a short period of time. All you need to do is to have the right hiring system and processes.
At our operations agency, we’ve tested and perfected a great hiring system to help our 6 to 7-figure clients to build a superstar team of VAs within a short period of time. We call it the S.A.R.V Hiring Framework.
3 Important Principles For Building A Superstar Team of VAs
Before going through our proprietary S.A.R.V hiring framework, there are 3 important principles you need to bear in mind when it comes to hiring.
It’s all about having the right hiring system. Many business owners often complain that good hires are hard to find. Most of the potential hires they come across tend to be lacking in skills, have bad attitudes, can’t communicate well, or demand very high salaries but don’t have the right experience or talent to justify the pay.
Having the right hiring system will eliminate 90% of the bad hires.
Whenever business owners tell us that they can’t find good hires, the first thing we do is to take a look at their hiring system. Are they filtering out bad hires? Are they asking the right questions? Are they structuring the interviewing and qualifying process in a way that would automatically separate the bad ones from the gems?
When you have a good hiring process, finding good hires becomes much easier.
It’s a numbers game. So, just be patient! Once you have the right system set up, then it’s a numbers game.
Most of the time we find that 80% of the job applicants are bad, 10 to 15% are passable, and 4% is good enough. While only 1% of them are A+ players. This means that it’s very common to go through hundreds of applicants before you find the good ones.
For most of the good ones, while they may have the relevant skills, good attitude, and experience, they may not fit into the company’s culture. They have to be disqualified too. Moreover, even if you find the potentially great ones who fit into the culture, you still need to actually hire them and test them out to see if they are a good fit.
This means that you need to be patient and stick to the process. Even though it requires more effort to constantly filter and interview candidates, the end results are always worth it when you find the right ones.
(Though the top dropshippers we work with prefers to outsource the hiring to us so that they can focus on what they do best — generating revenues for their stores)
Hiring the right person is only one part of the equation. Quick question: Which is more important — having great team members or having great operations (systems, processes, SOPs, team management, project management, communications protocol, infrastructure, tools, and apps, etc)?
The truth is, at least 95% of the results would come from your operations. This means that having good enough team members with great operations would easily outperform a great team with bad operations. This is because even if you have the best team members but you have bad operations, you’re doomed for failure.
Expanding your team quickly without good operations is like having a ship with holes. The more people you have on board, the faster the ship will sink. This is why we often focus on improving and optimizing our clients’ operations first before we hire and expand the team.
Once you understand these 3 principles, then you can start using our proprietary SARV framework to look for great crew members.
The S.A.R.V Hiring Framework For Hiring A+ Players
SARV Stands for: Seriousness, Ability, Resourcefulness and Values
One of the biggest challenges most business owners have when hiring is they don’t know how serious or committed the candidates are. It’s easy to do up a good resume and perform well during the interview, but acing the hiring process doesn’t always translate to how well they do their job.
At our agency, we help our clients with not only the hiring but also the onboarding and management of new hires. Because of that, we have a lot of opportunities to not only test and refine the hiring process, but also see what is the outcome of it after they get hired. After testing many things, we’ve found that there are several ways to filter out how serious they are for the job.
One of the ways is to include “Hidden Tests” in your job posts. The purpose of these hidden tests is to see if the candidates are bothered to read the entire job post carefully. A sign of how serious they are for the job is how meticulous they are to complete these hidden tests.
For example: In the job post, we will include a simple question like “Please submit in your response to this math equation into the Subject Head: 2+4=?” If the candidate submits their response without answering “6” in the subject head, they are automatically disqualified because they didn’t bother to read the entire job posting.
Chances are, they are just applying for every possible job opening out there and seeing who will accept them. You want candidates who have read your job posting and are doing everything they can to score an interview with you. These simple Hidden Tests will easily allow you to filter out the serious ones.
For those that pass these simple Hidden Tests, we then follow up with another test for seriousness.
This time around, we give the candidates an assignment or a task that would take a maximum of 2 hours to complete, but we let them know that they have 4 hours to do so.
Here’s why: If the candidate submits their work in LESS than 4 hours, we know that they really want the job. They are doing everything they can to get the job. So they pass the test. If they submit their work AFTER 4 hours, they are automatically disqualified.
It means either:
– They can’t follow instructions
– They won’t be good at the job at their current skill/understanding
– They may have slow computers/internet which will also be a problem eventually
– They are just not serious about applying
Now, what about those who completed the task in the fourth hour right on time? Submitting the task at the fourth hour will also disqualify them. While they did fulfill the requirement, it likely means that they are those that will do the bare minimum to get by.
What we want are candidates who will go above and beyond what the tasks required of them, and in this case, it means getting the job done as soon as possible. Going above and beyond is what separates the A+ players from the B and C players.
Here are some examples of what these tasks look like: If we’re hiring for product researchers — they are tasked to find 10 products that fit certain criteria. For graphic designers — they are tasked to create 5 Facebook thumbnails in 4 hours. For video editors — with the clips provided, they are tasked to edit a 5x 30 seconds video in 4 hours. They must complete and submit their task before 4 hours.
Remember that the purpose of this test is to identify the people who are willing to go the extra mile. You would not want hires that just simply drag their work just to fulfill the given timeline. We want A+ players who see the importance of completing their work quickly whenever possible.
Combining these 2 tests together will eliminate easily over 80% of the not-so-good candidates, giving you a much higher chance of finding the A+ players.
This is a no-brainer. You need someone capable enough to help you if you are hiring. However, in dropshipping, the majority started the business alone and have been doing everything by themselves from product research to copywriting, all the way to media buying.
Because of this, it’s common to think that no one else can be better than you in any role and it’s hard to find someone better than you. This is what we call, the Superhero Syndrome.
Even though it may be true that no one else can be better than you at any of the roles, it’s your job as the business owner to delegate roles to the best people, so that you can focus on what’s important — growing the business.
In our agency, in order to find A+ players for our clients, we conduct a simple test to see the capability of the candidate. If they are able to complete the task at 70% of your expectation, they move on to the next round.
Here’s what we do: Earlier on, it was mentioned that we give the candidates a task to complete in 4 hours. For product researchers, they are tasked to find 10 products that fit certain criteria. For graphic designers, they are tasked to create 5 Facebook thumbnails in 4 hours. Video editors are tasked to edit 5x 30 seconds video in 4 hours with the clips provided.
If they are able to complete the task at 70% of your expectation — for example, if the product researcher is able to find 10 products that match 70% of the criteria — then they’ve passed the test.
From years of hiring and going through thousands of applicants, we have discovered that 70% of your own ability is the sweet spot. It’s because it is nearly impossible and may take months to find someone higher than that. 70% may sound low at first, but with the right training, SOPs and processes, they can eventually be trained into a 100% A+ player.
Again, this is the reason why at our agency, we work with our clients to create a highly effective SOPs and training program for onboarding and training new members before we start the hiring process.
You want your team members to be problem-solvers, NOT problem-presenters. They must have the capability to solve issues that arise within your business, especially in the fast-paced and hyper competitive dropshipping world.
For example: Say, your best performing Ad gets disapproved by Facebook and your ROAS (Return On Ad Spend) is dropping. A Problem-Presenter will let you know that the ad got disapproved and just simply wait for you to tell them what to do. Whereas your Problem-Solvers will take the initiative to identify the reason behind the disapproval and come out with a list of suggestions to help solve this issue as soon as possible.
If your team members have to come to you to solve every problem that arises, you will be fighting fires every single day. It is not the best use of your time. As a business owner, your responsibility is to grow the business, not fight fires.
This is why it’s so important to have team members that are independent, resourceful and great problem-solvers. It will free up your time and mental space to focus on the bigger tasks and grow your business.
For one of our clients, we managed to help him free up 90% of his time (that was previously spent firefighting and solving problems) while increasing his revenue and profits at the same time. It happened simply by hiring problem-solvers!
So, how do we find these “problem-solvers” A+ players?
We can do that by conducting a scenario based test. Here’s what we do. First, give the applicants a scenario-based question, or ask them an open-ended question with no right or wrong answers (eg. What is more important to you, Wealth or Knowledge?)
Next, get them to FAX their handwritten answers to you. This is one of the most important steps that you cannot miss because most of them would not have fax machines. So, in order to fax the answer to you, they have to get creative and be resourceful enough to find solutions. (e.g. going to the city and finding a shop that can allow them to fax you the answer). This is not the kind of solution that they can easily look up on google but if they really think about it, they can most likely find a solution
With this test, you would have known a few more things about your remaining candidates:
When they pass this test with flying colors, then it’s a great sign that they would make a great hire.
This is the final stage of the S.A.R.V framework and the most important of all 4 stages.
You can always give more training to your team members that are not capable enough, but all of these would be useless if they uphold a different value system from you and your company. They leave you eventually if the values your team members uphold differs from you.
Many of the top tier ecom business owners that I’ve talked to told me the same thing: “I don’t know why, but I don’t feel good having this team member I hired in my company, even though he’s really capable and experienced. It feels like they could destroy my business one day.” Oftentimes, they’re right — unethical business practices, politics formed within the company, intentional sabotage of the business.
All of them happened before and the amount of recovery work that is done after is a lot tougher as compared to just hiring the right person from the start. You might be wondering, “How do one test for values? Wouldn’t most people fake it, especially during an interview?” That is, if you do it like normal companies are usually doing, asking standard interview questions that these have been preparing for the past few weeks before applying for your job.
This is why we never do formal interviews at this stage. What we do instead is to have a casual interview for us to know that person better, like a casual Zoom call, and to talk to them as though they’re your friend. Also, while talking, observe their behaviour during the entire time.
For example, since it happens very often, how would they react if someone were to barge into their room while they were having the interview? You can also reduce your microphone volume and see how they would react if they can’t hear you clearly. These are all small details that show you more about themselves.
More importantly, ask them questions that would catch them off-guard.
Find out more about them before this interview, be it with their social media profiles, or even a simple Google search might help you find more info on them. (You also have to be serious about them if you’re testing their seriousness for your company!)
With whatever information you can find of them, see if you can probe them deeper and get them to share more of their thoughts. Some questions that will help you understand what values they are more inclined to uphold. Example questions include:
The first question is to know if there’s anyone the candidate is aiming to become like. The answers are usually characteristics or values that the candidate already has in them or is striving towards growing it within them.
The second question actually tells you more about whether the candidate reflects on the situation whenever issues appear, especially when other parties are involved. If the candidate lays blame on the other party without reflecting on themselves, then be wary. This is they are going to deal with problems when it happens in your company.
Ultimately, the answers you get from them must be something you or your company would accept because no matter how good you think the values they uphold are, as long as you or your company is not aligned with those values, then the candidate will not be suitable for the job.
That is how we hire the right people for our clients and disqualify those that are not suitable for their companies.
By using the S.A.R.V framework, your chances for finding A+ players drastically multiplies. Although the framework may take a longer time to hire due to the amount of tests, and how stringent we need to be, it drastically outweighs everything else.
Like Steve Jobs said, “A small team of A+ players can run circles around a giant team of B and C players”.
Hope you find this in-depth guide into our hiring process useful!
Atomatic Agency streamlines, optimizes and automates systems and processes for eCommerce businesses to scale to their highest potential.
We work with 6 figure/month clients and scale their business up to 7-8 figures/month. Our clients are able to achieve consistent revenue, and turn their business into a consistent cash cow with less effort, and in a short timer period.
If you’re a 6 figure/month dropshipper that is serious about scaling to 7 figure/month or even 8 figure/year, you can schedule a call with us here.