Friday, 1 March 2013
Thursday, 28 February 2013
Tuesday, 19 February 2013
My challenge is to grow my business by 20% by the end of November 2013 through the art of delegation.
I've always delegated, it's why I set up my first business in the first place: I needed a PA and couldn't afford one without sharing the cost. I've always believed there is a value in successful delegation to all parties involved. Gurus such as Drucker and Maslow talk about the benefits of delegation in a team motivational context, but I believed there is real, measurable, financial value to successful delegation and set about to measure it. The current potential value of delegation based on survey responses in SMEs alone is over £300 billion per year.
Before I even hit upon the idea of measuring the return on delegation, I was already starting to heed my own advice and it's just occurred to me that I should measure it directly for me too. My delegation message is simple, achievable and based on facts, not suppositions: Facts which are cemented by the survey results from real business people and owners.
Delegate 10% of your workload and grow your business by (at least) 20%.
Return on investment unlikely to be less than 1000%.
So I began to delegate my next 10% of workload last December. I spent the time focusing on driving sales, delegating business development and operational responsibilities and training and coaching team members into their expanded roles. December and January sales were largely on a par with the previous year, not bad in this market, but no return as yet.
February, however, very much looks like it is going to be a different matter...
Friday, 15 February 2013
There it was, lying on the mat, that little red envelope with the familiar hand writing, how lovely after all these years, amazing that we still make the effort, never take anything for granted.
Such a horrible dull morning but off to The Holiday Inn for lunch with The Women in Business, you never know we might get chocolates and a rose as it is Valentine’s Day.
Delegation is on our agenda at the moment at Virtual PA Co so I thought I would ask my fellow diners the question of: If you have 3 things that you could delegate today to free up some precious time what would they be? Once we had got passed the washing, cleaning and ironing the most common tasks were: managing online presence, updating data bases and writing up reports.
It makes you think of ways to free up our time and how we can do this, so that we have got time for that cup of coffee with a friend in need or to pick the kids up early from the minder. We all deserve a bit of me time to re-evaluate and take stock of what have but we need the tools in place to be able to do this.
If you would like to delegate just contact me on 01733 293642 or email me on Vicky@virtualpa.co.uk
Tuesday, 12 February 2013
If you have engaged or you’re thinking of engaging a call answering service to support your business, our Top Tips to get the best from your Call Answering/VA/Virtual PA service may help:
Make sure the same few people answer your calls – your business needs to be credible, and as small business the chances are that your team is small, knows you, knows your callers. It doesn’t look plausible if your ‘pa’ has no idea that you call most days.
Check what happens if no-one is available to answer your call – if your answering service tells you they’ll never miss one, give it some serious thought. They’ll not ask you for notice if you place an advert in a major newspaper and they won’t ask it of other clients either. The nature of the service means they have little control over volumes on a day to day basis and whilst patterns do emerge, there will be times when calls are not picked up before the caller hangs up.
Make sure your service at the very least offers a personalised voicemail box, check their response times (and whether they call the client back) and charging policies relating to this as well as the average frequency of this happening. If they can’t or won’t give you stats, ask yourself why.
Make sure you’re going to get more than just a message – the ultimate point of outsourcing and service is to reduce your workload. If all you’re going to receive from your answering service is a list of callers with names and numbers to call back (if you’re lucky) then you need to think about what your service is going to achieve for you.
What else will your service do for you? Is your PA a genuine part of your team, will they also do administration tasks or make outbound calls - will your pa make bookings, take payments, make diary arrangements, add details to your CRM database and handle your callers as part of the service?
Make sure you can TRAIN your PA team – if you can’t meet, Skype or call your virtual PA or team then how can they possibly know your business and understand how you want things done.
Are you charged a fixed rate per call or by the minute? – Fixed rate means you can have an idea of what to expect on your invoice, it also probably means you can choose an appropriate advance purchase package to bring down the cost of your calls. It also means you can rest assured that other task already mentioned but such as booking, diary appointments, payments etc are all included in the cost of the call. If you’re paying by the minute, the incentive for the service is – frankly – difficult to move away from an inclination to lengthen the call. Likewise if you’re paying a fixed price per call that is cheap, you’ll be getting names and numbers only, watch out though for more expensive calls which give you the same.
Do you get a personalised voicemail for day AND night as standard? – your callers won’t hang on forever, and if your answering service or VA is busy/toilet/holiday/ill the best chance you have is sending them to the voicemail which promises a prompt return call. Naturally you must check that your PA will indeed call them back if this is the case. Many answering services do not offer a voicemail during daytime hours, preferring instead to chance that during busy times your callers will hang on, or else hang up – nothing lost for them, just you.
At night it goes without saying that you want a voicemail that explains your business is currently closed and advises your working hours.
Are at least 90% of your calls picked up by your regular team? Make sure you check how many calls are actually answered by your service. Industry standard should be 80% of calls within 20 seconds, some exceed this because the service is not personal, calls are distributed amongst many operatives who are naturally then unable to offer much personalisation to the service and at best only able to stick to a script. Too small or overburdened a team and you’re back to a low level of answering.
If you’d like to talk to us about how we could help you, please give us a call on 01733 297580.
Will I really 'Never Miss Another Call Again'?
Unlikely. In truth, it is impossible to guarantee 100% of calls answered, and you ought to be suspicious of any service that says they do. There will be times when callers will hang up eventually if a call is not answered and may not leave a message if the voicemail kicks in. Truthfully, the less personalised the service, the more likely the call is to be answered (i.e. there may be hundreds of call centre operatives who could pick up the call). BUT then the person who answers your call is unlikely to know anything about you or your business, and all you're going to get is a text or email with details of another call back you have to find the time to make.
A truly personalised service restricted to a feasibly small number of people (three is such a beautiful number), means that your team are known to you, briefed and trained by you, know who your callers are, how to handle them, how to convert the enquiry, make the order, take the payment, check the diary, make the appointment and reduce your workload. They expect you to delegate and should a call be missed because they're busy, it will not ring for minutes on end, within a matter of 30 or so seconds (however long you choose) a personalised voicemail will kick in and your Virtual PA will call back on your behalf (and free of charge) as you'd expect from your own employed team.
Because the Virtual PA Co is about supporting you and your business fully, cross-functionally (not just calls but diary, research, booking, paperwork etc - as you'd get from your own employee), you get to comprehensively delegate your workload and FREE UP YOUR TIME. Simply not missing a call again, is to employ a human voicemail. Not missing having to handle calls yourself, is true and successful delegation.
Tuesday, 15 January 2013
A way to get back to what you love
At Virtual PA Co, we invest our time to help you hand over what we know is precious to you. It bodes well for better delegation, better service from us to you and from you to your clients and longer term relationships.
In truth, when you decide to delegate, whether via your own recruitment or as a virtual solution (which is often far more cost-effective and hassle free) what you're looking for is peace of mind and freedom from doing stuff which makes you sigh. The upside is you can get back to doing what you love and be infused again with the joy of doing all that made you set up your business in the first place.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org <mailto:email@example.com> to discuss how you can benefit. Our founder, Gail Thomas is also producing a white paper on the economic impact of successful delegation and so if you could spare the time to answer 6 quick questions on the topic, we'd all be very grateful. The link to the survey is here: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/SY5HCX2