Case Study 3: Event Administration / VA support
Inclusive Learning (Lancs) Ltd – Eleanor Hick
I knew Eleanor during my employment at Lancashire County Council. Her main role as School SEN Adviser was supported by other admin staff, but she was often linked with Literacy and Numeracy projects handled in my admin team. Eleanor established her own independent teaching and learning consultancy at a similar time to me setting up AdminAnywhere.
I began to support Eleanor in the summer of 2013, as her business was starting to gather momentum and she planned further development to extend her training courses beyond the initial boundaries of Lancashire. So she needed someone to manage all the course administration. With my extensive background and knowledge of working with schools and experience in organising training courses, AdminAnywhere was the perfect solution for Eleanor's business.
Initially I set up a booking system, and created a contacts list for all the primary schools across Lancashire and Cumbria. Then I set about to design and create templates for the business documentation that she would need.
Eleanor didn't have a website at that stage, so I created one for her (I'm far from being a website designer and would not generally include that in the services I offer). What started as a small site to introduce her business has developed into a one-stop resource for the Special Educational Needs teachers she supports. Having full administrative rights and management of the site is a key to its success, keeping it accessible to maintain and update with all the regular new information that Eleanor wishes to share.
I continue to support Eleanor, creating all the documentation for each course, I despatch the fliers to advertise them and all the associated documentation and communication to see the courses from inception to delivery, and the invoicing that follows. I handle all the bookings and enquiries as they arrive each day, along with other admin support as required; often without input from Eleanor as I know the schedules and I know what needs doing. Eleanor trusts me to handle the work. It must appear like there is full time office support for her business, but Eleanor is only charged for the time I have spent on her work each month, which on average actually equates to approximately around 4-5 hours a week.
I also produce her newsletters and continue to develop and maintain her website, so Eleanor's time is freed from admin pressures so she can focus on the training, course development, one-to-one support she provides to some schools; and her writing too.
"The support and service I have had from AdminAnywhere has been fantastic an enables me to focus on my core business, knowing the admin side is being taken care of. Julia offers a professional, efficient, reliable and cost effective service that I would recommend to anyone."
A teacher left this testimonial on a recent course evaluation: "Excellent admin service: reply straight away to queries" (AB, Sacred Heart Primary)
I was approached by Cath, the owner of an independent beauty spa attached to a local hotel; a popular business providing hair and beauty treatments and spa day experiences. Being a very busy business, the salon's CRM system had run out of control as everyone had had a hand in entering client data, when no-one really had the time to look after the job properly. Cath was getting frustrated that marketing emails were bouncing back and address labels for printed literature were untidy which reflected badly on the image of the salon.
I was brought in to tidy it up and declutter it from all the duplications. There were over 2000 records in the system so the job was going to take time to work on. The filing of the paper records had also got out of hand and they needed to be stored for several years for insurance purposes.
My initial task was to alphabetise the paper records and re-file them. They needed to be checked against the digital record in the CRM system, so much better to be in alphabetical order to start with. That was a lot of paper to put into order!
The salon CRM system is a live system that is used to book clients in for appointments, and it was not suitable for me to work on the system during salon opening times, and it was not suitable for me to handle the work on-site in the salon for a number of reasons (space and image in particular). Fortunately the owner/manager already had remote access set up for the CRM so she can access the system off site, so access was added for me to get in to the system from the AdminAnywhere office. So, I handled the work on the CRM over a number of weeks, on Monday's when the salon is closed.
A few weeks later I presented a much tidier CRM with complete addresses including postcodes, and potentially better functioning email addresses (sometimes you just can't decipher handwriting when it comes to email addresses, but you can often see straight away if something is wrong in the structure; for example with gmails they're always @gmail.com and not .co.uk).
I can't recall how many duplicated records were merged or deleted, there were too many; and most of the query records were reconciled.
I handed back 6 lever arch folders, neatly labelled, with the paper records pristinely filed with everyone from Able to Zac; and a database that the manager was eager to utilise for a new marketing newsletter. A CRM that she was certain she wasn't going to allow to get into such a state again.
It's now a simple task of adding the new customer records and keeping my eye out for new duplications. So I continue to visit the salon each month to collect the new paper records, input them back at AdminAnywhere base, and return them the month after, to file and repeat the process again. It can just be a couple of hours each month, but that fits in perfectly around other support handled by AdminAnywhere. I'm also on call to support Cath with other bits of admin work and occasional proofreading for Carriages.
My database is essential to Carriages and the key to our business growth. I can now use it to keep in contact with my customers, and send out newsletters and details of special offers. Emails don't bounce back as much now and we can find customers when they return for new appointments. And, I don't even have to worry about the filing as Julia even files the paper records when she comes to see us each month. Everyone needs a Julia!
Cath Harrop, Carriages Hair & Beauty
Case Study 1: IFS Labs: Business Growth
A good working relationship with your VA does often lead to very long term contracts, but it's essential to understand that your clients are temporary no matter how long the contract lasts.
Here is an example of how a VA can assist with business growth. And an example of on-site support that is available from AdminAnywhere.
In May 2013, I was referred to a small local business via a business growth adviser (also a client of mine). IFS were in the process of taking their business forward. A small textiles flammability testing laboratory, supporting the manufacturing industry; they already had an impressive portfolio of clients from the UK and across the world. Operating out of a unit at the back of one of Bolton's rehabilitated old mills; there were 3 full time directors and a couple of part time technicians at that stage, and everyone was juggling jobs, including the admin. The directors needed to focus on their nominated roles and on moving the business forward. And with assessment due to review their laboratory accreditation for their industry, they definitely needed to focus on those standards and completing their yearly audits.
I was initially bought in to type up test reports and raise invoices, on-site, a few hours once a week. Pretty straightforward work; although there were lots of acronyms and the huge variety of test reports to get used to. Productivity was definitely a key factor. Reports needed to be sent out to the customers as quickly as possible after testing, and most weeks that consisted of at least 100 test reports for me to type up, and most weeks a lot more. The job developed into a regular two visits per week, and I worked for the time I was needed. I'd be on with the work within minutes of parking up. No faffing about! I'd just get on with it. Some days that would be 5-6 hours, other days it could just be 3 hours. That's how perfect their decision was to utilise my services. They just paid for the time I was there; no wasted time to pay for if it was a quieter week. From both sides, it was one of those very satisfying jobs that you could really see the impact of. There was a great team spirit to the business and it was great to be part of it especially when so much of my work is handled for clients on a remote basis from my home office.
In Sept 2015, after over 2 years of supporting them, it was time to hand over the admin to their new office administrator. I'd seen the business become so much more organised, with proper structures in the workflow of the jobs being received through to completion. The team had grown, with new technicians and new jobs roles with hierarchy too. They had reorganised and improved their business premises and added a new testing lab extension too, so they could handle the additional clients that were constantly adding to their portfolio. They've flown through the stringent accreditation (each year) for the textiles testing that they handle for so many more clients than they did 2 years ago. And 2016 sees them moving on to new bigger business premises a few miles away.
I did kind of become part of the family, and I guess that's one of the reasons why they left recruiting an office administrator until the end of this stage of their business growth. Although, when I left, their permanent office administrator position was still a part time role, it had developed to need someone to be there most days and to handle so much more than just typing the reports and invoicing.
So I'm now available on an on-call basis as their business grows further. I'm someone that can 'hit the ground running' if they need any additional help to cover holidays or sickness and for busy periods. I can offer the skills for other projects that their administrator hasn't got the capacity to handle too, like the new order form templates I created recently, which will now make it easier for their clients to raise job requests to them.
In the meantime I wish them all the best for many years to come in business.
It is fantastic to have Julia as part of our team when she comes in. Always happy to help, positive, friendly, proactive.
S Drozda Feb 2014
Julia is a friendly, diverse and very professional Virtual PA. Whether it is Email Marketing, Administration, she is fully competent on addressing almost any task given. Julia is a pleasure to work with.
S Drozda Jan 2015
The Return: April 2016
IFS moved into their own business premises in Trafford Park, Manchester around Easter 2016. Their business growth took another huge rise and I was called in again to help the team for a short while again.
Their new building is perfect for this latest stage of business growth. However getting settled in and the urgent need to recruit new employees to handle the increased workload was an added stress for the directors. So I was called in to help to keep on top of the typing and invoicing once again, and to update their business documentation for the new address. Just 5 hours once a week, for 3 months covering the day their PA is not in the office, gave them time to get into the rhythm of new routines and establish new workflow systems.
Staffing has more than doubled since those early days and IFS is definitely on track for bigger things and more very important clients and space to grow even further.
Once again, I was able to jump straight in and handle the work and it was great to be part of the team again and be introduced to their customers as part of the team too. The AdminAnywhere door will definitely remain open for IFS should they need my support again
I'll give you some examples!
AdminAnywhere supports a variety of businesses with their admin. Business types are as varied as the work I do.
For some clients, it's a one off task to help them out of a crisis, and for others it's an ongoing arrangement.
I support solo entrepreneurs, like business advisers, coaches, trainers, writers, accountants....
....and small businesses, like beauty spas, accountants, manufacturers....
....and tradespeople like plumbers and builders, etc.
These Case Studies provide examples of some of the work I have done for clients. As you can see there are definite variations in the types of businesses I have worked with so far and the admin work I handle for them. I wish to thank these clients for their support and for allowing me to share these details.
More Case Studies will be added shortly.