Holiday Email Minding Service
(News Update: 30/06/2017 - Updated 29/03/18)
The holiday season is approaching; do you want to be mithered with your business emails again while your away this year?
I suspect most of us will appreciate that there's rarely a standard 9-5 day when you run a business; especially when you run it on your own.
But what about when you go on holiday?
Do you spend your holiday regularly checking your email or do you set the 'Out of Office' auto responder and dread switching the PC back on when you return?
Either way, it's very difficult to relax during that time away from the business. Your business is very important and so it should be, you've invested so much into getting it to this stage. In fact, you deserve a holiday for all the graft you've put in, and I'm sure your family / friends will appreciate you spending this quality time with them and not your emails.
Why risk losing the potential new customer with such a cold automated response? Remember also that your 'Out of Office' message will reply to every email that you receive; that's anybody sending a real enquiry and the spammers too.
AdminAnywhere is now offering the perfect holiday support package: our Email Minding Service
Let me keep an eye on that email for you.
- I will check into your email account at least twice per day.
- I will filter out the important from the junk.
- I will highlight the urgent (and contact you directly if you wish)
- I will respond to any potential new business enquiries with courteous replies tailored to fit the enquirer's request.
- I will send them your brochure, price list or catalogue; depending on the enquiry, so that they can learn more about your service while they await your return.
- I will filter out and delete all the spam
- I will organise your emails into folders, e.g. enquiries, personal, general information e.g. newsletters, and anything else that needs separating out, to prioritise and organise them ready for action when you return from your holiday.
- Additionally, if required, I can also handle your diary and schedule some appointments for those first few of weeks after you return, too.
There may be something specific to your business that I would need to look out for too. All this would be discussed with you during a free meeting prior to your holiday. When I can find out about your business and make all the necessary arrangements for your holiday cover.
All this from £24 per week* allowing you to relax and enjoy your holiday, safe in the knowledge that your business is in safe hands and organised ready for you to retake the helm when you return.
*Minimum charge. The actual cost will be calculated according to the overall time accrued; which depends on quantity of emails and work involved. Time will be monitored and charged accordingly at the rate of £24 per hour. The cost is fixed at £24 for any time accrued under 1 hour.
I don't generally offer a telephone answering service but we can discuss options specific to your needs if required.
Please read my Case Study about how this service was applied when I looked after a local photographer last year.
Are you packing too much into the jar or just shovelling stones?
(News Update: 06/03/2018)
You've probably come across the analogy for time management about putting a variety of stones and grit into a jar.
The principle is that you have a pile of different sizes of stones, pebbles and grit and you're asked how you fit them all into a jar, to represent the analogy of fitting everything you need to do into the time you have to do it. It’s all about organisation and the need to get on with the big jobs (larger stones) before all the little things (grit) take up all the room. Just like all the tasks that need to be done in a business day, (week, month, etc).
This is great, however it also contradicts another principle I have come across: "Before you can move a mountain you need to start by shovelling stones"
Put these 2 together though and it's a great way of highlighting the need for businesses to utilise the services of a VA and other outsourced services.
So here’s my merged view point.
I have always worked on the principle of getting the small jobs out of the way before they piled up into one huge job that loomed down on you; as in the second principle of shifting the pebbles before moving the mountain. Although, some days, I have to admit that this does leave little time to venture onto the jobs that were already big.
In business, especially if you’re a solo entrepreneur or micro business; it is ever more difficult to fit everything you need to do in the time you have, even with the best time management and organisational skills. And quite frankly with the best will in the world how many people can really be that organised all the time. Therefore, the jar increasingly needs to be bigger and bigger still, as you work longer hours and weekends to keep up.
So there comes a time when you just have to get an extra jar; i.e. employ some help. However, that jar doesn’t have to sit on the same shelf as yours, and you don’t have to buy it either. You can rent it out by the hour and on a flexible basis too. I.e: you can outsource the work to a freelancer or Virtual Assistant.
You don’t have to handle everything yourself!
AdminAnywhere can handle lots of those little jobs (i.e. the grit and pebbles) so that you can concentrate on the business (i.e. those bigger stones). There’s no formal employment commitment nor are there any employer on-costs to factor in and you don’t need to provide office space either, as I can work remotely from my office location.
AdminAnywhere can handle the admin in that grit and small pebble pile before it grows into a mountain, and save you all the hassle of trying to fit everything into the jar. I can research, do the typing, update that contact list, create that newsletter, and handle the correspondence / communication...
...In fact I can organise and handle the majority of whatever the office backlog is, so you can focus on the bigger scenic picture i.e. the running and growing of your business.
Want to know more?
VA Myth #1: Hiring a VA is expensive
(News Update: 09/02/2018)
I wrote this blog recently for a post on Linkedin. Time to share it here too.
Often when discussing what I do and my hourly rate I hear this kind of remark:
"Crickey! I could employ someone a lot cheaper than that!"
Erm - well that's not really true!
VAs generally charge by the hour and that's the way I generally chose to charge for my services. For that you get a highly experienced expert administrator and business owner supporting your business, when you need the help.
So for example, AdminAnywhere's standard rate is £24 per hour (2017/18 rate)
Let's look at a few of the other costs associated with employing someone and compare:
- The Job: Have you written the job description/person specification? How many hours do you need to cover? The role will need a specified number of hours and days/times.
- The Location: Have you got business premises? An office with a desk, computer and all the equipment needed for your new starter? No? All this will cost to set up, expect anything up to at least £1000.#
- Recruitment costs: How much to advertise the role? How much time will it take to find someone? Factor in the cost of your time to sift through the applications, interviews etc. Agency fees if you outsource this task will probably be over £500.
- Training: So you've recruited someone on a low wage. How skilled are they? How much training will be required? Have you got the time and skills to train your new recruit? Outside training costs? Costs and time unknown.
- All those other on-costs: National Insurance, Pension, Insurance, holiday pay, sick pay, etc. These all add onto that £8 per hour wage.
- Now let's look at the productivity of those hours you're paying for. Even if you just needed someone part time, you decided on 4 hours a day to make it worth while employing someone. Do you get 4 hours of solid work done each day? How much time are you paying for your employee to twiddle their thumbs when it's quiet? How much time is spent chatting and keeping up with their social media?
If your business is ready for someone to officially take the helm in your office then go for it, recruit and look after your investment, but realise that they really deserve to be paid much higher than minimum wage.
Here is a very handy employee cost estimator that I've found on the web courtesy of Gravity Credit Control (You can probably find other similar ones via other searches too).
If your admin needs fluctuate or you need someone now, then a VA is the solution. VAs have the experience and expertise to jump in and get the task done with the minimum of your time. I, for example, have over 30 years experience as well as 5 years as a VA and running AdminAnywhere. You just pay for the time I spend on your work and not the downtime - so if it only takes an hour and a quarter this week it will only be £30. All the above on-costs are covered by me.
(News Update: 20/10/2017)
Earlier this week I had the pleasure of attending the Big Bolton Business Conversation; a new business conference and networking event organised by the Best of Bolton, with keynotes presentations froom Ben Kench and Brad Burton.
Ben Kench was one of the key note speakers; his presentation was about being Authentic; being who you are in how you present your business; and having the passion and not being afraid of showing it.
That really hit home to me, as I do 'wear my heart on my sleeve', and I do often feel that I'm not supposed to be so honest. As a business owner we're always expected to be big and successful even on the days when it is a struggle.
I am very passionate about my business and the support I provide to other small business owners, but being self employed is a very vulnerable place to be. I run this admin support business called AdminAnywhere... Yes, I'm a virtual assistant... Yes AdminAnywhere is just me... And yes, there's a lot of ebb and flow with the workload and finances. So there's a limit on how much you have available to spend on making it all look shiny and professional.
I've nurtured this business for 5 years now, after building the core experience in my field since leaving school far too many years ago. So while I exude the passion I have for my business and the support I can provide, that passion can very easily go into over-protective mother mode, and it did later on in this event.
During some of the networking time I was chatting to someone I'd met recently at another event. He mentioned that he'd referred me to one of his friends, and relayed a little criticism about something on my website which had given his friend a negative impression of my ability to deliver my service.
BANG! That 'over-protective mother' mode kicked in.
My automatic reflex was to defend my child, without looking at all the angles. I'm not proud that I launched into that mode and my tirade of the excuses of why my website isn't a professionally designed creation, and the financial limitations of being self employed etc. And how could that be any reflection on how I support my clients anyway?
The first thing I did when I returned from the event was to check my website out. I couldn't find any problems, and was about to head down that self-doubt route; but instead I looked at what I had created and thought back to what Ben Kench had said earlier in the day and some of what Brad Burton had also said in his presentation too.
Be Authentic... Be You... Your USP is YOU!
For that brief moment earlier in the day, I had lost sight of the most important part of the conversation I was having that triggered my vulnerability. I'd lost sight of the most important piece of the discussion; the fact that this contact, who I'd only met on one occasion previously, had referred me. That first meeting had given him the confidence to share my details with another of his contacts. On that first meeting I was my regular self, exuding the passion I have for my business; and being honest that there are quiet weeks as well as busy ones. I'd also asked about his business and listened to his passion for the type of client and work he prefers as well as the work that he prefers to avoid. We were being authentic and passionate about our businesses.
Yes AdminAnywhere is me! TOO RIGHT!
I've mothered and nurtured it and I'm proud of what I've achieved so far. It's not a clone because I am unique, as are all the other virtual assistance businesses out there. They have their own USP's too. My website is different because I made it myself. To me it shows my creativity and flexibility in what I can do. It fits with how I handle other aspects of my marketing too, as I definitely like to think outside the standard box. As well as providing a bespoke service to each of my clients. One size definitely does not fit all.
AdminAnywhere will continue to evolve, just like the whole of my life. Learn from misjudgements and grow with experiences. Be proud of what you achieve.
Keep the passion alive, and don't be afraid of showing it... although maybe it's best to keep an eye out for that over-protective mother though.
And I may not meet your stereotypical image of what a personal assistant should be like. No I'm not that perfectly groomed & manicured secretary in a sophisticated business suit and high heals. That's definitely not who I am.
But, can I do your admin?
August: make the most of the quiet times
(News Update: 24/07/2017)
The schools have all broken up for the summer and August is just around the corner
Is August a quiet month for your business?
Do you just tick over whilst staff are off on their summer holidays?
There's a knock on effect for all businesses over this time of the year; your clients are quieter too so don't need your services as much either, so they don't buy from their clients, etc, etc....
Maybe though, this year, it's time you looked at this quiet time more productively!
This is the perfect time of the year to look at your business plan and get organised with all those jobs that you've been putting off; ideas that have been on the back-burner; or maybe it's about time you tackled that filing and archiving that you're hidden in the cupboard!
AdminAnywhere has some have extra availability over this month too. So here's your chance to get your office organised, and your business ready for a busy autumn.
I'm not just a Virtual Assistant, my AdminAnywhere services also include working on-site at my client's businesses too. When there's organising to do in the office, you just have to be there to handle it.
So, what could I do for you?
- I could get your filing systems set up, tidied, archived etc.
- Tidy your contacts database, or get one started from all those business cards, email contacts, Linkedin connections, and all those contact details you've got scribbled on post it notes.
- Update your social media profiles - not got any yet? No problem. I can get those set up for you.
- How about the business documentation? Letter heads, order forms, purchase orders, invoices, email templates etc. Do they need a refresh?
- How about starting a regular newsletter for your business?
- These are a few examples, but whatever I do for a client is unique and catered to what they need and what is most important at that time.
If you're based within easy reach of Bolton/Bury I don't charge travel, so now is the time to make the most of my availability and more importantly, my expertise.
And then when September comes you'll be all set to hit the ground running, and not be left behind with all the autumn leaves.
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