Get a Virtual Assistant to say it for you

Here at Time Saving Heroes we know how hard it is for business owners to hand over any aspect of their customer service to a complete stranger.  Your customers are everything, and you want to make sure that every part of their interaction with your business goes smoothly, and leaves them wanting more.

We totally understand that.

However, communication is one of the most time consuming aspects of any business.  Answering the phone, dealing with queries, replying to emails, scheduling appointments – it all takes up a huge amount of man power.  And when there’s only you, or a small team, that’s a lot of hours lost that could be spent doing something else that could be earning more money.

It can seem daunting at first, but it’s important to remember one thing: as your business grows it will become impossible for you to manage this aspect on your own.

Once you can accept that fact it starts to make sense to outsource some of the work to someone else now, so you can get the right processes in place to make expansion even easier.

Here are just ten ways you can free up your time by allowing a Time Saving Hero to communication on your behalf:

  1. Sending cards, thank you’s and invitations
  2. Checking and responding to voicemail
  3. Filtering your inbox and deleting spam/junk mail
  4. Writing, editing and sending follow-up emails to clients
  5. Creating templates to answer common questions
  6. Proof-reading and editing outbound messages you’ve already drafted
  7. Providing live chat support to online visitors
  8. Making outbound calls
  9. Dealing with support tickets/complaints etc
  10. Answering all your calls and taking messages, dealing with queries or passing on information

 

There’s so much more a Virtual Assistant can offer, but these are some of the key tasks that will allow you to focus on what you need to achieve to move your business forward.  Imagine how much more productive you could be if you weren’t constantly distracted by a ringing phone or an email notification.

To find out more simply give us a call on 0161 883 2024 or email lu@timesavingheroes.co.uk and we’ll be happy to help.

 

 

 

If you leave your marketing until you have time, it’s too late

What do you do to promote your business?

Every business is different, but the one thing that’s always essential is marketing.  It doesn’t matter if you’ve got people forming an orderly queue for your services, you still need to market. NEVER make the mistake of thinking you’re busy, so it doesn’t matter.

Yes, you might well be busy, and therefore remembering to do all the important things like updating your blog or posting on social media can seem impossible.  But, the reality is, you should never wait until you’re quiet to promote your business.

That’s just insanity.

Hiring a virtual assistant can ensure that you can juggle everything that your business needs.  You can stay focussed on meeting new clients, or doing the physical work whilst a Time Saving Hero takes on all the time consuming, yet essential, digital marketing aspects.

Here at Time Saving Heroes we can:

  1. Manage your business blog
  2. Moderate comments via your blog, and respond where necessary
  3. Add images and tags to your blogs
  4. Create lists for email marketing campaigns
  5. Keep email lists up to date (adding and removing subscribers as necessary)
  6. Creating and scheduling newsletters and marketing emails
  7. Write blog posts
  8. Update content on your website
  9. Produce other content marketing material (infographics etc)
  10. Do research on keywords

 

If these are things that you keep meaning to do, but just can’t find the time for, get in touch with one of our Time Saving Heroes today.

Just give us a call on 0161 883 2024 or email lu@timesavingheroes.co.uk and we’ll be happy to help.

 

 

 

Let me be your chicken

As headlines go, you’ve got to admit that one went and got your attention, didn’t it?

This morning I decided to treat myself to a plate of bacon and eggs (scrambled, for those of you who are curious and crave the details). The kids were occupied with their toast, all was quiet (briefly), and I got to thinking about a riddle I’d heard years ago.

In a bacon and egg breakfast, what’s the difference between the chicken and the pig?

The simple answer is that the chicken is involved, but the pig is committed.

For many employers, recruiters or business owners it may seem that when faced with the chance to work with a chicken or pig, you want the pig. You want someone who is going to be all-in. However, I’m not so sure that’s really the best option.

When you think about the role the pig has to play in our breakfast scenario (apologies vegans and vegetarians out there) his sacrifice is perceived as commitment. In order to be part of the plate, he has to be slaughtered. The problem with this is that the pig can only be slaughtered once (no doubt something the pig, himself is relieved about).

Equally, the pig has no say in the process. The pig is caught up in someone else’s agenda, and remains a passive bystander until he is taken to the slaughter house and his lights switched off.

I’m not sure that’s actually commitment.

Not when you stop and think about the chicken. The chicken is born to lay eggs. It is in her very DNA. She does so without any prompting, coercion, very little encouragement and with no fuss. She voluntarily contributes to your breakfast, all you have to do is touch base with her once in a while and collect the eggs.

Your chicken will continue to lay eggs for as long as she is physically able to. Unlike the pig, she is not a one-time contributor to the plate.

Assistants can be either a pig or a chicken. The pigs are full of enthusiasm, but once they have given what they can, they burn out and have nothing left to offer.

Chickens can go the distance.

The chicken is the one with the real commitment.

Now, excuse me while I go and re-brand the business. What do you think of “Time Saving Chickens”?

When friends aren’t friends

As someone who uses social media to market my personal brand, my business, my author persona, and for my clients, I often take my presence on many networking platforms for granted.

Of course I’m on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.  I dabble in a few others, but those three are my stalwarts for communication.

Over the years as I’ve met more and more people through networking I’ve accumulated significantly more *friends*. In fact, as I write this I have 424 of them on Facebook.

I say *friends* because it’s obviously a bit of a misnomer.

The standard definition of a friend is: “a person with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically one exclusive of sexual or family relations”.

Personally I feel the word affection oversells it a bit for a lot of my Facebook connections.  They’re alright, we perhaps get on, but that doesn’t necessarily make them my friends (any more than I am to them).

For me, a friend is someone you’d call up and invite round for a coffee.  You’d go out your way to phone a friend on their birthday. You’d actually check in with them once in a while.

I assure you I do not do that with the vast majority of my 424 *friends*.  And more’s the point, they don’t do it with me either.

Those of you that have had the pleasure of being friends with me on Facebook (or actually, shock horror, spend time with me in real life) will know I’m ever so slightly opinionated. I quite like a drink. I occasionally get selfie happy. And I swear far more than my Mother is comfortable with (sorry Mum, don’t know what happened there).

I’m loud, I’m proud and I’m gobby.  And just occasionally that really gets up people’s noses.

Whilst I understand and respect people’s rights to take a step back and think “oooh, she’s a bit whoa”, there’s not a tiny part of me that’s sorry.  You see, my Facebook profile is all about ME.  The good, the bad and the hungover.

On Facebook you see the real me. The piddled off with the world, frustrated Mum who wonders if it’s acceptable to drink at 2pm because it’s already been a long day. The Mum who can’t help but find it funny that her three year old can swear like a sailor in total context.  Yes, I know it’s not ideal, but he’s not beating the cr*p out of anyone or calling people names, so I’ll take that as a win. The Mum that sometimes thinks her autistic son is playing the ASD card a little too well, and might actually just be a kn*b at times.

Yeah, I said that.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been thinking more about my social media presence. This whole accepting friends invites from people I barely know, but maybe met once at a networking event just because they asked and it would be rude not to isn’t sitting well with me.  I want to share photos of my babies, I want to moan about the client that hasn’t paid, I want to talk about my day and the idiot that wound me up without fear of recriminations.

I want to, and I will dag nammit.

So, I am having a legendary cull (though, because I’m not an attention seeking numpty I won’t be announcing it and then congratulating the people who were lucky enough to ‘survive’).  My cull isn’t meant to be the virtual equivalent of two fingers sticking up at a foe.

Instead it’s a nod to the fact that our relationship is, and should be, purely professional.  If you have been deleted (the ultimate virtual insult), please do not be offended.  Remember I am doing this because we are not mates, and that’s not a bad thing.  I want you to see me as the polished, consummate professional I pretend to be Monday-Friday 9am-5pm.  Well, some of the time between those hours, anyway.

Equally, I want to see you in the same way.

If I bump in to you at a networking event I don’t want my first thought to be “That was a lot of cleavage on Friday night”, or “Interesting adjectives you’ve been using for your ex-husband’s new girlfriend”, or “You come across as a self-indulged know-it-all in your look-at-me posts #LuckyGirl #Mumpreneur #LaptopLifestyle #HashtagAllTheThingsUntilSomethingSticks #IAmSoAmazingEveryoneWantsToBeLikeMe”.

They’re just examples from this week.

Some of them might be slightly exaggerated. To my knowledge nobody has used the last hashtag. Which is actually a shame. That would have been amusing.

Invariably we add people because we want to feel connected, but connection only comes from interaction.  When all your *friends* do is sit there and watch your life unfold before them, but aren’t actually part of your day to day doings, then that’s not friendship. That’s voyeurism.

Let’s just keep that, and the sales pitches to LinkedIn, shall we?

 

PS: Currently down to 260 actual friends.  It’s strangely cathartic!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Things You Need To Do Before You Outsource Anything!

Here at Time Saving Heroes we’re clearly fans of outsourcing.  If you don’t have the time, knowledge or inclination to do something, there’s no reason why someone else can’t take it off your hands, and that someone doesn’t have to be a member of staff.

 

Outsourcing specific tasks can be a great way to keep overheads down, and remove the stress of having to actually manage a workforce. However, we also know it’s now always plain sailing.  Many of our clients have come through referrals, and most have had bad experienced with Virtual Assistants in the past.

 

How then do you make sure whoever you’re outsourcing a task to (whether it’s a HR firm, VA or web designer) is actually up to the job?  Here are Lu’s top tips to minimise heartbreak down the line.

 

#1 – Google them

This one should be pretty obvious, but if you’ve been given the name of an individual or company, actually look them up.  Ideally a search will bring them up on LinkedIn, and show their website – but what else do they have going on?

 

Hare they on Trust Pilot or any other independent review site?  Do they feature in affiliated bodies or on industry sites?  Find out as much as you can from the get go.

 

#2 – Social proof

Social media sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Google+ are great ways to find out more about a company and/or individual.  What does their LinkedIn profile say?  Do they have any recommendations or endorsements?  What’s their approach to social media like, and do they actively get involved with other people online?

 

These are all valid questions no matter what you’re hiring for, but definitely take that in to account when looking for a self-confessed social media specialist.

 

#3 – Time management

Everyone charges differently, whether it by the hour or per job.  You need to make sure you understand your partner’s pricing structure, and how that can impact you.  If they do charge by the hour, is it full or part of?  Will they keep a timesheet so you can see precisely where that time is being spent?  If you block-book time, can you be sure that time is being used, and do you have control of how it’s used?  If you have multiple projects, will they allocate time equally, or based on urgency?  Are you in danger of 20 hours being used on one thing, and having to buy more time to get the other jobs done?

 

#4 – Payment terms

This goes for everything – find out what the payment terms are!  Don’t assume it’s 30 days, even if that’s your company standard.  Equally, ask about VAT and any other charges you might be expected to pay.

 

Are phone calls free, within reason?  Or does every single bit of contact cost you money?  Make sure you know what the score is before you sign up so as to avoid any nasty shocks down the line.

 

#5 – Sign a contract

Unexpected invoices can quickly sour relationships, so it’s important everyone knows where they stand.  You might be as good as your word, but are they?  Have a contract signed at the start so there are no arguments later on as to what was expected.

 

If they don’t have a contract as standard, run a mile!

 

 

Remember, Time Saving Heroes offers a wide range of services from content writing to social media management and invoicing to document preparation.  If there’s anything you don’t have time for, Time Saving Heroes can help.

 

Give us a call on 0161 883 2024 or email hello@timesavingheroes.co.uk