Three Ways to Make More Time

Ruth and I have just been to the Big Bolton Conversation, hosted by the fantastic team at theBestofBolton. I have to say, I was blown away by how well run the entire event was, and what an amazing mix of people were in the room.

As a featured supplier, Time Saving Heroes had the opportunity to have a stand in their “expo” section, which was great – as all exhibitors were B2B, and limited to one per industry.  People actually took the time to talk, and we made some fantastic connections we’ll need to touch base with later this week.

Going through the services we offer, and why we offer them, the dilemma of “too much to do, not enough time” kept coming up.  Obviously, it’s something we hear day in, day out with our existing clients, but it seemed particularly heightened today.

Many people want a quick fix, jokingly asking if we can turn their 24 hour days in to 33 hour ones instead.  Of course we can’t, but the truth is this question says a lot about our approach to managing our time.  Instead of wishing we had more, we need to be better at using what we’ve got.

Here at Time Saving Heroes that’s what we specialise in.  Working with what you’ve already got, and making it better.  You don’t need more time, you need to be more productive with the time you have.

On the drive from Bolton back to the office I got thinking about my top tips to help people manage this, and here they are:

 

#1 – Buy it

I’m always telling my clients they can do anything, but they can’t do everything.  The simple truth is if you take everything on there’s nowhere for you to go.  There reality is there are only so many hours in a day, and no matter how long you work, you can’t do it all.

The good news though is that you can buy time.  If you look at the tasks you currently spend time on, but don’t have to be dealt with by you, find a way to outsource these.  If you spend a lot of time trying to update your website, would it make more sense to pay a web developer to do it?  What about a bookkeeper to handle your accounts?  A Virtual Assistant might have all the necessary skills you need.

Whatever it is you need doing, there is someone out there who has the right skill set to be able to help you.

 

# 2 – Find it

It might seem like a daunting task, but actually taking the time to track how you spend your days is well worth it.  Logging everything you spend your time on, from personal tasks to replying to emails, will highlight all your many obligations throughout the day.

You can then sit and look through the things that are taking up your time that you don’t think are personally worth it.  Rather than adding more things to your list, you can see this as a golden opportunity to cut out the things that aren’t working or don’t really working.  This way, you can free up some of your time to focus on other things.

 

# 3 – Create it

OK, you can’t actually create time, but you can create the illusion of more.  For example, do you find yourself writing the same sort of emails day in, day out? Do you get similar questions from customers or clients?  If so, producing a standard response that you can send out with the click of a mouse is a great way to save yourself heaps of time every single day.

Rather than spending lots of time shuffling bits of paper around, why don’t you use something like Evernote to keep everything simple and organised in one place?  That way it’s always accessible as well and you can add to it as and when needed.

Can you multitask any of your chores?  If you commute to work, can you use this time to deal with your emails, or listen to an audio version of that book you keep meaning to read?

 

 

There are lots of ways you can do more with the time that you have. Perhaps getting on with it, instead of complaining about how much you have to do would be a good first step?  #JustSaying

Case Study: Social Media and processes

We realised the other day it’s been a while since we last did a case study.  Actually, we realised a few weeks ago, but we’ll be honest, we’ve been that busy we’ve not had the time to sit down and pull all the information needed together to make it worth reading.

See, even the experts struggle at times!

Now however, we’ve made time and here it is.  A case study looking at how we helped a restaurant in Cardiff build its customer base, and increase loyalty.

The client

Our client, Davide, runs an Italian restaurant in Edinburgh.  It’s a nice looking place (we’ve not been, but we’re contemplating a day trip at some point), and from what we’ve been told has a great atmosphere and serves traditional Italian cuisine.

Right up our street!

The problem

Davide’s biggest problem was that as his restaurant is off the main thoroughfare he doesn’t get a lot of passing footfall.  People come to his restaurant because they know about it, and sadly for him, not enough people seemed to know about him.

He’d taken over the restaurant from another owner who, by all accounts, had run it in to the ground, and developed a bad reputation.

Despite doing a lot to not only renovate the space itself (including a state of the art kitchen) and revamp the menu, Davide never took the time to shout about the new place.  There wasn’t even a press release.

He’d spent lots of money on a website, but wasn’t actively promoting it. Anywhere.  It was an online version of the actual restaurant – looked great, but hidden away and kept secret.

Davide was the first to admit that he wasn’t doing enough, and he knew that’s where the problems lay, but he was so overwhelmed and confused by what he should do that he was essentially standing still, completely unable to make a decision on how to move forward.

What Time Saving Heroes did

First of all, Lu had a long chat with Davide over the phone.  It was clear that although he didn’t have all the necessary skills needed to tackle his marketing on his own, he did have a lot of them – what he lacked was clarity, a strategy and if we’re honest, a degree of self-confidence.

An hour into their chat it was obvious that just having someone to bounce ideas around with was going to be a huge benefit to Davide. Within that short space of time he remembered why he wanted to set up the restaurant in the first place, and how passionate he’d been about it initially.

Instead of beating himself up about what he could have done differently, Lu encouraged him to start taking one step at a time, and focus on where he wanted to go.  It was during this conversation that Davide said he wanted to encourage local businesses to use the restaurant at lunch times, whilst pushing his other customers to come in the evenings.

On the back of this we initially decided to focus on LinkedIn.  Lu re-wrote Davide’s personal profile, and really focused on how he and his team could provide a quick and easy lunch for those on a quick break, a great venue for corporate entertaining, and even hosting for networking events.  She also set up a company page that Davide could link directly to.

After an intensive training session via Skype, Davide learnt the basics he needed to start using LinkedIn effectively to make contacts in the local area.  By the end of the first week he had arranged meetings with a local networking franchisee (who wanted a lunch time venue), a call centre manager (who knew his staff wanted an alternative off-site food option that wouldn’t eat in to their break), and an investment firm who wanted somewhere nice and quiet to meet with clients.

At the same time we set up Facebook and Twitter accounts for the restaurant and really started to focus on the domestic customers Davide wanted to attract.  We spent £50 on Facebook advertising, targeting a very specific age range and geographical area, which had great results. We also started using hashtags on Twitter to encourage happy hour, Fizz Fridays and Mum Mondays (where Mum’s ate for free, every week).

Almost immediately online bookings increased, as did walk-ins and Davide was thrilled, as you can imagine.  He never anticipated that doing a few simple things would have such a huge impact.  The great news for him, was that once we got him started, and showed him what to do, he could take over the reigns for himself.  Meaning that his marketing was handled in-house and wasn’t an ongoing cost for him.

However, that’s not the end of our relationship with Davide.

Once customers started coming through the door we encouraged him to set up, and maintain a database.  This would allow him to see where a customer had come from (Facebook, Twitter, local trade etc), and obtain their contact details so he could direct message in the future.  By asking for date of births, and other special occasions, we’re now able to,  on his behalf, send out specific emails offering discounts for Birthdays and anniversaries.

The feedback from his customers is brilliant – they love feeling like the team care about them enough to remember their special events, and they always come back and leave with a smile on their faces.

What Davide had to say

“The team at Time Saving Heroes are amazing, nothing is ever too much trouble, and they make me feel like I am their only client. I can pick up the phone and just have a moan to Lu, who handles it all with good grace and manages to lift my spirits when I’m having a bad day. Thankfully, such days are less now.

“I cannot say how much value Lu and the team have added, it’s much much more than I could have anticipated. I expected a bit of marketing, and instead I got friends, colleagues and someone who loves my business as much as I do.

“When you feel like you’re on your own at times, that’s worth so so much. You ever come to Edinburgh, the meal’s on the house”

 

We’ll take you up on that offer on day, Davide!

 

 

Why you shouldn’t just have your mobile number on your business cards

You might not know, but here at Time Saving Heroes we can design (and even arrange the print) of business cards.  We even offer packages to start-up businesses to help them get everything they need to launch in one place.

I was talking to one of our new start-up clients the other day about their business cards, and she was querying whether to put her mobile number on them or not.  She’s a one-woman band, working from home and therefore only has a mobile number.

Equally, because she’s in that starting zone the phone hasn’t started ringing yet.  At this precise moment she thinks the best thing she can offer her potential clients is constant access – she never wants to miss a call, because she never wants to miss business.

All of which makes perfect sense.

However, she hadn’t really thought about what happens when it does start ringing.  The problem with a phone is it’s quite difficult to ignore, especially if you think there’s a sale at the other end.  With most people not wanting to leave voicemails, we have a Pavlovian response to pick up.  Even if we’re at the hairdressers, the supermarket or in the middle of cooking dinner.

That’s all personal choice, but if a new client or a lead calls whilst you’re in an unsuitable location, and they can hear kids screaming in the background, or someone asking if you want fries with that, it’s not going to give the most professional of first impressions.

And they might not call back.

We had a good old chat about it, and she said the problem was she didn’t want to be tied to her house, and she didn’t want to get an office set up just so she could have a landline.  Which is when I asked if she’d ever thought about a Virtual Receptionist.

The benefit of using a call handling service is you have immediate access to a landline number, which will always be answered professionally, to give the right impression of your business.  Our service also means you can have a dedicated voicemail service for out of hours, or you can have calls diverted back to you to deal with if you prefer.

We have clients who give out their landline number on their business cards, and for sales but once a customer has been confirmed, they move them to their mobiles.  It’s one option, and one that works very well for many.

Another bonus of having a landline number is that it makes you look bigger than you actually are.  We all know that size doesn’t matter, but let’s not be shy, sometimes it does.  If you only have a mobile number on your business cards it says very clearly that you’re the only person to speak to.  There is no one else.

If you have a landline answered by a professional team, you automatically create a hierarchy.  Now, we’re not saying you’re going to get lots of complaints, but on the odd occasion when someone does want to complain, this hierarchy can work to your advantage.  Either the caller can be placated by an experienced customer service team, or they will feel their complaint has been escalated if they are eventually put through to you.

If they have access to you straight away, there’s nowhere for them to go after that if they remain disappointed.  Other than potentially social media. And nobody wants that.

 

If you want some advice about what to put on your business cards, are just starting out and want to find out about our packages or just fancy a chat (we love a good chat), give us a call on 0161 883 2024.

 

Three tips for dealing with your fear of delegation

Here at Time Saving Heroes we’re used to working with business owners who don’t necessarily have a lot of experience in managing other people.  Some have never been employed by anyone else, and others have not had managerial positions.

That tends to mean that whilst they are brilliant at what they do, they’re not used to delegating tasks to others.  I’m not saying that makes them control freaks, but …

Hey, we’ve all been there.  If you want something doing right, and all that. The problem with releasing control, even a little bit, is the risk that a task won’t get done right, or as well as you might have done it.

However, the real problem comes when you let that stop you from passing on things you don’t need to do.  If you keep hold of everything within your business, there is a very real risk that you’ll burn out – and that doesn’t benefit anyone.

Control isn’t about keeping hold of everything yourself, it’s about managing risk and delegating what you can, to the best person, whenever you can.

If you want an extra pair of hands, or some support as and when you need it, but are worried how you’re going to manage it, our top three tips might help.

# 1 – Figure out where to focus

No matter how amazing you are, there’s only so many hours in a day. You might be happy working 10, 12, or even 18 of them but that can only last for so long, and in our experience there’s a good chance some things still won’t get done.

As a business owner you need to work out where your time can best be spent.  Yes, invoicing is important but do you have to do it?  Could someone take that over, or even automate the process to save time, so you can focus your attention on the things only you can do?

Such things could be strategic thinking, building relationships, sales, new product development and so on.  You can’t outsource those things so easily, but you can let go of the time consuming admin.

We have seen so many business owners who don’t have time to work on their business, and take it to the next level because they’re so busy working in it on day to day operations.

# 2 – What are you scared of?

Our Time Saving Heroes pride themselves on being honest and open, and we always encourage are clients to be the same. Therefore, if you feel uncomfortable about working with someone else (even though you know it makes sense to), we want you to talk about those fears.

Vague feelings of discomfort are quite disempowering and will invariably mean you don’t go anywhere.  If we can help you clarify what it is that’s bothering you, we can actually help you to address that issue and move on.

For example, we’ve had clients say before that they worry the work won’t get done, or it won’t get done as well as they would do it themselves. Some even worry that they’re inconveniencing us when they pick up the phone to ask for a task to be done, or they come across as being bossy.

The flip side of course is asking how they feel when they hold on to everything themselves, then the conversation starts to change.

I’m stressed, frustrated, sleep deprived, anxious, out of control and standing still.

# 3 – Minimise the risk

It’s all very well us saying we’re amazing, we could even point you in the direction of our reviews and client testimonials, but that doesn’t help you that much if you’re genuinely anxious about taking that first step.

That’s why we want to work with you from the outset to make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible. We’ll look at your fears and then figure out ways to put checks in place to make you feel comfortable.

Taking the above example of work not getting done, we agreed with one client to use a task management system which they could use to assign and track tasks sent to their Time Saving Hero. They could set deadlines, and monitor progress remotely and therefore still felt they had control of the situation, without having to be completely involved. Within a few weeks that fear was gone because they realised everything was completed as agreed.

 

It is scary, and yes it can feel a little time consuming in the beginning as you get used to working with someone else, but the truth is, whilst you can do anything you most certainly can’t do everything.

If you’re ready to have a chat about how a Virtual Assistant can help save you time and money, pick up the phone and call us on 0161 883 2024. We’re happy to help, and have a chat about what you might need to delegate.

 

 

It’s not about the cost, it’s value for money that matters

Last week I had a meeting with a potential client (John), who had been referred to me by a business coach I’ve worked with previously who is helping him to grow and streamline his business.

John runs a pest control business that, although still relatively young (under two years) is doing very well.  The problem is that now the phone has started to ring, and the enquiries are coming in he’s realised he doesn’t have enough time to do everything himself.

The reality is he can’t spend all day out on jobs, then go out on quotes, follow up on enquiries, answer phone calls and then send invoices.  Not if he actually wants to spend any time at home with his wife and their three month old son.

We got chatting and talked through the issues he was experiencing, and he agreed he definitely needed an extra pair of hands to help things run more smoothly.

Then we got to the really fun bit – costs.

I like to think I keep things really simple when it comes to our fees: £25 per hour for our Virtual Assistance service.

However, John immediately baulked at the idea of paying “so much” for another person’s time.  In fact, his exact response was “I could just hire an admin assistant and pay them £7.50 per hour, it would be so much cheaper.”

Now, I know John thinks he’s saying “you’re so expensive”, but what I’m actually hearing is “I’m looking at this the wrong way.”

I practically rub my hands with glee as I roll my sleeves up for this challenge.

Although John actually only needs a few hours of practical admin assistance per day, he wants someone to be around during office hours to answer his phone and handle queries.  As such, he would have to employ a full time member of staff.

The biggest problem here is that he currently operates out of the back of his van.  An admin assistance, regardless of what you paid them, wouldn’t be able to do that.  As a result he’d need to locate office space and pay a deposit to secure it.

He’d then need furniture and equipment to put in to that office space.  Having an employee on site would also mean he’d need employer liability insurance. He’s confessed he has no experience of hiring staff, and wouldn’t know the first thing when it came to establishing whether someone was experienced enough or not. His preference therefore would be to use a recruitment firm to handle all of that for him.

Taking all of that in to account, his nice cost-effective admin assistant has cost him in the region of £4,286 before they’ve even set foot in the building!

It costs nothing to get Time Saving Heroes on board. No equipment, no space, no insurance. Nothing.

That’s a considerable saving right there.

Now let’s look at the monthly costs.

By the time you factor in salary, office rent, professional fees (such as auto enrolment, payroll and HR support), NI and pension contributions our employee is likely to cost in the region of £1,776.74pm.

Alternatively, John could hire a Time Saving Hero for a maximum of 2 hours a day (as that is what he think he needs in the way of real admin support) at a cost of £1,000pm.

He could then sign up to our call handling service at £55pm to ensure his calls are answered between 8.30am and 5pm.

All of a sudden paying £17.50 more per hour has saved him £721.71 per month.

When I put it like that, he saw things differently.

We started working together this morning.

Why your Virtual Assistant is your best friend

Over the last few weeks we’ve been looking at the different ways a Virtual Assistant can help you in your business.  So far we’ve talked about digital marketing tasks, outsourcing your communications, handling your social media and managing the backend processes every business needs to thrive.

Today we thought we’d look at some of the other tasks a Time Saving Hero can take on for you, to free up your time to focus on the more important things only you can do.

For example:

  1. Managing your business calendar and diary
  2. Arranging, scheduling and managing your appointments
  3. Making plans and arrangements for your business travel
  4. Personal online shopper (for corporate gifts etc)
  5. Researching prices for materials, supplies etc
  6. Editing and proofreading documents
  7. Following up with clients, suppliers etc
  8. Preparing documents and Power Points for presentations and meetings
  9. Stock control
  10. Getting quotes for work or materials and equipment

Every business is different, therefore what you find is time consuming, someone else might not.  That’s why we work with you to establish how best we can help you.

If you want to find out more and just have a chat with one of our Time Saving Heroes to see how we can benefit your business, give us a call today on 0161 883 2024.

 

Your message is not important to us

Despite the impression I like to give, I am only human, and that means even I the-ever-writing-Lu can find it hard at times to come up with content.  Thankfully this week I’ve been given a bit of a hand by some really bad customer service experiences on social media.

One of the most popular services we provide at Time Saving Heroes is social media management.  Whilst we offer a whole host of services in this area, for the most part people just want regular content posting out via their networks.  However, I always try to remind people that it’s not about what they sell or do, but how they engage and build relationships with their audience/customers.

Some people get that, some just don’t.

Never is this more pronounced than when you look at how people manage their business pages Facebook Messenger.  On countless occasions I have stumbled across a page, found the content interesting, liked it, commented and proceeded to follow.  In time I have found myself actually needing to find out something – so I hit the trusty “Send Message” button and wait.

Sometimes I have to wait a few hours – which even the most impatient of individuals can probably live with.

Most times, I have to wait a week, or longer.

In some instances no reply comes at all.

For those of you who have Facebook business pages can I just ask – why are you taking the time to set up a page, fill it with content and to add all your contact details only to ignore your potential customers when they bother to reach out to you?

What the Hell is the point?!

Not only are you potentially missing out on a sale in the here and now, but actually you are leaving a really bad taste in someone’s mouth.  Having managed numerous business pages over the last few years I totally get how annoying “the public” can be.  The seemingly endless barrage of questions that are time consuming to respond to – and they don’t end up buying anyway.  Yes, I get it, but sorry buttercup, that’s what you’re there for.  It’s called customer service.

It’s like having a phone, and never bothering to answer the bloody thing!

If you really don’t want people to get in touch with you via direct messaging, don’t offer it as a method of communication.  And if you are going to offer it, make sure you manage it properly.

If you don’t have the time, then you need Time Saving Heroes.