Effective delegation can be key to your business success, but sometimes delegation can become a chore in itself! We know it can be difficult, so here are out top tips for how to delegate to your virtual assistant…
Tip 1: Build a good relationship with your Virtual PA
We find that the clients who are willing to spend a little time chatting to us once a week are definitely the clients who trust us most with their precious business tasks; however big or small they may be! A weekly catch up call is ideal or regular emails throughout the week. Tell us about your weekend, your holiday, your grandmother’s birthday party – anything! We just love a bit of banter too!
Tip 2: Provide clear instructions
For quick and easy tasks, a simple phone call may be all it takes. For something more complex, it may be easier to jot the details down in an email. That way, we all have something to refer back to. Remember that the first time we do a task for you will always take a little longer, but we are very fast learners and you will only need to tell us once!
Tip 3: Provide your Virtual Assistant with the tools that they need
Many of our clients rely on us to keep their business running whilst they are busy planning world domination. In order to be efficient, we need the right tools. Whether it be access to your inbox, calendar or your bank account – delegation is a lot easier when you can rest assured that we have all of the information that we need.
Tip 4: Start small
When you take on a Virtual PA, begin by sending them small, short and simple tasks that you feel comfortable handing over. Believe or not, you will eventually develop a natural instinct to delegate more important and pressing tasks to your assistant.
Tip 5: Learn to let go
If you are one of those people who calls the office 10 times a day when you are on holiday, then delegation may not be for you. Delegation is a long term investment and many of our clients who find it easy have been with Time etc for years. You need to realise that when you delegate a task it is out of your hands. Take a step back and avoid interfering. It may be hard, but wait to see the final product before you judge.
Although the majority of us rely on communication via the internet these days, sometimes it is still just easier to pick up the phone. But do you loathe answering it for fear of breaking your trail of thought? Some companies chose to not advertise a phone number, but we all know how annoying that can be when it’s you that has a real problem!
Here at Time Etc we manage calls for a variety of clients, and every day we take an average of 500 calls. We have an eclectic mix of clients from beauty salons, cosmetic surgeons and dentists to plumbers, accountants and caterers.
But is it for me I hear you ask… Well here are our top ten reasons for getting a call answering account with Time Etc.
- First Impression counts… We can make sure that your call is answered quickly and efficiently. Having a friendly voice at the end of the phone will instantly put your clients at ease.
- Never miss a call or even a new lead… Every call to your business has the potential to make you money. You can divert to us just when you are busy, or all the time. You can opt to have new leads and VIPs patched through to you, or we can take detailed messages for you to work through when you are ready.
- Save your time… It should be obvious that if we are on the phone for you, more time will be freed up for your other business tasks.
- Save money… If you need an extra pair of hands but can’t afford a new member of staff, outsourcing to Time Etc could be the answer. Why not hire a highly skilled and experienced call answering assistant who is there when you need them but costs nothing when you don’t?
- A name to refer clients to… Each client is assigned an account manager who will generally take the majority of calls (although our whole team will be trained on your business account). It’s great to be able to give customers a name to refer to when they need assistance.
- Sales FAQs answered… Your account manager will learn about your business and is happy to take as much or as little information as you need. We love to be provided with the information and tools to really help your customers. Tell us all about your products and services so that we can answer daily queries.
- Get rid of pesky sales callers… Do you detest them? We are actually very good at politely getting rid of sales calls; useful seeing as we deal with hundreds of them every day!
- Appear to be a larger firm… Are you a small fish in a big pond? Do you worry that your company size may be losing you business? With a team of call answerers managing your calls your company can appear to be much larger!
- Location, Location, Location… We can pretend to be based in your office or anywhere in the world in fact. If you think that your address is hampering your business’ potential, Time Etc might be the answer!
- We are much more than just a call answering service… We don’t just take messages. We can manage your diary, process telephone orders, chase debts, upsell your product or service, log support tickets, book meetings and jobs and much, much more…
If you are interested in finding out more, get in touch today www.timeetc.co.uk/contact
I’ve just got back from a recent road-trip across (a small portion of) America and it’s fair to say that my experiences as a Personal Assistant came into full swing both pre-trip and during the full two week journey. We were constantly on the hop and trying new restaurants and visiting famous attractions, as well as those hard to find gems off the beaten track. Now as perfectly organised and responsible as my friends are – none of them put as much effort in to the research and planning of the holiday as I did. Why? They don’t do what I do for a day job and they probably don’t have the time!
It’s fair to say that as soon as we found out that our friend was getting married in the USA, everything I’ve learnt in being a Virtual Assistant day to day was brought to the fore in a deluge of research and planning emails that took in flights, accommodation and the best places for us to sample the delights of American food. Ok, ok – we went to McDonalds once, but once only and we were in the middle of nowhere! Using review sites such as Trip Advisor and Yelp enabled me to research restaurants and read reviews beforehand so that we could sample everything from sushi boats to ‘the best BBQ in Texas’, safe in the knowledge that we would be dining in style. Needless to say, McDonalds wasn’t a scheduled stop on the itinerary but we pretty much stuck to the plan that had been laid out before we left Heathrow and it really did prove to be invaluable for the trip.
Furthermore, we were able to save on accommodation quite considerably by trying out the excellent Airbnb.co.uk and another great home rental site. This enabled us to stay in some fantastic and authentic American houses with all the luxury of a hotel but with none of the restrictions. Flexible check-out times and some crucial insider knowledge of the area from our local hosts enabled us to add things to the trip that we otherwise wouldn’t have known about. I can’t take credit for this though as the site was a recommendation from another colleague at Timeetc – it really was a major plus-point of the holiday and one of the great things about Timeetc – someone always has another suggestion! Even though we don’t specialise in travel we have the expertise and contacts to turn the most hectic family excursion or business trip into a seamless, co-ordinated journey that you can revel in without the organisational fuss. I wonder if I can convince someone in the office to organise my next trip?!
We’ve been doing some research recently to work out what tasks are most commonly outsourced to our Virtual Assistants.
72% of virtual staff at Time Etc said that credit control was one of their clients’ most hated tasks. Credit control can be time consuming and requires some degree of dedication, but it’s actually one of the skills our virtual PAs pride themselves on the most. Sometimes it’s much easier for a person who is not so directly involved in the company to ask people for money.
The second most hated task was processing expenses.It is a necessity for HMRC but seems to be an absolute bugbear for small business owners and 61% of our virtual assistants say that their clients dread it! Quite often when a new client comes on board, their virtual PA is handed a pile of backdated expenses to sort through. You might think this is a bit weird, but there is nothing more satisfying for a virtual PA (and obsessive organiser) than to get a client’s expenses in tip top condition. Once they are organised, we like to work on them on a monthly basis to keep things running like clockwork.
39% of our virtual assistants said that formatting documents is what clients hate the most; this is closely followed by booking travel tickets at 37%. What may take you 2 hours is likely to take your Virtual PA just a few minutes. We are whizzes in all things Microsoft Office including Word, PowerPoint and Excel. We also book over 100 travel tickets every month AND we have some super duper contacts in the industry that can often get us great rates.
35% of the folk at Time Etc said that clients just hate organising their email inboxes. We can scan through emails, get rid of junk, reply with holding emails and flag important business correspondence to you, so you never need to worry about missing that little gem in your 382 unread messages!
If you have a business task (or several!) that you simply can’t stand, and you would like to talk to someone about the possibility of hiring your very own virtual PA, contact us today on 0844 561 0700.
Richard Branson recently wrote about how he works best in any location providing he is surrounded by people. That said, he also mentioned that his most regular working place is Necker Island…. Well, I think we would all enjoy work if our office was our own private beach resort!
This got us to thinking about how important your work surroundings are to your inspiration. Our team of virtual PA’s have settled in well to our sparkly new office at Fazeley Studios. Ok the walls are still a little bare – but we are working on that! One of the best things about being here are is the added spaces that we can go to for a short break away from the desk, such as the beautiful Winter Garden, warm and candlelit entrance hall and our Social/cafe which serves up amaaaazing food (and post-work fizz on a Friday)!
Here are a few other inspirational working spaces that we’ve stumbled across; some are weird, some are wacky and some are pure genius!
This is the chill out area at Skype HQ. Now we’re not so sure about those wooden blocks for comfort, but the grass green rugs teamed with the pebble shaped bean bags are an ace idea
Talk about boosting your businesses social responsibility and code of ethics… these guys set up shop in old London tube carriages. Not only were they recycling the old carriages but they were also saving space in our very crowded capital by plonking them on top of an existing building. We love this idea and bet they get a great view of the city from up there.
We’re absolutely loving the ultra pretty indoor garden and picnic benches at Mind Candy’s head office. We think it looks like a truly lovely space to think, create and be inspired.
Google have lounge areas with plasma TVs and a pool table in their London office. I think it would be a great idea to have a brain storming session over a game of pool. The best ideas come when you are relaxed!
Red Bull HQ in London boasts super-cool, modern chill-out areas and a rooftop terrace that overlooks London. Not just that, one meeting room boasts a ping-pong table and another is accessed via a SLIDE! We think this is pure genius, you’d certainly never enter a meeting in a bad mood!
Is your office space inspirational – or do you know of any that are? Let us know by commenting below!
If you’re a client and fancy a tour of our lovely Fazeley Studio offices then do let your Virtual PA know.
As the UK’s leading Virtual PA company, we’re aware that running a business is an infinitely challenging job. Between dealing with enquiries, balancing your books, updating your Twitter and finding good suppliers it’s pretty easy to lose sight of the bigger picture: growing your business successfully.
Many business owners need assistance, but with the cost of employing staff sky-rocketing (particularly for start-ups) they are increasingly outsourcing the help they need. As pioneers of virtual working, we’re only too aware how crucial outsourcing is for running – and growing – a successful business. This is why so many business owners choose to work with our Virtual PAs to save time on day-to-day work.
Naturally, then, when the Guardian’s Small Business Network approached us to partake in a Live Q&A on How to Outsource Work Effectively, we jumped at the chance! (We’ll sing outsourcing’s praises at any given opportunity).
You can read our Head of Virtual Operations, Kirsten Glaze (along with outsourcing experts from People per Hour, National Outsourcing Association and freelancer.co.uk) giving advice on how to outsource effectively here. From delegating work to managing your budget and finding the right person/company to getting your head around the legalities – it’s all covered in this Q&A.
Thanks to the Guardian for inviting us to take part!
Everybody who is anybody now has a smartphone; they’re a business necessity. With a smartphone, there’s not much that you can’t access on the road or when you’re away from your office. Here is our Personal Assistant’s guide to the top 5 apps for business users:
Google Drive (Free)
Google Drive enables you to store and access your files using any device with the internet. You can also access them at the touch of a button with their useful app. Time etc virtual PAs love the fact that we can access a client’s Google Drive, upload a document and they can access it straight away wherever they are (in the car, on the train, on the yacht… you get the idea).
Some of the best ideas in business come when you are least expecting them. ‘Paper’ is like a personal journal. You can sketch, draw or note down your brilliant ideas and store them for later use. You can share the ideas from the app. So you could be on the train drawing a diagram for your presentation tomorrow and then email it straight to your virtual PA who will recreate it in digital form for you.
Create word, excel and powerpoint files from your iPhone or iPad for free! If you suddenly remember when you are in a coffee shop that you forgot to write a really important letter, pop onto CloudOn and you can open new word document. You can write the letter, then upload it to Google Drive. Send your virtual PA a quick message and they can print it and post it for you… marvellous!
Cam Scanner (Free)
We’ve all had a moment when we have needed a scanner but cannot get our hands on one… Not anymore! Cam Scanner uses your device to take a photo of the document. It will then crop it, improve the colour AND convert it into a PDF file. Then you can email the finished document straight from the app. For example, you can send a pdf of your train or parking tickets to your virtual PA who can then add them onto your expenses. You will never get behind on your expenses again!
Time Etc (Free)
We couldn’t write this list without including our very own app now could we? As a client, you can use our app to easily access messages, quickly send tasks to your virtual PA, return client calls with one click and re-direct your mobile at the touch of a button. Our clients LOVE it. For more info on our app and how you can get your hands on it, contact us at email@example.com
If you have an app that is great for business let us know about it by leaving a comment below.
Some people are born to delegate. However, some people find it excruciatingly painful to hand over their precious business tasks, especially to a virtual assistant they haven’t actually met!
You might think that by the time you’ve had a chance to explain a task, you could have done it yourself. We understand this, but with Time etc you only need to tell us once! And remember – we are superheroes. You will be surprised at how much we actually know and, more often than not, one of our PAs will have experience in whatever it is that you need us to do (we have an eclectic range of skills in the office).
For those of you that do struggle to delegate, we’ve compiled a list of examples to get you thinking:
1. Research – Whether it’s researching your competition, your clients, your next holiday destination, your new home, your child’s school options, your latest thesis topic… we have done it all! We like to think of ourselves as experts in Google.
2. Proofreading – It doesn’t have to be something juicy like a novel or a film script – we love a good read! It is crucial to have a second pair of eyes look over business reports. You will be surprised how hopeless spellcheck can be sometimes.
3. Inbox Management – Why spend precious time every day sorting the spam from the gold? A virtual PA can do that for you and even respond with holding emails until you have the time to reply.
4. Social Media – Everyone who is anyone should now be on Twitter, especially in business. Social media profiles help to boost your online presence and maximise potential client reach. If you don’t know a tweet from a like, don’t stress. A virtual assistant can do it for you.
5. Database Management – Keeping client records up to date is vital for smooth business operations. It is time consuming though. Let us help!
6. Researching Reviews – Want to know what people are saying about your business? We can search the Internet to find company reviews, and even contact happy customers to ask them to write one.
7. Jazzing up a presentation – You will be surprised how often we get asked to do this. We like to think we are Powerpoint experts!
8. Birthdays, Christmas, Anniversaries – We can help with researching gifts, finding that special restaurant, sending flowers, organising a party, or even just reminding you when there is a special event approaching (Did you know its Valentine’s day next week?)
9. Post – Bills, junk mail or even fan mail… Get it sent to us and we will sort out the cash from the trash. We can scan, send, store and respond.
10. Online order management – We can take orders, place orders, process orders, complete orders…you get the gist!
11. Screening calls – Fed up of pesky sales calls? A virtual assistant can get rid of them for you and make sure only valued callers get through.
12. Diary Management – Whether you are a jet setting businessperson or a beauty salon in Bognor, we can take calls, make bookings, arrange meetings and ensure your diary is running like clockwork.
13. Customer Satisfaction Surveys- A virtual assistant can contact your clients to find out how happy they are with the work that you have provided.
14. Chasing Payments – Many businesses have debtors but do not have the time to chase them. Our PAs regularly chase our clients’ clients for payments.
15. Expenses – This is one thing that all of our clients loath – we actually quite like it!
16. Dictation – Typing up meeting minutes is time consuming, as is writing a book. Record it all and email it over and a virtual PA will do the hard work for you.
17. Providing Quotes – Give us the details and we will happily provide quotes to potential customers for you either by phone or email.
18. Travel – We have a couple of great contacts who often scout out great deals on trains, planes and automobiles as well as hotels all over the globe.
19. Personal Appointments – Need to book a haircut, doctor’s appointment or badminton court? A virtual assistant can do that for you.
20. Digital archiving – Got too much paperwork stored up? Send it to your Virtual PA who can scan it, store it digitally and shred the original copy for you.
21. Data Entry – If you are doing some statistical analysis a virtual assistant can help with the time-consuming job of inputting data.
22. Mail Shots – Are you thinking of doing a marketing mail shot? Your Virtual PA can do all the envelope-stuffing and letter-sending on your behalf!
23. Virtual Memory – It is true, we all need reminding of things. Some clients give us a list of things that they need reminding of and we are happy to oblige!
24. Answer overflow calls – If you’d like a friendly voice at the end of the phone when you are unable to answer your phone, we’re happy to oblige.
25. Run your business for you - We actually do this for some clients. If you are based overseas, or maybe you work from home and can’t employ an office manager, a virtual PA can keep things going so that you have time to progress your business or work on other projects.
This list is by no means exhaustive! If you want to talk to us about the tasks you have to delegate, simply drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The increase in demand for our virtual personal assistants has also meant an increase in tasks from clients that get the whole office talking. A lot of the tasks we do for our clients can be fun, peculiar and downright strange! Here’s a roundup of some of the weird and wonderful things we’ve been up to lately:
Virtual PA Amy was asked to research a place on Virgin Galactic’s first flight into space. The client was looking for a holiday that was just out of this world!
Virtual PA Rachael was tasked with jazzing up a power point presentation to be presented to Madonna. Our client was pitching to the material girl herself, and gave his Virtual Assistant the small task of improving the presentation…. No pressure then!
Virtual PA Heather spent an afternoon arranging the delivery of 6ft cardboard pigs to a conference centre. It is fair to say that the postman was not amused…
Virtual PA Jodie had to research a top class male stripper for a party. The ladies in the office were happy to help with this strenuous task!
Virtual PA Steph was given the mammoth task of buying a client’s new house. This included initial research and helping to choose a property for the client to purchase and live in and then co-ordinating the entire purchase and move.
Virtual PA Naomi was asked to read a film script and advise the client whether or not it was worth investing in. The client ditched the script on her brave advice.
Virtual PA Faye once booked private dance lessons for a client and his friends so that they could perform at his wedding. We never did find out what the bride’s reaction was!
It’s fair to say we go above and beyond to keep our clients happy. We love a challenge and will take anything on (within reason!). So what weird and wonderful things would you ask us to do…?
If you’re interested in finding out more about our Virtual PA service, please do get in touch.