Author Archives: Samantha Clooney
Welcome to the latest outsourcing blog. In this week’s blog we are looking at the advantages of outsourcing. Overall we can see the advantages are, saving time and money. We will break them down using the following headings.
Advantages of Outsourcing
Focus on Core activities: In periods of growth and decline the company will have the resources available to continue to exceed your customer’s expectations of excellent service.
Cost and Efficiency savings: By outsourcing you have greater control over your spending; you will not have any costs for the service when you are not using the service.
Reduced overheads: The business is not liable for the cost of providing an office environment or the costs of training and development of the personnel to run the office.
Operational Control: A company’s marketing department may not have the staff to complete the operational targets and therefore require some projects to be outsourced.
Staffing flexibility: Outsourcing will allow businesses a lot more flexibility in that they will only pay for the times when the service is used, therefore they have the advantage of having extra staff without the need to go through the hassle of an interview process.
Continuity: If any members of staff become ill for a period of time or leave the business for any reason, outsourcing is a way of plugging the gap.
Internal development: By having your own staff working beside an outsourcing company, the company’s employee’s can develop a new skill set for future use, or can be seconded to another department to help through any particular project the company is involved with.
As we can see from the above there are many advantages to outsourcing, We at The Virtual Office are only too happy to help with your outsourcing needs.
Outsourcing for Growth
As we wrote recently, outsourcing is defined as any task, operation or process that could be performed by you or your employee’s within your business, but is contracted to a third party.
Many business owners find their business is growing or they are trying to spend more time on marketing but find the length of time to complete each task is taking up even more valuable hours on a never ending to do list! This can be very stressful, especially when everyone is looking for more of your time whether its suppliers or customers, and as a result certain aspects of your business begin to suffer, and, of course these harsh economic conditions are placing further financial constraints on businesses which mean it’s not feasible for a business owner to take on staff.
Outsourcing your administration takes off some of the pressure, giving you the freedom to spend more time working on your business rather than just in it
What tasks to outsource? Taking the decision to outsource some of your administrative tasks won’t be something you do lightly. It’s quite daunting when you find yourself having to let go of some tasks and relinquish them from your hands-on control. A manageable way to embark upon an outsourcing relationship is to start by delegating individual tasks or projects.
At the beginning each party needs to learn how to work together, how to communicate efficiently and effectively in order to get the best from each other. As you each start to see the results, you’ll get a feel for competencies and/or weaknesses and adapt accordingly. As trust grows it’s very likely you’ll feel much more comfortable handing tasks over.
The tasks to outsource are the tasks that are not profitable but take up a great deal of time such as credit control, telephone answering and other administrative tasks.
Outsourcing was once seen as a strategic tool to gain a competitive advantage over your competitors. It is now being used as a way of increasing a business’ survival during what is now seen as one of the worst period of our economic history.
Outsourcing is defined as any task, operation, job or process that could be performed by employees within your company, but contracted to an external third party.
The continuing downturn in the economy has seen the number of customers looking for goods and services dwindle, thus creating an ever increasing competitiveness amongst businesses.
As business conditions decline the same numbers of employees are no longer required, and business owners are faced with the situation that they now need to cut costs and cannot afford to keep the same staffing levels, however, there are still responsibilities that need to be carried out to keep the business moving forward.
In the above situation there is only one conclusion and that is to take the hard decision, and reduce staffing levels to ensure the business survival through this downturn but in doing so it ensures the ongoing business is now in a much better situation for when the economy turns around, and staffing levels can return to normal.
For your outsourcing requirements to ensure your business survival through this difficult time why not contact The Virtual Office, to see how we can help you to cut costs.
Next week we will be looking at outsourcing for growth.
Eventually, every leader will need to apologize for a mistake.
Admit the mistake.
Fessing up expedites the recovery process. While it’s tempting to shirk responsibility or slink away, it only makes matters worse.
Try to laugh at yourself.
If it’s appropriate, go ahead. Joking around gives others permission to do the same. After all, nobody wants leaders who take themselves
Reframe the discussion.
People will want to talk about the mistake forever. Give the blunder its due, but refocus the conversation on what matters most: moving forward.
Stress is unavoidable, but it doesn’t have to be damaging. When managed correctly, strain can positively impact productivity and performance. Here are three things you can do to make stress work for you:
Recognize worry for what it is. Stress is a feeling, not a sign of dysfunction. When you start to worry, realize it’s an indication that you care about something, not a cause for panic.
Focus on what you can control. Too many people feel bad about things they simply can’t change. Remember what you can affect and what you can’t.
Create a supportive network. Knowing you have somebody to turn to can help a lot. Build relationships so that you have people to rely on in times of stress.
Some people say “fake it ‘til you make it,” but I think that cliché has an unnecessary air of falseness about it. Still, if you are starting up or running a small business, making your company look bigger and more established to the outside world can have dramatic results.
Whilst we’re not suggesting you misrepresent yourself or your company, or you behave like a big, impersonal corporation. What we are saying is that image does matter, and you should cast your business in the best possible light.
Dressing up your small business sends a message of seriousness and credibility to customers, suppliers, and anyone else who interacts with your business. It also affects your own attitude; much like wearing nice clothes makes you stand a little taller. With so many cheap and easy tools available for the purpose, there’s no excuse for not making your business look like a business, even if the company is just you and a laptop. Start here:
1. If you work from home, lose the bunny slippers. If you’ve chosen to work out of your house, then create an impenetrable “work bubble.” That means a dedicated, quiet, professional, well-equipped and wired space that you, and anyone else in the house, treat no differently than an office across town. No exceptions. Get dressed up for work in the morning, even though you don’t have to. It affects your behaviour, not to mention it avoids embarrassing surprise Skype Calls!
2. Your phone sets a tone. I can’t tell you how many times someone has called me, representing a business, and I’ve heard kids or pets or TV in the background. Or I’ve called a “business” number and listened to an answering message saying “you’ve reached the Smith family and Smith Industries, Incorporated…” Get a good phone on a dedicated line, and clear, professional voice mail, and record a professional-sounding message. If it starts with “hi there!” it’s wrong.
3. Look good on paper. There is no excuse for inkjet-printed business cards or Microsoft WordArt logos. Proper cards and other printed materials are cheap and easy to get in small quantities from Printers. Hire a proper designer and printer to do your stationery for you.
4. Be the master of your domain. A good starter website is inexpensive and easy to build. It may not be the sophisticated enterprise-level site you will inevitably want or need, but a beautifully-designed company info or “brochure” site is better than cheap, shoddy looking anything else. It is probably the first point of entry for people doing business with you, and the best way to convey the image you want.
5. Don’t be a Yahoo. Few things stand out as credibility question marks more than a generic/free email account. Business people are always sceptical when they get a business email ending in yahoo.com, gmail.com, or hotmail.com. As part of your website project, set up proper mailboxes with the same domain name and don’t just use your first name, if your business is not well known. Use first name/last initial or first initial/last name. It immediately sounds more substantial.
6. Outsource to a company that can provide a professional image. Some businesses are ideally suited to be run from home, and lets face it, in this economic climate it certainly helps with cutting costs, however, there does come a time when your business will need to have an extra pair of hands to help get the work done, but what happens when your home office isn’t designed to accommodate more then you?
If you can’t move into an office or if you can’t justify the cost just yet, consider using a virtual office. These remote offices can help companies to look quite substantial to the outside world and building the most impressive image you can from the start is a key step in getting business visibility, being taken seriously, and getting people to want to do business with you.
Two years ago, I went to a trade show at the NEC in Birmingham. A friend kindly gave me her apartment to stay in, along with the use of her car. She was gone on holidays so it suited her to do so. Whilst at the trade show we were given some very good presentations on various aspects of business and proper customer service etiquette which was all very compelling and inspiring stuff.
But as good as these presentations were, they didn’t show me anything different about customer services, that I really didn’t know already.
I learned about excellent customer service from a set of car keys. And a lady called Sarah.
Minutes before I was due to fly home, I realised that I had my friend’s car keys in my handbag. I had to get on the plane – it was the last one flying to Ireland that day, I panicked I couldn’t leave my friend without the use of her car! I raced frantically through my options and spotted an airport information booth. I ran up to it and through gasps of breath explained to the woman behind the glass that I needed to find somewhere safe to leave my friend’s keys and still make my plane.
“Here,” she said, immediately extending her hand. “Give them to me. Here’s my name, and mobile phone number. Call your friend and explain where the keys are.”
I was floored.
It’s the easiest and the quickest way” she replied, “all it needs is someone to take responsibility for the problem.”
That was it! All it needed was someone to take responsibility for the problem! That’s all you need for great customer service. Not a huge presentation or a huge viral video. Just the willingness of a lady, who was Employee of the Century as far as I was concerned. It’s a lesson that all business owners and their staff can benefit from. When my plane arrived in Dublin, I immediately rang Inter Flora to arrange for a bouquet of flowers to be sent to my lifeline.
Believe it or not, 80% of companies think they have good service, but only 8% of their customers agree (this is according to a survey prepared by Business Management Ltd.).
When a customer comes to you, they have a problem they need you to solve. You can decide to take ownership of the next problem that lands in your lap, whether it’s from a client, a colleague, or just a frazzled, crazy lady.
It may not revolutionize your business. But at the very least, it might inspire a grateful stranger to send you flowers.
To see if we can help you to increase your customer service level to your clients why not contact The Virtual Office on 051 351286 or email us at email@example.com
When you’re running a business, holidays are often the last thing on your mind. ‘Who’ll run my business while I’m gone?’ you ask yourself. ‘What if I miss a big work opportunity while I’m gone? And with all the work I’ll have to do before and after, is it really worth it?’
The answer is, yes, it is worth it. When you’re working hard on your business, we often don’t realise how stressed and tired we are. Our bodies need a break and so do our minds. Going away gives you a chance to relax and because you’re somewhere new, your mind is stimulated. That’s why you come back to the office recharged.
Business owners often worry that their customers won’t get the same level of service while they’re gone, or that the staff won’t run the business to the same standard. You need to let those concerns go. If your staff have been working with you for a long time and you trust them, you can trust them. And as long as they’re looking after your customers, your customers will be happy.
Preparation is the key to a stress-free holiday.
Choose your dates carefully. Pick a time when your business is naturally quiet. Let your clients know when you’re going before hand, rather than relying on an Out of Office Reply. Don’t create a mound of work for yourself before you go. Spread out tasks so you’re not too burnt out to enjoy your holiday. And if the work is too much for you, consider outsourcing it to a service provider with the right mix of skills for you.
Most important of all, pick a trusted person to help you prepare for your holiday and look after the business while you’re gone. This could be a staff member, a family member or an outsourced partner. Brief them on what you need them to do and above all, trust that they will do it for you.
With these steps in place, you can go on holidays knowing that your business will run smoothly. And you’ll come back ready to pounce on any opportunities that arise. Enjoy your holidays! Talk to us today about booking your business holiday cover with us, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Picture the scene. Your desk is covered with so much stuff you can no longer see it. Papers are piled on top of papers. You ring your phone and it’s buried under the mound of papers. A trail of coffee cups litters the office. And you wonder why you’re feeling snowed under?
Clutter clogs up the wheels of your business. If you can’t find things when you need them, you can’t run your business efficiently. You spend your days distracted, scrabbling around for things you need, instead of driving your business forward.
Why are our desks so cluttered? Often, it’s because we can’t decide what to do with the things we have. We cling to them for longer than we need to, ‘just in case.’ Or we can’t decide where things should go, so we just let them sit there. Then there are the things we just don’t want to deal with!
If you want to beat clutter, you have to be ruthless. Do a total clear out of your desk, shelves and work station. Divide the items into three piles, things to keep, things to store and things to throw away.
Arrange for the throwaway pile to be recycled, trashed or donated to charity. Designate a storage spot for the things to store pile. Create a filing system for the things you want to keep and organise them in filing cabinets, cupboards and shelves.
You should be left with only the things that you use regularly. Organise these things on your desk by like items. For example, stationery can go in one drawer, telephone directories in another. Keeping these items separate means you can lay your hands on them easily.
How do you decide what to keep? Look around your office. Ask yourself, ‘Do I really need that document, that thumbtack, that dying plant?” Keep things that lift your mood, that make you smile, that inspire you.
If you take control of your office chaos, there’ll be nothing to keep you from fulfilling your dreams. For an uncluttered office and an uncluttered business, contact The Virtual office email@example.com
Do you wish that you had more hours in your day? Does your to-do list keep getting bigger instead of smaller? Is your desk covered in clutter? Are you working longer hours, yet still not getting enough done?
It’s easy to feel that time is running away on us. When that happens, we can feel stressed. We talk about our heads being fried, or about to explode. And in the end, our work and family life suffers.
Why do we find it so difficult to manage our time? A lot of the time, we take too much on. We find it hard to say no when people ask us to do something and we don’t delegate jobs to our staff and colleagues. We allow ourselves to be distracted by things happening around us. And when we have a difficult job to do, it’s easy to put it off, which makes it even harder to start.
When it comes to managing your time, attitude is everything. Better time management starts with a decision to make a change. It’s a kind of mind makeover. And it starts with a bit of tough talking, admitting to yourself that your habits are causing you to waste time and need to be changed. And that it’s time for the excuses to stop.
Next, you need to think about what changes you can make to take your business to the next level. It’ll mean leaving your comfort zone, but if you can embrace those changes, you’ll really feel the benefits. Here are some examples of a few simple changes that have worked for us.
Write it down. Write a list of all the jobs you will need to do, in the short, medium and long term. Once you have a handle on what’s ahead of you, your mind will feel clearer.
Prioritise. Go through your list and decide which tasks are most urgent and important. Set yourself a date for when it will be achieved, whether it’s today, this week, this month or even this year. And keep your eye on those goals. If anyone distracts you from them, learn to say a polite no.
Be realistic. Arrange your schedule in a way that fits your business and lifestyle. Recognise that it won’t be possible to get everything done and resist the temptation to cram your timetable. That way, if unexpected challenges crop up, you’ll have the flexibility to deal with them.
Limit Distractions. Keep concentrating on what you need to do and learn to shut out excess noise. Resist the urge to keep checking emails and Facebook and answer the phone. Handle email, social media and phone calls in batches.
Delegate. It’s tempting to think you can do things faster yourself. But a few extra minutes spent explaining a job to a member of staff will save you hours in the long run. You can give them the routine jobs, while you get on with the major tasks.
The Virtual Office can save you time. Find out how by calling 051 351286.