A growing family business
Chris and Jane Cox started their business ‘Taps & Tubs’ three years ago. With a young family to support, they decided to start their own business so they could have the flexibility of choosing their own working hours, to give them the right work life balance around their growing family.
Chris had trained as a plumber and also learnt a lot about bathroom installation and tiling over the years. So he had all the skills to offer a range of services to his potential customers, from plumbing emergencies, maintenance, to a fully fitted bathroom.
Jane had previously been an office manager for a small business, she had all the skills to be able to run the office and carry out all the admin tasks. She supports Chris in the office by taking the customer calls and enquiries, scheduling appointments, sending out brochures, dealing with invoices and other general admin tasks. Jane also undertakes the marketing for the business, looking at print media in local magazines and newspapers. She also manages the business social media accounts.
As the business has grown, Chris has taken on some staff and an apprentice from the local college. Jane became busier in the office, although she works part-time hours around the children going to school, she has started to work longer days to stay on top of all the admin. As they run their business from their home, she does not want to hire any office staff as that would mean they would need a bigger office. They don’t want to increase their overheads by taking on some office space, so she is trying to do it all herself.
It’s Monday at 8.45am…
Having done the school run, Jane found the way to her office. Looking though the to-do list she wrote out on Friday afternoon, she has a full day of work ahead. To start with, she had two new quotes to get finished this morning. She has last weeks’ invoices to process; several email enquiries to respond to, and the stock ordering to be done. Oh, and she must remember to sort out this week’s social media posts today, as she was supposed to get that done last week.
By lunchtime, Jane has only managed to get one of the quotes finished, as she has had three phone calls, two were enquiries and one about a maintenance call out for next week. After checking the engineer availability next week, she had managed to find a suitable date for the client. Then she sourced the product brochures and sent them off to the other two enquiries. But she still needs to get those quotes finished.
At 2pm, two new client quote requests came into her email inbox from Chris who had been out to some sales enquires that morning. That was something she could add to tomorrow’s to-do list. She still has the one quote to finish today, and she has not even started on this week’s social media posts.
Jane just managed to get the preparations for the second quote sorted by 3pm, when she had to leave for the school run. But that was all she had ticked off today’s to do list. The phone seems to have been ringing non-stop today, with enquiries about their new bathroom product range.
Feeling rather frustrated that she would be playing catch up tomorrow, Jane decided she would pop back into the office that evening once the children had gone to bed at 7pm. As it was out of business hours, she was not interrupted. She managed to sort through her inbox, cross several more items off of her to-do list and finish that second quote. Realising it was now 10pm, Jane closed the office door behind her to have some time to relax before bed.
Jane was pleased she spent those couple of hours in the evening getting through her to-do list, but was disappointed she did not have much time with Chris that evening. When they first started their own business, they had a lot more free time together.
She was sitting at her desk looking at her to-do list, right… two quotes to do this morning and to make a start on that social media that should have been done yesterday. Then the phone rings, it’s a supplier chasing an invoice – the invoice was still on Jane’s the to-do list! So Jane spent the morning checking for any invoices that needed processing that day, as she prided herself on keeping on top of the payments. Being a small business, she understood how important it was to pay suppliers on time.
At 1pm, Jane looks at her to-do list, reading it from top to bottom and realises she is only half way through today’s tasks. After getting some of the social media ideas down and replying to several emails, it was 3pm again. She decided to leave the rest for tomorrow, as she had worked late the night before.
After checking the stock list that Chris had given her, Jane spent the morning contacting their suppliers to order the parts and products that they needed for the following week’s jobs. She had to make sure she got the orders in by midday on a Wednesday to guarantee she had the stock in for Chris to carry out the work.
She checked the company emails and found there were lots of new enquires, some asking some straightforward questions, but they took some time to reply to. Then she had a phone call from the local magazine they advertise in, they had not received the artwork they needed for the next month’s publication. Jane remembered that she had started it on Friday, but that emergency call had come in from a client and she had not had time to finish it. She apologised and promised to have it to them by 3pm that day.
Jane was starting to feel rather frustrated, when she realised it was nearly 3pm and she was still only half way through her to-do list for that day. Surely there was an easier way for her to prioritise her work. She had always had a good system to keep on to of all the admin. But with the increased amount of enquiries, she found she was spending a lot of time giving the same information out to several enquiries each day. As she always put the customer first, she was getting behind on the other daily tasks which help keep the business ticking over in the background.
Jane was on the school run that day and her friend Sam politely said that she looked worn out. Jane told her how well the business was doing, but that also meant more admin for her to do. Sam mentioned that she had hired a VA to help her with her admin, so Sam suggested it might be something to think about.
Thursday was always a busy day, when Jane would be processing all the work that had been carried out that week. Creating invoices for the customer, to be sent out on the Friday. Prepping the following weeks social media – oh no, Jane had not finished this weeks! She quickly created some posts to promote the new bathroom tiles that Chris had recently included in their product range. Then she found a few testimonials to use. She decided that would do, as that was all she had time for.
At 1pm, Jane looks at her to-do list, reading it from top to bottom and realising how much she had to do. She was checking through her emails, when one came in from Sam. She had thoughtfully forwarded an introduction email to both Jane and her VA.
After getting through the most important parts of her to-do list in the morning, Jane made time to contact the VA Sam had recommended. She managed to book a discovery call with her for the following week.
The next week …
Jane had her discovery call with the VA. She had taken the time to chat with Jane and find out more about her business, what she did and what her pain points were.
Jane was surprised at all the knowledge that she had, and she also found out that she was part of a team of VA’s, so there was always back up when needed. The VA had made lots of notes from their discover call, and put together a proposal for Jane outlining where a VA could support her.
On receiving the proposal from the VA a couple of days later, she was surprised with the amount of tasks she could be supported on. She was so pleased, that she agreed to the proposal and asked how quickly she could get the support.
A week later
It’s 8:45am and Jane has just got into the office. She looks at her to-do list, three new quotes to get out this morning. Jane gets them all done by lunchtime, and she even got all the invoices processed by 3pm in time for the school run.
Jane had decided to delegate out the social media content, so now she gives her VA an update on the upcoming news and products for the business and her VA creates the content for her. Her VA manages her social media accounts and schedules the posts over the month for her.
Her VA also helps to support on her email management, by checking through her inbox each morning and filtering out the general enquiries. She then sends out their standard information pack out which contains all their product information and FAQs. This leaves Jane with less emails to go through each day.
She also found out that the VA team offer a call answering service. Her VA had helped her to prepare some FAQ’s and pdf files to hand over to them. Now when she is busy, she diverts her phone to her call answering service, which then filters her calls for her. They answer the FAQ’s on her behalf and sends any information requests on to her VA to complete. They also take details of any new customer enquiry and forward the details on to Jane, who then can deal with them each afternoon when she has got through her daily tasks.
“I never knew how easy it was to have some extra support where you needed it. Having found out about First Rate PA from a friend, I now know I can delegate from my to-do list and have the time to focus on the tasks only I can do. It is so simple too, as you only pay for the time you have the support, so there is much less paperwork than taking on an additional member of staff when you don’t really have enough hours to give them.”