This past Spring, we received a call from a stressed-out insurance salesman in New Jersey. His business depends heavily on local travel and his deals close at either his clients’ homes or offices, or from his car. This does not bode well for a relationship with an assistant, considering he’s not overly organized, comfortable with technology and drowns in administrative tasks before noon each day. David turned to us for assistance probably several months after he should have, as by the time he got to us, the phone call went a bit like this (I felt like a 911 Operator):
“Help! I’m on The Island at 9am, heading to Piscataway by 1:30 and need to be on the Lower East Side at 4. I have notes (handwritten notes!) from all three clients, follow up that needs to be done, contracts that need to be customized and sent, data that needs to be logged. I spend all day fighting traffic, none of my administrative works gets accomplished and I’m losing clients because I’m so disorganized. I get home at 8pm, after being on the road all day, and can’t possibly handle two hours of paperwork each evening. My wife is about to wring my neck since I’m working at home from 9pm till midnight. I hate the computer anyway. What can you do for me?”
I don’t think he even took a breath during that entire speech. Disorganized, long-winded and exasperated? Great. Our bread and butter.
Within a month, here are 7 ways we saved David (and his marriage):
- Most important: The Ability to Dump: We established a free local NJ phone number for David to call which can receive voice messages of unlimited length. Every time he leaves a client meeting, he now calls that number from his car (while on his way to the next appointment) and does what we call a “verbal dump” into the voicemail. This includes a description of his new client, contact information, the client’s needs, the contract specifics that need to be sent, the follow up and correspondence to be performed. He types nothing, writes nothing and sends nothing. His Virtual Assistant retrieves those messages twice daily and performs every piece of follow-up digitally and diligently. No more late-night admin work for David.
- Documenting Business Process: David had not given much thought to exactly what pieces needed to be filled out, filed, requested and managed to onboard a new client, since it was a family business he had inherited from his father, and it had grown organically without much technology involved. His Virtual Assistant spent a great deal of time with him via phone that first month (he is in the car for hours at a time, and loves to talk) interviewing him about what steps are required and in which order, to onboard a new client. She then documented each of these steps so that nothing is left to chance – they both now have several documents detailing the process, who is responsible for what, all subcontractors and vendor information, what the next step is and every detail of the protocol. No more disorganization.
- Digital Filing System: After learning intensively about David’s process, his VA created a digital filing system for them to share. Although he doesn’t often access it, he certainly can, and every template and contract is now available day and night to both of them.
- Alternate Resource for the Clients: He is no longer a one-man-show. His VA set up her own email address at his domain, added a line both to his digital signature and hers with her American phone number, and when it came time to order David new business cards, his VA added her information there as well. Now, clients can call her!
- On-Hold: David’s Virtual Assistant realized quickly that he was also spending a lot of head space taking care of personal errands – calling Verizon, sitting on hold with the cable company, requesting copies of medical records for his kids’ camps. She championed these responsibilities as well and now acts as his Personal Assistant, managing his honey-do list.
- CRM Since there was no system in place to manage business development efforts (not even an Excel spreadsheet) we researched, selected, deployed and now manage a low-cost, web-based CRM solution for David. Every client contact gets logged, every phone call and every visit, next steps, reminders for future reach-outs. All David does is speak into the no-limit voicemail, and the CRM is continuously updated oh his behalf.
- A Daily Call at 4:30pm EST – Our general practice is to send a Sunday Summary each week, detailing what has been accomplished that week and how much time it has taken. David, however, does not want to read yet another email, so that strategy does not work for him. Instead, since he’s phone-based and spends so much time in the car, his VA simply calls him every day at 4:30pm, when his day is supposed to be winding down, and quickly gives him the skinny. She lets him know what has been accomplished that day, and then ‘coaches him’ (his wife’s words, not ours) on finishing up and getting home within the hour, since she has already taken care of all the administration for him.
David has more mental freedom, more time and more patience for the things that really matter. Doesn’t everybody want that?
Submission by Alyssa