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Preparing for Employees Going on Annual Leave

9 Ways to Prepare Your Business for Employees Going on Holiday Leave

By | Business Improvement, Call Center Support, Employee Management, Time Management, Virtual Assistant Support | No Comments

Last year’s holiday season retail sales in the US alone topped $161 billion and 43% shoppers supported small businesses on Small Business Saturday. With the holiday season coming up, now is the time to plan out a company strategy to ensure you have backup staff handling essential business activities at all times.

Figures for Holiday Season Retail Sales

You don’t have to dread the holiday season when your employees go on leave, when the company’s manpower is down and productivity seems to nosedive. Simply follow our tips that we’ve practiced and improved upon through trial and error over 8 years of operations and you will be well prepared. You can easily handle holiday leave while maintaining a healthy culture and employer brand.

  1. Use a Workforce Management Software

Using a scheduling and staffing software or even a shared Google calendar can make your life infinitely easier. This way you won’t have clashes in scheduling vacations and can plan accurately in advance for holidays. Most workforce management softwares have additional features like communication, task management, and time reporting. Here is our rundown of some effective softwares:

Deputy

With unlimited users, shift swapping, forecasting and QuickBooks integration, Deputy is a mobile platform that can cut your time spent scheduling considerably. It is perfect for small to medium businesses employing shift workers.

When I Work

Offering templates and shortcuts with its mobile and desktop adaptive platform, When I Work is also integrated with some POS and Payroll systems and has a very intuitive user interface (UI).

Quinyx

It allows you to schedule work keeping in mind employee contracts and working time directives. You can also set up an optimal schedule matching the best employee to the most appropriate task and set up a staffing schedule taking expected sales into account.

TrackSmart

Their online time and attendance management software allows for scheduling based on employee availability and job skills. You can even set up recurring schedules. All these are accessible from all devices 24/7. These smarter schedules will ensure you are never understaffed, even for the holiday season.

  1. Be Transparent

Make sure you communicate your holiday leave policy and vacation policy to your employees as soon as they are hired. Is it first come first served? Are there any vacation blackout periods when no vacation requests would be entertained due to an expected rise in traffic or a special project? Will you be encouraging them to take their vacation in the slower periods? Communicating all this in advance will be fairer and more acceptable to your employees. Make sure any vacations are granted judiciously—with employees fully cognizant of the decision-making criteria—after due deliberation and without any favoritism.

  1.  Set a Deadline

Set a deadline by which employees can request holiday leave. Depending on your needs, this can be anywhere from a few days to several weeks before the staff wants to use leave time. This deadline should be far enough in advance for you to ensure that it does not affect a project’s productivity or deadline and you are not understaffed. Also cap the number of employees of each specialization who can take off at the same time.

  1. Get Pertinent Information

When an employee puts in a leave request, request a report on current projects. Ask them how they plan to meet deadlines before they head out the door. Nicolas Gremion told SmallBizTrends that this process “gives me piece of mind that their absence won’t be problematic and they can leave knowing that they’ve tied up any loose ends.”

Get a detailed breakdown of projects they are currently working on, tasks to be performed, access details for pertinent files and accounts, deadlines for current projects, important contact information, and any other information needed by the employees covering the vacationers’ jobs. Create a checklist of these that each vacationing employee can tally against before leaving.

Project Name Deadline Tasks to be Performed Contact Person Contact Information Access Details
Account Password
Project 1
Project 2
Project 3
  1. Delegate Tasks

Then make sure that someone is covering for the missing employee. Sometimes, that requires handing off tasks and projects to a few different people in the office instead of asking one person to do the work of two. Crosstrain employees in preparation for the upcoming holiday season, ensuring that the backup employee is fully conversant with the appropriate project training manual.

  1. Trade-off

Trade-off between your employees. Some employees may have important commitments at other times of the year that they can take time off for and then work during the holiday season. Allow employees with similar job descriptions to trade off their vacations with each other, one picking up the slack when the other is on leave. Stagger your employee vacations so you always have coverage; allow some to work the morning shift, some the afternoon shift, or schedule one set of employees for the first few days of the week and the other for the rest of the weekdays during the holiday season.

  1. Offer Incentives for Working Employees

Give cash bonuses, extra paid leaves redeemable after the holiday season, and other incentives for those willing to work during the most popular vacation periods. This will ensure that you have a productive skeleton staff even during the heart of the holiday season. It will also boost the morale of those who have to work over the holidays when the other employees are on leave and enjoying themselves.

  1. Hire Temporary Support

In some cases, you can even hire a temporary virtual assistant to pick up the slack in an employee’s absence. Especially in the retail industry, business booms in the holiday season and having employees on holiday leave can cause a stress on operations. Hire a qualified virtual assistant to take care of ecommerce sales, provide administrative and operational support, or even act as a virtual receptionist service during the holidays.

You can even hire a temporary call center operator or a customer service center to handle customer service, field incoming calls, generate leads, and make telemarketing calls to take advantage of the boost in sales in the holiday season.

Having part-time staff as backup all year round is always a sound decision, so they can come in if you have any shortages and during the holiday season when most employees are on leave.

  1. Prep for the Manager’s Leave

What if the manager is the one going on leave? We suggest that you let your employees know far enough in advance so they can prepare. Make the manager’s calendar public so that the staff will know when he or she will be back. Ask the manager to train the second-in-command to pick up the slack. The administrative support staff must also be familiarized with how to handle certain tasks while the manager is out of the office, such as where to direct calls and how to respond to requests. Then, consider having a protocol for an emergency, so employees can determine when to call the manager while he or she is on leave.

With these tactics, you can ensure that handling the holiday season won’t be such a hassle. Let us know down below what some best practices are that you have seen or used for handling employee leave during the holiday season.

Finding New Clients

5 Ways to Find New Clients

By | Become an Affiliate, Business Improvement, Customer Service, Entrepreneurship, Virtual Assistant Support | No Comments

1. Word of Mouth

First, use the technique as old as time. Regardless of new technology, word of mouth is still valuable. According to Yotpo, 74% of consumers say word of mouth as a key influencer in their purchasing decisions. Ask your customers to recommend you to a friend. In fact, try offering them an affiliate partnership so that they get a percentage of the payment as a finder’s fee. (We have an affiliate program…check it out!)

2. Advertising

Second, look into the many, many forms of advertising that are available. Don’t spread yourself too thin…limit yourself to two or three methods of advertising that are most likely to reach your customers. For example, if your customers are young and tech-savvy, put ads online. If they’re older and more traditional, buy ad space in the newspaper or magazines.

3. Networking Events

Third, get face-to-face with potential clients. This will give you the chance to tell a personalized story that reaches an individual on a personal level. While the local chamber of commerce is an obvious choice, there are many other options available for networking. Consider joining an organization like Rotary, Kiwanis, or Optimist. You can also look on Meetup.com to find networking groups in your area.

4. Social Media

Fourth, consider using a social media platform. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and many other networks are an excellent way to have ongoing conversations with potential customers. And it’s not just good for B2C companies, but for B2B as well. Entrepreneur reported that social media lead conversion rates are 13% higher than average lead conversion rates. (Need a social media manager? Hire one of our virtual assistants to do it for you!)

5. Partnerships and Alliances

Finally, consider making an arrangement with another business with the same target audience.  Brad Sugars explains, “They might attach a gift voucher or other discount offer for your products at the end of a newsletter or mailing.” He goes on to say you can build an alliance: “For instance, a Web designer and an ad agency might send each other referrals for clients who need added services.”

What are YOUR ideas for finding new clients? What techniques have worked for you?

Outsource Writing Tasks – Try Outsourcing These Today for Your Business

Outsource Writing Tasks – Try Outsourcing These Today for Your Business

By | Backend Support Services, Remote Support Services, Transcription, Translation | No Comments

Businesses have a lot of writing tasks. Whether it be transcribing the minutes of the meeting or writing website content, there is quite a lot of writing to be done. Managing a business, regardless of how small it is, is already a huge responsibility. Rather than burdening your employees with the writing tasks, you can outsource writing to other companies that specialize in providing backend support services.

Here are some of the tasks that you can easily outsource.

Transcription

Having a department dedicated to transcription may be very costly. However, if you don’t have one and burden your employees with the task, their productivity will get hampered. This is why outsourcing the task is a good idea. By doing so, you only pay for the service when you use it. It also ensures that you are able to get the job done within time constraints. Also, not to mention that transcription is a hard task. If you don’t have an expert for it, the quality of the output will be affected. However, hiring someone with merely this skillset can be expensive. After all, you don’t always have to transcribe, but you have to pay your full-time employees a consistent pay regardless.

You may need multilingual transcription services for a particular project or as your business expands globally. Hiring an in-house worker for the short-term is inefficient and a multilingual virtual assistant will serve well instead.

Translation

When expanding your business to other countries, the language difference may act as a huge obstacle. If you don’t translate your content into different languages, you miss out on potential new clients. To avoid this issue, you can easily outsource your translation services to a company specializing in providing multilingual support services. You might be tempted to use online translators to do this job. We are here to tell you to not do it. Why? Well, let’s just say that they are not accurate with their translation. If you don’t believe us, translate a paragraph from your mother tongue to another language. Now, translate it back to your mother tongue. The paragraph you will get will be starkly different from the original one.

Website Content Writing

The content of your website is very important. However, it is not just about what the content is but how it is phrased. While you might be an expert in your field, this doesn’t mean that you can relay your thoughts eloquently. Therefore, you might want to outsource writing tasks like your website content writing. Additionally, to ensure that potential customers read the content, you first need to get them to the site. Here, SEO optimization plays a huge role. The chances are you don’t know about the best SEO practices, but there are various companies that do. Outsource the task to them.

Blog Writing

Most businesses now have their own blogs. The purpose of these blogs is to educate customers and establish yourself as an expert in your field, directing organic traffic to your website. As bloggers would tell you, being consistently active on blogs is essential to retaining readers. Since content writing is a tedious and time-consuming process, it is best when outsourced. This guarantees that your readers are satisfied, and you don’t have to worry about pushing weekly quality content.

Consider hiring a qualified backend support provider to take care of these writing tasks so you can focus on transforming and growing your business.

References

http://www.milner.com/company/blog/technology/2013/10/25/the-5-benefits-of-outsourced-transcription-services

https://www.outsource2india.com/translation/articles/outsourcing-translation-services-to-india.asp

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/siva-yenneti/why-outsource-your-websit_b_7310328.html

https://www.blogmutt.com/blog/how-to-outsource-blog-writing-for-businesseshttps://www.contentfac.com/8-signs-outsource-blog-content-writing/

Real Estate Virtual Assistant: Do You Need One?

Real Estate Virtual Assistant: Do You Need One?

By | Business Improvement, Entrepreneurship, Real Estate Virtual Assistant, Remote Support Services, Virtual Assistant Support | No Comments

Real estate is a demanding industry. This makes it extremely valuable for realtors like you to stay ahead of the curve. It also explains why running a real estate practice or agency is time-consuming. The introduction of new technologies that support virtual assistants has made it easier for realtors to focus their efforts on enhancing the core competencies that come with running a real estate agency. Support services ancillary to core business activities such as paperwork have been delegated to real estate virtual assistants. These assistants provide the tools needed to fuel your success, whether you are a solo agent or own your own real estate or brokerage firm. The following are some reasons to consider the services of a virtual assistant:

Cost-Effective

Real estate agents live a fast-paced, busy life. They spend many hours going through emails and phone messages. They then need to organize the day’s events and transactions. You could avoid all this by getting an assistant. This will help but it is not a cost-efficient solution. Get yourself a real estate virtual assistant who will handle all these tasks at a cheaper price than what you would spend to maintain an in-house employee. You also save on expenses such as getting insurance and pension plans for in-house assistants.

Increase the Level of Productivity

A real estate virtual assistant’s primary function is to handle your day-to-day schedule and organize your emails and messages. When you hire an in-house assistant you will have to give them vacation days or sick leave. Rather than lose all this valuable time and resources, get yourself a virtual assistant who is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Increase Sales Conversion

When it comes to the real estate industry, lead generation is as important as making a sale. When you get yourself an experienced real estate virtual assistant, they can help you make calls and follow-ups with prospective clients through both online and traditional methods.

Omnichannel Support

All client engagement touchpoints you require—inbound and outbound calls, email, live chat, mobile SMS/text, and social media—will be covered by the real estate virtual assistant to improve the client experience and ensure there are no missed opportunities. A virtual assistant can cover your busy hours or take up the slack of your office staff. A remote workforce also allows you to choose from a much larger, more talented pool of applicants than candidates available for in-house work.

Multilingual Support

Firms and agents in the real estate industry face language barriers in dealing with tenants, owners, vendors, and clients. Get an edge over competitors by hiring a multilingual virtual assistant as the need arises and communicate with your client base and vendors in their native languages. The virtual assistant can also provide administrative and backend support for those particular projects.

These reasons clearly highlight why you should get yourself a real estate virtual assistant…click here to hire yours today!

Remote Workers versus On-Site Workers: Which Does Your Business Need?

Remote Workers versus On-Site Workers: Which Does Your Business Need?

By | Business Improvement, Remote Support Services | No Comments

The remote working revolution has arrived. With technology (like smartphones, cloud collaboration and video conferencing) becoming more widespread, remote working jobs are becoming more common. The idea of being able to work from anywhere you want offers great work-life balance. Some prefer to enjoy the daily grind of office life. Some prefer working from the comfort of their own homes. There are scientific arguments for both. In this article, we will go toe-to-toe and find which one is better for your business.

Working from home has increased in popularity by 115 percent since 2005 with 3.9 million Americans now working at home at least half the time. This growth has been seen due to large businesses hiring remote workers including Amazon, Dell, Cigna, Salesforce, Philips, Nielsen and many others. Not only large but also small businesses are looking for professionals for one-off jobs instead of hiring a full-time employee.

Improved Employee Retention

A Stanford study showed that when call center workers worked remotely, they outperformed their on-site peers. The reason behind it was they took less sick leaves and shorter breaks. They were also found to be more satisfied with the job and tend to quit less often. Moreover, Remote working also helps retain working parents with childcare responsibilities.

Access to Large Pool of Applicants

Businesses can also benefit from remote jobs if they are located in high-cost living area. With remote jobs, they can have access to more skillful people at less pay as compare to hire on-site workers.

Possible Gains in Productivity

Is working from home more productive than working in an office? The productivity of remote working has been a lot in the debates. One such popular cited study is from 2014, where the co-founders of Chinese travel website CTrip let some of their employees to work remotely on daily basis, and compare their productivity to their on-site peers. Keeping other factors same, remote workers made 13.5 percent more calls than their office workers.

Financial Benefits

Your business can save huge money on utilities and real estate. Because if you hire remote workers, you need fewer on-site workers which mean you need a smaller space. When a business moves to a more flexible working scenario, they are more likely to put things in the cloud. This is not only good from an environmental standpoint but also from utilities and extra costs (such as paper, trash, recycling) which seems smaller but certainly adds up. Companies can save millions of dollars in real estate when they hire remote workers instead of on-site workers.

What’s Right for Your Business?

Fortunately, today’s remote working capabilities are more sophisticated than doing conversations over the phone. Being accessible to chat, email, video conferences, cloud collaboration software, and a plethora of other technologies has made it all possible for almost any on-site job to be done remotely. Working remotely is a latest growing trend that you can see with the changing workplaces and more jobs being tied to computers.