When our friend and only employee decided to leave our business in 2009, we didn’t know what to do. Once again, we had a staffing problem.
Losing a key staff member creates disruption in any business. My husband Peter, one staff member and myself is not a big team but vital to our revenue.
“How can our business grow unless we have a stable and reliable sales and operation system (or person)? I asked my-self.
“We need a better way of working with less reliance on my family, giving both of us more quality time.”
Contracting someone locally, in Melbourne would cost $20 – $28 per hour. Projecting forward $25 per hour results in $1000 per week, more than we could really afford (at the time).
For 18 months we hired a friend to work 4 hours a day, at $16 per hour, which was cheap, but still stretched our limited finances.
Then the extra costs:
- Sick leave
- Workers compensation
We needed someone who would use our systems manual, follow the sales procedure, organize the parties and corporate events, and respond to customer’s questions using our standard answer sheets. They need to be familiar with the internet, professional when answering the phone and responding to e-mails and able to use SMS can assist our customers. While it sounds simple, it requires focus dedication and above all accuracy.
Creating a position that required “no super”, “no workers compensation”, and then “no annual leave” but still have a full time person seemed like an impossible dream.
We already had an online CRM (Customer Relations Management) in place which handles all of our quotes, invoices, and purchase orders tracking the sales. It also includes client files, booking Calendar, artist/performers. These days it is called a “Cloud CRM”, so I believe we were considered as “technology early adopters”.
Then we decided to search online for a resolution to our problem and found Greymouse. The owners are Marisa and Kelvin who reside on the sunshine coast in Queensland, but have their back office team in Fiji. We approached them with our dilemma, and they helped us create our “impossible dream”.
We recruited Alisi (an employee of Greymouse), whom we really adore as she does such a great job for us. She has really stepped up to the plate and closes sales better than ever (even better than me). Alisi works 40 hours per week (Mon –Fri, 9am-5.30pm) around $500 per week giving us a HUGE saving of 50%.
Initially Alisi required a lot of training in the Balloonaversal business to understand what activities and services we provide.
Face painting, pony rides, balloon twisting for parties and corporate clients, travel times, suppliers, web sites, CRM training went on for some time.
Alisi and I now communicate real-time during the day through Skype. We have created a Procedural Manual to cover all aspects of our business such as, telephone technique, follow-up procedures, pricelists, party/service and sales service etc. Alisi now updates this manual and we share.
Greymouse provides Alisi with the voice support, email, redundant systems allowing her to log into our CRM with me, accessing everything for our business. Website inquiries go straight into the Inquiry in box – live time, which are then responded to almost immediately. Years later, we are still with Greymouse (www.greymouse.com.au) and still remain extremely happy with their services.
As Peter and I look back, we know that we couldn’t have grown further, or increased our sales without an affordable office administration service from them. I know I never wanted a full time desk job, just the service.
We have found Marisa and Kevin a delight to work with; they are coming up with innovative ideas and are quick in implementing what we would like for our business.
An example is Alisi’s ability to communicate with our artist and performers through text messages from her PC in a two-way conversation. This allows appointments, changes to be sent (SMS) almost instantly.
Last week I came up with an idea, to share a Social Media Consultant between us and any other clients that Greymouse has. Marisa has sent me a message that they have started receiving CVs and applications allowing me to assist in the interview and selection process.
When things were a bit tight for us financially during the early part of 2010, Marisa happily put our hours to half time for a few months. (Our really quiet months).
Any questions on how it works for Balloonaversal, or for Pete or myself as business owners just call Alisi and you’ll be transferred through to us. That way you can experience the service for yourself.
Michelle Patterson, Balloonaversal
Phone + 61 (0)3 8669 1303