I increased my efficiency by hiring a Virtual Assistant

By
Contractor with Floor Coverings International Westchester NY & Stamford CT WC19920-H07 HIC619252

Yes, it's true, and it was one of the smartest business decisions I ever made!

virtual assistantTwo and half years ago, I started to get really busy, and I couldn't keep up with all the phone calls.  Many of them would happen while I was in appointments with customers (and I didn't want to answer then), and I would find my voicemail would constantly fill up.  Then, if it was full, I was always in this dilemma...should I answer (and interupt the person I was with) or let it go. If it was a private number, I wouldn't even be able to call them back.

The other issue I had is that I used to have many paid leads (coming from places like Service Magic), which required calling someone right away - within 5 minutes.  (although calling within 60 seconds was much better).  I couldn't be present everywhere, and I found this frustrating and stressful.

So, I was contemplating hiring an answering service.  I had one previously, but at the time, it just didn't seem worth it as I wasn't getting enough calls to justify the cost. But, now things had changed and I really needed help.  And, I needed more than what a typical answering service could provide...I needed someone to answer the phones + call the leads + set up appointments.

So, what did I do?

hardwood flooring kitchen with border westchester NYI took a risk and hired a Virtual Assistant!  I figured I would try it for 2-3 months and see how it worked.  I did the math to figure out how much extra business I needed to justify the cost and it meant a bit less than one incremental appointment per week, and this to me felt very achievable, so I gave it a shot..

The person I hired was actually someone I knew who had the right sort of phone voice, professionalism and can do attitude.  She's a mom who had some extra time and wanted to do a bit of extra work, but she would not be available to be in the office (given her kids).  And that was fine.  At the time, we guestimated that the time spent on the phone would be 5-8 hrs per week altogether.  The calls would come at all different times, so it was spread out, and this seemed to work.  We got her a cell phone (we split the costs because she needed a cell phone so it saved us both money) and this allowed her to answer the calls wherever she was (without spending time and gas coming to the office) and it allowed me to have someone being available for the majority of the week.

We forwarded the office # to her cell.  (We can do this online since I use optimum online and I can even swith it to my cell during holidays).

Well, this worked smashingly well.  Within a week, she was already booking more appointments for me...and she was freeing up my time, so I could be more focused on closing sales and focusing on the customers.  It was amazing and worked out much better than I imagined.  We booked an incremental 2 appointments a week - more than double the goal + my close rate improved +20%.  It was a true win win.

As I started to close more sales, I then had more work that was needed and more money that I could pay an assistant.  (Previously, that money had not existed).  So, we later moved her extra hours to 10 per week, then 15, then 20...and now it's around 40 hours a week

It has really been a virtuous relationship.  My customers love her and she does an amazing job.  I've been able to delegate more and more work to her which has been excellent.  As we go along, I train her more and more...and vice versa (she gives me plenty of advice, too).  She is now great at sizing up the customer - understanding what they need, where they are in the decision making process, what they're looking for.  She now helps set me up for success with the appointments and this has really helped.

I'm so glad I took this risk.  And, now, looking back, it doesn't feel like it was really a risk at all. 

This is a submission for the March contest: Eliminating Inefficiencies In Real Estate - A Contest. You can enter, too.

Posted by

The Flooring Girl logo

 

Debbie Gartner - Westchester Hardwood Flooring

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Debbie Gartner, "The Flooring Girl" and owner of Floor Coverings International Westchester NY

 

Angie's List Super Service Award winners for 4 years in a row.

 

You can download our free flooring guide.  Or, visit our flooring selector - 2,000 options.  We install hardwood flooring, carpet and runners, tile floors and backsplashes.  We also refinish hardwood floors.

 

Call us for a free estimate 914-937-2950.

"We bring the store to your door."

If you enjoyed what you are are reading, feel free to subscribe to blog to my blog.

WC19920-H07, HIC619252

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Re-Bloggged 2 times:

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  1. Grant Schneider 03/02/2012 05:28 PM
  2. David Farrell 03/02/2012 05:41 PM
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Rainmaker
862,908
Jane Peters
Connecting you to the L.A. real estate scene
Power Brokers Int'l

That is great news, Debbie.  I wish I had enough business to afford one.  While I am away I have someone handling things and love it.  But I can't do it full time :)

March 04, 2012 06:42 AM
Rainer
37,356
Angie Nwanodi
The ACG Group, Realtors®|Standard, Short, HUD, REO
Evergreen Realty & Associates, Inc.

Congrats on your feature!  I've looked into it and just hired my first, but for a temporary project.  I believe I will have one that is more permanent as you've described by May 1.  Thanks for sharing your experience.  I've interviewed several companies and most of them have staff based overseas. Nothing wrong with that ... I was raised abroad, but I know from recent trainings that in the REO sector, some government sellers frown upon or flat out prohibit the use of offshore VAs.  I also like to hire locallly and domestically when possible.  Any suggestions for my list of interviewees?

 

March 05, 2012 01:33 AM
Rainmaker
1,426,428
Captain Wayne Rowlett
Florida Real Estate School
Rowlett Real Estate School LLC

Debbie, you made a very smart decision.  Congratulations on finding such a great assistant.

March 08, 2012 04:53 AM
Ambassador
652,934
Karen Crowson
Livermore Wine Country Homes
Alain Pinel Realtors, Pleasanton, CA

Like hearing this Debbie. That's in my plan for next year. Have too many other 'big rocks' on the plate already.

March 08, 2012 06:58 PM
Rainmaker
1,488,659
Debbie Gartner
The Flooring Girl - Westchester hardwood flooring
Floor Coverings International Westchester NY & Stamford CT

Jane - I'm sure soon enough you'll be able to.  You can always start w/ someone part time.

Micahel - Thx.  That is great to know and I hope the info comes in handy for many.

Angie - Good for you.  I also prefer to hire locally when possible.  I'm not the best resource for where to find people, but there are several others who have commented here with suggestions.

Captain Wayne - Thank you so much.

Karen - Good for you.  Oh and yes, I have a bunch of rocks to sor through, too.

March 09, 2012 02:23 AM
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Debbie Gartner

The Flooring Girl - Westchester hardwood flooring
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Additional Information

Author Bio: My name is Debbie Gartner, and I'm known as "The Flooring Girl." I own my own flooring store that serves Westchester NY and Fairfield CT counties. We install hardwood flooring, carpet, tile flooring, laminate, bamboo and cork flooring. We also refinish hardwood floors. We are a shop at home flooring store. You can call us at 914-937-2950 to schedule a free flooring consultation


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